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In This Issue SPECIAL FEATURES 36 Be a Water Steward 6 stream care strategies to better care for your waterway.

42 To Mow or Not to Mow…? Learn the benefits and the risks of mowing the pasture.

44 Horsemanship with Jonathan Field Lessons from the boxing ring, and footwork to free up the shoulders.

50 7 Ways to be the Coolest Horse Show Parent How to be the ringside parent your child needs you to be.

54 In the Shadow of Equus

July 2015

22 Equine Infectious Anemia This viral disease of horses, mules,

Shetland ponies and science are offering clues to coping with allergies.

and donkeys should be taken seriously.

56 The Business Stable For LaVern Dueck of Diamond

24 How Serious is Your Horse’s Injury? Location is a key factor in assessing

Shelters, building things is in his DNA.

the severity of wounds.

58-60 Products We Love A new book review, and a collection of

28 The Equine Eye Understand what your horse sees,

products for the Canadian horse community from businesses around the world.

and learn about common eye disorders.



2 To Subscribe

12 Managing the Health of Performance Horses High level equine athletes can be at

3 Celebration of Horses Photo Contest

risk for certain conditions that cause poor performance.

6 Editorial

16 Feeding for Performance Understanding the nutrients required to fuel the equine athlete.

8 The Hoofbeat 62 Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association News 64-65 Country Homes & Acreages

20 Spirulina: A Mighty Immune Modifier This blue-green algae is considered an


excellent supplement for horses.

66-67 H itchin’ Post, Classifieds 67 Index to Advertisers 68 Roundup


44 4 • July 2015





July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal


EDITOR’S DESK Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their Champion Character. — T. ALAN ARMSTRONG

Summer is the heart of horse show season, and a great time to read our feature, 7 Ways to be the Coolest Horse Show Parent by April Clay (page 50). First, let’s get one thing straight – by “cool,” we don’t mean chillin’ in the shade drinking iced mocha lattes! More likely, the horse show parent is sweating in the sun with a whole lot of hats to wear. And while wearing them, the show parent must be a good role model, be supportive, respectful, resourceful, and stay positive. This isn’t the easiest assignment, but it’s worth it, and the job has its own special rewards. When a child becomes involved with horses, they will have many opportunities and valuable learning experiences. They will learn to love an animal that becomes their partner, and to take responsibility for its every need. They will learn that by hard work and dedication they can accomplish something difficult, and how rewarding it feels to achieve their goals. They’ll learn how to plan and organize their time so they can accomplish the multiple demands of school, horse activities, social events, and whatever else gets tossed into their schedule. They’ll make choices, experience disappointments, make sacrifices, and learn how to keep going when the going gets tough. One of the main lessons they should learn is to respect, honour, and appreciate the horse that made it all possible. If the child learns these valuable life lessons, they will be a champion no matter how many ribbons they bring home from the show. For the horse show parent, your reward comes from watching this odyssey unfold and yes, it’s pretty darned cool! But there are times when we might need a little help to keep everything in perspective, and that’s

ON THE COVER: The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. — SHARON RALLS LEMON


when the good advice in April Clay’s article will come in handy. July is our Summer Horse Health issue with features covering a variety of important topics. If you’re caring for an equine athlete, be sure to read Managing the Health of Performance Horses (page 12), and Feeding for Performance (page 16). Understand why a veterinary researcher believes Equine Infectious Anemia should be taken more seriously by horse owners (page 22). Dr. Suzanne Mund explains why the location of the wound is a key factor in assessing the severity of the equine injury in How Serious is Your Horse’s Injury? (page 24). Learn to recognize common eye disorders and the fascinating ways your horse sees, in The Equine Eye (page 28). And check out the intriguing health benefits of Spirulina (page 20). Caring for your horse’s health includes taking care of his habitat. If your horse is fortunate enough to spend his summer days on pasture, check out To Mow or Not to Mow (page 42) discussing the benefits and risks of mowing pastures. And 6 Stream Care Strategies (page 36) will explain how to be a better water steward. Horsemanship trainer and clinician Jonathan Field is back with Lessons from the Boxing Ring, the first of a two-part series. What does boxing have to do with horsemanship? Find out on page 44. Until next month, enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer with your favourite horse. – Kathy Smith

LETTER The Canadian Horse 350th Anniversary (June 2015 issue) I just wanted to thank you SO much for putting out a beautifully written, very cohesive and lovely piece on the Canadian Horse. I was ever SO pleased after reading it. You included a nice amount of history, good background, informative quotes, and despite the fact that you got information from such a variety of sources located right across the country, managed to present a very organized and cohesive report on the situation regarding the horse. I also liked the photos that you chose, which showed them doing a wide variety of disciplines and all were of a very nice quality. Thanks so much for doing such an awesome job! – Yvonne Hillsden, Cherry Creek Canadians

b Your Horse b Your Passion b Your Magazine Published by Horse Community Journals Inc.

Volume 15 • Issue 8

EDITOR / PUBLISHER Kathy Smith ACCOUNTS Chantal Patterson ADVERTISING Ronnie Olsen • April Dawn Ray • Terry Andrucko SUBSCRIPTIONS/DISTRIBUTION Nathan Reimer MARKETING Janna Reimer PRODUCTION Elisa Crees CONTRIBUTORS Robin Duncan Photography • HCBC • OEF CanTRA • Margaret Evans • Western College of Veterinary Medicine Equine Guelph • Pam MacKenzie • April Clay • Gina Allan Barb Kopacek • Jonathan Field ADVERTISING, SUBSCRIPTIONS & GENERAL INQUIRIES 1-800-299-3799 • 250-655-8883 or email: ADVERTISING DEADLINE 5 weeks prior to issue date (eg: Sept. 21 for Nov. issue) INTERNET EDITION WEB SITE MAIN OFFICE E-MAIL PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT E-MAIL

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REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART OF ANY MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. The information and services listed herein are intended to facilitate accessibility to the professionals, products and services that play a part in the horse industry. While readers are encouraged to use the products and services of the merchants listed in this Guide, Horse Community Journals Inc. does not recommend or guarantee the products and services of advertisers or associates listed. Manuscripts and photographs will be returned only if SASE is provided. The return of unsolicited material is not guaranteed. Contributors and advertisers warrant all materials supplied are free of copyright and they have the legal right to use the same. All material accepted for publication is subject to such revisions as are deemed appropriate by The Canadian Horse Journal (CHJ). The opinions expressed in CHJ are not necessarily those of the publisher. CHJ reserves the right to refuse any advertising or submission. Contributors consent to have their submissions published in CHJ and on and elsewhere as determined by the publisher. Printed in Canada. Please recycle.


Canadian Equestrian Team Nominated for TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games


Arabian Horses and Canadian Pride Return to Brandon Celebrating the Annual Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Show

The Canadian National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show is returning to Brandon, Manitoba for the fifth year in a row. Join the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) as they celebrate the beauty and versatility of Arabian and Half-Arabian horses – in Canadian style. The show begins, Sunday, August 16 and runs through Saturday, August 22 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, and stands alone as the only AHA championship show that offers a full range of competition with Canadian flair. Arabian horse trainers, exhibitors, and their horses travel from all over Canada and the United States to participate. The premier Canadian event for Arabian horses, this show is the culmination of dedication, hard work, and big dreams. Amateur and professional exhibitors alike come together to put on an impressive display of the magic and versatility of the Arabian breed. Spectators can enjoy over 200 8 • July 2015

different classes in youth, Western, dressage, hunter and English disciplines, and much more. Classes begin at 8am, 1pm, and 7pm respectively. Admission and parking for the horse show is free to the general public. Also, be sure to celebrate Armed Forces Day at the show on Friday, August 21. Come watch the classes and support Canadian and US military troops by wearing red to the show. Some family fun activities will be planned throughout the day. If you are interested in learning more about Arabian horses, visit the Total Arabian Interactive Learning (T.A.I.L.) tours held on the grounds. T.A.I.L Tours give an insider perspective of the Arabian breed and the horse show, and will be given Thursday, August 20 at 6pm; Friday, August 21, at 10am, 2pm, and 6pm; and Saturday, August 22, at 10am and 2pm. For more information, visit:

On June 13, 2015, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Equine Canada (EC) announced the Canadian Equestrian Team (CET) athletes who have been nominated to represent Canada at the TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games, taking place July 10-26, 2015 in Toronto, ON. The excitement of equestrian sport at the Pan Am Games will kick off with dressage, which runs on July 11, 12 and 15. Eventing will follow July 17-19, with jumping closing out the equestrian portion of the Games on July 21, 23, and 25. Dressage and jumping will be held exclusively at the OLG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, a publicly-owned, world-class facility in Caledon, ON. The dressage and jumping phases of eventing will also take place in Caledon, while the highly-anticipated cross-country phase will be hosted by one of Canada’s premier eventing facilities, Will O’Wind Farm in Mono, ON - which will be named the Pan Am Cross-Country Centre during the Games. The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games will prove especially meaningful for the dressage and jumping teams by providing the opportunity to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. The Canadian eventing team has already secured Olympic qualification through CONTINUED ON PAGE 10



12 Athletes to Represent Canada

Ian Millar with Dixson, shown competing in the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, was named to the show jumping team to represent Canada at TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games.




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Gayle Ecker Receives Prestigious 2015 Equine Industry Vision Award


On June 19, 2015, Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, and a lifelong equine wellness educator, was honoured for leadership and innovation when she was named the recipient of the 14th annual Equine Industry Vision Award at the American Horse Publications (AHP) Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Equine Industry Vision Award is the first major award to showcase innovation across the equine industry. Established and sponsored by Zoetis, the prestigious award recognizes ingenuity and service, and it serves to inspire those qualities in others. “We are proud to recognize Gayle for her heartfelt work in connecting people, especially youth, with horses,” said Kate Russo, equine biologicals marketing manager, Zoetis. “Gayle’s passion for utilizing science-based knowledge to educate people on the health of horses is unmatched.” Ecker is director of Equine Guelph, which she has led since its inception in 2003. The centre at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, supports the health and well-being of horses through education, research, health care promotion and industry development. It is supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Ecker was instrumental in the creation of the centre by writing the grant that led

to the development of its education and communications programs. She was a pioneer in online education. In 2002, she established a first-of-its kind educational approach that provides virtual learning pathways for career development in the equine industry, and serves as an instructor for the program. She also led the development of Equine Guelph’s youth exhibit, EquiMania!, which features interactive stations that teach young horse enthusiasts about equine safety and wellness. The exhibit first appeared at the 2005 Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo and also has traveled to the 2010 World Equestrian Games™ in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Minnesota State Fair. Each year, Ecker and her team improve the exhibit with up to 25 percent new materials based on attendee feedback. “My passion is truly my students - seeing their thirst for knowledge and knowing the time I invest will be tenfold when they go out and make a difference,” said Ecker. As a former researcher, Ecker’s expertise is in exercise physiology. She has been the assistant chef d’equipe for the Canadian Endurance Team, traveling around the globe to support the team at international events, such as the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games and World Endurance Championships.

their sixth place finish at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. Historically, the CET has had great success at the Pan Am Games, most recently bringing home three medals from Guadalajara 2011. Both the dressage and eventing teams earned team silver, while Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON won the individual gold medal in eventing. In addition, legendary jumping athlete, Ian Millar of Perth, ON, has had immense success, having won nine medals across nine Pan Am Games - more than any other jumping athlete. Millar is also a ten-time Olympian, giving him the record for the most Olympic appearances of any athlete in any sport. DRESSAGE ATHLETES: Brittany Fraser New Glasgow, N HORSE: All In Megan Lane Collingwood, ON HORSE: Caravella Belinda Trussell Stouffville, ON HORSE: Anton Chris von Martels Ridgetown, ON HORSE: Zilverstar

Reserve Dressage Athletes:

Diane Creech Caistor Centre, ON HORSE: Robbie W Karen Pavicic Surrey, BC HORSE: Don Daiquiri

EVENTING ATHLETES: Colleen Loach Dunham, QC HORSE: Qorry Blue d’Argouges Jessica Phoenix Cannington, ON HORSE: Pavarotti

Waylon Roberts Port Perry, ON HORSE: Bill Owen Kathryn Robinson Kettering, UK HORSE: Let It Bee


Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, receives the Equine Industry Vision Award from Kate Russo of Zoetis.

Yann Candele Caledon, ON HORSE: Showgirl HORSE: First Choice 15 Tiffany Foster North Vancouver, BC HORSE: Tripple X III Eric Lamaze Schomberg, ON HORSE: Fine Lady 5 HORSE: Coco Bongo HORSE: Rosana du Park

Ian Millar Perth, ON HORSE: Dixson Reserve Jumping Athlete: Elizabeth Gingras Edmonton, AB HORSE: Zilversprings


10 • July 2015

Chef d’Équipe Eventing:

Chef d’Équipe Dressage:

Clayton Fredericks Ocala, FL, USA

Alison Martin North Vancouver, BC

Chef d’Équipe Jumping:

Technical Advisor Dressage:

Mark Laskin Langley, BC

Dr. Volker Moritz, Germany


Managing the



Performance Horses


uch like humans, equine athletes performing at a high level can be at risk for certain conditions that cause poor performance. “Factors that make them athletes also predispose them to disease,” says Dr. Julia Montgomery, a specialist in large animal internal medicine at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).


Horses have a very large heart with a low resting heart rate. They have big lungs and have evolved to run, with an elevated foot. Horses essentially walk on their tiptoes, and their entire musculoskeletal structure has developed to accommodate this motion. When health problems appear in a performance horse, they often show up as a change of attitude. PHOTO: ©SHUTTERSTOCK/GERTAN


left & above: Some performance horse health issues can be correlated to specific disciplines. For example, both barrel racing horses that must repeatedly collect or shorten their gait, and driving horses that show with a higher head carriage, are more prone to developing back pain. 12 • July 2015

“If a horse that always liked to perform doesn’t want to perform, I like to give them the benefit of the doubt,” says Montgomery. When a horse begins showing signs of poor performance there are three major body systems to be considered: respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal.

• Transportation often causes stress in horses. Stress acts as an immunosuppressive, which may cause the horse to pick up a virus. Preventive measures include: • Quarantine horses coming or returning to the farm. • Don’t share tack between new arrivals and those already on the farm.

right: Dr. Julia Montgomary, a large animal internal medicine specialist at the WCVM, likens the body of a horse to a suspension bridge – the horse carries about 60 percent of its body weight on its front limbs and uses the hind legs for power. The front limbs are attached by muscles and function as a sling to propel the body forward.


below: To help prevent the spread of viral diseases, do not allow nose-to-nose contact with other horses at shows and events where animals mingle.


Respiratory Upper airway obstructions are caused by malfunctioning structures that lead to airflow obstruction. One common condition of the upper airway is known as roaring, or laryngeal hemiplegia. It can cause difficulties in active horses and can manifest as noises or “roaring” during exercise. The lower respiratory tract is at risk for viral diseases and bacteria that can affect the lungs. Performance horses are especially vulnerable. Common viral diseases are rhinopneumonitis (equine herpesvirus) and equine influenza. Performance horses have increased risk of exposure to these diseases and should be vaccinated. Several risk factors are associated with the spread of viral diseases: • Horse shows where lots of animals mingle. • Many animals of different ages or states of immunity.

July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal


right: Often, the first symptom of a health issue in a performance horse is an apparent change of attitude.

• Prevent nose-to-nose contact. • During transport, horses should be able to lower their heads, which helps clear the airway of dust and other particles. • If a disease outbreak occurs, control animal and human traffic to minimize spread. There are no specific treatments for



below: Stress suppresses the immune response and may predispose the horse to pick up a virus. To help prevent transport stress, ensure that the horse can lower its head in order to clear dust and particles from the airway.

viruses, but Montgomery recommends a lowdust environment and time to heal. If the animal has a low fever, it may go off its feed. “Really, the most important thing is rest. I can’t stress that enough, because once the clinical signs go away, the lungs are not completely healed,” she says. Viral respiratory infections can lead to

complications such as bacterial pneumonia or inflammatory airway disease. Researchers are also investigating the connection between viral respiratory disease and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO or heaves) – a chronic, asthma-like condition. Horses that perform at maximum lung capacity, such as racehorses, are also at risk

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for developing a condition called exerciseinduced pulmonary hemorrhage. It’s thought that damage to veins within the lungs results in pulmonary bleeding. Cardiovascular (Heart) High performance horses often develop specific arrhythmias because of their low resting heart rates. Arrhythmias may appear during a regular physical examination or during a mandatory veterinary check: • Atrioventricular block or dropped beat. The

horse’s heart beats at a normal rhythm with a pause every three or four beats at a regular interval. This is common in fit horses – as well as very fit human athletes – and should go away with exercise.

shorten their gait — such as barrel racers or dressage horses — often suffer from sore hocks. Similarly, horses involved in driving and show where a high head carriage is normal are prone to developing back pain. In racehorses, speed and fatigue can result in limb injuries. Back problems can also arise from several other sources: an improperly seated rider, a poorly fitted saddle, or prolonged exercise on one lead. In racehorses, surface texture can also lead to musculoskeletal injuries. With a hard surface, the force of impact on landing increases. Soft surface can result in an

increased strain of soft tissue structures. Tying-up syndrome is another common disease that can be related to exercise or an underlying illness. Signs include stiffness, firm and painful muscles, sweating, an elevated heart rate and dark brown urine. These signs should be considered an emergency situation, as the horse is in a lot of pain and the breakdown of the muscle — muscle necrosis — can affect the health of the kidneys. b Jeanette Stewart of Rockglen, Sask., is a graduate of the University of Regina’s School of Journalism program and a 2015 WCVM research communications intern.

• Atrial fibrillation. This arrhythmia can occur

without an underlying heart disease. The atria will start to fibrillate, or contract irregularly. In high performing horses, this can present as poor performance or exercise intolerance. This condition can be caused by low potassium. If an endurance horse is sweating a lot or on a diuretic, it may be at risk. Murmurs result from turbulent blood flow through the heart, often caused by leakage in the heart valves. Small leaks can be clinically insignificant but still show up during an exam. Age can cause changes in the aortic valve, but unless there are performance concerns, it doesn’t usually require further investigation. Murmurs can also appear as a symptom of other problems such as dehydration or a low red blood cell count. These “functional murmurs” usually go away when the underlying problem is addressed. Musculoskeletal System Over time, the equine body has evolved to run more effectively. Montgomery compares the body of a horse to a suspension bridge – the front limbs are attached only through muscles and function like a sling as the body is propelled forward. The horse carries about 60 percent of its body weight on the front limbs and uses the hind legs for power. The force of this impact can affect its legs and feet. Because the horse is evolved to run, its legs are made up of tendons and ligaments instead of muscle. The horses’ hind legs directly connect to the back muscles, which means problems with the hind limbs sometimes present as back pain. Because the horse will often shift its weight around to compensate for pain, this can create other problems, and it can be difficult to isolate the source. Certain issues also correlate to specific equine sports. Horses required to collect or


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July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal




Feeding for Performance What makes a horse a performance horse? Performance is loosely defined as any form of work or forced physical activity. Work or physical activity can include walking, trotting, cantering, running, jumping, and turning. Therefore, the term “performance horse” can include any horse that is actively ridden, trained, or that may carry or pull a load. With this broad definition of performance, many of us have horses that are considered performance horses. And because the performance activities of horses vary in both duration and intensity, feeding systems to address the nutrient requirements of these horses must also vary. In this article, we will begin to talk about feeding performance horses by addressing water and energy needs. Each and every performance horse requires water, energy (calories), protein, vitamins, and minerals. 16 • July 2015


Nutritionists and horse owners spend a great deal of time and effort balancing the diet for energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals; however, water is the single most important nutrient. Small decreases in the amount of water contained within the body (dehydration) can lead to serious health consequences as well as a decline in performance potential. Performance horses must maintain proper hydration to transport materials to and from the cells within the body and to synthesize and repair body tissues. The amount of water required by a performance horse depends on the amount of water lost from the body and the amount of water utilized for synthesis of protein. For performance horses, water is lost from the body primarily in sweat, urine, and feces. To replace the water lost from the body, the horse should have free access to fresh, clean water. Ice cold water should be avoided for horses still hot

and sweaty from exercise, since cold water may cause shock to their system. Of the remaining nutrients required by performance horses, energy is the dietary factor most influenced by work or exercise performance. Simply stated, the more work a horse performs, the more energy is required to fuel that work. In a sense, performance horses are like automobiles, the more we drive and the faster we drive, the more fuel that is utilized. Horses derive energy from the feeds they consume. Hay, pasture, grain concentrates and certain supplements contain chemical energy that horses can metabolize and use to generate mechanical energy for muscle movement. Within feed, there are four chemical constituents that can be metabolized to produce mechanical energy: starch, fat, protein, and fibre. Starch is a carbohydrate that can be broken down within the small intestine of the horse to form glucose, a simple sugar. Glucose is absorbed from the digestive system and can be metabolized immediately to produce energy, or it can be stored as energy within the body in the form of muscle or liver glycogen (sugar) or as body fat. The main source of starch in a performance horse diet is cereal grain (oats, corn or barley). Since the digestive system of a horse is designed primarily to digest fibre and has a limited capacity to digest starch, there is a restriction to the amount of grain that can be fed to performance horses. If too much grain is fed in a single meal (more than five pounds of grain per meal per 1000 Water, the most important nutrient in the horse’s diet, is lost from the body mainly in sweat, feces, and urine. Horses should have free access to clean, fresh water at all times.

pound horse) this grain will not be properly digested in the small intestine and may result in digestive upset (colic) or laminitis as it travels further down the digestive tract. For this reason, other sources of energy (fat, protein and fibre) are also incorporated into a performance horse’s diet. Fat is commonly added to the diets of performance horses. Liquid vegetable oil (corn and soybean oil), flax, and rice bran are several fat sources commonly utilized as energy sources for performance horses. Fat is an extremely useful energy source for several reasons. First, vegetable oil is well

digested (over 90 percent) by horses. Compared to hay, fat is nearly twice as digestible. Second, vegetable oil contains roughly two and one-half times as much digestible energy as an equal weight of corn, and three times as much digestible energy as an equal weight of oats. The high calorie content of fat is very helpful in fueling the high-energy requirements of many performance horses. Finally, vegetable oil is safe to feed. Feeding too much fat does not cause colic or laminitis in horses. Performance horses can easily be adapted so they can be fed up to two cups of vegetable

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right: Dietary fibre is often overlooked as a source of energy for performance horses. The horse’s digestion is designed to digest fibre, and hay and pasture can provide an extensive amount of energy for the performance horse.



above: Energy is the dietary factor most influenced by work or performance. The more work a horse performs, the more energy he needs to fuel that work.

oil per day (for a 1000 pound horse). Feeding too much fat without properly adaptation can cause diarrhea until the horse’s digestive system becomes accustom to the dietary fat. Dietary fat is commonly added to commercial grain concentrates intended for performance horses. It is common for performance horse feeds to have between six and twelve percent fat. The National Research Council (NRC 2007) estimates the crude protein requirement for mature performance horses at nine to eleven percent, depending on work intensity. Protein that is fed in excess of a performance horse’s requirement can be broken down and utilized for energy. Unfortunately, the use of protein for energy requires the horse to excrete the nitrogen associated with the protein. Excretion of nitrogen requires the horse to drink more water and increases blood • July 2015

ammonia; both situations are undesirable for performance horses. Thus, feeding excess protein as a source of energy is not a sound nutrition practice. The most overlooked source of energy for a performance horse is dietary fibre. The digestive system of the horse is designed to digest fibre, and hay and pasture can provide an extensive amount of energy for the performance horse. In fact, for the digestive system to function correctly, horses require at least 1.25 percent of their body weight in hay and/ or pasture per day. Since the fermentation of fibre is slow and continues constantly, horses get an uninterrupted supply of energy throughout the day. The use of fibre as an energy source has evolved in recent years. Today, in addition to good quality hay and pasture we have so-called superfibres that are safe to feed like hay but have the energy equivalent of oats. Examples of super fibres utilized in horse feed include beet pulp (a product of the sugar industry), and soy hulls (a product of the soybean industry). In summary, we begin feeding performance horses by providing free access to fresh, clean water. The next step is to provide adequate energy, but how do we determine how much energy they require? Energy is the only dietary factor for which adequacy can be determined visually. If you are feeding too much energy the horse gains weight or becomes fat; on the other hand, if you don’t feed enough energy the horse becomes thin or loses weight. You can’t simply look at horses and determine the status of other critical nutrients. Therefore, if your performance horse is too thin or too fat, contact your equine nutritionist to properly balance your horse’s energy requirements. To provide energy to the performance horse, we begin with feeding good quality forage (pasture and hay) and add additional energy with the use of a combination of starch, fat, and super-fibres. b


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July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal




Spirulina A Mighty Immune Modifier



Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. Known as a “superfood,” it contains nutrients, including B complex vitamins, betacarotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).



few billion years ago, there were stirrings in the womb of a brand new planet. Earth was coming of age and producing her very first life forms. It is almost impossible to imagine how scientists learned of Earth’s microscopic firstborn, but somehow under the dust and rock of more than 3.6 billion years, the ancient little graves of Spirulina were uncovered. But far from an extinct historical landmark, Spirulina – or blue-green algae (BGA) as it is also known – exists in an almost unaltered state to this very day, growing quietly in fresh water, tropical springs, saltwater and, most recently, Spirulina farming ponds. Known affectionately as “the superfood,” BGA advocates have claimed that it is so nutritionally complete that one can live on it alone and be completely healthy. Though suggestive of total sensory deprivation (life without chocolate cake!), the many reported benefits of BGA have precipitated voluminous scientific investigations into this miniature nutraceutical. Perhaps the most well-known clinical effect of BGA is its ability to modify immune function. There is abundant evidence that over-active immune states (such as allergies) are calmed with BGA at doses as low 10mg/ kg BW, both local and whole-body. And histamine – an important instigator of allergic symptoms – is strongly inhibited by BGA. However, in cases where an up-regulation of immune response is needed (such as during vaccination or exposure to a virus) BGA enhances immune function and protects animals against disease. • July 2015

Spirulina is considered an excellent supplement for horses under immune stress, such as show horses and those exercising at high intensity, as it increases the activity of the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes and may help to regulate immune and inflammatory processes. Very closely linked with immune function is inflammation. With BGA being so effective at modifying immune function, it might be predicted that it should also have impact on inflammatory situations. Indeed, there are frequent reports in the veterinary and medical literature of BGA down-regulating inflammation in colitis, liver disease, joint disease, and neuropathic pain. How BGA exerts its effects on immunity and inflammation is not entirely understood, but it is likely related to its strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants play an essential role in the body by protecting stability of cell membranes and down-regulating many inflammatory processes. BGA strongly increases activity of the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase and catalase, while protecting the activity of dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and reduced glutathione. It is likely that, by stabilizing the oxidation status of cells, BGA is able to regulate immune and inflammatory processes. Thus, BGA is an excellent supplement for horses that are under immune stress. These include nomadic show horses, horses exercising at high intensity and frequency, horses recovering from illness, and horses with prevalent environmental and dietary allergies. BGA is a very safe supplement, and has been fed to laboratory animals at many times the recommended dose without any evidence of toxicity. However, BGA should be avoided in cases of autoimmune disease, or b chronic viral liver disease.

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July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal



A Serious Threat for Horses BY BRENDEN VAN WYK


above: While some EIA-infected horses become sick, most animals show no symptoms and are unlikely to be removed from the herd.

Large biting insects such as horse flies (shown) and deer flies transmit the virus to other animals. EIA can also be transmitted through blood transfusions and contaminated needles. 22

Equine infectious anemia, or EIA, is a viral disease of horses, mules, and donkeys that should be taken very seriously by owners, says a veterinary researcher. “When a horse is infected [with equine infectious anemia], it is infected for life,” says Dr. Sara Higgins, a resident in large animal medicine at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) whose master’s degree research focuses on EIA. Also known as swamp fever, EIA is a federally reportable disease in Canada. In the past few years, the number of detected EIA cases has risen — especially in parts of Western Canada. Since there’s no available vaccine or cure for EIA, animals that test positive are quarantined for life or euthanized to break the transmission cycle and to protect susceptible horses. The EIA virus is spread by the transfer of blood between animals. In nature, large biting flies mediate this transmission by transferring blood from one horse to another through successive bites. Horse flies are the main natural vector for mechanically transmitting the virus, but Higgins points out that people can also have an important influence on spreading the disease. Contaminated blood transfusion products, needles, surgical instruments, and other equipment are all potential sources for infections. Humans can then transport these contaminated items for much greater distances and in far greater volumes than any insect vector. • July 2015

“Blood is handled in a more unregulated manner within the animal world compared to the human world where there are very stringent rules,” says Higgins. “We need to start treating horse blood in the exact same way. If we keep this in mind, maybe we can help to reduce EIA and limit the number of horses affected by it.” Once transmission occurs, the EIA virus is very resilient to the horse’s immune system, and it employs several mechanisms to avoid being eliminated. One key factor is that the EIA virus keeps mutating in the body. It continuously changes its surface proteins, preventing the immune cells from effectively binding to the virus. This is one of the actions that limits the ability of the horse’s immune system to effectively clear the virus from the body. While some EIA-infected horses will become sick, most animals are asymptomatic for their entire lifetime. Since these healthy-looking animals are unlikely to be removed from horse herds, they represent a potential source for viral spread, says Higgins. If a horse does show clinical signs of disease, these signs are often non-specific, which makes the clinical diagnosis challenging. In cases of acute infection, a horse may develop a mild fever or go off its feed; these signs often go unnoticed by the owner. “[Horses] can alternatively display chronic signs of disease,” says Higgins. “These horses lose weight, have no appetite and can become anemic with low platelets (blood-clotting cells). This is when your veterinarian may suspect the disease and want to test for EIA.”


Equine Infectious Anemia

Dr. Steve Manning, an equine field service veterinarian at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, collects a blood sample as part of the Coggins testing process. Symptoms of EIA include anorexia and weight loss, weakness, depression, intermittent fever, jaundice, small hemorrhages under the tongue and the eye, and swelling of the extremities.


She adds that the lack of specific symptoms associated with EIA makes blood screening a critical component in identifying the disease. Originally, veterinarians used a Coggins test as an initial method to identify infected horses. Since its development in the 1970s, this test helped to significantly reduce the number of EIA-positive horses in the tested population. A more sensitive ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is currently used as the initial screening test for EIA. All samples that screen positive are then tested using a “confirmatory protocol” which includes an agar gel immunodiffusion test (Coggins test). A horse is considered infected with the EIA virus if there are positive results from confirmatory testing. “The virus itself can be difficult to detect in some EIApositive patients because the virus quantity in the blood may be very small,” says Higgins. “What we currently do is to test for antibodies: proteins that demonstrate the animal was exposed to the virus.” While screening is the most effective way to protect the horse population from the spread of EIA, Higgins says owners can also help to reduce the risk by following safe health management practices. In particular, people need to avoid reusing bloodcontaminated instruments. Even small quantities of blood on these tools are enough to harbour virus particles and increase the risk of transmission. While it’s more difficult to control flies, Higgins recommends keeping horses away from wooded areas and using appropriate insect repellents.

A vaccine would be the ideal defence against EIA, but since that’s not available, proper health management practices and public awareness are the next best tools to combat the disease. “By educating people and [being aware of] how we manage horses, we can potentially limit the spread of this disease,” says Higgins. b Brenden Van Wyk is a Master of Science (MSc) student at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO). Reprinted with permission from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Equine Health Research Fund (

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How Serious is Your Horse’s Injury? Location a Key Factor in Assessing Wounds By Brenden Van Wyk


orses can suffer from all types of wounds, and while some wounds look much worse than others, the primary assessment of their severity is the same as that of gauging housing prices: location, location, location. This claim is backed by Dr. Suzanne Mund, a master’s degree student in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. Her research focus is on wound healing through the use of stem cells.

24 • July 2015


For sudden lameness, check for wounds in the leg or an abscess in the hoof, and consult your veterinarian to determine the exact location and recommend treatment.


SMALL PUNCTURE WOUND OVER MEDIAL HOCK: This wound demonstrates that small puncture wounds can be a lot more damaging than they appear on the surface. This tiny puncture wound communicated with the tarsometatarsal joint, causing a joint infection that required intensive treatment.

“It doesn’t matter necessarily how big the wound is, what matters more is where it is,” stresses Mund. “Size doesn’t matter when it comes to wounds, at least not as much. A larger wound in a safer place isn’t as bad as a tiny, little puncture wound over top of the joint.” Because of the increased risk of bleeding and infection, more severe wounds often occur in locations with more blood vessels – between the hind legs, up in the arm pits, along the jugular vein, and underneath the skin. Wounds on the backs of legs are also serious because of the potential damage to vital ligaments and tendons. Wounds in high-motion areas – mainly joints – increase the risk for major complications. One serious condition is when gas or air becomes trapped underneath the horse’s skin (subcutaneous emphysema). “As the horse walks, the wound

SMALL LACERATION OVER PASTERN: Lacerations on the limbs are always concerning regardless of how large or small because of the proximity of many vital structures such as tendons, ligaments, tendon sheaths, bone and joints. In this case, the small laceration was cause for concern because of its proximity to the pastern joint and the tendon sheath.

[continually] gapes open and closed and air that is pushed up underneath the skin can spread throughout the body,” explains Mund. If the air dissects along the front of the horse’s chest and in to the potential space between the lungs and the heart, it can cause a collapsed lung that requires emergency care. Mund emphasizes that any wounds found in highly vascular regions or around joints should be immediately checked by a

veterinarian. Lacerations — tears or cuts on the skin — are comparatively less serious and can usually be treated by simply flushing, draining, and suturing them. Mund recommends calling the veterinarian early, particularly to avoid the growth of too much granulation tissue (proud flesh) on the limbs and/or around joints. Puncture wounds are potentially more dangerous than open lacerations because

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they can carry debris and bacteria deep down into the bottom of the wound, says Mund. “The outside can heal before the inside has healed, which can set up an environment for abscess formation or increase the risk for developing gas gangrene or tetanus.” Given their small size, puncture wounds can be easily missed and swelling can often obscure the original wound. Complications don’t always arise from puncture wounds, but they usually require intensive veterinary management regardless of their severity. If a horse suddenly becomes lame, Mund suggests checking for leg wounds or a possible foot abscess, and recommends that owners contact their local veterinarian to pinpoint the cause. “Nine times out of ten, [lameness is caused by] a foot abscess, which is easy to manage,” says Mund. “It’s the other one out of ten times that it’s something more serious such as septic joints, broken bones, or an injury involving torn ligaments.” Wounds usually cause bleeding. Improper treatment of a bleeding wound may do more harm than good, especially if a horse owner tries to remove an object

UPPER LIP LACERATION BEFORE AND AFTER: Lacerations of soft tissue in nonvital areas such as the lip can be disconcerting but are amenable to suturing and often heal well with minimal scarring. This horse healed exceptionally well with hardly a scar. 26 • July 2015

Brenden Van Wyk is a Master of Science (MSc) student at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).


Properly maintained fences help to prevent injuries. Walk the fence line at least twice each year, looking for hazards such as loose wires and nails, broken boards, and trees or branches that have fallen on the fence.

that’s causing the bleeding. “If you see a nail or another type of foreign body, it’s very important not to remove that until you call the veterinarian,” says Mund. “It’s better to have the vet examine the wound (often through x-ray) and determine the appropriate treatment.” Horse owners should immediately call their veterinarian if a wound exposes internal structures. “Any exposed [bones], ligaments, or tendons need to get healed as soon as possible, as these are vital structures that can impact the future use of your horse,” says Mund. While owners can’t completely protect their horses from everything, properly maintaining fences can help to avoid accidents. “It’s important to go walk the perimeter of your fence at least twice a year and look for loose wire and loose nails sticking out,” recommends Mund. “It doesn’t really matter what type of fencing material you decide to use; what’s more important is how you maintain it. Loose, smooth wire can be just as bad as barbed wire [if improperly maintained].” And while veterinarians are the trained experts in wound management, owners can proactively improve their horse’s outcome by preparing the horse before the vet arrives. For example, lead the horse (if it can still walk) to a quiet area, perhaps with a calming, equine companion, and follow the veterinarian’s advice on stemming any bleeds. However, Mund emphasizes not to clean any wound unless explicitly instructed. Overall, if any horse owner spots a wound and is unsure of what to do, Mund recommends contacting a vet – even if it’s just for a consultation on the phone. “Advice is free,” says Mund. “Addressing a small problem now will prevent larger problems in the future.” b

SHEARING INJURY OVER FETLOCK: This wound was the result of a trailer accident causing a devastating shearing injury of the fetlock joint.  The sagittal ridge of the distal canon bone, the extensor tendon, and the fetlock joint were all disrupted, necessitating euthanasia due to a grave prognosis.

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reportsHorse & suggestions July 2015 case • Canadian Journal 27 for optimal horse health





Understand Your Horse’s Vision and Common Eye Disorders



s a prey species, the horse relies on sensory stimulus such as sight, smell, and sound for defense against predation. Perhaps the most important of these sensory organs is the equine eye, which has several unique adaptations to allow horses to obtain and interpret information about their surroundings and decide whether or not to engage the fight-or-flight response they employ for survival. Given that horses rely so heavily on vision for this response, any disorders that may affect vision or the health of the eye must be treated as soon as possible to help preserve optimal vision and eye function.

Anatomy – Form & Function The equine eyes are located on either side of the head, in what are known as the orbits, or the bony sockets of the skull. The lateral location of the bony orbits within 28 • July 2015

the horse’s skull allows for better peripheral vision. The eye is protected externally by the eyelids, the eye lashes, and the long hairs known as vibrissae above and below the eye. The third eyelid (also referred to as the nictitans) is located at the medial canthus, and helps to protect the cornea and distribute tear film across the eye (see Figures 1a,b). The anterior segment of the eye is composed of the cornea, iris, lens, and ciliary body. The uvea is composed of the iris, ciliary body, and the choroid. The posterior segment (also known as the fundus) of the eye comprises the vitreous, retina, and choroid. The anterior and posterior segments of the eye are divided by the iris, ciliary body and the lens. Each of the structures of the equine eye play an important role in maintaining vision, and damage to any one of these structures can have devastating consequences.


When Should I Call a Vet? Because of the importance of vision in the life of a horse, most disorders of the equine eye should be treated as soon as possible once they are noticed. It is recommended that a veterinarian be called immediately if you notice your horse holding his eye shut, squinting with discharge coming from the eye, any colour change of the eye, or if he has a wound to the eyelid or other signs of trauma. The quicker the eye is assessed and treated, the better the chance of preserving vision.

Figure 1A: Internal anatomy of the eye and surrounding structures LACRIMAL GLAND




A horse’s vision differs from that of a human in several ways. Given the adaptation for defense, the horse’s field of view is virtually 350 degrees. The only “blind spots” a horse has are immediately in front of the forehead/eyes, directly below the nose, and the width of the horse’s head directly behind it. When viewing the horizon, a horse has a much wider field of view with a lower acuity (sharpness) above and below as compared to human vision, which has high acuity centrally and lower acuity peripherally, as demonstrated in Figures 2 and 3. The ability of horses to see colour is also limited compared to humans. Horses have what is known as dichromatic colour vision, as opposed to humans who have trichromatic colour vision, as shown in Figure 4. This means that blue and yellow are the two colour hues horses are able to differentiate. Other colours, such as orange, red, and green, appear similar to each other and as various shades of grey to the eye of a horse.










Figure 1B: External anatomy of the eye and surrounding structures CORPORA NIGRA


What to Expect in an Equine Ophthalmic Exam SCLERA



Figure 2:


Examination of the equine eye often begins with a distant examination where the eyes are assessed for symmetry and swelling. The veterinarian will then assess a combination of various ocular reflexes to determine if there is any loss of function apparent in the affected eye(s). These reflexes include the menace response (the horse should blink in response to a gesture towards the eye), the dazzle response (the horse should blink in response to a bright light being shone in the eye), the palpebral response (the horse should blink when the eyelids are tapped), and the pupillary light response (the pupil should constrict when a light is shone in the eye). The eye is then examined with direct ophthalmoscopy to assess the iris, pupil, lens, retina, optic nerve, and the various chambers in the eye. Depending on the findings of the initial exam, the veterinarian will often use one or more topical stains to check for damage to the cornea. Examples of stains typically used include fluorescein stain and rose bengal stain. In certain cases, the veterinarian may need to use additional procedures to facilitate a thorough examination, including dilation of the pupil, sedation, or local nerve blocks. Vision is difficult to assess in horses – a veterinarian cannot simply ask the patient to read a series of letters on the wall like a human ophthalmologist would. In cases where vision is thought to be compromised, the veterinarian may use an obstacle course, with or without blindfolding individual eyes, to determine if there appears

Lateral placement of the eyes results in 65 degrees of binocular overlap and a monocular field of 146 degrees. Blind spots exist directly behind the head, in the forehead region, and directly under the body to about four feet in front of the legs.


146° 65°

July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal



Figure 3a






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Figure 3b

to be difficulty navigating obstacles. Additional diagnostics that are employed in certain cases include x-rays to evaluate the bony orbit and nasolacrimal duct; ultrasound to evaluate the soft tissue structures in the eye; and occasionally computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the bone and soft tissue structures simultaneously.

Common Disorders of the Equine Eye Ulcerative Keratitis (Corneal Ulcers)

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This photo demonstrates how human visual acuity differs from that of a horse. The field of view depicted in A reflects how a human would see, as opposed to the field of view in B, which is how a horse would see the same landscape.

HOLIDAYS • July 2015

Ulcerative Keratitis (a corneal ulcer) is the medical term used to describe trauma sustained to the outer surface of the eye (the cornea), and is characterized by a defect in the outermost layer of the cornea. This usually occurs as the result of trauma, such as a scratch by a branch, fence post, or nail — or a foreign body that gets trapped in the horse’s eye, such as a plant awn, piece of dirt, or small piece of wood. The clinical signs in a horse that is suffering from a corneal ulcer include squinting, swelling of the eyelids,

tearing, and redness. The corneal ulcer is diagnosed with fluorescein stain. When damage to the outer layer of the cornea has been sustained, the underlying tissues will take up stain and appear as a neon green spot on the eye (see Figures 5a,b,c,d). Given that there is no blood supply to the cornea to provide defense against bacterial and fungal agents, our number one concern when treating corneal ulcers is preventing or treating infection. Topical antibiotics are typically used at frequent intervals until the defect has healed. Corneal ulcers are also quite painful, so treatment also includes agents to relieve discomfort, such as Atropine (which dilates the pupil and relieves painful ciliary spasms) and Banamine (which provides pain relief when there is inflammation present in the eye).

Anterior Uveitis Anterior uveitis is defined as inflammation of the uvea (see Figures 6a,b). There are many factors affecting either the eye itself or the horse as a whole that can cause inflammation of these tissues. Some examples of disorders affecting the eye that



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Figure 4b can cause uveitis include corneal ulcers, cataracts, or tumours. Systemic diseases resulting in septicemia, viremia, or toxemia can also result in uveitis. Additionally, there is an immune-mediated disorder known as equine recurrent uveitis (ERU) that results in multiple periodic episodes of inflammation of the uvea. Clinical signs of uveitis include an increased sensitivity to light, pain or squinting, cloudiness of the eye, a small pupil, and redness of the eye. Identification of the underlying cause of the July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal


This simple, superficial corneal ulcer has been stained with fluorescein dye to highlight its location. uveitis can help guide treatment, which is why your veterinarian may want to perform further testing such as bloodwork to identify an underlying disease, or an ultrasound to look at the inner structures of the eye. Treatment of a systemic disorder is often combined with aggressive topical and systemic anti-inflammatories to control the inflammation present in the eye.

Cataracts A cataract (Figure 7) is when the lens develops a cloudiness that results in it no longer being transparent. A cataract can have

Figure 5b

A complex corneal ulcer that is deep and infected with bacteria. Note the crater-like appearance of the ulcer, which is discoloured white by infiltrating inflammatory cells. The cornea has developed ingrowth of blood vessels due to the ulcer being present for several days. varying effects on vision depending on how much of the lens is involved. Cataracts can be congenital (in other words, something they are born with), or acquired as the result of trauma or uveitis. Treatment is often not pursued due to the high cost and limited availability of the procedure, but would include phacoemulsification, where high frequency ultrasonic vibrations are used to break down the diseased lens and withdraw it through a needle. An intraocular lens implant can be placed in certain cases, but vision is still considered compromised after the procedure.


Figure 5a

Figure 5c

A complex corneal ulcer that is infected with fungus. Note the white discharge around the eye and the white corneal discolouration present due to infiltration of inflammatory cells. The eye is also very painful.

Trauma The eye is a relatively common culprit when it comes to trauma. Horses can suffer various injuries to the eye as a result of trauma, including fractures of the bony orbit, luxation of the lens, detachment of the retina, and lacerations to the cornea or the eyelids. After a traumatic incident, swelling of the eye happens very quickly and can be quite dramatic, making examination of the inner structures of the eye quite difficult. In these cases, x-rays and ultrasound imaging are often employed

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Figure 5d

A healing conjunctival pedical graft surgically placed three weeks previously to heal a deep and infected corneal ulcer. The graft is incorporating into the cornea and the animal is comfortable. The long pedicle portion (arrow) is not attached, but serves as a blood supply to the healing tissue. It can be trimmed off after two months of healing time.

to help the veterinarian get an idea of what is going on in the structures in and around the eye. If the horse has suffered an eyelid laceration, surgical repair is almost always attempted to try and restore normal function of the eyelid. Failure to repair the eyelid will typically result in ongoing problems with the cornea and a chronically painful eye. Luckily, this region has a very good blood supply, so there is a good chance these wounds will heal well if attended to early.

Neoplasia The equine eye can be affected by several types of neoplasia. The most common tumour of the equine eye is a squamous cell carcinoma (Figure 8). This type of tumour can involve the eyelid margins, the conjunctiva, the sclera, or the third eyelid. It is more commonly seen in horses who have light pigmented skin around the eye and presents as raised, irritated, abnormal red tissue around the eye. Exposure to harmful UV rays in sunlight is a known trigger for this type of tumour. Another type of tumour that frequently affects the skin in the eye region is a sarcoid. Sarcoids can present in a number of ways and forms, including the occult form (flat region of hair loss), the verrucous form (region of hair loss with small raised bumps), the nodular form (lump in the skin), the fibroblastic form (red, raised lump in the skin), or a combination of these. They are associated with the bovine papilloma virus and can be found in other areas of the body as well. If noted around the eye, they are best treated when they are small, so having them assessed early is important. Melanomas are an uncommon form of

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Figure 6b


Figure 6a

Horse eye with early uveitis. The iris of this horse is normally blue. Inflammation has caused a temporary colour change to yellow. The conjunctiva is red, the pupil is small and irregular as adhesions of the pupil are starting to form to the lens. Blood vessels have grown into the cornea in response to the intraocular inflammation. The eye is very uncomfortable.

Figure 7

Cataract in the lens of a horse. This cataract is generalized and causing vision loss.

Figure 8

The results of chronic or recurrent uveitis in a horse eye. A cataract has formed in the lens, giving the pupil a white discolouration. The iris has become adherent to the lens in several places, giving the normally horizontal pupil an irregular appearance. tumour that can be found in and around the equine eye. They are slowly progressive and are not associated with exposure to sunlight. They are most commonly seen in grey or white horses and present as darkly pigmented, slow growing nodules of the eyelids, and rarely, the internal structures of the eye. Diagnosis of neoplasia of the eye typically involves a biopsy of the abnormal tissue and microscopic evaluation. Once the tumour type is identified, a treatment protocol can be established. Typical treatment often includes a combination of surgical excision, local chemotherapy, cryotherapy, or immunotherapy.


Corneal squamous cell carcinoma in a horse. The tumour is pink, cobble-stone like in texture. Tumours such as this one can be successfully removed surgically, saving the eye and vision.

Preserving vision is the primary goal of treatment with any disorder affecting the equine eye. Horses rely heavily on vision to avoid predation and loss of vision can be a significant source of stress for the horse. However, if the disease process in the eye is too advanced for treatment to be effective, an enucleation (removal of the affected eye) is also possible and is a good option to relieve pain. Many horses are able to adapt very well and can perform athletically after the loss of an eye. As horse owners, you can do your part by contacting your veterinarian quickly if you notice signs of disease associated with your horse’s eye. b

A horse following enucleation surgery (surgery to remove the eye). A silicone ball orbital prosthesis was placed to reduce sinking in of the tissues during healing.

Author Bio Dr. Kirby Penttila, DVM is a veterinarian and practice owner at Burwash Equine Services, Ltd. She graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, SK, and went on to complete an internship in private practice at Idaho Equine Hospital in Nampa, ID. Burwash Equine Services, Ltd. is an exclusively equine practice in Calgary, AB that offers a wide range of veterinary services to a clientele that varies from World Champions and Olympians to backyard horse owners.

34 • July 2015

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above: Horses and other livestock can cause considerable damage to sensitive riparian areas, and contaminate the water with manure and urine. The wet, muddy conditions also put horses at risk of health problems.


Horse owners with a stream on their property know exactly what kinds of headaches a waterway can cause. Besides posing a hazard to your horses and other animals, or being inconvenient when moving machinery and vehicles around your property, use of your stream is likely subject to a host of strict government regulations designed to maintain water quality, which is something we all benefit from. The value of your stream isn’t defined only by the regulations that govern it. A stream can be a clean and constant water source for your horses, and depending on its condition, it can also provide a habitat for fish and other wildlife. By following a few management guidelines, you can both protect the safety of your horses and minimize your impact on the natural habitats in and around a stream. You will benefit from cleaner water, more biodiversity, reduced erosion and land loss, and safer movement across the waterway for you and your horses. Here are six best practices for waterway management: • July 2015

1 FENCE Although your creek may offer a supply of beautiful water for your horses, streams and their banks (riparian areas) are sensitive to disturbances by large, heavy animals. The compaction and churning that happens in these wet areas results in erosion, low survival of riparian plants, and muddying of the water. Many fish and other aquatic organisms cannot survive in clouded water, and the bare soil means there is nothing holding the bank together, which means high water levels can wash them away more easily. Standing in these muddy areas can put your horses at risk of foot rot, soft hooves, and other health problems. Horses also leave behind manure and urine, further contaminating the water and creating pathogen risks. To keep horses out of these fragile areas, fence at least three metres (10 feet) from the top of the bank. This leaves room for riparian plants to grow, and for the natural shifting of the stream’s route.





1 • BEFORE: A fence and bridge were installed to exclude livestock from this stream. However, the fence did not leave enough space for the riparian area to allow for natural stream channel migration, which led to loss of land and a portion of the fence due to stream bank erosion. 2 • AFTER ONE YEAR: The fence was moved back to allow

for a healthy riparian area to be planted; large boulders were placed along the stream banks to prevent erosion. 3 • FOUR YEARS AFTER COMPLETION. 4 • 15 YEARS AFTER COMPLETION: A healthy riparian

area exists with no erosion problems or land loss.


2 PUMP Excluding your horses from the stream doesn’t mean they can’t access that fresh stream water. Water can be pumped up with electricity, solar power, or even a gravity system, to a watering spot away from those sensitive areas. Nose pumps are especially useful because they eliminate the problems of water going stagnant or getting wasted, and will supply fresh water on demand as long as there is flow in the stream.

3 PLANT Research which native plants in your area are water-loving (such as certain native varieties of willow, which can be propagated from cuttings for free). Plant these between your fence and the stream. Their roots will hold the bank together, reducing land lost to erosion, keeping your stream from changing its path, and mitigating flooding by slowing the flow of water toward the stream. If your stream flows so quickly that it might wash away your plantings, with a permit you can lay riprap (large rock pieces) in lines across the streambed to slow it down. If you use the stream for watering your horses, a healthy riparian area will also filter inflowing contaminants, especially if your upstream neighbours aren’t as diligent. And as an added bonus, these plants will offer habitat for native wildlife (including ones that eat insects and rodents) and shade the water from the hot summer sun, cooling it and making it more suitable for fish, too. 38 • July 2015


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Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada, and your provincial ministry of the environment. The key features of a stream crossing that will protect your horses and your waterway for years are:

4 CROSS To allow your horses (and yourself) access to pasture or buildings on the other side of the stream, you need a good crossing. Before starting construction, make sure you’ve informed or requested approval from all necessary governmental bodies such as the

Free span: This means there are no supporting structures in the water. The bridge only stands on footings on the banks. By contrast, culverts are liable to clogging or even washing out and can be a major barrier to fish. Old semi-truck beds make an excellent strong and affordable deck.

A free-span bridge using a truck trailer bed as the bridge frame. Recycled yellow cedar from telephone poles was used to clad the bridge deck and railings. The bridge deck is longer than the width of the stream so the bank footings do not encroach on the stream, which reduces erosion around the footings and allows for stream channel migration over time.

Clear of flood levels: Be sure your bridge would still be there after the highest level of water you’ve had in the last five years. Build it solidly so rushing spring run-off or debris won’t wash away its supports on the bank. Prudent In-Stream crossing: If an in-stream crossing turns out to be the only option for you (for example, if the slope of the stream banks is too shallow), be aware that this will require the most oversight from authorities. Be sure to lay down gravel to prevent erosion, and to continue your riparian fencing across the stream so your horses can still only access it at the crossing.



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A heavily degraded stream bank and riparian area.

The stream bank slope has been reduced at the point of the crossing to prevent erosion and degradation. The in-stream crossing has been completed with large gravel and fencing to limit the impact of the crossing livestock.



6 ENJOY! Look out for the wildlife that your newly protected riparian areas may become home to. You may be lucky enough to see some endangered species and can even help research by reporting sightings: • In BC: • In Alberta: • Elsewhere:

Call your provincial ministry of the environment and ask how to report wildlife observations.

If you have farm status, and you complete a free and confidential ecological assessment of your operation through the Environmental Farm Plan, you may also be eligible for cost-share funding to complete some of the above work. Either way, it’s always a good idea to test your stream water periodically to monitor its health. You may even be able to watch your improvements take measurable effect. For more tips and information on stream and pasture management, download the Land Management Guide and the Stream Crossing Guide b free at Ava Shannon is the interim Agriculture Program Coordinator at Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS). This project is supported by the BC Agriculture Council/ARDCorp with funding from Agriculture Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, and The Investment Agriculture Foundation.

July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal




To Mow or Not to Mow...? Caring for Your Horse Pasture If your pasture management plan doesn’t include mowing, you may be asking the following questions: • Do the pastures, paddocks, or fields used to graze horses require mowing? • At what height do you mow pasture grass? • Are there any risks associated with grazing horses on freshly mowed pasture? • Are there any potential benefits of mowing?

Pity the horse that has to find something to eat in this poorly maintained pasture. This pasture is full of weeds, with very little forage of nutritional value and well established grazing patterns creating many ungrazed areas with weeds that have gone to seed. 42 • July 2015


Benefits of Mowing The main goal in pasture management is to maintain or to enhance grass quality. The intake of pasture grass can be a significant source of nutrition for the grazing horse if the pasture is properly managed. Mowing is one of the tools for better pasture management. Some horse owners mistakenly feel that mowing pastures is done simply to make the pastures look nice. However, there are several valid reasons to consider mowing pastures. Some potential benefits of mowing include weed management, enhancing forage quality, and reducing grazing patterns. Mowing pastures is a great means of controlling weeds. Repeated mowing of pasture decreases the competitive ability of a weed to survive in a grass paddock. Keeping weeds the same height of grass will give grass an advantage, and prevent weeds from shading and restricting grass growth. Mowing also serves to prevent weeds from establishing seed heads. Eliminating seed heads prevents weeds from reproducing and spreading in the pasture. The control of weeds in a pasture does not occur with a single mowing, but is facilitated with repeated mowing. Mowing pastures enhances pasture quality. A grass plant that is actively growing is constantly producing nutrients that horses can utilize. The mowing process

facing page: Mowing the pasture improves the nutritional quality of the grass, controls weeds, and reduces grazing patterns. Pastures should be harrowed after mowing to reduce the risk of horses consuming molded forage or choking on large mouthfuls of grass clippings. keeps grass plants in a vegetative or growing state. Mowing prevents the plants from reaching a reproductive state when they develop a seed head and ultimately cease growing. Mowing also keeps plants at a shortened height which increases digestibility and palatability. As grass plants grow tall they become fibrous and less digestible. When mowing grass pastures, it is important not to cut grass plants too short, as this will reduce leaf area which is needed to stimulate growth. A grass plant that is cut too short is also prone to stress and may die. The optimum height for a cool-season grass is approximately four inches (10 cm), while the optimum height for a warm-season grass is approximately eight inches (20 cm). Mowing pastures also reduces grazing patterns. Horses tend to graze in certain areas of a pasture and utilize other areas of the pastures to pass manure. The grazed areas are very short and known as “lawns.” The ungrazed areas consist of taller grass and they are known as “ruffs.” This is a bit of golf course terminology, but it describes well the different areas of a horse pasture. Mowing serves to shorten the taller grass and enhance its palatability. Over time this will help to eliminate the grazing patterns that can exist in horse pastures and provide better utilization of pasture.

What are the risks, if any, for horses grazing mowed pasture?

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The biggest risk associated with mowed pasture is the possibility that the horse may consume molded grass. Once grass is mowed, the portion of grass that is clipped from the plant contains a high moisture content. These clippings are prone to molding. If horses eat grass that has molded, it can cause a variety of symptoms including coughing and nasal discharge, and extreme instances result in death due to mold toxins. Another potential risk of clipped forage is choking. If horses take in large mouthfuls of short grass clippings they can potentially choke. Both the risk for ingestion of mold and for choking can be virtually eliminated if the pasture is harrowed following mowing. The harrowing process spreads the grass clippings evenly throughout the field and dramatically decreases the likelihood of any problems. b July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal



Lessons from the Boxing Ring Footwork to Free Up the Shoulders



My new horse “Little” is little, but he doesn’t know it! He is a rising four-year-old Peppy San Badger (AQHA) crossed with a quarter Thoroughbred. I rode him ten times as a two-year-old, forty times as a three-year-old, and now as a four-year-old he is heading into his riding career. As a five and six-year-old, the physical work will really increase. This is roughly the same schedule we use with our ranch horses. 44 • July 2015


uring the past few months, I’ve been teaching and developing my young horses and my program. Each year, I take time to gain new skills and insights, mainly because I’m an avid student and always benefit as a clinician if I take time to become a student myself. I believe that leaders and mentors of others must never lose sight of what it feels like to be a student. A student’s role is a humbling and sensitive time for many people, and as a result, most adults tend to shy away from the experience. It only takes a few incidents with an overbearing, criticizing instructor, perhaps over a microphone in the presence of an audience, to turn a student away from horses and the potentially wonderful learning experience they could have had. When this happens, the instructor has lost sight of what it is like to be a student. As a teacher, I must remain a student first. This aspiration has led me on all kinds of adventures including several trips to Wellington, Florida, to ride jumping horses, take dressage lessons, learn horseback archery, polo, and participate in many non-horse related activities. Anything that takes me out of my comfort zone is where I’ll go to experience another part of life that I may not know about. Sometimes these non-equine activities have given me insights with horses I would have never had. Mostly, they have reminded me of what it is like to be in the vulnerable, humbling, and exciting role of student. This past year I set out on what was possibly my biggest challenge ever. I ventured into the world of boxing in a legitimate boxing club that develops aspiring young boxers… not 38-year-old horsemen just learning about the sport! One of my closest friends was in the club and assured them that I’m not a whiner or a quitter, so they let me try a session to see if I could cut it and train with the other members – the real boxers. I survived that first time and was allowed to continue. As I ventured into this new world, there were times when I felt completely uncoordinated, inept, and totally out of place… and wondered what the heck I was doing there. As I persisted, each week things got better, and I began to learn more about the subtle techniques of boxing. It was fascinating to discover how some of these lessons of balance, timing, rhythm, and repetition paralleled my lessons with the young horses I was riding.

I specifically recall a time in the middle of my student trials when I was dropping my right hand whenever I threw a jab. On these occasions, my coach pointed it out and told me to hold my right hand up. I was desperately trying to do that and I recognized the problem, but could not make my right hand stay up. I kept telling myself: Hold your hand UP… but I couldn’t make it happen! It took about a week of slowly repeating the move for me to correct this habit.

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Working with our Equine Partners from Coast-to-Coast Spins with Little – Turning left, Little’s front right hoof passes in front of his left, while his hindquarters stay in an area the size of a hula-hoop.

As much as I wanted to do what the coach said, I had so many other things to focus on… I was at my maximum mental load. I was very glad to have a patient coach who just kept reminding me and giving me suggestions about how to develop this new habit.

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Jonathan working with his boxing coach, Cal Bennett. Spending the winter in a boxing club was a really good reminder of what it’s like to be a student. This experience reminded me of students I’ve had, how hard they try to “get it,” and how it feels to be in their position. It also made me think of Little, the young horse I was developing. Little was having challenges with the footwork in his spins. He was really July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal


having a hard time putting it all together to hold his hindquarters fairly still while taking his front feet quickly around. He was just getting tangled up, and lacked the balance and coordination to do the spins well. I remember taking many breaks with him during our sessions, leaning down, giving him a rub and saying, “I can relate, buddy! Let’s take a rest and a fresh start.”

In this article, I will give you some footwork exercises you can do with your horse, which I took from my lessons as a student in the boxing gym. In terms of your horse, remember what it takes to be a student when you teach these exercises. All maneuvers require our horses to become more coordinated with their footwork, especially the front feet, which helps free up the shoulders for all the things we’ll ask of them when we advance their training. Supple shoulders allow us to access the horse’s hindquarters so we can set lead departures, balance, and do flying lead changes. Helping our horses develop better coordination with their front feet is important because there is naturally more weight on the front feet as the head and neck are leveraged over them. It is imperative that riders in all disciplines spend time to develop free-moving forequarters. I want to share with you a freeing-the-shoulder exercise I use with all my horses. Begin by teaching your horse from the ground to move his shoulders over and cross his front legs easily and willingly. Your goal is to adjust the balance of your horse so he steps the hoof closest to you over the front of the other. The key is to remain aware that the hindquarters stay fairly still. In the early stages, don’t worry about a hind foot pivoting, but rather that the both hind feet stay inside an area the size of a hula-hoop. With one hand on his cheek and one on his shoulder or where the front cinch would go, use a steady pressure to teach him to move away. Increase the pressure if he resists and release as soon as he steps over. At first a step or two is just fine, then work your way up to a few full revolutions. The hard part is to maintain a dual focus – the front feet must step one over the other correctly while the hindquarters don’t pop out of the hula-hoop. By beginning on the ground, your horse can learn this without dealing with the issues of a rider.



The speed bag is all about focus, rhythm, and timing. Many frustrating times with the speed bag gave me a lot of empathy for how my horses and students feel when they are being challenged by a new learning curve. Becoming mentally quiet, patient, and focused is the key to success in many endeavours.

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After your horse has a solid understanding on the ground, begin to ask him under saddle. Here are five keys to remember: 1. Have the horse walking out with energy before you go into anything technical like this. You don’t want the horse dragging his feet around the arena like he is on his way to a funeral. Start by walking him into the movement and tighten the turn all the way down to where the hindquarters become nearly still and the forequarters move around. 2. Make sure to open the side you want him to move into with an open direct rein position. That means your leg opens, too. 3. Don’t lean into the turn like you are on a motorbike; rather, sit slightly on the outside seat bone so you free a space for your horse to move into. Notice how I am slightly off the left side with the rein and leg open and the outside (right side) leg is pressing. 4. Ask only a quarter turn when you begin. Your horse won’t likely have the balance and coordination to hold the hindquarters inside the hula-hoop for more than that. Ask more when the quarter turn gets really easy for him. 5. Video feedback is useful. It can be hard to feel what is happening with your horse’s feet. Having someone take a quick video with their smart phone is a great way to get instant feedback to help you progress by seeing what you are doing well and what you can improve on. 48 • July 2015

Play with this and build it up to one full revolution with ease and balance both ways. Then in Lessons from the Boxing Ring, Part 2 in the September issue, I will teach you the next stage and an exercise called the Flower Peddle Pattern. Life is a journey full of lessons. Sometimes you never know where the next important piece will come from. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open for opportunities, and Stay Inspired by Horses™. b A highly acclaimed horseman, Jonathan Field is sought after internationally as a trainer and clinician. His unique method of horsemanship has produced amazing results with horses and their owners, regardless of skill levels. Jonathan’s well-crafted and easy-to-follow DVD study program gives horse owners access to skills, knowledge and techniques they can apply successfully at home. The recent recipient of the Jack Brainard Award at the “2014 Road to the Horse Colt Starting Competition” in Lexington, Kentucky, Field is dedicated to helping horse owners Stay Inspired By Horses®. To learn more about Jonathan Field’s award-winning horsemanship techniques, such as one rein riding, or to find or schedule a clinic near you, visit



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ouldn’t you love to be known as the coolest horse show parent around? To be proudly raved about by your own kids as someone who has not only nailed their role, but rocks it? Yes, it can be you! Here are seven tips to help you win first place in the Coolest Horse Show Parent class.


1 Know Your Role

2 Respect the Bubble

There is no doubt that a horse show parent wears many hats. As an integral part of your child’s team, you are part pit crew, part sponsor, part groom, and definitely lead cheerleader. But there is one thing you should not be – coach. Coaching when you are not the coach, whether it’s at home or from the sidelines, can cause considerable stress for your young rider. You could be offering advice opposite to that of the coach, leaving your child confused and worried about pleasing you both. You could be sending a message you don’t intend to convey (for example, that you think your child is riding poorly, or that she is disappointing you). The most important reason to curb your coaching enthusiasm is because your child needs a parent, regardless of her age. The day she is overwhelmed, disappointed or worse, she will need you. And she will not be able to come to you if she thinks she’s going to be judged or corrected. So make it easy for her to access your support in times of need and leave the riding stuff to the coach.

Every rider, regardless of age, has their own preferences when it comes to their personal space at horse shows. The younger rider may need more help, physically and emotionally, right up to ring time. The teen usually requires a lot less, but may still want to know where you are in case a need arises. Never assume that you need to do everything for your child at a horse show. Ask her what she needs both in terms of physical assistance and emotional support. Then ask when you should not be around, or at least be silent. Find out when “bubble time” is, then respect the bubble. • July 2015



3 Be a Team Player Even though riding is an individual sport, keep in mind that you are part of a larger community. Take care not to gossip negatively about other riders, coaches, or parents. This is behaviour that, while tempting, can create conflict for you and your rider. You are not going to like everyone, and not everyone will like you. But you can practice being a leader in your horse community by being respectful and helpful. By doing this you are contributing to an atmosphere of respect and value for all performers. We all know that individual at a horse show who is ready to help someone in need, whether parent, volunteer, or rider. Be that person. Be someone who promotes all aspects of good sportsmanship, including those that relate to your child’s equine teammate. Insist on fair and respectful treatment of horses as partners, not just tools in competition.

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4 Watch Your Alignment It’s easy to have lofty goals about horse show parenting, and to believe you will never be the kind of sport parent you read or hear about on the evening news. You know the kind: The ugly sport parent who is clearly living vicariously through their child, taking things too seriously, and ruining it for everyone. The truth is, you could be that person if you don’t take care to make sure your actions support your goals. You might say you want your child to learn good sportsmanship, but then complain about other riders or parents. You may say you just want your child to have fun, it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t win a ribbon, but then ride home from the show in disappointed silence. Take care to make sure your behaviour is in line with what you say

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Blowing out another’s candle will not make yours shine brighter. – IRVIN HIMMEL

tasks, or perception checks. When emotions are intense, physiological changes occur that compromise decision making. This is a fact, so don’t ignore it. Be prepared for a self-directed time out when necessary. Practice damage control. Remove yourself from the stands, the edge of the arena, or any proximity that would otherwise leave you vulnerable to interfering behaviour. Know that if you have to communicate with your rider, coach, or someone else, you will do so – but only after you have had a chance to calm down from your emotional response. Only then can you ensure your intended message will have the best chance of being heard.

you want for your young rider. If in any doubt, get brave and ask your child: Do I walk my talk? Most children will be happy to give you their opinion and even offer suggestions for improvement.

Some riders will go on to become elite riders, but many more will not. At some point most riders will leave the sport, richer for their experience, and move on to other endeavours. So keep competition in perspective for both yourself and your young rider. Always separate riding disappointments from personal failure for your child. The loss of a ribbon should not reflect on the child’s value as a person, or suggest she is a failure. And remember that ribbons are not the only kind of wins. Make sure you celebrate participation, effort, horsemanship, and planning with your rider. Horse sports have so much to offer, there is no reason to miss out.

7 Get Your Funny On One of the most underrated de-stressing tools has to be the use of humour. It can help diffuse tension and provide perspective. So, in your quest to be the best horse show parent you can be, cultivate your comedic side. If you’re having fun and being relaxed, your rider will feel free to do so as well. b

6 Get Your Game Face On We become emotionally engaged in sport; it’s part of what makes sporting activities so much fun. You will experience anger, anxiety, and elation. But if you are not aware of these emotions and in control of them, they can negatively impact your young rider’s experience. So, like a world-class rider, be ready with your own tools for regulating competition stress. Know what your triggers are: unfairness, your child’s attitude, tiredness. Each of us has different triggers. Then develop some coping tools for yourself in the form of distractions, positive 52 • July 2015

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Shetland Pony Studies Offer Clues to Coping


Shetland ponies have an immune response to insect bites that is helping scientists understand how people might be prevented from developing allergies.

54 • July 2015

Insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH) is a common, seasonal skin reaction that affects a lot of horses of different breeds. At the University of Edinburgh, researchers investigated the reaction to midge bites on Shetland ponies. They found that among some of the ponies, their immune system was able to respond in a way that prevented an allergic reaction. It was previously believed that the reason some ponies do not suffer an allergic reaction to bites was because their immune system did not recognize the allergens carried by insects. However, the researchers have demonstrated for the first time that all horses respond, but that their immune system can react in two different ways. One response will yield the irritating itching and inflammation which another response will block it. Midges are dark insects just a few millimetres long and are often seen rising in clouds in the evening. Both males and females feed on nectar but the female needs a blood meal so that her fertilized eggs can mature. They swarm around water, marshes, wet soil, rotting vegetation or manure, and often bite at dusk or dawn and lay their eggs en masse. The bite is like a sharp prick and a constant irritant to sensitive horses. Sixteen Shetland ponies took part in the study during the IBH off-season and 19 during the allergy season, basically a winter/summer scenario. IBH affected ponies ranging in age from two to ten years, and had each been diagnosed by a veterinarian to confirm a clinical history of recurrent skin

irritation at the mane and tail with remission during the off-season. The control ponies ranged in age from four to fifteen years and were randomly selected from the same stable with a diagnosis of no sensitivity to midge bites. None of the ponies received any immunosuppressive drugs before or during the testing. To collect the midge serum, 300 live female midges were collected then frozen at minus 80 degrees C. The insects were then crushed in a protease inhibitor mixture that protects the integrity of the proteins during extraction. The protein samples were centrifuged for ten minutes then snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen until use. Prior to injection, blood was collected from each pony to determine its midge-specific antibodies. Each pony was injected with the midge whole body extract. Skin biopsies were taken five minutes, twenty minutes, and twenty-four hours after the allergen injection using local anesthesia. The team found that after being exposed to bites, the horse immune system releases



with Allergies various types of cytokines which affect the behaviour of other cells. Cytokines are a broad category of small proteins important in cell signaling. The ponies that reacted to the midge testing (and therefore live midge bites) released cytokines known as lL-4 which trigger allergy symptoms. In ponies not sensitive to bites, another cytokine INFy was released, which blocked different immune cells that would trigger allergic reactions. Allergies are the result of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. But it’s not fully understood why some individuals develop sensitivities to certain substances and others don’t, or what triggers the immune system to activate a protective response over an allergic one, the team said. “To our knowledge, this is the very first study of a natural allergic disease in which we can show that immune responses to allergens can take two directions, either leading to allergy or to tolerance,” said research leader Dr. Dietmar Zaiss with the School of Biological Sciences. “We believe this finding could have direct practical implications, for example by helping immune responses to choose the ‘right’ direction in individuals whom we would like to protect

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from developing occupationassociated allergies.” What is interesting is that the ponies’ immune response to midge bites is similar to what happens in people with allergies. Understanding what triggers those allergic reactions could help researchers come up with approaches to suppress people’s sensitivities by priming the human immune system to suppress an allergy reaction. “Our data suggest a novel way of how to prevent the development of allergic diseases, for instance, in individuals in danger of developing occupational allergic diseases,” the team wrote in their report. “Such persons could, for instance, be immunized prior to exposure to the allergen in a way that skews the allergen-specific immune response toward a type1 immune response.” The study which was published in the journal PLOS ONE was funded by the Dutch Foundation for Technical Sciences (STW) and was carried out in collaboration with researchers in the Netherlands. b

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Diamond Shelters WHERE QUALITY, SERVICE, AND PRICE MEET BY MARGARET EVANS above: Dueck’s Mechanical Inc. offers structures in a wide variety of sizes, custom-made for the needs of clients. Their product line includes shelters for warehousing, storage, manufacturing, sports training, livestock, greenhouses, and riding arenas.

LaVern Dueck loved building things as a kid. He grew up on his parents’ farm near Whitemouth in eastern Manitoba where they raised grain, hogs, poultry, and cattle. But he was under the influence of a dad who knew the economic value of being mechanical and fixing his own equipment. He also had a pretty talented grandfather who was ahead of the curve remodeling carburetors for greater fuel efficiency during his own

right: This riding arena has a fabric cover which provides natural light and warmth from the sun, and accelerates thawing in the spring. 56 • July 2015

growing years, and developing an early form of infrared heaters before they were on the commercial market. Building things was clearly in Dueck’s DNA. “I worked with wood as a kid and then turned to steel as I got older,” he says. “I was 20 when I started my own business. A lot of people told me it’s never going to work. You are way too young. My answer was that I’m young enough. If it doesn’t work, I’ll do something else.”

Turns out, he didn’t need to follow Plan B. He started out like so many young entrepreneurs with a simple repair shop. Then a feed salesman asked him to bid on a shelter for a customer’s hog farm. He won the contract, designed his first structure and never looked back. Since 1989, Dueck’s Mechanical Inc. has been designing, developing, and manufacturing fabric covered steel structures under the brand name of Diamond Shelters. When more space was needed, Dueck moved the plant into Whitemouth, and expanded it several times as the need arose. In 2016, he expects to expand the plant again with a 12,000 square foot addition to manufacture their fabric covers rather than outsourcing them. As president of the company, he maintains oversight of every division, but admits his first love is still research and development. “The greatest challenge is to stay on top of everyone working in the company and stay ahead of the competition,” he says. “But one of the best achievements is to see the whole thing working together.” The company has 15 employees and their products include shelters for warehousing, manufacturing, storage, sports training, vehicle and RV storage, workshops, hay and grain storage, municipal storage of salt and sand, livestock facilities, greenhouses, and riding arenas. The structures come in a wide variety of sizes custommade to fit a client’s needs. The biggest thing, he says, is for the structures to be free span yet cost effective. Horse owners like a lot of width. Clear spans range from 15 feet wide to 160 feet wide and a length to suit. Both the single hoop and the welded truss shelters have pony wall, freestanding, and high profile models designed with North American produced steel, with yield and tensile strengths that allow them to withstand heavy stress loads for the given climate. Dueck’s Mechanical Inc. is certified by the Canadian Welding Bureau and is CSA A660 certified, which is a requirement in order to meet the National Building Code of Canada. Diamond Shelter covers are North American made, high quality fabric, with a long life expectancy. Depending on design complexity, the shelters are cost effective, erected in a relatively short period of time compared to conventional construction, and can be dismantled and relocated. They come with a standard 10year or optional 15-year warranty. There are even Diamond Shelters on wheels that allow for large-scale construction of a piece of equipment that will need to be crane-loaded onto a flat deck. The shelter can be wheeled away to allow the necessary access to facilitate transportation. For the equestrian community, it is the actual fabric that offers a special appeal. “Our fabric covers offer a lot of natural light and heat from the sun. It’s much warmer inside the building,” says Dueck. In regions where temperature extremes freeze the ground, this added warmth will accelerate thawing in the spring as opposed to some metal-clad structures that block sunlight and perpetuate cold temperatures and hard riding surfaces, even into summer. A warmer environment and a footing with the right texture nurture a safer, stress-free riding experience.

Three qualities have guided Dueck during his years in business. “Honesty,” he says candidly. “If you mess up an order or parts are late, you have to tell the customer. The truth always comes out, so be up front. The second is to produce top quality products. Build the best and keep it that way.” The third is his “pie” philosophy. His sales staff guides customers with the aid of a simple graph to understand the pie which is divided into thirds: Price, quality, and service. But you can only pick two of the three sections. If you want price and quality, you don’t always get service. If you want price and service, you may sacrifice quality. If you take service and quality you will pay a reasonable price but be closer to your goal. The future is bright for Dueck and Diamond Shelters. For over a quarter of a century he has been dedicated to designing a top quality product, providing second-tonone service, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Not bad for a kid who started by playing with wood on the farm, then built an enterprise based on meeting the needs of clients by providing quality and service at a reasonable price. b

left: A single hoop horse barn with a pony wall. below: Horse owners like lots of width and need free span structures that are cost effective. Diamond Shelters offers clear spans up to 160 feet wide.

July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal



Wearable Device Lets Horses Communicate with People BY LILIAN SCHAER, AGINNOVATION ONTARIO There’s a new wearable technology for horses that lets them email their owner or veterinarian if they’re not well. Similar to the wristbands or gym fitness straps that people use, the SeeHorse wearable collects a horse’s vital signs and sends that information to a Smartphone or other device, alerting owners or veterinarians when something is not quite right. “This wearable gives a horse a tool to connect with humans like never before,” says Peter Mankowski, SeeHorse co-founder and CEO. “Horses are incredibly intelligent and majestic, but also fragile. They would like to tell us when they’re not feeling well, recovering from injury, or simply missing our companionship, and SeeHorse lets them do that.” SeeHorse tracks a horse’s temperature, pulse, and respiratory (TPR) functions and builds in-depth daily and long term reports and analysis of the animal’s activity. This helps owners and others working with horses to keep a close eye on their health and fitness levels, as well as managing conditioning and preparation for competitions. This is beneficial in many Cofounder Jessica Roberts using the SeeHorse device while riding.

situations, including as an additional safety feature during transportation, and for monitoring pregnant mares at foaling time. In conjunction with the traditional night watch, Seehorse scans and notifies of changes in the heartbeat and temperature of the pregnant mare hours before foaling begins. This allows time to prepare for the foal’s arrival. “We saw a horse’s temperature spike and then drop unexpectedly and it took only seconds to notify the owner, the veterinarian, and others about the event. Thankfully, it was not an emergency but simply the case of horse having

early pregnancy signs,” he explains. The waterproof device can be used almost anywhere on a horse’s body, and will recharge its own battery through the horse’s movements. “A moving horse is a natural source of clean energy and we’ve designed the SeeHorse unit to be clever enough to take advantage of that,” says Mankowski, adding this gives SeeHorse a zero pollution footprint. SeeHorse is compatible with veterinary software and can be wirelessly linked to social media platforms so horses with their own Facebook profiles or Twitter handles can share their equine adventures online. It was cofounder Jessica Roberts, an avid rider and horse lover, who convinced former BlackBerry research and development lead Mankowski to channel his love of animal science and technology into developing a device that could help horse owners do a better job to taking care of their animals and preparing them for important events. Executives at Waterloo Region’s Communitech Hub convinced Mankowski to keep his start-up in the area; the industry-led innovation centre provides office space, resources and mentorship, coaching and industry contacts to emerging tech companies. SeeHorse has also received support from other sources, including the Ontario Equestrian Federation, the Accelerator Centre JumpStart program funded by FedDev Ontario, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the Stronach Group. The SeeHorse wearable is currently available online at, with the goal of being in full scale commercial production within 12 months. Longer term, Mankowski says he’s promised Roberts to help sponsor equestrian events throughout Canada as a way of giving back to the equine community. He has ideas for other agricultural devices too, such as for the dairy and beef industries, but for the time being, his focus is on successfully launching SeeHorse into the marketplace. Follow SeeHorse on Twitter at @SeeHorseCA.

58 • July 2015


The Compassionate Equestrian By Allen M. Schoen, DVM, MS, and Susan Gordon Trafalgar Square Books, 2015 422 pages, $24.95 USD ISBN 978-1-57076-715-9 Paperback REVIEWED BY MARGARET EVANS “When I brought Willie home, I believe it was a subconscious attempt to rekindle the sense of being centered and connected through contact with horses. It seems many people these days are searching for that same kind of reconnection to nature and a slower more peaceful way of life that interaction with horses can provide.” In The Compassionate Equestrian published by Trafalgar Square Books, veterinarian Dr. Allen Schoen and trainer Susan Gordon explore the profound values of compassion, peacefulness, and centered awareness in developing a holistic relationship with horses. Their approach is based on 25 principles that are as ancient in wisdom as they are modern in contemporary thought. Horses are sentient beings aware of themselves, the world around them, and others – horses and humans – in their experience. They feel the same range of emotions that we do – affection, playfulness, fear, sadness, anger, curiosity, and courage. They bring to any relationship the sum total of their instincts, their acquired knowledge, and their interactions with others (good or bad) that define their character and personality. But do we always think of that when we approach the horse for schooling, training, or competition? Are they part of our inner emotional world or are they a commodity with which to aspire to our goals? Schoen and Gordon explore with unique depth the new (some might say New Age) principles by which horse riders and owners can develop better, more enriched relationships with their animals. Their principles are founded in such values as respect, loving kindness, selfreflection, heart-centeredness, joy, truth,

consistency, peacefulness, and humane commitments to protect horses, and therefore humans, from harm, danger, and injury. Throughout the book, Gordon shares her journey with Willie, an 18-year-old warmblood that had clearly seen better days – with an attitude to match. “Willie was not able to convey his story to the inexperienced riders whose rough hands and unbalanced seats he had been subjected to. His only language was that of physical responses to pressure, and he was screaming as loudly as he could with every buck, pitch, nose-wrinkle, and pin of his ears.” Yet through Willie and his challenges came deeper insights, greater clarity of thought, and a wider perspective for the global herd. As Dr. Shoen wrote, the book’s approach evolved into a global approach. During an introspective period in his life, his path led him to historian Karen Armstrong whose Charter for Compassion was the basis of her awardwinning TED talk. That Charter became the foundation from which the 25 principles in The Compassionate Equestrian sprang. “A large part of creating a healthy environment for your horses is to make it a quiet and peaceful one,” wrote Gordon. “It supports the parasympathetic response – the branch of the autonomic nervous system responsible for the body’s ability to recuperate and recover after stress – in people and animals. Everyone stays calmer and the atmosphere of the barn remains healthier.” With over 60 years of combined experience in the horse industry, Shoen and Gordon offer a wealth of wisdom and insights based on science and emotive common sense that allow every rider to reach a new paradigm of caring and expanded awareness in their equestrian goals. The Compassionate Equestrian is a delightful and insightful book that deserves a place on every rider’s bookshelf.


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CANADIAN THERAPEUTIC RIDING ASSOCIATION NEWS Shelves of neatly stored grooming kits make it easy for Hailey to find the one she wants for her pony at SARI Therapeutic Riding in London, Ontario.


Safe and Sound

during which many safety features must be observed, including the proper fitting of helmets; the correct approach of the horse and its leader to the mounting ramp; checking the girth at appropriate times; keeping safe distances between horses; and of course, the instructor’s demonstrated control of the ride’s horses, riders, and volunteers all at once. Additionally, some areas of operation require documentation, such as medical forms for riders, criminal record checks for volunteers, rider progress reports, fire drills, equipment repair. These efforts result in centres across Canada operating at a consistent national standard. A CanTRA centre that achieves accreditation can be justifiably proud as they operate their program – safe and sound. b PHOTO: SARI

CanTRA’s accredited therapeutic riding centres number more than 80, and span the country from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. Thousands of children and adults with disabilities, as well as volunteer helpers, actively participate in these programs. How does CanTRA ensure that national standards, with the keystone of safety, are maintained throughout the country? Our Accreditation Program includes four levels: Provisional Centre for newbies; Accredited Centre for those making the core grade; Examination Centre for selected regional centres; and Examination and Training Centre for a few that can take residential instructor trainees. Site visitors conducting scheduled inspections are like bees carrying the “pollen” of information from one centre to another, sharing what works and what doesn’t work, so everyone benefits. The key is safety. Our clients are particularly vulnerable in the environment of a riding stable with horses around, so they demand our attention to every detail. Inspection of facilities is thorough. From fire extinguishers to first aid kits, from washrooms to window panes, from horseflesh to helmets, from signage to storage of hazardous materials, every aspect of the outside and inside facility is reviewed. Inspection of program operations includes sampling a riding lesson,

For more information on CanTRA and its member centres, visit or email Please make a difference to a child or adult with a disability by donating to CanTRA at or

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You could be the owner of this 9,000+ sq ft home on 129 acres. 1860 landmark home with board and batten addition. 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, country kitchen, formal kitchen, formal dining room, living room, great room, 500 sq ft office, media room, exercise room, recreation room, 40x20’ pool. Very private estate, with riding and snowmobile trails. 9,000 sq ft bank barn, 2,600 sq ft pole barn, 700 sq ft work shop, all with electricity. 20 minutes to University of Guelph Veterinary College and future Equine Centre. View MLS # 152760 on Monty Albert broker Realty Executives Edge Inc. Brokerage 519-224-3040 • Cell 519-829-9947

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Excellent hobby farm on 6.660 private partially treed acres 11 miles East of Sherwood Park, AB. Fenced, cross fenced, 20x20 ft barn w/ loft, 12x24 ft out building, fish pond w/ windmill. Cozy 1118 sq ft bungalow, wood burning brick fireplace, hardwood floors in the living room, spacious bedrooms. Country kitchen, pantry, eating area, basement with large rec room, third bedroom, 3 piece bath w/ sauna. 2 new high efficiency furnaces and water tank, recent shingle roof. Double attached 28x24 ft oversized garage, heated, insulated. $499,900 $479,900 REDUCED!

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Paul Martin, Broker of Record • (519) 843-7653 • July 2015 • Canadian Horse Journal


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Lakeshore Sand Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Langley Environmental Partners Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

Barn Pros . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Martin, Paul - Edge Realty Solutions . . . . . . . . . . 65

Burwash Equine Services . . . . . . . . . . 27

N.A.G. Bags - Slow Feeder . . . . . . . . . 45

Canadian Horse Journal . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Neogen - BotVax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Canadian National Andalusian & Lusitano Show . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Celebration of Horses Photo Contest 3 CF Fence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Chrysler Dodge Ram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Neogen - Uniprim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Ontario Equestrian Federation . . . . 61 Otter Co-op . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Paddock,The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Cloverdale Pharmasave . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Prairie Marie - The Boutique . . . . . . 51

Conterra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Purica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside F/Cover

Country Homes & Acreages . . . 64-65

Pyranha Pest Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Diamond Shelters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

RK Animal Supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Dziwenka, Lee - ReMax Elite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

Robin Duncan Photography . . . . . . . . 43

EcoLicious Equestrian . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Electroguy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 E-Newsletter Signup Contest . . . . . . 51 Equanimity Edge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Equiade Inc. - Body Support . . . . . . . . 17

1/12 Page Photo Ads – Horses, Tack, Trailers

Kubota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

EquiCrown CANADA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Equine Consumers’ Guide . . . . . . . . 63

Schleese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 35 SeeHorse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Solo-Ride . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Stampede Tack & Western Wear . . . 30 Tasco Dome Covered Structures . . . 59 TD Canada Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Tribute Equine Nutrition . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Feed Store To Your Door . . . . . . . . . . 35

Vaughan, Brenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

Ferris Fencing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

We Cover Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Greenhawk - Good as Gold . . . . . . . . . . 7

West Wind Veterinary Hospital . . . . . 55

Henry Equestrian Plan - MGA . . . . . . 33 Herbs for Horses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Western College of Veterinary Medicine . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Horse Council of BC . . . . . . . . . . . . 49, 53

Woodguard Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 . . Inside B/Cover

Wrayton Transport Ltd. . . . . . . . . . . . .40


Our Readers Are Your Customers Since 1991, Canadian Horse Journal has delivered the content that matters to horse people, and the reading audience that matters to the horse industry. Today this quality content is delivered across print, website, e-newsletters, and social media. Our multi-media network connects your business with our reading audience on the platforms they use.

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Toronto Horse Day Rides Off Into the Sunset

68 • July 2015

• Give a gift subscription? • Change your address? • Report a delivery problem? • Ask a question? 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. or Contact Mark at:

OEF Members Get Rewards for Referring New Members The Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) is excited to roll out a new referral program that rewards members for each person they refer who becomes a new member. Invite your friends, neighbours, and clients who are involved with horses to join the OEF. Be sure to ask them to include your name in the referral box on the OEF application form. For each new member that includes your name, you will receive a $10 gift card to Greenhawk Harness & Equestrian Supplies. Plus, you and your referrals will be entered into a draw to win a Greenhawk gift basket valued at $200! That means if you refer ten friends who all join as members and mention your name, you will receive

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Unit showed off the training that goes into their brave steeds. As an IGNITE Ontario event, Horse Day also showcased the exciting disciplines of Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing. In the fan zone, Pan Am medalists Lorraine Stubbs and Martina von Buttlar (nee Pracht) signed autographs alongside Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley and up-and-coming harness racing driver Scott Young. Young horse lovers created their dream ponies at the Breyer Stablemates painting station and learned about the equine skeletal system at Equine Guelph’s educational EquiMania! booth. Now in its seventh year, Horse Day is a national initiative that was started by the OEF to introduce the public to horses in a safe, fun environment. For more information, visit


Horse lovers of all ages came to the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place on Saturday, June 6 for Toronto Horse Day, an annual event that brings the country to the city to celebrate all things equine. “Toronto Horse Day is always such a fun event,” says Dianne Graham, the executive director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation, which hosts Horse Day. “It’s a chance for people to meet horses and learn about riding in a fun environment. Our goal is to inspire them to give riding a try and give them the information they need to get started safely.” In the main ring, horses and ponies wowed audiences throughout the day. Demonstrations included the athletic sport of Ride and Tie, exotic Arabian horses at liberty, a powerful Percheron team and the country’s equestrian symbol, the Canadian horse. Medieval Times treated fans to a special performance with three stunning Spanish stallions, and the Toronto Police Services Mounted

Do you need to —

$100 in Greenhawk gift cards and your name will be entered ten times in the gift basket draw. To be eligible to participate, referring members must have a current 2015 OEF membership and referred members must be new members or returning members from 2013 or prior. The OEF Member Referral Program runs until August 1, 2015 so don’t delay. Start telling your equestrian friends about the great benefits of becoming an OEF member. You can find resources on the OEF website to help you, including 10 Great Reasons to Join the OEF. For more information, visit

E M A I L:

1-800-299-3799 (250) 655-8883


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What’s Popular on By Margaret Evans

Pasture Perils

By Andrea Lawseth, M.Sc. Agroecology, P.Ag.

Photo: Robin Duncan Photography

When your horse returns to training after giving him the winter off or after a layoff from an injury, or when you’re starting a young horse under saddle, you have a good appreciation for gaining and maintaining fitness.

Photo: Pam MacKenzie

By Lori K. Warren, Ph.D.

”But my horse would never eat that, he knows better.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times while conducting site consultations on sustainable manure and pasture management. While horses will avoid weeds in pastures where there is abundant grass forage available, problems generally arise when pastures have been overgrazed and horses have no option but to seek out alternate food sources.

The centuries-old Romeria Del Rocio pilgrimage and festival is a muchloved celebration and each spring some one million people and up to 15,000 horses, mules, and donkeys make the journey. But in the reverie of singing, dancing, eating, and drinking, some animals are abused, overworked, or neglected resulting in a health crisis or death.

Photo courtesy of The Donkey Sanctuary

Caring for Pilgrimage Equines in Spain

Ride Better With One Rein Riding By Jonathan Field

Got a pushy older horse that leans on the bit? Or a youngster still learning the ropes and worried about the bit? The solution to help both of them is the same — one rein riding. One rein riding will very quickly reveal to you how well started your horse really is.

Visit Today — Visit Often!

Photo: Robin Duncan Photography

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Profile for Horse Community Journals Inc.

Canadian Horse Journal - Central & Atlantic - July 2015  

Canada's Leading General Interest Horse Magazine

Canadian Horse Journal - Central & Atlantic - July 2015  

Canada's Leading General Interest Horse Magazine