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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 11 Photo courtesy of the Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Sanctuary | 48 Photo: Angie Field | 56 Photo: Shelley Mizrahi



56 11

11 Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Sanctuary

56 Celebration of Horses Photo Contest

48 Horsemanship with Jonathan Field

64 For the Love of Alberta’s Wild Horses


A haven for working animals in Morocco.

My horse bucks! Understand why horses buck, and what to do about it.



Album of winners from our 25th annual contest.

A pictorial by photographer June Fox.




ON THE COVER “Fabio” is one of the most wellknown horses in Alberta’s wild herd, according to photographer June Fox, who gave him the name in 2013 because of his incredible mane. In 2014, Fabio became the poster boy for the battle against the Alberta wild horse culls. People identified with him and it helped bring awareness to their plight. For more stunning photographs of Alberta’s wild horses, see page 64.






4 To Subscribe 10 Editorial 63, 74 N ew & Noteworthy 66 Horse Council BC News


68 Ontario Equestrian

14 Under the Knife, Part 1

69 Canadian Therapeutic Riding

Federation News

A look at what happens behind the doors of an equine surgery.

28 Under the Knife, Part 2


Caring for the horse during recovery, stall rest and rehabilitation.



36 What is Quality Hay?

Determine the most suitable hay for the horse being fed.

42 Feeding Horses Based on their Physiology

How to create a more natural lifestyle for the equines in our care.


Association News

70 Manitoba Horse Council News 71 Country Homes & Acreages 72-73 Book Reviews 75 Hitchin’ Post,

Index to Advertisers

76 Roundup

14 Photo courtesy of Kleider Veterinary Services | 42 Photo: Canstock/Azalia | 64 Photo: June Fox | 28 Photo: Hannah Riach


Jarjeer Mule & Donkey Sanctuary A haven for working animals in Morocco BY MARGARET EVANS


ctober 11, 2009, was a warm Sunday evening in Marrakech, Morocco. The clatter and babble of the colourful markets was subsiding as bikes, buses, horsedrawn caleches and donkey carts made their way home. But one cart clattered on with an urgency of its own. It was heading for the veterinary clinic of the UKheadquartered Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), which provides free veterinary care for working animals in some of the world’s poorest countries. On the cart was a distressed jenny donkey in the final stages of tetanus. She was rigid, recumbent, and barely breathing. And she was also in the final stages of pregnancy. The veterinary team led by Dr. Boubker leapt into action, knowing euthanasia would be the only humane option for the jenny. But they would do everything possible to save the baby through an emergency caesarean section. Within moments, a tiny grey colt was delivered and laid

on insulating matting. Dr. Boubker then administered the needle that would end the jenny’s suffering. The tiny colt was called Tommy, and he faced many challenges. With no colostrum (his dam’s milk would have been toxic from the tetanus bacillus), he was fed ULT (ultra-high temperature processed) milk and honey. Being somewhat premature (by how much no one knew) he had no sucking reflex so that was solved with a nasogastric tube which delivered his milk for ten days, but care had to be taken not to get fluid in his lungs. He needed a blood transfusion and tetanus anti-serum to boost his immune system. His temperature rose but soon settled. After an agonizing first two weeks, Tommy began to gain strength, get his legs under him, and take on the challenges of life as an orphaned foal. Curiosity got the better of him. He made friends with another donkey called Obama and the two explored their veterinary home. “Tommy remained at SPANA for

two years,” says Susan Machim, director of Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Sanctuary in Marrakech and closely linked with SPANA. “The vets used him in their classroom for local children because he could be petted and it was hoped that he would develop awareness in the next generation of emotional ties with working animals. But as he reached adolescence he began to see the children, and others, as competition to his status. He became more aggressive and bit several people – including me! At this point, the chief technician said that he needed to work and could he come to our land and help. We agreed to take him, but sought the advice of a professor at Liverpool University who had previously advised [during] his caesarean birth. He advised not only castration, but keeping Tommy with a strong female donkey, which we did and it worked.” Machim and her partner, Charles, had built the villa they named Jarjeer in the foothills of the Atlas NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016




< The elderly white donkey, Byed, who was in failing health and was going blind with

cataracts, has returned to excellent health and is finding her way round the paddock unaided. A little donkey called Clover became Byed’s new best friend. The change has been amazing.

The sanctuary is a hospice for working animals in the twilight of their years.

This is Touffik who works eight hours a day in the yard and the paddock and even comes in on his one day off a week. His commitment to Jarjeer is remarkable.

Mountains near Marrakech. When they purchased the land it had been covered with the perennial flowering plant wild rocket, which belongs to the mustard family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and common throughout much of the western world. “The herb is known in Arabic as ‘Jarjeer’ and was, in turn, the medieval cure for mental illness,” says Machim. “As I had worked for most of my adult life in psychiatry and latterly as a barrister specialising in mental health, the term seemed the right name for our new home. As matters stand now, some of our donkeys are training as therapy donkeys and we employ one member of staff who has schizophrenia.” 12




Tommy went to live at Jarjeer late in 2011 and quickly became their ambassador, representing all working donkeys and mules. Today the fivehectare sanctuary has 37 equines including seven ex-working mules. There’s Picasso, a very old grey donkey who arrived barely able to stand. Pablo had been left for dead after a lifetime of work in the medina, the old part of the city. He lived happily at the sanctuary for three years before he died peacefully of old age with everyone around him. Lucky was rescued from a building site where he had been tethered and left to die because he had lost all his teeth, due to harsh bitting, and could no longer eat. Emily and Byed are two female donkeys who worked in a Berber village. Clover came from Tangier with half a hoof missing; she is now closely bonded to Byed. Jules came from northern Morocco, having become completely blind and with breathing difficulties due to severe parasite infection. Salvo arrived with deformed hind hooves from being worked at too young an age. Gus came with a back injury, a broken jaw, and just one eye. His back injury wouldn’t let him walk in a straight line. He had special padded rugging and a soft diet, but his

injuries were so severe that he was eventually humanely euthanized. The sanctuary functions as a hospice for those animals in the twilight of their lives. Stables have been built and more are planned. In addition, there’s an olive grove of 750 trees that provides a crop which is milled into olive oil and fed to the donkeys and mules as needed. Caring for the animals naturally requires a lot of work. “Volunteers are not permissible in Morocco without permission from the Government, which is tightly controlled,” says Machim. “That is clearly to preserve employment in a still poor country. We employ eight men full-time. That includes grooms, builders, and gardeners.” Working with them, Machim is acutely aware of the cultural differences and seeks to find the path of least resistance and understanding for the benefit of the animals. “We have had nothing but support from local people. Originally there was opposition to castration but now the benefits have been seen in terms of improved animal behaviour, and social interaction attitudes have shifted. I believe this support has only grown because I work alongside the men and I learn from them. That



An inside look at an equine surgery BY MARGARET EVANS When a horse goes for surgery, it can be an anxious time for the owner. But an understanding of what happens at the surgery, and the knowledge that todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s equine patients are cared for by expert medical teams using state-of-the-art technology, may help the nervous owner to breathe a little easier.


ne day in the summer of 2009, my son came home to find Daisy, our 12-year-old Thoroughbred mare, with her face covered in blood. She had a cut near the left eye and we were baffled as to how she got it. I washed the wound with a saline solution and treated it with a product





that was excellent for tissue healing. The daily washing and gel treatment allowed the wound to heal, but after about ten days we noticed a persistent dribble through the nose that began as a clear discharge and progressively turned more yellow. There was also a strange bony lump between the eyes.

A visit from my vet, Dr. Mark Steinebach, led to the conclusion that Daisy had most likely been kicked by one of the other horses and now had a sinus infection. The diagnosis led to two rounds of antibiotic treatments that worked temporarily, but the runny nose returned each time she finished her


Ultrasound imaging allows the veterinarian to determine which structure is involved, as well as the severity and extent of the injury.


< To perform an endoscopy, the

medication. Dr. Steinebach returned to do x-rays and diagnosed some dead bone under the bump, confirming that the injury must have been from a kick. He recommended surgery to remove the bone fragments and clean the sinus. In nearly 30 years of owning horses it was the first time I had faced the prospect of a horse needing surgery, aside from our young colts needing castration. Daisy was a high-strung, 12-year-old Thoroughbred, and changes

in her routine would be challenging. She would be trailered to Paton & Martin Veterinary Services in Langley, BC, and then she would need post-op care on her return. Knowing her flighty, high anxiety personality, I rapidly got up to speed with the preparation to send her out and a foolproof plan for nursing care on her return. My anxieties about equine surgery mirror those of a lot of horse owners. But then, on the other side of the equation, horses undergoing

horse is sedated, then a local anesthetic is sprayed up the nasal cavity to numb the area. The endoscope is passed through the nostril and manoeuvred up the nasal cavity and around guttural pouches, larynx, nasopharynx and upper trachea. The procedure is used to detect areas of inflammation, excessive mucus production, or a defect such as “roaring” (laryngeal paralysis).

surgery today are in the care and expertise of the best equine medical teams on par with any surgical unit in today’s hospitals. Many equine vets have state-ofthe-art equipment for accurate diagnosis. A lameness locator using sensors and algorithms will detect and quantify body movement asymmetry for the most subtle of limb abnormalities, mild lameness, multiple limb lameness, and compensatory lameness. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016





The three-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare, Fire, has recovered well after surgery for osteochondrosis (OCD) in her hocks in the summer of 2016.


Caring for the horse during recovery, stall rest and rehabilitation BY MARGARET EVANS Just like humans, horses need time to recover from surgery and rebuild strength. Depending on the extent of the surgical procedure, the protocols can be quite restrictive. Stall rest will be essential in order to contain the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s movements and ensure that healing gets underway safely and without risk of compromising the wound site. If post-operative procedures are necessary once the horse comes home, understand what needs to be done, and how to do it, before leaving the veterinary facility. The horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diet should be carefully reviewed with 28




your vet to ensure optimum nutrition is provided to facilitate healing. It might be necessary to review the kind of bedding and footing to provide, and if changes should be made to hoof care routines. When Daisy came home from her surgery, her head was covered in a mask. There was an indwelling tube secured inside her head with the use of stitching and a bubble of fluid. An adaptor and a three-way switch were secured behind her ears. She would need two weeks of stall rest and confinement to protect her head.



Given her personality and the fact that she would seriously fret and spin in her stall if kept inside alone, I decided to keep all the horses in for those two weeks. It was early December and, as it turned out, a snowstorm and high winds meant they would have had limited turnout anyway. Keeping seven horses confined meant more cleaning, more frequent feeding and watering, and more checking. It was labour intensive, but important that Daisy was being frequently checked and fussed with, much to her enjoyment. Every evening, I would attach a one-




litre bag of saline with betadine scrub to the spaghetti line at the top of her head, open the switch, then squeeze the bag to force the fluid to flow into the cavity. Within a minute, it would drain out through her left nostril. My son helped with the procedure. As soon as we saw the fluid start to drip from her nose, he would lift her head up so that the cavity could fill with the cleansing fluid, then lower her nose allowing it to drain out. Daisy became surprisingly co-operative with this nightly 30-minute procedure and, as soon as she could feel the solution


run down her nose, she would blow hard to clear it out, spraying us both in the process. Draping a towel over the noseband of her halter helped to control that issue. She was very attentive to what was being done, and I was sure she knew we were helping her. Given her flighty nature, I expected difficulty getting the procedure done but her co-operation was a huge bonus. At first, a gucky mess flowed out with the fluid, which was exactly what was expected. But after about five days the fluid was running clear and the cleansing was quicker to do. My vet, Dr. Steinebach, came to check on Daisy’s progress, change her mask, and check the surgical site, which was stitched with 25 staples. The site was located just above her eye. A week later, he returned to remove the staples, deflate the bubble securing the tube, and remove it. He put on one final mask with a gauze pad over the tiny hole where the tube had been located. The hole would heal. She could go out in three days. “It took about eight weeks for Jack to fully recover from the [cryptorchid] surgery and there were no side effects,” says Valerie Vesper. “Initially he was on antibiotics and bute to manage the pain, and confined to a stall for the first two weeks so he couldn’t move much and open the wound. After that we moved him to a small paddock and gradually increased the size over the next two months so he could move around more and more as he recovered. Over the following six months to a year, we could see his ‘stud’ behaviour decrease as his testosterone levels continued to decline with the second testicle removed.” Keeping a horse settled and quiet during recovery can sometimes be a challenge. Since they are such social animals, a companion is a huge help. If it can’t be another horse, a familiar dog or goat can help. Amusement toys such as Jolly Balls can get attention. When feeding hay, use a slow-feeder hay net so the horse will take longer to eat and keep himself preoccupied. A stall-sized outdoor paddock could also work by sectioning off the existing paddock to stall dimensions. Outdoor stimuli – fresh air, birds, familiar neighbourhood sounds – can all help to engage the patient. “I am pretty lucky with Gatsby,” says Kristina McKinnon, whose gelding was recovering from a fracture in his pastern. “He doesn’t seem to mind stall rest too much. I made sure to set it up so that he could see his neighbours. When he had his stitches we kept him inside in a stall but made sure that he could see out to the paddocks. We also used a small-hole hay



What is

QUALITY HAY? Is second cut better than first cut? Is timothy better than orchard grass? Are alfalfa mixes better than grass hay? Is soft hay better than coarse hay?


Is low sugar hay better than regular hay?

These are good questions, all with the same answer:


any horse owners want pretty, dark green, soft second cut. When asked about their horse, they describe an overweight, sedentary Quarter Horse. The hay analysis notwithstanding, soft hay is usually lower in fibre, which means the horse can eat more of it more quickly. This is great for a hard-keeping Thoroughbred, but not so great for a fat pony. A hay that is dark green in






It depends on the horse youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re feeding. colour can be high in protein and nutrients, but it can also be high in nitrates, especially when it is local hay grown in British Colubmiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fraser Valley. High nitrates can cause diarrhea in many horses. Therefore, an appraisal of hay quality is relative to the horse who will be eating it. Here is a short checklist for evaluating the quality of hay relative to the horse being fed:

Cut, texture and stage of maturity First cuts tend to grow for a longer period of time, so the plants are more mature with more stalk at the time they are cut and baled. Second cuts contain less mature plants, so tend to be softer. Also, alfalfa tends to come up stronger in second and subsequent cuts, as it prefers dry soils and hot weather. According to Ashley Griffin, M.Sc., University of Kentucky: “Nutrient value largely depends on the age at which the hay was harvested. Early maturity hay is very leafy and has a high nutrient density and palatability. Late maturity hay contains coarse, thick stems and fewer leaves than early maturity hay. Hay type should be matched to the horse type. Early maturity hay would be perfect for growing horses and lactating mares, but it may not be the best choice for horses with low nutrient requirements. Mid- to late-maturity hays are best for horses with low nutrient requirements because the horses can eat more to satisfy their appetites without overeating and becoming fat.” Timothy and other grass hays tend to be lower in energy and protein and higher in sugars than alfalfa and other legumes, but the only way to know the nutrient value of hay is to test it.

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How does it test? Hay testing can provide a great deal information about exactly what your horse is eating. Gone are the days when we had to rely on how hay looked or what was in it – now we can tell, within about a two percent variance, how much protein, fibre, and energy it has, the carbohydrate and moisture levels, and with certain kinds of testing we can know mineral content as well. Test results are often surprising, and we have learned above all that we cannot assume how any hay will test. Grass hays tend to test higher in sugars and lower in protein than legume hays like alfalfa, and alfalfa tends to have a much higher mineral content due to the fact that the roots of the alfalfa plant extend much deeper into the soil than those of grass species. Alfalfa hays also tend to contain more energy per bite than grass hays (visible on the test as Digestible Energy or Relative Feed Value). The amount of fibre – acid detergent fibre (ADF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), and lignin (indigestible fibre) – is important to consider as well, as it affects the amount of total feed the horse is able to consume in a given period. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016






Feeding Horses


When we are feeding and caring for our domestic horses, it is an admirable goal to try to do our best to replace what they have lost as a result of becoming domesticated. But wait...what they have lost? Of course, we provide veterinary and dental care for our horses, and on average they live much longer lives than they would in the wild. We think of how comfortable and healthy our horses must be in their stalls with their blankets, fly masks, and meals of high quality hay and grain. But how did horses and their digestive systems evolve? We humans evolved much differently. We wear clothes to keep warm, live safely and comfortably inside our houses, and most of us do very well on three nutritious meals a day. The trouble arises when we assume that our horses need the same things we do, and we impose our needs on them in a well-meaning but misguided attempt to give them everything we want. 42










Wild horses live in herds. Being nomadic, they are not tied to a specific territory, but instead move continually, grazing and living on varied terrain, eating a huge variety of whatever is available where they happen to be. They trickle-feed, which means they have evolved to consume forage on an almost continual basis throughout their waking hours. They spend most of their time on the move in search of food and water, surrounded by their social group. This is comfortable and natural for them. How does this life compare to the lifestyle we provide for our domestic horses? Many domestic horses live in stalls, stalls with walk-out paddocks, or stalls with separate daily turnout. They are isolated socially for some or all of the time, and many are fed set meals of the same hay day after day, with stretches in between meals where they have no forage available. They spend much or all of their time unable to move around or interact with other horses. When turned out, horses are confined to a relatively small area (compared to the larger territory they would roam in the wild), and in many cases, the turn-out area is a pasture that has been groomed and mowed to perfection, free of weeds, and containing only a very few species of highly palatable and nutritious grass. When our horses develop weight problems, many of us do for them exactly what we do for ourselves in the same situation — we restrict their feed.

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How does the equine digestive system work?

We humans tend to try to understand the needs of another species from our own perspective. There are similarities between the digestive systems of humans and horses, but also significant differences. Humans evolved to consume a few meals each day, but equines evolved to trickle feed, which is to consume small amounts of forage on a continual basis. When we feed our horses irrespective of the way they have evolved to eat, their digestive systems cannot function properly and there can be significant and sometimes deadly consequences, including colic. The horse produces saliva during chewing. Inside the stomach, acid is produced constantly. So, when the horse is not chewing and swallowing saliva continually, the acid in the stomach can cause ulcerations. Relative to the size of his entire digestive system, the horse’s stomach is fairly small, and after ingestion feed moves out of the stomach quickly. From the stomach, food NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016










here are many different reasons for a horse to buck. This article will explore the horse’s motives for bucking, tackle some of the issues that might be causing him to behave this way, and offer some insights to help resolve the situation. Bucking is often pain related. Have your horse fully checked out by a qualified professional to eliminate pain as a cause for his behaviour. After ruling out health care problems, there are still a variety of reasons for bucking. If horses could talk, here are some of the things they might say to explain why they buck:





I have a terrible rider – Get off me!

Some riders pull on the reins and dig in their spurs in order to help them balance on the horse. At the same time they ask the horse to move forward. I’ve observed this to be a direct cause of bucking.

Leave me alone – I don’t want to canter!

While not exclusive to young horses, many young horses can be hesitant to go forward. These horses will often buck because they are so sucked back that the cue to go forward brings them to the height of their resistance


This is a four-year-old unridden range colt that I started a few years back. Even after an extensive ground training program to prepare him the best I could, he still had a lot of reaction to the cinches and saddle on his back. Jumping in the air and bucking was his go-to game.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> A Word of Caution

After years of dealing with hundreds of horses that buck, from colts on their first few rides to older horses that buck for any number of reasons, I must stress that it can be very dangerous for a novice rider to tackle this problem. I strongly advise that most bucking situations should be handled by a competent professional who is good at dealing with them. Find someone with experience starting colts, who is very good at getting the behaviour to stop without causing more fear in the horse as a result of what they do. Do not have someone try to fight and “break” the horse of this; rather, they need to re-direct and teach the horse to be confident and to think his way forward when he feels tight or worried. If handled this way, there will be a long-term solution as opposed to the horse returning to bucking soon after the training, and possibly becoming even more dangerous and explosive. Having started hundreds of horses under saddle and having dealt with even more horses in clinics and expos, I know that to get past bucking you will very likely need to ride a few bucks. This is a hard knocks educational program. I have been bucked off many times and never assume a horse won’t try to keep my ego from swelling.


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Celebration of Horses

PHOTO CONTEST Album of Winners We were delighted to receive a record number of contest entries in this, the 25th year of our Celebration of Horses Photo Contest. Hundreds of entries poured in over the summer and fall, and we are grateful to everyone who took the time to share their special moments and memories from the past year. Our photo contest would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors. This year’s category winners will each receive a $200 Online Credit from System Tack & Apparel. Two runners-up in each category will receive a $25 Gift Certificate from EcoLicious Equestrian. Huge thanks to our sponsors for these amazing prizes — just in time for holiday shopping — and congratulations to our winners and runners-up!



Beautiful Babies of 2016

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Gunner Only 5 Minutes Old Gunner (OK Mister Gunslinger) was born on June 5th and is a registered Quarter Horse. Evelyn Sabraw witnessed his birth and took this wonderful photo of the mare, Tessa, cleaning him up.


Gypsy Gold

Gypsy, a Quarter Horsecross filly, with a rainbow backdrop, was captured by Frieda Walter.

2nd RUNNER-UP Rev’s Karisma “Just a few days old and already a going concern! Karisma is a flashy little filly with a lot of character,” says photographer Tasha Hall.





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