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PM #40009439 PM #40009439 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Return addresses Suite 202,undeliverable 2400 Bevan Canadian Ave., Sidney BC, V8Lto:1W1 Suite 201, 2400 Bevan Ave., Sidney BC, V8L 1W1




Celebration of Horses




October 10, 2017

Photo Contest


2017 CATEGORIES n n n n n n



Stable Stork – Beautiful babies of 2017 Love of Horses – Depicting the human-horse bond in Horses on the Job – Performance, working, heritage Prizes Horses Being Horses – Humour, personality, action Winter Scenes – Sleigh rides, winter wonderland, dashing through the snow! Truly Canadian Horse Moments – Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary!

Winning photos will be featured in our November/December 2017 issue, and on Two Runners-Up per category will also be chosen.

Enter at


6 GRAND PRIZE WINNERS will each receive a


EACH RUNNER-UP WILL RECEIVE A GROOMING PRIZE PACK FROM EITHER… Each pack includes full size products and samples to try.

Each pack includes full size products and samples to try.



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9 BC Wildfire Service


48 Angie Field


54 Clockwise from Top Left: Glenbow Archives NA-2589-3 | Canada. Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada / C-015039 Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-00500 | Gordon George Phillips/Library and Archives Canada/PA-074556 | Glenbow Archives NA-2649-2


More than 1,200 fires, over 1 million hectares burned, 6,000 horses evacuated… How are horse people coping?

43 Saddle Fit – English vs Western


48 Walk, Trot… BUCK!

54 A Country Built By Horse Power

How does saddle fit vary from one discipline to another? www.HORSE


A step-by-step guide to a balanced canter departure.


The powerful role horses played in the development of Canada.


9 BC’s 2017 Wildfire Season the Worse on Record


“Here’s to the sunny slopes of long ago.” – Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove PHOTO: CANSTOCK/ CONLEYSHORSEPHOTOS





16 Dreamstime/Wavebreakmedia Ltd | 36 Photo: Jackie Johnson | 30 Shutterstock/Cornfield



DEPARTMENTS 2 Celebration of Horses Photo Contest 8 Editorial 42 To Subscribe


76 Horse Council BC News

16 Unravelling the Mysteries of the Pre-Purchase Exam

Alleviate tensions leading up to the big day by knowing what to expect.

22 The Scoop on Supplements


A growing number of horse owners are choosing supplements to augment their animals’ well-being.



30 Hay, Haylage, and Silage — What’s the Difference?

Know the facts when choosing conserved forage for your horse.

36 8 Ways to Survive the Emotional Roller Coaster of Having an Injured Horse


Help your horse thrive during downtime and keep your own frustrations at bay.

78 Manitoba Horse Council News 79, Inside Back Cover

Country Homes & Acreages

80 Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association News

82 New & Noteworthy Products 83 Hitchin’ Post, Index to Advertisers 84 Book Review:

Spirit of the Horse by William Shatner




As we continue to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, this issue looks at all the remarkable achievements of horses as they worked alongside their owners to build the foundation and economy of Canada. The work was daunting, diverse,

and dynamic, but they proved, as they always do, how their amazing adaptability, strength, and willingness was instrumental in an evolving human/ equine relationship that got things done. Our feature, A Country Built by Horse Power, documents how horses were the essential workforce that helped thousands of new Canadians materialize their dreams. We uncovered some wonderful stories while writing this feature. One is the story of the McLaughlin cutter, handcrafted with meticulous care by axe handle-maker Robert McLaughlin, whose cutters and carriages became so popular that he went on to launch the S CANADA BRARY AND ARCHIVE McLaughlin Carriage Company that PHOTO: JOHN BOYD/LI A boy feeds a delivery horse on Sunnyside would one day become part of General Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, in 1915. Motors Canada. Another is the story of Vimy, the colt born at Vimy Ridge in 1917 and cared for by Canadian troops who won the historic battle. Horses, through their astonishing diversity of talent, have always been there for us and, as our feature relates, they have been at the centre of so much human endeavour that built our country to today’s greatness. As a complex herd animal, they instinctively seek companionship, offering a level of friendship and loyalty seldom found in our relationships with other species. PHOTO: JOHN BOYD/LI BRARY AND ARCHIVE S CANADA Our celebration of Canada’s 150th Vimy Ridge was fought and won anniversary will culminate with a by Canadian troops 100 years ago in April, 1917. feature on exceptional equestrians in Born at Vimy Ridge, the colt “Vimy” was cared our November/December issue. for by the soldiers, many of whom came from a Kathy Smith

farming background.


But not very far… Our new office is across the hall in the same building! We have a new suite number but the rest of our address is the same:

Canadian Horse Journal Suite 202 (formerly 201) 2400 Bevan Avenue Sidney, BC, V8L 1W1 8




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

Volume 18 • Issue 1 EDITOR / PUBLISHER Kathy Smith ACCOUNTS Chantal Patterson ADVERTISING April Ray-Peterson • Terry Andrucko, Ronnie Olsen SUBSCRIPTIONS Steve Smith ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR Nathan Reimer MARKETING Janna Reimer PRODUCTION Elisa Crees CONTRIBUTORS Robin Duncan Photography • Margaret Evans HCBC • MHC • OEF • CanTRA Western College of Veterinary Medicine • Equine Guelph Shawn Hamilton • April Ray-Peterson • Tania Millen Shelagh Bertrand • Jochen Schleese Lauren MacLeod, DVM • Jonathan Field ADVERTISING, SUBSCRIPTIONS & GENERAL INQUIRIES 1-800-299-3799 • 250-655-8883 or email: ADVERTISING DEADLINE 4 weeks prior to issue date (eg: Sept. 21 for Nov. issue) INTERNET EDITION


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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 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 www.HorseJournals. com and elsewhere as determined by the publisher. Printed in Canada. Please recycle.

BC Horse Community



2017 Wildfire Season the Worst on Record As livestock and property owners worriedly watch the skies praying for rain, the wildfire season in British Columbia shows no sign of abating and could continue until the first snows fly. According to the BC Wildfire Service, the 2017 wildfire season is officially the worst on record in the province. As of August 30th, the number of fires since April 1st totals 1,155, with 1,059,093 hectares (10,591 square kilometres) burned, and some 145 wildfires still burning. Over 3,915 firefighters and other personnel are fighting the fires, including 881 from out-of-province and 1,530 contractors. About 180 helicopters and planes are supporting all the ground crews and at this time there are 2,182 evacuees, 16 evacuation orders, and 40 evacuation alerts in effect. “We have been on evacuation alert for two months now,

By Margaret Evans

with all of our valuable belongings in our travel trailer,” says Lynda Atkinson who lives in the Quesnel area and is Vice President of Industry for Horse Council, BC. “We learned very quickly that there isn’t much that we could take with us, and we really don’t have a lot of valuable things. We did evacuate our five mares and foals. Wonderful people came and picked them up and more wonderful people kept them for us for the first three weeks when the fire was most active on Green Mountain. I also learned that many of my neighbours do not have fire insurance, partly because farm insurance is so expensive to begin with, but almost impossible to get if you are outside of a fire district or heat with wood. Neighbours do work together to make sure everyone is taken care of, and for that I am truly grateful.” SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017




puffer twice a day for a week after virtually living outdoors at the fairgrounds for several days. The smoke was just as much a health hazard in the Quesnel area. “The smoke is omnipresent,” says Atkinson. “It meant that we couldn’t exercise our horses, and had to watch very carefully with all of our animals, especially the pregnant cows and horses [to see] that they were not stressed at all. Dealing with the smoke was as much as they could take. We haven’t pregnancy-checked our animals, so we don’t know if any of them lost their babies, which I understand may be a real possibility.” In-your-face danger from the flaming trees, billowing smoke, suffocating heat and dryness, the tinder-dry forest ready to explode, the threat of lightning, the endless worry as to when it will rain and when it will all end is stressful for everyone. Yet each person responds to the urgency in different ways. The Haywards had experienced the 2003 McLure Wildfire when it roared over the mountains and hillsides in a rolling wave of fire travelling at 60 km/hour. It was surrounding their 320-acre ranch while they were loading 75 head of cows and calves and 16 horses. “It was so hot it took your breath away and the noise of the fire across the river was like standing next to a locomotive running at full throttle. I’m sure we set records for the fastest loading of livestock, and not one animal hesitated to get in the trailers. Many of them had never seen a trailer, let alone a stall. They were amazing.” That experience provided insight as to what to expect this summer. “Quite honestly, for myself and my husband the wildfires trigger a sense of purpose — we’ve been there, done that, know what to expect — and move forward with a plan to be prepared. One thing we came away with from 2003 was the lesson that when a wildfire threatens you and your home, your job is to evacuate as quickly and calmly as possible with what

Steven Dubas reported that the Prince George Evacuation Centre on July 12th was well organized, with over 220 horses on site and room for more. 10





Further south in Barriere, conditions too were rapidly deteriorating. “On July 7, wildfires 15 minutes north of Barriere (seven kilometres north of where we live in Louis Creek) caused numerous evacuations in the Little Fort (Thuya Creek Fire) and two Dunn Lake (Dunn Lake fire) areas,” says Jill Hayward, evacuation coordinator for Barriere Fairgrounds. “Both people and livestock were forced to leave their properties in the dark, fleeing north to Clearwater or south to Barriere. Many (both people and livestock) came to the North Thompson Fall Fairgrounds in Barriere. Just a few days later, the evacuations started again, this time from the Clinton area. By mid-July, we were caring for 378 animals at the fairgrounds, 80 percent were horses.” Hayward says that Barriere caught its share of the smoke from the fires in the North Thompson and the Cariboo. While prevailing winds made some days smoke-free, when it settled on the town, people’s eyes burned and those with breathing difficulties experienced considerable discomfort. But among the livestock in their care, few experienced smoke-related problems. “One evacuee, a 35-year-old mare with chronic COPD found the smoke a struggle even though she was in a barn with no dust, soaked hay, etc.,” says Hayward. “Under vet care, we medicated her to help with breathing, but it was a struggle for her to draw breath. With her owner’s consent, she was humanely euthanized. Another evacuated Appaloosa mare developed a harsh cough from the smoke and she was also stalled for two weeks following the same regime as the previous horse. We were all very happy when she was able to go back with her equine friends in the sunshine and run around like a foal with no more sign of breathing distress. We have also had a few horses that have red weepy eyes from the smoke, which we have treated with eye drops and daily maintenance. Also, some goats and a sheep found the smoke irritating to respiratory organs, but they have all recovered well. I think our volunteers had more reaction to it, myself included.” Hayward explains that she had to use a Ventolin




A contract crew member on site at the Elephant Hill wildfire, July 31st, one of more than 1,400 BC contract firefighters and support personnel tirelessly battling the province’s wildfire situation at that time.

is important — THE PEOPLE AND THE ANIMALS. Everything else is just stuff! Stuff can be replaced — life cannot. I feel it’s really important to present an insight into what happens when a family’s safety, home, and animals are threatened in such a catastrophic way. We hear so many people say they are going to stay and protect their property — some have done that and lived to tell the tale. They must have horseshoes in their shorts because after you stand next to a ‘rank 6’ wildfire and live to tell the tale, you have been blessed. Standing up to it with a garden hose is nuts. Get out and get to a safe place — your family will appreciate that action much more than attending your funeral.” Yet many, especially farmers and ranchers, will not evacuate

unless the circumstances are so extreme that they have no other alternative. In the Chilcotin, the million-acre Gang Ranch has been under evacuation order in the face of a massive fire 24 kilometres wide and 48 kilometres long, which has already burned some 100,000 acres of pasture. But ranch manager Larry Ramsted, his wife, Bev, cowboys and ranch hands have stayed and are furiously working to protect 5,000 head of cattle and 200 horses on the range. Access to water is a massive issue. With no rain this summer, the water level from the river is below the intake valve. The cowboys have pulled the shoes on all their horses to prevent a spark from stones on the trails as they work to drive the cattle away from the

A number of trailers were ready to go if needed to pick up more horses in Williams Lake. Photos: Steven Dubas SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017






number taped to each halter. Make sure each animal will load. Any medications needed should be kept with you, and make a note on the animal’s ID that you have the needed medication. Planning is everything, but planning for your own peace of mind can be more challenging. The cowboys have pulled the shoes “The hardest thing, I think, is the day after day stress,” says Atkinson. “Will the wind change, will the fire come down our on all their horses to prevent side of the mountain, and if it doesn’t, how are our friends on the other side doing?” a spark from stones on the trails as The time to go is the time to go. “When you are evacuated you are told exactly which roads to they work to drive the cattle away use and, in the case of Williams Lake, there were police officers at every side road. So, even if you thought you knew a better way,there was no way the security forces would let you go,” says from the direction of the fire. Atkinson. “In one situation, they had to go through a hay field to evacuate. After an evacuation, barriers are set up not allowing anyone back into the area. So, if you evacuate and think you can come back to feed or get your pets or horses, you may not get back for days or, in the case of the people in Williams Lake, it was two weeks. If you do decide to stay rather than evacuate, realize you may not have power and you will not be allowed to leave your property. The police and military are very serious about maintaining security. They may ribbon off your property to signify that they have given you orders and you are still home.” During an evacuation, horses need special consideration starting with the fact, as Atkinson points out, that they are livestock, not pets. They need a coordinated plan and the resources to The evacuated horses in stalls at the Barriere Fairgrounds. By mid-July the fairgrounds was home make it happen, especially if there are to 378 animals, and 80 percent were horses. many horses to be moved. “In our case, with a stallion as one of our group, even though he is extremely direction of the fire. They know some have been lost, but they well-mannered the possibility of housing him in a community won’t have a real number until they do the gather in the fall. evacuation program would be impossible,” says Atkinson who “There are countless examples of ranchers in this season raises Standardbreds for racing. “They [caretakers] started to who stayed and defended their properties and managed to save visibly sweat when we explained our situation. Mares with their ranches, or at least the infrastructure, livestock at home, foals was a big enough hassle as foals can so easily be hurt and and equipment,” says Atkinson. “No one died, so far, and many can’t be crowded in a trailer. We did have a plan for him — our homes and barns were saved because of these so-called garden stallion would stay with us in the stock trailer and be picketed hose heroes, although I call them D9 cat heroes, skidder out. We have camped a lot with our horses and they are heroes, tractor heroes, irrigation pump heroes, because somewhat used to that. They all know what hobbles are and ranchers are much better equipped than others think.” will stand tied, if necessary.” An evacuation alert is a trigger for several things to happen. Hayward agrees. Make a plan for yourself and your animals, and implement the “If you have animals at pasture and have transport coming, plan early. Decide what to pack into the grab-and-go pack for pen them into small areas or catch and tie them up so they do humans, pets, and horses. Once an alert becomes an order, you not run off or prove impossible to catch when strangers arrive may only have minutes or maybe a few hours. Keep the gas with strange looking vehicles,” she says. “Remember you will tanks in your vehicles full at all times and add some jerry cans, be excited.Probably the people who come will be charged as too, if necessary, securely tied in the truck box. If the power well — this is a recipe for 'catch me if you can,' and you will goes out the gas stations can’t pump fuel. Keep cash on hand have no time to play that game. If you have room, make sure as the bank ATMs will be down. Be prepared for cell towers to you throw in a couple of meals for the livestock, and even a few go down. If an entire town is evacuated, as in the case of big jugs of water in case you have a breakdown or get stuck Williams Lake, the traffic jams can be huge. somewhere in the heat, so you can hydrate the livestock as well For livestock, have enough halters and shanks for each one as the people. Medications for people and livestock — we have as well as identifying information, your name, and your phone had a few animals arrive that were on pain meds, but they 12




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forever, and it may take decades to rebuild the herds to the numbers they once were. But the land, now devastated on a massive scale, will come back. Fire is part of the cycle of renewal. “In 2003, in our area we saw a semi-alpine and heavily forested area become meadows and open grazing with low bush and shrubbery for cover,” says Hayward. “Wildlife changed — bear and moose moved into areas with more cover and the deer moved in in droves. So did the rodents, ground squirrels, gophers, marmots, mice. The birds changed as well. Where there had been a forest full of blue jays and owls, it went to grasslands filled with colourful songbirds. Some things didn’t change — the eagles stayed (both golden and bald) as did the ospreys. The badgers came back, and the cougars, and bobcats returned as well. The lynx headed for the forests with the moose and the raptors (hawks, etc.) populated the new grasslands.” Atkinson recognizes the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team (CDART) and Pet Coalition who were very supportive. “In our area, BCPet Coalition has done extensive training over the years, have knowledgeable volunteers, and are still feeding and housing pets and horses at our fairgrounds, which is an emergency marshalling area.” Across the province, about 6,000 equines have been rescued and many continue to be cared for in emergency evacuation centres. The number is fairly fluid but is as close as officials can estimate. Addressing this crisis, Horse Council BC stresses that rescued horses and livestock will require help for some time to come as many have lost pasture, range, and their feed supply. The organization will continue to receive donations to help associations, groups, and individuals with the many essential items needed at emergency evacuation centres, and funds collected will help provide hay, supplies, and gas for those assisting with the wildfire relief effort. “The amount of support the Animal Disaster Relief Fund (ADRF) has received so far has shown us the incredible strength of community,” says Kelly Coughlin, Senior Program Manager and Manager of Agriculture and Industry with Horse Council BC. “Resources will continue to be needed for the care of displaced horses and animals in the weeks and months to come as many will have lost their farms, pastures and feed supplies.” Many displaced property owners will no doubt worry about their insurance coverage. HCBC members receive coverage from Capri Insurance and the company has put a Special Bulletin on the HCBC website to clarify regarding the temporary care of displaced animals. Check the website and check your own insurance documents to assess your individual coverage. This is a year like no other. Some ride organizations are heeding caution as to the safety of competitions given the smoke hazard and have decided to cancel planned events. The PHOTO: JILL HAYWARD

didn’t come with the meds. Make sure you have an animal first aid kit that works for whatever livestock you are carrying. Livestock registration papers should be just as important as your own birth certificates and insurance papers, also livestock record books as they are not replaceable after a fire.” It’s clear that the wildfire season has had a devastating effect on many businesses, especially those catering to tourists in the most critical time of the year. At 70 Mile House, the Flying U Ranch on Green Lake had to evacuate 116 horses, twice.

The outdoor rodeo arena at the Barriere Fairgrounds housed the 116 horses of the Flying U Ranch at 70 Mile House, which was evacuated twice and lost two months of their busiest season.

“We lost almost two full months of our busiest season due to being closed because of the evacuations,” says Victoria Gallant with the Flying U. “We are now back up and running but with less guests than originally were booked.” Atkinson says that the combination of little snow over the winter and drought in June and July have made this a wildfire season no one will forget. “My hope is that we all work harder to fire-safe our properties and that we can develop a fire fighting protocol that takes into account the fact that ranchers and farmers are very reluctant to abandon their properties when ordered to do so. I also hope that either the government through the Business Risk Management branch or even insurance companies consider giving incentives for agricultural properties that are fire-safed.” The wildfire season this year has been truly horrific for everyone. A report in the Vancouver Sun dated August 25th and written by Larry Pynn documented a band of 10 horses trapped and burned to death by the raging fire in Chilcotin’s Nemaiah Valley. They were caught by the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire southwest of Williams Lake and which, as of August 31st, was 234,626 hectares in size and only 35 percent contained. The image of the charred wild horses represents the true nightmare of all livestock owners whose horses and cattle may be out on the range somewhere. For ranchers, cattle herds and pedigrees that were started a hundred years ago may be gone 14




smoke hazard has made it difficult or impossible for riders and their horses to train and condition for events. A special air quality statement from Environment Canada was updated August 31st for the whole Chilcotin region, North and South Cariboo, Prince George, Okanagan, Nicola, East and West Kootenays and the Columbia Valley, warning of further smoky skies and smoke concentrations as winds, fire behaviour, and temperatures continue to change. This year’s fire season in British Columbia is frightening. And it’s far from over. b



> To help you prepare and find support, visit the Horse Council BC website – Wildfire Resource List for a comprehensive list of resources and help lines.






> Donate to Horse Council BC’s Animal Disaster Relief Fund: Online: Or mail a cheque to: Horse Council BC, 27336 Fraser Highway, Aldergrove, BC, V4W 3N5.



B O:




> For comprehensive emergency preparedness information, read Wildfire! Flood! Earthquake! Are You Prepared? published in the May/June 2017 issue of this magazine, or on our website On behalf of all British Columbians, we extend a huge THANK YOU to all firefighters and support personnel for their tireless efforts in battling the province’s wildfires.







Unravelling the Mysteries of the

Pre-Purchase Exam

As fall approaches and the show season draws to a close, many riders and horse owners begin preparations for winter training. This is the time of year when goals are set for next season, and as a result, riders must critically evaluate their own performance as well as that of their mount. In some cases, this leads to the ultimate decision to seek out a new equine partner with whom to pursue higher achievements. For this reason, the fall schedule of an equine veterinarian is often kept busy with pre-purchase examinations. The pre-purchase examination, or “vetting” of a horse, can be a stressful time for buyer and seller alike. On one hand, the seller may be anxious that something undesirable will be discovered, leading to the end of the sale. On the other hand, the potential buyer fears the heartbreak that will result if their new dream horse fails the dreaded vet check. However, a clear understanding of the purpose of this essential veterinary service will help alleviate tensions leading up to the big day. Before discussing what exactly comprises a pre-purchase exam, it is very important to know what it is not. On a pre-purchase exam, the veterinarian is not looking to “pass” or “fail” a horse but rather, to make informed observations about the health and 16




By Lauren MacLeod, BSc., DVM

soundness of the horse on a particular day. It is up to the potential buyer to use this information to make their own informed decision about the purchase of the particular horse. In addition, a prepurchase exam is not a guarantee of the present or future health of the horse. As most horse owners know, horses are adept at becoming injured or ill, and just because the horse appeared sound and healthy at the time of examination does not guarantee that the animal will be in a similar state in the future. This is an unfortunate reality of owning horses and potential buyers must remember that buying animals can be a risky business! With this in mind, many potential buyers may wonder why they should bother having a veterinary assessment of a horse prior to purchase. After all, if the horse seems sound and healthy enough to buy, and if there are no guarantees that come with a pre-purchase exam, it may seem a pointless exercise on the surface. However, the benefits of having a horse vetted far outweigh the potential costs of buying a horse with a (sometimes expensive) problem. It is a well-known fact that the least expensive part of owning a horse is the purchase price. The real expenses come after the horse is brought home. If your new equine partner has a chronic health or lameness issue, there will


be expenses associated with future veterinary care and/or medications in addition to the costs that come with owning a horse that must be fed and housed but cannot be ridden. Therefore, even the $500 pony advertised in the local paper may end up costing much more than the new owner had bargained for. For this reason, any new prospect is a candidate for a prepurchase exam, regardless of the purchase price.

Before the Exam

Once the decision has been made to move forward with a prepurchase exam, there are a few points to consider prior to booking the appointment with a veterinarian. First, it is necessary to obtain permission from the seller to have the horse examined. Most of the pre-purchase exam is non-invasive and is simply a thorough examination by the veterinarian. However, if the horse should require sedation for any reason, or if his shoes must be removed for radiographs, will the current owner allow this? It is always easier for all parties to determine this ahead of time. Another topic to discuss with the current owner is the quality of the facilities at which the horse is located. Is there hard, flat ground and an arena with good footing to use for the moving portion of the exam? Is there a barn with adequate lighting for examining the horse, and electrical outlets if radiograph or ultrasound equipment must be set up? If the facility does not meet these requirements, it may be necessary to haul the horse to another stable or a vet clinic in order to get the most out of the vet check.


During the soundness exam the horse will be observed on the longe line on both hard and soft ground.

A complete physical examination and soundness evaluation is part of the standard pre-purchase exam.

Choosing the veterinarian to conduct the examination is usually the most important consideration. This decision is often straightforward if the horse is located in your area, as your regular veterinarian can perform the exam. However, complications arise if your veterinarian also does work for the seller, as this may be seen as a conflict of interest. By having an open discussion with the seller and the veterinarian, you will avoid putting your veterinarian in an awkward position on the day of the exam – one in which he or she must strive to remain objective while evaluating another client’s animal. Furthermore, if you are buying a horse in a distant location, you will need to hire a veterinarian who works in that area. In this situation, it often helps to speak with your regular veterinarian who may be able to provide you with a list of equine veterinary practices in that area. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017




Hoof testers are used to detect subtle foot pain.

After the standard pre-purchase exam is complete, the potential buyer may decide to do further diagnostic tests such as ultrasound. 18






Flexion tests are done to detect subtle soundness problems, or to further investigate a lameness seen during the moving exam.


The Basics The pre-purchase examination can be as basic or as extensive as needed to fulfill the buyer’s needs. Most veterinarians offer a standard exam, which includes taking a full history from the person currently responsible for the care of the horse, a complete physical examination, and a soundness evaluation. Further diagnostics can be discussed at the completion of the standard portion of the visit, and will be further explored later in this article. The history given by the current caretaker is very important information and helps put the clinical exam in context. For example, while mild soundness issues requiring management may be expected in a seasoned show horse in his teens, the same finding in a young horse in training may raise a red flag. It is also helpful to know if the horse has been kept up-to-date on veterinary and farrier care, and a seller should be able to provide these records for review. The next part of the exam is the physical examination. This is a thorough exam of the horse’s general body condition as well as all of his organ systems. Because most potential buyers are mainly concerned with lameness as a reason for a deal-breaker, the importance of the physical exam is sometimes overlooked. However, causes of unsoundness extend beyond the limbs. In this part of the visit, the veterinarian will listen to the horse’s heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract, perform an oral and ophthalmic examination, inspect his skin for tumours or other lesions, and search for scars that may hint at a previous surgery. The musculoskeletal system including the neck, back, pelvis, and all four limbs will be palpated for abnormalities or pain on manipulation. Similarly, the feet will be assessed for hoof quality and any sensitivity to hoof testers, which may indicate subtle foot pain. This is also a good opportunity to critically analyze the conformation of the horse, particularly in context of the intended use of the buyer. Certain conformational faults, even in a sound horse, may predispose the horse to the development of lameness in the future, and should be taken into consideration prior to purchase. The final stage of the pre-purchase exam is the soundness evaluation. This is often the longest phase, and assesses the horse for any lameness or neurological deficits that may affect his gait. Most veterinarians will first watch the horse walk and trot in-hand on a straight line on hard, flat ground. Over the course of the exam, the horse will also be observed on the straight line on soft footing (such as in an arena) and then on the longe line on hard and soft ground. The horse should also be asked to back up and turn in tight circles, which can help reveal subtle neurologic dysfunction. Flexion tests, in which each limb or parts of each limb are held in flexion prior to immediately observing the horse at the trot, are performed at the discretion of the veterinarian to detect subtle soundness problems or to further characterize a lameness that was seen during the moving exam. A flexion test is deemed “positive” if a lameness appears after flexion or if a lameness that is already present is worsened by flexion. Flexion tests are often the most dreaded part of the exam for both buyer and seller, as many sales fall through based on a positive flexion test. However, while a positive flexion test is certainly an abnormal finding, it is not always the end of the line for a potential purchase. It is vital to put this finding into context with respect to the severity of the positive result, the

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age and previous use of the horse, and the intended future use. For some, a well-trained, experienced horse with a mildly positive flexion test may be more desirable than one that is hot-tempered and green but perfectly sound.

Delving Deeper After the standard pre-purchase exam has been completed, it is up to the buyer to decide if he or she would like to pursue further diagnostics. The list of options is extensive, and may include medical imaging such as radiographs, ultrasound, endoscopy, and even magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); blood work such as a complete blood cell count, serum biochemistry screen, ACTH assay, Coggins’ test, or drug screening; or a full breeding soundness examination on a mare or stallion. The choice to pursue any of these options depends largely on the balance between a buyer’s desire to gather more information and his or her budget, as each additional test will add to the cost of the prepurchase exam. It is mostly a matter of personal preference on the part of the buyer, as some people are more risk-averse than others and would prefer to spend the money to gather more information prior to buying, while others would rather save their money and are willing to take a reasonable risk on a horse. To help in this decision process, a veterinarian will make recommendations for further diagnostics based on the findings of the standard exam. For example, if a horse was positive to flexion of a particular joint, the veterinarian may advise radiographs of that joint to rule out osteoarthritis. Another example would be running an ACTH assay on a 20




middle-aged or older horse where pars pituitary intermedia dysfunction (PPID or Cushing’s disease) may be suspected. The veterinarian should work with the buyer to choose the most pertinent diagnostics to maximize their budget. By the end of the exam, the buyer should be satisfied with the amount of information acquired about the horse to either be comfortable moving forward with the decision to buy, or continue their search elsewhere. Though it may seem overwhelming at the start, the prepurchase exam is a worthwhile investment for any prospective buyer. An understanding of the different aspects of the exam and why they are included makes the whole process much smoother and more enjoyable. Happy autumn horse shopping!


///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Dr. Lauren MacLeod was born and raised in Delta, BC, where she was an active member of the equestrian community. Prior to veterinary school, she completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of British Columbia with a major in Animal Biology. Lauren graduated with great distinction from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon in June 2015. She then completed a one-year internship in equine medicine and surgery prior to moving to Abbotsford, BC to join Agwest Veterinary Group ( Lauren’s main veterinary interests include reproduction, sports medicine, and field surgery. Outside of work, she enjoys training and competing in dressage and exploring nature in the Lower Mainland of BC.

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Whether or not to give supplements to horses has always been the topic of lively and enduring conversation. But, there is a growing community of riders and horse owners who choose to provide their horses with the supplemental balance of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements to help with health issues and augment the well-being of their animals. While some may think that the use of supplements is a trendy, contemporary approach to equine nutrition, in fact the history of supplements for horses goes way back. In 1833, Thomas Day began manufacturing animal medicines at Wantage, Oxfordshire, UK, and expanded into London a year later. In 1834, he 22




launched the first known equine tonic called Days’ Black Drink to relieve colic, gripes, chills, and low condition in horses. He sold Black Drink for 10 shillings for six bottles (there were 20 shillings in British pound). Day & Sons, which was established in 1840, billed itself as the largest veterinary supplier in the world and included a statement on the bottle’s label to caution against others selling imitations of their Black Drink. In 1912, biochemist Frederick Hopkins (1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine) published a paper that explained, through a series of animal feeding experiments, that proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and water alone do not promote growth, but other


The most important component of the horse’s diet is fibre from pasture grazing or quality hay. Before adding a supplement, the horse’s diet should be assessed to determine what is needed to fill in the nutritional gaps.

By Margaret Evans


then-unidentified substances called “accessory food factors” were essential for animal growth and survival. Those accessory food factors turned out to be vitamins. Over the subsequent decades, an industry in equine food and nutritional supplements took off. According to an article in the UK magazine Horse & Hound (October 2004), 1929 saw the launch of Equivite’s vitamin and mineral mix for horses; the first cod liver oil product for horses and ponies was launched in 1935; and, in 1958, the first “pony nuts” (pellets) appeared. Products to improve horse health developed steadily with the first herbal calmer (1986) and the first feed balancer in


1989. In 1995, the University of Guelph, Ontario, completed research that led to the first premium electrolyte for performance horses. In the past 20 years, horse owners have enjoyed an expanding selection of feeds, supplements, and balancers to choose from and the market continues to grow. “There is a rise in owners searching for supplements,” says Shelley Nyuli with SciencePure Nutraceuticals Inc., in Abbotsford, BC. “However, their desire is for a supplement that they think is needed to aid in a specific symptom of a nutritionally unbalanced or environmentally-deprived horse.” Nyuli says that, since 1997, the most popular product is a joint aid formula for

horses showing symptoms of osteoarthritis, joint stiffness, or short striding. “Over the years we have noticed a drastic increase in horse owners using supplements on their horses, in particular joint supplements, not only for therapeutic use but also for maintenance,” says Trevor Watkin, coowner (with brother Jason Watkin) of Purica in Duncan, BC. “From our experience, the most popular supplements are, of course, a good vitamin supplement but also supplements for joint issues.” The interest in equine nutrition and the value of supplements is just as strong in the US. “Over the last 30 years, we have seen SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017





Joint supplements are popular, and the majority of horses receiving them are engaged in competition. A high performance horse is more likely to require dietary supplements to support his athletic endeavours than a backyard horse with a less demanding workload.

a dramatic increase in equine nutrition interest,” says Dr. Scott Gravlee, equine nutrition consultant with Life Data Labs, Inc., in Cherokee, Alabama. “There has been an increase in the usage of supplements manufactured by Life Data Labs, Inc. every year. Although we cannot speak for all manufacturers, our primary customer focus has been on hoof, joint, and forage balancers.” In Vernon, BC, veterinarian Dr. Dave Reed formulated supplements to use on his own equine breeding stock and in his veterinary practice, and now sells his products through feed dealers in the province. “Our data indicates, yes, more horse owners are using supplements,” says Reed. “They are appreciating research now specific to horses, and have available many resources to read from and to listen to. Although the horse population is decreasing, the value of many of those being maintained is increasing, prompting their owners to seek the best possible for their animals.” In Abbotsford, BC, equine nutritionist Shelagh Bertrand, PAS with Foundations Equine Consulting Services agrees that there is a lot of growing interest in supplements. “A lot of people are interested in what they can feed their horse. Most popular I would say is probiotics, and the other one would be supplements to aid in comfort, joint supplements. Those are the big ones.” Many ask if supplements work and, if so, how? But first it is important to 24




understand the natural feeding instincts of horses, how they evolved in relation to their natural resources, and how or whether those same sources have changed today in nutritional quality. “Horses are ‘hay burners,’” says Gravlee. “This means horses can convert cellulose (fibre) to energy in the pouches of their digestive systems. In their evolution, horses had the capacity to produce all the nutrients needed for survival by consuming water, minerals, plant materials, and cellulose. Bacteria in the hindgut use cellulose derived from hay and other roughages to produce energy. These same microbes also produce the building blocks to manufacture most of the essential nutrients that simple stomach animals, such as people, must ingest. Unfortunately, this ecosystem does not have the capacity to furnish the quantity of nutrients to compensate for the added work and stress of the modern horse. In addition, modern agriculture is producing grains (oats) and pasture grasses that have a different nutrient content than the forages from which horses evolved. And lastly, the mineral content of soil from which the grasses and grains grow has changed due to leaching from rainfall. We are faced with the nutrition challenge to fortify the horse’s ecosystem without producing nutrient excesses and/or deficiencies.” So, do supplements work to meet the nutritional challenge?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals dissolved in the blood and tissues of the horse’s body. They carry a positive or negative charge and, when combined with another ion, they make salt. Electrolytes help to maintain the correct balance of fluids and they are involved in muscle function and the processing of waste material. When horses sweat, they lose more than water. Horse sweat contains the electrolytes chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. The two electrolytes lost in the highest amounts are sodium and chloride, or salt. During training or competition, electrolyte loss can be considerable especially in hot, humid weather. A 500 kg horse can lose 10 litres of sweat during a two-hour exercise routine and that would include 60 grams of chloride. “Electrolytes don’t stay in one place,” says Barbara Socha who owns EquiWinner in Arizona. “Electrolytes move around, in and out of cells, while transmitting electrical impulses along nerves for muscle function such as your horse’s beating heart or muscle contractions to allow him to run. And they manage all your horse’s bodily fluids.” Socha says that research has shown that simply providing electrolytes to horses does not necessarily guarantee they will work properly and abnormalities in electrolyte activity have been linked to non-sweating and tying up. Signs of electrolyte deficiency include a dull coat, sunken eyes, listlessness, poor performance, and dark urine. Providing an electrolyte balance may include the use of certain supplements or, alternatively, the use of an electrolyte patch placed on the horse’s rump. Advice from your vet or your equine nutritionist is recommended prior to using electrolytes or, equally important, knowing when to use them in relation to your horse’s water intake.









“Whether a supplement works or not depends on many factors,” says Gravlee. “First, the assessment of the horse’s problems must be correct. For example, if the horse is exhibiting lameness due to a neuromuscular problem, a joint supplement is unlikely to help. Also, the quality of the horse’s current nutrition is a determining factor in whether additional supplementation will help. Not only is an adequate level of each necessary nutrient important, but the ratio of the nutrients to each other is often more important. The best-known correlation is between calcium and phosphorus; however,


most other nutrients have correlations too. Over-supplementation with resulting altered nutrient ratios is a common problem facing the horse today. Other factors influencing the effectiveness of a supplement include the horse’s breed, occupation, genetics, age, etc.” Bertrand stresses that it is important to always remember that the horse needs fibre. “Horses evolved to have a diet of fibre and they ferment it in the hindgut. They need small meals fed often and you need superior quality forage.” Horses are non-ruminant herbivores and the best feeding regimen for a horse is


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continuous grazing in a grassy paddock. But when feeding forage, horse owners need to know how well the hay they are buying is providing the required nutrients. In addition to hay, beet pulp, some grains, and hay cubes (alfalfa or timothy/alfalfa cubes) all contribute to healthy hindgut function. Throughout any one year, horses are often fed a variety of hay depending on where their supplier is buying it from. It is worthwhile to get an analysis of the hay to determine what the horse is eating. By understanding the nutritional value of the horse’s basic diet, it is easier to consult with an equine nutritionist to figure out what might be missing and supplement accordingly, if necessary. According to Reed, horse owners are most frequently seeking a complete vitamin/mineral supplement to augment their non-complete hay/grain choices for broodmares, young horses, seniors and performance horses, and more recently for sugar sensitive horses. While there are some owners who do not feed complete feeds, those who do, depending upon the quantity being fed, may not need additional supplementation. “[However], many supplements do work with visible results — sometimes very visible — surprisingly quickly,” says Reed. “If it is decided that supplementation is needed, there are many things to be considered. Our personal process has always been to seek advice from a professional nutritionist with a special interest in/knowledge of horses who has access to peers with similar interests. There is a huge variety of supplements addressing many needs. It has become a daunting adventure to choose the one for your horse. Firstly, I would say one wants to be comfortable with the quality of the source and the quantity of ingredients. Read the analyses and ingredients lists. For example, in our case the small amount of grain used for palatability and pelleting is 100 percent Canadian, non-GMO, and closely monitored for low moisture content upon arrival at the mill. A portion of our trace minerals are chelated/complexed and a portion of our selenium is organic. Research advises that both organic and inorganic sources of minerals play best in bio-availability. The small amount of oil in our products, for dust control, are non-hydrogenated vegetable oils supplying Omegas 3 and 6. Our products contain B vitamins — not all do — our choice to make immediate support for stressful situations the horse might experience. Our products contain Diamond V yeast culture which enhances digestion in the hindgut.” Nyuli agrees that, by using a reputable

brand, horse owners should see results in the first week, depending of course on the reason for supplementing in the first place. Owners, she says, have to be very clear in their minds as to what they expect from a supplement, adding that feed mixes may use oxide minerals which are not nearly as bio-available as protein bond (proteinated/ chelated) minerals.

Supplements for Joint Issues Of all the supplements purchased by horse owners, those that address joint issues, specifically osteoarthritis (OA) and discomfort, disability, or some loss of function, are among the most popular. Understandably, most of the horses being administered this form of supplement are engaged in competition. A study done by nutrition scientists at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) in Versailles, Kentucky, focused on the effectiveness of joint supplements. KER maintains a herd of about 40 research horses on their 150-acre farm. The researchers point out in their report summary dated June 1, 2017 that the quality of joint supplements can vary markedly depending on the ingredients and manufacturer. “A multimodal approach to managing OA currently involves the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like bute, corticosteroids, and joint supplements, among others, depending on the horse and the work asked of it,” says nutritionist Dr. Kathleen Crandell in the report summary. “Products containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid continue to reign among the most popular supplements. Studies show that these ingredients help decrease inflammation through multiple pathways and provide molecular precursors to cartilage cells to help build new, healthy cartilage in arthritic joints.”¹ Many studies are done on horses with joint issues and results understandably differ according to the horse’s health condition, level of exercise, and the parameters set for each specific test. “Performance horses require increased levels of many different nutrients when compared to a horse that is not ridden often, simply because of the increased metabolic load required for intense and prolonged effort,” says Watkin. “Just like human athletes, who often supplement to help prevent wear and tear, to relieve pain and spasm, and to reduce inflammation, the same is appropriate for horses. Like people, each horse will present its own physical

weaknesses and limitations, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest both potent preventative and therapeutic effects from a wide range of supplements and nutraceuticals (plant medicines).”

Supplements for Digestion The most important component of any horse’s diet is fibre in the form of pasture grazing or quality hay. The sheer act of eating and the intake of forage stimulate the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and most of the digestion of fibre takes place in their enormous hindgut

where the bulk of nutrients and fluids are absorbed. It is here where all those good bacteria (microflora) digest the fibre to release nutrients. Providing quality forage is the foundation of every feeding program. Along with forage, water is the next most critical component. A 450 kilogram horse (1,000 lbs) eating nine kilograms (20 lbs) of food a day needs 30 litres of water to process it all. And that is before water is required for thirst, heat, sweat after exercise, or any other trigger. “Live grass grazing is not only higher in the essential minerals as baled grass hay, it

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Water, a critical component of every horse’s diet, is necessary for digestion and thermoregulation. Free-choice water of appropriate temperature should be provided at all times.

is far easier on the horse’s stomach and mind,” says Nyuli. “That is the traditional thought. However, with ground nutrient depletion and weather changes causing rapid sugar increases, grazing horses have to be watched for daily changes in temperament and heat in the feet. Ideally, alternate pasture grazing and unlimited hay feeding is best for the equid digestive system given that the stomach





holds forage for only 15 to 30 minutes before passing it on to the small intestine. If the stomach is empty for too long (two hours) and fermentation continues as it always does, the small stomach fills with gas and could create gastric colic and gastric ulcers. Eating small meals more often, or constant grazing, is the way the digestive system is designed and we cannot change that.”

Nyuli suggests that the very first supplement any performance horse should have is salt, and the second (and perhaps equally important) supplement should be based on any nutritional deficiencies in the horse’s forage. The microbial analysis will provide information on the hay’s sugar content, critical if the horse has a metabolic syndrome issue, as well as calcium, phosphorus and other minerals. At KER, research was done earlier this year to explore the value of using a high-algae supplement to fight or prevent equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Some forms of algae contain high levels of minerals, especially calcium, which can buffer stomach acid and aid in healing. The researchers gave ten horses diagnosed with EGUS an algae supplement containing 32 percent organic calcium for 30 days. Ulcers are graded on a scale of 0 to 4 and the horses had ulcers averaging scores of 2.2.

After 30 days, they all showed significant improvement. Seven of them had a zero score and two had a score of one. However, in their press release, the researchers cautioned that while these results are encouraging, not all supplements are safe and effective and some algae products can even be dangerous. Grain-based concentrates have their values but they can also have their issues with respect to the release of blood glucose and a surge in insulin hormone levels. Concentrates should be fed at no more than 0.4 percent body weight per feeding, or 1.8 kg (4 lbs) per 450 kg horse. A sudden change in diet, stress from travel, competition, or a change in routine can upset the normal digestive flow of food and endanger the population of the good bacteria in the horse’s gastrointestinal tract. Many horse owners consider giving probiotic supplements that contain microorganisms, fungus, and yeast, and they are all designed to stimulate good bacteria to aid digestion.

Supplements for Hoof Growth Hoof supplements are huge business and there are many products on the market. Hoof wall problems present as

cracks, chips, brittleness, white line disease, thin sole, and a variety of conditions that may have their roots in the breed genetics of the horse, the degree of work, or in a dietary deficiency. One of the most devastating hoof conditions is laminitis. In 2014, researchers with the Biomin Research Centre in Tulln, Austria, published results of a study in the journal Toxins, in which they showed the value of using milk thistle and silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, to combat bacterial endotoxins (LPS) that compromise hoof lamellar tissue. Milk thistle and silymarin both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can be found in some hoof supplements. “Milk thistle and silymarin were not only able to neutralize endotoxins but [were] also capable of reducing LSPinduced lamellar separation,” the report states. “Hence, MT [milk thistle] and silymarin might be used to support the prevention of laminitis through direct neutralization of endotoxins and inhibition of LPS-induced effects on the lamellar tissue.” The researchers cautioned that further studies are necessary on

endotoxins and how they contribute to laminitis. More investigation is also needed on the action of milk thistle and silymarin as to how they neutralize LPS. “Supplements are ideal to fill in nutritional gaps found in most feed sources today,” says Watkin. “Whether it be selenium, magnesium, or any other nutrient that can be deficient in the diet, or the need to increase levels of vitamin C to account for oxidative stress of prolonged high intensity equine sport, supplements improve performance by optimizing nutrient status and helping to prevent damage from occurring.” The enthusiasm to use supplements should be balanced with the knowledge that the products do not come under the regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and it is a largely unregulated industry. The best pathway to success is to consult with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist on the most appropriate course of action to effectively provide your horse with the specific supplements needed. b ¹*Kilborne, A.H., H. Hussein, A.L. Bertone. 2017. Effects of hyaluronan alone or in combination with chondroitin sulfate and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine on lipopolysaccharide challengeexposed equine fibroblast-like synovial cells. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 78(5):579-588.





for Horses

Characteristics of Hay, Haylage and Silage By Shelagh Bertrand For the horse owner, the onset of fall weather can signal the start of the search for storable forage before winter begins. Considerations such as forage type and storage form, nutritional content, palatability, and cost all become important. Horses are classified as non-ruminant herbivores. They are adapted to eating plant fibre or forage sources such as pasture, or preserved forages such as hay, haylage or silage. Horses can utilize fibrous plant material very successfully through the hydrolyzation of simple carbohydrates and other nutrients in the stomach or foregut, and the fermentation by microbes of complex carbohydrate sources in the uniquely adapted hind gut. The energy derived from fibrous plant material is generated as a result of the fermentation of carbohydrates like cellulose by the natural microbes living in the hind gut of a horse. 30




Fermentation of these carbohydrates results in short chain fatty acids called volatile fatty acids (VFA). They are utilized by the horse as an excellent source of safe energy. Horse are happiest when they can browse or forage for food for at least 10 to 15 hours per day. In summer, this can easily be provided through the feeding of fresh forages in the form of pasture. Weather prohibits the utilization of pasture as a forage source for a large part of the year in Canada. Canadian horse owners have a yearly objective of sourcing quality stored forage for our horses to consume in the coming winter months. There are few things more satisfying for the horse owner than a successful search for winter feed that results in a barn full of good hay!

Forage preservation methods

Forages for horses are most commonly preserved for storage in the form of hay, haylage, or silage. The first step in preparing any kind of forage for preservation is the cutting and the subsequent wilting of the grass by the sun and air as it lies in the field. As forage is wilted the moisture level drops and the dry matter percent goes up. The amount of moisture present in the forage when baled will dictate whether the feed is stored as hay or ensiled as haylage or silage.



Botulism is the most sinister risk associated with feeding ensiled forages, and horses are more sensitive than any other animal species to the toxins produced by the botulism organism.

Fresh grass when cut generally has a moisture content of at least 80 percent (resulting in a dry matter value or DM of 20 percent or less). Cut forage intended for hay must be allowed to dry in the field to a moisture level of not more than about 12 percent (88 percent DM). Hay that is baled with a moisture level in excess of 12 percent will result in bales that are heavy, and at risk of mould and heating. Heating can happen because the presence of sufficient water in the forage allows metabolic activity to continue, resulting in heat accumulation within the bale. The heat can get so high that spontaneous combustion and barn fires are the potential outcome. Always strive to buy hay for horses that is not more than approximately 12 percent moisture.

What about silage?


Ensiling forages is a practice where wilted or fresh cut grass is packed into an anaerobic environment. Anaerobic refers to an environment where no oxygen is present. The ensiling process allows the natural microbes on the grass to ferment the natural sugars in the grass (water soluble carbohydrates or WSC) to organic acids such as lactic acid or acetic acid. As the acids accumulate in the packed forage the pH drops,



What defines hay?

eventually arriving at a point where no more microbial activity can happen. This process generally takes about 21 days to complete. When the pH stops dropping, the ensiled feed is considered stable and ready for storage. In order to exclude the air from forages intended for ensiling, the bales are generally wrapped in plastic. Each bale is like a mini silo and has its own fermentation process. The quality of the forage that comes out of the bale is determined by the quality of the forage that went into the bale and the completeness of the ensiling process that was allowed to happen.

The first step in preparing forage for preservation is cutting it and allowing it to dry by the sun and air as it lies in the field. When baled, the amount of moisture in the forage will determine whether it is stored as hay, or ensiled as haylage or silage. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017




Forages baled too wet cannot achieve a low enough pH through the fermentation process and are therefore much more prone to spoilage and nutrient loss than drier bales. Less desirable end products of fermentation can result. An example of this is wet round bales that have an accumulation of butyric acid rather than lactic acid as a fermentation end product. Butyric acid doesn’t have as low a pH as lactic acid, and so it does not preserve the forage as well. It also has an unpleasant smell. Forages that are too moist at ensiling can become “compost-like” with pockets of rotten silage — definitely not good feed for horses or cattle. Forages that are baled too dry are difficult to compact enough to exclude all the oxygen, allowing aerobic (metabolic activity that needs oxygen) microbial activity, and just like conventional hay bales that are baled in excess of 12 percent moisture, heat generation to occur. Forage that is ensiled too dry is a fire risk and can have reduced feed quality due to heating within the bale.

silage in a round bale should have a pH of less than 5. In haylage, there isn’t sufficient moisture to allow for as much fermentation as in silage. The pH of a haylage round bale will be above 5 on a pH scale of 14. The preservation of the forage in haylage comes from the low moisture content which prohibits microbial growth. It is possible to have a “hot spot” in either haylage or silage round bales. A hot spot is an area within the bale that is inconsistent with the rest of the bale. The feed in this spot may be completely rotten or poorly fermented. Hot spots are usually a result of contamination of the forage with either soil, animal manure, or dead animals such as mice that may have become caught up in the harvesting equipment. In the anaerobic conditions of a fermented feed, this can provide a potential health risk to horses because of the secondary bacteria that can grow. For this reason, clostridial organisms like botulism are a risk in feeding fermented feeds to horses.

The differences between haylage and silage

All round bales that are wrapped in plastic are either silage or haylage. The plastic is commonly white or light green, but can be black as well. The plastic wrap on the round bale provides the anaerobic environment necessary to allow the preservation of the forage through fermentation. It is extremely important that all round bales fed to any livestock species be wrapped with sufficient layers of plastic. Bales that are not wrapped adequately are more likely to suffer tears and perforations of the plastic, allowing secondary bacterial growth. This can contribute to contamination of the bales with yeast, mould, mycotoxins, and spoilage bacteria.

A good supply of quality hay is essential to keep horses and their owners happy during the long, cold Canadian winters. 32





Haylage and silage are both ensiled forages, but the difference between them is moisture content. In general, haylage has a moisture content of between 15 percent to a maximum of 40 percent (60 to 85 percent DM). Silage has a moisture content of more than 40 percent (DM less than 60 percent). Both haylage and silage can be found in plasticwrapped round bales. In silage with the higher moisture content, the preservation of the forage is as a result of the fermentation of the sugars in the grass under anaerobic conditions. This results in a pH drop. In general, a good grass

Do all round bales contain ensiled forage?

As soon as the plastic is taken off an ensiled round bale, oxygen is admitted to the bale and spoilage is initiated. For this reason, round bales must be fed quickly once they are opened. Ensiled feed that is exposed to the air will heat and go mouldy very quickly. Round bales that are wrapped in bale net only and no plastic are hay just like the conventional small, square bales. They should be stored in a dry place like any conventional hay bale. Yeast, mould, and mycotoxins are a risk if the hay was baled too wet or if it isn’t stored properly. Hay that is mouldy or heated should not be fed to horses.

What about preservatives for hay or ensiled feed? Preservatives like propionic acid can be used to speed up the drop in pH in ensiled forages and prohibit microbial growth in hay that is higher in moisture than ideal. Although proprionic acid is safe for horses, it is expensive and so not routinely used by growers. Inoculants such as bacterial cultures of lactic acidforming bacteria are used by some growers to facilitate a good fermentation in ensiled forage. Again, they are safe for horses but expensive, and will increase the cost of the feed.

What happens if forages are contaminated by soil or manure? Any stored forage — whether hay, haylage, or silage — will not be improved by contamination with soil or manure. Manure applications utilized as fertilizer on forages intended for horses can reduce the palatability of the resulting feed unless applied appropriately. Soils coming from mud on cut grass, or cutting grass too close to the soil, will contaminate

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the feed, make hay dusty, and reduce ensiled feed quality. Both manure and soil contain organisms such as clostridia and coliforms, which are bacteria that contribute to poor fermentation. Botulism is caused by a clostridial organism that will grow readily in an ensiled round bale, producing a toxin that will kill a horse.

Cost of round bales versus hay: Which is more economical? Frequently, the rationale for feeding ensiled forage to horses is cost. If a comparison of the cost of a 1,000 lb wrapped round bale and the cost of 1,000 lb of grass hay is reviewed, the hay often appears more expensive. Remember, though, that the wrapped round bale is probably at least 50 percent water, whereas the hay is a maximum of 10 percent water. In order to truly calculate the value of a stored forage, it is important to know its moisture content so you can calculate how much dry matter you are buying. It is likely that based on the cost per unit of dry matter, the hay is better value. The most important tool for good forage-buying decisions is a forage analysis completed in a recognized laboratory. At the very least, a lab analysis will tell you how much water you are buying. It isn’t possible to accurately assess the value of the feed for your horse until you have proof of the nutritional analysis of it.

Nutritional characteristics The nutritional characteristics of ensiled forage are similar to those of hay with some exceptions. Ensiled forage is preserved through the fermentation of the natural sugars in the grass to fermentation acids, and so water soluble

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carbohydrates (WSC) can be lower in ensiled forages than in hay coming off the same field. There is research in both ruminants and horses suggesting that ensiled feed can have a small increase in digestibility, but the significance of this is largely determined by the nutritional content of the fresh cut grass that was ensiled. Protein quality can suffer in an ensiled forage. Growing horses and performance horses could be negatively impacted by this, and so only the highest quality forage should be provided for them. The dry, long stem grass found in hay encourages more chewing compared to wetter forages. Chewing forages encourages grinding of the feed before it reaches the stomach. Well-chewed forage has improved nutrient digestibility. Chewing also encourages saliva production, an important aspect of the buffering capacity of the equine foregut. Horses that are fed wetter forages free-choice can have amazingly high intakes. Wetter forages can be easier to eat and increases in total feed intake can be an outcome of feeding ensiled forages. If you have an overweight eating machine at home, be cautious about leaving him alone with a round bale offered free-choice.


Round bales wrapped in bale net with no plastic are the same as conventional small, square bales and should be stored in a dry place.

Health considerations Unfortunately, ensiled forages do have risks associated with them. Yeast, moulds, mycotoxins, and spoilage bacteria are a risk in any ensiled forage, but particularly in plasticwrapped round bales. Haylage that is mouldy will carry an

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increased risk of respiratory problems for the horses consuming it. Wrapped haylage or silage round bales usually have to be stored outside, leaving them at greater risk for damage from birds and the weather. The most insidious risk associated with feeding ensiled forages is that of botulism. Horses are more sensitive than any other animal species to the toxins produced by the botulism organism, and death for the horse can be swift if contaminated forage is consumed. It is a reality that any round bale has the potential to be the carrier of botulism, no matter how well it feeds out. If feeding plastic wrapped round bale forage to horses, be extremely careful to dispose of uneaten feed before it heats, and avoid any bale with damaged plastic wrap.


When choosing what kind of conserved forage to feed your horse, it is useful to consider the following facts: • The need for a hay analysis before making any kind of buying decision. The moisture content of the forage is a critical quality factor, especially if you are considering round bale haylage as an option. Forage that is ensiled too wet is not appropriate for horses. Feeding wrapped round bales can be more costly than feeding conventional hay. It is important to calculate the cost per unit of dry matter of both feeds to evaluate them properly. • The need for forage that is free of weeds, soil, or manure contamination. This becomes a critical quality parameter when feeding ensiled forages to horses. Contaminated ensiled forage can lead to disease conditions such as botulism in horses.

• The kind of storage available. For many horse owners, big bale hay or round bales are simply not practical from a storage and management perspective. • Introduce feed changes gradually. Always introduce new forage choices to your horse gradually to permit the digestive tract time to adapt slowly. If you have any questions about choosing the appropriate forage for your horse, consult with an equine nutritionist or your veterinarian before buying anything. Timely questions can be invaluable in your quest to provide your horse with the best feed possible. b REFERENCE Review: Feeding conserved forage to horses: Recent advances and recommendations; by P.A. Harris, A.D. Ellis, M.J. Fradinho, et al.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Shelagh Bertrand PAS is an equine nutritionist with an extensive background in both ruminant nutrition and forage science as it relates to both horses and ruminants. She has spent more than 35 years in the feed industry in BC, and her lengthy experience working initially as a dairy nutritionist piqued her interest in the contribution made by forages to the diets of our horses. Her work in ruminant nutrition has given her some unique insights into equine hind gut health and its impact on equine performance and health. Shelagh currently practices as an equine nutritional consultant, offering advice on the successful feeding and husbandry of horses. Shelagh is a horse owner herself and an enthusiastic pleasure rider who is especially interested in the disciplines of dressage and three-day eventing. A 4-H horse leader for many years, Shelagh is still active as a volunteer in the 4-H program in BC, as well as BC Pony Club. She is a member BC Pony Club as a Horse Master, and a member of the Equine Science Society, the American Dairy Science Association, and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.







WAYS to Survive the

Emotional Roller Coaster of Having an

Injured Horse 36




By Tania Millen Sooner or later, most horse owners have the unfortunate experience of dealing with an injured horse. It’s common sense to have a veterinarian assess what’s wrong as soon as your horse becomes injured, but a vet will also help create a rehabilitation plan, advise how long the recovery period will be, and provide post-recovery expectations. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the future plans for the horse, and the prognosis, the experience can be an emotional roller coaster. If the recovery period or prognosis is unknown, you may be operating in limboland for quite some time. That unknown can be particularly stressful, so focussing on the end goal of having a healthy horse again, enjoying each day as it comes, or refocussing elsewhere are all tactics that can help. Finding a silver lining in your horse’s injury will not only make the experience more enjoyable, it may improve


your relationship with your horse and even increase your horse’s quality of life. Many professionals have struggled with the challenges of injured horses and they have great suggestions for how to survive these difficult times. Jonathan Field, a popular horsemanship clinician, says, “There are lots of little low-impact exercises that riders can teach their horses while they’re injured or on restricted exercise programs. For example, teaching them to drop their head or place their feet on an object gets them thinking and engaging with their rider, which keeps the horse stimulated, but also helps build a stronger bond between horse and rider.” Jackie Johnson, head trick trainer at, observes, “Many horses that are injured have a tremendous amount of energy that owners often have challenges dealing with. Low-impact trick

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When your horse becomes sidelined with an injury, finding ways to cope with the downtime and refocussing on the goal of having a healthy horse again will not only help you survive the uncertainty, but can also you improve your relationship with your horse.


> training can be just as mentally challenging as physical exercises, and it can really help keep a horse’s energy in check during recuperation.” Meanwhile, Chelan Kozak, a USEA level IV coach and CCI4* rider, has found that few injuries require complete immobilization, hence she nearly always provides a small paddock, run-out stall, or hand-walking to keep the injured horse sane. She also suggests keeping horses in stalls and paddocks where there is lots of activity, using veterinary-prescribed

Smiling is a simple trick to teach your horse and it makes riders smile, too!

sedatives where suitable, and taking advantage of slow feed hay nets. There are many ways to help your horse thrive during the down days of an injury, alleviate your frustration, and potentially turn the lemon of an injury into sweet and unexpected lemonade.

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Here are eight activities to help you: 1 Map the Recovery Period Maintaining the sanity of confined horses can be challenging, and being unable to ride for an extended period can turn level-headed riders into basket cases. So, it’s really useful to mark your horse’s injury date on a calendar and then plan activities for each week of the recovery period. Celebrate your successes along the way and whenever you feel frustrated or grumpy, check the calendar to see how far you’ve come.

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If the patient does not require complete immobilization, a run-out stall or a small paddock will help him stay sane.

2 Teach New Skills Competitive horses used to physical activity often struggle during downtime, so teaching new skills may help keep them sane and prevent bad habits from developing. Jackie Johnson feels that trick training is a perfect activity for injured horses, as it fosters communication between horse and handler, and builds a mutually beneficial, trusting relationship which transfers to the saddle. Johnson states, “Most trick training works on low impact activities or activities that involve stretching, so depending on the limitations of the horse and your vet’s permission, tricks to teach your injured horse can include: smile, hug, target training, pedestal work, yes, no, and stretching down between the front legs.” 3 Develop Better Manners

If your horse has poor manners that you haven’t got around to working on, maybe now’s the time to teach him. Does he dislike his flanks or sheath being touched? Not great at picking up his feet? Doesn’t like you lifting his tail or brushing his legs? Doesn’t move his front, middle, or rear end when asked? These are all simple things to work on while he’s recovering from an injury, and they’ll make him more enjoyable to work with on the ground and under saddle both during his recovery period and in the future. 38




Low-impact trick training helps mentally stimulate your injured horse, plus build your relationship. The pedestal is also great for stretching muscles.

5 Get Into Massage Massage can bring significant benefits to your horse including increased circulation, decreased stiffness and muscle tightness, and greater relaxation and self-healing. For injured horses — particularly those with limited turn-out — massage can produce remarkable changes. So, learning some simple massage techniques when your horse is injured is a great way to strengthen your relationship with your horse and at the same time provide him with significant mental and physical benefits — plus, you’ll have another tool in your toolbox, post-recovery. 6 Ride Another Horse

While your horse is recovering, consider training or riding another horse. Chelan Kozak suggests that it’s critical for riders to continue training and practicing their skills. Leasing, taking lessons, or offering to ride or compete a friend’s horse are all good options. Developing your riding skills means once your horse has recovered, you’ll ride that much better. When Jonathan Field’s top horse was sidelined for a year, he chose to refocus on his up-and-coming green horse — spending the time he would have put into the injured horse on his young horse instead. Field




4 Improve Health Giving your horse a break from training or competing — even if it’s due to an injury — can be a great time to improve his health in other ways. For example, if he’s underweight, struggles with ulcers, has poor feet, mud fever or other ailments, rehabilitation requirements such as dry footing and 24/7 netted hay may be well suited to addressing these issues.






Using downtime productively can keep injured horses and riders in good spirits.

says that shifting his focus and investing in another horse helped him overcome the disappointment of having his top horse injured. “I was fortunate to have another horse to concentrate on, and the time I’ve put into my young horse is really paying off.” 7 Take a Break Sometimes the heartache of an injured horse — particularly if the prognosis is poor — can be difficult to bear. There are many good rehabilitation facilities that do an excellent job of rehabilitating horses and often have therapeutic tools that are unavailable at general boarding facilities or private stables. Choosing to send your horse to a rehabilitation facility for specialized care may be the right option.


8 Learn Something New Sometimes having an injured horse means you have time to do other things. One friend whose horse was injured spent her former riding time taking a college course. When her horse was ready to ride four months later, she’d finished the course, her horse had recovered from his injury, and she was keen to start riding again. It was a perfect mental break for her, plus she felt the time had been well spent as she’d gained knowledge for her burgeoning career. All these activities are excellent ways to survive your horse’s injury. But sometimes great benefits arise from unfortunate events, too. After teaching this injured warmblood to think, Jonathan and his rider could safely hand-walk him, as the vet had prescribed.

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Just sitting around waiting for an injury to heal.

Downtime while recovering from injury can be a good opportunity to improve your horse’s manners and teach him new skills.

After the most expensive horse I’ve ever bought was injured, I made the difficult decision to sell him once he’d recovered. Having made that decision, it was challenging to remain motivated during his rehabilitation. However, unbeknownst to me, a woman at the same boarding facility had been admiring him for quite some time. So, as soon as he recovered, she immediately approached me about doing a straight swap of her simple packer for my fancy young gun. I jumped on the deal and we both walked away happy, having gained much from a difficult situation. When Jonathan Field was asked to help a jumper client with her stall-bound injured

Selle Français warmblood, he concentrated on teaching the horse to think. “This lovely gelding was going crazy being stall-bound, and the groom and rider simply couldn’t hand-walk him as the vet had specified. So, I taught him how to mentally connect with his feet. First, I taught him how to put his head down, then how to place his feet one at a time on the ledge of his stall opening, then how to walk on a loose lead rope. All really simple exercises, but they kept him mentally engaged and ultimately, those simple exercises allowed the horse to be rehabilitated safely.” But the story doesn’t end there. Field recounts, “The challenges of that horse’s

recovery really altered the rider’s view of her relationship with her horse. She remembered how much she enjoyed riding on a ranch when she was young, and what grabbed her about riding in the first place. It reminded her that riding is about partnership and that success comes from true horsemanship.” Having an injured horse is often expensive, frustrating, and puts a big glitch in your riding season. However, if you can find ways to use the rehabilitation and recovery period to your advantage, the time will go by faster, and you’ll end up with a happier, better trained and healthier horse. Isn’t that sweet? b






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HEALTH LINES Veterinary Medical Centre

Western College of Veterinary Medicine

FALL 2017



H e a lth

RWestern e s College e a rofcVeterinary h Medicine Fund a

Horse Health Lines is the news publication for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF). Visit for more information. Send comments and article reprint requests to: Myrna MacDonald, Editor, Horse Health Lines WCVM, University of Saskatchewan 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4

WCVM clinician Dr. Michelle Husulak holds Pee Wee, a thoroughbred gelding, while he has his teeth floated. Christina Weese

INSIDE 1 Equine explorers

With the support of TEHRF, WCVM researchers will explore the potential of five new equine research projects in 2017-18.

2 Horse time Veterinary Medical Centre

Dr. Stacey Nahachewsky, a 2014 WCVM graduate, is taking the ride of a lifetime across Western Canada with her father and sister.

4 Equine sarcoids: a mystery gone viral

Drs. Bruce Wobeser and Sarah Greenwood are hoping to use their skills as pathology detectives to solve the mystery behind equine sarcoids and skin cancers.

7 Isolated horses offer insight into virus

Feral horses on Sable Island are providing a WCVM research team with fresh insight into the presence of papillomavirus.

9 Roar removal

WCVM researchers are hoping to develop a better surgical therapy for “roarers” — horses affected by recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN).

10 Reining in equine obesity

A WCVM study shows that on average, Saskatoon-area horses weigh slightly higher than ideal. Should owners be concerned? Two WCVM veterinarians say yes.

12 Metabolic syndrome linked to weight

Dr. Julia Montgomery answers questions about equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) — a chronic disease that’s more common in overweight horses.

13 Galloping Gazette

Equine news from around the WCVM.

SPECIAL THANKS to Kyrsten Stringer of Wolseley, Sask. Kyrsten helped to develop the content and photos for this issue of Horse Health Lines as part of the WCVM summer research communications internship.

On the COVER:

Elodon Torin, a nine-year-old Connemara gelding, is outfitted with a grazing muzzle to control his feed intake. Kyrsten Stringer

Equine explorers Backed by more than $80,000 in financial support from the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund, researchers are exploring the potential of five new equine health research projects at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). Visit and click on “Research” to learn more about each study. Can veterinarians eliminate “roaring” by removing tissue?

Is doxycycline effective for treating equine infections?

David G. Wilson, Michelle Tucker and James Carmalt, WCVM

Patricia Dowling, Joe Rubin, Fabienne Uehlinger and Ronan Chapuis, WCVM; Scott Weese, University of Guelph

Researchers will use cadavers to test a new surgical treatment to eliminate recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (or roaring) in affected horses. If the proposed therapy shows promise, the next step will be to eventually test the surgery in live horses under race conditions. Read “Roar removal” on page 9 for more details about this study.

Can dexmedetomidine reduce stress for horses in surgery? Tanya Duke, Masako Fujiyama, WCVM

A WCVM team will investigate the ability of dexmedetomidine, a sedative drug given intravenously, to relieve pain and reduce stress in horses under anesthesia. Researchers hope that results from this study will help to reduce surgery-related stress in horses and improve equine patients’ recovery after surgery.

WCVM researchers will test the use of doxycycline (DXC) to treat common equine infections such as Streptococcus zooepidemicus. Their goal is to understand how DXC moves through the horse’s body, and to determine its potential usefulness in treating this type of bacterial infection.

Can stem cells from the umbilical cords of ponies speed up wound healing in horses? Spencer Barber, Suzanne Mund, Ali Honaramooz, Bruce Wobeser, Daniel MacPhee, John Campbell

Based on previous research, a team of WCVM scientists believe that if the inflammatory response of an adult horse can be manipulated to mimic that of a pony, it will increase the rate of healing in that horse. In this prospective study, researchers will analyze

Research in print

One TEHRF study will determine if dexmedetomidine can reduce stress in horses during surgery Christina Weese

wound biopsy tissues and determine whether stem cell injection can positively influence the quality of wound repair and speed up the healing process in horses’ wounds.

Does equine papillomavirus hold the key to preventing equine skin disease and cancer? Bruce Wobeser, Sarah Greenwood, Dale Godson and Tasha Epp, WCVM

Equine papillomavirus (EcPV) is connected to the development malignant skin tumours on horses’ genitals. Over the next two years, WCVM researchers will work to learn more about how EcPV develops so they can work on the next steps: learning how to prevent the virus and developing more effective therapies for horses diagnosed with cancer caused by EcPV-2.

A round up of WCVM-related equine research articles that have been recently published in peer-reviewed journals

Boison JO, Dowling P, Matus JL, Matus JL, Kinar J, Johnson R. “The analysis of phenylbutazone and its active metabolite, oxyphenbutazone, in equine tissues (muscle, kidney and liver), urine and serum by LC-MS/MS.” Journal of AOAC International. July 2017. 100(4):1110-1122. Harman RM, Yang S, He MK, Van de Walle GR. “Antimicrobial peptides secreted by equine mesenchymal stromal cells inhibit the growth of bacteria commonly found in skin wounds.” Stem Cell Research and Therapy. July 2017. 8(1):157. Sandmeyer LS, Bauer BS, Feng CX, Grahn BH. “Equine recurrent uveitis in western Canadian prairie provinces: a retrospective study (2002-2015).” Canadian Veterinary Journal. July 2017. 58(7): 717-722. Schnabel CL, Babasyan S, Freer H, Wagner B. “Quantification of equine immunoglobulin A in serum and secretions by a fluores-

cent bead-based assay.” Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology. June 2017. 188:12-20. Duke-Novakovski T, Ambros B, Feng C, Carr AP. “The effect of anesthetic drug choice on accuracy of high-definition oscillometry in laterally recumbent horses.” Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. May 2017. 44(3): 589-593. Bohaychuk-Preuss KS, Carrozzo MV, Duke-Novakovski T. “Cardipulmonary effects of pleural CO2 positive pressure insufflation in anesthetized horses.” Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. May 2017. 44(3):483-491. Bracamonte JL, Thomas KL. “Laparoscopic cryptorchidectomy with a vessel-sealing device in dorsal recumbent horses: 43 cases.” Veterinary Surgery. May 2017. 46(4):559-565.

Western College of Veterinary Medicine



TIME By Kyrsten Stringer

A WCVM graduate and her family are trekking across Western Canada with their horses



They call it “The Ride” – a horseback adventure across Western Canada that began with David Nahachewsky’s bucket list, written after his run-in with cancer in 2001. When his daughters, Stacey and Teresa, found out what their father planned to do, there was no way they were going to let him go alone. Their adventure took 10 years to research and organize, but it finally began this spring in Pierson, Man., on Apr. 9, 2017. Stacey, a 2014 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), says that it was always more a matter of when and never a matter of if “The Ride” would happen. This spring, she took time off from practising at Poplar Grove Veterinary Services in Innisfail, Alta., to join her father and her sister on their journey through the highs and lows of the Canadian West. Teresa left behind her job as a registered veterinary technologist in Prince Albert, Sask., while David recently retired from his firefighting job in Saskatoon. The Nahachewskys started their journey in Manitoba with the goal of hitting the West Coast and becoming members of the Long Riders Guild — an association for equestrian explorers who have travelled 1,000 continuous miles (1,609 kilometres) in a single journey.

“Through contacting the Long Riders Guild, we discovered that we could be Long Riders on this trip,” says Teresa. “It’s a personal achievement — just the different challenges that you face on a trip like this. When you’re riding day in day out for months with your horse, you see things and you go through things that are way different.” “Our route changes all of the time,” says David, and his words are applicable to every part of their journey. For part of their trip, the Nahachewskys pulled a wagon. But when the terrain got too hilly, they switched to packing their horses and riding horseback. “We have totally changed our perspective of equestrian long riding — travel with horse,” says David. “We don’t worry about where we’re going or how far we have to go. We don’t think that way anymore. We think about, ‘Let’s wake up, let’s go have fun, let’s see what there is to see around the next corner.’ It’s totally changed the way we think.” It’s what the Nahachewskys refer to as “horse time.” As Stacey explains, horses can’t be rushed. “They force you to relax and to take a deep breath and do things properly. They’re good for your mental health.” Being a veterinarian on a months-long horseback tour has its advantages — it’s like

The Nahachewskys and their horses on the trail. Supplied photo

David (light brown jacket), Stacey (centre) and Teresa (right) Nahachewsky with their horses and a friend on the trail. having a mechanic along for a road trip. Before starting out, each of the six horses that the Nahachewskys planned to travel with were vaccinated, dewormed and had their teeth floated. All of the horses also underwent Coggins tests to ensure that they were negative for equine infectious anemia. Stacey, who is also certified in animal chiropractic care, performed adjustments on the horses before setting out. She’s been continuing the treatments throughout the trip. “We keep the same horses all the time, and that means that we have to maintain their health, and they have to start with good health,” says David, adding that a horse with poor conformation will get sore and tire more quickly on the road. “If it doesn’t have decent bone – very hard feet — you know, it probably won’t take the pounding of the road. And it has to be a good keeper.” The Nahachewskys cover anywhere from 20 to 40 km a day. After the day’s ride is done, the Nahachewskys camp in fields and ditches.

Or sometimes, strangers take them in. “People will invite us into their homes and put up our horses. The generosity and the kindness of the people that we’ve met along the way is amazing,” says Stacey, adding that they rely on local residents for advice about where to ride.

“Let’s wake up, let’s go have fun, let’s see what there is to see around the next corner.” “The biggest way that our route changed is through the mountains,” says Teresa. She explains that the Nahachewskys had initially planned to enter British Columbia through Waterton Lakes National Park, but a new friend who is familiar with the area warned them against it. “He said it’s too dangerous unless you know the area a lot better, and we’re all prairie people.” Because of the constantly changing nature

The group travels along a rail line in southern Alberta.

of their journey, the Nahachewskys aren’t sure how long their trip will take them or precisely where they will end up. What started out as David’s bucket list dream has become a reality — a difficult and constantly changing journey, but one full of unexpected turns and beautiful scenery. It has tested their endurance, brought them closer as a family and shown them things that people don’t get to see when they travel in a car. “You can go off the road — if you see a beautiful valley or coulee, you can go through that. The wildlife aren’t afraid of you,” says Stacey, who recalls watching an antelope teach her baby how to cross the road one morning. “Travelling on horse[back], you have a permanent companion. You’re riding on him, so you know — when you’re sitting there for the fourth hour you can start talking to him. It’s very much a bonding experience.”

The Nahachewskys at the beginning of their ride in April 2017.

Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Equine sarcoids:

a mystery gone viral

By Kyrsten Stringer

Using liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) to freeze off an equine sarcoid is one way to treat the recurring skin tumours, but WCVM scientists eventually hope to find a more effective therapy option. Christina Weese

Not all detectives wear fancy hats and trench coats with a magnifying glass tucked in the pocket. Some of them wear white lab coats and use powerful microscopes. “My dad’s a pathologist, so there you go. It’s the family business,” says Dr. Bruce Wobeser, associate professor of veterinary pathology at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). “What’s appealing to me about pathology is that it’s essentially detective work.” Veterinary pathologists like Wobeser study body fluids and tissues in the same way that detectives investigate crime scenes: they both look for clues. But instead of answering queries about guns and other murder weapons, veterinary pathologists are searching for answers to more atypical questions. For example, where do equine sarcoids come from? Wobeser and other researchers know that sarcoids — the most common skin tumour



in horses — are caused by bovine papillomavirus (BPV). But what remains a mystery is how a bovine-specific papillomavirus is responsible for causing skin tumours in horses. “Most papillomaviruses are species-specific, so horses get horse papillomavirus [and] people get human papillomaviruses,” says Wobeser. “The exception to that seems to be the papillomaviruses that cause sarcoids.” Wobeser started studying sarcoids in 2006 as the subject of his PhD thesis, with the support of the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF). His graduate supervisor was Dr. Andrew Allen who is also a veterinary pathologist at the WCVM. At the time, there was no definitive test for identifying sarcoids and there still isn’t, despite Wobeser’s interest in finding one and the fact that equine sarcoids are so common. After Wobeser joined the WCVM faculty in 2010, he continued to investigate

equine skin diseases — and now works alongside a graduate student of his own. The trouble with sarcoids is that it can be difficult to pick them out of a lineup of other suspects. On the surface, they look like proud flesh (exuberant granulation tissue, an excessive healing response in horses), and even on a slide it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Sarcoids are also unpredictable. Sometimes they just go away on their own. Sometimes they respond to biopsies and treatment attempts with the anger of self-righteous thugs, becoming more aggressive. Sarcoids range in appearance from a hairless patch of skin to smooth nodules to fleshy, ulcerated masses, and they can seriously impair a horse depending on their location. Treating sarcoids is complicated, and there are a lot of unsolved mysteries in their case file. “If you don’t have a good understanding of

what’s causing the disease that’s in front of you, then as a veterinarian in general practice you don’t have a good idea about what to do about it,” says PhD student Dr. Sarah Greenwood, who works alongside Wobeser. Treatments for sarcoids include surgical removal, but the rate of recurrence is high. Other options include chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Scientists have attempted to develop a vaccine against sarcoids, but so far, those efforts are still unsuccessful. Back in 2009, Wobeser and Allen examined 800 sarcoid biopsies, and discovered that 80 per cent of sarcoid cases in Western Canada are caused by a strain of the BPV virus known as BPV-2. Other places in North America and around the world see a predominance of sarcoids caused by BPV-1. However, not all horses infected with BPV develop sarcoids, and BPV is often found in the normal skin and non-sarcoid skin lesions in horses. This means that the presence of BPV doesn’t guarantee sarcoid growth. “If we can figure out why the papillomavirus causes the tumours, then maybe we can prevent them,” says Wobeser. “In people, human cervical cancer is caused by a papillomavirus. Vaccines exist now, but it took decades of research to demonstrate that cervical cancer is linked to this papillomavirus, and we’re not there yet with horses. We don’t have the money to do it. You know, it’s a horse thing — not a human health thing.” Since he completed his PhD work in 2010, Wobeser has participated in a series of research projects that probe the issue of equine skin cancer. Wobeser’s sarcoid sleuthing has dragged papillomavirus into the hot seat and opened a new line of questioning — specifically a new research project where Wobeser, Greenwood and a team of researchers will investigate the role of an equine papillomavirus (EcPV) in the development of equine squamous cell carcinomas. This research project, funded by TEHRF, is the subject of Greenwood’s PhD thesis. Other members of Wobeser’s detective team are Dr. Dale Godson, a diagnostic microbiologist at Prairie Diagnostic Services (PDS) and an immunohistochemistry (IHC) specialist, and Dr. Tasha Epp, an associate professor of zoonosis at the WCVM. “The work that we’re doing right now is so early that it’s very broad. We’re asking very simple questions,” says Greenwood. “We want to know how prevalent the virus is and how many horses are exposed. Is it interacting with specific cancer-causing proteins in the cells? If we can get some of those answers down, hopefully future research can get closer and closer.”

The WCVM-based work on papillomaviruses in horses started more than a decade ago with Wobeser’s sarcoid inspection. Greenwood says those efforts laid the groundwork for the techniques and the types of studies that their research team is now using to profile EcPV-2. Their long-term goal is to improve the prognosis, therapy and prevention of squamous cell carcinomas and other equine skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinomas and sarcoids are both skin tumours caused by a papillomavirus. But unlike sarcoids, squamous cell carcinomas are often fatal. They’re also caused by a strand of equine papillomavirus known as EcPV-2.

“If you don’t have a good understanding of what’s causing the disease that’s in front of you, then as a veterinarian in general practice you don’t have a good idea about what to do about it.”

- Dr. Sarah Greenwood

Like BPV, researchers know very little about when and how EcPV is transmitted between horses, and even less is known about how this particular virus causes cancer. Researchers have identified seven distinct types of EcPV so far and only one

Veterinary pathologist Dr. Bruce Wobeser Kyrsten Stringer

of those (EcPV-2) is linked to cancer — but it’s highly probable that more EcPV types are hiding out in the skin of horses. In a project made possible with funding from TEHRF, Wobeser and his research team intend to find out. “If thousands of horses are infected with the papillomavirus, only a small proportion will develop tumours from that,” says Wobeser. “Being infected doesn’t give you the disease. It doesn’t cause the tumours necessarily, so there has to be something else.” One potential idea is that the virus reacts to, or takes advantage of, something found in the small percentage of horses that develop these tumours. Papillomaviruses infect the basal layers of your skin. As skin cells mature, they change and then eventually get to the top and fall off. Papillomaviruses depend on that maturation of the skin cells to complete their cycle. They go through different replicative stages as they get closer to the surface, and then when the top layer of skin sheds off, mature viruses are shed as well. “What we want to know is are they [papillomaviruses] making cells replicate faster? Are they preventing cells from dying their normal death?” says Wobeser. Wobeser and Greenwood are also investigating differences between tumours associated with the papillomavirus and tumours that aren’t linked to the virus. Understanding these differences could be the key to pinpointing the role that papillomaviruses play in tumour development.

PhD student Dr. Sarah Greenwood Kyrsten Stringer

Western College of Veterinary Medicine


“In people if you have a papillomavirus-positive tumour, the prognosis is better than if you have a papillomavirus-negative tumour,” says Wobeser. “They respond better to treatment. They tend to be less aggressive and they spread less quickly. We want to know if that’s true in horses as well.” In the cases of tumours where the influence of a papillomavirus appears to be absent, Greenwood says that doesn’t necessarily mean the cancer was virus-free. “One of the theories for a long time was that it’s possible the virus comes in, does its damage, the body clears the virus but the cells are going now,” says Greenwood. “In those cases it was caused by a virus but you can’t find it.”

The long-term goal is to improve the prognosis, therapy and prevention of squamous cell carcinomas and other equine skin cancers.

Isolated horses offer insight into virus By Jane Westendorf

A close up of an equine sarcoid. Christina Weese

This theory — the idea that a virus might sneak in when nobody’s watching and then slip away without any obvious trace — is called a “hit and run.” Like all good detectives, pathologists have to ask a lot of questions. Research begets more research and answers are not always easily found. But that’s one of the things that Wobeser likes best about his work. “Every case is different. That appeals to me.” Kyrsten Stringer of Wolseley, Sask., is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Regina. She was a communications intern at the WCVM during the summer of 2017.



A horse stands on top of a sandy dune, his coat matted and eyelids lowered against the fierce wind. Ocean waves crash against the shoreline to his right, outlining the crescent-shaped wedge that is Sable Island, home to one of the last wild horse populations in Canada. The conditions surrounding Sable Island horses have long interested scientists, offering them a glimpse into natural herd hierarchy, island ecology and genetic drift. A team at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) is particularly interested in what this herd may be harbouring within their thick, weather-beaten skin. For the past few years, WCVM veterinary pathologist Dr. Bruce Wobeser has been exploring the connection between papillomavirus (PV) and the development of skin tumours in horses. PV is a virus with many strains that affects most animal species. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most well known as the cause of cervical cancer in women. “PV is a virus that affects the skin and causes rapid growth of skin cells. That growth can become transformed into a cancer and that’s what we think we see in human cervical cancer, for example,” Wobeser explains. “Most of the time, when people or animals get infected, they develop an immune response and nothing happens. Rarely that immune response is delayed and they develop a papilloma or a wart, and even more rarely, that immune response is so delayed that you get a tumour or cancer development. So while lots are exposed, very few develop cancer.” Wobeser and his graduate student, Dr. Sarah Greenwood, have been working together to determine how common the virus is in the domestic horse population.

Sable Island horses are helping WCVM researchers learn more about the prevalence of equine papillomavirus among horse populations. Amber Blackwell

Amber Blackwell

When Dr. Todd Shury, a veterinarian with Parks Canada who is based at the WCVM, planned a trip to Sable Island, N.S., this spring, a unique opportunity presented itself to Wobeser. “I approached Bruce and said, ‘I know you have a research interest in skin diseases in horses. Do you want some samples?’” explains Shury, whose trip to Sable Island was supported by Dr. Phil McLoughlin, a researcher in the University of Saskatchewan’s biology department. “That’s the great thing about working in a vet college. I can go have these hallway conversations with people. A lot of research projects start that way.” Wobeser was particularly interested in the status of PV in the island’s horses. “We were working on Sarah’s project on prevalence,” says Wobeser. “It occurred to me that Sable Island was a unique environment and so it would make a nice contrast with this wild, free-ranging horse population to see what the natural history of the disease would be like without human

intervention. If it’s different, [or] if it’s not different.” Ancestors of the Sable Island horses were brought to pasture on this small island back in the mid-1700s. Now numbering upwards of 500 head, the feral horses have thrived for more than 200 years among the fog and the sandy dunes. “It’s a really unique place,” Shury says. “It’s such a simple ecosystem: a 40-kilometrelong sandbar, limited vegetation and one herbivore. And no predators.” Harsh winter conditions and deep sand have left these animals with shaggy coats and characteristically curved hooves, but no overt disease appears to affect the herd. During his time on the island this spring, Shury collected skin samples from 25 equine carcasses found on the sandy beaches of Sable Island. WCVM parasitologist Dr. Emily Jenkins and several graduate students from McLoughlin’s lab group helped him with the task. The samples were then put into preservative and brought back to Saskatoon where Wobeser’s team fixed them into blocks of paraffin wax. The researchers began the challenge of hunting for potential traces of PV in the samples — but identifying the virus was not a simple task. Without any reliable external indicators of disease to work from, the team set out to isolate the presence of viral DNA in the Sable Island equine tissue samples. Through a series of chemical steps, the research team successfully extracted and replicated DNA in the lab. They used another protocol to test this DNA for the virus with primers specially designed to recognize a common sequence in PV. The team did not find papillomavirus in any of the Sable Island samples. On a small island with a limited population, Wobeser says it’s possible that there is no PV.

“Whether there was nobody shedding or nobody had PV when they arrived on the island … or whether it’s such a small group that everyone has been infected and has developed an immune response to it and therefore there’s no susceptible animals anymore — that’s possible, too.” Since the samples were collected from horses that died of exposure or old age, the project’s small sample size may not be representative of the entire population of the island. Using a statistical algorithm based on data collected by this study, the maximum prevalence that PV could exist within the herd is 13.7 per cent. Compared to studies on the local domestic population in Western Canada where PV is estimated to occur in about 30 per cent of horses, PV appears to occur at a significantly lower rate in the Sable Island herd. This difference could be due to any number of reasons surrounding the wild herd and warrants further investigation. Regardless, this Sable Island project is another step towards understanding PV in horses. Through continued research, the team at WCVM hopes to shed light on a virus that affects a wide range of species — including humans. Jane Westendorf of Mission, B.C., is a second-year veterinary student who was part of the WCVM’s Undergraduate Summer Research and Leadership program in 2017. She was also the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund summer research student and a Merial Veterinary Scholar. Jane’s story is part of a series of stories written by WCVM summer research students.

Western College of Veterinary Medicine


R A O R Removal

By Hayley Kosolofski

Over the next 12 months, researchers at the WCVM hope to develop a simpler surgery that will become the new standard for treating recurrent laryngeal neuropathy.

“Roaring” is a common issue in racehorses that affects their performance on the track. Kyrsten Stringer



Kyrsten Stringer

The WCVM researchers are testing a potential option that doesn’t Recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN) or “roaring” is a perforleave any permanent material in the horse and is less invasive. This mance-limiting condition commonly encountered in racehorses and procedure is called a corniculatectomy — or surgical removal of a in draft horse breeds. Affected horses have partial obstruction of horse’s corniculate process. their airway as a portion of the larynx collapses over the trachea, and “The arytenoid cartilage is made of two portions: the muscular as a result, these horses make the condition’s characteristic “roaring” portion and the corniculate process. The corniculate process is the noise during exercise. portion that flaps in the way,” says Carmalt. Surgical treatments are available for RLN, but there can be compliThe corniculatectomy is an option that Carmalt has been thinking cations and some horses may require additional surgery. about for some time, but until this year, the right opportunity hadn’t Over the next 12 months, researchers at the Western College of Vetcome up to test the theory. The researchers hope that this procedure erinary Medicine (WCVM) hope to develop a simpler surgery that will reduce the risk of infection yet be as effective in opening the will become the new standard for treating RLN. Dr. Michelle Tucker, airway. But the risk is that by being less aggressive, the procedure a resident in large animal surgery at the WCVM, is investigating this will be less effective. new option as part of her Master of Science research project. She’s “We have a two-fold plan,” says Carmalt. “The first stage is a cadavworking with Drs. James Carmalt and David Wilson, both large er study, so we are taking cadaver airways and testing the procedure animal surgeons at the WCVM. Their project has financial backing in a controlled setting.” from the Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF). The team will perform the corniculatectomies on cadaver speciAs Carmalt explains, RLN is a degenerative condition of the mens and then they’ll compare the results to the recurrent laryngeal nerve — the longest nerve in tie-back procedure by placing the specimens in the horse’s body. “The nerve exits the brain, travels The WCVM a box that’s specially designed to study air flow down the neck, loops around the base of the heart, dynamics. then travels back up the neck to innervate the mus- researchers are Specifically, the researchers will compare how cles of the larynx.” testing a potential the corniculatectomy affects resistance to air flow Degeneration of this nerve results in a weakening option that through the equine larynx. of the muscles that are responsible for opening the “If we find that our technique is superior to or as arytenoid cartilages of the larynx which protect doesn’t leave any good as the tie-back, then we will proceed to the the airway. The narrowed airway makes it harder permanent material live animal study,” says Carmalt. for the horse to breathe and leads to the “roaring” This summer, the WCVM researchers are working noise. This problem also means the affected horse in the horse and is closely with specialists in the University of Sascan’t obtain enough oxygen, so it will tire faster less invasive. katchewan’s College of Engineering to design the during exercise. And if the animal is a racehorse, box and analyze air dynamics. Tucker’s first degree it’s unable to reach maximal speeds. was in engineering, so her background brings a unique set of skills to Right now, veterinarians have two options for treating horses with the project. RLN. The “tie-back” — the oldest and most common procedure — That fact, along with funding from TEHRF, presented Carmalt with is done by placing a permanent suture that ties the weak arytenoid the ideal opportunity for testing out the alternative therapy. cartilage up and out of the horse’s airway. The other procedure is “The odds are stacked against us to develop a new surgical techcalled a partial arytenoidectomy, which involves removing part of nique, given the fact that the tie-back procedure has stood the test of the affected arytenoid cartilage and muscle. time,” says Carmalt. Both procedures are effective but complications may occur. “The Still, with so much to gain for horses affected by RLN — it’s worth primary job of the arytenoids is to regulate the airway of the horse to a try. run away from predators,” says Carmalt. “It also protects the airway from food material so when the horse swallows, it closes.” Hayley Kosolofski of Sherwood Park, Alta., is a 2016 graduate from the Since both treatments mean that horses can’t protect their airway WCVM. After spending the last year as a clinical intern at Delaney Veterias well, they’re at risk of inhaling food material and developing nary Services, Hayley is now one of the practice’s clinical associates. pneumonia. In addition, the tie-back procedure leaves a permanent suture that can be a source for infection.

Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Reining in equine

obesity By Kyrsten Stringer

A grazing muzzle is one tool that owners can use to manage their horses’ feed intake. Kyrsten Stringer



Imagine you’re a draft horse. The year is 1927 and you spend most of your time hooked up to a plow in the field, burning calories and muscle. You dine primarily on grain. It’s important to keep your energy up because you work hard every day and your family depends on you. When the tractor comes along, your role on the farm changes. There’s less work for you to do, but you still get your daily grain ration. It’s rich in carbohydrates and you love it, but you’re not getting as much exercise as you used to and now there’s fat gathering in your neck and along your back. It builds up in your shoulders and over your ribcage. There’s additional pressure on your joints and your hoofs start to feel like they are being torn apart from the inside. You have laminitis, a condition where the tissues holding the hoof together become inflamed and start to fail. “Most horses used to be working horses,” says Dr. Julia Montgomery, assistant professor of large animal medicine at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). “Especially in this province [Saskatchewan] — probably every horse that used to exist in this province 50 or 80 years ago was a work horse. If you pull a plow all day you need to eat oats.” Recently, WCVM researchers conducted a retrospective study of horses that were part of the WCVM’s field service caseload. The study’s results showed that on average, Saskatoon-area horses weigh slightly higher than ideal, says WCVM field service veterinarian Dr. Kate Robinson, who also led the research project.

Overweight horses are more likely to develop arthritis when they’re older, more likely to be affected by laminitis and more likely to develop equine metabolic syndrome.

Most veterinarians evaluate horses using the Henneke equine body condition scoring system that’s featured in Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines. The scoring scale ranges from one to nine, one being extremely thin (emaciated) and nine being extremely overweight (bulging fat). The ideal body condition score for a horse is around five. For the 290 horses included in the WCVM study, the average body condition score was six. “It’s not uncommon when we chat with clients that they are actually unaware of the fact that their animal is overweight,” says Montgomery. “We do see a lot of horses that are in fantastic shape. The horses that we do see that are overweight are much loved and cared for. It’s a matter of perception and awareness.” While a diet rich in grain makes sense for horses that live active lifestyles and get a lot of exercise, concentrate feeds are high in calories and can be too much for some horses. Montgomery says that there are two potential factors at work here: a horse is either being fed more than it needs, or they have a different metabolism. “You could have two horses on your property. They’re the same size and you feed them the same diet, they do the same amount of work. But one horse burns off the energy just fine, and the other horse might have problems with its insulin metabolism and might not be able to handle that kind of carbohydrate load.” This condition is known as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). This endocrine disorder is similar to type 2 diabetes in people where insulin doesn’t regulate blood sugar

A cresty neck is one tell-tale sign of obesity that horse owners should be aware of. Kyrsten Stringer

levels the way it’s supposed to. Because EMS presents more often in hardy horse breeds, one theory about the disease’s cause is a discrepancy between the types of feed a horse’s metabolism has evolved to absorb and the types of feed that a horse is eating in a stall. “The Shetland pony is a great example,” says Montgomery. “It [the breed] comes from the Shetland Islands. There’s not much around. If you take an animal that’s evolved to live off of what’s around them, and you put them in a lush pasture or you feed them a bunch of grain, they just can’t handle that.” Most horses don’t need much more than grass or hay to stay happy and healthy. But the trouble with lush, green pastures is the high sugar content of the grass. “Depending on the growing conditions, the time of year and even day to day – the amount of sugar and calories in grass can vary,” says Robinson. “If you turn a horse out on pasture, it essentially is eating at a 24/7 buffet.” Grasses are richest in the spring, and the plants feed off sunlight to build up sugars throughout the day. While sugars in grasses tend to be lowest between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., Robinson cautions that the situation isn’t always so cut and dry. If temperatures drop below five degrees at night, grass goes into a mini-hibernation and will not use up the sugar it gathered during the day — meaning that the grass plants could be just as rich in sugar content at 6 a.m. as they are during the afternoon. Heavy rainfall, stress from drought conditions or overgrazing can also increase sugar content in grasses. In addition to regulating horses’ grazing times, owners have other options to regulate

horses’ eating and exercise when they’re on pasture. Muzzles make it possible for horses to drink water and to graze without over-eating. Owners can also enrich their horse’s environment by installing fences and creating obstacles in pastures that horses must walk through or go around. This trademarked Paddock Paradise concept is designed to simulate a horse’s natural habitat and to keep them moving. “If an owner has control over their horse’s diet and wants to manage their horse’s weight, it can be helpful to weigh out their feed,” says Robinson. “The average horse should do pretty well on two per cent of its bodyweight in hay [during] every 24-hour period. Actually knowing how much a horse is fed on a daily basis is important.” Alternatively, providing small, frequent meals in slow feeder nets is a good way to limit the amount of food a horse eats while still catering to the horse’s natural instinct to constantly graze. If a horse is able to exercise, Robinson recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise four to five times per week to maintain good body condition. Like people, horses can come in many different shapes and sizes, colours and personalities. And just like humans, weight issues in horses create a number of different health concerns. Overweight horses are more likely to develop arthritis when they’re older, more likely to be affected by laminitis and more likely to develop EMS. It can also be difficult for overweight mares to conceive. “Overall we see a trend toward more overweight pets — and we see that in small animals as well as horses,” says Montgomery. “Owner education is key.” Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Dr. Julia Montgomery. Christina Weese

Metabolic syndrome linked to weight By Lynne Gunville

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a disorder of the endocrine system that’s a major concern to horse owners because of its association with recurrent or chronic laminitis. Dr. Julia Montgomery, a specialist in large animal medicine at the WCVM, answers questions about the disease. What are the risk factors and clinical signs of EMS?

EMS tends to develop in horses and ponies from the hardier breeds such as saddlebred, Tennessee walking horse, paso fino, Morgan, mustang, Arabian and quarter horse. In addition to body condition, an important indicator of EMS is the development of fat deposits — typically on the neck, shoulders and rump. The most significant and distressing clinical sign of EMS is the onset of laminitis, a chronic disease that can lead to structural changes inside the hoof. Once these changes occur, the disease is very difficult and sometimes impossible to manage. Because laminitis can affect an animal’s quality of life and may ultimately lead to its death, horse owners need to be aware of the risk factors for EMS. If they can recognize the early clinical signs, they may be able to prevent laminitis from developing. 12


How is EMS diagnosed?

EMS is diagnosed based on the animal’s physical appearance as well as its medical history, which often includes recurrent episodes of laminitis. Veterinarians can also administer a combined glucose-insulin tolerance test by giving dextrose followed by insulin intravenously to a horse and then testing the animal’s blood at regular intervals to determine the blood glucose response. In normal horses the blood glucose level decreases over time as the insulin drives the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells. However, in animals that have EMS, the insulin does not do its job and the blood glucose level remains high.

How can EMS be treated?

Although EMS can never be cured, it can be managed with diet and exercise. EMS horses should be placed on a low-carbohydrate diet and fed one to 1.5 per cent of

their body weight in dry matter. The normal daily requirement for horses is about two per cent of their body weight. Horse owners can soak hay to leach out some of the soluble carbohydrates or feed a lower-quality hay that has fewer carbohydrates. They can also control grass intake when an EMS horse is out to pasture with a grazing muzzle. Carbohydrate levels in grass are lower at night, so a feeding strategy could involve turning the horses out at night and then bringing them back in during the day. Spring and early fall after the first frost are particularly risky times for EMS horses to be pastured because the grass is much richer in carbohydrates during those periods. Regular exercise is an important aspect of the weight loss program. However, it’s not recommended for animals that are having an acute episode of laminitis since it might actually worsen their condition. For EMS horses that are sound, it’s important to establish a regular exercise program that starts with just a few minutes at a time and increases as they become better conditioned. Carefully monitor each animal and immediately stop the exercise program if there are any signs of laminitis.

Can EMS be prevented?

The key to preventing EMS is awareness, but sometimes even the most diligent horse owners are unable to prevent their horse from developing laminitis – often the first indication of EMS. If you own a horse that’s predisposed to developing EMS, monitor its body condition carefully so that it never becomes over conditioned, and be aware of the clinical signs – the cresty neck and the fat deposits. Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns. The ultimate goal is early detection to prevent laminitis from occurring. Reprinted with permission from Horse Canada (

Vetavision 2017

EQUINE CENTRE OPENS The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) opened its new intensive care centre for mares and foals on May 26. The new Rae-Dawn Arabians Equine Intensive Care Unit and Foal Centre was made possible with a $200,000 donation from Murray and Shirley Popplewell of Kyrsten Stringer Saskatoon, Sask. The new centre includes four spacious stalls — all Murray and Shirley Popplewell with their family outfitted with oxygen lines, video at the WCVM centre’s grand opening in May. monitoring and other tools for delivering specialized care. Two of the stalls are adjoining so a mare and her foal can be together during recuperation. The centre also has a small stock area for mares and foals along with direct trailer access to minimize biosecurity risks. To read the full story, visit

Student in winner’s circle Third-year WCVM student Kirstie Oswald of Winnipeg, Man., is one of 33 veterinary students receiving funding from the 2017 Winner’s Circle Scholarship program. Co-sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Foundation, Platinum Performance and the Race for Education — the Winner’s Circle Scholarship is given to North American veterinary students who display leadership skills and a commitment to a future in equine medicine. These scholarships are meant to ease some of the financial burden that veterinary students face in pursuit of their careers. Scholarship amounts range from $1,500 to $5,000, according to individual student needs.

Excellence in horse care One of the WCVM’s most recent graduates, Dr. Rebecca McOnie of Armstrong, B.C., is the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Ashburner and Vandi Award for Excellence in Equine Care — an honour that is presented to a graduating student who demonstrates quality care and advocacy of equine patients during the Debra Marshall fourth-year clinical rotations. Established by Heather Ryan and L. David Dubé, the (L to R): Award donors L. David Dubé and award honours Vandi Solis, the couple’s Heather Ryan, award recipient Rebecca McOnie registered quarter horse mare who died and WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman. in 2011. It also recognizes Dr. Sue Ashburner — an equine field service veterinarian who worked at the WCVM for many years. The annual award includes a full scholarship that covers tuition for one year. McOnie is now working as a clinical intern at the prestigious Arizona Equine Medical and Surgical Center in Gilbert, Ariz. “I would be very lucky to have relationships with my equine patients and my own horses similar to those that you both had with Vandi,” said McOnie in a message to Ryan and Dubé.

Visit for more news updates

Sept. 29-30, 2017 Curious about the veterinary profession? Want to know more about the world of animal health? Come to Vetavision 2017 — the WCVM’s public open house! Entirely organized by our veterinary students, Vetavision offers all kinds of displays, talks, tours and demonstrations – along with some furry, hairy and slippery creatures to visit. Bring your family to the “Great Veterinary Variety Show”! Western College of Veterinary Medicine




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The reining saddle has a short horn, a flatter seat allowing the rider easier hip movement, and close contact skirts permitting better horse-rider communication.


English vs. Western

What are the Differences? By Jochen Schleese, CMS, CSFT, CSE When mankind began riding horses, and saddles were developed to help keep riders astride their mounts, the original purpose of the saddle was to support the horse in his job. Saddles were designed to accommodate the demands placed on horses during activities such as combat, transportation, and sport. And since riding in long skirts was not practical and it was unbecoming for a women to straddle a horse, side-saddles were created to allow women to ride. Recent years have seen a change in saddles from mainly functional to often fashionable (featuring bling, silver, etc.). More recently, as the general demographic of riders changed to primarily women, gender considerations have been incorporated into the mix of saddle design for both English and Western disciplines.

Western Saddles

In Western disciplines, riders have been willing to spend quite a bit of money to get the right look, with fashionable saddles incorporating beautiful tooling and silver accoutrements. The basic design or style of the saddle can include many variations in the seat, fork, swell, horn, cantle, and skirts, depending on the specific discipline it is designed for. All of these can change with the discipline. Western saddles are categorized by fork style, intended use, tree type, breed type, material type, and production technique. Let’s look at some of the more popular types of Western saddles by intended use. Cutting saddles are designed for riders who will separate a single animal from the herd. The flat seat and wide swells help SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017





The barrel racing saddle is built for speed and security during tight turns.

the rider stay centered. These are not overly secure saddles, but designed to keep the rider balanced and out of the horse’s way during starts, stops, and turns. They can also be used for penning and for training, even for reining if needed. Roping saddles are made for demanding use and maximum freedom of movement for the rider. These saddles must have a strong tree and horn, with a lower cantle for easier dismount. The seat is usually deep and covered in suede for grip. For barrel racers, the saddle is designed for speed — the cantle is higher, the horn is thinner and longer (easier to hold on to), and the swell and cantle are built to wedge the rider into position so that when the

rider comes out of the gate and has to make turns at full speed, she sits securely. Many saddles also feature wider gullets and greater flare on the bars to help the horse move freely, and with forward-hung stirrups to keep the rider in position by being able to brace the legs. Since females also comprise the majority of barrel racers, these saddles are often very flashy with bold colours and materials. In reining saddles, the cantle and swell are lower and the seat is shaped to allow the rider to sit further back in the saddle to stay out of the horse’s way. A reining saddle provides the rider with the close contact needed to communicate subtle commands to the horse for the meticulous


The cutting saddle is designed to keep the rider balanced and out of the horse’s way during cow work.






patterns of circles, spins, and sliding stops. For the relatively newer sport of Western Dressage, the ground seat, the cantle, the swell, and skirts are designed to place the rider more forward and over the centre of balance on the horse’s back. The movement in this discipline is somewhat different from that in any other Western discipline. The horse’s head is ridden very low so that the back comes up — which means a different fit is required than that of a Western saddle in any other discipline. Traditionally, Western saddles have focused more on fitting the rider, since only limited fitting to the horse could be done. The quarter bars, semi-quarter bars, or Arab bars were basically the only changeable options needed in the past. The horses used for Western disciplines were usually Quarter Horses, which were kept relatively pure in their breeding lines. Certain breeds were for certain jobs and there was less cross-breeding back then. Western saddle fitting is now more complicated since many more breeds are being ridden within the various disciplines. The options for the rider in a Western saddle have also increased in recent years. For example, the bars can now be ordered with six different options, with innumerable variations in each combination of choices. Pommel

These options include: • Length of the bar; • Twist of the bar (this is a different term than used for English saddles). The ribcage of a horse is angled more steeply near the shoulders than towards the back; • Curvature of the bars (the “rock” in the tree bars);

Schleese Saddlery has taken this individualization a step further and offers split bars and split ground seats to allow both male and female riders to use the same saddle, as well as fitting options to accommodate different horse conformations.

English Saddles

• Width of the bars (mainly in the front);

English saddles have many more combinations of variables, some based on the same parameters as the Western saddle but with different nomenclature. These include saddle size, flap length and

• Flare of the bars (how much the bars flare up in front of the swell and behind the cantle); and • Angle of the bar (mainly towards the front).



Gullet Channel



(not visible)


Knee Pad

Stirrup Leather Keeper


Saddle Flap

Pommel or Swell

Stirrup Leather



Seat RIse

Cantle Seat

Cheyenne Roll Concho

Front Jockey Concho Latigo Holder Latigo

(wound up)

Stirrup Leather Stirrup

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position, cantle height/seat depth, billet number and length, stirrup bar position and length, and gender accommodation, to name a few. The general purpose saddle has become somewhat less popular in recent years as riders who are serious about the sport prefer the correct saddle for their particular discipline. Traditionally the GP came in two main variations — one more suitable for jumping, the other more suitable for dressage, and both were made to suit one of the following rider categories:





• An entry level rider uncertain as to which discipline to concentrate on; • A recreational rider who was comfortable jumping occasionally but was usually “just riding out”; and • The rider who wanted to buy just one saddle that could more or less do it all. Eventing (cross-country) and jumping saddles are fitted differently yet again. There has to be enough room, especially at the front of the pommel at the withers and trapezius muscle, for both shoulders to move forward/backward/upward simultaneously in an explosion over the jump. Although the preference for these two sports seems to be close-contact saddles, many riders tend to place their saddles a little too far forward over and on the shoulder, which inhibits movement at the shoulder and creates the need for multiple pads to help bring the cantle back up to put the The roping saddle saddle in a level position. Where’s the features a sturdy horn close-contact now? and tree, and a lower Endurance saddles are also fitted cantle for easier differently because endurance horses dismount. tend to be allowed to move in a natural way with their heads high to see where they’re going. When the head is high, the back is down, and the saddle needs to be fitted differently than for dressage where the head is lower and the back is up. The muscle definition in endurance horses compared to dressage horses is completely different as well, with as much disparity as between Thoroughbred racehorses and endurance horses. Just as human sprinters are typically bulkier than long distance runners, the same holds true for horses in comparable activities, and the saddle must


A Baroque-type horse, ridden by Jane Savoie.

accommodate these differences. Racing saddles are fitted differently again, as the jockey essentially does not sit in the saddle and is in the stirrups most of the time. Classical dressage is usually ridden on baroque-style horses, but baroque saddles are fitted somewhat differently than general dressage saddles since, compared to modern dressage horses, the baroque horses use their muscles differently when they perform movements beyond piaffe, passage, and canter pirouette, such as the capriole, levade, and courbette. Dressage is the basis for all other disciplines — the word dressage means “training” in French — which is why the slightest differences in position and balance can affect performance. Just as ballet is recognized as the prerequisite for all dancers, every rider in every English discipline does (or should do) dressage. Technical training is difficult, but without good technique you won’t advance. And just like wearing proper shoes is essential in dance, proper saddle fit is extremely important, which is why it is mainly in dressage that saddle fit is regularly maintained. Dressage saddles are probably the most requested saddles for regular adjustments to achieve correct fit, and the maintenance of this fit is comparable to a race car’s pit stops — constant regular adjustment, maintenance, and tweaking may be required to ensure continued optimum performance of both horse and rider. The main commonality between Western and English saddles, regardless of discipline, is that the saddle must distribute the weight of the rider and the saddle over a large weight-bearing surface (the panels) without putting undue pressure on very sensitive areas. The saddle needs to align the horizontal spine of the horse with the vertical spine of the rider to allow them both to move in complete harmony to accomplish whatever goal the rider has in their chosen discipline. b Jochen Schleese, Certified Master Saddler, Equine Ergonomist, is a leader in the concept of saddle fit, and teaches his Saddlefit 4 Life® philosophy worldwide. He is also the author of Suffering in Silence, The Saddle-Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses.

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Walk, Trot – By Jonathan Field Recently, I helped a friend whose mare was having problems with the transition to canter. Moving from trot to canter was scary at best – the mare might cut sharply into a turn, panic and rush, or throw in a strong buck. The mare seemed to be saying let’s just stick with the trot! I’ve seen riders of all levels dealing with these issues. The steps I took to help this mare are explained and illustrated in the following photos, and these same steps can benefit other horses at all gaits. A horse may balk or buck when transitioning to canter for many reasons, including: • Cinch constriction. Some horses feel the cinch in a different way when they stretch out to canter, and it can cause resistance because they think something has grabbed their belly. • Balance plays a huge role when moving out faster. An unbalanced horse will likely not want to go forward calmly and easily and may feel unsafe, which can cause all kinds of issues to arise. • No GO button! When the rider asks for canter, the horse has not been taught to respond quickly and get moving. • Giddy up… but just a little! This is a scared rider asking the horse to go forward and at the same time pulling back on the reins, which blocks the horse’s forward movement. Or, the rider is asking for forward but also pulling on the bit in an attempt to put the horse “in contact.” I see this often, but it is important to understand that before the rider can expect any degree of flexion or sustained contact with a green horse, the horse must freely and willingly move forward off the seat and leg aids without rider interference. 48






Step-by-Step to a Balanced Canter Departure 1

FIGURE 1 To solve the problem, first I wanted to see how the mare cantered on a long line. Here she’s picked up a canter and tightened up the lead, but her centre of balance is too far forward and she has fallen left to the inside of the circle. If we continue on without going back to help her learn a new posture and self-carriage, the lead will get tighter and we’ll actually start holding her up. I call this “reincarriage,” not self-carriage. If this pattern is continued, when the rider mounts and the horse is similarly held up by the inside rein and leg aids, it’s very dangerous because she is only a trip away from falling down. Knowing this, we can’t really blame the horse for resisting and bucking because she is trying to tell us that she could fall.


• Last (but not least) is a care issue of some kind. This might be anything from a sore body or an ill-fitting saddle, to ulcers or any number of other issues that your vet can help diagnose. With my friend’s mare, the main issue was balance. She would cut and fall into the canter and buck because she felt so out of balance. As we move through the steps outlined below, you’ll see her become more relaxed and confident, and you’ll even notice quite a positive change in her expression.

FIGURE 2 Going back to groundwork at the walk, I take time to teach her to move her shoulders over and bend through the head, neck, shoulder, and ribs. Step by step, by releasing each time she moves over, she builds competence to do this. Notice that I have a slight counterbend set up here and this is intentional, as I would be setting up my right balance/ left bend and therefore the left lead. I continue to do this slowly and correctly until she can bend left and balance over to the right for at least six steps in a row.










Allowing a bit of forward on a small circle, I am looking for some softening to the inside and maintaining a bit of bend. I am guiding the nose back on the lead and at the same time driving the ribs over with my horseman’s stick, but you can see she is pretty sticky and good at using her mass to not bend. In other words, she is very heavy to the ground with her feet, thereby remaining as one solid mass through the shoulders, ribs, and hindquarters.

Persistence and timed release pay off as she is now moving over to her right in a sidestepping motion like an introductory leg yield. This crossing of the feet and lateral movement exaggerate the bend required for the left lead. When doing this, I like to take my time and observe the feet moving over. Step, step, step… and so on. We don’t want to rush the horse here, as that will only create more brace in her body.


FIGURE 5 Allowing her to move even more forward, she is beginning to maintain a slack lead and some left bend. Notice that her inside ear is on me. With each request, I want the physical yield or movement, but also the ear and the eye to take a look and connect with me, even if it’s only for a moment at first.




Going through the whole process slowly on both sides is key. You will almost always notice that one side is easier than the other. If that’s the case, spend more time on the difficult side until both are equal. The main thing with horses is to get the right thing slowly before more speed and difficulty are added. 50




FIGURE 7 The work we’ve done is paying off with this nice canter. Notice the slack rope, the balance, and her ear on me. I am still focusing my stick towards her ribs, but now it’s only a suggestion.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Reward & Release

Each lesson with a horse must contain a reward and a release. With green horses like this mare, the release must be very obvious.

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When I ask the mare to move her shoulder over in this slight counterbend turn, you can see she is quite sticky and resistant (Figure 12). But not for long, because as soon as she moves and gives to the pressure, I will totally release this aid and allow her to feel the relief of moving over (Figure 13). If we are too finite in the beginning and always micromanaging the aids, it’s hard for the horse to really judge whether they have done something right or something wrong.

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8 FIGURE 8 Even with all the prep, that terrible canter is still there. But at least she didn’t try to do a big buck like before. Asking her to canter only briefly, I slow her down to teach more bending and yielding of the shoulders. It’s okay to try something and have it not work out. Just don’t keep pounding away at a high speed if you know it doesn’t work flawlessly at the trot or walk.


FIGURE 9 Taking time to get the bend and balance right will result in a better canter. I am sitting slightly on my right seat bone, pressing with my inside leg and rein, while using my outside aids to help support her and keep her from falling through the outside shoulder or hip. Make sure to feel the horse down to their feet, step, step, step… releasing subtly with each correct stride over to the left. If the rider applies the aid and just “globs it on” with no release, I promise you it won’t get any better.


FIGURE 10 Adding some speed, you can see that canter is only a second away. You will notice I am keen to take her head to the inside (right) and the balance to the outside of the circle (left). Many of us were taught to take the head to the left to go the right and vice versa. This may be good the first few times of trot-to-canter, but not for long. If you do this too much it teaches the horse to fall into the lead and I suspect that is how she got into this situation.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// A highly sought after clinician and horseman, Jonathan Field has produced a nine-hour in-depth DVD Home Study Set for advanced riders looking to gain knowledge when starting or restarting horses, titled The (re)Start is Everything! Go to www. to order, or stream your copy today and see this horse and several others go through this process. Or sign up to Jonathan Field’s new Free E-Video Series called “31 in 13.” That’s 31 short videos delivered to you in 13 months – for free. 52




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FIGURE 11 Success! She’s holding a beautiful posture in self-carriage — not rein-carriage. Now this feels like a canter I want to ride and one that will be healthy for the horse. Notice her nice expression and forward movement. With any discipline, it’s important to know that a horse in foundation training doesn’t need to be all gathered up against a bit. The horse in training must first learn to go freely forward in balance left and right, front to back. Only then can we begin to go down the path of asking for more compression longitudinally. As this mare is in the early stages, she has enough collection in her body.

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Take your time with each step. I did this in one session, but the next day I would go back and review each slower pace and improve it before cantering again. Horsemanship is a daily habit and the fun is in the building blocks. Ride safe and stay “Inspired by Horses!” b For a short video summary of this lesson please visit our YouTube Channel – Jonathan Field Horsemanship ALL PHOTOS BY ANGIE FIELD SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017









A COUNTRY Built by Horse Power By Margaret Evans

The relationship between horses and people in Canada is rich, deep, and ancient. And the story of horses in our country is as old as time itself. To understand the horse’s place in our lives today, we need to look back through the pages of history. Why Did Horses Die Out in North America? Horses evolved in North America some 55 million years ago when they were just the size of beagle dogs with several toes on each foot. They scuttled about in the undergrowth, lunching on ferns and fruit while dodging the danger of being someone else’s lunch. But as climates changed, those early species either adapted or died out. As the more successful horse species co-evolved with their habitat, they went on to develop into the fleet-footed, grassland, socially dependent, successful herd animal we love today. The ancestor that gave rise to the modern genus Equus appeared about 4.5 million years ago, and 2.5 million years ago some of them migrated across the Bering Land Bridge linking Siberia and Alaska. The bridge named Beringia — actually a huge expanse of land about the size of British Columbia and Yukon combined — was exposed at the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch 2.5 million years ago as the climate cooled, sea levels dropped, and the Ice Age began. But Beringia remained ice free and the climate generated a cold steppe tundra that supported large grazing animals on which the very first people drifting into Beringia depended 24,000 years ago. The climate, forever changing, changed again. The world

Skull of 700,000-year-old horse found in permafrost in Thistle Creek Gold Mine in Yukon in 2003. PHOTO: DUANE FROESE, UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, EDMONTON

warmed, glaciers retreated releasing billions of litres of fresh water, and sea levels rose and began to swallow Beringia. The shrinking region grew more warm and moist, and shrub tundra incapable of supporting large grazing animals replaced the grassland steppe. This time, the horses along with other large mammals were unable to adapt. After 55 million years, the chapter closed on horses in North America as, some 10,000 years ago, they disappeared. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017




Horses Return, Exploration and Settlement Follow

ancestral niche and population numbers grew rapidly as the horses ranged through the southern states and into the prairies and the high plains north to Canada. It was just a matter of time before indigenous peoples made the connection that horses would enhance their culture in multiple ways. According to John C. Ewers’ classic book The Horse in Blackfoot Indian Culture, the Plains Indians began acquiring horses sometime after 1600, the centre of distribution being Santa Fe where the Spanish had set up stock-raising settlements. While many tribes obtained their first horses from others they traded with, stealing horses was just as efficient. The first mounted natives were Pueblo men working for, or allied with, the Spanish. The Apache PHOTO: GLENBOW ARCHIVES NA-403-2

Horses would return to North America with the Spanish. Italian voyager Christopher Columbus, under the auspices of the Catholic monarch of Spain, sailed to Central America and imported horses to the West Indies on his second voyage in 1493. Horses came to the mainland in 1519 with Spanish conquistador Hernan CortĂŠs who sailed to Yucatan with 11 ships, 508

men, and 16 horses. More Spanish explorers with soldiers and horses arrived in the 1520s and in the 1530s, supply centres for horses were set up in Mexico and Central America. Some horses were let loose and some likely escaped. Horses used by explorers such as De Soto and Coronado in 1541 likely resulted in more strays. But there were enough free horses to band together, breed, and spread. As a grassland animal, they instantly occupied their

Horses transformed almost every dimension of life on the plains for indigenous peoples, who used them for hunting, travel, trading, warfare, and more. Shown is Mrs. Tom Turned Up Nose with horse travois near Gleichen, Alberta, in the 1880s.


The brave horses used to hunt buffalo, as depicted in this painting by Karl Bodmer circa 1839, were prized by indigenous peoples.





and Navajo stole horses from the Pueblo horsemen and the concept of being mounted spread. Horses were ridden for raids on rival tribes, in tribal wars and skirmishes, and for hunting buffalo. They were used for moving camp, hauling gear, travel, and recreation and sport. And they were valued as an expression of social status, in horse medicine cults, and in spiritual beliefs and folklore. From the Apache, Navajo, Comanche, Ute, and Kiowa nations in the south to the Blackfoot nation in Alberta and Montana, the horse exploded as an animal of immense value in native cultures. One of the first Europeans to explore the Canadian west was fur trader Anthony Henday working for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He arrived in Alberta in September 1754. On October 14, 1754, to his surprise he encountered two Blackfoot on horseback. The date was significant in both cultural directions since the Blackfoot hunters had never seen a white man before. Horses were arriving in Canada from all directions. New France (the future Quebec) was getting out front on the fur trade business but traders were either under siege from the native Iroquois, pushing back on turf wars with the British, or scrapping with other New France settlers when issues of trade monopolies arose. King Louis XIV fixed that. He made New France a royal province and ordered the creation of a royal horse stud. But New France had no horses so he fixed that too by shipping two stallions and twenty mares from his own stables. As an avid rider, he was no slouch when it came to fine horses. But the rough voyage took its toll and eight mares perished. However, on July 16, 1665, the stallions and the twelve remaining mares stepped onto Canadian soil to begin a legacy that, through consistent breeding, would lead to the creation of the unique Canadian horse. Shipments continued and between 1665 and 1671, some 82 horses arrived in New France from the royal stables. Those horses likely originated from native herds in France (Normandy, Brittany and the historical province of Poitou) and Spain (Andalusia), regions renowned for the quality of their horses since before the Middle Ages. The first horses were allocated to religious communities and farming settlers. One of those communities was the Congregation de Notre-Dame on the present-day site of Maison Saint-Gabriel. The stone house was built around 1661 and was bought by Marguerite Bourgeoys in

1668. Bourgeoys and her colleagues used horses on the farm to grow food for the people in Montreal during the 1670s. Under contract, individual farmers and religious communities were to care for the horses, breed them and donate a foal to the administration under Intendant Jean Talon within three years. During that time, the King continued to own the horses. Foals were then redistributed under the same conditions. The breeding system worked and the population rapidly grew to over 13,000 in the 18th century. In the Maritime region, the horse’s story is

tangled in the conflicts and tensions between the Acadians and the British during the first half of the 18th century that finally saw the Acadians stripped of their land and livestock and deported. But the horses of the Acadians were to become the foundation stock of today’s Sable Island horses. During the Expulsion of the Acadians from 1755 to 1764, the people were deported to the 13 colonies in what is today the United States, and some of their livestock was transported to Sable Island, a remote sandbar off the coast of Nova Scotia, where they were used to haul lifeboats and other






equipment to save shipwrecked mariners. Despite the harsh conditions, the horses adapted and thrived in the maritime environment where they grazed on grassland plants in the interior of the island, marram grass growing in the sand dunes, and found fresh water in the meadows. In the early days horses, were routinely rounded up and sold in Klondikers with pack horses Halifax. But in 1960, Prime Minisoutside the Dawson Market, ter John Diefenbaker’s government Front Street, Dawson, Yukon ruled that the horses must be left Territory, in June 1898, during on the island to live untouched. the Yukon Gold Rush. Since then, the horses have been managed on a hands-off basis, and in 2013, Sable Island became Sable Island National Park Reserve. Today, the horse’s numbers are at a record high, ranging from 450 to 550.


A Royal North West Mounted Police trooper, circa 1900.


Range riders of the North West Mounted Police are depicted on patrol in winter (above), and trailing cattle thieves, the late 1800s.


Range riders of the North West Mounted Police are depicted on patrol in winter (below), and trailing cattle thieves (left), the late 1800s.





Horses in an Era of Growth and Change Across Canada from the prairies to the Pacific coast, a way of life was rapidly being transformed not only by explorers and fur traders but pioneers, settlers, ranchers, and farmers during the 1800s. The Hudson’s Bay Company was expanding from the shores of James and Hudson bays into central and western Canada. The company became dominant in the Pacific Northwest and had forts at Kamloops, Alexandria (near Quesnel), Langley, and Victoria. In 1825, they established Fort Vancouver on the

Columbia River and appointed John McLoughlin as their Chief Factor. He promoted peace with native tribes, fair trade for furs, and self-sufficiency for workers. And he kick-started the cattle industry in British Columbia. The Hudson’s Bay trading posts were so remote that workers needed to grow their own fruits and vegetables and raise their own livestock. Since the company owned

cattle in Oregon, McLoughlin orchestrated the first cattle drive into the future British Columbia. According to Alastair McLean’s article in Rangelands (4)3 in 1846, the year the 49th Parallel became the Canada/US international border, McLoughlin’s crew headed north, herding a supply of cattle and horses to forts Kamloops and Alexandria. In Manitoba, the Selkirk Settlers in the Red River area had already tooled up to

On November 7, 1885, CPR director Sir Donald Smith drove the final ceremonial spike at Craigellachie, BC. Edward Mallandaine, who ran a pony express delivery service to the railroad construction workers in BC, was just behind him.

Sir Donald Smith

Edward Mallandaine


A single horse and teamster work at a CPR snowshed under construction east of Selkirk Summit, BC, circa 1886 – 1888.





convert prairie land into agricultural fields. But they were in short supply of strong working horses. To improve local horse bloodlines, Governor George Simpson decided to import from England a superior stallion named Fireaway. He would be used to breed heavier horses for farming and faster horses for buffalo hunting. In 1831, Fireaway was put on board a ship bound for York Factory, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay. From there he was transported precariously by an oar-propelled freight (York) boat and rowed along the rivers south to Fort Garry (now a district of Winnipeg). Along the way there were many portages with the challenges of unloading and re-loading him and keeping him steady. Once in Fort Garry, Fireaway became the breeding stallion for many mares. In his first season, he bred 25 mares and his

Branding cattle on Sandy McCarthy’s ranch on Bear Creek, east of Maple Creek Saskatchewan, in 1897.


John Ware with his family, circa 1897. John Ware was born into slavery on a plantation near Georgetown, SC. After the American Civil War, he learned ranching and cowboy skills in Texas and became a master horseman, then made his way to Canada. He is best remembered for bringing the first cattle to southern Alberta in 1882, helping to create that province’s ranching industry.

The horse still ruled 19th century life, but the end of the horse-drawn era is foreshadowed in these images of a horse-drawn Imperial Oil Company delivery wagon at Winnipeg, Manitoba (below, left), and an Imperial Oil Company warehouse (below right), circa 1875 – 1898.







Horse-drawn tank wagons at Imperial Oil Company yard, Quebec City, Quebec, circa 1917-1918.

S IP-2B-2







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Horses answered the fire alarms from around 1840 to 1920, dashing along city streets pulling the steam pumper engines used to fight city fires. This horse-drawn fire engine was used in Calgary, Alberta, circa 1905.

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Before the age of huge farm tractors, horsepower is supplied by multiple teams ploughing and harrowing on Ben Macleod’s ranch at High River, Alberta, circa 1900-1903.





A wagon laden with homestead supplies is pulled by a horse-and-cow team at Biggar, Saskatchewan, in 1913.







In the early 1900s, wood was in huge demand to feed the construction industry. A horse-drawn sleigh hauls logs at the north end of Pigeon Lake, Alberta, in 1913.

the North West Mounted Police. In July 1874, the > Mounted Police, with 275 members, went to Lord Stanley’s southern Alberta where American whiskey horse and sleigh traders were operating among the native tribes. in 1893. The sixth They set up a permanent post at Fort Macleod Governor General where half the force was posted. Other forts were of Canada (from set up at Edmonton and Calgary, as well as Fort 1888 to 1893), Pelly and Fort Walsh in Saskatchewan. Frederick Arthur The detachments became a boost for Stanley is famous ranching, providing security and a local market. for presenting Soon, great cattle ranges were dominating Canada with the western Canada including the Gang, Douglas Stanley Cup. Lake and Empire Valley ranches in BC, the Vancouver’s Cochrane, Bar U, Oxley, and Stanley Park is Walrond ranches in Alberta, and named after him. the “76," Hitchcock and Matador ranches in Saskatchewan. According to Alastair McIntyre, who hosts the highly informative website Electric Scotland (, “In 1886, the officers of the Department of the Interior estimated the number of horses in southern Alberta to be about 10,000. These were mostly found in the Calgary and Macleod districts. From that date, horse ranching developed into a separate and profitable industry in southern and central Alberta. [Some] 3,500 animals, most of whom were mares, were imported that year [1886] from Oregon, British Columbia, and Ontario. Breeders began importing sires from England and Kentucky and


descendants maintained his working qualities. Life became busier with each passing decade. From 1860 to 1863, the Cariboo gold rush saw hundreds of prospectors with horses and mules trekking to the Fraser River and Cariboo region for rich payloads of gold. According to the Toronto Star archives, on Confederation Day July 1, 1867, horses and pedestrians ruled the streets. The Toronto Street Railway Co., ferried passengers around with their horse-car mass transit service. In 1873, the federal government established a central police force and sent 150 recruits to Manitoba. They became


Horse-drawn wagons negotiate a narrow track in central British Columbia, early 1900s.

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an attempt was made to place the industry on a sound basis and to breed the type of horse suitable for draught and agricultural work. The climate, grass, and other conditions of the country were found to be ideally adapted for raising superior animals. Dr. McEachren, the chief veterinary inspector of the Dominion, reported to the Government in 1887 as follows: ‘Probably no better horse breeding country exists in the British Empire than the district of Alberta.’” McIntyre adds that several significant ranches such as the Stimson Ranch at High River and the Cochrane Ranch on the Bow River were established in 1887. The ranges began to flourish with important horse breeds such as Irish Hunters, Clydesdales, Hackneys, and Thoroughbreds. The day of the Indian cayuse was past, and better care in selection, feeding, and handling was recognized to develop quality horses. Dr. McEachren echoed that belief. “The days of breaking young horses as done by the bronco rider are over, viz., catching him with the lasso, blindfolding him, saddling and mounting him, and with whips and spurs making the poor, frightened creature buck, rear, plunge and gallop over the prairie until horse and rider are exhausted, and broken in spirit and subdued by fatigue the horse yields a sullen obedience, but is utterly untaught, unmannered, and devoid of ‘mouth.’” As much as ranch and farm horses became the backbone of agriculture, the 1800s were truly the golden age of the horsedrawn vehicle. In 1850, 33 of Canada’s 58 carriage-making facilities were located in Quebec. By 1901, that number had grown to 1,260 carriage-producing companies and every village had a repair shop or workshop. In Alberta, one of the most noted horse breeding ranches

producing carriage horses was the Rawlinson’s Hackney Horse Ranch. According to archival Rawlinson Ranch fonds (collection of historic documents) held with Glenbow Museum, Calgary, brothers Christopher and Arthur Rawlinson came to Alberta from Bath, England, in 1884. After purchasing land some 18 kilometres northwest of Calgary and building a homestead, they started Rawlinson’s Hackney Horse Ranch in 1888 with stock provided by another brother, Robert Rawlinson, who ranched nearby. Over the years they produced outstanding Hackney horses. The champion Hackney at the PanAmerican Exhibition in 1901 and the New York Horse Show that same year came from the Rawlinson Ranch. Their stallion “Saxon” and their mare “Priscilla” both become Grand Champions at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. The brothers, who did a great deal to popularize the Hackney breed in the early years, maintained the ranch and the breeding program until it was sold in 1907. With the steady influx of settlers to Canada, the need for good harness horses and carriages was in constant demand. And there was something about the beauty and grace of carriage designs that caught Robert McLaughlin’s eye. Born in 1836 in Cavan Township, Upper Canada, McLaughlin would go on to launch the McLaughlin Motor Car Company that would one day become part of General Motors Canada. But it all began with an axe handle. McLaughlin loved everything about wood, and in his spare time from logging, he crafted axe handles fashioned with such skill that local merchants said they were the best they had ever seen. Given the demand, before long he turned to crafting horse-drawn carriages. In Confederation year, 1867, McLaughlin built two cutters. One for himself and the other for a neighbour who saw the quality



Horses pull fresnos (scrapers used for constructing canals and ditches) excavating a deep irrigation cut in the Magrath area of Alberta.

A horse-drawn grader smooths the streets of Calgary, Alberta, circa 1910.


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Several horse teams are used in dam construction on the Bow River near Bassano, Alberta, circa 1909-1914.


In 1916, thE Bar U Ranch in southern Alberta, owned by George Lane, was home to 700 registered Percherons, the largest and finest herd in North America, among them this six-horse team, and 400 broodmares.

The original 1867 McLaughlin cutter, crafted by Robert McLaughlin who launched the McLaughlin Motor Car Company that would later become part of General Motors Canada.




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A Canadian National Railways Express Horse Wagon in 1925.






workmanship McLaughlin was putting into the cutter, and asked his friend to build one for him, too. With that, the McLaughlin Carriage Company was born and its carriages became legendary. The original 1867 cutter and other McLaughlin carriages are currently on display at the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston, Alberta, until October 9, 2018. Horses were the heartbeat of Alberta and, at Fort Edmonton in 1879, the Hudson’s Bay Company hosted the community’s first agricultural fair with horses being judged in the fort’s yard. Three years later, the fair added horse racing which continued until a permanent racetrack was built north of the North Saskatchewan River valley. The need for horses grew as innovations in farm machinery came on the market. Gone were the days of hand-flailing straw to remove the grain and cutting crops with scythes. Entering the market were doublewidth harrows, steel plows on wheels, mowers, binders, threshers and combines, all of which needed horses to operate them. If life on the farm was getting mechanized, so was life in every city. A railway was needed to unite the nation and physically link the west to the east. When the Colony of British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871, it did so on the promise by the Canadian government that a transcontinental railway would be built within ten years. The Canadian Pacific Railway was launched and construction of the railway started in earnest in 1878. Fifteen thousand men, including many

Chinese labourers, were hired in British Columbia to build the track through some of the most dangerous terrain in the country. But excitement was building as the transcontinental railway became a reality. Riding that wave of anticipation was Edward Mallandaine who was born in Victoria on July 1, 1867, Confederation Day. He left school at 14 and began a pony express delivery service to the railroad construction workers in BC. As the two ends of the track from east to west closed, Edward was determined to be part of the “Last Spike” ceremony when CPR director Sir Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, would drive the last spike home on November 7, 1885 at Craigellachie, BC. The pony express rider wormed his way through the crowd and poked his face around Smith’s shoulder just as the famous picture was taken. Horses of all kinds were everywhere. Clydesdales and Percherons were favourite heavy breeds in Alberta along with Shires and Suffolks. According to McIntyre, the largest and finest herd of Percherons in North America was owned by George Lane. Born in the US in 1856, Lane came to Canada to take over as foreman of the Bar



An 1870-era horse-drawn street car, owned by Ottawa City Passenger Railway Co.

Horses hauled loaded coal wagons in mines from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

U Ranch just south of Longview, Alberta. In 1902 he purchased the ranch with financial partners, the purchase including 3,000 cattle and 500 horses. Lane was devoted to producing excellent draft horses for the increasing number of farmers in the neighbourhood. He purchased three purebred Percheron stallions and 72 mares from Le Perche, France, at a cost of $75,000. At the 1909 World’s Fair in Seattle the Bar U Percheron’s won most of the awards. Lane eventually became the largest purebred Percheron breeder. An article titled History of the Draft Horse: The Muscle-Men of the Horse World by Soul of Canada, published in Canadian Horse Journal, describes the breeding program: “Horse breeding programs flourished in the late 1800s and in the early part of the 1900s. During this time, many grain farms had more horses (as many as 10 or more) than people, with each horse working an average of 600 hours per year. According to Wetherell and Corbet’s Breaking New Ground: A Century of Farm Equipment Manufacturing on the Canadian Prairies, there were 55,593 farms harvesting over 43 million bushels of wheat, oats and barley in the Canadian Prairie provinces in 1901.” Around the same time, better-educated farmers were graduating from agricultural and veterinary colleges and they were able to apply their knowledge in feeding, breeding, and management to successfully


produce better quality horses. According to the article, by 1911 Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba had a combined total of 1,194,927 horses which is an average of six horses for every one of the 204,214 farms in the three provinces. Horses not only worked on ranches and farms and as carriage horses in towns, they were a vital part of every key industry in Canada, especially resource industries. From Nova Scotia to British Columbia, horses and ponies worked in the coal mines where they pulled coal tubs on rails. Coal was in constant demand and many coal mines contained several miles of underground railway. The work was dirty and hazardous, and many horses suffered injuries from serious scrapes that led to bacterial infections. But the coal miners developed a fondness and close relationship with their ponies, often bragging about how smart and strong they were. Horses were equally valuable in the early days of the oil and gas industry. According to the Soul of Canada website, they participated in oil discovery, equipment and petroleum hauling, surveying, drilling, well site construction, oil pumping, and pipeline and refinery construction. And all that started one day when a discerning horse took offence at something in the water when he lowered his head to drink. John Ware was an African-American cowboy with a gifted ability to ride and train horses. In 1882, his horse smelled oil and refused to drink from Sheep Creek. Apparently, John looked hard at the scum on the water, dismounted, and cautiously tasted it. He definitely agreed with his horse. That scum was oil. Thirty-two years later in 1914, Dingman No. 1 well produced the first oil in Turner Valley. As early as 1893, the Dominion government was doing experimental drilling for oil in the Athabasca tar sands region. To construct an oil rig, teams of horses hitched to wagons moved everything 130 kilometres from Edmonton to Athabasca Landing. In the Waterton Lakes area, the Rocky Mountain Development Company used horse power to build a road into the mountains to use to transport tools, cable, pumps, barrels, bits, pipe, and building supplies. In 1902, the first wagonload of oil was transported out of the site, the west’s first producing oil well. At the turn of the 20th century, the big demand for horses resulted in many poor quality animals being brought in from the US. They glutted the market, driving prices

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> 68




The Canadian Light Horse going into action at Vimy Ridge, April 1917.

down. In 1902, horse breeders, through the Horse Breeders’ Association, petitioned the Dominion Government to impose a minimum value on all horses imported into Canada. Over 21,000 horses had been imported at an average value of $25/head. Of this number, at least half were imported for breeding. The Dominion Government set minimum values at $50, and stallions and mares valued under that were prohibited from being brought in. In towns and villages everywhere, construction was among the leading industries and wood was in huge demand. Every lumber camp had its own horse barn and barn boss to whom all the teamsters were answerable. Twenty teams of horses, each consisting of eight animals, might be working each day and they would drag sleds loaded with logs to sawmills or the nearest waterway. It was tough, grueling work but on a good ice road in winter an experienced horse team with a skilled teamster could haul loads up to six tonnes a distance of 19 kilometres.

Nearly three-quarters of the Canadian cavalry involved in this attack against German machine-gun positions at Moreuil Wood on March 30, 1918 were killed or wounded. This included Lieutenant G.M. Flowerdew, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading the charge. During the German offensives of March and April 1918, the cavalry played an essential role in the open warfare that temporarily confronted the retreating British forces. The painting is Charge of Flowerdew’s Squadron, by Alfred Munnings.


The colt “Vimy,” born at Vimy Ridge, with his dam in July 1917.

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In 1899, Canada became involved in its first overseas conflict — the Boer War (18991902), sending volunteers and troops to South Africa in support of Great Britain. CPR director Donald Smith felt that the Canadian government’s commitment was lacking. He used his own considerable resources to equip and fund a mounted cavalry. Some 537 officers and men, as well as 599 horses, arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on April 10, 1900. The men and horses, called Strathcona’s Horse, fought with distinction and returned home highly decorated. During World War I, Lord Strathcona’s Horse saw action as cavalry during the defence of the Somme front in March 1917, and again in March 1918 in what is known as “the last great cavalry charge”



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In Surrey, BC, teams of ten horses would move logs to the water’s edge at Semiahmoo Bay. Three to six logs at a time were towed, one behind the other, each linked by 1.5 metre chains. At tidewater, smaller teams of horses formed them into booms and they were sent to New Westminster for milling. The demand for horses was constant. Mining and lumber camps needed the best heavy draught teams and horses of good weight sold at prices varying from $500 to $700 a team in British Columbia. At the same time, the big horse ranches began to disappear. Railway contractors were forced to import mules, and tractors began to take the place of horses on the large farms. In 1909 and 1910, it was estimated the railway contractors imported 2,500 teams of mules.

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Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) at Winnipeg, Manitoba, January 19, 1917.

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A squadron of Fort Garry horses passing through a village on the Cambrai front, northern France, December 1917.

Canada had supplied over ten percent of the horses used on the Western Front. On all fronts and in all theatres, over a million horses and mules were listed in service with British and Commonwealth forces by the close of the war, and it is estimated that some eight million horses plus countless mules and donkeys among all fighting countries died. Not only did horses die in the trenches and from shellfire, they died from disease, injuries, terrible weather, appalling conditions, and starvation since finding sufficient fodder became increasingly challenging. They also died during shipment. The Royal Montreal Regiment website explains that when Canada’s 31-ship troop convoy sailed from Quebec to England in October 1914, 7,636 horses were literally packed onto 14 of the ships. Of the 973 equines on the SS Montezuma alone, 86 died in the 11-day crossing. This was, in

fact, considered a low number thanks to the supervision of the newly formed Canadian Army Veterinary Corps. Regiments no longer depended on local vets but on a veterinary corps. But only one of the new veterinary sections (two officers and 26 other ranks from Winnipeg) was ready to sail with that first Canadian convoy in 1914. According to the Royal Montreal Regiment website, “Two Canadian veterinary hospitals were eventually set up — one in Le Havre, France, the other in Shorncliffe, England — and another 221 veterinarians moved about the front and elsewhere in the field, providing first aid and working to improve the fitness of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s almost 23,500 transport and cavalry horses, as well as others of the Commonwealth forces.” Canada’s army veterinarians worked endlessly to save animals and, for their

Woodbine Race Course, Toronto in 1909.


at the Battle of Moreuil Wood, when nearly three-quarters of the Canadian cavalry involved in the attack against German machine-gun positions were killed or wounded. Today, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) is based in Edmonton, Alberta. It is the last Canadian military mounted troop. It receives no funding from the federal government and relies heavily on donations and honorariums. Each year, the Strathcona Mounted Troop performs mounted rides and demonstrations across Western Canada. A few years later, war clouds were gathering over Europe. War was pending and with it came the need for horses. In 1914, the British government procured 100,000 to 150,000 horses but, as the war continued, it appealed to allied countries for remounts and thousands of horses from the US, Australia, Canada, and Argentina were shipped. Heavy draft horses were used to transport the larger guns and heaviest wagons; light drafts and mules supplied the front lines with lighter guns, ammunition, and supplies; and riding horses were reserved for the cavalry and officers. Upon completing their training, the horses were transported to the field where they began active service. But active service for hundreds of horses was incredibly short. In the archives of the Royal Montreal Regiment is a grim note written on Wednesday, February 3, 1915, “One Canadian Army Veterinary Corps officer in the First World War wrote that the life expectancy of a horse at the front was about six days.” Canada pledged about 200,000 horses to serve in the war and by the war’s end,



Pack horses transporting ammunition to the 20th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, April 1917.


dedication, they were named the “Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps.” In the urgent need for horses, every kind of horse was shipped including even pregnant mares. Foals were born on the battlefield and one foal was born at Vimy Ridge. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought and won by the Canadian Corps 100 years ago in April 1917, but it came with a terrible price with 10,600 casualties. Yet in the midst of shellfire and deafening explosions, the colt they called “Vimy” was born into a conflict world where soldiers, many of whom came from a farming background, found some momentary respite from the war by caring for him and his dam.

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The Great War was the last war to see horses used in such numbers. The world was becoming mechanized and horses, while still essential on farms and ranches and in to some degree in various industries, were also being appreciated in the world of sport, recreation, and therapy. After a few false starts, the Calgary Stampede was up and running by 1923. The Calgary and District Agricultural Society was formed in 1884 and held its first fair two years later. But it folded in 1895 and was replaced by the Western Pacific Exhibition Company that held its first agricultural and industrial fair in 1899. In 1912, American promoter Guy Weadick organized his first rodeo and festival known as the Stampede. He returned in 1919 to organize the Victory Stampede in honour of soldiers returning from the First World War. The Stampede finally became an annual event in 1923 when it merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition to become the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Montreal was out front with the establishment of fox hunting in the late 1820s and the first steeplechase was held in Montreal in 1840. The first Dominion equestrian championships were held in Toronto in 1895 with events for both men and women. In 1922, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was launched in Toronto and, with it, the Royal Horse Show. Horse racing is in the collective Canadian DNA. It all began on September 16, 1793, on Toronto Island where a sandy strip of land connected the central portion of the peninsula with the main shoreline to the east. On that date, Mrs. Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, together with Lieutenant Thomas Talbot, inaugurated horse racing on the peninsula. The informal races were held on a straight,

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There was also an informal course on Front Street between Small’s Corners (east of the Don River) to Market Place during the early 1800s. Placards posted throughout the town heralded the matches.” Racing became a royal affair. In 1859, the Toronto Turf Club petitioned Queen Victoria to grant a Plate for a horse race in Ontario. She offered as an annual prize a plate to the


Chief Duck of the Blackfoot tribe, carrying the head chief staff which is topped with a gold crown, during the opening parade of the Calgary Stampede, July 1945. Chief Duck leads a mounted procession of Sarcee, Blood and Blackfoot chiefs.


A cowboy riding a bucking bronco at the Calgary Stampede, 1940.

value of 50 guineas (a guinea coin was worth one pound and one shilling). Today, the Queen’s Plate is actually a gold cup. The first Queen’s Plate race was held at Carlton Race Track in Toronto on June 27, 1860. It wasn’t until 1939 when King George V1 became the first reigning monarch to witness the running of the King’s Plate at Woodbine Park, later named “Old Woodbine” and PHOTO, FAR LEFT: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA/RONNY JAQUES | PHOTO, LEFT: JACK LONG/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA/PA-188605

level track and competitors were military officers and local people. According to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, “The Upper Canada Turf Club (organized in 1837) grew out of a series of military races under the patronage of officers stationed at Fort York on a course laid out in 1835 on Garrison Common between the new and old forts.


A four-horse team pulls a binder on the Canadian prairies, circa 1938. Quality horses were a vital part of every key industry in Canada.






the Greenwood. Old Woodbine opened for Standardbred racing in 1954. Today, the Queen’s Plate is Canada’s oldest Thoroughbred race and the oldest continuously run race in North America. It is run at a distance of 1-1/4 miles (2.01 km) for three-year-old Thoroughbreds born in Canada and takes place every year at Woodbine Racetrack. It is the first race in the celebrated Canadian Triple Crown, the other two being the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders’ Stakes. In 1964, legendary Northern Dancer, the first Canadian-bred to win the Kentucky Derby, also won the Queen’s Plate in his final race before retiring to an even greater legendary career at stud. Racetracks were springing up across the country. Horse racing in Vancouver originally took place along Howe Street during the 1880s when a temporary grandstand provided seating before the Vancouver Hotel. In 1889, the City received a 160-acre land grant in the Hastings Township from the provincial government for the “use, recreation and enjoyment of the public,” and, in 1892, the city leased 15 acres of land for a racetrack. First known as East Park, the newly formed BC Jockey Club (created in the 1890s) cleared the halfmile oval by stacking stumps and boulders in the middle of what would be known as Hastings Racecourse, a premier Thoroughbred racetrack. Trotting horses were already high-profile racing horses in Canada’s confederation year. According to the Standardbred Canada’s website, the Trotting Register was started in 1867 in the US to record the pedigrees of trotting horses. In 1879 rules, or standards, were agreed as to what would make a horse eligible for the registry. One of the rules was that a stallion was required to trot a mile in 2:30 minutes or better. This high standard of trotting qualities required for registry eligibility led to the name “Standardbred.” Standardbred racing became immensely popular and among the greats was Grattan Bars. The bay trotter foaled in 1923 became the undisputed king of the harness racing world in 1928. His owner, Fred Thrower of Kerwood, Ontario, couldn’t have been happier given that he had traded 13 calves for the horse with breeder Archie Pedden of nearby Strathroy. Since Pedden had given Thrower $200 along with the horse, and the calves had cost Thrower $210, the net cost for acquiring Grattan Bars was a mere $10. According to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, for two unbelievable months, Grattan Bars was almost unbeatable and in a 13-day stretch he pulled off victories in

three $25,000 races. Those were unbelievable purses in those days. Horsemen, especially American horsemen, were stunned as the Canadian horse left all others in the dust. Grattan Bars was retired with a record $46,915 on his card for a single season, not bad for an investment of ten bucks. Even more remarkable was that he bred some 40 mares during his racing career and in the 1928 racing season was the sire of 36 colts and fillies. At the same time in Great Britain, an organization was forming that would change the lives of children learning to ride, and care for horses around the world and especially Canadian children. In 1929, Britain’s Institute of the Horse formed a youth branch called “The Pony Club.” It grew rapidly with membership exploding from 700 in 1930 to over 10,000 in 1935. The phenomenon of The Pony Club echoed in Canada, especially among members of the Eglinton Hunt Club in Toronto, who heard about it from their British military associates. According to the Canadian Pony Club website, Col. Timmis, Brigadier McKee and others applied for permission to form the Eglinton Hunt Branch of The Pony Club. They were successful and, in 1934, the first Pony Club in North America was launched with a membership of about 200 young riders. Today, there are 150 branches across Canada with a membership of some 3,500. The Pony Club expanded worldwide and is now represented in 20 countries with a membership of over 100,000. The Canadian Pony Club emphasized horsemanship and stable management through education and training in English disciplines, with riders progressing through levels of proficiency while competing in dressage, show jumping, rallies, quiz, Prince Philip Games, and tetrathlon. The organization has been responsible for many riders going on to the highest levels of excellence including Olympic show jumpers Ian Millar and Beth Underhill, Paralympic champion Lauren Barwick, dressage rider Joni Lynn Peters, and three-day event riders Jim Henry and Karen Brain prior to her accident then continuing in paraequestrian competition, to name just a few from the CPC Wall of Fame and Alumni Achievement. Throughout the 20th century, the spotlight shone on all equestrian sports. The Canadian Encyclopaedia states that “Canadian equestrians have garnered their highest honours in show jumping. They



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Horse racing has always been hugely popular with Canadians. Pictured are: Horse racing on the Ottawa River, March 1902 (above, left); Harry Watts astride Tartarean after winning the King’s Plate in Toronto, 1915 (above, right); and harness racing in New Brunswick 1958 (below).







organized to deliver a scroll to Queen Elizabeth when she visited Expo 67 in Montreal on July 3. According to an archived edition of the Ottawa Journal published May 5, 1967, and the website, Alvis Le Gate, a 50-year-old former jockey, organized “the longest pony express ride in history.” Le Gate, born in 1916 in Spokane, Washington, and raised in Killam, Alberta, was committed to delivering a scroll given him by the president of Mexico for delivery to the Queen. Knowing this would be an excellent way to promote horseback riding and make the public aware of the shortage of riding and hiking trails, he took the scroll on horseback from Mexico to Victoria, BC. Le Gate’s obituary recounts that he rode each horse 500 miles (about 800 km), and was the first person to ride a horse across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Once in Canada, he lined up horses and riders for the eastward trek, and some 1,500 riders had participated by the time he reached Winnipeg. The scroll was rolled up in a metal tube which also contained postcard greetings from towns along the way, and Le Gate finally delivered it to Governor-General Roland Michener who accepted it on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. It would take another 25 years before action on a cross-country trail materialized as the celebrated Trans Canada Trail stretching coast to coast to coast. Construction started in 1992 and, when completed will stretch 24,000 kilometres. The trail is multi-purpose for hiking, bike riding, paddling, cross country skiing, and horseback riding and, as of April 2017, about 22,000 kilometres have been completed through 13 provinces and territories and is 93 percent connected. Now called The Great Trail, it’s billed as the longest recreational trail in the world. Today, the value of horses in sport and recreation is stronger than ever, and the appreciation of horses as therapy companions is growing. But as much as therapeutic riding and equine assisted psychotherapy are considered contemporary uses of horses, the practice has its roots in ancient Greek culture when Hippocrates wrote of the therapeutic values of riding, and 17th century literature documented that horse riding was prescribed for gout, neurological disorder, and low morale. According to the Community Association for Riders with Disabilities (CARD), in 1901 Dame Agnes Hunt founded the first orthopedic hospital in Oswestry,


activities and sport. CEF became Equine Canada Hippique then, in 2015, Equestrian Canada Equestre, continuing its mandate as the national governing body for equestrian sport and industry. The organization today represents over 18,000 sport license holders, some 90,000 registered participants, 12 provincial/ territorial sport organization partners, and over 10 national equine affiliate organizations. But as much as riders loved competition, many others enjoyed horses for the sheer recreational opportunities they offered. They yearned for the open trail, a day’s ride away from the noise of the city, a chance to be alone in the saddle. The realization of the need for safe trails grew and was apparent even in 1967, Canada’s Centennial year, when a remarkable cross-country ride was PHOTO, FAR LEFT: TOPLEY STUDIO/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA/PA-028209 PHOTO, LEFT: WIKIMEDIA

began making international appearances as early as 1909 when a team of jumpers entered the Military Tournament in the International Horse Show at Olympia, London, UK. Canadian Army teams continued to compete abroad after the First World War [and] Major R.S. Timmis became the first Canadian to win an international contest at the Toronto Coliseum (1923).” Dressage, horse trials and three-day eventing, endurance, competitive trail, combined driving, barrel racing, cutting, and recreational riding all grew. Overseeing competition and equine issues led to the formation of provincial organizations. At the national level Equestrian Canada, formerly Equine Canada, was founded in 1976 when the National Equestrian Federation of Canada and the Canadian Horse Council merged. With that merger, George Jacobson founded the Canadian Equestrian Federation (CEF), the first national governing body for equestrian







0 25


While horses share our long history, they also keep us grounded in the here and now. They provide companionship, recreation,

Jumping action at Toronto’s Eglinton Hunt Club, May 15, 1949.

sport, and therapy. They teach us patience, responsibility, and a host of other life lessons. And some are still called upon to perform the historical duties of yesteryear with the same skill and quality of service they provided hundreds of years ago. What other aspect of life from centuries past can stand that test of time? Is Equus essentially an amazingly adaptable creature that continues to find ways share our lives while other species are long extinct? Or does the human/equine relationship endure and evolve with the passage of time because the two species share an innate connection? It is that ancient connective bond that has brought horses and humans together to create the Canada we know and love today. Horses are in our DNA. Through the simple act of touching the face of a horse we are, at a deeper level, touching the face of history. b Our Canada 150 Features continue‌

The November/December 2017 issue of Canadian Horse Journal will highlight exceptional horse people who have made exemplary contributions to the horse industry in Canada.


05 A/P DA

facilitate and promote therapeutic riding and, in the 1990s, equine assisted psychotherapy became a valued tool in helping people overcome trauma, emotional challenges, PTSD, and debilitating self-esteem problems. Horses have a powerful role in healing trauma. They live in the present, are constantly in tune with their environment, and are able to sense the emotions of others. As prey animals, they are hypersensitive to everything going on around them and are constantly analyzing any situation. In the horsehuman relationship, a horse is a peer providing immediate feedback through a bond of connectivity.


England, advocating the use of horses and riding for her patients. In 1918, physiotherapist Olive Sands took horses to a hospital outside Oxford to provide riding opportunities for disabled World War I soldiers. In the subsequent decades, therapeutic riding rapidly progressed and proved its value when used to combat debilitating polio. In 1968, Dr. Reginald Renaud and Joseph Bauer were so impressed with the concept of therapeutic riding that they brought it to Canada and founded CARD. In 1980, CanTRA was founded to





NOTES FROM THE OFFICE Donations Still Needed for the HCBC Animal Disaster Relief Fund The Animal Disaster Relief Fund (ADRF) is helping to look after displaced horses and animals during and long after the wildfires in the interior of BC. “The amount of support the ADRF has received so far has shown us the incredible strength of community,” says Kelly Coughlin, Senior Program Manager and Manager of Agriculture and Industry with Horse Council BC. “Resources will continue to be needed for the care of displaced horses and animals in the weeks and months to come, as many will have lost their farms, pastures, and feed supplies.” Donations from the public will continue to aid the associations, groups, and individuals during and after this unprecedented wildfire disaster. Help is still needed to assist in HCBC’s efforts to keep supplying those on the ground with needed support throughout this natural disaster. Donate to the Animal Disaster Relief Fund at

HOW TO REACH US OFFICE HOURS: Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm OFFICE ADDRESS:

27336 Fraser Highway, Aldergrove, BC, V4W 3N5 PHONE: 604-856-4304 FAX: 604-856-4302 TOLL-FREE: 1-800-345-8055 WEBSITE:

The displaced horses and people in BC’s evacuation zones need your help. Many have lost their farms, pastures, and feed supplies and will need your support in the coming weeks and months. Please donate to the HCBC Animal Disaster Relief Fund. Pictured are horses at the Prince George Evacuation Centre in July, getting to know their new neighbours.



What is HCBC’s Animal Disaster Relief Fund? If you would like to help supply cash, food, supplies, and various needed items to the emergency evacuation centres around BC that are housing displaced horses, livestock, and pets due to the wildfire emergency, please consider donating to the Horse Council BC Animal Disaster Relief Fund. Funds collected will be used to provide resources like hay, supplies, gas to the emergency evacuation centres, and groups assisting with the wildfire relief effort. Should any donated funds remain following the immediate wildfire emergency, the remaining funds will be spent according to the HCBC Animal Disaster Relief guidelines

set out in the HCBC Finance Policy. If there are excess funds, they will be used on education on emergency planning, training emergency coordinators and emergency responders, communications and other linkages that support future emergency response efforts. Don’t feel comfortable donating online? That’s okay! You can send a cheque payable to “HCBC Animal Disaster” and mail it to: Horse Council BC, 27336 Fraser Highway, Aldergrove, BC, V4W 3N5.  Please note: Horse Council BC is a nonprofit, but not a registered charity. We cannot issue charitable donation receipts.










Join Horse Council BC Today! Horse Council BC (HCBC) is the Provincial Organization for Equestrian Sport & Recreation in the province. HCBC also represents the interests of the equine industry in all sectors throughout British Columbia and connects and strengthens the BC horse community. By joining HCBC, you show your support for: • The Right To Ride • Horse Welfare in BC • The BC Horse Industry

• • • •

A Nationally Accredited Coaching Program Financial Support for the Industry The Preservation of BC Trail Systems Quality Science Based Education

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.HCBC.CA Horse Council BC 27336 Fraser Hwy., Aldergrove, BC V4W 3N5 tf: 1.800.345.8055 p: 604.856.4304 f: 604.856.4302


CHJ Ad - Jan 2017 - Annual.indd 1




1/16/2017 12:32:43 PM

Serving Manitoba’s Equine Community

Urban Stable



Wendy MacDonald (left), Urban Stable Executive Director, and the Honourable Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, at Government House, Manitoba.

This past spring, Urban Stable had the great privilege to be invited by the Honourable Janice C. Filmon, CM, OM, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, to celebrate its 15th anniversary at Government House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Urban Stable is a registered charitable organization that empowers youth through equine experiential learning programs in the Winnipeg area. Urban Stable has impacted the lives of over 500 youth since its initial start with two students. It has now grown to accommodate 50 to 55 youth annually. Students in Urban Stable’s school program are from grades five to nine, referred by partnering local school divisions. Each class consists of four students who work with their own horse and a one-on-one volunteer horse handler. Students experience


Celebrating 15 years of Unbridling Youth Potential!

Urban Stable board of directors and therapeutic riding instructors. L-R: Hayley Edwards, Heather Clements, Michelle Kowalchuk, Kelly Scrivener, Lana Stevenson, Wendy MacDonald (Urban Stable Executive Director), Shari Block, Julie Galluzzo, Jaclyn Koskie, Carla Bergen.

powerful social and emotional growth as they learn to groom, tack, lead, and ride their horse and participate in equine activities specifically designed to facilitate this growth. The horses are the real teachers in the Urban Stable programs, teaching the students skills like team building, listening, leadership,

Get ready to create your masterpiece Join the millions of adults around the world who are rediscovering the artist within • 32 quality designs provide hours of entertainment • Single-sided pages removable for framing • The perfect gift for a horse lover, or treat yourself! Only $15.99 each • • FREE Shipping within Canada when you order 2 Colouring Books, or when 1 Colouring Book is ordered with a Canadian Horse Journal subscription

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Manitoba Horse Council

boundaries, respect of others, assertiveness, empathy, and confidence. Not only that, but the horses act like mirrors, creating a unique learning experience where the students can see how their actions, behaviours, and emotions affect those around them, which is more easily accepted by the students when it comes from the horses. Urban Stable is an accredited Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) centre and all Urban Stable instructors are CanTRA certified. The event at Government House was attended by students (past and present), volunteers, instructors, parents, board of directors, school and community partners, and donors. It was a beautiful celebration where Urban Stable’s Executive Director, Wendy MacDonald, shared heartfelt thanks to all involved in the program over the years. Government House staff commented over the course of the evening that the dedication, love and “heart” of all the people involved with Urban Stable was palpable in the room that night. Urban Stable looks forward with great anticipation and excitement to another successful 15 years of unbridled youth potential and growth.

How to Reach Us

Manitoba Horse Council 145 Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2Z6 PHONE (204) 925-5719 EMAIL WEBSITE FACEBOOK Manitoba Horse Council; Manitoba Recreational Riders

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Premiere Equestrian Property on 8.23 Acres • Victoria, BC

This beautiful 8.23-acre property, one of Vancouver Island’s premiere equestrian properties, has been carefully transformed in recent years. New feature highlights include: 4-stall horse barn with ‘air mattress’ type flooring, walk-out all-weather paddocks and Nelson automatic waterers, 3-bay hay barn, 200’ X 80’ riding ring, 60’ sand round pen & 400 metres of chip trails with direct trail access to Elk Lake Park, tack room and cross-tie area with dedicated hot water. Fully drained, with compacted road base underlying the surface materials, resulting in one of the few outdoor facilities that are truly usable year-round. A substantial renovation inside and out of the original 1969 home is icing on the cake. A beautiful & turn-key property within 20 minutes of Victoria. MLS #381353

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ELLISON (2850 Old Vernon Road) 20 acre equestrian property. Home to well known Brooklyn Stables. Exceptionally well-designed training facility. Turnkey ready for your equestrian business. 10 acres in Hay production and a circular driveway built to handle full size rigs. MLS® $2,495,000

NORTH GLENMORE (2150 Begbie Rd) 1.74 acres on Begbie & Glenmore Rd — perfect for fruit stand or hobby farm. Mature landscaping, fencing & barn in place. Great spot for dream home/home based business. Set up currently for horses & would make a great boarding facility. MLS® $579,000


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This property is set up for horses or cattle but can be used for most livestock. There is a farm house, roping arena, announcer’s booth, strapping chute, 30x30 shop, 30x75 barn, 32x60 hay barn, irrigated pasture, hay field and water rights on the creek. Backs onto Crown Land. MLS® 167076

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Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association News

2017 CanTRA Awards









Sunrise Therapeutic Riding & Learning Centre (Guelph, Ontario) Cathi is an instructor and driving coach employed at Sunrise since 2007. Cathi is ceaselessly thoughtful and dynamic, in constant motion to adjust her methods to fit the needs of each rider. She approaches her riders with a commitment to helping them realize their full potential. Cathi brings a joy that is infectious and empowering to all. DEB HEARD (PARENT): “If more teachers were like Cathi, the education world would be a much better place for individuals with disabilities.”

T.E.A.D. Equestrian Association for the Disabled (Mount Hope, Ontario) Eric has been T.E.A.D.’s volunteer physiotherapist for over 25 years, approving hundreds of children for the program. His special way with children puts them at ease and brings out a smile. Eric always figures out a solution to difficulties for riders, from a piece of foam to a specially adapted saddle. AMANDA RADER (PARENT) “Eric is kind, compassionate, gentle, accommodating, and always makes you smile no matter how your day is going.”

Sallie Murphy Leo





Halifax Area Leisure and Therapeutic Riding Association (HALTR), (Halifax, NS) Sallie joined HALTR as a volunteer in 1985. Later, she organized a satellite program, then her own “Byfield” program for early-intervention riders prior to joining HALTR. Sallie is an instructor and former president of HALTR, and has served many years on the CanTRA board and as Atlantic Zone Representative. Sallie’s dedication is legendary. MARGARET AND MICHAEL PEGG (PARENTS): “We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Sallie for all she has given over the past 25 years.”


Eric Ferguson


Cathi Illerbrun with Max


The annual CanTRA Awards recognize special people and horses in therapeutic riding. We are pleased to present the award winners for 2017:



Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association (CTRA), (Duncan, BC) Leo is a 16-year-old, 15.2 hand, gold champagne Draft/Quarter Horse-cross gelding. Our lovely Leo is a reliable, safe, trusted caretaker of little kids on the leadline, as well as independent riders. He has led many young riders to victory in ParaEquestrian Canada competitions. His excellent manners and gentle nature make him perfect for unmounted activities. Leo pioneered as CTRA’s first vaulting horse. He is the most sociable and expressive horse, a favourite among students, volunteers, and staff. MEYGAN (RIDER): “We make a great team and Leo is such a wonderful horse. I don’t know what I would do without him.”





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natural ability to heal, but at an accelerated pace. Treatment has no known negative side effects. Infrared therapy is in use by virtually all sport horse disciplines to foster healthy maintenance and rehabilitation of equine athletes, enhancing their peak performance condition. For rehabilitation, the therapy speeds up the healing process, reduces pain and inflammation, and fights infection. As a preventative, it raises performance levels without medications, and is portable, safe, and easy to use, even as a first aid kit during competition. The RevitaVet website lists top-level competitors and ambassadors across several disciplines who have been successfully using this product. Canadian eventer Hawley Bennett-Awad Among them is has used RevitaVet since 2009. Canadian Olympian and Pan Am silver medalist in eventing, Hawley Bennett-Awad, who has used RevitaVet since 2009, and her testimonial speaks highly of the product: “Hawley saw immediate results on her horses’ hocks and legs after the treatment sessions. Hawley now has the therapy devise in her barn and uses it on a daily basis to maintain soundness and help in rapid recovery after a vigorous training session. She has also used it on injured and post-op horses, who would typically take weeks to months to recover from their injuries. RevitaVet speeds the recovery process to mere days in comparison to the typical untreated recovery time. The product is very easy to integrate into a daily routine and is instrumental in keeping her horses at their peak performance.” With the new free RevitaVet Ap, it’s easier than ever to use the system and customize the therapy for virtually any condition from abscess to wound. RevitaVet is manufactured in the United States and guarantees professional results. To learn more, visit >


RevitaVet Light Therapy Systems provides leading technology in non-invasive care for equine preventive maintenance and rehabilitation. Their website explains that in over 40 years of independent research, light therapy has been shown to deliver powerful therapeutic benefits to living tissues and organisms. The therapy has been used on horses for more than 20 years. The RevitaVet therapy is easily applied, and delivers safe and effective pulsed infrared light The RevitaVet IR2. therapy that stimulates the body’s

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Do you need to —

Spirit of the Horse

A Celebration in Fact and Fable By William Shatner with Jeff Rovin Thomas Dunne Books (May, 2017) ISBN: 978-1-250-13002-0 (hardcover) ISBN: 978-1-250-13003-7 (e-book) 292 pages Hardcover, e-book REVIEWED BY MARGARET EVANS

William Shatner, renowned actor for his roles in Star Trek (both the TV series and movie series), TV series T.J. Hooker, and Boston Legal among others, and celebrated director, producer, musician, and pitchman, is a lifelong horse lover and competitive rider with a deep and abiding understanding of the power that horses have to inspire healing. He continues to spearhead the annual Hollywood Charity Horse Show which he started in 1990 to benefit children. Shatner's approach to the book is unique in that he shares not only his own stories but those of legendary and historic literary people in celebration of the horse and the emotional connection we have with them. He draws on Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Jack London, all legends in their own right.

What makes the book interesting is that Shatner puts a contemporary experience on a classic story. He tells the tale of Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus, who was afraid of his own shadow. Alexander took that to task and always turned his horse into the sun to mount, thereby eliminating the fear of shadows in his horse. “Lest you think the shadow story is apocryphal, I’ve ridden horses that have tried to jump shadows on the ground because they weren’t familiar with them,” writes Shatner. “Horses can be bold and brave and they can also be skittish and craven. Some can endure cannon fire, others will flinch at a cracking branch. Part of what any rider has to do — and do well if they want to continue to ride — is to understand this and be sensitive to the horse’s own quirks and neuroses.” Buying his first horse was an accident. He had bought some land in central California with plans to live on it and he hired a watchman to take care of it until he could build a house. The watchman suggested he put a horse on the land and that he should go to the local auction. Meeting up with a friend and his 12-year-old son, Philip, they watch the proceedings and Philip urged Shatner to buy a three-year-old Quarter Horse. Shatner raised his hand in a gesture to say no to Philip. But when the auctioneer saw the movement, he called “Sold, to William Shatner…” Shatner had inadvertently become a horse owner and had forever changed his life. Many other horses followed as well as a wealth of competitive experience. “A reining horse is trained to execute extraordinary bursts of energy, of galloping and sliding, for example, and then to stand absolutely still,” writes Shatner. “That stillness is part of the equestrian skill… I have learned that in reining, as in life, periods of stillness and reflection are essential.” Shatner found one of those moments of stillness and reflection when he visited famed actor Christopher Reeve who had become a quadriplegic following a riding accident at a three-day event in Virginia in 1995. Reeve couldn’t breathe on his own but his first words to Shatner were three short phrases, “Tell me. How your horses are. And how much you love riding.” The rest of the visit was wall-to-wall horses and as Shatner recalls, “I cannot say what was in his heart during my visit but I know what was in his eyes in spite of everything. Joy.” And it is the joy of horses that Shatner celebrates in Spirit of the Horse.

• Renew your subscription? • 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. EMAIL: PHONE: 1-800-299-3799 OR (250) 655-8883

How to Reach Us Display Advertising: Editorial, General Inquiries: Subscriptions: or News, Show reports: Phone (all depts): 1-800-299-3799 (250) 655-8883 Fax line (all depts): (250) 655-8913 Mail: Suite 202, 2400 Bevan Avenue, Sidney, BC, V8L 1W1 b





Canadian Horse Journal - Sept Oct 2017 - Pacific & Prairie  

A Country Built By Horsepower - celebrating 150 years of horses in Canada

Canadian Horse Journal - Sept Oct 2017 - Pacific & Prairie  

A Country Built By Horsepower - celebrating 150 years of horses in Canada