Thursday, August 27, 2009

USRider Provides Tips for Safe Horse Transport during Hot Weather

Lexington, KY (Aug 26, 2009) - Hot weather can pose serious health problems for animals both two-legged and four-legged, including dehydration, heat stroke and exhaustion. USRider, the national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians, encourages horse owners to take steps to prevent these ailments when traveling with horses.

"In addition to providing a reliable and valuable roadside assistance program," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider, "it is also our mission is to continually educate horse owners about trailering safety."

During these days of summer, it is important that horse owners take precautions to safeguard their horses against heat-related ailments. USRider - in cooperation with Dr. Tomas Gimenez, noted expert in large-animal emergency rescue - provides these hot-weather safety tips:

· Avoid trailering during the warmest hours of the day.

· Make sure that all trailer vents are open and unobstructed to create good airflow in the trailer. However, do not allow horses to stick their heads out windows - this could lead to serious eye injuries from bugs and debris.

· Always carry a bucket and 2-3 gallons of drinking water per horse. The horses may not drink, but offer them water when stopping for fuel or at a rest area. The capillary refill time is a good indicator of the state of hydration of a horse. This can be checked easily through a trailer window.

· When parking, try to find shaded areas and/or areas with some air movement.

· If stuck in traffic on the interstate, provide as much ventilation in the trailer as possible without unloading the horses.

· Make certain that your vehicle is in top running order. A properly tuned engine runs cooler. To avoid blowouts, check air pressure in all tires - including spares - while tires are cool, before you travel. Be sure to have a good spare that is properly inflated. With a good spare, if you do have a breakdown, you can get back on the road quickly. Having seen a high incidence of two flat tires on horse trailers, USRider recommends carrying two spares for your horse trailer.

Dr. Gimenez also advises horse owners to "expect the unexpected. A traffic accident could cause you to spend many hours trapped on the interstate." To help avoid getting stuck in traffic, he suggests listening to a CB. This could alert you of possible accidents on the road ahead and allow you to take an alternate route around the accident.

USRider provides roadside assistance and towing services along with other travel-related benefits to its members through the Equestrian Motor Plan. It includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary referrals and more. For more information about the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, visit online or call (800) 844-1409.

For additional safety tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Perfect Engine
by: Les Sellnow

Much has already been stated in this series about the special concerns involving front limb soundness in the horse since 60-65% of the animal's weight is carried in the front end. This does not mean that there are no concerns involving the back legs. Far from it. We can think of equine rear end function in terms of cars and trucks with rear wheel drive. The engine, comprised of muscles fueled by heart and lungs, provides the power, and the back legs are akin to piston-driven rear wheels.

The pressure and torque placed on the "rear wheels" varies with the discipline involved. When walking or jogging across the countryside during a trail ride, the stresses are light and easily handled by a horse with normal back leg conformation. However, if the discipline happens to be cutting or reining with the Western horse or dressage or five-gaited action with the show horse, it is an entirely different matter. Although different in nature, these four disciplines all put high demands on the horse's rear end.

It should also be remembered that, in addition to being the prime source of propulsion, the back legs also serve as the horse's brakes. Again, the stress put on those brakes varies with the discipline. It is vastly different, for example, in a reining horse than it is for one competing in dressage.

We'll take a look at how Nature has designed the rear portion of the horse's anatomy, especially the leg, in an effort to understand why the animal can do what it does. We also will take a look at some of the problems that can develop in improperly conformed legs as a result of these stresses.

Once again, information comes from multiple sources. An excellent source on equine anatomy as it pertains to feet and legs is the fourth edition of Adams' Lameness in Horses, edited by Ted Stashak, DVM, MS, and featuring seven experts in the field as contributors.

Start at the Top

We will begin our visual dissection of the posterior portion of the horse's anatomy at the top, or spine, and work our way downward. Connecting to the spine is the ilium, the largest of three bones in the animal's pelvis. The ilium angles down and rearward, and it attaches to the femur or thigh bone. The angular shape of the pelvis determines what type of croup the horse has--flat or sloped.

The femur angles slightly forward and connects with the stifle, forming one of the more important joints in the rear leg apparatus. Connecting at the stifle joint, as we continue our journey downward or distally, is the tibia, which connects with the hock. Emerging from the distal portion of the hock is the metatarsus or rear cannon bone. This bone continues downward until it connects with the long pastern bone, which connects with the short pastern bone, which connects with the coffin bone. As with the foreleg discussion (see, there are several small bones in the lower hind limb that are important to the function of the leg. Where the cannon bone joins the long pastern bone, two small bones--the proximal sesamoids--lie on the back side of the cannon bone and act as pulleys for the flexor tendons. And where the short pastern and coffin bone join, a distal sesamoid bone, or navicular bone, acts in the same manner.

Where Does it Hurt?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Very Large and Difficult Trail Project Handled by U.S. Forest Service and Emerald Empire BCHO Chapter


August 24 2009

By Phil Hufstader


In October, 2007, the main equestrian access trail, and shortest route on the West side into the Three Sisters Wilderness, was devastated by a freak wind storm. A large winter storm came out of the north carrying several feet of snow to the wilderness area, with strong frontal winds that devastated large blocks of timbered ridges on the west slopes of the Middle Sister. From the air it looked like a bomb was dropped knocking timber down over four miles of the primary Foley Ridge trail. One section, measuring over 1.5 miles, was covered with several hundred trees measuring six foot in diameter. A person could walk from tree to tree and never touch the ground. With record amounts of snow dropped that winter, and a late spring, it wasn't until the later part of August, 2008, that the entire trail could be surveyed. The McKenzie River District posted the trail closed, and rumors started flying within the equine community that the trail would never be opened again, due to USFS trail funding shortage.

Emerald Empire Chapter

At an Emerald Empire Back Country Horsemen of Oregon meeting, a heated discussion was brought forth on the rumor of the permanent closing of Foley Ridge trail system. Many of the chapter members hunt deer and elk within the wilderness boundaries and felt desperate to get it opened as soon as possible. Several chapter members decided to make a scouting trip into the area and bring back the actual facts about the devastation to the next chapter meeting. Chapter members Phil and Casey Hufstader, along with Matt Hope, led a scouting party into the wilderness in the late summer of 2008. They rode as far as possible and walked the entire damaged area, taking pictures and measurements so a plan could be formulated at the next chapter meeting. The chapter decided to take on the trail project, and Becky Hope was put in charge of making the contact with the local McKenzie Ranger District.

McKenzie Ranger District

Becky Hope of Emerald Empire Chapter of BCHO, met with Steve Otopaulik from the McKenzie Ranger District, who was in the process of applying for grant funding through the Forest Service for this project. That winter, and the spring of 2009, brewed its own perfect storm of meetings and a combined effort from the equestrian groups formulated a two prong strategy plan for opening parts of the trail, what was still missing was the funding. As luck would have it, BCHO's Public Lands Chair, Marlene Orchard was attending a Region-6 grant meeting in Portland when discussion came up on prioritizing expected Title II funds being distributed to the Region. Marlene was able to strongly suggest the Foley Ridge trail project be put at the top of the list. With her help, the entire project was funded for two years. The money came from the Title II program, specifically for counties under the PL-110-343 Secured Rural School and Community Self Determination Act of 2000.

Wayne Chevalier of the McKenzie Ranger District was put in charge of the project. He saw it as an opportunity to educate volunteers, and Forest Service personnel, with the respect to cross cutting large technical trees with multiple binds in rough terrain. He involved local BCHO chapters, and any equestrian person that wanted to help. Becky Hope was the overall contact for all volunteers, and she coordinated the entire scheduling and record keeping for the project. The plan was to rotate volunteers and USFS trail crews through the summer until the main trail could be logged out, with the plan of coming back in the summer of 2010 to accomplish the tread work.

The Emerald Empire chapter of BCHO would provide all the pack stock and several trips were required to get all the camp supplies and trail maintenance tools in to the wilderness. Three camps were established along the trail at different locations to facilitate a continuous support for the trail work parties. The first two trips required experienced packers to haul loads over ten foot drifts of snow to camp sites that would be used later in the summer. The overall length of the project covered over twelve miles of trail, but cross country riding over snow packed areas, and navigating steep terrain, was required to even get close to the project. Several side trails leading into, or several ridges away from the project, had to be opened up or navigated.

Trail Project

Spring of 2009 came late to the Three Sisters Wilderness forcing some delays in actually getting the trail cutting project going. Deep snow still covered most of the down trees across the trail until the middle of June, even at the lower elevations. The Hope's and Hufstader's, several chapter members, and other riders, packed in the base camps, food, tools and stock feed, and other required equipment over major snow drifts in preparation for the project.

As the snow drifts started to melt, USFS trail crews moved up the trail, cutting out or re-routing the trail as they went, several volunteers bumped half way up the trail system and began cutting out the trail in both directions. The USFS rotated crews every week and several more trips were required by the Emerald Empire chapter to pull out existing camps and bumping up supplies until the middle of July when the trail was totally cut out. The plan had been two years to get the entire trail open, but with all the volunteers and the combined effort with the USFS, it was accomplished in just over sixty days. The next step of the plan, major tread work to be done in the summer of 2010, was then rushed into place by bringing in the Northwest Youth Corp. A packer was hired by the Ranger district to support their progress, leaving chapter members to branch out and open side trails leading into favorite hunting or fishing areas.


As National Director for BCHO, and a member of the Emerald Empire Chapter, I would like to give thanks to all that participated in accomplishing this major project. Without the combined effort of everyone that helped, this would not have been accomplished. It's a positive example on how working with an agency can be done right, with the goal of keeping the back country open for all users. From this project, several more are planned in that same area using the remaining funds to open up storm damaged areas that have been close for more than ten years.

About Back Country Horsemen of America

BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes in regards to the use of horses and stock in the wilderness and public lands.

If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website:, call 888-893-5161, or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands!

Contact: Peg Greiwe
Back Country Horsemen of America

Monday, August 24, 2009

76 Arabian Horses Seized in Texas - Photo and story

by: Pat Raia
August 17 2009

The operator of a Texas horse breeding farm was arrested after law enforcement authorities removed 76 allegedly neglected horses from his ranch on Friday.

Denton County Sheriff's Deputies discovered the horses at the Renazans Arabians ranch in Pilot Point, Texas, after a caller complained about their condition.

Tom Reedy, public information officer for the Denton County Sheriff's Department, said the horses were extremely emaciated with no apparent access to food or water, and were housed in filthy stalls.

"Some of the horses were standing in 6 to 8 inches of urine and feces," he said.

Ranch operator Gordon Dennis Key turned himself over to police on Saturday. He is free on bond.


Fiber in Hay: What's the Magic Number?

Horses evolved to eat a lot of fiber, spending up to 17 hours a day grazing various forage plants. But not all fiber is created equal, especially when it comes to hay.

Hay carries a few challenges compared to living forages. One, compared to fresh forage, dry hay lacks the moisture needed to move fiber along the digestive tract. Unlimited access to fresh clean water is essential when feeding a lot of hay, as impaction colic can result if the hay is too high in fiber, says Kathleen Crandell, PhD, an equine nutritionist with Virginia Tech's Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. She also says if bulky hay is too high in fiber (as in very mature hays), horses will fill up on the hay, but in doing so might not consume enough calories to maintain body condition if they are hard keepers or hard-working horses.

So what's the right amount of fiber? There are two measures of fiber in forages that can give the owner an idea of fiber content and forage quality. Horses need a combination of fiber types to maintain digestive tract health.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kevin Myers shares Natural Hoof Care Clinic Dr. Tomas G. Teskey, D.V.M.

I had the unusual privilege last weekend of attending a clinic by Dr. Tomas Teskey. As well as being a gifted and passionate speaker, Dr. Teskey is one of today’s leading authorities on the equine hoof and barefoot horses. I left the clinic with the impression that perpetuated shoeing of horse is not dissimilar to an addiction developed over time. We know it is not right, but we are afraid to break the habit. At Week 14 in my own transition experiment, and with a couple of significant accomplishments under my belt, I can assure you that a few boots in your tack room will allow you to make the switch.

Full article

APEX Clinic: Muscle Function
Monday, August 17, 2009
APEX Clinic: Muscle Function

The first lecture at the clinic was on muscle function, organized by Ann Stuart, DVM. Ann has been involved in endurance riding since the early 1990s as both rider and veterinarian, and has served on team veterinary staff for international endurance rides multiple times. Most of Ann's lecture was devoted to understanding muscle physiology and understanding its relation to the sport of endurance. A lot of it was review from high school and college anatomy and physiology courses, but who remembers all of it? A review is always helpful. The start of the lecture focused on the anatomy of muscle and understanding how a muscle functions. Some highlights:

* We all know aerobic work is more efficient than anaerobic work. I had never made the connection to its efficiency at the cellular level. Anaerobic respiration is the process of turning glucose into pyruvate, producing only 2 ATP (energy molecules) and lactic acid as a by product. Aerobic respiration is the Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle), which in turn produces 34 ATP molecules! That's 17 times the amount of energy!
* Even relaxation requires energy in the form of ATP. Thus, in order for muscles to relax after hard work, they still need energy. Cramping occurs when there isn't enough energy (ATP) available for the muscles to relax.
* Aerobic work by muscles is supported by saltatory conduction - a process which allows sodium ions to jump the myelin sheaths surround the nerve axon, thus speeding up the reaction.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arthritis fact sheet

From, factsheet on osteoarthritis in horses:

download: document

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Using Heat Therapy
by: Mimi Porter

Every athlete has faced injury at some time. Soft tissue disorders, such as bruises, tendonitis, bursitis, and fibrositis, can result from overuse, wear and tear, or from a sudden trauma. Sudden trauma results in an acute injury, defined as a situation of short duration. A chronic injury results when clinical signs are allowed to persist or the onset of the injury is drawn out over a period of time. Acute injuries are treated with ice and compression, while chronic injuries are often treated with some form of heat.

Arthritis, perhaps the most common chronic disease, begins as an inflammatory process in the joints and progresses as a degenerative process due to wear and tear and metabolic influences. There is a progressive loss of cartilage followed by a bony reaction. The soft tissue around the joint is weakened as pain inhibits forceful muscle contraction and support.

Tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis can overlap and all exist at the same time, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. The usual approach in coping with these disorders is to try first one thing, then another to see what will help. Weeks pass and the problem remains.

The horse presents a special challenge to diagnosis and treatment due to his ability to adapt and to compensate. When faced with pain in one area, the horse shifts his weight away from that area. This results in more strain elsewhere and disuse atrophy in the painful area. Eventually the compensatory changes are exhausted and lameness results. The horseman is finally made aware of a discomfort that has been growing over an extended period of time. The injury process is now chronic and involves several structures.

Tendinitis is an inflammatory disorder of the structure that connects muscle to bone. The tendon is not generally as extensible as muscle and is susceptible to strain. The muscle-tendon junction also can be a site of strain. In some cases, tendon sheath inflammation is a more appropriate term for the condition, if the inflammation occurs in the tendon sheath, rather than the tendon itself. Should this condition be allowed to persist, fibrosis can occur in the sheath and extend to the tendon, restricting motion.


Vesicular Stomatitis Quarantine Lifted in Starr County, Texas; Continue to Check with States of Destination Before Hauling Livestock!

News Release
Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710, or

Texas animal health officials have lifted a quarantine on a ranch in Starr County, where horses have recovered from vesicular stomatitis (VS), a virus that occurs sporadically in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and other western states. Currently, there are no quarantines or active investigations for vesicular stomatitis in Texas. Livestock susceptible to VS include horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, deer and other cloven-hooved animals. Infected animals can develop blisters, lesions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzles, tongue, teats and above the hooves and usually recover in two to three weeks. To prevent the spread of this virus, which is not fully understood, quarantines remain in effect until at least 21 days after the animal’s lesions have healed.

“Although the quarantine in Texas is released, some states may continue to enforce enhanced entry requirements or restrictions on Texas livestock until the height of the VS ‘season’ ends in late fall, when temperatures drop. New Mexico also has had VS this year, and it is possible that another VS case could be detected in Texas, since the virus is active this year.” said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission, the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. He urged private veterinary practitioners and livestock owners to check with the states of destination prior to moving animals to ensure all entry requirements are met.

Dr. Hillman explained that the clinical signs of VS mimic the highly dangerous foot-and-mouth disease, and a veterinary exam and laboratory tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis. “Horses are not susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease, but they are often the first animals to get VS,” said Dr. Hillman. “We can assist with private veterinary practitioners with disease investigations at no charge, and we can receive disease reports 24 hours a day at 800-550-8242.”

Monday, August 03, 2009

Ride & Tie: Amazing Race

Bend Bulletin
By Lily Raff / The Bulletin
Published: August 03. 2009 4:00AM PST
If you go

What: Santiam Cascade 30-mile ride and tie race and 10- to 80-mile endurance races
When: Saturday beginning at 7:15 a.m.
Where: Sisters Rodeo Grounds, 3 miles east of Sisters on U.S. Highway 20
Cost: Free

What do you get when you combine one horse, two riders, two pairs of running shoes and a 30-mile trail? One hectic, grueling sport.

One of a handful of annual “ride and tie” races in the Northwest takes place Saturday near Sisters.

In a ride and tie race, each team consists of two humans and one horse. At the start, one person rides the horse; the other takes off running down the trail. At some point on the course, the rider dismounts and ties the horse to a tree. That person then takes off running.

When the teammate — who began the race on foot — reaches the horse, he or she unties the steed and mounts it. That person then rides the horse some distance past the now-running teammate before dismounting and tying it up. The team leapfrogs like this until both humans and the horse cross the finish line.

Ride and tie races can be 10 miles, 100 miles or almost any distance in between.

Full Article