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C onratul a ti ons to our F all 2019 g ra d ua tes !



UK’s Department of Veterinary Science responds to Nocardioform placentitis PAGE 6

The 2019-2020 foaling season has seen an increase in reports of Nocardioform placentitis, both in cases submitted to UK’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and in reports from equine practitioners in the field. Nocardioform placentitis is an equine placental disease affecting pregnant mares and their foals during pregnancy.

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment students make strong showing at November Animal Welfare Assessment Contest PAGE 9 Two teams of UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment students recently competed at the 19th annual American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Assessment Contest in November.

UK hosts 10th annual Pastures Please!! event

PAGE 11 More than 125 people attended the annual Pastures Please!! event Jan. 27 at the Fayette County Extension Office. The program began with refreshments and time to visit with sponsors, followed by educational talks by program faculty.

Equine Industry Issues student submissions

PAGE 16 New Equine Industry Issues course is designed to expose students to hot button issues in the industry and encourage them to research and formulate well-communicated opinions about those issues. One avenue made available to is publishing some of those stories here. In this issue, read two submissions about bisphosphonates. U PC O M IN G E V ENTS AND I MPORTAN T DEADLINES • • • • • • • •

March 16-20 - Spring Break April 3 - Last day to drop a Spring 2020 course April 23 - Equine Internship Showcase April 24 - Call to the Post Derby Bash April 25 - Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Equine Alumni Tailgate May 4-8 - Finals week May 7 - Equine Sciene and Management Graduation Open House May 7 - The Graduate Farewell


W E L COM E Over the last several years, the faculty and staff involved in the Equine Science and Management program have been hard at work ensuring that the curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and Management is providing our students with the skills necessary to be successful in the work place. For those of you who have been a part of our program for a few years, you’ll know that this has resulted in some changes to the curriculum. But what processes did we go through to make these curricular changes? In the spring of 2017, the Equine Science and Management Curriculum Committee began to survey course instructors, program faculty and staff, program alumni and industry stakeholders regarding the priorities for knowledge and skills that program graduates should possess. This information was complemented by a one-day summit, “Developing Tomorrow’s Equine Workforce,” where panels of speakers from across a wide variety of equine-related industries spoke about the key skills needed to be successful in the current and future workforce. Using this information, as well as information from the course instructors about concepts that were already being taught in the major requirement courses, the Curriculum Committee worked to identify deficiencies in what the current program was offering. Over the summer 2017, groups of program faculty and staff met to brainstorm ideas of how we could address these deficits in the curriculum. This resulted in several changes. First, EQM 101 (Introduction to the Horse and the Horse Industry) was changed from two to three credits and a new class, EQM 305 (Equine Industry Issues), was developed to increase the opportunities for students to learn about issues relevant to the horse industry and to provide more formal instruction in communication skills, including professional communication (cover letters, resumes, interview skills). Equine Study Abroad, EQM 396, was added as another option, in addition to EQM 399 (Internship in Equine Science and Management), for completing the academic enrichment experience requirement of the degree. The emphasis areas were also streamlined from four down to three and the requirement was established that students would need to complete a minimum of 12 credits in a single emphasis area, with the remaining nine credits coming from the area of their choice. This curriculum change proposal was submitted for approval in the fall of 2017 and came into effect for the fall 2018 semester. In the next academic year, a few additional changes were made to the major requirements, increasing the credits in Equine Anatomy (ASC 310) from two to three and making EQM 106 (Introduction to Careers in the Equine Industry) a required course, to ensure all students were exposed to similar career readiness skills. These changes to the curriculum became official for the fall 2019 semester. We are always looking at ways in which our current curriculum can be modified to better meet the needs of our students and our industry stakeholders. Although you may not realize it, we are also always assessing how well our courses are meeting the student learning outcomes identified for the degree, so that we can determine what areas may require additional emphasis. While we do not have unlimited resources in terms of funds or faculty and staff time, we are always interested in hearing if there are specific courses you’d like to see added to our list of available courses. While we may not be able to make these additions in the short term, having potential courses identified will help us to continue to improve the Equine Science and Management program for future generations of students. Kristine L. Urschel Director of Undergraduate Studies, Equine Science and Management and associate professor within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences WI L DCAT CA NT ER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 3


Wildcat Canter Editorial Staff Lindsay O’Hara, contributing writer Grace Vazquez, contributing writer Holly Wiemers, MA, APR, senior editor, contributing writer, layout

Wildcat Canter Editorial Board

Erin DesNoyers, operations coordinator Camie Heleski, PhD, lecturer Danielle Jostes, MA, equine philanthropy director Jamie MacLeod, VMD, PhD, equine programs director Savannah Robin, MS, internship coordinator Kristine Urschel, PhD, director of undergraduate studies Kristen Wilson, MS, academic program coordinator

Ag Equine Programs

College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

N212 Ag Sciences Building North Lexington, KY 40546-0091 Office: (859) 257-2226 equine@uky.edu www.uky.edu/equine Photo credit, cover and this page: Jimmy Henning

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photo by Jimmy Henning





Advisor: Dr. Bob Coleman, rcoleman@uky.edu and Savannah Robin, savannah.robin@uky.edu President: Anna Lowes, anna.lowes@uky.edu

Advisor: Dr. Jill Stowe, jill.stowe@uky.edu President: Lindsay O’Hara, OfficialUKDressageTeam@gmail.com Facebook: UK Dressage and Eventing

E Q UE ST RIA N TEAM Advisor: Dr. Bob Coleman, rcoleman@uky.edu


President: Caroline Molther, caroline.molther@uky.edu

Advisor: Dr. Laurie Lawrence, llawrenc@uky.edu Presidents: Catherine Primavera, ukhorseracingclub@gmail.com Facebook: UKY Horse Racing Club

Advisor: Dr. Roger Brown, rogerbrown@uky.edu Dr. Jamie MacLeod, jnmacleod@uky.edu President: Tommy Huber, Tommy_huber@uky.edu Facebook: U of Kentucky Polo

R . E. A. D . CL UB

Advisor: Dr. Kristine Urschel, klur222@uky.edu President: Brendan Mitchell, brendan.mitchell@uky.edu Facebook: READ Club

Facebook: UKY Equestrian Team



President: JRebecca Brown, beccabrown@uky.edu Facebook: UKY Western IHSA Team


Advisor: Dr. Jill Stowe, jill.stowe@uky.edu President: Macy Clark, macyclark23@gmail.com Facebook: UK Dressage and Eventing

Advisor: Monty Ott, monty.ott@uky.edu President: Anna Doll, ukrodeoteam@gmail.com Facebook: UKY Rodeo Team


Advisor: Dr. Mary Rossano, mary.rossano@uky.edu President: Frannie Salisbury, uksaddleseatteam@gmail.com Facebook: UKY Saddleseat Team



University of Kentucky’s Department of Veterinary Science responds to Nocardioform placentitis By Holly Wiemers

dition caused by bacteria, primarily Crossiella equi and Amycolatopsis spp., affects the placenta of the pregnant mare and can cause foal losses from late-term abortions, stillbirths, prematurity or early neonatal deaths due to placental insufficiency.

The 2019-2020 foaling season has seen an increase in reports of Nocardioform placentitis, both in cases submitted to the University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and in reports from equine practitioners in the field. Nocardioform placentitis is an equine placental disease affecting pregnant mares and their foals during pregnancy.

While it is typical to see a handful of cases each year, an increase in positive cases reported usually only occurs intermittently. The last increased cluster of cases occurred during the 2017 season, and before that, during the 2011 season. While there have been similar numbers of cases reported by the UK VDL compared to the 2011 season, it is important to note that positive cases refer to all samples received, inUK’s VDL provides real-time surveillance of this cluding affected placental tissues, not necessarand other livestock diseases and has been sendily the loss of a foal. In fact, in many cases where ing reports updating practitioners and farms the placenta might have been affected, the foal about what is being seen since positive tissue was born healthy and unaffected. samples started appearing in late October. Additionally, the Gluck Equine Research CenBecause the Central Kentucky region lies at the ter announced at its foundation board meeting heart of the world’s Thoroughbred breeding Feb. 6 that it was activating Koller Emergency industry, and is home to the world-renowned Response Funds to immediately augment existequine medical infrastructure that cares for that ing research efforts and launch new projects to population, it stands to reason that the highly study the disease while it is occurring, with an tuned equine health surveillance mechanisms in aim of understanding the disease better. Curplace would catch the disease when it occurs. rently, early identification of the disease is a Cases of Nocardioform placentitis have also challenge, making it difficult to identify at-risk been reported sporadically in Florida, South Afmares and treat them proactively. rica, Italy and, most recently, New Zealand. “Obviously, those of us who are private equine practitioners have been working closely on a daily basis with area horseman in Central Kentucky and have been extremely engaged in sharing our experiences of Nocardioform placentitis cases from these most recent occurrences, as well as our experiences observed in previous years,” said Stuart Brown, Gluck Equine Research Foundation Board chair and equine veterinarian from Lexington-based Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. “These conversations with the research team at the Gluck Center, along with specialists at the UK VDL, provide all of us a unique opportunity to collaborate on our observations to understand the presentation of these cases.”

“Given the number of foals born in this area each year, the expertise of the local veterinarians and farm managers and the surveillance efforts of the UKVDL, we are well positioned to identify these types of occurrences as they emerge,” said David Horohov, chair of the UK Department of Veterinary Science and director of the Gluck Equine Research Center.

“Many of our farms have experienced little or limited cases while others have noted incidence numbers that would be greater than anticipated,” Brown said. “On many farms with the vigilant surveillance associated with farms in Central Kentucky, there are mares that have delivered foals of acceptable size and development from cases that have been identified by farm The disease, a complex and relatively rare conmanagers and veterinarians working together to WI L DCAT CA NT ER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 6

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complicated disease, primarily because there does not seem to be a simple causative relationship between the pathogen(s) and the condition. Another complicating factor is that identification of affected mares is difficult and often delayed, meaning harm to the placenta-fetal environment may already have occurred by the time cases are identified. The disease was first identified and tracked in 1986. Related bacteria are ubiquitous in the U.S. and around the world, but researchers have been unable to pinpoint where the causative bacteria emerge in the environ-

treat suspected cases before foaling. It is these experiences that will help us solve this puzzle and ment. help us understand the incidence of occurrence associated with Nocardioform placentitis.” According to Ball, a Gluck Center faculty researcher specializing in equine reproduction, diagnosGiven the pressing need to develop better diag- ing affected mares before an abortion diagnosis nostic tests and preventative strategies, UK is pro- remains difficult. While Nocardioform placentitis ceeding with new research projects to gain addi- diagnoses can be made following pathological tional information about the mare’s response to examination of the placenta, pre-partum/abortion Nocardioform placentitis. This coordinated effort diagnosis relies on abdominal ultrasonographic involves faculty with expertise in reproduction, examination of the uterus, where changes may microbiology, immunology and pathology, as well only be noted once the disease has progressed as collaborations with clinical partners throughout significantly. the region. He said the intermittent occurrence of the disease “Drs. Barry Ball, Erdol Erol, Rebecca Ruby, Allen complicates researchers’ work to better underPage, Emma Adam and Jacqueline Smith are stand the origin of Nocardioform placentitis and leading this research effort, which aims to iden- improve its diagnosis. tify at-risk mares, collect samples from infected mares for further analysis and continue to screen According to research done at UK, the disease will the identified bacteria for antibiotic sensitivity and sometimes result in the loss of the foal, but other resistance,” Horohov said. times may only show up as a change or series of changes in the placenta with no noticeable effect Nocardioform placentitis abortions typically occur on the foal. Because the bacterial infection is limbetween November and June, with a peak inci- ited to the placenta, the foal itself is not infected. dence in January and February. The majority of The foal can be underweight at birth or born affected pregnancies occur in the last trimester of healthy with the only sign anything was amiss begestation, and the identification of nocardioform ing the telltale lesions found on the placenta. lesions on the placenta of term pregnancies is a Treatment and prevention options can be limcommon presentation. ited due to timing and questions surrounding the cause and progression of this disease. It is generally accepted that this is an extremely

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According to Ball, attempts to induce the infection in mares by intrauterine inoculation of Crossiella equi at breeding and in pregnant mares via oral, intravenous and intranasal routes have been unsuccessful. Importantly, the ecology and biology of the causative organisms, Crossiela equi and Amycolatopsis spp. remain unknown, as these organisms have only been isolated from affected placentae.

antibiotic susceptibility patterns of these bacteria and continued investigation of samples submitted to the UK VDL will continue as usual.

According to Ball, it appears highly likely that the disease development of Nocardioform placentitis is multifactorial and may involve environmental conditions (hot, dry periods in late summer) and possibly effects related to host susceptibility. Pregnancy in many species, including the mare, involves some degree of immunosuppression, and many of these bacteria may be more pathogenic in immunocompromised hosts. More research is needed to better unravel this complex disease process in the mare.

To see the near-real time nocardioform positive sample (placenta, swabs and fetuses) distribution map and graph for the 2019-2020 reproductive season, visit the www.vdl.uk58y.edu link at http:// vdl.uky.edu:8080/informer/DashboardViewer. html?locale=en_US&embedToken=c67e307cb90c-4256-9427-8afae2438c93 . A historical picture of the disease going back to 2010 can be found at http://vdl.uky.edu:8080/informer/DashboardViewer.html?locale=en_ US&embedToken=d58d8dbf-bef0-4619-b57c9d4343260338.

In the short term, researchers aim to collect as much information as possible while the disease is present, with an analysis of those data to begin as early as summer. In the longer term, the goal of the research efforts is to learn more about the disease and to provide possible diagnostic tests Prior work at the Gluck Center has suggested that to identify at-risk mares so they can be treated a hot and dry fall may be correlated with increas- early in the disease and limit any impact on the es in the disease seen during the following winter foal. A sustained research effort is important even and spring foaling season, but more research is in years when the disease is at a low level. needed to confirm what that correlation means. A retrospective study of on-farm risk factors asso- Researchers will be working with participating ciated with the 2010-11 series of Nocardioform farms and collecting weekly blood samples from placentitis cases also identified a number of as- mares suspected of having the disease, as well sociations that were positively associated with as samples from control mares from the same the incidence of the disease, including the farm farm that don’t have the disease. Sample collecbeing categorized as a larger farm with higher tion would begin at the time of diagnosis and mare numbers and higher stocking density. Con- continue until foaling. Additionally, all placentas versely, longer grazing times during late winter, (affected and control), as well as any euthanized prebreeding administration of progesterone to foals or aborted fetuses, will be evaluated at the mares, hCG administration post-breeding and UKVDL for definitive diagnosis. NSAIDs were not noted to be associated with an increased incidence of Nocardioform placentitis. Farms are encouraged to work with their veterinarians and practitioners are encouraged to get in Researchers also note that it is worth considering touch with researchers by emailing equine@uky. that the bacterial family responsible for Nocardio- edu if they suspect Nocardioform placentitis on form placentitis may also originate as soil-born their farms. All of the testing for this research will organisms, despite the failure thus far to isolate be done at no cost to enrolled mares on particithese organisms from environmental sources. pating farms.

The research conducted from samples collected over the next few months will focus on assembling genome sequence data from these bacteria, the role of inflammation in the disease as well as characterizing changes in gene expression identified in blood samples. Ongoing surveillance of



UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment students make strong showing at November Animal Welfare Assessment Contest By Holly Wiemers Two teams of University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment students recently competed at the 19th annual American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Assessment Contest in November at Colorado State University. The undergraduate team, led by Camie Heleski, one of the original founders of the contest and current faculty member within the UK Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program, consisted of Alyssa Carpenter, Laughlin Flanagan, Darrian Hoerig, Augusta Hosmer and Maddie Jones. The graduate student team consisted of Melissa Cantor, Tanya France, Gustavo Mazon and Megan Woodrum Setser and was coached by Joao Costa, a faculty member within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences who specializes in dairy research. Flanagan was awarded third place high point individual out of 95 students. According to the news release published by the contest (https://www.avma.org/News/PressRoom/ Pages/AWJAC-2019.aspx), participants included undergraduates, graduate students, veterinary students and AVMA member veterinarians, who were evaluated on their decisions and by how well they presented and justified their positions to a team of judges. During the contest, 244 participants representing 25 universities competed in live and computer-based assessments of the welfare of animals in a variety of settings. The event’s website states that the contest serves as an educational tool for enhancing understanding and awareness of welfare issues affecting animals used for human purposes. The contest teaches ethical reasoning, encourages objective assessment of animal welfare on the basis of scientific theory and data, promotes critical thinking, and improves communication skills. Students interested in animal welfare are afforded a structured opportunity to practice their assessment skills and present their findings to an expert panel of scientists and veterinarians in a logical and persuasive manner. Students analyze the welfare of various types of animals as presented in comparative scenarios, determine whether the welfare of animals in one scenario is better or worse than in the other and present their decision orally to the judges. A live/on-site scenario is also assessed. Three divisions of the contest are offered: undergraduate, veterinary and graduate students. The contest was formed in response to a growing need. As welfare assurance schemes continue to evolve across North America and beyond, there is an increasing need for objective, skilled evaluators WI L DCAT CA NT ER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 9

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who are well-trained in traditional animal sciences and welfare issues. Today's animal science departments and veterinary colleges are relied upon to prepare their graduates to address such ever evolving changes in the industry. The animal welfare assessment contest provides future leaders with training to gather and evaluate information for addressing societal concerns in an unbiased way. It is essential for animal science students to be able to synthesize the results of animal welfare research to make critical evaluations of animal welfare conditions under widely differing scenarios. According to Heleski, the following is a sample horse-related judging scenario with a sample set of oral reasons. SAMPLE REASONS – Broodmare Operations In this welfare assessment scenario, I placed Farm Two over Farm One, but recognizing that both farms are providing at least adequate levels of animal welfare. The primary reason for my decision to place Farm Two over Farm One has to do with the opportunities provided to engage in natural behavior. Stallions at Farm Two are provided with the opportunity for outdoor exercise; though it is only two hours long, it was still a more natural opportunity than that provided to the stallions at Farm One, who only received daily exercise on a hot walker. While there is only a tendency for Farm One to have more stereotypic behavior than Farm Two, we have seen in a number of studies, such as by McGreevy and Nicol, that minimal opportunities for social interaction or at liberty-exercise are risk factors for developing stereotypic behavior. Mares and foals at Farm Two also have the advantage in terms of opportunities for social interaction, at liberty exercise and more time to graze. While it is likely that mares and foals at Farm One would look more aesthetically pleasing (less coat fading, minimal or no bite marks, etc.) in terms of welfare, Farm Two has a clear advantage here. Horses in training and show horses at Farm Two also had a higher level of welfare than Farm One in terms of opportunities for exercise. Farm Two horses had two hours of daily turn out, while Farm One horses had only their training routine as time out of their stall. Though the FASS guide recommends 12’ x 12’ box stalls, and Farm Two stalls were only 11’ x 11’, it should be noted that Farm Two horses are Arabians, which are typically on the smallish side. I will grant that Farm One had a preferable castration protocol with the analgesic, Ketoprofen, used to help reduce discomfort and inflammation post-surgery. This was verified by differences in inflammation and kicks to the stomach (which have been shown by Kent & Molony – at least in sheep – as a measure of discomfort behavior.) On a final note, I found Farm Two‘s weaning protocol less stressful to the horses than in Farm One. Farm Two left foals in small groups in their normal environment, taking mares away, instead. The number of vocalizations and the cortisol levels observed both supported that Farm Two’s weaning method was less stressful than Farm One’s protocol. Though no evidence is presented on rate of illness, it is often noted that foals undergoing stressful weaning are more likely to develop respiratory infections soon after weaning. Though both farms provide a level of welfare that I feel comfortable with, I find a clear preference for that provided at Farm Two.



UK hosts 10th annual Pastures Please!! event By Krista Lea More than 125 people attended the annual Pastures Please!! event Jan. 27 at the Fayette County Extension Office. The program began with refreshments and time to visit with sponsors, including Central Equipment, Derby State Equipment Sales, McCauley’s, The Franklin-Williams Co, Tribute Equine Nutrition and Woodford Feed. UK Ag Equine Programs’ director James MacLeod began by welcoming attendees and describing his vision and motivation for UK Ag Equine Programs. He acknowledged the county agents involved in planning the event, including Beau Neal (Fayette), Adam Probst (Woodford), Ben Connor (Scott), Patton Slusher (Bourbon), Steve Musen (Jessamine) and Linda McClanahan (Mercer). Bob Coleman, equine extension specialist and associate professor within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, began the evening with “Making the Best of Your Investment in Hay” and covered the costs and savings of various hay feeders for large and small hay bales. Bill Witt, professor emeritus, then discussed weed management strategies for pasture renovation and focused on selecting the proper herbicide and timing before seeding. Ray Smith, extension professor within the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, covered a monthly plan for pasture renovation and establishment. Finally, Krista Lea moderated a first farm manager panel. Marc Richardson of Mill Ridge Farm shared the farm’s story of tall fescue toxicity in their foaling mares, and the process of removing and re-establishing their broodmare pastures. Amanda Reho of Valley View Farm discussed how the farm updated property purchased in 2014 and turned it into a premier three-day event barn. She also described the farm’s composting program using hemp bedding. Attendees identified themselves as representing the full scope of the horse industry in Kentucky including breeding, showing, pleasure and racing. Operations ranged from small one to two-horse operations to many with more than 20 horses. Students from the Kentucky Equine Management Internship and Midway College Equine Program also attended the event.

James MacLeod welcomes the group.

Bob Coleman discussing hay feeders.

Ray Smith talking about establishing pastures.

Photos by Jimmy Henning



Equine Science and Management Alumni Profile Kyle Johnson, ‘14 Stallion Groom at Claiborne Farm Where is home for you? I’m originally from Massachusetts. How did you first become involved in the horse industry? Back home I had worked and volunteered for several farms and non-profits. My first work experience in the Thoroughbred industry was my internship at Swifty Farms, working a season of yearling prep. What were your career goals before graduation? My career goal was, and still is, to become a general manager on a Thoroughbred farm here in Kentucky. How are you currently involved in the horse industry? Stallion groom at a Thoroughbred farm. Also, I recently joined The Kentucky Horse Council as a board member. What advice do you have for current equine students? A degree is a fantastic backing to have in this industry, but networking, especially being here in Kentucky, is the best thing you can do for yourself to make a career of this fantastic equine industry.

What are your current job responsibilities? I’m currently responsible for the day-to-day care of three stallions. Along with that, I assist in the breeding shed operations during breeding season. What led you to this position? After graduation, I took an internship with Claiborne in the foaling barn. That internship led to a full-time position here on the farm working in several different divisions of the farm. My classes in nutrition and conformation at UK with Dr. Laurie Lawrence were two courses that really stuck with me, perking my personal interest in those aspects of the industry. Was there a turning point in college that had an impact on your career? My first semester joining Horse Racing Club really set my passion for the industry into motion. It was here that I first met Dr. Lawrence, and several of my best friends who also work in the industry today.


EQUINE PROGRAMS SPOTLIGHT Kristine Urschel Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies

Involvement in the industry: Urschel conducts nutrition and muscle physiology research in addition to teaching and advising within the Equine Science and Management and Animal Science majors.

Education: University of Alberta, B.S. Animal Science, 2002 University of Alberta, PhD Nutrition and Metabolism, 2007

Impact: Urschel is very passionate about the program’s undergraduate education as well as her research. She strives to not only excel in her research findings, but constantly make the program better with each passing semester.

Favorite aspect of her work: Urschel said her absolute favorite aspect of work is the opportunity to share her passion for teaching and research with her students.

History with the program: Urschel has been a faculty member at the University of Kentucky since 2008 and has been the Director of Undergraduate Studies since 2017.

Advice for equine students: Get as many diverse experiences as possible. Never be afraid to network and make connections.



UK Equine Clubs and Teams Update

UK Dressage Team The UK Dressage team shared that they had a great competition at Otterbein University during the first weekend of February. They earned third overall as a team on Saturday and had many personal bests. Their next show is at Miami University on April 4-5.

UK Equestrian Team Hunt Seat The UK Equestrian Hunt Seat team would like to congratulate their 20 members who made it to regional finals this year. The show will be on Feb. 29 at Midway University. UKET won the region and has qualified as a team for Zone Finals this year. WI L DCAT CA NTER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 14


Equestrian Team Western Seat The UK Western Seat team is excited to annouce that they are sending nine riders to regionals: Margaret Babiarz - Beginner Michelle Baker - Advanced Megan Blanton - Open Rebecca Brown - Advanced Kennedy Ekovich - Novice Alexandra Hemberger - Advanced Kennedy Hoch - Novice Maggie Rumbaugh - Novice Gabrielle Young - Intermediate

Rodeo Team The UK Rodeo team had a great time helping at Bulls, Bands and Barrels on Feb. 8th. This month they also had their first spring college rodeo. Madison Snedigar and Kylie Jo Daughery competed in barrel racing. Lauren Olsen and Daugherty competed in team roping for the first time together. Daugherty also competed in breakway. Nathan Bradley competed in bull riding at his first college rodeo. WI L DCAT CA NTER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 15


Note from editor: An important part of the mission of our program includes undergraduate education, specifically with our Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program. A new class, taught by Camie Heleski, a faculty member and lecturer within the program – is one designed to present provocative, often controversial issues that are current to the equine industry. In EQM 305, “Equine Industry Issues,� students are introduced to topics, hear from speakers, research information and communicate about industry issues in written and oral formats. The course is designed to expose students to hot button issues in the industry and encourage them to research and formulate well-communicated opinions about those issues. One avenue made available to this course is publishing some of those stories here.

The Hotseat: Bisphosphonates in Racing By Anastasia Vialov Following the multiple catastrophic breakdowns at Santa Anita, the racing industry has been under scrutiny from the public. There are a lot of risks involved with the industry of racing that people within know and accept. Unfortunately, the public on the outside does not have the same understanding or knowledge. Most of their information comes from what the media chooses to highlight and portray. The public is an integral part of the industry, economically and financially, through betting and attending race days. If that public is against the industry, there is no chance of it surviving. The presence of social media has really been a large factor in the change of outlook about the industry, allowing new audiences to become more involved with the industry than ever before. Now that the public is questioning whether a day at the races is worth compromising the welfare of our equine athletes. It is our duty to take an honest look at the practices we use and evaluate the safety and effectiveness. One of the controversial issues is medication, specifically Bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates are a class of drug that modify the bone. They have been used in human medicine for more than 20 years, but were introduced in the equine world more recently. Bones go through a natural process in which they remove damaged or weak bone with osteoclasts and build new bone with osteoblasts in a cycle called remodeling. Remodeling is a naturally occurring process in which the bone matures. Bisphosphonates work by blocking the bone cell (osteoclasts) that removes bone, while still allowing new bone to be built. Originally intended in the equine industry as a medication for Navicular disease, veterinarians have begun using it for off label purposes in young racehorses. All horses in the developmental stages undergo stress on their bones as they begin going into work or even moving around in their field. This stress is a natural process and usually a good and positive WI L DCAT CA NTER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 16

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process for the horse. The impact on the horse’s legs from turnout and training puts pressure on the bones, creating micro fractures. These are sensed by the body, signaling for the remodeling process to begin, removing the weak bone and placing down new bone. This bone is stronger and therefore creates a sturdier, more mature bone in the horse. However, if the bone is pushed too far too fast, as in some trainings as a future race horse, it might not be able to keep up with the remodeling process needed and could result in a stress fracture. In the racing industry, time is money. Horses can be quite expensive. Horses out racing are making money; horses who are injured or cannot race are costing money. There is a large push to get horses out racing by their 2-year-old year. One of the highest achievements is to have your horse as a champion 3-year-old in the Kentucky Derby or Oaks. Horses at 2 and 3 are still developing and if pushed too hard can develop stress fractures. This results in owners having to pay expensive track day rates for horses to have time off at the track. Another option in the hope to get horses back on the track racing faster are expensive rehabilitation therapies. There are a variety of rehabilitation techniques ranging from shockwave therapy to the aquatread water-based treadmill. The similarity in all of them is an increase above and beyond the normal day rate. This puts a halt in training and an increase in investment into the horse. Using bisphosphonates was thought to be a proactive approach to prevent the stress fractures in horses rather than spending money on reactive rehabilitation techniques after the fracture had already occurred. The thought process relies on the thought that by blocking the ability to remove bone, fractures will not be allowed to form. There is not much research to support this statement, or much research in regard to the effects of this drug on horses in general. There are, however, multiple studies done on people under various scenarios with bisphosphonates. It was determined that people who used bisphosphonates under high strain rates were more likely to fracture and ended up having a weaker bone. (Hogan, VMD). There have been new incentives from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to begin research trials in regard to bisphosphonates in horses. The research will especially focus on the long-term effects in young horses. For now, in the United States, bisphosphonates are not allowed to be used in horses under 4 years old. There has been a large push to change management of younger racehorses instead of trying to fix created problems with medications and treatments.

Bisphosphonates: Magic Potion or Russian Roulette? By Sarah Turri If you say the words “navicular disease” in a room full of horse people, you might feel the whole room collectively shudder. At one time this disease was career-threatening for horses, but with recent advancements in veterinary medicine, this is not always the case. A new product called Osphos hit the market in 2014. This was a game changer for many horses diagnosed with navicular disease, but has also been misused in the racing and sales industry. Navicular disease is a complex syndrome causing heel pain in the horse. The disease usually affects the weight-bearing front limbs of the horse. ‘Navicular disease’ can be used to describe disease to any tissue in the heel whether that be bone, cartilage, tendons or ligaments. Continued on page 18 WI L DCAT CA NT ER | FEBRUARY 2020 | 17

F EAT U R E STORY Continued from page 17

The disease is chronic and degenerative and usually affects horses aged 4-15. This age group is the only group for which the drug has been tested and approved. The exact cause of navicular disease is unknown and no single test can be done to diagnose it, but radiographs are the most commonly used tool. (OSPHOS) There is no single cure for navicular disease, but a class of drugs called bisphosphonates have been shown to help due to their ability to inhibit bone remodeling. Bisphosphonates block excess bone resorption, which is why they are so effective in treating navicular disease. Osphos is the most commonly used bisphosphonate in horses. In clinical trials conducted by Dechra, the company that manufactures Osphos, nearly 75% of horses affected by navicular disease showed improvements in their lameness. (OSPHOS) Because of the bone remodeling capabilities of bisphosphonates, some veterinarians started using these products off label to resolve other bone issues such as bucked shins or osteoarthritis. Bisphosphonates have not been approved for this use, so the long term effects of this off label use are unknown. (Larson) In the early years, many studies showed that bisphosphonates worked as anti-inflammatories, joint protection and pain relief. Some veterinarians even started administering this drug to sales yearlings because anecdotal research had suggested that it may make their radiographs cleaner. All the studies conducted to show the positive effects of bisphosphonates were done on horses over the age of 4, and none of the test subjects were race horses. (Larson) Using bisphosphonates on a population of horses it has not been approved for is a dangerous practice. (McLellan) What many veterinarians failed to realize was that bisphosphonates also prevent new blood vessels from forming and inhibiting bone remodeling in such young horses is not safe. Bone remodeling occurs in all healthy animals. Bone remodeling in race horses “makes them stronger and more resistant to stress related injuries.”(Larson) Because bisphosphonates inhibit this bone remodeling, it could put horses at a greater risk of injury. (McLellan) Not only are veterinarians using bisphosphonates to treat conditions that the drug hasn't been approved to treat, they are also using it in ways that have never been studied. The intended administration of bisphosphonates is in the horse’s muscle. Some veterinarians have been using them intra-arContinued on page 19


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ticularly (in the joint), even though there is no equine specific research to suggest that this is safe or even effective. This practice has shown positive results in humans, but to say that it will help horses too, is an unverified assumption. If you allow your horse to have bisphosphonates injected into its joints, your horse is serving as a test subject, since the effective intra-articular concentration is unknown for horses. (McLellan) Furthermore, there are reproduction risks associated with this drug. The drug warns against use in pregnant or lactating mares. Because a mare will draw calcium from her bones to create enough milk for her foal, there is a risk that she may not be able to produce enough healthy milk for her foal. Theoretically, if you administer the drug to a race filly and breed her the next year, she may be at risk and the foal may be as well. While this has not been proven, there is too much uncertainty to take that risk. (McLellan) A few prominent veterinarians, namely Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital (Lexington), have taken a stand against the off label use of bisphosphonates. His concern was that the drugs are designed to linger in the body for a long time, possibly well over a year. While this is very beneficial for the group of horses it is designed to treat, this could lead to a brittle equine skeleton that would see more fractures and slower healing times, especially in a juvenile athlete. After Bramlage’s formal warning of the long-term harmful effects of bisphosphonate usage in a client-education seminar, many people pledged to never use these drugs off label. (Voss) Many prominent figures have taken Bramlage’s advice and banned this off-label usage. The three major U.S. auction houses (Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton and OBS) all banned the off-label use of the drug in horses that go through their sales. Any person that buys a horse from one of their auctions can request a drug test and pending the results can rescind the sale. If the test comes back positive, the $500 cost of the test falls on the seller and they potentially lose that sale. The Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes many prominent racetracks, haas also called for a ban of bisphosphonate use in young horses. (Paulick Report) While these are steps in the right direction, the U.S. still has a long way to go in banning the improper use of this drug. Other countries take this practice much more seriously. For example, in the UK, if a juvenile horse is proven to have received bisphosphonates, that horse is banned from racing for life. The drug can only be detected in the blood for 28 days. It stays in the bone much longer, but obtaining a bone sample is difficult. Dechra has put extensive time and money into research of its drug in hopes that it can convince veterinarians that it can be harmful if used off label. (Voss) While many veterinarians feel they may have found a magic solution for their horses, the risks far outweigh the potential benefits.


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February 2020 UK Ag Equine Programs Wildcat Canter  

The Wildcat Canter is an electronic newsletter that features equine club and organization news and updates, UK Ag Equine Programs news and f...

February 2020 UK Ag Equine Programs Wildcat Canter  

The Wildcat Canter is an electronic newsletter that features equine club and organization news and updates, UK Ag Equine Programs news and f...