Monday, March 31, 2014

Alfalfa: When Is It the Right Choice for Horses? - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · March 14, 2014

When the word “alfalfa” is bandied about among horsemen, most immediately think of high-quality forage, a vividly green, sweet-smelling, leafy legume. Like all forages, though, not all alfalfa (lucerne) is grown, cured, or harvested identically, which makes the hay’s ultimate quality variable.

Differences in growing conditions and harvesting methods impact nutritional quality. Alfalfa hay can be off-colored, dusty, moldy, or weed-ridden, just as any grass hay might be. Therefore, it important to carefully evaluate any alfalfa hay intended for horses. If you are uncomfortable with this task, drag along an experienced hay buyer when it comes time to fill the hay-mow...

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

BCHC local unit the Redshank Riders New President takes the reins - Full Article

With the new year underway, the local unit of Backcountry Horsemen of California (BCHC), Redshank Riders has welcomed Anne York who has graciously accepted the position of President. Outgoing president Stacy Kuhns has not abandoned the unit; she has accepted a position at the state level of 2nd Vice President of Backcountry Horsemen of California, which will keep her very busy. Our unit wants to make a public "Thank You" to Stacy for all her hard work in the past years as our president.

Anne York has served has the units secretary for the last 2 years and she is an avid endurance rider. She owns 3 athletic Arabian geldings and between her training rides and endurance events she travels a lot of miles in our local backcountry. Anne reports that "last year the unit held some new events that were so popular and successful that we decided to go forward with them in 2014..."

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Barefoot Doesn’t Work for Horses - Full Article

It seems many people are giving barefoot a try these days, but all too often, I hear of someone giving up, becoming convinced that barefoot just doesn’t work for their horse. They find that their horse’s hooves are just too sensitive, especially on rough terrain. So shoes are nailed back on and all seems well once again. But what they may not know is why barefoot didn’t work for their horse in the first place.

If you’re simply going barefoot because it’s the latest fad, it’s easy to give it up when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd though, and I didn’t go barefoot with my horses to be trendy. I went barefoot when I became convinced that it was the only way to have a naturally healthy horse. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve witnessed the detrimental effects of horse shoes and I’m not going back there again.

I don’t want to judge people who do shoe their horses though. I know most of us are just doing what we think is best. Or maybe just doing what we’ve always done–simply because we don’t know any other way.

But, shoes, plain and simple, are not healthy for horses’ feet. The entire hoof as well as the structures inside it become weakened when a metal shoe is nailed on and left in place for any length of time. Shoes do not allow for the natural contraction and expansion of the hoof that comes with movement and weight bearing. This, in turn, impedes blood flow in the hoof. The truth is that shoes really don’t allow for any part of the hoof to function as nature intended.

Horses are meant to be barefoot. It’s the unnatural ways in which we manage them that makes them unable to do so. If we provide the most natural lifestyle we can for our horses, they can develop and maintain naturally healthy hooves. But it’s also going to take some effort on our part...

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tips For Overseeding Pastures

Contact:, or (269) 657-3842

Early spring is the ideal time to overseed pastures, according to Laurie Cerny, editor and publisher of 

"After the hard winter we have had with heavy snow pack there has been some winter-kill.  Pastures are really going to need some TLC, including overseeding to get them back in shape," said Cerny, who's recently release Good-Horsekeeping's Guide To Pasture Management.

Here are some tips for pasture overseeding:

• Walk fields as early in spring as possible.  This is the best way to see where there has been winterkill, mold, bare spots, and dirt tunnels made by field mice while underneath the snow.
• March and early April are generally a good time to overseed as long as you have several days of thawing and freezing.  It also gives you a couple of weeks before spreading manure and fertilizing
• Pick the right seed for your soil. Orchard grass does well on most soils. Timothy does better in damper, heavier soils.  Brome does OK on sandy soils but it's very drought tolerant.  Alfalfa is very drought tolerant but is difficult to overseed because it will not grow within a certain radius of another alfalfa plant.
• Buying seed by the pound from a bonafide forage dealer is the best source for seed.  When you buy it individually by the pound you get just that seed and not filler grasses. 
• If you buy bagged pasture/hay seed understand the language of a seed tag. The percentage of a certain seed by the weight. Because some seeds are very small and light - 20% of the seed in a mix could actually result in more like 40% of your stand. Be wary of hay mix blends that say *VNS* * this stands for variety not stated* and could mean any type of seed is included.
• While you can use a seeder - including a hand seeder or even a fertilizer spreader, hand broadcasting tends to work best and you can control how much goes where - more in bare spots and less or none where there is a thick turf.
• Make sure if seed is treated to wear  plastic gloves and to wash clothes after seeding.
• Pay attention to the wind.  It can be difficult to overseed if it’s extremely windy.  A little bit of wind, however, can actually help you broadcast the seed.
• Do not overseed on the snow if you have problems with wildlife like birds and deer.  They will eat the seed.  Watch for flocks of birds in your fields after you overseed.  If they become a problem scare them off using deterrents like a scarecrow or by making a loud noise.
• Keep a pasture journal where you can make notes about when you overseeded, which pastures were seeded, and what seed you used.
• Keep horses off overseeded fields for 6-8 weeks.  If they are really small pastures you may want to keep the field out of rotation for one season.
The guide, which covers pasture overseeding, also includes pasture rotation, dry lots, winter management, and more.  It is available through for $3.95 for electronic copies.
For more horsekeeping tips go to or

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Digestibility of Calcium and Phosphorus in Horses - Full Article

By Dr. Joe Pagan · March 5, 2014

Calcium and phosphorus are the most important minerals for bone formation and maintenance in horses. These minerals must be supplied in the right amount, and also in the proper ratio, to support skeletal health. Kentucky Equine Research (KER) has conducted a number of studies to determine how well calcium and phosphorus are digested by horses...

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Monday, March 24, 2014

5 Tips for Packing the Pounds on Performance Horses - Full Article

By Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS
Mar 24, 2014

Does your performance horse need to pack on a few more pounds? Here are some tips to consider when managing a hard-keeping equine athlete.

Which Horses are in this Category?

The National Research Council (NRC) calculates the digestible energy (DE) requirements for equine athletes by adding together the energy required for maintenance (the energy needed to fuel respiration, digestion, and other bodily functions) and that needed for exercise...

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Could a Supplement Ease the Effects of Tying Up? - Full Article

By Erica Larson, News Editor
Mar 23, 2014

Tying-up, or exertional rhabdomyolysis, is a frustrating problem that sport and racehorse trainers try diligently to prevent. Fortunately, there's some good news: Japanese researchers recently tested a supplement designed to alleviate both tying-up episodes and the muscle damage, with positive results...

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time to Say Goodbye - Full Article

By Marcia King
Mar 12, 2014

There comes a time in nearly all horse owners' lives when the last, best thing they can do for their horses is to release them from the agony of an untreatable condition or terminal illness via euthanasia. In some situations, the decision to euthanize is clear--a painful, devastating accident from which there is no recovery; an acute, fatal disease from which the horse is constantly suffering; or age taking away the horse's ability to move about and live comfortably. But often, the horse's injury or terminal illness is one where it might be difficult for the owner to determine if there is enough quality of life to offset a horse's discomfort or diminished lifestyle, or whether the horse has spiraled downward to the point where there is nothing much left in life for the horse to enjoy.

The whole painful process--deciding when the time has arrived, disposing of remains, dealing with grief--can be made less stressful when everything involved with the euthanasia process is understood and decisions are planned ahead of time...

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Obama Budget Could Halt Horse Plant Inspections Through 2015 - Full Article

By Pat Raia
Mar 07, 2014

Funding for USDA horse processing plant inspections would be eliminated through 2015 under a request contained in the $3.9 trillion budget proposal revealed this week by President Barack Obama. But one horse processing advocate believes the budget plan could violate North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) provisions.

Horse processing has not taken place in the United States since 2007, when a combination of court rulings and legislation shuttered the last two domestic equine processing plants in Illinois and Texas. Horses were thereafter shipped to Mexico and Canada for processing...

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Treatment of Insulin Resistance - Full Article

by Eleanor Kellon, VMD

Now that Insulin Resistance has become the "disease du jour" the equine market has exploded with low carb feeds and supplements to fix or cure this condition. Don't fall for it!

First, understand that Insulin Resistance is not a disease - it is a "metabolic type". And the goal of the ECIR Group protocol is no laminitis ever again and bloodwork as close to normal as we can possibly get, if not completely normal. The ECIR Group protocol is about a lifestyle change for your horse, a management change that owners need to be committed to. Fortunately, the horses are fine with the changes and it typically costs less than the "magic bullet" supplements on the market that don't work!

Diet is Key

It doesn't take a great leap to understand that effective weight loss comes with a controlled diet. If you have a "condition" or metabolism that does not tolerate high intakes of simple carbohydrates or fatty foods, it's not difficult to predict that the best diet will be a low carb, low fat diet. Humans have struggled with control of IR/weight loss longer than equines have. A host of different medications have come and gone . Nothing works better for people than exercise and a controlled calorie diet. The horse is no different...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Treat Scratches - Full Article

Relieve scratches, a horse skin problem, with gentle cleansing, thorough drying and lots of greasy ointment.

By the Editors of EQUUS magazine

A common horse skin condition, scratches is fairly easy to identify. It appears as cracked, inflamed skin and crusted scabs on a horse's pastern. It occurs when natural skin oils are lost to harsh environmental factors: mud; cold, windy weather; low humidity; frequent bathing. Scratches is painful and subject to bacterial infection. The majority of cases respond to the treatment outlined here...

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Effect of Feeding Moldy Hay or Feed to Horses - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · March 3, 2014

Moldy forage can contribute to a range of disorders in the horse. Inhaled fungal and actinomycete spores can cause primary allergic and inflammatory respiratory disease, as well as influencing the incidence, severity, and duration of episodes of infectious respiratory disease. However, molds may also produce toxic secondary metabolites called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins may contribute to reproductive, immunological, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and other disorders in livestock including the horse. Mycotoxins can behave as immunosuppressants, thus having the possibility to contribute to secondary disorders. Mold and subsequent mycotoxin contamination of a forage can increase during extreme environmental conditions such as high humidity at the time of baling or from mechanical damage to the forage...

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Congressional Horse Caucus Holds First Meeting of 2014

March 13, 2014
Contact: Ashley Furst
Members of Congress meet to discuss importance of the horse industry
(Washington, D.C.)- On March 5, 2014, Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus, hosted the first Caucus meeting of 2014.
The Congressional Horse Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of the House of Representatives formed to educate Congress and their staffs about the importance of the horse industry in the economic, agricultural, sporting, gaming and recreational life of the nation. 
"I was honored to host the first meeting of the Congressional Horse Caucus of the 113th Congress with my Co-Chair, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York,” said Congressman Barr.  "It was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the enormous impact the American equine industry has on our economy and provide more information about the industry directly to Members of Congress and their staff. I look forward to future Horse Caucus activities promoting the American horse industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs directly associated with it, as well as the $102 billion it contributes to the U.S. economy."
“Congressman Barr and I laid the foundation for an active year for the Congressional Horse Caucus,” said Congressman Tonko. “The equine industry is an important component of robust economic growth in the Capital Region of New York and across the nation, and I look forward to partnering with those looking to advance this sector of our economy. In places like Saratoga Springs, the equine industry supports countless small businesses and provides an economic ripple effect that is felt across the entire region.”
Stuart Janney III, vice chairman the Jockey Club and the owner of last year’s Kentucky Derby Winner, Orb, was the special guest of the Horse Caucus. Mr. Janney shared his experiences from a lifetime involved in horseracing and answered Members’ questions about how Congress could best address some of the challenges facing the industry.
During the meeting, several issues important to the industry were discussed, including immigration reform and the Race Horse Cost Recovery Act, which would renew a provision that expired at the end of 2013 and place all racehorses on a three-year depreciation schedule as well as other issues.
Barr continued, "I am confident this meeting has created positive momentum for the equine industry on Capitol Hill and greatly appreciate all of the support and leadership provided by the American Horse Council in advancing equine-friendly policies on Capitol Hill."
“We thought this was a productive Horse Caucus meeting and we appreciate Congressmen Barr’s and Tonko’s leadership of the Caucus,” said American Horse Council President Jay Hickey. “There was a very good turn out and we thank all the Members and staff who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the meeting.”  
The AHC hopes all members of the horse community will contact their Representatives and urge them to join the Congressional Horse Caucus.
Link to article on AHC website
Find the AHC on Facebook

Post Ride Recovery for the Endurance Rider - Full Article

by Karen Chaton

Post ride recovery for endurance riders is not usually a topic that most of us think about. Usually after the ride is over, you just want to sit down and relax. But if you make wise use of the post ride recovery period, you will be well rewarded.

Recent studies have showed that an endurance athlete can significantly reduce the time required for post ride recovery by paying close attention to nutritional intake after a ride. What you do leading up to and during a ride is also important and I’ll go over more of that later.

The main source of energy used while riding long distances on a horse are carbohydrates that are stored as glycogen in both the liver and muscles. Our bodies can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates as glycogen, forcing us to eat during our rides to avoid glycogen depletion. At the end of a long or hard ride there is a fair chance your muscle glycogen levels will be very low.

Glycogen Repletion
It has been shown that a glycogen repletion window exists for up to 4 hours immediately after exercise. During this period the body is able to process and replace glycogen at a much faster rate than usual (up to 3 times as quick). For the endurance rider this means that by eating the right types of food as soon as you finish riding you can significantly increase the time required by your body to fully recover. This can have a major impact on performance over a multi day event or in post ride recovery after a 100 mile ride...

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

What’s the Real Cost of Humanely Euthanizing and Disposing of a Horse?

March 13 2014

The Homes for Horses Coalition set out to answer questions about the cost of humanely euthanizing and disposing of horses by surveying horse rescues, veterinarians, veterinary schools and disposal services across the country.  The results of the 2014 survey confirm that doing the right thing at the end of a horse’s life is not very expensive.

Out of 94 organizations surveyed across the U.S.A., 87% reported the cost of euthanasia to be less than $300.  Out of 104 organizations offering disposal services, 75% reported the cost of disposal to be less than $300.  While cremation can be expensive, the cost of having the horse’s carcass transferred to a landfill can be as low as $50.  These costs are a virtual drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall expense of keeping a horse, and are simply a part of responsible horse ownership.

Some opponents of legislation to end horse slaughter like to argue the high cost of euthanasia and disposal; however, this survey shows that humane euthanasia and carcass disposal is highly affordable and widely available.  Those in favor of horse slaughter like to equate it with humane euthanasia. Nothing could be further from the truth. Horse slaughter is a horrific process that involves immense cruelty and animal suffering both during transport and during slaughter.  It is not humane euthanasia.

Veterinarian-administered euthanasia via chemical injection, on the other hand, brings a peaceful end to life. Normally, a veterinarian can come to the horse’s home so that the animal can be in familiar surroundings with loving caretakers there or nearby. Some vets will pre-sedate the horse before administering a lethal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital, which brings a quick, painless death. After death, the horse’s carcass can be buried or composted (ordinances permitting), transferred to a landfill, rendered or cremated.

“Horse slaughter has no place in a society that cares for its horses, and there are numerous alternatives to slaughter, many of which cost less than one month’s board,” says Cindy Gendron, Homes for Horses Coalition Coordinator.  Responsible ownership and breeding, coupled with veterinarian-administered humane euthanasia when necessary, are the answer – not slaughter.

About The Homes for Horses Coalition

The Homes for Horses Coalition is supported by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States’ Jeannie Dodson Equine Protection Fund.  It is dedicated to ending horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse, while promoting growth, collaboration and professionalism in the equine rescue and protection community. Find us online at and on Facebook at!/HomesforHorses.

Media Contact:
Cindy Gendron: 757-932-0394

Switching Horse Feeds Safely - Full Article

By Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS
Mar 04, 2014

Horse owners sometimes find it necessary to change their horse’s feeding program--fluctuations in temperature, season, and performance level are just some of the reasons. But with the known link between diet changes and health conditions such as colic or laminitis, how can owners safely transition their horse’s feed without negatively affecting his health? ...

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Gastric Ulcers: Maintaining Horses' Stomach Health - Full Article

By Katherine K. Williamson, DVM
Mar 10, 2014

Gastric ulcers are a big problem in horses. Results from several research studies have revealed that gastric ulcer prevalence in performance horses can be as high as 90%. Many factors have been implicated in gastric ulcer development in horses; however, scientists have not identified a single cause. This is likely because the condition is multifactorial—or, it results from a number of different factors working in concert to create gastric conditions leading to ulceration...

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Hindgut Bacteria Play Role in Laminitis, Colic in Horses - Full Article

Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 18, 2014

Colic and laminitis, two of the most common equine ailments, can both result from overconsumption of high-carbohydrate concentrates or lush grass. Research has supported this cause-and-effect relationship, but the full story is more complicated. Some horses develop laminitis for reasons unrelated to diet, and colic can occur in horses with even the most carefully managed feed programs...

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Managing Mud on Horse Farms - Full Article

By University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment
Feb 20, 2014

You might know the feeling when you lift your foot to take a step across your horse's paddock and suddenly realize that your boot has been left behind and your soaked foot is half a step away from it in ankle-deep mud. Mud is a problem anywhere water meets bare soil. And during the last few years Kentucky horse farms have had their share of mud...

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Back Country Horsemen of Missoula Celebrates 40 Years

March 1, 2014
By Connie Basham 
Following the vision of the original founding members from the Flathead Valley, it didn’t take much convincing for a few Missoula horseman and packers joining in kindred spirits, to form the second affiliated chapter of Back Country Horsemen in the early part of 1974.  On April 4-6, 2014 Missoula Back Country Horseman will celebrate their 40th year of affiliation as part of the national organization of BCHA.   
BCH of Missoula will be sharing this celebration with the Wilderness Association for their 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. 
The unification of these two chapters, later joined by members from Idaho, became the backbone of the Back Country Horsemen of America, as we know it today.  Thanks to these charter members - Mike Chandler, Smoke Elser, Jim Brogger, Ray Roberts, Chuck Smith, John Lance and Fred Hartkorn, Missoula’s chapter has grown to be one of the largest in the nation. 
Developing a sustained working relationship with many agencies and organizations, Missoula Back Country Horsemen dealt with numerous issues over the decades which threatened stock use on public lands. Issues including, trail and trailhead closures and abandonment; access problems; endangered species; user permits; trail sharing disputes; and other land use concerns. 
Working with local, state and federal agencies, BCH of Missoula members have spent countless hours, weeks, months and years pouring over forest management plans, congressional issues, environmental matters and a host of other concerns facing stock use of the back country.   Vast amounts of time and labor, both human and equine, have gone into building, clearing and maintaining trail systems, trail head facilities, camp facilities, bridges and buildings to protect and promote horse use in Montana.  These efforts have benefited numerous trail users insuring our continued presence while remaining a valued advocate for Montana’s wildland. 
BCH of Missoula/Montana have always been actively involved in wilderness designation and preservation throughout the state. The Missoula chapter was one of many that helped stave off drilling for oil along the Rocky Mountain Front of the Bob Marshall Wilderness preserving its untouched wildness forever. 
With the objective of educating and encouraging sensible, responsible horse and stock use, Missoula BCH sponsored the Equine Expo for public involvement.   They proudly and actively participate in the use and enjoyment of those successful efforts to uphold our horse heritage in Montana’s back country. 
For convention information visit:

Contact Peg Greiwe

Beet Pulp FAQs - Full Article

By Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor
Mar 03, 2014

You hear about owners feeding it to their underweight or aging horses. You see fellow boarders at the barn scooping it into buckets for soaking. But what is this stuff, and does your horse need it?

Beet pulp, a byproduct of the sugar beet industry, has long been a part of equine feed regimens, but that doesn’t mean owners don’t have questions about it. So we’ve compiled your most common inquiries and called on Kelly Vineyard, MS, PhD, research equine nutritionist at Purina Animal Nutrition, and Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS, an equine nutritionist based in Versailles, Ky., to provide some answers...

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Monday, March 03, 2014

Hay: To Soak or Not to Soak? - Full Article

By University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment
Feb 21, 2014

In areas or seasons where pasture is unavailable, horse owners turn to hay to make up for their horses' loss of grazing time. But choosing the right hay for a particular horse can present challenges. When feeding hay to horses, many questions arise: What kind, how much, should I buy processed hay, and finally, should I soak the hay for my horse? Soaking hay provides owners with the ability to alter some physical characteristics as well as the nutrient content of their hay if purchasing the ideal hay is not a feasible option...

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Managing Chronic Laminitis - Full Article

By Connie Lechleitner
Feb 19, 2014

Each morning Chrisbell Bednar of Oregonia, Ohio, brings her 16-year-old mare, Brynn, in from overnight grazing and crosses her fingers that the mare’s grazing muzzle is still intact.

“If the muzzle is off, I’ll start to a panic as I try to figure out how much grass she’s eaten and how long she might have had it off,” Bednar says. Even though the Morgan cross spends the night in a closely mowed paddock, there is still the chance she’s overeaten the sugar-rich -grasses.

Confirming the grazing muzzle is in place is just the first hurdle of the day; next, Bednar carefully weighs Brynn’s hay and measures a small amount of low nonstructural carbohydrate feed. Such is life caring for a horse with chronic laminitis...

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