USRider® Equestrian Traveler's Companion-Fall 2021

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Equestrian Traveler’s


Your Essential Horse-Trailering Resource Fall 2021

Fall Getaway! Tackle The Tetons

15 TrailerFooting Tips

Trailer Weights Demystified Autumn Laminitis: Is Your Horse At Risk?

An Equine Network, LLC Publication

Equestrian Traveler’s COMPANIONFall 2021

Your Essential HorseTrailering Resource

FEATURES 8 Safe Travels

Enhance Trailer Traction

12 Your Healthy Horse Laminitis: Autumn Risks

16 Hauling Hints Trailer Weights Demystified

20 Getaways Tackling the Tetons

24 USRider Member Story Stuck & Alone

DEPARTMENTS 4 Trip Tips Expert Advice for Horse Owners

6 Skill Set Tie a Quick-Release Knot

26 Road Gear Equine-Travel Products

28 USRider Member Benefits Horse-Health Discounts

30 Handy Checklist The Prepurchase Exam COVER PHOTO BY KENT & CHARLENE KRONE

USRider General Manager: Bill Riss Editor: René E. Riley Art Director: Abby McDougall Contact USRider: (800) 844-1409 P.O. Box 20634, Boulder, CO 80308 • USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

Equine Network, LLC, is the producer of award-winning magazines, including EQUUS, Horse&Rider, Practical Horseman, and The Team Roping Journal.


Fall 2021

You come back to your truck and trailer and have a

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Use On Ramps Safely Failing to use on ramps properly not only disrupts traffic, but also contributes to accidents. Safe travel on freeways and interstates is all about flow; anything that disrupts the flow of traffic can cause an accident. “Merging into interstate traffic with a horse trailer is a part of trailering that requires full concentration,” said Tomas Gimenez, Dr. Med. Vet., a noted expert in large-animal emergency rescue. “It can easily take a quarter mile on level ground for a heavy truck and trailer to reach 65 miles per hour, and most access ramps aren’t that long, so you may be going 40 to 50 miles per hour when you merge. Fortunately, most [drivers] will try to move over to accommodate you.” USRider offers these steps for executing a safe merge: Use your mirrors. As you drive onto an on ramp, use your mirrors to check traffic speed. (Make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted. Use convex mirrors for blind spots.) Signal and accelerate. Signal, then accelerate as closely as possible to the speed of the other vehicles. Check again. Keep checking the traffic by looking in your side-view mirror and over your shoulder; make sure no one is in your blind spot. Look ahead. Keep glancing at the vehicles ahead of you to make sure they aren’t stopping or slowing unexpectedly. Allow extra distance between you and the vehicle ahead to prevent a rear-end collision in case


Safe travel is all about flow; anything that disrupts the flow of traffic can cause an accident. Inset: When hauling your horse, use convex rearview mirrors for blind spots. someone stops. Also, check to see how much shoulder space is ahead as an emergency option. Gradually increase speed. Gradually increase your speed at the acceleration lane. Never cross the solid white or yellow line separating the acceleration lane from the freeway or interstate. Find a gap. Find a gap in the traffic flow before attempting to enter. Be sure the gap is large enough for your tow vehicle and trailer. Go with the flow. Before entering a traffic flow, adjust your speed to the flow’s speed. Turn off your signal. When you reach the through lane, turn off your turn signal.


Emergency Air Transport Have you ever thought what it would be like if you were traveling with your horse miles away from home and suddenly became incapacitated, which prevented you from driving your rig home? SkyMed, North America’s premier emergency air repatriation membership service, is now available to USRider Members at a 20% discount off everyday annual retail membership rates. In the event of a critical illness or injury when traveling more than 100 air miles from home, SkyMed will dispatch a medically equipped jet to the stranded patient for a return flight home at no cost to the Member. Then SkyMed sends a replacement driver to the stranded horse and trailer. For more information on USRider’s discount program, click here. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Fall 2021


Railroad-Track Safety Rail Safety Week is September 20-26, 2021. In a review of more than 400 horse-trailer accidents, the accidents involving trains had a very high likelihood of a human or equine fatality. If you must cross railroad tracks, proceed cautiously, especially when the tracks are higher than the road grade. If your trailer becomes lodged on a railroad crossing, call the emergency notification number posted on or near the crossing, or call 911 or local law enforcement. Evacuate all humans and animals from your tow vehicle and trailer. If a train is approaching, stay put until it passes. Here are railroad-track safety basics from Operation Lifesaver, Inc.; for more information, go to • Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains often change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection at any time. • It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.

• Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police, and pedestrians. • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled, which is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service. • Cross train tracks only at designated roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted there. • Stay alert around railroad tracks. Refrain from texting, headphones, or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation.


Store Your Trailer Right Before you store your trailer for the winter, perform preventive maintenance. This is important not only in case an emergency arises, but also to ensure that your trailer will be in optimal shape for the upcoming riding season. Follow these trailer-storage-preparation tips: • Take stock. Evaluate the trailer’s tires, emergency breakaway battery, and overall condition. Make any needed repairs and upgrades. Check the contents of equine and human first-aid kits. Replace depleted and out-of-date items. (For a vet-recommended list of items for an equine first-aid kit, visit • Baby the battery. Remove the emergency breakaway battery, and store it inside. Charge the battery at least every 90 days. • Wash and wax. Thoroughly wash and clean your trailer’s interior and exterior, and wax its painted surfaces. • Oil moving parts. Lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts that are exposed to the weather, plus hinges and jack stands. Note: On oil-lubricated hubs, the upper part on each roller bearing isn’t immersed in oil, so is subject to potential corrosion. • Store indoors or cover. If possible, store your trailUSRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion



Before you store your trailer for the winter, perform preventive maintenance to ensure that it’ll be in optimal shape for the upcoming riding season. er inside, out of the elements. If inside storage isn’t available, purchase a trailer cover. Cover the tires, as well. Trailer and tire covers are available through trailer and RV dealers. • Offset weight. After your trailer is in position, jack it up, and place jack stands under the trailer frame so that the weight will be off the tires. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to lift and support the unit. Never jack up or place jack stands on the axle tube or on the equalizers. For maximum bearing life, revolve the wheels every two to three weeks during periods of prolonged storage. Fall 2021

------------ SKILLSET------------

Tie a Quick-Release Knot

Here’s how to secure your horse in the trailer with a knot you can quickly untie in case of emergency. Story and photos by Michelle Anderson

If you choose to tie your horse in the trailer, or need to tie him outside of the trailer, be sure to use a quick-release knot. Here’s one that’s fast to tie, easy to undo, and safe.

In an emergency situation, a firm tug on the end of the lead rope will untie the knot and free a panicked or trapped horse. Practice these five steps until tying the knot becomes second nature to you.

Step 1. Loop the tail end Step 2. Pinch A and B Step 3. With your left hand, Step 4. Push the tail of the lead rope over a together in your right make a loop with B. end of B around the hitching rail, around a hand. pinched-together porsturdy post, or through a tions of A and B. Creating tie ring. Think of the end a second loop with the of the rope hooked to the tail end of B. Pull the new halter as “A” and the tail The point of a quick-release knot is that it’s easy loop through the original end of the rope “B.” to untie. But just as a quick-release is easy for you loop. to undo, some horses also quickly figure out how to release a knot by pulling at the tail-end of the rope with their mouths, leaving you with a loose horse. To prevent a potential problem, you can lock the quick release knot by putting the tail end of the rope through the knot’s loop. Then, if your horse pulls on the tail end of the rope, he’ll just tighten the knot rather than setting himself free. However, you’ll need to pull the tail end back out of the loop to make it once Step 5. Tighten the knot by again a true quick-release knot. pulling on A.

Lock That Knot

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Fall 2021


Enhance Trailer Traction

Whenever you haul your horse, he’s at risk for losing his footing. Loading and unloading can be particularly hazardous, especially if your horse balks at the loading process or rushes out. PHOTO BY CLIXPHOTO.COM

Enhance your trailer floor’s traction to reduce the risk of a slip, and help your horse feel safe and sure of his footing. By Fran Jurga USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


t can happen in the blink of an eye: Your horse rushes down the trailer ramp, slips, and falls. Or, it can happen during a two-hour trailer ride: You arrive at your destination to find your horse agitated, sheet askew, with a cut on his pastern. Whenever you haul your horse, he’s at risk for losing his footing, which can lead to anything from a muscle or tendon strain as he struggles to regain his balance to a severe injury and even death. Fall brings leaves, rain, mud, frost, and other footing hazards. Loading and unloading can be particularly hazardous, especially if your horse panics at the unloading process and rushes >>


Fall 2021

monitor your horse as you go down the road. Caveat: A trailer monitor doesn’t replace hands-on checks during trip breaks. 5. Work on trailer-loading. Work on your horse’s trailer-loading training. Try loading your horse so he faces backward, if the trailer design allows for it. He might find this position more comfortable for his spine or posture, or just for his mental state. If he tends to rush out, opt for a trailer with a front or side exit, so he doesn’t have to back out. 6. Follow your vet’s recommendations. If you’re hauling a sick or injured horse, get explicit transport directions from your veterinarian. For instance, deep shavings might sound like a good idea for transporting a sick foal, but the youngster might inhale too much dust, since he’s closer to the shavings than a horse would be. 7. Maintain the trailer floor. Trailer-floor maintenance is critical. If the floor gives way on the road, your horse is at risk for suffering catastrophic lower-leg injuries. Regularly inspect your trailer floor for any signs of wear and weakness. Trailer floors come in different materials; each has its advantages. Learn to love the floor you have, and keep it in good shape. Follow the specifications for the exact construction. Some trailers drain better than others; others are designed not to drain. 8. Use trailer mats. Note that trailer mats are designed to enhance traction; they weren’t invented to cushion a horse’s ride. A softer ride is the job of the trailer’s suspension; a mat can’t substitute for it. Mats may have some anti-fatigue effect, and dampen the vibration of a bare wood or metal floor, but you need to maintain your trailer’s shocks and undercarriage to give your horse a comfortable ride. 9. Maintain the mats. Pull out the trailer mats at least once per season to examine them and the trailer floor beneath. Wash them down with a power washer, and let them dry completely before replacing them. (As you replace the mats, note that some mats can be flipped over, while others have a top and bottom.) Replace your old mats with new ones as needed. Clean and inspect the mats after every trip. 10. Protect the mats. If you’re an eventer or show jumper, remove the jumping studs before loading your horse. Driving horses and horses ridden on pavement or in winter conditions that require drivein studs, frost nails, or borium will wear mats more quickly. You can cover studs and frost nails with duct >>


For your horse to feel comfortable, your trailer needs to be well-ventilated, light, and safe. If he feels good, he’s less likely to become stressed and cause a slip. out. During the trip, unsure footing can cause him to become stressed and agitated, which can lead to a disastrous fall. Enhance your trailer floor’s traction to reduce the risk of a slip, and to help your horse feel safe and sure of his footing. Sometimes just a small change can make a big difference. Here are 15 ways to help your horse stay on his feet as you load, unload, and go down the road. 1. Consider your horse. Let’s start with your horse. Unless you’re headed directly to your veterinarian’s clinic, your horse needs to be healthy, sound, and fit for travel. For your horse to feel comfortable, your trailer needs to be well-ventilated, light, and safe. Knowing your horse’s trailering history is helpful. If he’s ever been in a trailer accident or slipped on a trailer ramp, the memory may be tough to erase. 2. Make small changes. To help your nervous traveler relax, experiment with small changes. Try hauling him both tied and untied. Adjust the divider and wall pads, especially if he’s traveling alone. Haul him in different types of trailers over short distances, and note whether his behavior changes with trailer type. 3. Practice driving your tow vehicle. If you only occasionally drive your tow vehicle, practice driving without your trailer. Learn your tow vehicle’s idiosyncrasies, and make any necessary accommodations. Drive smoothly and slowly, especially if your horse worries about every stop and go. 4. Go high-tech. An onboard camera will help you USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Fall 2021

tape to save the mats, but you’ll compromise your horse’s traction. 11. Add shavings. Experts agree that you should put a layer of low-dust shavings on top of trailer mats. (Some people prefer green sawdust instead of shavings. Don’t use straw; if it gets wet, it’ll be slippery.) Shavings absorb urine, especially helpful if you have aluminum floors. Note the places where urine tends to puddle. Sprinkling bedding on trailer mats has its drawbacks, as bedding introduces the danger of circulating dust that can enter your horse’s respiratory passages. To reduce dust, opt for fluffy, large-flake shavings from the


Experts agree that you should put a layer of shavings on top of the trailer mats, but place them carefully. Trailering expert Rebecca Gimenez Husted, PhD, recommends using shavings to save the wood flooring and help prevent slipping, rather than create a home-away-from-home environment.

top of the bag, rather than the broken-down shavings at the bottom.

12. Place shavings carefully.

Shavings placement depends on the air circulation in your particular trailer. If the doors are open at the top, place shavings where you would for transport, then take your empty trailer out for a ride. When you get back, note how well the shavings stayed where you put them and how much dust was kicked up. This helps you predict the pattern of air circulation in your trailer on the highway. Remove soggy shavings as soon as possible for the sake of the mats and the floor. Keep dust away from your horse’s head. Trailering expert Rebecca Gimenez Husted, PhD, president of Technical Large Animal Rescue, recommends placing shavings only where your horse will urinate or where manure will fall. She sees the downside of trailers when it comes to highway accidents involving horses. “Filling a trailer with shavings as if it’s a box stall is ridiculous—and it contributes to respiratory issues,” Dr. Gimenez Husted points out. She recommends using shavings to save the wood in the floor and prevent slipping, rather than to create a home-away-from-home environment. Dr. Gimenez Husted also recommends using a remote camera to see what’s flying around in your trailer as you go down the road. 13. Boot with care. An unshod horse may haul better without hoof boots, unless he has foot soreness that would benefit from a boot’s cushioning. If you keep the boots on, make sure that the tread hasn’t worn smooth or he could slip. If your horse isn’t footsore,

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Soft-Ride Comfort Boots are designed to absorb the shock and vibrations of long trailer trips. remove the hoof boots after a trail ride or arena session. Clean the boots and your horse’s hooves before the ride home to help keep the mats in good shape. Consider Soft-Ride Comfort Boots, designed to absorb the shock and vibrations of long trailer trips.

14. Apply leg protection.

Apply shipping boots or leg wraps every trailer ride. If you opt for leg wraps, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate a proper wrap so you don’t put too much pressure on your horse’s tendons. Make sure there’s nothing under the wraps. Give him time to get used to the shipping boots or wraps. 15. Apply a fly mask. A fly mask will protect your horse’s eyes from shavings dust, as well as debris, pollen, and insects that can find their way into your trailer. Reducing such irritants can cut head tossing, which can affect his balance and traction. USR For more on hoof care and lameness from expert Fran Jurga, find her on Facebook, and read The Hoof Blog, Fall 2021

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Laminitis: Autumn Risks

Equine laminitis isn’t just a springtime affliction. Learn how laminitis seems to change with the seasons, and why it’s especially important to understand the risks that come in the fall. As you learn how to manage these risks, your reward will be a healthy and happy horse whose feet won’t let him down.

Is your horse more at risk for laminitis in the cooler autumn months? Use our expert information to help prevent this potentially crippling disease. By Fran Jurga USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


he sky is so blue! The air is so crisp! The woods are ablaze with color, and the bugs are finally gone! But when you bring in your horse from the pasture, he balks on the lead line and shuffles his feet. He seems to say “ouch!” with each tentative step. The last time your horse’s feet were sore was when he ate too much spring grass. But this can’t be laminitis again. Laminitis is a springtime disease. Or is it? Here, you’ll find insights into how equine laminitis seems to change with the seasons, and why it’s especially important to understand the risks that come in the fall. >>


Fall 2021

Then you’ll learn how to reduce your horse’s risk, and what to do if he starts showing signs of laminitis. Using this information, you’ll be able to understand more about your horse’s hormone levels, then schedule blood tests, adjust feed, and evaluate grazing accordingly. Your reward will be a healthy and happy horse whose feet won’t let him down.

What Is Laminitis?

Risk Factors Laminitis may strike at anytime and for many reasons. What we’ve always called “grass laminitis” is the most common form of the condition and often recurs. It strikes most often in spring and fall, but often coincides with the end of long periods of drought or extreme weather that affect the grass’ lifecycle, regardless of what it says on the calendar. More factors than just grass increase the risk. Here’s a rundown.

“Laminitis may strike at anytime and for many reasons.” • Hormonal problems. Disruption of a horse’s ability to produce or regulate specific hormones can lead to laminitis. An estimated 90 percent of laminitis cases can be traced to hormonal problems in horses; “grass laminitis” occurs in horses with imbalanced hormones. Luckily, veterinary tests can measure your horse’s hormone levels for evidence of Equine Metabolic Syndrome, a disorder of the hormone insulin (“insulin resistance”), or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, formerly called Equine Cushing’s Disease. PPID tests measure adrenocorticotrophic hormone (known as ACTH) from the pituitary gland. Some PPID horses may also have insulin level problems; your horse should have both tests. • Obesity. Seasonal laminitis is especially problematic for horses known as easy keepers. These horses tend to keep on weight regardless of how little grain they’re fed. However, not all easy keepers or obese horses have EMS, and not all horses with EMS are obese. Some may not look fat at first glance; many have pads of fat only on their shoulders and at the base of their tails, and their necks have overdeveloped crests. • Abnormal hoof wall. A ridged hoof wall, marked >> USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Laminitis is the most serious disease of the equine foot and causes pathological changes in anatomy that lead to long-lasting, crippling changes in function (termed chronic laminitis or founder). It’s the second-biggest killer of horses after colic. A horse has laminitis when the foot’s lamina, the connecting fibers between hoof wall and bone, suddenly fail. Without the bone properly attached to the inside of the hoof, the horse’s weight and the forces of locomotion drive the bone down into the hoof capsule. Arteries and veins are sheared and crushed, and the blood-delivery system to the coronet and sole is damaged. This results in unrelenting foot pain and lameness. Laminitis’ clinical signs, the extent and severity of the condition and the response to therapy vary, making treatment and accurate prognosis difficult. Severe damage to the hoof can occur within a few hours. The severity and extent of this initial damage is the single most important factor influencing the final outcome. —Chris Pollitt, PhD, MRCVS, Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit (

6 Signs of Laminitis 1. Your horse may assume an unusual stance, with his front legs stretched out or he may shift his weight from one foot to the other. 2. Your horse may walk gingerly, or rock back and forth in his stall. 3. On the lead line, your horse may balk when asked to turn. 4. Your horse may lie down more often than usual. 5. You may notice changes in the growth of your horse’s feet. His heels may grow faster than the toes, and growth rings may look curved instead of symmetrical. The white line at the toe may be stretched. 6. You may feel a strong pulse at the back of your horse’s pastern and/or an abnormally warm hoof wall; these are danger signs.

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10 Ways to Prevent Autumn Laminitis 1. Track your horse’s condition. Know your horse’s normal Henneke body-condition score. Photograph your horse several times a year. If you have access to a horse scale, record your horse’s weight, and keep it for reference. 2. Work your horse. Keep your horse active. Ride, drive or pony him regularly, all year long. 3. Watch the grain. Don’t increase your horse’s grain ration just because the air is crisp. Record how much grain you feed him from season to season. Measure grain with a marked scoop. 4. Analyze hay. The best hay has less than 10 percent nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC). Soak hay for half an hour before feeding to reduce the sugar content. 5. Note the weather. Cool nights and warm sunny days usually create the most lush pasture grass. When brown summer grass starts turning green, move at-risk horses off pasture. 6. Use a grazing muzzle. Use a slow-grazing muzzle on at-risk horses, even for short turnout times. 7. Use a dry lot. Turn a fenced-off area into a dry lot for an at-risk horse. Prevent grass growth with layers of sand, stone dust or wood chips. Even sparse grass and weeds can be dangerous to an at-risk horse. 8. Know your horse’s foot condition. Ask your farrier how the white line looks and if he has bruises or founder rings on his feet. 9. Keep a horse-health diary. Has your horse ever had mild lameness in the spring or fall? Do you see a pattern of seasonal lameness? Does the lameness correspond to changes in paddocks, or a new load of hay? Does your horse resist changing leads or prefer just one gait? 10. Be prepared. If your horse has had laminitis in the past, discuss it with your veterinarian and farrier. Plan what to do if your horse becomes lame. Boots with supportive pads are a good investment if he does.

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Spring grass produces large amounts of sugary substances to give the pasture energy to grow and blossom, and the pasture hums with activity until the hot sun slows things down into midsummer dormancy. When fall comes, pastures are refreshed by warm days and cool nights, as well as more rain than in summer. Sugar levels can be high. with raised “fever rings” or changes in hoof-growth pattern, is a distinct warning sign. Small dots of dark blood or bands of redness seen in the white line during trimming are also signs that some laminitis-related damage occurred in the past. • Springtime bouts. Most horses that suffer from seasonal laminitis seem to have bouts of it in the springtime when the pastures come back to life after a winter of dormancy. Lush grass isn’t a health risk in itself, but once a horse has had laminitis, the disease often strikes again if he isn’t carefully managed. This recurrence happens because such a horse is genetically prone to develop insulin resisWeight control, grazing restriction, tance, especially if he’s medication, and special diets are overweight; and the easier to add to a horse’s routine previous laminitis left than treatment for laminitis and his feet damaged, weak, months of pain and experimentaand prone to new bouts tion with trimming and shoeing. of the disease. >>


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Emergency Steps If you believe that your horse is suffering from laminitis, don’t panic. Slowly and carefully move him to a stall. Feed hay, but not grain or sugar-rich carrots and apples. Call both your veterinarian and your farrier. Donald Walsh, DVM, recommends standing all four of your horse’s feet in deep ice water for the first 24 to 48 hours.


Laminitis may strike at any time and for many reasons. What we’ve always called “grass laminitis” is the most common form of the condition and often recurs. It strikes most often in spring and fall, but often coincides with the end of long periods of drought or extreme weather that affect the grass’ lifecycle. • Classic factors. The classic non-hormonal causes of laminitis still exist. These include grain overload, retained placenta in mares, drug reactions, high fevers, and high stress. Support-limb laminitis is a problem in horses with leg injuries.

Laminitis Causes Rich grass doesn’t directly cause laminitis, but it can be a contributing factor. Some horses are sensitive either to weight gain from grass or to something in the grass itself. Most grass pastures dry up or become USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

dormant in the winter months in temperate climates. Spring grass produces large amounts of sugary substances to give the pasture energy to grow and blossom, and the pasture hums with activity until the hot sun slows things down into midsummer dormancy. When fall comes, pastures are refreshed by warm days and cool nights, as well as more rain than in summer. Sugar levels can be high. Research hasn’t determined exactly how lush grass triggers laminitis in horses with such hormonal problems as insulin resistance, but the link between insulin resistance and laminitis is well-documented. Horses may have been ridden often during the summer, but as activities slack off in the fall, they gain weight as they graze. Or, cooler autumn weather means that horses are ridden more, so owners feed those horses more. As autumn gets colder and darker, horses are fed more hay, some of which may be as rich as lush grass. Mares and stallions may experience reproductive hormone surges. As flies die off and the weather cools, horses seem to have more energy and a brighter attitude. Owners may equate more activity in the pasture and thickening coats with a need for more food, which can lead to obesity. Weight control, grazing restriction, medication, and special diets are easier to add to a horse’s routine than treatment for laminitis and months of pain and experimentation with trimming and shoeing. Laminitis continues to be a challenge for horses, but you can and should do everything you can to assess your horse’s risks and work on decreasing the risk factors if he’s prone to this terrible disease. USR Fran Jurga is a freelance writer and editor based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She’s the owner of Hoofcare Publishing and the author of the The Hoof Blog, www.


Fall 2021

------------ HAULING HINTS------------

Trailer Weights Demystified Here’s what you need to know about your trailer’s weight so you can select the right tow vehicle. By Neva Kittrell Scheve


Here’s what you need to know about trailer weights so you can select a tow vehicle that will be capable of hauling your trailer safely.


ou need to know the loaded weight of your trailer so you can select a tow vehicle that will be capable of hauling it safely. Here’s an inside look at how trailer weights are measured, and what this means to you. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Empty Weight The Curb Weight or Empty Weight is what your trailer weighs with no cargo. Sometimes, the manufacturer will list this weight on the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, also called the Manufacturer’s Fall 2021


Statement of Origin, or MSO. Usually, this will be a general weight for the standard trailer model, and therefore won’t include the weight of any options you’ve added to your particular trailer. The only sure way to know how much your trailer weighs is to take it to a scale and weigh it. To do this, go to a gravel yard or commercial scale; don’t rely on a highway scale.

Trailer Plus Cargo The Gross Vehicle Weight is the combined weight of your trailer, horses, and cargo. Trailer manufacturers rate each trailer based on how much GVW it can safely tow. This is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. You’ll find the GVWR on the trailer sticker. It’s important know this rating, so you don’t overload your trailer. The GVWR is determined by the axle and coupler capacities. For instance, if your trailer has two 2,500-pound axles, it’ll be rated to safely carry 5,000 pounds, including the trailer weight, as long as the trailer’s coupler is also rated for 5,000 pounds or more. If your trailer has two 5,000-pound axles, the trailer will be rated at 10,000 pounds, and so on.

In Practice If you choose a trailer with the recommended capacity for the horses you’ll be hauling, not that your trailer will most likely not weigh nearly as much as the GVWR. Let’s say your trailer has a GVWR of 5,000 pounds and weighs 2,500 pounds. When you load two 900-pound horses (1,800 pounds total) into your trailer, the actual weight will be 4,300 pounds, well within your trailer’s capacity. However, if you load two

1,200-pound horses (2,400 pounds total) in that same trailer, your trailer will weigh 4,900 pounds — dangerously close to capacity. Add a bale of hay, water, and tack, and you’ll be overloaded. This will cause too much strain on the axles, tires, and coupler for your trailer to be safe. Any or all of these components could fail. So — if you have the large horses, you must have a trailer with a higher GVWR that will support their weight.

Your Tow Vehicle Tow vehicles are also assigned a towing-weight capacity by the manufacturer. However, these capacities are recommended for hauling a boat or travel trailer/ recreational vehicle on flat terrain, not horse trailers. You need a bit of a safety margin, because horses are live, shifting weights, which add to your towing-capacity needs. When choosing a tow vehicle, use your trailer’s GVWR, so you’ll have an extra safety margin. If you do use the actual weight or GVW when shopping for a tow vehicle, add 15 to 20 percent to that number. Take into account any planned mountain hauling, and increase the tow capacity accordingly. PHOTOS BY CLIXPHOTO.COM

Glossary of Terms Here’s a handy glossary of trailer-weight-related terms to help you with your trailer and tow-vehicle selection. Curb Weight/Empty Weight: These terms refer to weight of an empty trailer. Curb Weight also refers the weight of a tow vehicle with standard equipment, and maximum capacity of fuel, oil, >>

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Top: The Curb Weight or Empty Weight is what your trailer weighs with no cargo. The only sure way to know how much your trailer weighs is to take it to a scale and weigh it. Bottom: The Gross Vehicle Weight is the combined weight of your trailer, horses, and cargo. It’s important know this rating, so you don’t overload your trailer. Fall 2021



Tow vehicles are also assigned a towing-weight capacity by the manufacturer. However, these capacities are recommended for hauling a boat or travel trailer/recreational vehicle on flat terrain, not horse trailers. You need a bit of a safety margin, because horses are live, shifting weights, which add to your towing-capacity needs. and coolant. This weight doesn’t include optional equipment or passengers. Gross Axle Weight (GAW): The weight loaded on the front or rear axle Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): The amount specified by the trailer manufacturer as the maximum weight that can safely be loaded onto the axle. Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW): The actual weight of the loaded tow vehicle and the loaded trailer combined. This includes the combined weight of the tow vehicle, the trailer, passengers, and horses, plus all equipment and supplies carried in both the tow vehicle and the trailer. Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR): The amount specified by the tow-vehicle manufacturer as the maximum GCVW the tow vehicle can manage, based on the manufacturer’s ratings. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or Gross Weight (GW): The actual weight of a single vehicle and its complete load. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The value specified by the manufacturer as the maximum

loaded weight of a single vehicle. For the tow vehicle, this includes the weight of the tow vehicle, fuel, all passengers, equipment, and the tongue weight of the trailer (either a tag-along or gooseneck). For the trailer, this includes the weight of the trailer plus mats, spare tire, horses, hay, feed, supplies, etc. Gross Payload: The weight of all passengers, options, and cargo carried in or on the vehicle. Net Payload: The weight that can be placed in or on the vehicle after the weight of the passengers, optional equipment, and cargo has been subtracted from the payload rating (below). Payload Rating: The maximum allowable payload for the vehicle Tongue Weight: The amount of the trailer’s weight that presses down on the trailer hitch (tagalong) or the rear axle (gooseneck). On trailers weighing more than 2,000 pounds, the tongue weight should be 10 to 17 percent of trailer weight. For gooseneck trailers, tongue weight should be 25 percent of trailer weight. Too much tongue weight can cause suspension/drive train damage, and can press the vehicle

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


down in back, causing the front wheels to lift to the point where traction, steering response, and braking are severely decreased. Too little tongue weight can actually lift the rear of the vehicle, reducing rear-wheel traction and causing instability which may result in tail-wagging or jackknifing. Weight-Carrying Hitch: This hitch supports the weight of the tongue as it presses down on the hitch. The hitch is rated by the tongue weight it can support and by the trailer weight. Weight-Distributing (Equalizing) Hitch: This distributes the tongue weight to all the wheels of the tow vehicle and trailer. This allows greater tongue weights and trailer weights to be carried, and tends to keep the tow vehicle more level and stable. A weight-distributing hitch greatly surpasses the capacity of the weight-carrying hitch. An example is a gooseneck hitch with equalizer bars attached. USR Neva Kittrell Scheve of EquiSpirit Trailers has written three books on horse trailers, including The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining and Servicing a Horse Trailer.

Fall 2021

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------------ GETAWAYS ------------

Tackling the Tetons

Grand Teton National Park offers spectacular scenery, especially in the fall. Story and Photos by Kent and Charlene Krone

Traveling equestrians would be hard pressed to find more spectacular scenery than Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, especially in the fall. Here, Mount Moran, 12,605 feet above sea level, is festooned in fall colors. Traveling equestrians would be hard pressed to find more spectacular scenery than Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, especially in the fall. The Teton Mountain Range rises gracefully USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


7,200 vertical feet from a lush valley floor to a height of 13,770 feet above sea level. Covered in white lace mantillas, graceful mountains admire their reflection in mirrored lakes below. >> Fall 2021

One hundred million years ago, slow-moving glaciers sculpted large moraines and formed lakes. Wind and water erosion added finishing touches to this sublime masterpiece. Five distinct natural communities exist in this area: alpine; forest; sagebrush flats; wet meadows; and lakes and ponds. Each region has its own unique plant and animal life.

Fairground Camping Entering Grand Teton National Park. Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, in all National Park Service buildings, crowded outdoor spaces, and on enclosed public transportation.

We arrived in the nearby town of Jackson and made the Teton Fairgrounds our temporary home, since there are no equestrian campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park. Here, our horses had stalls, and we had electricity and a convenient camp. Fairground policy allows you to exercise your horses in the large arena as long as you stay with them. A word of caution: When we turned out our Missouri Fox Trotter geldings, Nate and Cowboy, they spied an obscure open gate and charged out of the arena, heading for a night on the town. Fortunately, they stopped to munch alfalfa in the parking lot, and we were able to squash their foray.

Inspiration Point

“On a crisp September morning, we trailered our horses to the String Lake trailhead,” note the Krones. Here, they cross the stream below String Lake on the way to Inspiration Point aboard their seasoned mounts, Cowboy and Nate.

On a crisp September morning, we trailered our horses to the String Lake trailhead. To get there from the fairgrounds, we drove north on Highway 191 and into Grand Teton National Park, a distance of roughly 22 miles. We turned left on Teton Park Rd. past Jenny Lake, then turned left at North Jenny Lake Junction. The parking lot at the String Lake Trailhead is divided into three sections. The first two parking lots are small, but the spacious third lot easily accommodates horse trailers and even has hitching rails. Tangled ribbons of sunlight crossed our path as we began our journey to Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon. The air held a little nip to remind us that winter wasn’t too far away. From the trailhead, we rode by a bridge and crossed a crystal-clear stream. After about three miles along Jenny Lake, we came to the trail that led to Inspiration Point, a high bluff that extends out into Jenny Lake. Inspiration Point is well-named! Its visual beauty is enhanced by the wind whispering across the lake, fragrant pines, and clean, fresh air. Here, you know you’re in a special place.

Cascade Canyon Charlene Krone rides Nate ride along Jenny Lake on the way to Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

We then backtracked a short distance and headed up Cascade Canyon, also well-named. A short portion of this trail is rocky and gains elevation, but soon levels out as it follows the canyon floor. >>


Fall 2021

As we headed up the trail, we took time to enjoy our surroundings. Across the meadow, a quilt of scarlet and gold, a silver stream danced merrily along. From quiet pools, fish leaped for bugs. Towering mountains hemmed the meadow’s edge, their massive faces glistening with tears from melting glaciers that became sparkling waterfalls. We continued up Cascade Canyon, following the stream as it wound its way in and out of several long meadows. Three miles later, we could see Mount Owens, a glacier hanging on its shoulder. This is one beautiful ride!

Lake Rides

Kent Krone rides Cowboy on the way to Cascade Canyon. “A short portion of this trail is rocky and gains elevation, but soon levels out as it follows the canyon floor,” the Krones report.

Kent and Charlene Krone riding in Cascade Canyon. “This is one beautiful ride!” they effuse.

Nate gets a drink of water at Leigh Lake. Charlene Krone and Nate are on the trail to Trapper Lake. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

Our next ride, also from the String Lake Trailhead, was to Leigh Lake along a mostly level soft-dirt trail. In this large, shallow lake, three picturesque islands appeared; one had a lonely, solitary tree. Across the wide expanse of water, the Teton Range watched us in haughty silence. We continued about five miles up this trail, eventually passing Bear Paw Lake and continuing on to Trapper Lake. Both have primitive campsites. Trapper Lake was dramatic, surrounded by a swirl of fiery colors with Mount Moran looming behind. On the way back, we encountered a group of young folks packing in supplies for a canoe trip, lugging food and equipment. For our third ride, we parked at the Taggart Lake Trailhead. (If this one is full, go north to the smaller trailhead on the right with a dirt road and parking area.) This ride was in the alpine region, at a higher altitude than our two earlier rides. Intersections are well-marked. Our trail gently climbed; when it forked, we turned right. We rode past Taggart Lake and climbed up to Bradley Lake. We rode through alpine forests, yet we could see the majestic Tetons. When we got to Bradley Lake, we rode for a while, then backtracked to Taggart Lake. We followed the lakeshore, then crossed a bridge over the lake’s outlet stream, completing an easy loop back to the trailhead. There are a couple of other rides in the park worth mentioning. The ride to Hermitage Point, a peninsula that juts into Jackson Lake, is a comfortable, 10-mile loop. Start from the Colter Bay Lodge and trailhead at the park’s north end. You’ll work your way through several interconnecting loops to Hermitage Point. Jackson Lake is the largest lake in the park. Its turquoise-blue water provides a stunning setting for the Tetons rising in the distance. Take time on the return to stop at Herron Pond. This lily-pad-covered pond is home to local moose. >>


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Death Canyon Another knockout ride is up Death Canyon. Many consider it one of the most beautiful rides in the park. To get there, journey past Phelps Lake, then start climbing into the canyon. Be careful going through the rocky portions of the trail. After entering the canyon, you’ll find walls of solid granite punctuated with waterfalls. Until recently, riders could park at the Death Canyon Trailhead. But the National Park Service has closed road access to trailers, so you’ll need to park at the Taggart Lake Trailhead, a good distance away from Death Canyon. Check with the NPS for current road-access conditions. Charlene Krone and Nate at Trapper Lake with Mount Moran behind.

The Krones’ rig and horses at the Taggart Lake Trailhead.

Jenny Lake Lodge After our ride to Trapper Lake, we rode to Jenny Lake Lodge and tied our horses at the lodge’s hitching rails. We enjoyed sitting on the lodge deck and watching guests from around the world visit with Cowboy and Nate. For Western luxury inside the park, Jenny Lake Lodge is the place to go. Horseback rides through beautiful scenery are provided free of charge to lodge guests. We rode past the stables and visited with the wranglers. Horse use has always been a part of the history of Grand Teton National Park. In 1922, Tony Grace homesteaded 160 acres in the Jenny Lake area and started a dude ranch. He built the first five structures that remain a part of Jenny Lake Lodge. The dining room is part of the original lodge Grace built. Today, you can enjoy the same ambiance and trails early guests used nearly a century ago. Cabins have been modernized, yielding comfortable quarters after a long ride. Award-winning cuisine awaits the hungry diner.

Triangle X Ranch

Fall colors on the Taggart and Bradley Lakes trail. Shown is Charlene Krone aboard Nate.

Another historical ranch is the Triangle X Ranch, an authentic dude ranch completely surrounded by Grand Teton National Park. Located in the heart of Jackson Hole country and with the Tetons as a backdrop, the Triangle X offers mountain scenery, abundant wildlife, horseback riding, and a quiet, relaxed pace. The Triangle X offers approximately 200 horses and 50 mules for guest use. Rides feature changing vistas of the Teton Range and Snake River Valley. You may choose scenic, slow rides, or advanced rides that cover longer distances. You may ride along the river (where elk, moose, and bison roam), over sagebrush flats, through green foothills filled with colorful wildflowers, and finally to the tops of timbered mountains. USR

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Fall 2021

------------ USRIDERMEMBERSTORY------------

Stuck & Alone


“I can’t think of a more helpless feeling than standing there in the dark, a thousand miles from home and not being able to get my three horses to safety,” writes USRider Member Lauren Sargent. “Then I remembered my USRider membership!” Shown is Sargent’s horse Salty Dog.

This lone traveler was stuck on the road with her three horses. USRider sent help immediately. By Lauren Sargent


first heard about USRider when I stopped overnight at a horse hostelry near Redding, California, en route from my home in Oregon to the ranch in Blythe, California, where I spend my winters. I thought USRider sounded like a wonderful program, especially for someone like me who often travels alone with three horses, so I signed up.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Out of Fuel I completely forgot about my coverage until almost a year later when I was again traveling from Oregon to Southern California with my three Missouri Fox Trotters, Boots, Salty Dog, and Sunny. I try to plan my trips so that I’m not on the road more than five or six hours per day. On the last day of this trip, I’d planned to get an early Fall 2021

“I thought USRider sounded like a wonderful program, especially for someone like me who often travels alone with three Missouri Fox Trotters,” writes Member Lauren Sargent. From left to right: Sargent’s horses, Boots and Salty Dog. start and drive a little longer than I usually do to arrive at my destination before dark. South of Bakersfield, I turned east on I-10 toward Blythe, eager to be off the road. I was between Palm Springs and Indio when I realized my pickup was low on fuel. I took the next exit. I’d just made it to the gas-station entrance when my truck ran out of fuel and abruptly died. My rig was partially blocking the entrance and partially on the road, where we were in danger of being hit by other vehicles. I went to the station and filled a gas can with diesel fuel. I poured the fuel into the tank, but my truck still wouldn’t start. I didn’t know at the time that some diesel trucks can be very hard to start if they run out of fuel. Some trucks have hand pumps to pump fuel to the carburetor; unfortunately, my truck isn’t one of them. With my truck, it’s sometimes necessary to bleed the air out of the fuel lines to get the engine running again.

Helpless Feeling As my truck was blocking the road, I called 911 and explained to the

operator that I was pulling a horse trailer with three horses. She called a tow truck, but either she didn’t explain the situation fully or the tow-company dispatcher didn’t listen very well. The dispatcher sent out a tow truck that could haul my pickup, but didn’t help at all with the trailer and horses. A couple of people stopped and tried to help, but didn’t know how to get my truck running. It was almost dark. I was worried, because I knew my horses were tired, hungry, and thirsty, but there was no place to safely unload them. I was feeling very much alone and desperate. I didn’t have any idea how to find a mechanic to get my truck running. I didn’t even know where I exited the interstate. A California Highway Patrol officer tried to help, but he couldn’t get the truck started, either. He did put traffic cones around the truck and offered to stay with me until help was on the way. I can’t think of a more helpless feeling than standing there in the dark, a thousand miles from home and not being able to get my three horses to safety.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


A Friendly Voice The situation looked pretty dismal. Then I remembered my USRider membership! I called, and immediately there was a friendly voice on the other end of the line. I spoke with a woman who understood my problem and had the resources to help me. She offered to have my horses taken to a nearby stable and my truck towed to a repair facility. Since I was fairly close to my destination, I opted instead to have both my rig and my horses taken to the ranch in Blythe. I had to pay part of the towing bill because of the distance involved, but I was just glad to be on my way to the ranch where I knew my animals and I would all be safe. I can’t say enough good things about the service I received from USRider. Without their help, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten my horses to safety. I’ll never again venture out on the road pulling a horse trailer without the protection of USRider. I tell every horseperson I meet about my positive experience with USRider. USR Fall 2021


Equine-Travel Products Go-To Fall Products

Trailer-Door Caddy The Professional’s Choice Trailer Door Caddy is designed to accommodate both you and your horse. This durable caddy features both open and zipper mesh pockets to keep things organized, and insulated cup holders to keep your beverages cold while grooming. Secure the caddy to your trailer’s door with the included mounting fasteners and adjustable hook-and-loop closures. Available in two sizes.

Hybrid Training Halter

Trailer-Safety Signs

The patented Hybrid Halter from Kalley Krickeberg Horse Education Company is a handy tool for introducing your horse to the trailer, combining a traditional leather halter with innovative training features that apply precise, targeted pressure. Knots on the nosepiece’s yacht rope encourage lightness and discourage leaning. A sliding ring under the chin allows the halter ring and lead-rope snap to slide a full 180 degrees. Add a matching rope.

Send a clear message to others on the road to drive carefully near your trailer and vehicle. The CAUTION HORSES Sign Series will enhance your trailer’s visibility both at night and during the day. The signs are made from heavy-duty reflective vinyl and come in a range of sizes. Available in black, red, and white.

Immune-System Boost Research has proven that stress compromises immune function. If your horse travels often, is a senior citizen, or works hard, consider a targeted supplement designed to support his immune health. SmartImmune™ Pellets provide a comprehensive and innovative approach to supporting healthy immune function. This formula includes adaptogenic herbs such as astragalus, ginseng, and golden root, plus echinacea. Potent antioxidants—including resveratrol, vitamin C, and vitamin E—help to protect cellular health and fight free radicals. Since digestive and immune health are so closely related, this formula also includes prebiotics. In addition, AgariPlex™, a proprietary mushroom blend, helps the body manage stress. The pelleted formula is easy to feed and picky-eater approved. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Fall 2021

Peace of Mind WITH EVERY MEMBERSHIP 24/7 Nationwide Roadside Assistance for You and Your Horse

Benefits includes: • • • • • •

Up to 100 miles of towing Emergency stabling assistance Emergency veterinarian referrals Emergency farrier referrals Coverage in any vehicle Service on dual-wheeled vehicles and horse trailers • Discounts on tack, travel, accessories and more!


WWW.USRIDER.ORG (800) 844-1409 USRider Equestrian Traveler’s Companion ®

Administered by Nation Motor Club Inc.,


DBA Nation Safe FallDrivers 2021

------------ USRIDERBENEFITS------------

USRider Member Benefits Health-Care Discounts As a USRider Member, you can enjoy money-saving discounts through Winner’s Circle Advantage. You may access these benefits directly through the Members Area of the USRider website, as well as through the brochure enclosed in membership kits and renewal mailings. (Look for the access codes to

all Winner’s Circle Advantage Partners.) With so many discounts, you can easily save the cost of your annual membership fee, and more! This issue, we spotlight Horse Health. For more information on each of these companies, and for more Horse Health discounts, click here.

Arenus Developed by veterinarians and nutritionists, and supported by a team of animal health specialists, Arenus products deliver what your animal needs, whether healthy or ill. This is because Arenus is centered on the core belief of supporting complete animal-care solutions with deep passion and exact science. USRider Members receive a 10% discount on the company’s Sore No-More line of products. Sore No-More products provide pain relief, boost overall health, and improve performance.

Choice of Champions Choice of Champions International keeps horses at the top of their game with a line of supplements that support the health, fitness, and overall well-being of performance horses. U Shield is designed for sporthorses with busy show and travel schedules and horses prone to stress. U Shield is an acid suppressant, mucosal protective and top dressing for horses prone to ulcers. Lung Aid is a must-have for horses in heavy work. This supplement is a comprehensive conditioner for the lungs that promotes equine respiratory health. Other Choice of Champions products include Super Joint Solution, True Sweat, and Easy Does It. USRider Members receive free shipping with a minimum $150 order; online and phone orders only.

Omega Fields Your horse can count on Omega Fields’ Omega-3 rich, stabilized flax supplements and treats to help restore cracked, brittle hooves; help prevent sand colic; help alleviate stiff, immobile joints; soothe aching muscles; relieve skin problems, and promote a shiny, healthy coat. Satisfaction guaranteed. USRider Members receive a 15% discount. proudly serves equine athletes. With access to over 50,000 animal health products and supplies, an extensive equine pharmacy, the highest level of customer service, and fast shipments, is confident they can provide what you need, when you need it. USRider Members receive a 10% discount.

Sweetwater Nutrition At Sweetwater Nutrition, we make it easy for you to select high-quality supplements for your horse with a name you can trust. Founded in 1999, Sweetwater Nutrition is here to help you select the right products for your horse— ranging from InflamAway joint supplements for your performance horse and RelaxForm EQ for stressed horses to Hoof Renu to promote strong, healthy hooves. We’re here to work with you, providing your horse with the best products available. Sweetwater Nutrition understands the busy lifestyle that equestrians live, especially when traveling with their horses. Made in the USA, all of our ingredients are USP (United States Pharmacopeia) human grade, and our formulas are proven for potency and efficacy. USRider Members receive a 10% discount and free shipping on a purchase over $35. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Fall 2021

Need more benefits? Own an Equine Business? Travel long distances? Introducing the:

Premier Plan UPGRADE TODAY Premier Plan

The new USRider® Premier Plan is the preferred plan for business or competitive equestrian travelers. This plan includes all of the Classic Plan benefits PLUS:

• • • • • •

Unlimited towing Unlimited jump start benefit Unlimited lock out benefit $400 maximum winch out benefit $400 maximum roadside repair One FREE associate/employee membership

• Emergency disablement expense reimbursement • 24-hour concierge service • 20% off all items in the USRider® Store • Includes fuel, oil and water delivery, tire changes, roadside repair* *excluding cost of parts and fluids

WWW.USRIDER.ORG • (800) 844-1409


The Prepurchase Exam ■ Eyes. Using a light source, the vet will check the health of the horse’s eyes, looking for corneal scarring, cataracts, inflammation, and other signs of disease. ■ Teeth. The vet will examine the horse’s mouth for problems, including missing teeth, overgrown molars, poor alignment, and abnormal wear. Before the Exam ■ Conformation. The vet will ■ Find the right vet. Try to use evaluate the horse’s conforyour own veterinarian, but be mation for any faults that may aware that you might need to affect the animal’s ability to percall in a different vet if the horse form the job you have in mind is located far from your vet’s for him. office. Avoid using the seller’s ■ Passive lameness exam/legs. vet; it’s best to get an objective In this part of the lameness opinion. exam, the horse stands still. The ■ Talk to the vet. Discuss your vet will palpate (expertly feel) plans, with the vet, so he or she the lower limbs, checking the knows how you’ll be using the horse’s bones, joints, muscles, horse. Share everything you tendons, and ligaments. He or know about the horse’s medical she also will likely palpate the history and current use. horse’s back. During the Exam ■ Passive lameness exam/ ■ Vital signs. The vet will check hooves. The vet will look closely for normal temperature, respiat the shape, balance, size, and ration, and pulse while at rest. quality of the horse’s feet and The horse will then be given hooves. He or she will use hoof some light exercise and checked testers (metal pincers) to check again. Abnormal vital-sign readfor any soreness. The vet will ings can indicate illness. also conduct flexion tests (in ■ Gut sounds. Using a which various joints are mastethoscope, the vet will listen nipulated) to reveal any pain, to the sounds coming from the especially those in the lower leg. different sections of the horse’s ■ Active lameness exam. Here, gastrointestinal system. Normal the horse will be asked to move. gut sounds indicate a healthy The vet will watch closely as digestive tract. the horse is led at walk, trot, ■ Heart and lungs. The vet and canter. The vet may then will listen to the horse’s heart ask to see the horse longed in a and lungs with a stethoscope, small circle, preferably on a hard checking for abnormal sounds. surface. Fall sales, auctions, organized rides, and other equestrian events are prime venues for purchasing a new horse. And it’s always a good time to adopt a horse that needs a forever home. One way to help ensure you’re getting a sound, healthy horse is to invest in a prepurchase examination by a qualified equine veterinarian. Here’s a prepurchase-exam checklist.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion



During a prepurchase exam, the vet will conduct flexion tests to reveal any pain, especially those in the lower leg.

■ Radiographs. At your request, the vet may take radiographs to further evaluate soundness and overall health. Radiographs are typically taken if the flexion test reveals any signs of lameness. ■ Blood. Blood tests are optional. If you ask for a blood test, the vet will check for equine infectious anemia, thyroid function, and other metabolic problems. You may also request a drug test for sedatives, painkillers, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. ■ Neurologic problems. The vet might also check for equine protozoal myelitis and other neurological problems, especially if there have been any outbreaks in the area. He or she might bend the horse’s neck, ask the horse to back or turn in a tight circle, or tap the horse to check certain reflexes. If there are signs of a possible neurologic problem, the vet may perform approved additional tests. USR — Audrey Pavia

Fall 2021

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