Canadian Horse Journal - WEST - Spring 2022

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4.83 ACRE PICTURESQUE PROPERTY • 25909 10th AVE., LANGLEY, BC This 4.83 acre picturesque private gated property is thoughtfully laid out for the equestrian enthusiast and every entertainer’s dream! Paved winding driveway runs alongside the fenced perfectly manicured pastures and lush trees. This modern luxurious 2438 sq ft home has vaulted ceilings and oversized windows offering exquisite views and an abundance of natural light throughout. Impress your guests at your heated outdoor entertainment area with hot tub, heated pool, room for guests in the poolhouse and barn. Nine-stall barn with quality hardware throughout, bathroom, large fenced paddocks with oversized shelters, and professionally designed arena. Quality mobile home included. Don’t miss out on calling this property home! MLS® Number: R2629860

BEAUTIFUL 5 ACRE PROPERTY • 17951 0 AVE., SURREY, BC Beautiful equestrian property with mobile home, located off 0 avenue in a desired area of Surrey! This 5 acre property features a 2840 sq ft 4 bed, 3 bath home, and a large patio with above ground pool — great for entertaining. Lush green pasture views steps away from your private horse facility! Enjoy the luxury of your covered 160' x 80' arena with attached barn, large in-and-out stalls, tack room, and wash rack. Separate private barn with stalls and paddocks, and extra storage — great for all your farm equipment! Great opportunity to start to live out your acreage dreams!

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32 Family Farms and Ranches

Three Canadian families share the challenges and rewards of working and playing together.

41 Be a Better Boarder

How to be popular and appreciated at your boarding barn.

44 Build a Better Barn Business

Ten tips to help horse facility operators build a more resilient enterprise.

48 Optimize Your Schooling Sessions

How to develop an effective, efficient, and creative game plan for your training sessions. www.HORSE



52 How to Safely Condition Young Horses

Set your young horse on the right path to a sounder, saner future.

56 Adventures in Bitless Riding

Are you ready to leave your bit behind? Bitless riding can improve comfort and develop connection with your horse.

60 Develop High Performance Habits Rewire your unhelpful habits to get yourself moving forward again.

64 Trekking Horses

What breeds and qualities do outfitters need in the four-legged partners they build their businesses around?









ON THE COVER: I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play. — Anna Sewell, author of 1877 novel Black Beauty PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/OLESYA NICKOLAEVA













HEALTH & WELFARE 10 Gut Health and Colic Prevention

Colic is the number one killer of horses. Learn the signs that your horse may be suffering and how to reduce colic risk.

12 What are Cryptosporidiosis and Equine Rotavirus?

How to prevent and control two infections that cause diarrhea commonly seen in young foals.

14 Flexural Limb Deformity in Foals

Early recognition and accurate diagnosis are keys to timely treatment and best outcomes.





15 New Research on Fragile Foal Syndrome

A recent study reveals that this lethal genetic disease of connective tissue is not confined to Warmbloods.

16 Canada’s Veterinarian Shortage

There is a dramatic shortage of veterinarians and vets-in-training in Canada. What can be done?

22 Practical Nutrition for Donkeys

Donkeys and horses have similar digestive tracts, but their nutritional needs have important differences.


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EDITOR’S DESK Country Comfort in My Bones I grew up on a family farm in Ontario, and though it wasn’t the easiest childhood, I believe it shaped me in a good way and prepared me well for life. But I didn’t hear soft nickers of welcome when I opened the barn doors in the morning; rather, I heard yelps and gobbles demanding breakfast. Though I pictured the beautiful faces of horses in their stalls eagerly awaiting their morning hay, it was pens of turkeys with their caruncled heads and wattled throats that greeted me. Tania Millen’s article Family Farms and Ranches: Working and Playing Together brought back many memories of growing up on our family farm. There were four kids in our family, each of us responsible for a list of age-appropriate chores. The work was often hard, but there was no point in complaining or negotiating to do it tomorrow because someone else would have to pick up our slack today. Turkeys (and chickens, cattle, horses…) wait for no one. After school the daily chores were always waiting, just as they are for farm kids today. Lauren Fraychineaud, one of the family farmers interviewed, shares her opinion that it’s rare today for most kids to feel discomfort, but it’s important to learn to embrace discomfort. On our farm we embraced a lot of discomfort — on winter nights during storms with freezing winds blasting through when trying to keep the birds warm and cared for; on summer evenings when swarms of mosquitoes would blanket us as we weeded the huge garden by hand. But having grown up with discomforts, we learned to buckle down and tough it out; discomfort is only one part of life. Lauren also noted that many people think farming is glamorous and are envious of raising kids in a country lifestyle, but many of them wouldn’t want to do the work. I recall when my city-dwelling cousins would come to the farm for special occasions. I’d eagerly show them the poults (chicks) in the brooder pens, older birds in the barn, the nest of newborn kittens in the loft, rabbits in their hutch, and how to collect the eggs. But they understood so little 8




Your Horse b Your Passion b Your Magazine about the life we lived and the birds and animals on our farm it was as if they had been beamed down from another planet. I found a lot of common ground with the families interviewed: The animals always come first, and they deserve a quality life. Farming teaches compassion, and the mental and physical challenges develop resilience, responsibility, self-worth, and a solid work ethic. Yes, there are hardships and uncertainty, but benefits aplenty outweigh them. I remember morning walks along the tree line at the edge of our property looking for the first trillium blooms of spring. I recall getting up extra early on summer mornings to breathe the delicate scents of daybreak and feel the first soft rays of sunshine before the heat and humidity of the Ontario summer smothered the day. I remember jumping from the barn loft into the mounds of newly-harvested oats still warm from the sun and piled feet-deep on the floor of the barn, and watching the grasshoppers jump up out of the grain around me a moment after I landed. As for those soft morning nickers to greet me… after saving my allowance for two years I bought my first pony, Cindy, and brought her home to the farm. She was a stubborn little black Welsh filly that quickly and decisively showed me how much I had to learn about the equine species. Over the years she was followed by Scout, Sharabi, Regal, Tequila and her sweet filly, Romance. By the time I left the farm and moved to Alberta, there had been many softly nickered morning greetings. The life lessons learned while growing up on our family farm have stayed with me always, and I wouldn’t trade the joys and hardships that created those memories for anything. As Menard Bird says, “There’s nothing harder than being a farmer or rancher. It’s a lot of hours and a ton of work for little pay. But you’ve got to love it when your whole family can work together, play together, and enjoy.” Kathy Smith

Published by Horse Community Journals Inc.

Volume 22 • Issue 4 Spring 2022 Issue (Mar/Apr) of Canadian Horse Journal EDITOR / PUBLISHER Kathy Smith ACCOUNTS Geri Pronovost ADVERTISING Terry Andrucko • Janna Reimer SOCIAL MEDIA April D. Ray SUBSCRIPTIONS Steve Smith MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION Janna Reimer ART DIRECTION, PRODUCTION Elisa Crees CONTRIBUTORS Tania Millen • Lindsay Grice • Annika McGivern Shawn Hamilton • Shelagh Niblock • Alexa Linton Jec A. Ballou • Nikki Alvin-Smith CQHA • CanTRA • Horse Council BC • Manitoba Horse Council ADVERTISING, SUBSCRIPTIONS & GENERAL INQUIRIES 1-800-299-3799 • 250-655-8883 or email: ADVERTISING DEADLINE 4 weeks prior to issue date e.g., Oct.1 for Winter (Nov/Dec) issue. ONLINE EDITION


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Cantering Through


Brain bucket, crash helmet, head armour, noggin shade, bump cap. Protective helmets have many derogatory names and a long history of ridicule. For decades, hockey players’ sweaty locks flopped about as players slammed into the ice and were walloped by pucks. Skiers protected their brains from colliding with trees by pompom-topped toques, and cyclists wore a leather hairnet to protect their brains from smashing into pavement. Horseback riders boasted trendy top hats in the late 1700s, while the fashionable bowler was invented in 1849. Apparently, the bowler’s “tasteful design meant that it didn’t blow off easily.” Fortunately, protective headgear design and social acceptance have evolved. Hockey players first adopted sleek leather head-warmers in the early 1900s. Hard-sided protective helmets subsequently appeared on National Hockey League players’ drenched heads in 1928 but were unpopular with fans and media. After a player died in 1968, helmets became more acceptable and in 1979, professional players were mandated to wear helmets. Today, before toddlers wobble about on a backyard rink, parents insist they don a helmet. Downhill ski racers first sported bikergang-like leather caps in the early 1900s to reduce their drag. Protective headgear eventually came of age and at the 1960 Olympics, skiers had to wear hard-sided helmets. However, recreational skiers were slow adopters and in 1990 non-racing ski helmets barely existed. Deaths of high-profile skiers made helmets more common, but hipness won the day. Helmet acceptance took off in the late 1990s when wellknown snowboarding athletes replaced their slouchy toques with sporty helmets. By 2010, 76 percent of recreational skiers and snowboarders wore helmets and head injuries had decreased by 65 percent. Cyclists started their helmet-wearing journey in the 1880s with distinctly


Helmet History

unfashionable pith helmets. In the early 1900s, they succumbed to the leather craze and wore leather-strap contraptions into the 1970s. In the 1980s, the sport-specific Bike Bucket appeared. In 1987, the US Cycling Federation required helmets in all competitions; the Union Cycliste Internationale followed in 2003. Today, bike helmets are a necessary part of recreational cycling, and many Canadian municipalities issue tickets to non-helmet-wearing renegades. Protective riding helmets evolved at a similar pace, but helmet acceptance remains patchy in horse sport. In 1911, cork safety helmets were manufactured for the British Army. In the 1950s, flat racing associations mandated jockeys to wear skull caps. At the 1978 equestrian World Championships, a Team USA three-day event rider sustained a serious head injury when her velvet-covered hunt cap came off during a fall. This spurred the requirement for Pony Clubbers, event riders, and show jumpers to wear safety helmets and most do today when schooling or competing. In 2001, Ontario passed the Horse Riding Safety Act which stipulates that anyone under 18 has to wear a certified horseback-riding helmet. In 2012, competitive Canadian dressage riders were mandated to wear helmets in competition but today many still train in baseball caps. In 2019, Rowan’s Law was implemented in Ontario, mandating all coaches, parents, and athletes — including Ontario Equestrian members — to take annual concussion training. The law was implemented following high-school rugby player Rowan Stringer’s death from multiple concussions. Today, the Equestrian Canada rulebook states: “Any

competitor may wear approved protective headgear in any division or class without penalty from the judge.” But some riders and sports organizations hold different views. According to the 2022 National Cutting Horse Association rulebook, competitors must wear a cowboy hat and can only wear a safety helmet with advance approval of show management. Rodeo and reining are more progressive. Saddle bronc and bareback bronc riders, barrel racers, and reiners can all choose between a cowboy hat or protective helmet, and helmet acceptance is increasing due to high-profile deaths. However, with the exception of Ontario’s youth, non-competitive Canadian riders are not mandated to wear helmets. Regardless, some horse associations and property owners have rules about helmet use and often they’re driven by insurance requirements. Mike King is a partner at CapriCMW Insurance and addresses insurance claims for an extensive portfolio of equine industry clients across the country — including when head injuries are involved. King says, “Head injuries occur with disturbing regularity in horse sport and are avoidable in so many situations. It seems archaic to me that ‘fashion’ trumps common sense and safety. In the end, it’s not the rider who foolishly refuses to wear a helmet that worries me. It’s the rider’s wife, husband, child, or parent who may be burdened with a loved one who has suffered a head injury — or worse.” b





Gut Health & COLIC



Equine Guelph If there’s one word that strikes fear in the hearts and minds of horse owners, it’s “colic.” Used to describe any form of abdominal pain, colic can affect horses for many reasons and in any season, although cold weather months are a particularly challenging time with increased risk of impaction-related colic. Three simple rules to prevent colic, especially during cold weather, are: 1 Increase forage in the diet, 2 Keep your horse hydrated, and 3 Maximize turnout and exercise.


Increase Forage in Diet Forage is critical for hindgut fermenters. An 1,100 pound horse should consume 2.0 to 2.5 percent of its body

Signs the Horse May be Suffering From Colic What does a horse in pain look like? There are many degrees of pain, from mild to debilitating. The clinical signs displayed by the horse will vary. A glassy eye is often an indication of pain. An awake but unresponsive horse may be experiencing pain; usually, the ears are back or loose and drooping to the sides, the lip may be curled and the eyes may be closed. The body may be tense and the horse may show irritation or an anxious expression. Some horses grind their teeth. Pain can also cause profuse sweating and restlessness. Pulse and respiration are generally elevated. Behavioural Signs • Pawing, sometimes with the horse holding his front leg up before pawing • Restlessness, getting up and lying down • Lying down for prolonged periods of time • Rolling will vary depending on pain level (in a normal roll a horse will shake; a colicky horse will not shake after a roll) • Looking at flank • Kicking at belly • Curling of lip 10




• Stretching as if wanting to urinate • Crouching as if wanting to lie down • Holding head in an unusual position (neck extended, head rotated) • May be off feed Physical • Elevated heart rate (normal pulse range is 28-44 beats per minute); the higher the heart rate the more serious the colic is likely to be. • Temperature may be in the normal range of 37.5-39.5 degrees Celsius, but it can also be less than normal if the horse is in shock. • Respiration is often shallow and rapid, with flared nostrils (normal is 10-24 breaths per minute); you may observe a distended abdomen (big belly). • Mucus membranes may be dry, pale (normal is moist, pink), and refill may be slower than 1.5 seconds. • There can be dehydration, and the skin fold may take longer than two seconds to return to the flat position. • Gut sounds may be decreased or

weight per day in forage (22 to 28 lbs). Because horses only produce saliva when they chew, feeding forage free choice will increase the production of saliva, which is one of the best buffers for the horses’ digestive system and the most effective way to reduce the chance of ulcers and impaction colic. RULE #2

Keep your Horse Hydrated

While on the topic of impaction, 24/7 access to clean water is imperative to keep all that forage moving. Remember, horses tend to drink less in the winter and impactions usually form with dry feed. During Canada’s coldest months, water in buckets can freeze within a few hours of filling, so ensure your horse doesn’t become dehydrated due to a frozen water source.

Equine Guelph increased, and there may be “pinging” or a sound like “water dripping in a cave” when you listen with the stethoscope. • Eyes may be glassy or anxious, ears may be drooping out to the sides, and the horse may not be responsive. Other • Manure may change in consistency, colour, and odour, and may be reduced. When Colic is Suspected • If the horse is outside, bring him into the barn or a shelter. • Call the veterinarian or an equine industry professional. • Remove all feed but offer water. • Keep the horse warm and relaxed. • Hand walk the horse to keep it from rolling and injuring itself. • Record the temperature, pulse and respiration, and other health parameters if you can do so safely, and report these to the veterinarian. Do NOT try to replace the veterinarian and care for this on your own. Your horse’s life is at stake.

Colic at Specific Sites in the Equine Digestive Tract


Types of Colic in Sections of the Equine Digestive Tract

Maximize Turnout and Exercise

Keep moving! Horses are not humans; they are trickle feeders designed to graze up to 18 hours a day while travelling 16 kilometres or more a day to satisfy their need to feed. The horse kept in a stall for most of the day is more prone to colic than one that is turned out. Many stable designers are developing track systems that encourage horses to move around in order to access resources. Improved motility of the digestive tract is just one of the health benefits. Horses in consistent exercise routines, such as school horses, have been shown to be at a lower risk of colic. A change in activity level (frequency, duration, or intensity) can increase the risk of colic. It is no coincidence that changes in diet and stabling often occur at the same time as changes in activity, all of which can affect a horse’s colic risk.

The Colic Risk Rater

“I’d like to encourage everyone to visit or revisit the Colic Risk Rater tool on The Horse Portal,” says Mike King, national lead of equine programs at CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd. “We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education. This free tool and the Gut Health & Colic Prevention course offered by Equine Guelph are well worth the investment.”

The articles on these pages are published with the kind permission of Equine Guelph.


Distention of stomach — The cardiac sphincter connects the esophagus to the stomach (prevents the backflow of digesta and prevents vomiting) and puts the stomach at risk of rupturing when it is overfilled with gas or fluid. Gastric ulcers — Horses have a very small stomach (only holding 8-10L of fluid), and are meant to graze and eat frequent, small portions of feed for extended periods each day. In a natural grazing situation, a steady flow of acid is required for digestion, and the acid is buffered by both feed and saliva. As such, the horse’s stomach produces gastric acid at all times, even when the horse is not eating. If the stomach is empty the mucosa acid will cause ulcers in the stomach’s protective lining, and it is therefore important to have forage in the horse’s stomach to help absorb stomach acid.

CECUM The cecum is the site of impaction and gas distention.

LARGE COLON The large colon is the site of colitis (inflammation of the colon), displacement, twists/torsions, and gas buildup. Gas buildup can be caused by feeding large amounts of grain (digestible carbohydrates reach the hindgut and ferment, producing lots of gas.) This area is also the site of obstruction due to parasite overload and impaction resulting from dry feed (due to dehydration) passing through the intestine.


PELVIC FLEXURE This is a common site of obstruction/impaction due to the sharp bend and narrowing of diameter of the intestine.

Enteritis (inflammation of the lining of the small intestine) — Enteritis can be caused by parasites, stress, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone (Bute) and Banamine®, toxins, and infectious organisms.

SMALL COLON The small colon is the site of obstruction due to enteroliths (mineral stones that block the intestine), more common in Miniatures and horses that consume a high alfalfa diet.

Incidence of Colic at Specific Sites in the Equine Digestive Tract PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/FOTOGRAFAW • ILLUSTRATION: CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL

The Colic Risk Rater (www. is available on Equine Guelph’s education platform, TheHorsePortal. ca. Kindly sponsored by CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd, the invaluable tool takes ten minutes to complete, not only calculating your horse’s risk for colic, but providing a downloadable print out of prevention tips.

Equine Guelph

Certain regions of the horse’s digestive tract are more susceptible to colic, and different types of colic can arise due to anatomical or physiological problems. Ten percent of colic cases result in surgery (strangulation, obstruction, displacement, severe impaction).







PELVIC FLEXURE Common site of obstruction due to sharp bend and narrowing in intestinal diameter.






Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a highly contagious parasite ingested in contaminated food or water. The parasite infects the intestine and causes diarrhea and weight loss.

What is Cryptosporidiosis?

Commonly seen in young foals, this infection can be fatal if left untreated. Parasites in the genus Cryptosporidium are an important source of gastrointestinal disease in humans and animals globally. These highly contagious parasites infect the intestine and cause diarrhea and weight loss. Cryptosporidiosis, associated specifically with Cryptosporidium parvum, is most commonly seen in foals one to four weeks of age. Foals that are immunocom-

promised (especially those with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome) or stressed are particularly at risk of infection. Foals become infected by ingesting the parasite (in the oocyst stage) in contaminated food or water. The parasite can be transmitted from horses to humans in contaminated water, soil, or surfaces, and can survive in the environment for long periods.

Diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss are clinical signs of cryptosporidiosis in foals. Subclinical infection may be common in adult horses and foals that otherwise appear healthy. Cryptosporidiosis is diagnosed by identification of cryptosporidium oocysts in fecal samples by staining, immunofluorescence assay, or flow cytometry. The parasite can also be identified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There is no specific treatment, including antibiotics, for cryptosporidiosis. Therapy for sick foals is largely supportive, often involving fluid replacement. Many horses recover fully, but cryptosporidiosis can be fatal if left untreated. The disease is serious in immunocompromised foals. Cryptosporidiosis can be challenging to prevent and control. There are no vaccines currently available for cryptosporidiosis. Oocysts shed in feces are very hardy and can survive for extended periods in the environment. They are also resistant to many disinfectants. Good biosecurity protocols, including isolation of infected foals and disinfection of contaminated areas, are the best b ways to prevent Cryptosporidiosis.

Equine Rotavirus

A common cause of diarrhea in foals less than six months old. Equine rotavirus damages the lining of the intestines, inhibiting digestion and absorption of food. It is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in foals less than six months of age. Foals become infected when they ingest materials or lick surfaces contaminated with infected feces. Clinical signs of equine rotavirus infection can include diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, reluctance to nurse, and distended abdomens. Infected foals may shed the virus in their feces for up to 10 days, and asymptomatic horses are capable of shedding the virus for up to eight months. A diagnosis of equine rotavirus is made by virus identification through enzyme linked immunosorbent assay

(ELISA) or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. Treatment is primarily supportive and may include intravenous (IV) fluids, gastrointestinal protectants, and probiotics. Early detection and treatment of affected foals often lead to rapid recovery. To prevent infection, pregnant mares can be vaccinated to increase their foals’ antibodies to the virus. Sick foals are highly contagious and should be separated from other foals on the property. Staff who handle infected foals should adhere to strict biosecurity protocols. Since the virus can persist in the environment, do not spread manure b from infected horses on pastures.

Articles on this page are printed with the kind permission of the UC Davis Center for Equine Health. The UC Davis Center for Equine Health is dedicated to advancing the health, welfare, performance and veterinary care of horses through research, education and public service.





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Flexural Limb Deformities in Foals Flexural limb deformity occurs in two forms. The first form, also known as contracted tendons, clubfoot, or knuckling, is the inability to extend a limb fully. The condition may be present at birth (congenital) due to improper positioning in the uterus (which can lead to dystocia in the mare), abnormal fetal development, disease or malnutrition in the dam; or acquired as the result of nutrition (abrupt changes in amount or quality of feed leading to rapid growth), polyarthritis, trauma, or disease. It is a common condition in foals, usually occurring anytime from birth to 14 months of age. The second form is known as laxity and occurs most commonly in newborn foals. It is also due to congenital, and possibly hereditary, causes. Clinical signs of contracture in foals can include knuckling over of the fetlock or knee, trembling of 14



the joints, walking on the toes with the heels off the ground, and inability to completely straighten the limb for normal weight bearing. Severely affected foals are unable to stand. Hooves may appear upright with long heels and concave toes, known as a “club foot” in the most severe form. Clinical signs of laxity include back-at-the-knee conformation, dropped fetlocks, inability to stand, difficulty walking, or walking on the heels with the toes up in the air. In most cases, both left and right limbs are affected, with one worse than the other. Diagnosis of flexural limb deformity is based on physical examination and visual assessment. Radiographs (x-rays) and other imaging modalities may aid in diagnosis. Treatment for flexural limb deformity with contracted tendons can include bandaging, splinting, physical therapy, and limited


exercise (large foaling stall access only). Therapeutic trimming and shoeing may be used to support correct conformation. Pharmacologic treatments, such as oxytetracycline, may be used to allow musculoskeletal relaxation and tissue elongation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be administered when deemed appropriate to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Surgical intervention may be warranted in chronic or very severe cases. The laxity form is treated with controlled exercise, initially consisting of handwalking twice daily. As limbs improve and the laxity improves, exercise is gradually increased. Shoes with heel extensions are frequently used, and these often include tapeon or glue-on shoes. Early recognition and accurate diagnosis allow for timely treatment, which is often successful. Recurrence is

uncommon. Cases that do not respond well to treatment have a poor prognosis for long-term soundness and athleticism. To prevent flexural limb deformity, mares should receive well-balanced nutrition during pregnancy to facilitate the birth of healthy foals, including balanced macro- and microminerals, and avoidance of excessive simple sugars and starch (i.e., grains). Foals should be closely monitored after birth to ensure proper development. Extremes in exercise and diet (especially excessive starch, sugar, and calories in general) should be avoided. To ensure timely treatment and best outcome, contact a veterinarian as soon as an abnormality is suspected. b Printed with the kind permission of the UC Davis Center for Equine Health. The UC Davis Center for Equine Health is dedicated to advancing the health, welfare, performance and veterinary care of horses through research, education and public service.


By Mark Andrews

Fragile Foal Syndrome (FFS) is a lethal genetic disease of connective tissue which has been reported most frequently in Warmbloods. However, a recent study has found that the genetic defect responsible is present across a range of other breeds. Affected foals are typically aborted during late gestation or born as non-viable foals. If alive at birth, they tend to have problems such as fragile skin, skin defects, hyperextension of the joints, and difficulty breathing, and generally require euthanasia within days. FFS has been shown to be an autosomal recessive genetic condition. Carrier

animals with one copy of the defective gene (PLOD 1 c.2032 G>A) will be normal, but if mated with another carrier may produce an affected foal. It is now known that the condition is not confined to Warmblood horses. Research by Katie Martin and colleagues at Etalon Diagnostics in Menlo Park, California (a company that offers genetic testing), together with Dr. Samantha Brooks at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and Dr. Scott McClure of Midwest Equine in Iowa, found that the genetic defect occurs across other horse populations. The team examined samples from 7343 horses



Fragile Foal Syndrome Not Confined to Warmbloods

from various breeds or type of horse. The defective gene occurred in 5.32 percent of Warmblood type horses. In other affected breeds it was less than one percent. They found no sign of the defect in Arabians, Iberians, Ponies, or Thoroughbreds. The study observed FFS carriers among diverse populations with no identifiable common ancestor. Studies of the frequency of the defect in aborted or stillborn foals are lacking,

making the potential economic effect of FFS on the horse breeding industry unknown. The researchers suggest that pre-breeding testing should be used to inform the breeding program, allowing breeders to avoid breeding two carriers together, thus reducing the frequency of the FFS gene in the population as well as the number of lost pregnancies. b Published with the kind permission of Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.

It’s time for a pre-season checkup with your veterinarian. Our sports medicine veterinarians can identify subtle issues that may require closer monitoring or intervention, and can collect baseline data with the inertial sensors that we can refer back to should something change as the workload increases.

Prepare for your best season yet!

252140 Range Road 42, Calgary, Alberta

403-242-1913 • SPRING 2022







SHORTAGE By Tania Millen

Canada has a veterinarian shortage and it’s impacting horses and their owners. Many veterinarians are overworked while rural animal owners are underserved. There simply aren’t enough veterinarians or vets-in-training to meet Canada’s needs. In 2019, from one-third to one-half of every veterinary practice in the country was trying to hire another veterinarian. Due to surging animal ownership, between 2020 and 2030 the number of Canadian veterinarians needs to increase 45 percent just to keep up with demand. 16




However, producing more veterinarians is a long, expensive process. Every year, students are turned away from Canada’s five veterinary schools due to the limited seats available. Some of these students are then accepted at schools overseas where they pay over $300,000 in tuition — more than six times the cost of a subsidized seat in Canada. Jenilee Bader is one of those students. She’s from central British Columbia (BC) and is now in her third year of veterinary school at the University of Melbourne (UM) in Australia. Bader says that UM is internationally renowned, offers four international exams that allow graduates to work in different areas of the world, and has a brand new animal hospital. UM’s curriculum also embeds mental health training and counseling into their veterinary program to address the high rate of burnout and suicide in veterinarians. But Bader’s lifelong dream of becoming an equine veterinarian was almost derailed. Her application to

Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was rejected twice even though she graduated with honours from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a bachelor’s degree in animal biology. Then Bader started considering other careers. She says, “It’s crazy for a student to hear [from a vet school] that maybe they should pick a different career path. I started wondering, ‘Am I too dumb for vet school?’” Fortunately, her BC veterinarian mentor, UBC professors, and family all encouraged her to consider international education rather than give up hope of becoming a vet. After a year of soul searching and arranging financial loans to cover the $308,000 tuition, Bader was accepted by UM and moved to Australia to pursue her dream. The staggering debt of her education may limit Bader’s ability to develop a practice or buy into an existing one when she returns to BC, but she’s happy with her choice. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. Veterinary school is a dream for many, but seating quotas and tuition costs deter countless potential students. Every year, more than 2,500 Canadian and international students apply for 422 seats at five veterinary schools in Canada — two schools in Western Canada, one in Ontario, one in Quebec, and one in the Maritimes. WCVM is located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and was set up to provide veterinarians for Western Canada. In 2019, about 45 percent of BC’s active


Every Canadian province is desperate for veterinarians, and almost 20 percent of veterinary clinics report frequently turning patients away.

Increasing the number of Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs), who could handle more routine tasks and allow vets to focus more on the “zebras,” has been suggested as a way to reduce the pressure on vets. The expression When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras means a doctor or veterinarian should first think about what is a more common, and potentially more likely, diagnosis.


veterinarians had graduated from the school. WCVM has a total of 88 seats, with 58 directly funded by an interprovincial agreement between Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and BC. Those funded seats are only available to students from the subsidizing provinces with students paying about $14,000 per year in tuition or $56,000 over four years. An additional 25 unsubsidized seats are available for Canadians from any province although students from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and BC are given preference. Five more seats are reserved for international students. Students taking any of the 30 seats outside the interprovincial funding agreement pay $69,000 per year for tuition or about $276,000 over four years. Every year, approximately 260 Canadians apply for 83 WCVM seats, while 110 international students apply for five seats. WCVM used to serve Alberta students, too, but in 2005 the University of Calgary built a Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCFVM) which solely accepts Albertabased students. UCFVM receives over 300 applicants every year for its 50 provincially funded seats and students pay $12,500 per year in tuition. Dr. Renate Weller is the Dean of UCFVM and says that two to four students of every graduating class are typically interested in equine veterinary medicine. She adds that most graduates enter private practice 18




immediately after graduation but that equine practice is a niche area and few veterinarians solely serve equine clients. University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) receives over 500 applications for its 120 seats. The province of Ontario subsidizes 105 seats for Ontariobased students, while the remaining 15 seats are available to international applicants. Ontario students pay $10,500 per year in subsidized tuition while international students pay $75,000 per year. OVC’s Dean, Dr. Jeff Wichtel, advises that every year six to ten graduates choose equine practice while another eight to twelve choose rural community practice. He adds that about three-quarters of OVC graduates initially work in private practice. In Quebec, there are about 1,100 applicants every year for the 96 seats available at the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV) at Université de Montréal. All seats are subsidized by the provincial government and they are only available to Quebec students. Students pay about $5,000 per session for ten sessions over five years or about $50,000 for the program. Dr. Christine Theoret, the Dean of FMV, says that approximately 90 percent of graduating students enter private practice and five to eight students in each class end up serving equine clients. The University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) has 68

The critical shortage of veterinarians across Canada has gained little recognition, but all levels of government must understand that without enough veterinarians, our national economy will suffer.

seats for veterinary students. Of those seats, 26 are for international students, 10 for Prince Edward Island students, 16 for Nova Scotia students, 13 for New Brunswick students, and three for Newfoundland and Labrador students. All provincial seats are subsidized by their respective provinces under an interprovincial funding agreement and subsidized students pay $13,796 per year. International seats cost $69,186 per year. Dr. Anne Marie Carey, the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at AVC, says they receive many well-qualified applicants but simply don’t have the resources to train them. However, across Canada, veterinarian demand is soaring. In 2020, 12,886 veterinarians were employed in private practice across Canada. Sixteen percent of those veterinarians served approximately 963,500 to 1,160,000 horses, according to 2010 and 2016 surveys. Dr. Chris Clark, an Associate Dean at WCVM, says, “Every aspect of veterinary medicine is short of bodies right now. I don’t believe that there’s any one area [of veterinary medicine] that is suffering more than any other.” But Clark notes that equine veterinary practice has specific challenges,


including rural locations, increased on-call and emergency hours, and the physicality of the work. However, Dr. Tee Fox, President of the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, says that identifying the demand for equine veterinarians is difficult. She notes, “All veterinary practices are different and the number of equine clients they have depends on geography, specialty interests, and the primary equine industry they serve (i.e., racing, pleasure, performance, reproduction, or surgical referral).” But it’s not just horses and their owners who struggle to get service. Overall Canadian demand for veterinary care is significant. In addition to horses, in 2021 Canada’s veterinarians cared for 8.1 million cats; 7.7 million dogs; 4.5 million cows; myriad other livestock, food, and fur animals; plus exotic pets and zoo animals. A 2020 Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association (CVMA) workforce study states, “The demand for veterinary services currently exceeds or will soon exceed capacity at a national level. Almost one in five veterinary clinics report ‘frequently’ turning patients away, especially in Quebec, Saskatchewan, and BC. Some areas are showing acute signs of stretched or exceeded capacity, and the shortage of veterinary technicians further exacerbates the need for veterinarians.” The study also notes that approximately 450 new veterinarians enter Canada’s veterinarian industry every year, but those entering private practice simply replace the vets who are retiring. Due to these concerns, in September, 2021 the CVMA wrote letters to all federal political parties stating, “Canada is now experiencing a significant shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. This situation is not expected to improve in the coming years without some changes to our current system, and this crisis is having a direct impact on Canadians.” From the Maritimes to the Pacific Coast, every province is desperate for veterinarians. In Nova Scotia, Dr. Jane Corkum says there’s a significant shortage of veterinarians of all types. She’s the Associate Registrar of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA) which has 421 veterinarian members. Approximately 50 NSVMA vets practice large animal medicine, while about 20 list horses as their specific area of practice. In the next province over, the New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association (NBVMA) has 280 members and 26 of those veterinarians

serve approximately 15,000 horses. Dr. Nicole Jewett is the Registrar of NBVMA and says, “There is a national workforce shortage of veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians all over Canada, and equine veterinarians are included in that.” According to Dr. Fox, Ontario also has a veterinarian shortage, even though it has over 5,200 veterinarians — more than any other province or territory. It’s no better out west. According to Dr. Pat Burrage, President of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVM), there are about 1,800 practicing

veterinarians in Alberta and 370 vacancies. In Alberta, many private veterinary practices advertising for veterinarians online are offering signing bonuses up to $15,000. BC has similar needs. According to a 2019 workforce survey, almost 1,600 veterinarians are employed across BC and over 80 percent of surveyed veterinarians stated that the demand for vets exceeds supply. About two-thirds of employers said they would hire additional veterinarians immediately if they were available, with the most acute shortages reported in





communities outside major urban centres and in practices other than small animal. The CVMA is well aware of the challenges, having contracted the study in 2020 to assess the issues and determine possible solutions. That study shows that Canadian veterinary colleges are graduating veterinarians at a rate currently equal to retirement, hence a long-term strategy is needed to grow the Canadian veterinarian population at an annual rate of threeand-a-half to four percent. However, Dr. Chris Bell says, “Churning out more veterinarians is a lengthy process. Increasing the number of students at [veterinary] schools requires all sorts of infrastructure, more professors, and more money.” Bell is the President-Elect of CVMA, a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Permitted Treating Veterinarian, and the owner of Elder’s Equine Veterinary Service in Springstein, Manitoba. He says that potentially faster solutions are being discussed, too. For example, increasing the number of Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) who are graduating from college, plus increasing their scope of practice, could take pressure off veterinarians. Bell says allowing RVTs to function more independently and do additional routine tasks would enable vets to focus on what he calls the “zebras.” Even so, Bell also says it’s important to figure out how to retain vets who are already in the industry plus recruit additional students, and he acknowledges that retaining and recruiting equine veterinarians is particularly important. Fortunately, Dr. Clark says that every year WCVM has students who have always dreamed of becoming equine veterinarians, and those dyed-in-the-wool horse people tend to stay in equine veterinary practice their whole careers. Hence, it’s imperative

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for the veterinary industry to figure out how to mentor and support those students in achieving their goals. Some incentives for retention and recruitment include greater financial benefits, decreased “on call” time, and creating teletriage-based emergency service groups. Bell explains that there’s a teletriage group in Alberta that operates after hours and it’s reducing the hours that veterinarians are on call. The way it works is when a client calls after hours they initially speak with an RVT. The RVT determines whether the call is an emergency or something that can wait until the following day. If it’s not an emergency, the RVT addresses the issue and subsequently reports the event to the client’s vet the next day. If it is an emergency, the veterinarian is summoned for emergency service. With increasing numbers of Canadian veterinarians trained overseas, there’s also a need to ease the way for internationally trained students to enter Canada’s veterinary workforce. For example, Bader is one of 50 international veterinary students out of a class of 120 at UM. In BC, a 2019 study found that onethird of the province’s working veterinarians graduated from a program outside Canada. Another idea that CVMA is considering is developing a program similar to that of physician assistants in human medicine. In this case, a veterinarian assistant or “extender” would train alongside veterinarians in medical school for two years, focussing on the more common parts of medicine. The “extender” would then work under the guidance of a veterinarian — possibly via telemedicine — to “extend” the veterinarian’s ability to serve clients, particularly in rural areas. CVMA, veterinary schools, and others have also identified the need to improve links between the veterinary industry and training institutions. Dr. Theoret at FMV in Quebec notes that clinical rotations and externships in private practice must be available to expose students to equine practice, hence private practices must be willing to take on and mentor students. Dr. Clark says that WCVM has an ambulatory practice at the university that serves equine clients throughout the greater Saskatoon area, so students get lots of hands-on experience during their education. However, the dramatic shortage of veterinarians across Canada and challenges associated with addressing the issue has gained little recognition beyond animal owners and the veterinary industry itself. Dr. Bell says that the veterinary industry is struggling to be heard and provincial governments haven’t realized the scope of the issue. However, he notes, “Once [the veterinarian shortage] becomes clear, hopefully, governments will start to see how the shortage affects the economy. When we look at producers and our food chain and how to secure it, plus how to make sure the animals are looked after — veterinarians are key. So, if we don’t have enough veterinarians, then our national economy suffers.” It’s a message that all levels of government need to hear. For horse owners, NBVMA’s Dr. Jewett has this advice, “Before you get a horse or other animal, find out what veterinarians are in your area and whether they’re taking new patients. Because if there’s no equine vet in your area, there’s no guarantee you’ll get veterinary care for your horse, should it be needed. Or if there is a veterinarian in your area, they may not be taking new patients, because they’re at capacity. So, if your animal needs emergency care, you might have to drive a long distance to get that care, especially in more rural areas.” Unfortunately, this may be the refrain for many years to come, and horse owners are wise to appreciate the veterinary services they have.

Concerned horse owners can contact provincial and federal veterinary associations, and their provincial Ministry of Agriculture or Member of Legislative Assembly. b

Before acquiring a horse, find out if there is an equine veterinarian in your area and if they are taking new clients. This is especially important in more rural areas.

Alberta Veterinary Medical Association > Canadian Veterinary Medical Association > College of Veterinarians of British Columbia > College of Veterinarians of Ontario > Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association > New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association > Newfoundland and Labrador Veterinary Medical Association > Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association > Ordre des Médecins Vétérinaires du Québec > Prince Edward Island Veterinary Medical Association > Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association > > Tania Millen is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.



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Practical Nutrition for Donkeys By Shelagh Niblock, PAS

Everybody loves to see a donkey! With their large fuzzy ears and soulful eyes, they naturally tug at the heartstrings of horse lovers everywhere. Donkeys were first domesticated in Africa around 3000 BC. They evolved in desert areas and consequently, developed as browsers that can adapt to poor quality feed and irregular water supplies. Their easygoing nature and hardiness made them ideal as beasts of burden in the hotter, drier parts of the world. Coming in a variety of sizes, donkeys and their hybrid offspring, mules and hinnies, range anywhere from Miniature donkeys of less than 35 inches in height all the way up to Mammoth Jack donkeys that can exceed 15 hands.

Donkey Digestive Tract Basics

The digestive tract of donkeys is very similar to that of horses, but research has shown they use it much more effectively. They use the full capacity of their hindgut to metabolize the high fibre diets they are best adapted to, and this is the reason even donkeys of a heathy bodyweight always seem to have a pot belly. Utilizing their cecum and large intestine at full capacity results in greater retention time of feedstuffs in the hindgut, as well as greater production of volatile fatty acids (VFAs), the end products of the

fermentation of fibre by the beneficial microbes. VFAs are transported through the hindgut wall to the liver, where they are converted to energy in the form of glucose. In the case of overfed donkeys, that energy from glucose may not be needed and is converted to body fat. Chewing and dentition is important for any equid, but donkeys in particular need to have good teeth. All equids chew more when consuming high fibre feeds than low fibre feeds (see The Chew Factor – Fibre Intake in Horse Hay on, but on similar diets donkeys consume feeds with less chewing than horses,


Having evolved in desert areas with poor quality forage and scarce water, donkeys developed an efficient and adaptable digestive tract that must be considered when planning their rations.





meaning they can consume feed faster. If fed free choice forage, a donkey will consume more feed per kg of body weight than will a horse in the same period of time; consequently, dental health is very important for donkeys, and their teeth should be checked at least once a year by a veterinarian.

This working donkey is in excellent condition.


My Donkey is Getting Too Fat

Due to the lack of donkey-focused, peer-reviewed research into their nutritional needs, donkey requirements are loosely based on the National Research Council (NRC) 2007 Equine Nutritional Guidelines. The reality is that donkeys are not the same as horses when it comes to nutritional needs, and it’s easy to see why in North America, where they are frequently kept as pets or companion animals, donkeys can fall prey to obesity. Donkeys need a high fibre diet with low non-structural carbohydrates (NSC). They are browsers and enjoy nibbling on hedgerows and blackberry bushes. They are also social eaters and eat far better when they can join their friends and stablemates.


Estimating Body Weight, Body Condition Score


These donkeys are at a healthy weight with an ideal BCS of 3.





It’s important when assessing your donkey’s ration that you have a good idea of their body weight (BW) and body condition score (BCS). The use of weight tapes designed for horses and the Henneke Body Condition score, designed for BCS assessments of horses, is not ideal for donkeys. The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, England is one of the leading authorities on donkey husbandry in the world, has saved the lives of thousands of donkeys through their network of shelters, and is in the forefront of generating and funding research into the care of donkeys. They have published donkey appropriate BCS assessment charts as well as weight evaluation charts. To use these charts, all the donkey owner requires is a soft cloth tape measure for a heart girth measurement and a measuring stick for assessing height in centimetres or inches. Having an accurate assessment of height and BCS is critical for assessing the suitability of your donkey’s diet. The donkey BCS chart will help the owner evaluate the amount of body fat on the donkey on a scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 3 being considered an appropriate BCS. As it can be both risky and difficult to safely remove body fat from a donkey through dieting, maintenance of a healthy body weight is always recommended.

Specific Nutrient Needs

Just like horses, donkeys have a need for water, energy, and protein, along with

vitamins and minerals. Estimates of the requirements of donkeys for specific nutrients are based on the NRC Equine Nutritional Guidelines. However, because of their more adaptable and efficient digestive tracts, donkeys are not the same as small horses when planning their rations. There are some general considerations to be aware of when planning your donkey’s ration: WATER — For any equid, water is one of the most important nutrients and donkeys are no exception. Essentially, they have the same water requirements as horses per kg of body weight, but they are more thirst tolerant and will continue to eat for longer in situations of reduced water intake. However, care must be taken not to confuse the donkey’s greater tolerance for thirst with their long-term need for water. As browsers who do best on a diet of low-quality forage, sufficient water is essential for donkeys to ensure they don’t fall prey to impaction colic. It is important to be aware of donkeys’ sensitivity to water temperature, as they will drink less water that is too cold (less than 15 degrees C); this is especially so with seniors. Consider a heated water bucket in the winter so they don’t back off water intake. ENERGY (CARBOHYDRATES AND FAT) — Donkeys need complex carbohydrates in the form of fibre for energy. They must have low NSC (less than 15 percent) feeds for best health. Often a diet of straight C3 or “cool season” grass hay like timothy, orchard grass, or brome, even if it is of poorer quality, will lead to a fat donkey. Donkeys can manage very well on diets that are up to 75 percent cereal straw, with the balance being a medium quality grass hay and low NSC mineral supplement. As a matter of fact, the best way to make sure energy needs are being met for your donkey without overfeeding is to offer free choice straw, preferable barley or wheat straw as oat straw can be higher energy. Balance that with a medium quality grass hay weighed to equal about 25 – 50 percent of their diet, depending on the circumstances. Donkeys love to browse, but if you are concerned about your donkey getting fat be cautious about turnout into spaces where no grazing but plentiful browsing is available. The amount of tender green blackberry shoots and leaves an enthusiastic donkey can consume in one hour would surprise you. If your donkey needs to gain weight, it can generally be accomplished by increasing the percentage of grass hay in the diet. Donkeys having trouble with feed SPRING 2022




Straw should be available free-choice as part of the donkey’s diet, and fed on the ground.




intake and BW maintenance because of other health issues may be supplemented if necessary with forage cubes or pellets, or low NSC manufactured feeds. But be sure to monitor their weight if feeding concentrates even if they are low NSC. Donkeys can safely consume fats, but supplements containing extra fat should only be necessary for the geriatric donkey with poor teeth, or the sick or emaciated donkey. Any fat supplements offered to a donkey needing extra calories should be from a low NSC source. Feeding supplements to donkeys should be done following the same guidelines as those of feeding fat to horses. Be very cautious about the total amount of fat in the diet; start with a small amount and work up if necessary. Above all else, keep the meals very small and well-spaced throughout the day. If vegetable oil is fed, it should not exceed a total of 150 ml daily fed over at least two meals. If 100 ml or more of vegetable oil is given, 100 to 150 IU of supplemental Vitamin E should also be fed. PROTEIN — Research from the Donkey

To estimateWEIGHT a donkey’sESTIMATOR weight using the diagram below mark the height and heart girth Sanctuary UK for feeding donkeys sugDONKEY gests that if you have balanced the ration measurements on the correct axis. Then draw a line between the two. The donkey’s weight is for energy, then the protein provided will To estimate a donkey’s weight using the diagram below mark the height and heart girth indicated by where the line crosses the weight axis. For example, a donkey 104cm tall (a) and generally be adequate as well. Donkeys are measurements on the correct axis. Then draw a line between the two. The donkey’s weight is with a heart girththe 122cm (b) should weighaxis. 181kg (c). very efficient protein utilizers. If your donindicated by where line crosses the weight For example, a donkey 104cm tall (a) and with a heart girth 122cm (b) should weigh 181kg (c).

Heart girth

Heart girth (cm) (cm)

Height Height at at withers(cm) (cm) withers


(kg) (kg) Weight 160



380 360 150



Weight estimation table for donkeys under 2 years Heart Girth (cm)

Weight (kg)

75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100

46 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 74 76 78 81 83 86 88 91 94 96 99 102


Donkey weight estimator

key is looking like he/she needs to gain weight, then increasing the proportion of grass hay in the diet will not only increase energy but will increase protein as well. Pregnant, lactating, growing, or senior donkeys may have a need for more protein intake or better-quality protein, but that can often be accommodated by the inclusion of a small amount of soaked alfalfa cubes or pellets in the diet, or by providing supplements with targeted amino acid content.

VITAMINS AND MINERALS — Any reasonable quality equine vitamin and mineral supplement manufactured for horses should 280 140 130 be appropriate for donkeys when fed 260 according to BW. Equine balancer pellets may not be suitable for a donkey because of 240 the higher NSC and intakes required for 230 130 120 efficacy. Be cautious about offering vitamin 220 210 and mineral supplements in the form of 200 molasses licks due to the higher NSC b 190 content. Believe it or not, donkeys can be c 180 120 110 very picky about what they eat and 170 sometimes a mineral supplement, 160 a particularly a low NSC formulation, will be 150 met with extreme indifference. It is 140 110 100 inadvisable to assume your donkey is going 130 to eat free choice minerals offered in a 120 container on the ground, even if mixed 110 50/50 with loose salt. The best way to get a 90 100 100 picky donkey to eat his supplements may be to mix them with a very small quantity of soaked timothy pellets or soaked alfalfa While the weight estimator is an effective tool to estimate weight its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Whilst the weight estimator is an effective tool to estimate weight it’s accuracy cannot be guaranteed. 320


Weight estimation table ::forSPRING donkeys under 2 years www.HORSE 2022 26 Heart Girth (cm) 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 Weight (kg)

46 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 74 76 78 81 83 86 88 91 94 96 99 102

cubes. Donkeys should always have access to salt through the use of a salt block.


Feed Intake

The average intake expectation for horses is about two percent of body weight in dry matter intake per day. This means that your 500 kg horse can be expected to need approximately 10 - 11 kg of dry food per day. Donkeys on the other hand do very well with an intake of about 1.5 percent of body weight, and even at that a diet of grass hay only may result in an overweight donkey. The key to successfully feeding donkeys of any size is choosing the right hay and including straw as at least part of the diet.


Woolly Mammoth’s Legacy

Senior Donkeys

Growing Donkeys

Growing donkeys need to be fed adequate energy diets that allow them to grow at a consistent rate. Rations that are excessively high in energy for part of the year and deficient in energy at other times will not allow for healthy growth. Growing donkeys need a good supply of minerals calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and trace minerals to avoid the development of orthopedic problems. Donkeys attain their mature stature by the time they are two to three years old.

Potential Health Issues of the Overweight Donkey

Donkeys kept as pets and companion animals in Canada and the US are frequently overweight. Just like their horse counterparts, obese donkeys are more likely to get laminitis, arthritis, and metabolic issues like equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) and or pituitary pars intermedia deficiency (PPID). Growing



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Senior donkeys still need similar nutrients to younger mature donkeys, but the reality of aging teeth may reduce their ability to eat coarse forage and/or straw. Providing them with additional hay can help, and offering chopped straw, instead of long straw, may also be useful. Commercially available chopped straw is generally at your feed dealer, and you can feel at ease providing it free choice to your senior donkey. Senior donkeys that are still thin even with greater intake of grass hay can also be offered forage substitutes, such as alfalfa cube, timothy pellets, or low NSC feeds manufactured for horses with metabolic issues. The inclusion of small amounts of higher fat feeds, such as rice or ground flax, may also be helpful for seniors. As mentioned above, Vitamin E should be supplemented in donkeys fed supplemental fat.

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Senior donkeys with reduced ability to eat coarse forage may need to be fed chopped straw or additional hay. If more protein is needed the senior can be given a small amount of soaked alfalfa cubes or pellets.

donkeys that are allowed to become obese are more likely to have developmental orthopedic issues. Caution is needed if “dieting” an overweight donkey, as an extreme reduction of feed and energy intake may result in the metabolic condition “hyperlipemia.” Horses and donkeys placed on strict reducing diets will start to mobilize body fat reserves. The mobilized body fat travels in the blood plasma to the liver where it is converted into energy sources the tissues can use. However, donkeys, ponies, and Miniature horses can mobilize too much body fat too quickly, especially if they are obese, potentially overwhelming their metabolism’s ability to convert it into a safe form of energy. Excessive amounts of fatty acids in the blood plasma can cause damage to the tissues in the body, particularly the liver, and may result in death. Weight loss in obese donkeys is best achieved with a reduction in hay and an increase in the proportion of free choice straw. Exercise is an excellent way to help the overweight donkey lose weight. Hand walking works well and the use of toys can be helpful for the young donkey. Expect it to take at least four to six weeks or more in extreme cases to see any significant difference in body weight. Beware of increased turnout for the obese donkey if there is weedy growth along fencelines or in paddock areas; if there is any edible browse, you can be sure a donkey will find it.

EMS, PPID, Laminitis

Donkeys are very susceptible to all the metabolic issues that can affect horses. Pharmaceutical treatments for the metabolic conditions PPID, EMS and insulin resistance (IR) are the same for donkeys and horses. Consult your veterinarian for diagnostic tests and possible pharmaceutical options for donkeys with metabolic diseases. Probably the most important considerations for these donkeys are diet, body weight, and body condition score. Hoof health issues can be more prevalent in donkeys than in

Growing donkeys need consistent diets of adequate energy as well as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and trace minerals.






This obese donkey has a BCS of 5.


This overweight donkey has a BCS of 4.



A family of healthy feral donkeys near Death Valley National Park. The park straddles the California-Nevada border and is the hottest and driest national park in the US.

Mules possess the same feed efficiency as donkeys and their ration should follow similar guidelines.

their horse counterparts, especially in overweight donkeys, with laminitis and white line disease of particular concern. It’s important to have regular farrier attention for your donkeys.

harsh conditions. In general, mules possess the same feed efficiency as donkeys and should be fed following similar guidelines. In North America, mules are less often kept as pets or companion animals and more often as working animals. As such, they need a diet with a higher energy density than most donkeys. When assessing the ration of your mule or hinny, utilize BCS charts to ensure they are not gaining excessive weight and adjust feed energy levels according to the amount of work they are doing. Like donkeys, the use of high NSC feed stuff like

Mules and Hinnies


Mules and hinnies are the hybrid offspring of a mare and jack (male) donkey, or a jennet (female) donkey with a stallion respectively. Both mules and hinnies tend to be vigorous, healthy animals, with excellent ability to work and thrive in





DONKEY BODY CONDITION SCORE CHART Accurate body condition scoring is a hands-on process for feeling the amount of muscle and fat that are covering the donkey’s bones. Using this chart as a guide, feel the coverage over the bones in five specific areas listed below. Fat deposits may be unevenly distributed especially over the neck and hindquarters. Some resistant fat deposits may be retained in the event of weight loss or may calcify (harden). Careful assessment of all areas should be

made and combined to give an overall score. When deciding on the correct course of action following condition scoring, you might have to take into consideration the age of the donkey and any veterinary conditions they have. Aged donkeys can be hard to condition score due to lack of muscle bulk and tone, giving thin appearance dorsally with dropped belly ventrally, while overall condition may be reasonable. If in doubt, get advice from your vet.

Condition score

Neck & shoulders


Ribs & belly

Back & loins


1. Poor

Neck thin, all bones easily felt. Neck meets shoulder abruptly, shoulder bones felt easily, angular.

Dorsal spine and withers prominent and easily felt.

Ribs can be seen from a distance and felt with ease. Belly tucked up.

Backbone prominent, can feel dorsal and transverse processes easily.

Hip bones visible and felt easily (dock and pin bones). Little muscle cover. May be cavity under tail.

2. Moderate

Some muscle development overlying bones. Slight step where neck meets shoulders.

Some cover over dorsal withers, spinous processes felt but not prominent.

Ribs not visible but can be felt with ease.

Dorsal and transverse processes felt with light pressure. Poor muscle development either side of midline.

Poor muscle cover on hindquarters, hip bones felt with ease.

3. Ideal

Good muscle development, bones felt under light cover of muscle/ fat. Neck flows smoothly into shoulder, which is rounded.

Good cover of muscle/ fat over dorsal spinous processes, withers flow smoothly into back.

Ribs just covered by light layer of fat/muscle, ribs can be felt with light pressure.

Can feel individual spinous or transverse processes with pressure.

Belly firm wih good muscle tone and flattish outline.

Muscle development either side of midline is good.

Good muscle cover over hindquarters, hip bones rounded in appearance, can be felt with light pressure.

Neck thick, crest hard, shoulder covered in even fat layer.

Withers broad, bones felt with pressure.

Ribs dorsally only felt with firm pressure, ventral ribs may be felt more easily. Belly over developed.

Can only feel dorsal and transverse processes with firm pressure. May have slight crease along midline.

Hindquarters rounded, bones felt only with pressure.

Large, often uneven fat deposits covering dorsal and possibly ventral aspect of ribs. Ribs not palpable dorsally. Belly pendulous in depth and width.

Back broad, difficult to feel individual spinous or transverse processes. More prominent crease along mid line fat pads on either side. Crease along midline bulging fat either side.

Cannot feel hip bones, fat may overhang either side of tail head, fat often uneven and bulging.

(very thin)



4. Overweight (fat)

5. Obese (very fat)

Neck thick, crest bulging with fat and may fall to one side. Shoulder rounded and bulging with fat.

Withers broad, bones felt with firm pressure.

• •

Fat deposits evenly placed.


sweet feed, even in the diets of working mules, is generally not advisable. Working mules can frequently enjoy a diet with a higher quality forage and less straw that their non-hybrid counterparts.

Planning Your Donkey’s Ration

How do you create a great ration for your donkey? Start off by assessing body weight and BCS. Calculate 1.5 percent of your donkey’s healthy BW, then take that number and multiply by 25 percent. The result is the amount of grass hay your donkey gets. For the balance of his diet feed free choice straw. Over time, adjust the proportions of hay relative to straw as required to ensure an adequate energy diet. Ideally, straw should be fed on the ground. According to research done by the Donkey Sanctuary UK, they usually leave some behind and may even lie on it. Keep the feeding area well stocked with fresh, free-choice straw, removing the old straw regularly and recycling it as bedding for your donkey.




Mineral supplements can be offered daily in a very small meal of soaked cubes or timothy pellets. Avoid balancer pellets for donkeys as the intake necessary may be too high in energy for them. Donkeys should not be given feeds with an NSC of over 15 percent on a dry matter basis. Provide tepid water in the wintertime as donkeys can be susceptible to impaction colic; if the water is warmer, donkeys will drink more. Monitor your donkey’s BCS carefully for weight gain or loss and adjust hay accordingly. Be cautious about turning donkeys out to browse as they may find high energy vegetation you didn’t even know was there. And finally, ensure your donkey gets some exercise. Hand walking, driving, or even the use of toys can be helpful.

Donkey Sanctuaries

Donkey enthusiasts in Canada have two excellent resources to consult on the care and husbandry of their donkeys. The

world leader in donkey information is The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon England. The Donkey Sanctuary has initiated some excellent peer reviewed research on donkey behaviour, health, and nutrition. > The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is located in Puslinch, Ontario. Modelled after the original Donkey Sanctuary in the UK, it is a registered charity that has offered sanctuary to literally hundreds of donkeys in Canada. > Even if you have always loved donkeys but have never been able to own one, you can still support research into better methods of looking after them by supporting the above-noted groups. If you do own a donkey, both these groups would love to hear from you. b > Shelagh Niblock is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.



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2/11/2022 3:03:55 PM

Family Farms Ranches


Working & Playing Together By Tania Millen

Operating family farms and ranches can be challenging, but according to these three Canadian families, there are plenty of benefits, too. Farming with Kids

Lauren Fraychineaud and her husband Dave Allan are firstgeneration farmers. They own and operate Kalum Acres in Terrace, British Columbia (BC) along with their four children: Flint (5), Cea (4), Esme (2), and Eily (10 months). They bought the farm to raise their own food. “Our kids help in every way they can, from collecting eggs and pushing around the kid-size wheelbarrow, to picking poop and feeding animals,” Fraychineaud says. She admits, “It takes a lot longer to do chores with our kids than it does without them. But it’s important to appreciate the help they’re providing. By





taking on chores and being appreciated by us, the kids develop a sense of responsibility and achievement and sense of worth.” “Our kids know that before we can do anything in the day, we’ve got to check on our animals. We spend a lot of time on the farm doing chores, so our family time looks different than movie nights and going on walks in town. Family needs and farm needs are very blended,” she says. “There’s a level of resilience that our kids get from farming that I don’t think the average kid gets. I think it’s rare that most kids, especially young kids, are uncomfortable. There’s a lot of discomfort that comes with the good things in life and I think it’s important to learn to embrace that discomfort.” But keeping small children safe while farming can be challenging. Animals, machinery, and standing water are all potential concerns. “There’s a lot of added work making sure that we know where our kids are, and that they’re in a safe place. We communicate


Lauren Fraychineaud, who operates Kalum Acres with her husband and family in Terrace, BC drives a tractor with baby Eily.

The Fraychineaud children feed the horses crab apples.


Quality family time is very important to the Hessdorfers who operate At Kalum Acres in Terrace, BC, the children help as much as they can. a mixed grain and beef farm that has been in the family for generations.

Esme, Flint, and Cea watch their Dad fix a fence.






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with our kids a lot. I think in general they are more mature and communicative than your average toddler and that’s because the consequences are high and they’re aware of that,” she explains. “It’s mentally and physically challenging to manage.” Fraychineaud and Allan raise chickens, lambs, and pigs for meat, have five horses, plus both work as full-time college instructors. “We’re both concerned about where our meat comes from, how it’s raised, and the quality of life [the animals have]. We also wanted our kids to be aware of where their food comes from, and to participate in raising it,” she says. “We can guarantee our animals have a quality life, and farming allows our kids to spend a lot of time outside and acquire skills to raise animals, whether they choose to do that in the future or not. They’re very keen and I think they have a greater sense of self [by] being included in the daily tasks. I think farming teaches them compassion.” The Fraychineaud children also understand the life cycle. “Our kids are aware of all the processes on our farm. We have a slaughter license. Our animals are born and slaughtered on our farm, which our kids participate in. “Farming isn’t as glamorous as a lot of people think it is. Or maybe I’ve grown numb to the romance,” she jokes. However, Fraychineaud feels fortunate to be able to farm with her family. “A lot of people come by who are envious that our kids get such a life. But a lot of them wouldn’t want to do the work or they wouldn’t want their kids participating in the work. “I think our kids will thank us for it. Or maybe they’ll never come back!” she says.

Multi-Generational Farming

Sandra Hessdorfer, her husband Chris, and their two boys Corbin and Riley, ages 13 and 12, operate a mixed grain and beef operation near Middle Lake, Saskatchewan. The farm has a long history. “The operation started with my husband’s grandparents, then his parents, and now we farm the original land with Chris’ brother Laverne,” Hessdorfer says. “I think growing up on a farm gives you character. Our kids are in 4-H and take care of beef cattle. They learned early on where babies come from and have witnessed cows giving birth. They understand where their food comes from and the love and work that goes into raising it. They’ve experienced the loss of a favourite animal and teaching them how to cope with that loss will hopefully


Dave Allan and Eily pet a friendly sow.



Cea shows a piglet to little sister Esme.

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In preparation for a show, Riley trims his 4-H steer.


Quality family time is very important to the Hessdorfers who operate a mixed grain and beef farm that has been in the family for generations.





Corbin practices for a 4-H show.

make it easier for them to understand when loved ones leave us,” she says. Chris and Laverne do the majority of the farming, while Sandra and the two boys primarily work with the cattle. Chris’s mum Theresa “helps with meals and has been an inspiration and confidante.” There are both hardships and rewards in doing what you love but this is the life we chose,” she explains. “After building up our herd over the last ten years, we’ve had to downsize it due to the price of feed and dry conditions.” However, Hessdorfer feels the benefits of farming outweigh the difficulties. “We don’t get away much because of the cattle. But we all work together and our boys are learning what it means to take care of something, and that their needs and wants don’t always come first. We laugh a lot, even when things go wrong like when the cows get out. But we have a sense of accomplishment and pride when a calf is born or a crop hits the bins,” she says. “It’s not easy and the weather can make you cry. But the sunsets, sunrises, and all the other little moments that you see because you’re in the field or out checking cows are amazing if you take the time to see them.” Hessdorfer thinks quality family time is of utmost importance to make up for days when the family takes a back seat to farming. “Sometimes the most fun we have is fixing fences and picking rocks as a family. I married into this farm and I think anyone coming into a situation like this needs to realize how important this farm is to their spouse and the previous generations.” But the future can be uncertain. “One bad year can make you rethink your whole future. But we keep moving forward. We’re hoping our kids choose careers off the farm so they have a more stable way of life,” she says. “But we keep farming in case either of them wants to farm when they grow up.”

Mixing Cattle and Horses

Menard Bird, his wife Shawna BladesBird, and 20-something kids Logan and Lakota, operate Lazy B Timed Event Horses and Cattle, near Nanton, Alberta. They supply cattle to about 50 rodeos a year including the Calgary Stampede, plus raise, train, and compete horses in timed rodeo events such as calf roping, team roping, and breakaway. Logan and Lakota started competing SPRING 2022








Riley feeds hay to his 4-H steers.


“Our boys are learning what it means to take care of something, and that their needs and wants don’t always come first,” says Sandra Hessdorfer, pictured with a bottle-fed calf.

The Bird family operates Lazy B Timed Event Horses and Cattle near Nanton, Alberta. L-R: Manerd Bird, Lakota Bird, Logan Bird

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at high school rodeos in about sixth grade and their enthusiasm spurred the horse side of the business. “Fifteen years ago, we started training more and more horses. I started doing four or five horses a year. Now, we train about 30 head of horses a year, mostly for calf or open team roping, and breakaway,” Bird says. “That entails getting them ready and training them at rodeos. Then we sell them.” Bird says that competing at high school rodeos was great for his kids and family. “High school rodeo teaches so many things. Responsibility. Sportsmanship. How to take care of animals. The harder you work, the better you get and the more you get out of it.” Those lessons have paid off. Bird’s son Logan is a Canadian champion calf roper, and his daughter Lakota is a season leader in breakaway roping. Producing, showing, and selling top-quality rope horses is what they do. “We’ve had three horses at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, and we have lots of other good horses out in the rodeo world. We had a rope horse at the NFR last year,” he says. Another horse, T.J., earned over a million dollars for his riders. He was a grey gelding that excelled at tiedown roping, and was instrumental in the careers of several rodeo riders before he passed away unexpectedly in November 2021 at age 18. Logan just built himself a new house on the ranch, which he considers “The house that TJ built” because the horse’s earnings paid for the house. When interviewed for this article, Bird and his family were in Arizona training horses for the winter. “It’s great to be able to work with your kids. I really enjoy it,” he says. “The kids kind of run with it. They both learned how to train



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About 30 horses are trained by the Bird family each year for timed rodeo events such as calf roping, team roping, and breakaway. You’ve got to love it when your whole family can work and play together, says Manerd Bird.





horses from me, so I can leave them and know the horses are going to get trained how I want. That’s my control freak side,” he jokes. “We ride all day long, every day, in Arizona. We start in the morning and we don’t quit till dark. We believe in teaching the horse to work out of knowledge, not from being scared. We train our horses on our cattle after the cattle are done working the rodeos,” he explains. “Every year we revisit what we’ve done as a family, then decide how many horses we’re going to produce — who’s going to be where and how many rodeos we’re going to do. And every year we tweak the program a little bit to make it better.” But the last few years have been different. “COVID has been a big challenge because two years ago they canceled all the rodeos. So, we had 500 head of rodeo-ready cattle that had nowhere to go. That was a pretty big challenge for our business,” he explains. “However, the horse market has done nothing but go up. The horse market is hotter than it’s ever been. “The cattle and the horses go hand-inhand. People see Logan and Lakota riding our horses at the rodeos and want to buy them. But it seems harder to find young horses if you don’t raise them yourself. “The $100,000 to $200,000 horse is not unusual in our business now. There are lots of $50,000 ones. The days of buying cheap finished rope horses are over,” he says. “Who knows what’s going to happen down the road. But for now, horse prices aren’t going anywhere. “During COVID, a lot of families were unsure whether their kids were going to be able to play baseball or hockey. Plus traveling for family vacations was difficult. But they could still rodeo and go roping as a family. So now the whole family has a horse, and they go and ride together and rope together on weekends,” he says. “I see this way more now than I’ve ever seen it before.” Whatever the future brings, Bird says there will always be day-to-day good times with family. “There’s nothing harder than being a farmer or rancher. It’s a lot of hours and a ton of work for little pay. But you’ve got to love it when your whole family can work together, play together, and enjoy. There are very few things that the whole family can do together for generations.” Family farming and ranching are two b of them. > Tania Millen is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.


HEALTH LINES Veterinary Medical Centre

Western College of Veterinary Medicine SPRING 2022

Unravelling the umbilical cord Does cord’s length and twists affect foal health? By Myrna MacDonald Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) researchers have added a couple of new twists to research focusing on the link between equine umbilical cords and foal health. Dr. Madison Ricard, a veterinary anatomic pathology resident, and her supervisor, Dr. Bruce Wobeser, are investigating whether excessively long umbilical cords or cords with more twists than usual affect the health outcomes of foals. Previous studies have investigated the link between umbilical cord length and equine abortions, but this study is the first of its kind: “As far as we can tell, nobody has looked at that situation before on live foals. It’s always been on aborted foals,” says Wobeser. The researchers are also relying on social media to find participants and online surveys and cell phone images to

gather information. Ricard, who develops websites and has an interest in social media, has been sharing the study’s details through horse breeding groups online. “It is outside the norm,” says Wobeser. “But really, social media data collection is just survey data. We’re surveying a different group of people with different tools. It’s absolutely worth trying.” The WCVM researchers are encouraging owners to enrol their pregnant mares in the study, which includes a few steps outlined on their website ( Immediately after foaling, the owner takes a photo of the umbilical cord and measures its length. Next, the owner records information about the mare, the foaling process, and the foal’s health at birth. These details can be submitted online or by using a printable, stall-side form. The owner also fills out surveys

about the foal’s health — one at seven days and another at 30 days after birth. “If there’s anything unusual about the foal’s health, that’s what we want to capture,” says Ricard, who plans to sort information into categories such as infectious versus non-infectious conditions and congenital issues versus bacterial or viral infections. “From there, we can do our statistics, home in on those categories, and then see the outcomes we find.” Normally, equine umbilical cords measure 50 to 60 centimetres (20 to 24 inches) long and have four or five twists along its length. But excessively long or twisted cords can restrict blood supply to the fetus and cause significant health issues — often leading to death. In an earlier study, Ricard and Wobeser reported that Canada has a higher rate of

of Veterinary Medicine T o w n s e n d E q u i n e H e a lth R e Western s e aCollege rch Fund


Dr. Jane Westendorf. Submitted

Visit to read the full story.

Myrna MacDonald

Unravelling the umbilical cord (continued) non-infectious fetal placental causes — including excessively long umbilical cords or torsions. Those results are similar to a study targeting horses in the United Kingdom. Human medical researchers have also found that too much twisting or excessively long umbilical cords can affect babies’ Apgar scores — the scoring system

used to assess newborns’ well-being. Scientists have found links between these abnormal umbilical cords and issues such as still births, pulmonary hypertension and neurologic function deficits in babies. “Although it’s human medicine, it suggests that there’s the potential for something to be there when it comes to umbilical cord morphology (form and

structure) in these foals,” says Ricard. With the foaling data, Ricard hopes to identify common patterns in the cords’ traits. For each submission, she will also calculate an “umbilical cord index” — the number of twists in the cord divided by the cord’s length. Ricard will then compare those index numbers to established reference values. “Once it’s all done, we’re going to take all of this information that we’ve gathered about umbilical cords and see if we can find any connections between the umbilical cord data and the foals’ health data,” says Ricard. But first, the WCVM researchers need data from many foalings over the next two years. They hope to capture data from breeding seasons in both northern and southern hemispheres. Public response has been very positive, and Ricard says many Facebook users have shared her original post. “If we could get access to 500 foals, that would be amazing.” Do you have a mare that’s scheduled to foal this year? Visit for more details about this study or contact Dr. Madison Ricard (

Vitamin E a must for horse health Horse Health Lines is the news publication for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF). Visit for more information. Send comments and article reprint requests to: Myrna MacDonald, Editor Horse Health Lines WCVM, University of Saskatchewan 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4 Horse Health Lines design and layout: Priddy Design Cover photo: Caitlin Taylor 2


Horses need to eat their greens, too — and if they can’t get the proper nutrients through grazing, it’s important for owners to be aware of how to ensure nutritional needs are met. One important nutrient for horses is vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant keeps equine muscle and nerve cells healthy and helps to support the immune system. Because horses can’t make their own vitamin E, it’s important that they get enough through diet. Working horses, lactating mares and growing horses all have higher vitamin E needs. While several of the conditions caused by vitamin E deficiency are preventable, not all can be treated successfully — especially when they present in foals. Not all horses show clinical signs of vitamin E deficiency, but those signs that do appear are related to the muscles and nerves. They can include muscle tremors, lying down ex-

cessively and difficulty standing, a stiff and unco-ordinated gait, shifting leg lameness, a poor topline, weight loss and muscle atrophy, and decreased energy. Fresh grass is the best source of vitamin E. Horses that don’t have access to fresh grass may need daily supplementation. While hay can provide the nutrient, the amount it contains begins to decrease as soon as hay is harvested and stored, with losses of up to 50 per cent after only one month of storage. Different types of commercially available vitamin E supplements include liquid, pellets and powder. Check with your veterinarian to learn more about your horse’s specific nutritional needs and what type of supplementation is best.



Dr. Duke’s 30-year legacy By Jeanette Neufeld

Dr. Tanya Duke (left) sedates an equine patient before a laparoscopic procedure. Christina Weese

In 1999, Dr. Tanya Duke-Novakovski travelled to Leipzig, Germany, for a oneyear sabbatical leave from her role at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). The veterinary anesthesiologist’s goal during her stay in the former east German city was to help curb the number of horses that died after surgery in the Universität Leipzig’s large animal clinic. The problem was post-anesthetic myopathy, a muscle disease that could be prevented by properly controlling blood pressure and providing fluid therapy during anesthesia to ensure the patient’s muscles continued to receive oxygen. Without proper treatment, horses faced a difficult recovery and were often euthanized. “The young anesthetists out there now will hopefully never see problems like this in equine anesthesia because we know how to prevent them now,” says Duke-Novakovski. She published her research, and since then, the case report summarizing her observations has become a key source for veterinary anesthesiologists. “If you’re a researcher, there are some landmark papers everybody knows. Not all of us will publish such a paper,” says Dr. Barbara Ambros, a veterinary anesthesiologist and WCVM professor. “That [paper] made a change from that moment forward in how we dealt with equine anesthesia.” Duke-Novakovski recently retired after

more than 30 years at the college, leaving a legacy as a prolific and collaborative researcher. Originally from the United Kingdom, she came to the college after completing an anesthesia residency at the University of Liverpool. She and her WCVM colleagues explored new techniques, drugs and technologies that have helped patient outcomes. “Over my career it’s been a time of great change within the anesthesia world,” she says. Duke-Novakovski’s work spanned species and specialties. Almost every veterinary procedure requires the support of the anesthesia team, whether it’s a routine X-ray or a complex surgery. Horses present a challenge as they respond differently to anesthesia than other animals. “It is a much riskier thing to do for a horse than it is for a dog or a cat,” says Duke-Novakovski. Complications can develop due to the horse’s immense body weight and their unnatural position — lying on their back or sides — during surgical procedures. Because of this, anesthesiologists typically stay in the room throughout the entire procedure. This presented many opportunities for Duke-Novakovski to observe and ask questions, inevitably leading to further research. Some of the important equine projects she worked on included research into the safety of thoracoscopy on horses lying

on their backs, as well as research that brought the anesthestic drugs propofol and alfaxalone into routine veterinary use (in Canada). A recent study was the first to explore the use of remifentanil in horses. “I think she’s contributed a ton in terms of her research — she’s a big collaborator — so she’s certainly influenced the careers of many people at all levels. But she’s also put the University of Saskatchewan and WCVM on the map,” says Dr. Christine Egger, a WCVM graduate and veterinary anesthesiologist. Egger was Duke-Novakovski’s first graduate student trainee and went on to serve on faculty at several American veterinary colleges. “Her research is extremely well thought of, and she’s really brought a lot of credibility to the research program.” Duke-Novakovski has always been driven by the desire to make the information she gleaned from clinical practice available to colleagues around the world through publishing. Ambros adds that DukeNovakovski always taught the highest standard of care to her students, who then went on to implement their knowledge in private practice. “I think the standard of anesthesia in the last two decades has definitely improved, and I think she played a big role in that,” says Ambros.

Visit to read full article. Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Signal Pursuit

WCVM scientists are working to interpret the hormonal signals involved in maternal recognition of pregnancy By Jeanette Neufeld and Sheriton Smith Caitlin Taylor

Dr. Claire Card has spent much of her career helping mares get pregnant, but for some horses and their owners, it’s complicated. “A lot of horses that are very valuable in terms of their athletic ability or their traits … are not retired from that career until they’re well into their teenage years,” says Dr. Claire Card, an equine theriogenologist and professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). “Then it becomes harder for this type of an older mare — just like it would be in any older female — to become pregnant and carry the pregnancy.” Many strategies are available to treat the infectious causes of pregnancy loss and infertility, but clinicians struggle to treat the non-infectious and sometimes age-related changes. For some breeds, using assisted reproductive technologies isn’t an option. “There’s a large chunk of very valuable horses that are outside of that. For them 4


it has to be natural breeding — it has to be the mare carrying her own pregnancy,” says Card. These restrictions have created a huge market for reproductive therapies. But without a full understanding of the role of hormones during equine pregnancy, researchers are flying blind. “If we can understand the processes better, then the therapeutic options become easier to investigate because you know what direction to go towards.” Card has been investigating equine reproduction for decades. The progression of her team’s work in studying a process called maternal recognition of pregnancy (MRP) has created more understanding of the hormonal signals that support a pregnancy to continue or tell it to end. Her most recent project, which is supported by the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF), is aimed at identifying how the hormones prostaglandin F (PGF) and prostaglandin E (PGE) interact during early stages of

equine pregnancy. Large pulses of PGF are secreted by the uterus and cause a mare to come back into heat, while PGE is made by the embryo and may have opposite effects. The WCVM researchers are specifically trying to pinpoint the pattern of PGE secretion. “No one has ever really looked at that — we’ll be the first to report that,” says Card. “We are trying to determine if pulses of PGE are secreted and if non-pregnant and pregnant mares have different patterns.” To do this, researchers will compare non-pregnant mares to mares that have one or multiple embryos. Their hypothesis: multiple embryos will send a stronger PGE hormonal signal that will allow them to track hormone levels more effectively during early pregnancy. “We’re trying to make the signal louder so that it’s easier for us to detect,” says Card. Her team will monitor the pregnant mares, taking hourly blood samples between day 13 and 16 of pregnancy — the period when prostaglandin levels typically peak and pregnancy recognition occurs. The WCVM research team will send the samples to Dr. Mariana Diel de Amorim, an equine theriogenologist who earned her PhD degree with Card at the WCVM and is now a faculty member at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Diel de Amorim, whose research focuses on MRP, will process the samples in her lab to determine the hourly levels of PGF and PGE hormones in the mares’ blood samples. The team completed the project’s control phase in 2021 by studying non-pregnant mares, mares with single embryos and two multiple embryo pregnancies. The next phase is to study at least four more multiple embryo pregnancies during the 2022 breeding season. Ultimately, the more information gleaned about the horse’s unique reproductive physiology will contribute to the success of reproductive therapies. “We feel that there may be some window where if we understand the physiology more, we can either work with intercepting those prostaglandin signals that harm pregnancy maintenance, or help the uterus develop a healthier uterine environment through regenerative medicine approaches,” says Card. Sheriton Smith of Regina, Sask., is a thirdyear WCVM veterinary student and was part of Dr. Claire Card’s research team in 2021.

PhD student Dr. Suzanne Mund. Christina Weese

WCVM team publishes study showing wound healing changes after stem cell therapy By Myrna MacDonald

A team of researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) has published the first equine study to demonstrate changes in wound healing following stem cell therapy. Their findings were recently published online in Cells, an international open access journal. Team members include PhD student Dr. Suzanne Mund along with WCVM faculty members Drs. Daniel MacPhee, John Campbell, Ali Honaramooz, Bruce Wobeser and Spencer Barber. The researchers used intravenous (IV) treatments of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) that were extracted from other horses. These stem cells have potential for improving wound healing because they can alter the body’s inflammatory response, which is involved in healing. They can also influence other local cells to produce growth factors that could enhance the speed and quality of wound healing. MSC therapy is a promising treatment for limb wounds, a common injury in horses that often develops complications. One of the main issues with limb wounds

is the production of an excess amount of granulation tissue, commonly known as “proud flesh.” But there are risks associated with IV administration of MSC, and so far, the therapy’s effectiveness in improving cutaneous wound healing is unknown. The WCVM research team was successful in administering the highest dose of MSCs ever administered to horses enrolled in the study (using any type of delivery). Contrary to the team’s hypothesis, the treated horses did not experience accelerated wound closure or improved histologic healing. However, the horses’ healed wounds did have smaller immature scar sizes, which may signal a better repair in terms of cosmetics and function. The stem cell therapy also appeared to alter the cytokine profile within the horses’ wounds. Cytokines are small proteins that play a role in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. After treatment, there was less expression of all measured cytokine types except for antifibrotic mediators. This finding is contrary to researchers’ understanding that more acute inflam-

mation — followed by rapid resolution — improves limb wound healing. Another concern was that several of the horses in the treatment group temporarily developed minor reactions after receiving the stem cell therapy. Since one horse in the control group also experienced similar transient reactions, the cause may be related to the cell suspension solution used or to other external factors rather than to the cells themselves. While MSC intravenous therapy has the potential to decrease the size of limb wounds in horses, researchers need to do further studies before this therapy can be recommended as an effective wound healing tool for veterinarians in the field. More work also needs to be done to understand the clinical relevance of adverse reactions that were observed in the study’s horses. This study received funding from the Mark and Pat DuMont Equine Orthopedic Fund and the WCVM’s Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF).

Western College of Veterinary Medicine




Dr. Lynn Weber, a professor and researcher in the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (VBMS), was appointed as the college’s interim associate dean (research and graduate studies) for a one-year term beginning on Nov. 1, 2021. Weber holds a PhD degree in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of British Columbia. She joined the WCVM faculty in 2005 after completing Dr. Lynn Weber postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary and Oklahoma State University. Weber teaches undergraduate-level veterinary physiology and pharmacology courses as well as physiology and toxicology courses to graduate students. She previously served as graduate chair for the University of Saskatchewan’s interdisciplinary toxicology program and interim VBMS department head. Weber’s research focuses on the effect of environmental influences on the cardiovascular system. While she works extensively with fish and other mammals, Weber is well known for her work in pet food research.

In December 2021, WCVM graduate Dr. Emma Read became the new president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) for a one-year term. Read is the associate dean for professional programs at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Before moving to Ohio in 2018, Read was a faculty member at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for 11 years. Dr. Emma Read She previously taught at the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) and worked for a private specialty referral practice in Alberta. After graduating from the WCVM in 1998, Read completed a surgery internship at Okotoks Animal Clinic in Alberta before becoming a clinical intern at the WCVM where her husband Matt, a WCVM graduate, was completing a residency in veterinary anesthesia. In 2000, she began a three-year Master of Veterinary Science program with WCVM large animal surgeon Dr. David Wilson. Read completed a large animal surgery residency at the University of Georgia and became board certified with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) in 2004.

VIRTUAL HORSE HEALTH TALKS After its successful debut last winter, the WCVM’s online EquineED Talks have returned for a second series that runs from October 2021 to March 2022. Presented by WCVM equine team members and guests, this year’s talks cover a wide range of topics including laminitis/hoof health, equine biosecurity, breeding and fertility, preventive health care, infectious diseases, performance horse health nutrition and first aid/wound management. Two panel discussions — one targeting the impact of horse health research and a second talk highlighting regional equine health issues developing across Western Canada — are additions to this year’s lineup. Another special feature was a talk by Claire Thomson, a University of Alberta PhD candidate and historian. On January 18, Thomson gave a special presentation titled “Lakota history and horses” based on her research of Wood Mountain ˘ Thamákhočhe/Lakota ˘ ˘ Lakota connections within Lakhóta Country from 1881 to 1930 (land that overlies the American-Canadian border). Thomson’s presentation was organized by the WCVM and WCVM DIVERSE (Diversity and Inclusivity in the Veterinary Environment: Respect, Solidarity, Empowerment), a student club at the college. 6


EQUINE EXPO MOVES TO 2022 Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, organizers of the Saskatchewan Equine Expo decided against holding the four-day event in October 2021. Saskatoon’s Praireland Park, along with the Saskatchewan Horse Federation and the WCVM, are now planning to hold the 10th edition of the show from Oct. 27 to 30, 2022. Visit, the event’s website, for further updates.

Ready to learn? Visit for details about future WCVM EquineED Talks and to access recordings of all past presentations.

Research in print A round up of WCVM-related equine research articles that have been recently published in peer-reviewed journals. Lopes MAF, Hardy J, Farnsworth K, Labens R, Lam WYE, Noschka E, Afonso T, Cruz Villagràn C, Luiz CP, Saulez M, Kelmer G. “Standing flank laparotomy for colic: 37 cases.” Equine Veterinary Journal. Sept. 2021; 00:1–12. evj.13511 Pimentel KL, Carmalt JL. “The frequency of communication between the synovial compartments of the equine temporomandibular joint: a contrast-enhanced computed tomographic assessment.” Frontiers in Veterinary Science. October 2021. 8:753983. Mund SJK, MacPhee DJ, Campbell J, Honaramooz A, Wobeser B, Barber SM. “Macroscopic, histologic and immunomodulatory response of limb wounds following intravenous allogeneic cord blood-derived multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell therapy in horses.” Cells. Nov. 2021. 10(11):2972.

Villagrán CC, Vogt D, Gupta A, Fernández EA. “Inflammatory bowel disease characterized by multisystemic eosinophilic epitheliotropic disease (MEED) in a horse in Saskatchewan, Canada.” Nov. 2021. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 62(11):1190-4. Card C (contributor). Equine Reproductive Procedures. 2021. Editors: Dascanio J, McCue P. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J.

Duke-Novakovski T (contributor). Manual of Equine Anesthesia and Analgesia. Second edition. Nov. 2021. Editors: Doherty T, Valverde A, Reed RA. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J.

Westendorf J, Wobeser B, Epp T. “IIB or not IIB, part 1: retrospective evaluation of Kenney–Doig categorization of equine endometrial biopsies at a veterinary diagnostic laboratory and comparison with published reports.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.

Pimentel KL, Allen AL, Carmalt JL. “Developmental orthopaedic disease and early osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint in a 15-month-old quarter horse filly.” Nov. 2021. Equine Veterinary Education.

Tucker ML, Wilson DG, Reinink SK, Carmalt JL. “Computed tomographic geometrical analysis of surgical treatments for equine recurrent laryngeal neuropathy.” American Journal of Veterinary Research. Feb. 2022.

Visit for more news updates.

Hoof abscesses: a real pain, in more ways than one A hoof abscess is a pocket of infection that develops underneath the sole or within the sensitive tissues (laminae) of a horse’s foot. As infectious pus builds up, the growing pressure causes extreme pain. Hoof abscesses often develop in late winter or spring. Moist environments cause horses’ hoofs to soften and bacteria can more easily enter through hoof wall cracks. Horses with hoof-related diseases are also more prone to abscesses. Since severe lameness could indicate a catastrophic injury, call your veterinarian immediately. Radiographs will help to rule out a fracture, and if a pus pocket is visible on X-rays, the images can help to pinpoint

the abscess’s location. If not, hoof testers or nerve blocks can also help to find the abscess. By following the draining tract, a veterinarian can use a hoof knife to open and drain the abscess. Once it’s located, the goal is to open the abscess through the bottom of the foot so the pressure is relieved as pus drains. Soaking the horse’s foot in warm water and Epsom salts can also help. The next step is to bandage the foot with a poultice, using a duct tape boot to protect the area from dirt and mud. If it’s too cold to soak the foot, your veterinarian will use a wet poultice on the foot, covered with a bandage — a process that owners can repeat once a day. During recovery,

keep the horse in a stall or a small paddock to restrict movement. Abscesses usually heal after about five days of treatment. But if the draining tract can’t be located, it can take a week or even longer for the abscess to rupture, drain and heal. Visit to read the full story (search “hoof abscess”).

Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Honour their lives

with the gift of Equine health

“Our practice (Paton & Martin Veterinary Services) began to make contributions to the fund on behalf of clients when their horses passed away. We have found this to be a gratifying contribution and have been humbled by the responses that we have received from many of our clients. I think that it is very helpful for them to know that their horses have been honoured in such a fashion. The fund gives horse owners the additional opportunity to contribute to this very worthwhile cause: supporting vital research in the areas of equine health.” Dr. David Paton (WCVM ’78) TEHRF donor

Pay tribute the lives of your patients, clients and loved ones by making a donation to the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF) through its memorial program. Each time you give to the fund, we will send a letter to the client or loved one’s family acknowledging your gift to the equine health fund.

Questions? | 306-966-7268

Check out Horse Health Lines online at PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40112792 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO: Research Office, WCVM University of Saskatchewan 52 Campus Drive Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4


a e b o t w o H

R E T T E B Barn r e d r a o B

By Nikki Alvin-Smith


DON’T offer unsolicited advice to others or criticize other people or their horses. There is always more for all of us to learn and an encouraging comment can go a long way toward helping others who may be struggling.


DON’T be a gossip. Keep your mouth shut. If you can’t say something nice… you know the rest.


DON’T be a complainer. Focus on being positive and help create a happier environment.

cover every month. If you need to talk to the owner/manager about a discrepancy on the bill, do so without delay.


DON’T help yourself to supplies such as hay, feed, or bedding, or use farm equipment that is off-limits to you.

3DO tidy up after yourself and your horse. The barn


DON’T hog the washstall, cross-ties, riding arena, or available turn-out just because you arrived there first — share.


DON’T borrow other people’s supplies without asking and, if they do say yes, always return the item in a timely fashion in the same condition — or even a bit improved.


DON’T invite yourself to other folks’ rides or events and just show up. Nobody likes a gate crasher. Always ask beforehand or wait to be invited.


DON’T bring your horse in and leave someone else’s horse to fret in the field and run the fenceline. Instead, resolve the issue by advising the barn owner/manager that you plan to bring your horse in to ride/groom so they can make accommodations for the other horse.

Being a popular and appreciated boarder at your barn ultimately benefits both you and your horse — your word will be better regarded, your disgruntlements better addressed, and you and your horse will be valued members of the barn community. Here are some dos and don’ts to factor into your barn lifestyle, in no particular order:

3DO pay on time. The barn owner has big bills to

manager is not your parent. Hang up the water hose, sweep the aisle, clean up after your horse in the arena, and put away the tools and equipment you use.

3DO ask if children, pets, and guests are allowed to come to the barn before you bring them. Keep them fully supervised while they are there.

3DO obey all barn rules — they are there for good reasons.

3DO take any grievances you have with your horse’s care or other barn-related issues directly and discreetly to the barn owner/manager for resolution.

3DO visit and exercise your horse regularly and

keep him up-to-date on all required vaccinations, parasite control, and farrier care.

3DO be a team player. Offer to help out and even

bring family or friends to assist with big jobs like bringing in the winter hay supply. If the barn holds shows and clinics, support these efforts by volunteering to help.

By following these simple rules you will always be welcome at your barn, and you’ll be setting yourself up with a good reference if you move to another barn in the future. Respect is the name of the game!


> Nikki Alvin-Smith is a frequent contributor to this magazine. Read her bio on page 78.





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10 Tips

To Help You

Build A


Barn Business By Nikki Alvin-Smith Horse business owners everywhere know how difficult it is to make money in the horse world. Every equine industry entrepreneur strives to figure out how to build a better and more resilient enterprise that will generate a reliable revenue stream and provide an enjoyable equestrian lifestyle. The capital costs of the buildings, pastures, and paddocks required to house horses and keep them safe and happy, along with the long list of supplies and services necessary to launch and operate a horse business, all require serious investment. The following tips to help you build a better barn business are based on my own decades of experience as an advanced competitor, coach, and clinician, and a lifetime of operating a horse breeding, import, and sales business while building two horse farms from scratch and raising three children.

TIP #1

Make Sure Things Add Up At least once a year take a good hard 44




look at exactly where your hard-earned dollars are disappearing. Key areas where you can possibly improve your bottom line include: • LABOUR — If you are paying for help around the barn look at bartering services to save money. However, if you offer a board discount or free board to someone in exchange for barn work, do the math and make sure that you are truly saving money. • INSURANCE — Insurance should be shopped around every year. Markets change, your needs change, underwriters change, and so does the law. Insurance can be one of the largest expenditures an equine facility has each year. Always evaluate your insurance and other major expenses diligently. • SUPPLIES — Hay is one of the main budget items of an equine facility. Save money by buying well-cured hay off the field at time of harvest at a discounted price. Store it correctly to minimize spoilage or wastage. Buy bedding supplies in bulk to reduce cost. Regular mucking out

will also save money on bedding in the long run. • UTILITIES — Contact your local hydro company and ask for an in-person audit to see where you can save energy. There may be grants available to assist with the cost of upgrades that improve energy efficiency. Add insulation to all areas that need to be heated such as the tack room or office, and add automatic door closing devices to doors to shut out the cold. For fuel needs, the installation of a large tank and an annual contract with a supplier that provides a cap fee on the price per litre can reduce cost. • FENCING, BUILDINGS, EQUIPMENT — It is much more cost-effective to have a routine maintenance program for these items than to deal with costly breakdowns and repairs, or expensive vet bills for escaped horses that injure themselves. If you have the space, consider expanding pasture for your horses. Not only will your grazing horses have a healthier lifestyle, they won’t be using


A major improvement such as the addition of an indoor arena allows you to ride and train year-round, increase your boarding rates, and appeal to a broader market of clients.

bedding, munching through your hay supply, or requiring as much labour to take care of. Remember that good tools make a job faster and more efficient. Buy used tools and equipment when it makes sense, especially if the equipment will be slightly abused by other users.

TIP #2

Network Ask industry colleagues to recommend vendors for all your needs. Networking with other horse owners will help you gain information about the best sources for products, the best deals, and other tips.


• VET AND FARRIER COSTS — Veterinary and farrier care can be major budget items but skimping in these areas can compromise your horse’s welfare and result in higher costs in the long run. Look at these expenses as an investment in the longterm welfare of your horses. Some savings can be realized by coordinating with other horse owners at the barn to split farm call fees for these appointments.

For extra help around the barn, consider offering a boarding discount in exchange for barn work. SPRING 2022





Your present clients are your best prospects. Look at ways to increase your revenue, such as by offering packages to encourage students to take additional lessons.

TIP #3

Keep Accurate Business Records While you may prefer to be outside working with horses rather than inside on a computer screen, keeping accurate business records is essential. When you utilize an accounting program and carefully record all your income and expenses, you will have an expense report at your fingertips to help you make better business decisions.

TIP #4

Your Clients Are Your Best Prospects As a trainer needing a steady stream of income, the more stalls you have full of sound, trainable horses, the better. If you offer riding instruction, each boarder is a prospective lesson student. If you train horses, explore the option of horse

sales as another source of income. Are you gaining enough revenue from your present clients? Are your rates on par with your competitors? To ensure maximum income from your stall space, you could require all boarders to take at least one lesson a week with you. Offer individualized discounted package programs to entice them to take more than one lesson a week. Review your rates for time-consuming extra services such as clipping or bathing, show transport, coaching at shows, laundry services, etc.

TIP #5

Clinics as Revenue Streams Most clinicians will offer a set price, either per lesson with a minimum number

of riders or a daily rate with a maximum number of riding slots. The clinician may also charge auditor fees. The hosting barn owner can add to these rates to make a profit per rider or auditor. Charging for overnight stabling, and food and beverages at the event, can also yield extra dollars.

TIP #6

Multiply Your Stalls and Stables The addition of more stall availability to your property may not be cheap, but with careful planning more stall space can mean more net profit. Remember that when you add structures to your property you are also increasing the resale value and may be able to deduct finance interest expenses and capital expenses through depreciation and amortization at the end of the tax year.

TIP #7

Add New Riding Facilities/Options The addition of an indoor arena as an available riding space provides the opportunity for you to lesson and train all day long and year-round. You will also be able to charge more for boarding services. Similarly, by adding a new outdoor arena, setting up a cross-country course, or making any other additions to the riding activities on offer, your facility may appeal to a broader market of clients.

TIP #8

Seek Professional Advice Just as you wouldn’t take lessons in 46




grand prix dressage from a neophyte rider learning to post the trot, it’s wise to seek professional help in order to be successful. Legal and accounting advice in particular can save significant money and hassles in the long-term.

TIP #9


Marketing 101 Always have an up-to-date website and some form of social media presence to keep your present clientele engaged and to use as a form of advertising. Managing with a Facebook page is simply not enough. Building a website can be easily accomplished by buying a template and adding content yourself, or you can employ a professional. Photos and videos reign supreme across all forms of marketing and horses lend themselves to both mediums very well.

TIP #10

Direct from the Horse’s Mouth If you have established a good reputation, word of mouth is still a solid form of advertising that will yield good results when it comes to growing and keeping your revenue stream healthy. Consistency in providing top quality horse care and training is imperative if you are playing the long game in the horse business. Don’t engage in negative local barn politics that disparage other farm operations or training techniques. If you hear fair criticism of your facility or work, think of it as an opportunity to improve; knowing the perceptions of others can inform your decisions for change. If the criticism is unfair, do not become defensive; rather, challenge the comments rationally while remaining calm. Take the time to develop a good business plan, which will be your roadmap to success. It will inform your daily decisions, help you determine if and when changes are needed, and assist you in navigating through uncertain times. The best business plan is in continual change, and if accurate and well-considered, once in place it will give your business a much better chance of success. b > Nikki Alvin-Smith is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.

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How to

OPTIMIZE your Schooling Sessions

By Lindsay Grice, Equestrian Canada coach and judge

Do you ever wander away from the mounting block, still adjusting your stirrups, pondering what to work on in today’s schooling session? Does your coach ever ask (I always do) what you’ve been working on since your last lesson, and you admit to mostly logging miles on your horse’s odometer? Is time with your horse squeezed between life’s many daily responsibilities, and sometimes squeezed out altogether? If so, you need an effective, efficient and creative game plan for your training sessions. 48





How Horses Learn Best The best teachers adapt to the learning style of their students. Of course, we’ll never know what it’s like to be a horse, but with insights from research into how horses think and learn, training them can be simpler and safer. These findings often harmonize with the observations of those who’ve spent years watching and working with horses. Yet, other evidence clashes with some of our long-held horse traditions. The key to being effective is knowing how horses learn best or understanding “equine learning theory.” (See my article, The Science of Schooling: Keys to an effective training session, in the Autumn 2021 issue of this maga-


While driving to the barn or getting your horse ready, think about what you’ll work on to build toward the skills you need to reach your goals.

zine and on I see systematic schooling as steps in a staircase: sets of repetitions — stepping up a basic skill to the next level — regular landings on which to take breaks and process things.

reward (if timed right) and your horse will be more likely to connect the dots. When confused, the horse’s right try might happen by accident, as if he’s guessing. Matching that accident or guess with a well-timed “yes” can be a window to a training breakthrough. Approaching your training session positively means looking for opportunities to communicate what you do want more than what you don’t want.

Make the right choice obvious. Equine (and human) students thrive on rewards. Horses are motivated to make choices not only by “no” (blocking wrong answers with pressure) but perhaps even more by “yes” (a wide-open door to the right answer). What speaks “yes” to your horse? Release the pressure – I mean really release it (I call it “melting”). Support that release with a neck scratch or even a food

Reward the try. By rewarding his most basic effort, you’re telling your horse he’s on the right track. It’s called shapingstepping toward the target behaviour by rewarding the approximation of it and then asking for progressively more. For example, your horse is cantering reliably and now you want to shorten his stride. He may respond with a menu of wrong answers such as leaning on the bit, getting quicker, or breaking to a trot. But if

you catch and release on the magic moment when he opts to shift his weight back to collect himself, he’s likely to try that option again… and then again. As another example, turn on the haunches may begin with one wider step with your horse’s inside front leg. Reward that try and he may try another. When your horse is no longer “trialling” wrong answers and regularly getting the right one, it’s time to push to the next level. Know when to push and when to wait. On the training staircase, pushing to the next level involves risk. I think of measured risks as those 80 percent likely to succeed — risks employing enough pressure to motivate a change, yet not enough to stir up fear and failure. Horses in anxious states don’t learn. Rather, they’ll try to escape instead of trying something new. Success can make us greedy to ask for more, such as pushing through to the scary water box instead of SPRING 2022




• Does my horse understand the aids?


• Have I delivered them accurately? • Is tension, distraction, or pain interfering with his response?

To aid in preventing and relieving many of your hoof care problems


Make the Most of Your Practice Time



SMALL: 6 1/2” x 5 7/8” x 1/16” LARGE: 8” x 7 1/2” x 1/8” TWO DEGREE: 6 1/2” x 5 7/8” x 5/16” TWO DEGREE LARGE: 8” x 8” x 5/16”


Your practice plan might complement your horse show classes, rotating through the essential manoeuvres needed for horsemanship patterns, trail obstacles, and ranch riding classes.

SMALL: 6” x 6 1/2” x 1/8” LARGE: 7 3/8” x 7 7/8” x 1/8” TWO DEGREE: 6” x 6 1/2” x 5/16”


#4: #5: #4: #5:

6 ”x5 ”x ” 7 1/4” x 6 5/8” x 3/16” 6 3/8” x 5 3/4” x 1/4” 7 1/4” x 6 5/8” x 1/4” 3/8




#8 IMPAK ABSORBER: 5 1/8” x 4 3/4” x 3/16” #8L IMPAK LARGE ABSORBER: 6 5/8” x 6” x 3/16” (For Prolapsed Frog)

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step… wait and chill… step again. Another example of a measured risk is being content with fewer trotting strides into a canter departure before expecting lift-off from a walk. Know when to quit. As a coach, I walk the balance between what benefits the rider and what benefits the horse. Rehearsing over and over is the recipe to becoming automatic. You build muscle memory and proficiency until you can execute techniques without consciously thinking about them. Yet, logging miles on the odometer is a sure road to a sour horse. What the human athlete gains by polishing her position and building stamina is apt to take a toll on her horse. Unlike bikes and snow boards, the tools for equestrian sport live, breathe, and think! Expect training setbacks. From time to time, in stepping up to the next level, things get worse before they get better. If you encounter a roadblock or behaviour issue, try another approach or break down the skill into simpler steps. Take a deep breath. “C’mon – you know this perfectly well!” When I assume my horse is being stubborn or stupid, the truth is, in my frustration, I’ve frankly run out of creativity and patience. Emotions make our aids unclear. When hitting a snag in a training session, opting for logic over emotion is a more effective way to bridge the communication gap with the horse. A deep breath clears headspace for sober assessment.

Have a plan. Every teacher begins with a lesson plan. I’ll map out plans in my head while driving. At the top of the training staircase, I visualize the ultimate skills horse and rider need to reach their goals. Each step is a logical piece toward building those skills. Landings are breaks that offer a few minutes to work on quieter movements or review familiar ones before resuming the climb. Be flexible. No lesson plan is etched in stone. Horses and riders get stuck, so don’t be discouraged if you remain on the same step for a few days before you continue climbing. For example, a flying change is assembled from building blocks of repetitions: leg yields, lateral movement of shoulders and haunches, counter-canter. It could take a couple of months to build the lead change. Winging it is a waste of time. Why? Because slow and steady inevitably wins the race. Skipping steps will trip you up, which means having to descend the staircase and rebuild your horse’s understanding and confidence. Fit the maximum skills into a minimum time budget. I have learned to be efficient as a horse trainer. Wasting 15 minutes with the first rides tip the dominoes, inevitably bumping the last one to the following day, knocking back the evening lesson schedule, and letting clients down. The upside was discovering that efficient schooling actually works better (and science confirms it). The quality of your practice session is determined by the quality, frequency, and rhythm of the questions you ask your horse, not by the time on the arena clock. If you’re short on time, resist opening up a can of worms by teaching something new today. Setbacks take time to sort out. Limit today’s lesson plan to several elements you’ll need for your next horse show or trail ride. Trotting around the well-worn track beside the arena rail won’t yield the same dividends as asking your horse those questions that’ll arise in competition. Use the staircase landings to practice things like standing still beside the mounting block, opening a gate, reining back, turn-on-the-forehand, or introducing neck-reining at the walk.


Practice the lessons your horse has learned in a new environment to make sure he really knows them.

Balanced variety. Horses thrive on routine, predictability, and consistency. For a prey animal, predictability is preferable to the spice of life. Though repetition benefits your horse, drilling does not. Divide your practice session into subjects or categories to break up monotony. Categories might complement your horse show classes, rotating through essential manoeuvres you’ll need for horsemanship patterns, trail obstacles, and ranch riding classes. Or your practice plan might feature cycling through some work over fences, then tuning up transitions for equitation on the flat, returning to more fence work, and finishing by imagining being judged in a hunter-under-saddle class. My lessons and training sessions often cycle through the “4 Ps” — my favourite drills for: • Pace (transitions within and between gaits) • Path (lateral movements) • Package (connection, collection) • Position (rider equitation fixes) Practice the tough stuff. We all gravitate toward rehearsing things that come easily and avoiding things we struggle with. Many of us cringe at critiquing ourselves on video, yet playing and rewinding is an excellent teaching tool. Zoom in on the areas that don’t match the standard you were hoping for — your horse’s tense expression, your tense wrists. Design a lesson plan to reshape these areas into the picture you have in your mind. Practice trickier turns or tighter lines than required in classes at your level. When you ride up a


Ideas to Ban Boredom

level at home, the course, pattern, or test at the show will seem elementary by comparison. Overpreparing allows you to go with the flow at the show! Practice with different equipment. I use poles and pylons in most of my lessons. Markers make us decisive — do it here; do it now. Markers reveal weak spots in training. I may not be as straight as I thought. Trail obstacles, tarps, flags, jumps, even cattle build your horse’s tolerance and patience and dial up the fun-factor. Practice in different environments. Yes! Your horse has grasped the lesson. Now, do it here… and here. Take it to the outdoor ring, down the driveway, or off property. Perform the skill in the midst of distraction — in a crowded arena or all alone (even with his buddies whinnying

outside). A skill isn’t learned until it works every time, everywhere. Time off. Pushing ourselves creates stress, and stress is a good thing because it stretches us out of our comfortable ruts. Stretching and pushing builds physical and mental muscle — as long as it’s balanced by rest. We all benefit from a vacation now and then — standing breaks within each training session; weekly breaks from schooling. I’ve found that short seasonal breaks from horses are good for me, too. I look forward to getting back in the saddle and returning with more positive energy and creative solutions to training problems. b > Lindsay Grice is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.



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HOW TO Safely

By Jec A. Ballou


Condition Young Horses







Ten-minute sessions in the ring walking across and around poles on the ground will help the young horse organize his body and adjust the placement of his feet.


hould young horses be left in pasture to grow up or brought in to begin their training? While arguments can be made in favour of each plan, the ideal approach is actually somewhere in the middle. In order to enjoy athletic lives later on, youngsters do need regular exercise, but the structure of their training should differ from that of a mature horse. Primarily, it should be shorter, slower, and avoid concussive skeletal forces. Physiological studies have shown that horses receiving appropriate exercise in the first three years of life are better adapted — and commonly sounder — during their riding and driving careers later on, when compared to horses that were not exercised until their third or fourth year. As soft tissues like tendons and ligaments grow in these initial years of life, they are highly responsive to exercise stimulus. This means that while they are forming and growing, they can add power and elasticity and resilience based on input received from exercise. In other words, exercise leads to the development of higher quality tissues. For most breeds, this opportunity of responsiveness diminishes significantly after the third year. Rather than being detrimental, early exercise has a protective effect on the horse’s musculoskeletal system over the long term. It develops stronger musculoskeletal structures (ligaments, tendons, muscles). This in turn allows bones and joints to mature without undue stress. Further, early exercise helps muscles make adaptations to aerobic stimulus, leading to more efficiency down the road. During this phase, muscles become adept at metabolizing energy — storing oxygen and using fat as a fuel source. Their capillary networks enlarge and mitochondria density improves. This sets up the mature horse to meet the demands of discipline-specific training without strain and poor muscle function. From a mental and physical perspective, leaving a horse basically untouched until his third year is more harmful than maintaining a small steady routine of exercise all along. Nowadays, most vets agree that gentle exercise can be introduced to yearlings and continued until they are broke to ride. But a young horse’s regime does have special considerations. This means owners and trainers need to think outside the box in terms of what a daily training session might look like. It should not just be an abbreviated version of what older horses in the stable


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are doing. In addition to the number one rule that all youngsters should spend the majority of their time living outside in a pasture and moving around naturally, the basic principles for exercise are as follows:

When ponying the young horse alongside another, aim to travel at walk for at least a mile or about 20 minutes.

• Brief but frequent sessions (i.e., 10-15 minute sessions daily, or a couple of these mini sessions per day three times per week); • Focus on general movement, nothing sport-specific; • Allow plenty of time to pause and process what they’re doing (and rest their tissues) during any session;

• Avoid exercises involving excessive speed and/or intensity; • Do not restrict the neck in any particular frame. Allow the horse to find a neutral balance on his own, which ensures that the vertebrae at the base of his neck, which are still growing and forming in the early years, will not be compromised.


Taking all this into account, what might these mini training sessions look like? The following activities meet the positive criteria for one- to three-year olds. These can each be a session on their own or mixed and matched to add novelty. With some creativity, you will no doubt come up with your own as well.

Ground Poles

While you want to avoid the concussive forces of jumping or raised poles, you do want to introduce your youngster to tasks that require him to organize his body and adjust his foot placement. This builds neural pathways that will lead to higher athletic capability later on. With poles arranged in various positions on the ground, practice sequences of walking across, around and between them. I like to spend a focused ten-minute walk-only session a couple of times per week. As the horse grows and develops, some days he will seem much more coordinated than others and that is perfectly okay. If he initially seems apprehensive or trips over poles, make creative patterns wandering between and around them at first.

Controlled Wandering

Rather than longing youngsters around repetitive circles, which torques their lower limbs and developing joints, I recommend what I call “controlled wandering” on a longe line. This involves traveling around an arena or field combining a variety of loopy circles and straight lines. By walking quickly or jogging alongside the horse, you’re asking him to sync up with your strides and mirror your movements around a large area. This way, you’re getting the exercise benefit that comes with longing without the negative physical consequences.

Ponying and Trail Hikes

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The simple activity of continuous walking at a prescribed pace offers numerous benefits for a young horse. Leading him in-hand on power hikes or ponying him alongside another horse helps him develop a rhythmic gait, creates proprioceptive gains on changing terrain, and makes good use of straight lines (as opposed to detrimental repetitive circling) for exercise. As a general rule, aim to travel at least a mile or for 20 minutes. As long as your youngster is not too anxious, however, you can walk up to four miles on these outings. Whether you are leading or ponying, be sure to change sides periodically to mitigate asymmetry in the horse’s body posture. One way to add a mile or longer outing is to briskly walk your


• Avoid skeletal concussion (this includes hard ground, repetitive circles or longing, jumps, and sharp turns or lateral exercises);


As an alternative to a longer trail hike, take your young horse on brisk walks of ten minutes up and down the driveway, two or three times a day. An older quiet horse can come along to help calm an anxious youngster.

youngster two or three times per day up and down the driveway for ten minutes continuously. These consistent doses of exercise result in positive adaptations over the long haul. It is also a useful way to introduce the practice of shortening and lengthening his steps as you ask. A young horse’s early training exercises should be simple, short, and consistent. Consistency of positive bone and soft

tissue stimulus is what leads to a sounder, saner athlete down the road. Remember, the goal is plain and straightforward movement, not sport-specific training or lathered sweaty workouts. Be creative and enjoy the fact that you are setting the b horse up for a less stressful performance life. > Jec A. Ballou is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.

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BITLESS Riding Find a good instructor to help you transition to bitless riding. Pictured is Josh Nichol riding in a bosal.






g Are you ready to leave your bit behind? About 15 years ago I first went bitless with my mare, Diva, after a particularly passionate foray, on my part, into natural horsemanship. Riding with a rope halter and lead rope felt a little like wearing a thong bikini to a public beach, with many people waiting to see if this get-up was actually going to do the trick once we hit the water, or in this case, the trails. Thankfully it did, and Diva was much happier in her new head gear, but I still remember those concerned and surprised looks, even 15 years of bitless riding later. These days, I ride Diva in a half-inch rawhide bosal with a mohair mecate, and my other mare, Raven, in a leather cavesson with leather reins. I definitely think bitless is an option for most horses, given the right preparation and the correct gear. This article is for the bitless curious, a guide for riders who may not feel fully comfortable or confident leaving their bit behind. When I first started riding Diva in a halter, I had youth and frankly, recklessness, on my side. I was in my 20s and still quite bouncy, drawn to anything rebellious or different, with a horse that tended to be slower and energy-conserving, all of which made my decision to try bitless much easier. I quickly realized that she preferred to be ridden this way and actually became more sensitive to my rein aids. As for Raven, at age eight she has never had a bit cross her lips, having been started and trained with a leather cavesson from the beginning. Bitless is what she knows and responds to, and her extensive groundwork preparation meant that her light response to leg, seat, and body aids allowed for very subtle cues from her bridle.

By Alexa Linton, Equine Sports Therapist When going bitless, concerns around safety often present the main barriers for riders, including fears of being unable to stop or losing control. As well, in many show rings, performing without a bit is still not accepted or allowed. Why bother making the shift? Over the years I have come to realize that not everyone is going to embrace riding without a bit — it takes time, learning, training, and timing for this transition to be successful. That said, I believe learning to work in this way, even if you put your bit back in for shows, can make you and your horse a more versatile team and able to reach greater levels of comfort and connection. I have also seen ample proof in my own horses and in my horse clients. Many prefer being bitless, with less pressure on the sensitive zones of their mouth and face, a greater focus on the aids coming from seat and body, and a more release-based method of riding. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, bit or no bit — see the photo below of Diva and I working in a spade bit at a Californio Bridlehorse clinic with Bruce Sandifer a few years back. In this tradition, horses are generally started in a rawhide bosal on a simple headstall with a mecate rein. As they become lighter, softer, and more responsive, they move to more delicate bosals. They are ready to move into the two-rein usually after several years of consistent training. In the two-rein they carry the impressive spade bit, while the signal still comes mainly from the bosal, until they are so soft and light that they are able to go “straight up” in the bridle with just the spade bit. I loved working this way with Diva, developing skills, connection and

Diva and the author working in a spade bit at a Californio Bridlehorse clinic with Bruce Sandifer a few years back. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEXA LINTON SPRING 2022





The author believes that learning to work without a bit will open up possibilities for greater comfort and connection with your horse.

collection, building strength, responsiveness, and suppleness, then graduating into carrying the spade bit, which balanced softly in her mouth. As horses learn to carry themselves well, by the time they receive the bit there is very little it needs to do. There are stories of cowboys challenging each other to tests of lightness, like working cattle all day with just a few strands of horse hair holding their reins to their bit, their horses deeply aware of the most subtle body and rein cues.

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This leads to an important and potentially controversial conversation about use of the hands. If you depend on your hands for stopping, turning, or collecting your horse, it may be time to assess your riding style. Look at how you can shift your cues and communication into the seat, leg, and body. No riding style that relies heavily on hand is sustainable or healthy for a horse, whether you are riding with a bit or not. Any head gear is only as effective as your timing and release. When hands are overused the result is often lack of communication and connection. Then a harsher and harsher bit or nose piece is employed to compensate for the numbness that occurs in the horse because of pain and shutdown. One of my podcast guests, Anna Blake, put it succinctly: “A lead rope or reins are meant to aid in light communication, not replace mental connection with physical threat.” Next are some important questions about your bit: • Why do you use a bit? • Do you have a good sense of the mechanics of your specific bit in your horse’s mouth? Where and how does it apply pressure or leverage? Are you using your bit in the best way given those mechanics? • Why did you decide to use this particular bit? Did you thoroughly research your bit or are you using it because you’ve seen other riders use it? Many bits are marketed as gentle, but when you look more critically at the mechanics, they are actually much harsher than advertised. For example, the snaffle bit can be harsh if used inappropriately. It is often used out of habit, tradition, or popularity rather than from a place of understanding or curiosity. If you are relying heavily on your current bit or increasing the severity of your bit in an attempt to control your horse or find a sense of safety, it may be time to return to your foundations out of the saddle. As well, if your horse is exhibiting head shaking, aversion to rein contact, a resistance to collection, the inability to bend in one or both directions, bucking, bolting, or rearing under saddle, returning to supportive groundwork and exploring bitless options can be highly supportive in restoring the horse’s contentment under saddle. If nothing else, bitless riding highlights any cracks in the foundation, showing you where clarity or more solid communication is needed around slowing, stopping, or turning; where you might be relying on your bit rather than strengthening other cues; or exposing fear or trust issues in your partnership. Once your foundation is strengthened on the ground, prioritize safety while beginning your bitless journey. Work with a trusted horse friend or an instructor with experience working in this way to support clear communication and allow you to relax. Begin in a smaller enclosed area where your horse tends to be happy and settled. The more we allow our horse to move freely the better. Many types of bitless riding shift us from constant contact to well-timed cues interspersed with plenty of release, and allow our horse to find more self-carriage. This is yet another reason why finding an instructor to support your journey to bitless is an excellent investment. My favourites on Vancouver Island are Shannon Beahen of Humminghorse, and Heather Nelson, and it’s well worth attending or auditing clinics with Josh Nichol or Stefanie Travers when they come to your neck of the woods. If you’re thinking about giving bitless a try, one big question remains: What equipment is best? Again, doing your research before you invest is important. There are many nerves around the face and jaw that can be compressed with the wrong gear, and it’s easy to find ourselves with gear that doesn’t work for our unique horse. I like doing online searches and reading reviews of different options to get the lay of the land. Watch out for leverage-based hackamores with curb pieces or chain as these can put pressure on sensitive facial areas and cause pain. Many stockmade bosals contain a metal core and cannot be properly molded


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The author with Raven in a leather cavesson with leather reins. This eight-year-old mare was started and trained with a leather cavesson and has never worn a bit.

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to fit your horse’s muzzle, causing pain and nerve pressure. Typically, a well-made bosal with a rawhide core is a substantial investment, but worth it if you are wanting to use this type of gear. A clinic or instruction in the use of the bosal hackamore is highly recommended to shape and fit it properly to your horse, and to help you learn the timing and feel of this tool. Personally, I love my bosal hackamore as it can be very precise in its signal and very gentle if used well — and it must be used well to be effective. A rope halter may do the trick for your purposes but can lack clarity for more technical work and be harsh if used with poor timing or lack of release. Leather side-pull bridles can be gentle, clear, and a great starter option for most horses. Once again, it’s very helpful to work with someone who can support you in choosing the right tack for your transition. Whether or not you decide to embark on an adventure into bitless riding, I hope you will take one thing away from this article. No matter what is on your horse’s head or in his mouth, commit to working with ever-growing grace, subtlety, kindness, and skill. As riders, our learning is never done, our hands can always improve, and our hearts can always grow in empathy, connection, and understanding. This is one big way we ensure that our horses stay happy and healthy. Until next time! b

RESOURCES > > > > > Alexa Linton is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78. SPRING 2022




High Performance


for the Competition Season



By Annika McGivern Habits are mental shortcuts created by our brain to reduce the need to make conscious decisions every moment of the day, which would require far too much time and processing power. By associating certain events and experiences with specific actions and responses, our brain can respond quickly and efficiently without our conscious “input.” For example, when a horse pins its ears and shifts its weight, we typically have moved out of harm’s way before we have had time to think about what we are doing. The habitual response happens automatically and helps keep us safe. The brain is highly motivated to keep us safe, and therefore many habits are created by our brain to achieve this. While most of these habits are very useful (such as our body reacting to keep us astride a spooking horse, or the habitual instincts that make us brake when the car ahead 60




unexpectedly stops or slows down), some are less useful, especially when we have big performance goals. Meet a client of mine named John. He is a showjumper currently showing at 1.10m with a goal to reach 1.30m. His horse has the ability and so does John, but he had been stalling out at 1.10m for quite some time before working with me. Every time he tried to move up to 1.20m everything seemed to fall apart. His confidence severely knocked and he would retreat to 1.10m. Let’s look closely at John’s story to better understand the role of high-performance habits in helping us to move forward. John was working hard towards his goal but he wasn’t getting enough traction to move him past his block. In my initial conversations with John we discovered the following: • John was extremely stressed about

competing. He had moved up relatively quickly to 1.10m and now was deeply embarrassed by his perceived failure to progress. This stress was actively preventing him from thinking ahead and planning his competitive season, which meant he was managing his season in a very reactive way and had no real plan to follow. • The stress and embarrassment John felt was also actively preventing him from reflecting on what happened at the shows. He expressed that he preferred to put the failures firmly behind him and not think about them at all. However… • It quickly became clear that John was constantly replaying the failures over and over in his mind, although he described this as unintentional and something he did not enjoy. It felt like

To keep yourself grounded and better prepared for setbacks, think about the show in advance and reflect on successes and setbacks after the show.


A habit of focusing on failures and playing them over and over in your mind will keep you in a self-critical state unable to move past the frustration.

• Not learning from reflection;


• Engaging in highly self-critical self-talk that kept him frustrated and upset;

• John had begun to enter fewer clinics and shows, explaining that he felt it was all a bit too much and he was burning out. He had begun to fear he wasn’t cut out for the bigger classes and felt a deep sense of disappointment and shame in his seeming inability to make his goals a reality.

Remember, our brains form habits that keep us safe. Here, it is important to know that our brain, left to its own devices, often interprets stressful and high-pressure situations (such as competitions) as unsafe. Therefore, unless we take conscious control of our habits, we are likely to build habits that lead us away from pressure and discomfort. This can turn into a routine of backing away when pressure mounts, shutting down during competition, or choosing not to compete regularly. John had formed four unhelpful habits:

What do John’s habits have to do with turning around this difficult cycle?

• Not planning ahead and therefore responding reactively to what happens;

a video he couldn’t turn off. This was keeping John in a very self-critical state of mind as he picked apart everything he had done wrong and chastised himself for it.

• Choosing to back away from any pressure and discomfort. These four habits all came from John’s brain’s desire to keep him safe and protect him from the pain and discomfort of stress. However, these habits were not serving him or improving his well-being or helping him achieve his goals. It was time for John to work on rewiring his habits and responses to achieve a different outcome. John’s New High-Performance Habits:

SELF-COMPASSION — John started to build an intentional habit of self-compassion. This meant that when he caught himself in negative and critical internal dialogue he paused, took a deep breath, and refocused on why this goal was important to him and how exciting, interesting, and challenging it was to have the opportunity to work towards such a goal. He reminded himself to soften his words (as if he was speaking to a friend) and his body (by intentionally relaxing and releasing tension). CURIOSITY — Next, John practiced replacing frustration with curiosity. He made a new rule for himself that every time he caught himself feeling frustrated SPRING 2022





Remember that competing is something you choose to do and learning and developing your skills allows you to grow as a rider.

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LOOKING AHEAD and REGULAR REFLECTION — The discomfort John was experiencing at competition was causing him to avoid thinking about the show in advance or reflecting on past competitions. However, not planning meant he was reacting emotionally when things

By learning to replace frustration with curiosity you can move to a problem-solving state of mind.





went wrong and often making things worse. With practice, John began building the habit of detailed preshow planning and postshow reflection. He began to decide in advance how he would like to react to success and setbacks. This allowed him to stay more grounded at competition. Through regular reflection, he was able to recognise patterns and understand what contributed to a successful show versus what lead to setbacks. LEARN TO LOVE PRESSURE — John had become overwhelmed by the negativity, pressure, and unease he was feeling. This caused him to instinctually retreat from challenges. Once John recognised this, he realised that his thinking about competing had been all wrong. It was not something he was forced to do but something he chose to do. He decided that



while riding or thinking about riding, he had to engage his curiosity and start asking questions. For example, if he felt frustrated remembering a difficult lesson, he would then have to get curious about that ride. What happened? What didn’t work? What could he do differently? How could he apply this idea in his next ride? Curiosity leads us from the spin of frustration to a problem-solving frame of mind. Part of the magic of curiosity is that in this new state of mind, the frustration usually vanishes completely.


if he was going to choose to compete it had to hold some sort of positive purpose. Through reflection, John recognised that deep down he loved the challenge of competing and finding out what he was capable of. He loved learning and developing his skills as a rider. Once John recognised that discomfort was a natural side effect of challenging himself, his mindset changed. He wanted more challenge and opportunities to grow in his life, which meant he wanted more discomfort. With this shift in mindset, he began to welcome the challenge of showing again. How long does it take to change? Have you heard that it takes 21 days to change a habit? This concept was popularised a while back by a famous piece of research that seemed to demonstrate just that. Since then, more research has shown that while we can change small habits in 21 days, such as drinking more water or journaling in the morning, reshaping deeper habits connected to our beliefs, identities, and fears takes anywhere from three months to a year. I see the truth of this in my work, with most clients feeling significant change after two to three months of focused effort. John had spent a long time practicing his old, unhelpful habits. About three months in, he expressed his amazement to me that, when he looked back at where he had been three to six months before, he truly felt like a different person. He was lighter and more energised, enjoying the challenges of his sport, and had moved into jumping 1.15m classes with consistent success. Most importantly, he believed in himself again. He believed in his ability to reach 1.30m. He knew it was just a matter of time and consistency.

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The time to start is now! Deciding today to implement the high-performance habits shared in this article means that you will have them firmly under your belt by the height of show season. Moreover, these habits will continue to serve you for years to come. I encourage you to invest time now to benefit your future self. You’ll be glad you did. b > Annika McGivern is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78. SPRING 2022




The horses at Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting are carefully paired with clients for an exceptional horseback holiday.

Trekking Horses




By Shawn Hamilton In India one can view the countryside through the heartshaped ears of the Marwari horse. In Mongolia a small, strong Mongol horse will carry you through the desert lands. And the short, hardy Icelandic horse will smoothly tölt you along the rugged trails of Iceland. Native breeds possess characteristics suitable for their local climate and terrain. As such, I expected when arriving in South Wales for a seven-day ride that a string of native Welsh ponies would be tacked up and waiting for their riders. Yet to my surprise, Gypsy Cob horses were saddled and ready to carry us down the rocky cliffs to the sandy beaches below. When I asked the outfitter why he chose the Gypsy Cob, often referred to as the people-sized draft horse, over the native Welsh, he explained, “They can carry the heavier tourists and handle the rough terrain.” This made me wonder why certain trekking companies 64




choose particular breeds for their operation. Some outfitters operate their own breeding programs to produce a specific type of horse to handle the trekking work. I asked several outfitters about the characteristics they look for in a mount that will not only safely transport their clients through the local landscape, but also stay sound and healthy throughout the season, and be willing and content in their work. Angie Lackey and John Wall, owners of Adventure Horse Trekking New Zealand, breed a specific type of draft cross. They have their own breeding program that combines either a Shire or Clydesdale with a Thoroughbred or Standardbred. They have had great success in replicating the old Stationbred horse originally bred by the pioneers. This breed fulfilled many duties including ploughing the fields of the high country, pulling a carriage to town for supplies, taking the kids to school on weekdays, and galloping across fields and over fences on weekend hunts. It’s a tall order for one breed, but as Lackey says: “These horses are such great all-rounders. They suit the terrain

Rancho Las Cascadas in Mexico prefers Criollo and Quarter Horse breeds. They do not have their own breeding program and source their horses from ranchers in the area.

Quarter Horses are preferred for beginner riders at Rancho Las Cascadas thanks to their sure-footedness and calm temperaments.


perfectly and have proven themselves time and again.” The breeding program at their farm in the Waihaorunga Valley in Aotearoa South Island has been underway for 15 years now. “Our horses live wild and free on our farm with both parents in a secure family environment,” says Lackie. She and John firmly believe that this situation gives the herd a deep sense of contentment, and that watching their mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles going to work in the trekking string prepares them for their entry into working life. “It is the norm for them,” she says. By the end of a typical season the team of humans and horses have covered approximately 3,500 kms in the mountains, rivers, and lakes of the high country of New Zealand’s South Island. Lackie’s description of their herd says it all: “Our adventure horses have kind eyes, big hearts, strong sure-footedness, and willing hearts to share adventures with our customers from all over the globe.” Dewy Matthews of Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting, a trekking business that has operated for 38 years in the Kananaskis region of Alberta, also breeds his own stock. Drafts, such as Belgians or Percherons, crossed with Quarter Horses or Appaloosas are Matthews’ preference. For ease of foaling out, he prefers the draft to be the mare’s side. When asked what the draft brings to the equation he says: “The draft provides a good disposition as well as good bones and feet for the rugged terrain.” Along with strength, the draft helps to produce a reasonablysized horse. In Matthews’ typical humour, he explains: “You can always put a smaller person on a bigger horse but where we go





Riding out to see the wild horses at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Rnach. The horses in The Hideout string must be able to get along with other horses and live in a herd.


Marijn De Cabooter co-owns The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch with her husband, Peter.

in the mountains I don’t like putting a larger person on a smaller horse — and they seem to be making people bigger these days.” Matthews reflects on his trip to the Grand Canyon and a mule ride down to Phantom Ranch; he says their weight restriction was 200 pounds maximum. “If I adopted that policy I would lose about 40 percent of my business.” Matthews prefers draft crosses for their temperament as well. “The draft cross results in a laid-back horse that is still handy — you can put a six-year-old on most of them for a morning ride, then go rope a bull from the same horse in the afternoon.” The stallion provides the athleticism necessary for the long rides and rough terrain. Matthews keeps a foundation style Quarter Horse stallion from the Poco Bueno line. Poco Bueno, Spanish for “pretty good,” was born in 1944 and lived to be 25 years old. During his lifetime he sired 405 registered foals, 36 of which became American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) champions. This stud was known for producing easy-to-handle, gentle, smart offspring, and was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 1990. Matthews describes his Quarter Horse stallion as solid with a great mind, which he passes to his babies. Crossing with a combination of pure- and part-bred draft mares, as well as saddle horse mares, produces a variety of sizes in his herd. As much as he needs the larger horses to carry heavier clients, he also needs smaller athletic horses for the tiny women, youth, and older riders whose hips can’t handle the width of the chunkier drafts. Another important consideration in a trekking horse is good withers. A horse with good withers holds the saddle much better “and you don’t have to cut them in half with the cinch,” he explains. Matthews takes great care in pairing the right horse with each client. “When I pick a horse for a guest at the start of a trip, I tell them I want to mount them on a horse they like so much

Quarter Horses, Quarter Horse crosses, and Mustangs comprise the string at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch.





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The Hideout Lodge is an all-inclusive, upscale riding and horsemanship guest ranch limited to approximately 22 guests weekly. We are all about horses, riding, and horsemanship. There are Quarter Horses and a growing number of Mustangs to ride. Our horses are part of our team! Stay with us in Shell, Wyoming, east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. Our 650,000-acre backyard is in an area with a tremendous diversity of scenery and altitudes ranging from 4,200 to 13,100 feet. The owners embrace diversity as an asset and are very involved in the operation, deeply caring about your hospitality and riding experience!

Dewy Matthews at Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting crosses drafts with Quarter Horses or Appaloosas to produce strong, sensible mounts for a diverse range of clients.






The draft side of the breeding program at Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting provides a laid-back temperament, strength, and a good-sized horse. The Quarter Horse or Appaloosa side brings stamina and athleticism for rough terrain.

they’ll consider stealing it at the end of the ride.” Although he hasn’t had any horses stolen yet, Matthews does have a long waiting list of clients ready to buy his retired mounts. Uschi Jenny, the Canadian manager of Rancho Las Cascadas in Central Mexico, prefers two breeds for their clients: Criollo and Quarter Horse. The Criollo, originating from the Andalusian brought by the Spanish conquerors and known for its great strength and hardiness, provides the stamina needed for their long-distance rides, as well as adaptability. “They adapt well to different situations, are calm and reliable, and make perfect mounts for exploring the Mexican highlands,” says Jenny. Jenny explains why they prefer the Quarter Horse for beginner riders: “They are sure-footed and agile. They have a calm, steady temperament. Because they are quick learners it is easy to train them and with little guidance from the rider they understand their job. These characteristics make them ideal for carrying a beginner on a ride through the open ranges of Mexico.” The ranch’s herd consists of stallions and geldings only. They do not have their own breeding program and don’t have to go far to find candidates for their string. “They just show up at our front door,” Jenny says. “Most of the ranchers in the region know that if they have a good horse, Rancho Las Cascadas will buy it. The locals come to us when they want to sell.” Bobbi Wade, owner of Blue Sky Sage Horseback Riding By the end of the season the horses at Adventure Horse Trekking New Zealand have travelled about 3,500 kms across the varied terrain of New Zealand’s South Island.

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Retreats in Wyoming, and Peter De Cabooter, owner of The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch with his wife Marijn, also situated in Wyoming, look for quality and characteristics over breed, and their strings contain mostly Quarter Horses with some Mustangs. Wade tends to prefer the foundationtype Quarter Horse, but some Mustangs and smaller Quarter Horse-draft crosses are also in her string. Her ideal horse is, “handy on their feet, but not too quick and explosive, with a quiet disposition.” She looks for heavier-boned horses with a front shoe at least a size one, but high on her list of qualities is a good mind and a kind, prominent eye. They must have the mind and heart to do the job, she explains. Wade avoids horses that might be hard keepers or are nervous and high strung, as well as horses with the potential to become overweight easily. The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch herd consists of mostly Quarter Horses, Quarter Horse crosses, and Mustangs. De Cabooter looks for specific qualities in the horses that will carry clients safely through the vast trails outside of Shell,

Wyoming. The horses should be solid and well-balanced, and calm with good dispositions making them adaptable to many riders. They should also be low maintenance in terms of hoof care and general health. De Cabooter’s team also looks for good withers and a strong back. One of the factors De Cabooter considers is how the horse was living previously. “Our horses have to be able to live in a big herd,” he explains. “Many of the horses that spend their lives in a stall and don’t get out with other horses often have problems in a herd. It is hard for them to find buddies. For that reason, Mustangs and ranch horses that are raised in a herd and a bigger string of horses adapt better here. They know the drill and how to stay out of trouble.” De Cabooter says if a horse has certain characteristics that are good for the job they will enjoy their career and have the ability to handle the work, both mentally and physically, throughout the season. “It is important that they are consistent in their temperament and behaviour. They have to have a lot of heart and soul. The ideal horse is

The breeding program at Adventure Horse Trekking New Zealand combines a Shire or Clydesdale with a Thoroughbred or Standardbred to replicate the Stationbred horse originally bred by pioneers in the area.

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enjoyable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders.” As far as a breeding program goes, De Cabooter explains that if they have a good mare that likes and understands her job they will consider breeding her, as “often the characteristics of the mare will carry to the foal.” A youngster may be a great horse but may not have the qualities necessary for this particular type of work. For this reason, De Cabooter looks for a better fit. He has struggled to find the perfect breeder to source from, and invests in gentling, starting, and training young horses. A horse does not go into the string until it is at least five or six years of age and has been handled by experienced trainers. All wranglers at The Hideout adopt the same philosophy

when it comes to training and the entire herd is treated in the same professional, respectful, and consistent way. According to Wade of Blue Sky Sage, finding the right horse is a million-dollar task. She does not have a breeding program as she believes there are already so many horses on the planet that need a job. This makes the task more difficult, but she leases many of her horses from a vendor who is great at finding the horses she needs for the season. She also has a network of reliable people to buy from. Before purchase, the horses must pass the “Blue Sky Sage Tryout” phase — a series of tests potential purchases must undergo before she or anyone mounts them for the first time. “After a lifetime around hundreds of horses in ranch, trail riding, and

Bobbi Wade of Blue Sky Sage Horseback Riding Retreats prefers foundationtype Quarter Horses. Her string also includes some Quarter Horse draft crosses and Mustangs.

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outfitting disciplines, I just know what to look for now,” she explains. While researching this article, I gained a new appreciation for the careful planning that goes into operating an outfitting operation. Often, riding vacations are judged on the food, accommodation, scenery, and yes, the horses, but I never really considered how intricate the entire process of building a good string must be. Outfitters put their trust in these horses to carry clients

throughout their incredible journeys. In the future, every time I put my foot in a new stirrup, I will remember what went into finding, choosing, breeding, gentling, and training the horse I am about to ride. In any discipline it is important that the horse loves its job, but when carrying a different client every week or sometimes every day is part of the job description, safety is the number one concern and only horses with specific qualities will do.

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The ideal horse for Blue Sky Sage Horseback Riding Retreats is handy, quiet, and kind, with good feet. They favour easy keepers without the potential to become overweight easily.





After missing my riding vacation for the past two years due to the pandemic, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. If you’re yearning to return to a holiday saddle, when you do mount up again, remember all the effort that went into providing you with your four-legged trail partner. Thank you to all of the outfitters for helping me create this article, and for being so honest and thorough in your responses. Happy trails everyone! b

For more information, please visit: Adventure Horse Trekking New Zealand > Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting >

Rancho Las Cascadas > The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch > > Shawn Hamilton is a regular contributor to this magazine — read her bio on page 78.


Blue Sky Sage Horseback Riding Retreats >

“Our adventure horses have kind eyes, big hearts, strong sure-footedness, and willing hearts,” says Angie Lackey of Adventure Horse Trekking New Zealand.

Make Your Way to the 2022 AQHA / CQHA Canadian Summit March 25th to 27th • Keystone Centre, Brandon, Manitoba AQHA & CQHA would like to invite their members, to join them in Brandon this March for three days of discussion, education, and camaraderie as we celebrate Canada’s Quarter Horse community and the 2022 CQHA Award recipients. Friday, March 25th

CQHA Business Day

Saturday, March 26th

AQHA Business Day

* CQHA Strategic Planning Session Defining the Path Forward

AQHA International Programming and Governance Update

* Presentation of Canada’s Equine ID Program Conducted by Equestrian Canada

AQHA Showing Update

* CQHA Special Membership Meeting AQHA’s Welcome Reception Brandon Wheat Kings hockey game *These events will be livestreamed

Sunday, March 27th

Equine Education Day


Dr. Gillian Dobson Dr. Gillian Dobson graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. She moved to Manitoba to pursue a career in equine practice and established Elm Creek Equine Veterinary Services in 2016. Dr. Dobson comes from a performance horse background — prior to vet school she worked as an exercise rider for both racing Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

AQHA Ranching and Breeding Update * Roundtable Session What AQHA Can Do for You? * 2022 CQHA Awards Banquet, hosted by CQHA Get your tickets at

*These events will be livestreamed

Topics: • Equine infectious respiratory disease Sleeping sickness, rabies, West Nile, n-EHV

• Equine infectious GI disease

Visit us at

Holly Nicoll Photography


Flu, rhino, rhinitis virus, strangles

• Equine infectious neurologic disease Salmonella, Potomac horse fever, clostridium, anaplasma, corona

• Infectious diseases of the foal

Neonatal sepsis, foal diarrhea, respiratory diseases of the foal, foal vaccination, parasite management






Core funds are provincial funds targeted for events or projects that support sport growth and development. An approved event or project will be open to all qualified participants in your area, not just your club members. The event or project must support the goals of Horse Council BC (HCBC) for developing sport within the province. Clubs are expected to charge participants reasonable registration fees. Money will be released only after a financial report, receipts, and an event summary are received by HCBC. For 2022 the HCBC Board of Directors has allocated an additional $50,000 to be allotted to Core and BC Equestrian Trails Funding. Who can apply? Funding is available to regions, clubs, branches, and affiliates that are members in good standing of HCBC. Each club or branch may only submit one application per year. Clubs, branches, or affiliates should be members for at least 12 months prior to applying; however, applications from new groups may be considered. When to apply? Applications for funding must be received in our office by April 15. Late submissions will not be considered.

More information and application forms at >


Are you part of a current HCBC club or affiliate organization and would like to see improvements to a trail in your community? With the unfortunate devastation this province has seen this year from fires to landslides and floods there are many trails out there in need of repair. Please take a look at the documents on our webpage that outline the criteria and see if your project would be a fit > If you have any questions about the application process, please do not hesitate to contact 74




A HUGE congratulations to our 2021 HCBC Award Winners!

• Coach of The Year: Stella French • Bob James Volunteer of The Year: Tina Knott

Funding Opportunities CORE FUNDING


Thank you to all who nominated someone! We received so many outstanding nominations this year.

2022 Is A BC Games Year! BC SUMMER GAMES, JULY 21 TO 24, 2022

The 2022 BC Summer Games in Prince George will be here before you know it!

A reminder to Equestrian Athletes — the deadline to declare for the 2022 BC Summer Games is May 31.

If you declared for the cancelled 2020 Games in Maple Ridge and wish to bring your declaration forward for the 2022 BC Summer Games Equestrian Team, please contact and confirm your intent to be considered for the 2022 Team. For more information on how you can be a part of the BC Summer Games Equestrian Team for the 2022 Games in Prince George, please visit > www.hcbc.

ca/competitions/bc-summer-games Not quite ready for the 2022 Games? Start preparing for future Games now — contact Sandy at to be included on the Equestrian Team prospects list and receive information on Summer Games Athlete Development programs. • Maple Ridge 2024 BC Summer Games, July 18–21, 2024 • Kelowna 2026 BC Summer Games, July 23–26, 2026



Equestrian Competition will be included in the 2022 55+ BC Games in Victoria!

From September 13 to 17, 2022, Greater Victoria will welcome participants from across British Columbia for the 33rd 55+ BC Games. This will be the first time Greater Victoria will be a Games host. Participants, volunteers, and those cheering in the stands come together to meet the moment in time. For the past year and half, we have been isolated from friends and loved ones as we collectively battle a pandemic. Now, we celebrate not only our chance to reconnect in person, but our ability to transcend the challenge and emerge stronger, fitter, and more committed to the importance of community spirit and togetherness. Saanich Fairgrounds will be the site of fun and friendly Dressage, Driving, Working Hunter, and Working Equitation Competition. Get ready 55+ Equestrians and make competing at the 55+ Games one of your goals for 2022. Registration opens March 21 — more information will be coming soon! Visit Frequently Asked Questions



OFFICE HOURS: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 Pm


OFFICE ADDRESS: 27336 Fraser Highway, Aldergrove, BC, V4W 3N5


PHONE: 604-856-4304 FAX: 604-856-4302 TOLL-FREE: 1-800-345-8055 WEBSITE:


Manitoba Horse Council Serving Manitoba’s Equine Community

By Linda Hazelwood, MHC Business Manager and ex-Recreation Chair

Risky Business It’s risky business, the horse business, at any time. As competition season starts to open again it’s time to take stock of where we were last year, and how far we’ve come since. In 2021 there was a swinging door of competitions allowed/ not allowed — vaccinated/unvaccinated — allowed/not allowed — and so on. Equestrian businesses were applying for grants and support just to keep going; boarders struggled to cover their horse expenses when their jobs were reduced or terminated. For many, working from home meant more freedom to juggle hours and see their horses at odd times. In mid-summer, Manitoba Horse Council (MHC) was grateful to be a conduit to equestrian facilities with school horses, passing on two payments of Federal Community Support Grants to help with costs. MHC’s member clubs also benefitted from two extra grants; one which covered their prepaid competition insurance costs (at a time when they could not hold

competitions and regain their expenses) and another to help with fixed expenses. This was on top of general program support grants. MHC staff spent many hours poring over provincial health regulations to determine just how each regulation affected equestrian businesses. Late in the year it was determined that equestrian fell into “indoor and outdoor recreation,” then the category changed to “indoor and outdoor sporting facilities.” Here’s a conundrum. If you are competing at an all-day show, when you’re not on the field of play or caring for your horse, are you counted as a spectator? If you attend an event with your child (who is a minor and has to have a Person Responsible at hand) are you counted as an official or as a spectator? What’s the definition of a tournament? Do you have to wear your mask while riding? As we write this, restrictions are being lifted to allow more freedom of movement. We only hope that as you are reading this we are entering a full season of enjoyable rid-

ing, competitions, and movement across the country and looking forward to a good hay crop (unless the increased winter snowpack brings about flooding). We’re never happy, are we? As stated at the beginning of this article, let’s take stock of our blessings this year. Everyone talked about getting back to normal but we haven’t got normal. We have WYSIWYG — What you see is what you get! We have survived, come through stronger, maybe not fitter, sometimes fatter, and we’re looking forward to a great summer. b


How to Reach Us





Manitoba Horse Council, 145 Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2Z6 PHONE

(204) 925-5719




Manitoba Horse Council; Manitoba Recreational Riders


CanTRA Equine Facilitated Wellness

• CanTRA EFW Mental Health Professional • CanTRA EFW Educational Professional or Practitioner • CanTRA EFW Equine Specialist or Senior Equine Specialist

In addition to the qualifications listed above will be the CanTRA EFW Horse Handler designation. This will allow for selected therapeutic riding volunteers and volunteers interested in EFW to be trained to assist in EFW sessions under the supervision of the Equine Specialist. CanTRA EFW Horse Handler Handbook – Programs may purchase a handbook as a reference resource for training, then all subsequent copies purchased by that program will be numbered and assigned to the individual seeking the designation. Following a successful in-house evaluation, a certificate will be issued by CanTRA. The CanTRA EFW Accreditation document is for a CanTRA member program to be accredited to add EFW to their established CanTRA programs, or to be accredited as a stand-alone EFW program at a facility meeting CanTRA standards. If you are interested in applying for one of the CanTRA EFW qualifications, please contact the CanTRA Office. During the Pilot Project, comments and feedback will be welcome. The goal is to provide the best possible programming. The CanTRA Mission Statement is as follows: The Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association — promoting excellence throughout Canada in therapeutic riding and equine assisted therapies through certification, accreditation,

CanTRA has been offering certification, accreditation, and education in therapeutic riding for 42 years and is now broadening its scope of activity to include Equine Facilitated Awareness.

and education. The new CanTRA Equine Facilitated Wellness program is completely in accordance with the CanTRA Mission Statement and will be integral part of the future activities. b

For more information or to find a centre near you please contact our Head Office at Follow us on Facebook @ Cantra_ACET and visit > or donate at >

Grow Your Business With Us. Partner with Canada’s Leader in Horse Industry Marketing.


The last two years have been difficult and everyone has been impacted in some way by the pandemic. Every aspect of our health and well-being has been challenged. The consequence is that the demand for equine facilitated wellness programming has been high. Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) is “stepping up to the plate” and has developed a new CanTRA Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW) program. A whole team of qualified professionals have come together to create the new CanTRA EFW program. This has been a very exciting and challenging process and has prompted very interesting research and discussion. In January 2022, CanTRA launched the Equine Facilitated Wellness Pilot Project. There are three new documents available from the CanTRA Office. These are the CanTRA EFW Manual, CanTRA EFW Horse Handler Handbook and the CanTRA EFW Accreditation document. In future, applications for the following qualifications will be by the submission of a professional portfolio to CanTRA’s EFW Evaluation Panel. This allows for each person to be considered as a unique individual. The portfolio application procedure is covered in the new CanTRA EFW Manual. The different qualifications are:








Tania Millen is a former Canadian Team groom, a trained scientist, an environmental consultant, a former event rider turned backcountry rider, and an author of several books including Pack em Up, Ride em Out: Classic Horse Pack Trips in British Columbia and Alberta; The Joys of Horse Packing; Rockin’ Whitewater; and Go Horse Camping: A funny illustrated guide to camping with your horse.

Shawn Hamilton

Shawn Hamilton is a freelance equine photojournalist based in Ontario. She has operated Clix Photography since 1984, offering a full range of photography services for editorial and commercial use from health to Olympic sports. Her photography can be found on the covers and inside numerous magazines in Canada and the US, including Canadian Horse Journal. Shawn has co-authored four non-fiction children’s books published by Scholastic Canada. Her written articles specialize in equestrian travel.

Shelagh Niblock PAS

Shelagh Niblock PAS is an equine nutritionist with an extensive background in both ruminant and equine nutrition as well as forage science as it relates to both horses and dairy cattle. She has spent more than 35 years in the feed industry in British Columbia and her lengthy experience working initially as a dairy nutritionist piqued her interest in the nutritional contribution made by forages to the diets of our horses. Shelagh currently practices as an equine nutritional consultant offering advice on the successful feeding and husbandry of horses. Shelagh also teaches Equine Production as well as Ruminant Health at the University of the Fraser Valley. Shelagh is a horse owner herself and an enthusiastic pleasure rider who is especially interested in the disciplines of Mountain Trail, Dressage and Three-Day Eventing. Shelagh is active as a volunteer in the 4-H program in BC, BC Pony Club, and is a member of the Board of Directors at Circle F Horse Rescue, a registered non-profit horse rescue in Abbotsford, BC. She is a member of the Equine Science Society, the American Dairy Science Association, the American Society of Animal Science, and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.

Nikki Alvin-Smith

Nikki Alvin-Smith is a professional writer and Public Relations/Marketing Specialist. Her works have been published in over 230 magazines worldwide. Nikki is a British international Grand Prix dressage trainer/clinician who has competed in Europe at the Grand Prix level earning scores of over 72 percent. Together with her husband Paul, who is also a Grand Prix rider, they operate Willowview Hill Farm, a private horse breeding and training farm in Stamford, NY. 78




Annika McGivern

Annika McGivern is a Mental Performance Consultant who grew up as a Three-Day-Event rider in British Columbia. Her passion for eventing took her to Ireland, Australia, and America as a working student to world class riders, where she developed a keen interest in the psychological side of sport and performance. Annika has a BA in Psychology, an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology, and seven years experience as a certified Equestrian Canada Competition Coach. Annika works with athletes and coaches, in person and online, to help them find enjoyment and satisfaction in their sport through achieving their best possible results and outcomes.

Jec Aristotle Ballou

Jec Aristotle Ballou trains in Santa Cruz, CA, when not giving clinics around the United States. She is the author of 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider, Equine Fitness, and 101 Western Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider. For further resources on the above topics, she recommends Beyond Horse Massage by Jim Masterson. Jec’s newly published book, 55 Corrective Exercises for Horses, helps resolve chronic postural imbalances and challenges that inhibit many performance horses.

Lindsay Grice

“Is it me or my horse?”

Horse show judge, coach, trainer, and specialist in equine behaviour, Lindsay Grice helps riders solve their “horse puzzles,” sharing keys from the science and research of how horses think and learn. She holds judging certifications in multiple disciplines — Western, hunter/jumper, dressage and obstacle events. Lindsay has taught classes and seminars in Equitation Science for provincial equine associations, therapeutic riding facilities, and courses offered by the University of Guelph. She regularly conducts clinics for horse clubs and private farms.

Alexa Linton

Alexa Linton is known for lighting up her world with her infectious personality, bold facilitation style, and often irreverent, tongue-in-cheek writing, and for her menagerie of a therapeutic practice. The latter combines her degree in Kinesiology with over a decade of training in BodyTalk and animal communication, and her current passion as a fifth year student of osteopathy. From over 14 years of working with horses as an Equine Sport Therapist, and helping thousands of animals and people, Alexa has developed a therapeutic style that is intuitive and highly collaborative. She is the co-founder of the Cowgirl Re-union, the creator of the Whole Horse Apprenticeship and Podcast, and author of Death Sucks: A Straight-Up Guide to Navigating Your Pet’s Final Transition. She resides in the Cowichan Valley, unceded territory of the Cowichan and Coast Salish Peoples, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with her horses Diva and Raven, dogs Reilly and Solo, and cat Parker.

INDEX TO ADVERTISERS 5 Star Equine Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Actistatin Equine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 AFAB Industries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Affordable Barns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38


Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting Ltd.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

• 16.1 hh • 2016 Mare Bonita is a sweetheart, learns quickly, lovely mover and comfortable ride.


Dedicated to finding adoptive homes and new careers for former Thoroughbred racehorses. 778-985-5673 •

Angel’s Animals, LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Anvil Brand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Arenus Animal Health . . . . . . . . . . . 1, Outside B/Cover BC Appaloosa Centre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Bear Valley Rescue. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Brattebo, Amy – ReMax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Burwash Equine Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Canadian Horse Journal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Canadian Quarter Horse Association. . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 CapriCMW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 19 Castle Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Century Downs Racetrack/Casino. . . . Inside B/Cover CF Fence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Circle F Horse Rescue. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Conterra Arena Rakes & Groomers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 CURT Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Denco Storage Sheds Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Dr Cook Bitless Bridle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58



Finding Permanent, Loving Homes for Retired Racehorses.

Equiade Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Equine Essentials Tack & Laundry Services . . . . . . . 62 Equine Foundation of Canada, The. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72

Do you have room in your heart and home for a new friend?

School of Equine Massage + Rehab Therapies, The.59 Eqyss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Haybury Farms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

See our web page for horses available for adoption.

Volunteers are always welcome! Donate Today – Help a Retired Racehorse! Follow us on Facebook:

Dynamint Equine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Eaglewood Equestrian Supplies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72

Herbs for Horses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Hi-Hog Farm & Ranch Equipment Ltd.. . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Hideout Lodge, The. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Horse Council of British Columbia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Horse Habit, The. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Gunningforfranks, LongRun Graduate


HorseGuard Canada. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 HorseLic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 KIOTI. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Linton, Alexa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society. . . . . . . 79 Maple Lane Equestrian Trailers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46


• Renew your subscription? • Give a gift subscription? • Change your address? • Report a delivery problem? • Ask a question? 1-800-299-3799 • (250) 655-8883


New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society. . . . . . . 79 Northern Acreage Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34


1-800-299-3799 • (250) 655-8883 From time to time, Canadian Horse Journal makes its names and addresses available to carefully screened organizations who want to let you know about a product or service that might interest you. If you do not want your name, address, or email address made available, please let us know.

Myles Herman - Equine Bodywork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

MAIL: Suite 202, 2400 Bevan Avenue,

Sidney, BC, V8L 1W1

Otter Co-op. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside F/Cover Peruvian Horse Club of Canada. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Pferde Traum Farm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Ponderosa Ridge Ranch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Pyranha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42-43 RevitaVet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 SciencePure Nutraceuticals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Sports Saddle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Summerside Tack & Equestrian Wear . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Tack Collector, The. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Thin Line Canada. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Timberline Tours. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Tractor Company, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 We Cover Structures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Western College of Vet Medicine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Insert (Western Canada)


Wisdom of the Herd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 SPRING 2022





Eric Lamaze, show jumping champion at the 2008 Olympic Games, is appointed Technical Advisor for Equestrian Canada for Show Jumping and Team Leader of the Canadian Show Jumping Team.

Eric Lamaze Named Canadian Show Jumping Team Leader Canadian Olympic champion Eric Lamaze has been named the new Technical Advisor, Jumping, which includes acting as Chef d’Equipe for the Canadian Show Jumping Team. Equestrian Canada (EC), the national federation for equestrian sport, undertook a review of the Jumping High Performance program following the Tokyo Olympic Games, including the position of Technical Advisor formerly held by Mark Laskin since 2012. As a result, a hiring panel was struck consisting of former World Champion Gail Greenough; EC Manager of Sport–Jumping Karen HendryOuellette; EC Director of High Performance James Hood; Own the Podium’s Chris Lindsay; 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar; and EC Jumping Committee Chair Karen Sparks, who created the job description. The panel reviewed all applications, and conducted interviews. At the conclusion of this process, Lamaze was the successful candidate. “I am excited to help lead the Canadian Show Jumping Team to future success in a new capacity,” said Lamaze, 53, who is cutting back on his own competitive agenda to give the Canadian team his full attention. “It’s an honour to be named to this position and not one that I take lightly. I look forward to building on the foundation that Mark Laskin laid and am committed to the success of our athletes, both nationally and internationally. I have a strong vision for the sport in Canada and will not stop 80



until we reach perfection.” As Canada’s most decorated equestrian athlete, Lamaze holds gold, silver, and bronze Olympic medals; an individual bronze medal from the 2010 World Equestrian Games; and four Pan American Games medals including team gold. He has won every major grand prix event in the world including Calgary, Canada (2007 and 2011); Geneva, Switzerland (2008); Aachen, Germany (2010); La Baule, France (2011); and Rome, Italy (2011), and reached number one in the world rankings several times over the course of his extraordinary career. In 2021, Lamaze was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and was awarded the Order of Sport, the highest accolade an athlete can receive from their country. “I would like to thank Equestrian Canada and the hiring panel for putting their trust in me,” said Lamaze, who is based in Wellington, Florida (FL), and Brussels, Belgium. Lamaze’s first opportunity to act as Chef d’Equipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team will be during the CSIO4* Winter Equestrian Festival from March 2 to 6, 2022, in Wellington, FL, highlighted by the $150,000 Nations’ Cup on Saturday, March 5. Supported by the EC High Performance Jumping Committee, Lamaze will lead Canada in all team competitions including the upcoming World Champion-ships in Herning, Denmark, in August where Canada will have its first opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games b in Paris, France.



By Starting Gate Communications

Can-Am Equine All Breeds Expo Shows Postponed to 2023 By Ross Millar, President The Can-Am Equine All Breeds Expo has regrettably announced the postponement of both 2022 shows in Ancaster, Ontario and Chilliwack, British Columbia to spring of 2023. The partners of the Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo agreed that we would not proceed unless able to deliver safe conditions, with a show that is up to standards that we have produced for the past 20 years. We realize our responsibility to deliver value to our paying customers and vendors when attending our show, and we do not feel at this time that we can guarantee the value they have become accustomed to. There are so many components that go into making a great customer and vendor experience, and we are not comfortable going ahead due to the uncertainties that exist with supplies and shipping, border crossing, and COVID-19 protocols. We will not put the safety of our customers, vendors, and clinicians at risk. As you can imagine, this decision was not made lightly. We look forward to a strong return for 2023 and wish everyone a safe, enjoyable summer. >


a r t e h t it h s a h n o s a The 2022 se

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