Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Snakes Linked to Spread of Equine Encephalitis Virus - Full Article

By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc • Oct 27, 2012 • Article #29933

A horse, mosquito, and snake walked into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, "Is this some kind of joke?" Turns out, the bartender knows those three animals shouldn't be fraternizing because he read a recent article by Thomas Unnasch, PhD, proving snakes can harbor Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and could play an important role in transmitting this deadly virus.

Like the West Nile virus, mosquitoes become infected with EEEV after a blood meal from an infected bird. If that mosquito then feeds off a horse, the EEEV can be transmitted to the horse.

"Certain areas in the northeastern United States are 'hot spots' for EEEV," explained Unnasch, a researcher from the Global Health Infectious Disease Research Program, Department of Global Health at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. "Because there are no mosquitoes in those areas of the U.S. in the winter and few birds, it wasn't obvious how the virus over-wintered in those areas."

He added, "Previous research found that certain mosquito species feed off of reptiles as well as birds and horses, suggesting that hibernating snakes infected with the EEEV via mosquitoes could explain how the virus survives the winter..."

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Backcountry and Endurance Horse Characteristics - Full Article

Back Country Horsemen of America - 10/2012
by Mike Kinsey, Lori Childress, Maria Bergeng

As Elin Gränsgärd recovered from wounds incurred during a vicious dog attack, she contacted us for assistance dealing with the trauma to her horses, and her riding associates. We were moved to help after reading Swedish national news articles detailing the attack. This attack by two large aggressive malamute dogs on the horses on a training ride, resulted in Elin being personally savaged by those dogs to the point of unconsciousness, and near death. After Elin recovered from the vicious wounds, we traveled to Sweden to work with Elin's horses that had been terrorized in addition to other riders and their horses.

Lori Childress, Belton, South Carolina, and Maria Bergeng, Nesna Norway, (Start 'em Right Senior Interns ) joined me north of Stockholm to conduct the diagnostics, evaluations and some training for a number of endurance horses.
For more info about psychological behavioral aspects, visit us at
Reflecting on our recent trip to Sweden, we considered how endurance horse characteristics have parallels to the characteristics of a well rounded back country trail horse. We were in Sweden to conduct a nine day equine Behavioral Analysis clinic, and provide instruction for defensive riding.

The horse needs to be in good physical shape to be able to successfully complete miles of riding. Feeding and physically training the horse are important elements in a productive, reliable horse, but we can't forget to consider the horse's mind as well. A horse can be in perfect physical shape, but have behavioral ("attitude") problems which could cause the ride to fail, and put the rider in danger. Consideration for the psychology of a horse can help mitigate that danger...

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Environmental Aspects of Horses on Trails - Full Article

Due to the urbanization of America, the general population has lost its contact
with and innate understanding of most animals, including livestock. The horse, in
particular, is a unique animal. Because it is large and seldom encountered,
people assume that it is no different than other species of large animals. This
paper is meant to help people understand horses and their interactions with the
environment when they encounter equines on trails.

Every trail user potentially causes some impact to the environment by their use.
For lightweight low-impact users, the effects are usually minimal. Scientific
studies indicate that the horse may be more benign to wildlife than hikers, nature
studiers and photographers. There are no studies that significantly implicate trail
use by horses with spreading weeds. Natural erosive forces are likely to be the
major alteration factors in trail erosion. Horses on trails are not detrimental to
water quality according to the latest studies by NAHMS, University of Colorado
and UC Davis-Tulare.

Equestrian Use of Trails is “Passive” Recreation

Every trail user potentially causes some impact to the environment by his/her
use. Compared to motorized usage, hikers, bikers and horses have been
variously described as passive, light-weight, and/or low-impact trail users. The
effects of passive use on trails are usually minimal. In virtually every mixed use
trail reference within the State of California and the nation, the horse has been
defined as a passive, low impact or light weight user, even in the most sensitive
environments: Natural Preserves...

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Simple Method of Conditioning the Endurance Horse

Perseveranceendurancehorses - Full Article

Francois & Laura Seegers, Perseverance Arabian and Endurance Horses
17 OCTOBER 2012

We are frequently asked by people who are interested in taking up endurance, or who have bought a horse from us, how they should prepare their horses for an endurance ride. There are many different ways to condition horses. The good methods have this in common: a slow beginning, a steady build up of distances ridden, and later, gradual increase in training speed. Too fast, too soon, too often, leads inevitably to injury.

We used this simple program ourselves for many years before we began riding our horses without shoes. It’s a straightforward system that we learned more than 20 years back from another experienced endurance rider at a day seminar when we began doing endurance. The principles are much older than modern endurance sport, and don’t change with fashion as they are based on the physiology of the horse. We have taught this method to many riders with good results. It is a method of slowly preparing the novice horse for his first endurance ride, but also for giving the advanced endurance horse a good start after a period off work. There are many more sophisticated training techniques that we won’t discuss in this article. Once a horse has completed this initial program, other techniques can be applied. This simple foundation will only help the other training techniques give better results.

You don’t need to use this program. Endurance has plenty of experts and each one has their own method of getting horses fit. But if you don’t know where to start, you can use this program with confidence, it has been proven. It can prepare a healthy novice horse to complete 80km slowly. (Don’t have any illusions of winning, for that you need a whole lot more time and work, and besides you have a 16 km/h speed limit on novices). It builds a good foundation of fitness, that can be developed from there. Also by using it, albeit in shortened form, on the same horse at the beginning of each season, the horse will only get stronger and tougher.

WARNING: The method is easy to understand, but not easy to apply, especially Phase one. I am referring to impatience. Few people will find the Walking Phase easy, but it is a good lesson in self-control and therefore worth more than gold to the endurance rider. Remember, the method only works if it is correctly applied. Do not skip Phase one.


Conditioning: Working the horse to become strong enough to complete endurance rides without damage.
Hard work/ workout: This involves hard work where you ask the horse to put in a greater effort than he is accustomed to. Typically, 20 minutes after the workout the horse’s pulse will be higher than you are used to. That means you have stressed it.
Recovery day: On these days you allow the horse to recover from the stress. Exercises you can do are twenty minute lunge sessions (ring work) at a steady trot, schooling, a gentle hack or outride, etc.
Rest day: Typically a Sunday. No work at all.
Exercise: The level of work that does not stress the horse. It just maintains the fitness.


The beginning of a Long Slow Distance ride
The time it takes for various body tissues to adapt and condition, are as follows:

Heart and lungs 3 months
Muscles 3-6 months
Tendons and ligaments 6-12 months
Hooves 7 months
Bone 1-3 years

NB! A horse can be got fit enough to go fast in a relatively short period, but will not be conditioned to withstand injury. Only after 3 seasons of endurance (provided he had no serious tendon/ligament injuries) will he be thoroughly conditioned to be ridden hard and competitively.

Read more here:

Feeding Fallacies - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 8, 2001

One hundred years ago most people would not have dreamed that horses would be drinking electrolyte-tinged water, devouring rations spiked with beet pulp, corn oil, and animal fat, or scarfing down sundry supplements. For most horses, even the ones that earned their keep by plowing the family fields, transporting the town physician from house to house, or carrying the leisure class from one societal function to the next, a steady diet of hay or pasture and perhaps some oats or corn kept them in adequate body condition. With the advent of the automobile and the transition of the horse from the ranks of necessity to the ranks of recreation, horses were asked to perform more athletic endeavors. The need to jump higher, gallop faster, and trot further became paramount to equestrians, and research in equine nutrition escalated as the level of competitiveness rose. As research refined nutrient requirements, scientists sought ways to efficiently deliver maximal nutrients. In recent years, researchers have turned to new feedstuffs in an effort to find magic fuels. Despite continued efforts, there is reliance upon the time-honored feeding methods of years ago.

Whether horsemen are feeding long-adored or newfangled feedstuffs, lore surrounds some of the offerings. Unraveling the mysteries and fallacies of common feed ingredients is not as difficult as one may believe.

Oats: Oats are a favorite feed among horses and horsemen alike. In preference tests, horses consistently choose oats over many other feeds, including cracked or whole corn, alfalfa hay, wheat, barley, rye, and soybean meal. Oats are used extensively in the creation of commercially prepared feeds, with some containing over 30% oats. Much of their popularity as a feed for horses may be due to habit as much as tradition. Ask any non-horseman what horses eat and invariably oats and hay, and maybe grass, will come up. Peace of mind may also induce owners to feed oats as they are the safest of all cereal grains for horses, being relatively high in fiber and low in digestible energy...

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Forage Alternatives - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 27, 2007

Hay is hard to find in some areas. Because of a scarcity of hay in many regions, can you just skip feeding hay this winter and make up the deficit by doubling your horse's grain ration? The answer is an emphatic NO.

Hay, or some other source of fiber, is absolutely necessary to the health and function of the horse's digestive tract. Overconsumption of grain is characteristically followed by colic, gastric ulcers, or laminitis, so this is not an option to consider. Aim for an average of 1.5% of the horse's weigh in hay or equivalent forage each day (approximately 15 pounds of hay for a 1000-pound horse, or 7 kg for a 450-kg horse), adjusting up or down depending on the horse's age, use, and metabolism.

Why is fiber so important in the equine diet?

Consumption of grass, hay, and other forage fulfills both physical and psychological needs. Horses have a strong desire to chew, and also to have the full-gut feeling that comes from eating a lot of fiber. Deprived of adequate forage, horses tend to chew on trees, fences, stalls, and anything else that is available. A steady supply of forage helps to maintain the optimum types and numbers of microorganisms in the hindgut. These bacteria and other organisms transform fiber into energy the horse can use for growth or performance. The proper balance of beneficial bacteria prevents an overgrowth of harmful organisms that may upset digestion. As well as aiding the passage of food through the digestive tract, adequate fiber provides bulk and weight in the intestines. This helps to keep them from twisting and looping around each other, possibly leading to tissue damage and colic.

Is there a particular need for forage during cold weather?

A near-constant supply of forage is an important factor in keeping horses warm in the winter. The vast fermentation vat of the horse's hindgut steadily produces heat that can't be supplied by an all-grain diet...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Only two States "opt out" of Recreational Trails Program Funding

By Stuart Macdonald, American Trails magazine and website editor

We would like to thank every one who helped in the national effort to ensure that State Governors do not opt out of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). It appears that only Florida and Kansas have opted out. MAP-21, the new transportation funding bill, allows state governors to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program they notify the U.S. Secretary of Transportation of their decision no later than 30 days before the funds are apportioned (which was September 1, 2012).

Both are a surprise to trail advocates. Florida has had a large and highly successful State Trails Program for many years, and among the top in state-funded rail trails. Florida also has seven regional bike/ped coordinators involved with trails as well as roads, sidewalks, and safety programs. Kansas trail advocates expressed confidence that their state would continue the RTP funding, right up to the official announcement.
Several other states narrowly avoided losing RTP funds. New Mexico, a State with a large unspent balance of RTP funds, Alabama, a State with an increasingly effective trails program and widespread local interest in community trails, narrowly avoided the opt out which was supported by the State's department of transportation. New Mexico reversed its official stance at the last minute, and decided not to opt out. Nebraska and Iowa DOTs were reportedly seeking to opt out, but decided not to, apparently due to well-publicized public support for the trails funding.

As part of the Coalition for Recreational Trails, American Trails and other groups worked to raise the potential problem of States being allowed to opt out of RTP. As one result, there would be no funding for State trails program operation in addition to losing the grant funds. While funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities is eligible under the new Transportation Alternatives category, nonprofits and volunteer groups would lose eligibility for funding.

During August 2012, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) took the lead in developing a joint letter for each of the 50 Governors. Almost 800 organizations have signed on to the letters that were sent. A campaign was also mounted following that effort to encourage organizations and grassroots supporters to make their voices heard by contacting their Governor directly.

It is important to note that the widespread, visible and continuous support that the RTP received prior to enactment of the legislation that reauthorized RTP last month was almost exclusively focused on the U.S. Congress. Now efforts have shifted to the States and local governments: See our recent Blog: Trail politics: it’s all local...

For more information on the campaign to ask State governors to support RTP funding: Catherine Ahern (202) 682-9530 - Fax (202) 682-9529 -


Kenya: An Unlikely Farrier - Full Article

October 15 2012

Besides my penchant for big gray horses and veterinary science, I’ve developed a “thing” for other activities and causes along my life’s journey. One of them is for the people of Kenya, developed over aid- and missions-focused trips to Kenya in 2009 and 2011.

So imagine my excitement when I heard a story last week that combined equids and my bend toward humanitarian work in Kenya.

First, some background: Kenya’s equine industry is a far cry from that of the United States. Sure, when I’m visiting rural Kenya I see a lot of equids--maybe even as many as I see when I’m driving down the roads of Lexington, Ky. However, rather than manicured pastures studded with grazing million-dollar yearlings, in Kenya I see scores of working donkeys scattered by the road, tethered by pasterns (a common and accepted way of restraint there) and the occasional ratty-looking riding horse.

Due to donkeys’ utilitarian existence in many of the areas I have visited, I’ve never crossed paths with a horse-crazy person, an avid rider (though I saw some nice-looking show hunters in a wealthier part of Nairobi), or even an individual who’s focused on the welfare of these equids. The majority of Kenyans regard their donkeys as a crucial means to livelihood: transporting food (crops such as potatoes and corn), wood, and salable goods to market and, sometimes, even more importantly, life-sustaining water. Their attachment to their donkeys generally is not an emotional one.

Responsible care for donkeys is critical, otherwise many people aren’t able to provide basic needs for their family. Here’s where my passions collide: equids and helping Kenyans steeped in poverty. And here’s where Fiona Too Chelagat comes in. She is a spunky, ambitious 18-year-old who’s breaking barriers in her country—both in the equine welfare realm and in career expectations for women. This recent secondary-school graduate (Kenya’s equivalent to high school) is a farrier working in Kericho, which is in southwest Kenya, in the highlands above the Great Rift Valley...

Read more here:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Conservative Approach for Healing Horses - Full Article

by: Maureen Blaney Flietner
August 01 2012, Article # 20408

Many veterinarians recommend R&R and controlled exercise to heal tendon and ligament injuries

Despite the numerous newfangled tricks and treatments available, time and R&R remain essential for helping a horse recover from tendon or ligament injury. That can be good or bad news, depending on owner expectations for the horse's performance.

Both tendons and ligaments are soft tissues. They sustain injury via similar forces, respond to damage in a similar fashion, and heal at almost the same rates. That typically amounts to eight months.

But why so long? The body's healing system is complex, explains Duncan F. Peters, DVM, MS, director of the Sport Horse Division at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, in Lexington, Ky. While newer treatments might provide functional improvement in the healing process, they do not speed up the process itself, he notes. "The time factor is still necessary, and R&R is part of the process."

Root Causes

Tendon and ligament injuries arise from a variety of sources, such as conformational faults, fatigue, and lameness, that can lead to overload. Exercise-related tendon and ligament injuries might occur:

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Equine West Nile Virus: An International Perspective - Full Article

by: Erica Larson, News Editor
October 03 2012, Article # 20712

Most American owners are aware of the increased number of West Nile virus (WNV) cases confirmed in the U.S. horse population this year. What they might not know is how the virus affects horses in other countries.

Australia and New Zealand

According to C.J. (Kate) Savage, BVSc (Hons), MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, WEVA Oceanic delegate, a similar virus--Kunjin--is endemic in parts of Australia.

"(Kunjin) is antigenically and genetically similar to WNV and was reclassified as a subtype of WNV in 1999 (WNV/Kunjin)," she said.

Parts of Australia suffered a large equine WNV/Kunjin outbreak in 2011, she said, after which Frost et al. identified a new WNV strain as the cause.

"Results showed that most of the cases were caused by a new strain of WNV, which has been termed WNV(NSW2011)," Savage explained. "This is most closely related to WNV/Kunjin. However, the new strain appears to invade nervous tissue to a greater degree than the original Kunjin virus."

Neighbor New Zealand (NZ) remains WNV-free to date; however, risk of the disease spreading to the island nation is a concern...

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Link between saddle slip and lameness found - Full Article

By on Oct 04, 2012 in Featured, Lameness, News

Research has shown a significant link between hind-limb lameness and saddle slip.

It has revealed consistent saddle slip in some horses with hind limb lameness, even when the lameness is fairly subtle and difficult to detect.

Saddle slip in sport horses is a well-recognised problem that can occur for several reasons, including asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back, riders sitting crookedly, and ill-fitting saddles.

The head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust in Britain, Sue Dyson, had also observed that saddle slip may occur because of hind limb lameness.

She set out in her study to find out more about the inter-relationships between the horse, saddle and rider and to document the frequency of occurrence of saddle slip in horses with hind-limb lameness compared with other horses...

Read more here:

A Guide to Complete Horse Feeds - Full Article

by: Juliet M. Getty, PhD
July 01 2012, Article # 20398

Choosing a ready-made feed can be daunting, but this rundown will get you started on the right path to proper nutrition

Feeding time! Open a bag of ready-made feed and you're set, right? But wait--there's a staggering variety of offerings on the feed store's shelves, and it's important that you choose the correct one for your particular horse.

Manufacturers fortify these feeds with vitamins and minerals in a "complete" blend designed to provide all the nutrients a horse needs (when fed the recommended amount) without additional supplementation. Hay and/or pasture grass should make up the bulk of your horse's diet (he requires 1.5 to 2.5% of his body weight in forage per day), so most complete feeds are meant to be fed in addition to adequate forage. While many horses (particularly overweight or sedentary animals) simply need hay/pasture, water, salt, and a vitamin/mineral supplement to meet their nutritional requirements, the working or underweight horse, for instance, will benefit from a commercially fortified feed.

The array of complete feeds includes some that are cereal grain-based and others that are low-starch. Some are sweet feeds and still others are pelleted. There are those designed for growth, broodmares, performance--even senior citizens.

When choosing a complete feed appropriate for your horse, look for these basics depending on the fitting category:...

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Tackling Tendon and Ligament Injuries - Full Article

by: Karen Briggs
June 03 2011, Article # 18342

The latest therapies for injured tendons and ligaments focus on rebuilding the tissue to its original strength and elasticity.

When it comes to tendon and ligament injuries, there's bad news, good news, and more bad news. The initial bad news, of course, is the diagnosis itself. One thing that hasn't changed in millennia is that any injury to a horse's leg tendons or ligaments--which make possible the lifting, extending, flexing, and shock-absorbing that equine limbs do--is a serious threat to his short-term soundness and his future career prospects.

The good news is that where once the tincture of time was the only potential cure, today's veterinary medicine provides us with a dizzying array of treatment options for strained or shredded ligaments or tendons. Some can facilitate the healing process; others are tremendously promising in terms of minimizing scarring and encouraging the fibers to heal in an alignment indistinguishable from the original tissue--and that means everything in terms of restoring a horse to full soundness.

And the second round of bad news, if you can call it that, is there are so many treatment options now that it might be difficult to decide which path to choose.

Let's start by looking at some of the ways in which tendon or ligament injury can occur and then examine advances in diagnostics and some of those high-tech treatments...

Effect of Adding Soybean Oil to a Horse’s Ration - Full Article

By Dr. Joe Pagan · September 6, 2012

When fat is substituted for carbohydrate isocalorically (calorie for calorie) in a horse’s ration, blood glucose and insulin responses to feeding are reduced. It was unclear, however, whether this response was simply due to reduced glucose in the diet or if fat affects glycemic response in some other manner. An experiment carried out at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) was designed to evaluate whether adding fat to a grain meal would affect glucose and insulin response to feeding when the level of grain intake remained the same.

Nine Thoroughbred horses were used in this two-period switchback design experiment. Five of the horses were in training and were physically fit, and four were untrained...

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I'm Going To Hell

Easycare Blog - Full Article

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by Garrett Ford

After over 20 years in the horse business and making protective hoof wear for horses I've finally been told by a horse owner via e-mail that "You're going to hell".

My decline and direction toward the underworld started when I purchased an Arabian race horse named Clunk. I purchased Clunk with the goal of trying to make a urethane form of hoof protection that absorbed concussion, allowed the hoof to flex as nature intended and provide the traction needed to win flat track races. I was pretty naive going into the project and found out very quickly that the flat track industry wasn't going to allow just any Easyboot model and making a product to comply with the rules would not be easy.

I caught a break when Fran Jurga told me to contact Curtis Burns of No Anvil. No Anvil makes a flexible horse shoe called the Burns Polyflex Shoe that has been used with great success on the race tracks around the world. The Burns Polyflex Shoe was used by Shackleford during his 2011 Triple Crown bid. Shackleford placed 4th in the Kentucky Derby, Won the 2011 Preakness Stakes and finished 5th in the Belmont Stakes. The list of horses that have used the Polyflex successfully is impressive and includes greats like Curlin. Curlin is the highest North American money earner with over $10.5 Million earned and many of his most successful years performed in the Burns Polyflex Shoe. Because Curtis' urethane shoe absorbs concussion and allows the hoof to expand and contract it has proven it has a place in the equine world and will continue to used by the best flat track horses for years to come...

Read more here:

Winterizing Your Hoof Care Program

Easycare Blog - Full Article

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by Daisy Bicking

We’ve all heard that pulling our horse’s shoes for the winter can be a good idea. But we’ve also heard how many pitfalls there are when we pull them.

Here is a breakdown of how we at Daisy Haven Farm in the Northeastern USA, a fairly wet, humid environment, help our clients who want to pull shoes for the winter.

Some of the challenges to pulling shoes:

Chances are your foot may have minimal height once the shoe is pulled off. Some farriers advocate not trimming anything once the shoe is removed and instead prefer to allow the foot to grow. This has pros and cons.
Your horse may be more sensitive or even considered painful when walking without shoes.
You may have some foot infection to deal with around the white line or nail holes.
If you wait too long the ground may be frozen and make pulling shoes more difficult.
You may have to reduce the amount or kind of work your horse is doing until your feet are stronger barefoot again.

Fortunately we have many resources available to us to help minimize the challenges and set us up for success with this process.

First of all, work as a team with your farrier...

Read more here: