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October 2021 - Galway Downs Continues To Raise the Bar
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:25
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2020 threw a wrench in the exciting plans of almost every horse show in the United States with its various unexpected challenges, and Galway Downs in Temecula, California, was no exception. Despite the obstacles created by COVID-19, the team behind Galway Downs put forth their best efforts and achieved incredible results. Thanks to Ken Smith, owner of Galway Downs, Robert Kellerhouse, general manager of Galway Downs, and Ali and Francie Nilforushan of Nilforushan Equisport Events, Galway Downs is on track to exceed expectations for 2021. Kellerhouse credits his fantastic partnership with Nilforushan Equisport Events and Ken Smith for the significant capital improvements that have led to the transformation of Galway Downs.

Facility owner, Ken Smith, leads with the vision that Galway Downs facilitates the celebration of life. Since he purchased the property in 2010, Ken Smith’s goal was to create a multipurpose facility. He was determined to elevate and update the facility every year to support the grandeur of the events held on the grounds. Whether it is competing at horse shows, hosting a wedding, or having competitive junior soccer teams practice on their fields, Smith is thrilled that Galway is evolving into more of a multipurpose venue.

Francie Nilforushan getting some last minute pointers from her husband, Ali Nilforushan, before heading into the Grand Prix jump off aboard My Love Carthago. Photo: Julie Ahn Photography

Kellerhouse, a life long equestrian who was raised in the sport of eventing, worked with his mom, Anne Kellerhouse, to put San Diego county on the map in the eventing world in the 1980s. They ran their first events at Pio Pico in Southeast San Diego County before moving to the Del Mar Horsepark (formerly Del Mar Showpark) in 1986. In 1998, Robert and his mom brought their events to Galway Downs, a 240-acre equestrian facility that was primarily a thoroughbred training facility, complete with a training track.

Nearly four years ago, the Nilforushan’s became involved and have been the driving force of the evolution of the Equestrian facilities ever since. Their commitment to excellence is demonstrated by the constant venue improvements and their dedication to bettering their horse shows each year. This has led to an exciting new beginning for all horse shows at Galway Downs.

Robert Kellerhouse has been a leader in the sport of eventing and now focuses on bringing top level eventing competitions to the state of California. Photo: Tina Fitch Photography

The Dream Team

From the beginning, the Kellerhouse family worked to make their event ideal for competitors and spectators alike. From securing top judges, to hiring leading cross-country and jumping course designers, and finding meaningful sponsors, the event was set up for significant growth early on. Bert Wood joined the Kellerhouse eventing team in 1996 and, over the years, has built hundreds of jumps and horse show structures adding to the prestige of the facility.

Fast forward 23-years, and Kellerhouse’s enthusiasm has reached new heights. With the addition of the Nilforushan Equisport Events team, Kellerhouse’s excitement and outlook for the property continues to grow. The Nilforushan’s have made a significant investment into Galway Downs to bring about the many capital improvements on the Equestrian side of the facility. This includes building several new arenas with the sports finest footing by Footing Solutions, adding permanent structures for shade and entertaining, as well as seating for spectators. With their support, the small local venue that Francie grew up showing at, has transformed into a boutique and highly-sought after facility. Thanks to the life that Nilforushan Equisport Events has breathed back into Galway Downs, it is now home to top hunter/jumper, eventing, dressage, and breed shows.

Robert Kellerhouse’s wife Erin runs her successful Swift Ridge Eventing business at Galway Downs and is one of the many trainers that operate out of the training barns at Galway. Photo: MGO Photography

As a former event manger and promoter, Nilforushan has used his unique background to create the ultimate horse show experience that combines great food, a wonderful venue, superior stabling, friendly and helpful show management, and extraordinary entertainment. In 2021, Nilforushan Equisport Events hosted eight-time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley and Saturday Night Live comedian, Kevin Nealon, on stage for their exhibitors.

“Without Nilforushan Equisport Events and their investments into their shows as well as the venue, the facility’s support base was fading fast,” said Kellerhouse. “The equestrian venue was aging and the footing was subpar before the Nilforushan’s stepped in. Over these past four years, we have seen the equestrian attributes bloom. Galway Downs truly has multiple arenas with world-class footing, beautiful landscaping and fencing, top-quality stables, and viewing areas including our new pavilion that all help create the best atmosphere for horse shows.” Fortunately, Bert Wood is now working with the entire Galway team and serves as chief builder for the myriad of upgrades, including that stunning new VIP pavilion for the Grand Prix arena.

The Nilforushan’s and Kellerhouse share the common goal of extending the positive experience beyond just the competitor to include family, friends, and all members of the show team. They hope to continue to provide improvements so visitors can look forward to returning to the ever-changing and improving facility for years to come. Both managers stress their crucial roles as gracious hosts, to offer unbelievable hospitality, and to provide an unforgettable experience. Their mission is for all to get the most out of their time at Galway, whether exhibitors are winning their classes or bringing home solid competition mileage. Regardless of the different reasons that riders come together at Galway – watching, grooming, spectating, judging, or competing, and beyond – everyone should be having a great time.

Steffen Peters & Suppenkasper. Photo: Terri Miller Photography

Improvements Upon Improvements

Galway Downs has come a long way since the Smith, Kellerhouse, and Nilforushan involvement began. The covered Pavilion, upgraded audio systems, new arenas and grandstands, just scratch at the surface of some of the newer features that spectators and competitors alike can enjoy. International event rider, Clayton Fredricks, has just put the finishing touches on a brand-new cross-country course to be debuted in November, as well as supported the addition of the exclusive WOODHOUSE™ stables. The recent addition of rubber mats to stalls and walkways ensure a safer and more comfortable experience for horses and riders of all disciplines.

Outside of competition improvements, Smith has directed his energies into landscaping and improved lodging at the Galway Downs facility. Kellerhouse says “Ken Smith loves Galway and has been the most influential owner in the property’s transformation over the years.” Alongside a wedding venue, Smith has added various housing options across the property, including Ranch Houses, Airstreams, and RV spaces. New this year, Smith, Kellerhouse, and the Nilforushan’s have added tiny homes known as Pony Houses that will also be available for Galway Downs visitors that would like to stay on site.

Kellerhouse reflects, “As someone who has been in Southern California for many years, it’s been inspiring to be part of the evolution of a unique venue that stands on its own feet with the activities it hosts. Creating that was no small task and the work that went on for years is thankfully taking root. The weddings, sports fields, and equestrian events now all contribute to the beautiful venue’s success.”

More To Come

Though Galway Downs may be known for its three day events, hunter/jumper shows, and race horses, the management team is excited to begin hosting Dressage competitions. “Galway Downs and Robert Kellerhouse have been a lifesaver for our Dressage community in Southern California,” said California-based Dressage rider Ellie Hardesty. “Considering the COVID-19 restrictions and lack of facilities, the CDS San Diego Dressage Chapter is grateful for the support we’ve received from Galway Downs. We were able to provide top-quality shows for our riders to qualify for the USEF National Dressage Championships. Top notch footing and stabling is a must in our sport, and Galway is exceeding that requirement.”

Overall, the teamwork behind Galway Downs is what Kellerhouse believes will propel it to the top of the horse show world. “At Galway, we are dedicated to working as a team to knit it all together in a way that the entire equestrian community including spectators, owners, and sponsors alike can appreciate,” Kellerhouse said. “Money alone doesn’t make that happen; it doesn’t fully capture the atmosphere that has been developed through the synergy of the entire Galway Family.”

Besides serving as one of California’s top horse show facilities, Galway Downs is home to 225 horses and 14 expert sport horse and racing trainers

Visit to learn more about the facility and www.GalwayDowns.netfor the information regarding shows, boarding, and training opportunities.

Ellie Hardesty states: “Galway Downs and Robert Kellerhouse have been a lifesaver for our Dressage community in Southern California. Especially with dealing with Covid restrictions and lack of facilities, the CDS San Diego Dressage Chapter is grateful for the support we’ve received from Galway Downs. We were able to provide Top-quality shows for our riders to qualify for the USEF National Dressage Championships. Especially with Del Mar Horsepark having an unknown re-opening date, Galway Downs has provided exceptional facilities for our community. Top notch footing and stabling is a must in our sport, and Galway exceeding that requirement. We look forward to continue working with Galway Downs and Robert Kellerhouse as they are in the forefront of creating one of the best facilities on the West Coast.” The Temecula chapter has also raved about the stunning improvements that Nilfuroshan Equisports Events has installed at Galway and they are thrilled to hold their growing shows at the world class equestrian facility.


October 2021 - USHJA Announces Participants for Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals and Adult Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:21
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The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is pleased to announce the 48 participants for this year’s USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, which will be held at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, November 12-14, and USHJA Adult Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, which will be held virtually October 18-30.

Congratulations to the following members who will be competing:

Horsemanship Quiz Challenge
•    Devyn Borden, Richardsville, VA
•    Ava Cohen, Boulder, CO
•    Kylie Cohen, Bloomfield Township, MI
•    Megan Conway, Chittenango, NY
•    Hannah Dodson, Pegram, TN
•    Sophie Fendler, St Louis, MO
•    Angelina Franzese, Ann Arbor, MI
•    Liliana Franzese, Ann Arbor, MI
•    Emma Friedman, Chiloquin, OR
•    Katie Glass, Boulder, CO
•    McKenna Goodson, Amherst, MA
•    Vera Hannapel, Ankeny, IA
•    Avery Hicks, Bullard, TX
•    Rebecca Hopkins, Northville, MI
•    Ellie Kennedy, Anchorage, AK
•    Sam Koeppel, Mount Sinai, NY
•    Ian McFarlin, Tallahassee, FL
•    Genevieve Munson, Rogers, AR
•    Raena Royer, Windsor, CO
•    Lainie Rubin, Columbia, SC
•    Ruthie Ruhl, Mt. Pulaski, IL
•    Ariana Schneider, Clarksville, TN
•    Matt Tracy, Pennington, NJ
•    Taya Wykert, Thousand Oaks, CA

Adult Horsemanship Quiz Challenge
•    Paige Anderson, Beaverdam, VA
•    Lisa Barnett, Cedar Rapids, IA
•    Shannon Cole, Scarborough, ME
•    Ashley DeWoolfson, Warrenton, VA
•    Cynthia Flavin, Los Angeles, CA
•    Laurie Gessel, Highland, UT
•    Lindsey Gibbons, Lexington, KY
•    Kos Gilbert, Ann Arbor, MI
•    Stephanie Grissom, College Station, TX
•    Jennifer Hoge, Orlando, FL
•    Kris Huber, Santa Clarita, CA
•    Peggy Kline, Torrance, CA
•    Stephanie Leddy, Findlay, OH
•    Dawn Mazzaccaro, Montville, NJ
•    Delana McFarlin, Tallahassee, FL
•    Lisa Munro, Longmont, CO
•    Allison Pelzel, Fort Lupton, CO
•    Sonya Svaty, Gurnee, IL
•    Lynn Tetenbaum, Oakland, CA
•    Carol Traver, Croton On Hudson, NY
•    Katie Van Horne, Woodland, CA
•    Monica Waters, Johns Island, SC
•    Lyssette Williams, San Diego, CA
•    Sharon Zimmerman, Santa Clarita, CA

Lake Erie College will host this year’s HQC Nationals November 12-14 after successfully hosting the event in 2016 and 2017.

HQC Nationals is a multi-phase event that tests the top-scoring HQC participants who advanced through HQC Levels One and Two. The competition consists of a written exam, horsemanship/identification exam and a practicum exam. Scores from the written exam and the horsemanship/identification exam will be combined, and the 12 Individuals with the highest combined scores will compete in Practicum A on the second day of Nationals. Finalists ranked 13th-24th based on their combined scores will compete in Practicum B on the second day of Nationals but will not be eligible for prizes.

The Adult Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals will be offered virtually October 18-30. The multi-phase event will consist of a written exam, an interview and a final practicum that will require participants to demonstrate their mastery of horsemanship knowledge across a variety of topics. Prizes will be awarded to the highest-scoring participants in each phase, as well as to the overall top finishers.

Various sponsor awards will presented after the competitions. The top three overall finishers at HQC Nationals will also receive training grants to continue their equine education, supported by the USHJA Foundation.

The USHJA extends special thanks to USHJA Official Sponsors CWD, Parlanti, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Nutrena; Championship Official Sponsor Straight Arrow Family of Brands; Educational Supporting Sponsor Spy Coast Farm and SmartPak and Awards Sponsors Essex Classics and Boy O Boy Bridleworks.

The Horsemanship Quiz Challenge is supported in part by grants from US Equestrian and the USHJA Foundation. To help support the HQC program, visit to make a charitable donation today.

Learn more about the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge and USHJA Adult Horsemanship Quiz Challenge at and

October 2021 - 7 Tips To Prepare For Your Next Horse Show
Written by courtesy of Southern States
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:16
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courtesy of Southern States

Do your homework before deciding on what show to compete at. Are there classes available that are appropriate for your skill level and that of your horse? Is there good footing?  What have others that have gone there said about the show?  Does the course designer do a good job of making the course inviting and competitor friendly? If your horse needs to get in the ring prior to showing are you allowed to school in the ring in the morning? The more you know about the show, the better you can manage your expectations and have a positive experience.

1. Show Day Logistics

Are you going to be stabling your horse overnight at the show or working off the trailer? If you are going to get a stall for the show, make sure you either order or bring shavings with you, bring water buckets, plenty of hay, grain , a pitchfork and manure tub/wheelbarrow. Make sure you have reserved your stall prior to any entry closing deadlines. Don’t forget to book a hotel room for yourself if it’s a multi-day show.

If you’re planning on working off the trailer for an all day ship-in show, does your horse need a trailer buddy to keep him calm? Not sure, bring one just in case. The last thing you need is for your horse to be upset on the trailer with hours to go until your class is scheduled to start. If the weather is going to be warm, bring plenty of water from home (some horses are finicky about drinking water at new locations) and a portable generator to run fans off of.

2. Bring A Trainer Or Friend

We all need an extra set of hands when we go to a show. If you bring a friend, even if they aren’t well versed in horses, they can help you hold your horse, unload your equipment off the trailer, set jumps in the schooling area and do a last minute boot shine and hoof polishing prior to you stepping into the ring. Your trainer can help you learn the courses (if showing over fences), come up with a plan for how you are going to approach your course and give you constructive feedback following your classes. If possible, spend some time ringside with your trainer watching other riders show. You can learn as much from watching as from actually showing.

3. Be Conscious Of Your Budget

Horse showing isn’t for the faint of wallet. Trailering, training and entry fees can quickly add up, so try to get the most bang for your buck. As a rule, schooling shows are considerably cheaper than rated horse shows.  Use these to gain experience in the ring and make sure you are ready for “the big time.” Many facilities that host rated shows also host schooling shows; this is a win-win situation for you and your checkbook. You can show in the same rings, over the same jumps at a fraction of the cost, just on a different weekend.

4. Make Sure You’re Prepared

If your horse acts like an orangutan at home, things aren’t likely to change once you get to the horse show.  A change in scenery isn’t going to magically make a horse progress in his skill set.  Likewise just because your horse can jump one 3’6” jump doesn’t mean you are ready to go to a show and do a course of 3’6” jumps.  Know your limitations. It’s much better to show at a lower level and be successful, than to put you and your horse in a situation you aren’t prepared for. Everything you do at home should prepare you for the test of a horse show. If you can’t do it at home don’t try to do it at a show.

5. Make a List - Check it Twice

Your horse show packing list will vary based on what type of showing you will be doing. However there are a few basics everyone should take with them including health paperwork (negative Coggins and/or health certificate), membership cards, grooming supplies, tack, first aid kit for horse and rider, horse blankets/sheets and your show clothes. As things can get hectic the day of the horse show, try to make a list ahead of time and load your trailer and car prior to the early morning rush. If you do happen to forget something don’t worry, most likely you will either be able to borrow from someone at the show or buy a replacement from a vendor.

6. Relax

Horse shows are supposed to be fun. Regardless of what level you compete at, horse shows demand too much time and money for you not to enjoy yourself. Take a deep breath and relax. You’re enjoying a day off the farm with your horse.

If you’re nervous or stressed out, your horse will pick up that negative energy and be nervous as well. Butterflies in the stomach don’t have to be a bad thing. Turn that energy around and use it to walk in the ring and show everyone what you can do. Take a few minutes before you walk into the ring to visualize how you want your ride to be. You can do this in the weeks leading up to the show. Just remember keep it positive, don’t second guess your decisions once you are in the ring.

7. What’s Important

Remember at the end of the show day, it’s not the ribbon count that matters! If all you want is ribbons, you can go buy a box full. What’s important is knowing that you and your horse gave your all. Make realistic goals that you will take pride in achieving, no matter how the judge rewards your ride.

Best of luck as you saddle up for your next show!


October 2021 - The Tall Boot Dilemma
Written by courtesy of SmartPak
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:10
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Which is the Right Riding Boot for Me?

courtesy of SmartPak

Remember when you were a little kid and you had to wear paddock boots and those crazy garter straps, and you dreamed about being old enough to wear elegant, shiny tall boots? Or maybe you were like me, and one of the first pair of riding boots you had were those stiff black vinyl sort-of tall boots that were neither stylish nor comfortable, but you loved them anyway? I see the excitement and trepidation on the faces of riders when they come to shop for tall boots at SmartPak’s retail store in Natick, MA, where I help customers pick from an increasingly large selection of tall boot options. Not sure which tall boot will work best for you? Read on and I will help you decide!

The first questions I ask are about the kind of riding you do and if are you planning to show. These are important, as most riding disciplines have formal rules or traditions around the style and fit of riding attire. I’ve organized the information below by discipline to help you focus on the information most suited for you. “But I don’t have a discipline, or I do all of them!” This is common – I mostly event, but also ride and show dressage and occasionally hunters/equitation. I also trail ride and do some natural horsemanship.

My suggestion is: figure out which discipline you participate in is the strictest about the type of tall boot you can wear, especially if you are horse showing. Most disciplines are pretty flexible – for example, there is no rule stating that you have to wear stiff dressage boots at recognized dressage shows, especially at the lower levels. I showed through 2nd level in field boots and won my share of pretty ribbons. However, it would be very challenging and probably painful to try to jump in stiff dressage boots, so that helped me decide where to spend my limited funds when I was boot shopping in my younger years.

For those of you who are not showing – the world is your oyster! You can pick whichever boots strike your fancy and seem like they will be the most comfortable and supportive of your riding.

Regardless of whether you show or not, I always recommend asking your riding instructor to see if they have any boot preferences, as some trainers feel very strongly about the style and fit of tall boots.

Tall Boot Basics: There are three main types of tall riding boots – Field Boots, Dress Boots, and Dressage Boots. [show picture of all three styles next to each other.] Each type of boot was developed for a specific purpose. Styles within each boot have changed over the years, the biggest change being the introduction of zippers. This allowed for a much closer fit as well as an easier time putting on and taking off tall boots. For those of you who remember struggling to pull your boots on with boot pulls, you can all join me in thanking that genius!

Most tall boots are made of leather, although vinyl is still being used in economy boots, and more technical materials are starting to be seen in all levels of boots. Black is still the most prevalent color, with brown being seen in the hunt field for cub hunting and occasionally in the jumper, dressage, and eventing show rings, or for schooling. I’ve also seen some amazingly beautiful dark blue dressage boots, along with a wide variety of leather textures and colors in custom tall boots. If you can dream it up, they can make it – for a price, of course!

We are seeing more and more cross-over boots, which blend the attributes of the different types of tall boots and can be used in various show disciplines. Because of this, you have a wider selection of options based on the discipline you ride:


Boot Type: Field Boot, although Dress Boots are becoming more acceptable
Boot Fit: As tall as possible and highly fitted, especially for rated horse shows. Custom-like look preferred, which is much easier to get off-the-shelf than in previous years.
Boot Style: Traditional – black polished leather with minimal adornments or bling. Punched toe caps are acceptable although not currently as popular.


Boot Type: Field Boots or Dress Boots
Boot Fit: As tall as possible and highly fitted, especially for rated horse shows. Custom-like look preferred, which is much easier to get off-the-shelf than in previous years.
Boot Style: Still mainly traditional but more color and flair are showing up, with colored piping or leather and more technical styles and materials.


Boot Type: Field Boot, Dress Boot, Dressage Boot (for dressage phase only.) Some riders will change boots depending on the phase, some will wear the same boots for all three phases.
Boot Fit: Based on type, fitted
Boot Style: Still mainly traditional but more color and flair are showing up, with colored piping or leather and more technical styles and materials.


Boot Type: Dressage Boot, Dress Boot, Field Boot at the lower levels.
Boot Fit: Tall for an elegant look, fitted to the upper calf, Dressage Boot is straighter through ankle.
Boot Style: Still mainly traditional but more color and flair are showing up, with colored piping or leather and more technical styles and materials.

Specialty Boots

Polo Boots: Used to play polo. Generally brown leather with a zipper in the front and/or buckles on the outside of the boot. Worn with matching knee guards.
Fox Hunting Boots: Used for fox hunting, check with each hunt for specific attire guidelines. For cubbing season, brown field or black dress boots; for formal season, black dress boots, can have tan tops (men) or patient black tops (women).

Winter Boots: There is a wide variety of insulated tall boots are available – these are mainly black, and there are many styles available from traditional black leather with insulation to technical boots in various styles.

Schooling Boots: Used for everyday riding, not generally seen in the show ring. These boots can be of any color and style and may have technical features like a sneaker-style footbed, gripping materal on inside calf of boot, and materials that are light-weight, breathable, flexible, and/or waterproof. Seen more in Europe than the USA.

I recommend that you check the official rule book for any recognized competition you enter to ensure your attire is compliant.


October 2021 - Lameness and Poor Performance in the Sport Horse: Eventing
Written by by Sue Dyson, FRCVS, courtesy of AAEP
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:07
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by Sue Dyson, FRCVS, courtesy of AAEP

Eventing (horse trials) combines dressage, show jumping, and cross-country, together with steeplechase and roads and tracks phases in a long format three-day event. The event horse must primarily be a brave, clever, bold jumper cross-country, with scope and speed. However, in modern day competition this is not sufficient to excel, and the horse must also have reasonably athletic paces and a temperament that can be trained for dressage, combined ideally with an ability to show jump with care. Horses with a predominance of Thoroughbred breeding excel. The majority of pure warmblood horses struggle to achieve the speeds required at top levels, and, if always working in top gear, are more prone to injury.

Three-day eventing places extreme demands on the musculoskeletal system, through the efforts of both the training program and the competition itself. The horses compete on extremely variable terrain and must be able to cope with both hard and soft footing, often uphill, downhill, and across hills, and must be prepared accordingly. Galloping and jumping on various gradients place huge strains on the limbs and back, and horses with poor conformation are particularly at risk to injury.

Eventing is less forgiving than dressage or show jumping in this respect. Dressage in horse trials is almost always performed on grass and subtle gait abnormalities may be highlighted, especially when the ground is hard. Horses with poor foot conformation, upright hoof pastern axes, are back-at-the-knee or have straight hocks do not stand up well to top-level competition. The event horse is also much more at risk to develop lameness due to direct trauma than horses in either show jumping or dressage, particularly in the cross-country phase.

Horses usually reach advanced level by approximately 8 years of age and the majority of horses competing internationally are older. Most injuries in these horses are repetitive strain injuries to soft tissues or joints or the result of direct trauma, whereas in younger horses there is a broader range of lameness causes common to horses used in a variety of disciplines. Exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying up) occurs quite commonly and is most often recognized in recognized either in the cross country phase or 10-minute break after the second roads and tracks phase, before the cross-country phase of a long format three-day event. The speed at which horses must perform, combined with jumping, results in a high incidence of strain of the superficial digital flexor tendons. This is probably also a cumulative injury reflecting frequency of competition and the speed at which the horse competes.

Loss Of Performance And Lameness

Low-grade musculoskeletal problems may present as unlevelness in the dressage phase, especially when performing medium or extended trot, 10 meter diameter circles or lateral work. In show jumping the horse may show any of the problems seen in the elite show jumper. Cross-country the horse may be reluctant to jump drop fences or to gallop down hill.

It must also always be remembered that refusing may reflect lack of confidence of the horse or rider. A horse may compete very successfully at intermediate level but not have the confidence or scope to compete at advanced level. Horses that are too careful and try to avoid hitting fences may paradoxically not be brave enough for advanced level competition.

Clinical Exam

A comprehensive clinical examination at rest is essential. The horse should always be assessed as a whole, not as a limb in isolation.

Particular attention should be paid to:
•    Foot conformation, trimming and shoeing, and shoe wear
•    Joint flexibility, resistance to limb flexion and rotation, and pain
•    Fluid swelling in the joints, especially in the fetlock and pastern
•    Neck and back flexibility and muscle tension
•    Size, shape and reaction to palpation of the superficial digital flexor tendons and the suspensory ligaments

The horse should be examined standing squarely on a hard surface to detect muscle wasting, which may reflect a chronic low-grade lameness. It should be assessed moving in hand, before and after flexion tests, on the lunge on both soft and hard surfaces, and ideally ridden, since frequently horses have several low-grade problems when presenting with reduced performance which will only become apparent if the horse is examined under a variety of circumstances. Nerve blocking is essential to unravel the entire picture.

Significant inflammation of the superficial digital flexor tendon may be present without lameness and with minimal detectable clinical signs. Many riders apply a proprietary clay and bandage the limbs after fast work or competitions and this can suppress soft tissue swelling or mask localized heat. Whenever there is the slightest suspicion of injury the tendons should be examined ultrasonographically.

Common Causes

As described in the article, common causes of acute onset lameness in the event horse include:
•    Inflammation of a suspensory ligament
•    Injury to a suspensory branch
•    Inflammation to a superficial digital flexor tendon
•    Exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying up)
•    Stifle trauma, including bruising, fracture of the patella or tibia
•    Foot soreness, trimming and shoeing problems
•    Over-reach
•    Traumatic arthritis of the fetlock and pastern joints
•    Degenerative joint disease of the hock
•    Inflammation of the digital flexor tendon sheath
•    Back and sacroiliac joint region pain

It is vital to have the horse examined by a veterinarian at the earliest sign of a problem, whether lameness, resistance or the onset of heat or swelling, so that appropriate treatment may be instituted to prolong the performance life of the horse.


October 2021 - On Cue Was On Point to Win the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final
Written by by Leslie Mintz, Summer Grace, Courtesy of USEA • photos: KTB Creative Group Photo
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 02:57
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by Leslie Mintz, Summer Grace, Courtesy of USEA • photos: KTB Creative Group Photo

Boyd Martin came to the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds looking to defend his 2019 $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final title and while he succeeded at the goal it wasn’t with the same mount. However, Martin’s victory lands him in the history books as the first rider to win the AEC Advanced class two times on two different horses.

After leading the dressage with Long Island T, Martin fell from him on the cross-country. He then returned and jumped a clear cross-country round with On Cue – déjà vu from the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Martin started off his week in eighth place with Christine Turner’s 16-year-old Selle Francais (Cabri de Elle x On High) mare but moved up to fourth after adding only 6.4 time penalties to his dressage score of 27.3.

Bobby Murphy’s show jumping course under the lights in front of a packed Rolex Stadium proved very influential to the top of the standings and when Buck Davidson lowered a pole on both his second and third-placed mounts and the overnight leader, Fylicia Barr, dropped two rails, it opened the door for Martin and On Cue to take the win and a check for $30,000.

“To be honest, coming into the show jumping phase tonight I didn’t think I was going to win,” Martin said. “There were plenty of good horses and riders ahead of me and it is a very high-pressure event.”

he mare is one that Martin is no stranger to riding the victory gallop with, having come in the top-placed American horse at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day event earlier this year.

The podium celebrations in the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final.

Boyd Martin and On Cue.

“I am just thrilled with On Cue, she is everything you dream of in a horse— she’s a mover, she’s a galloper, she’s sensitive, she’s elegant, she’s bright, and I’m just blessed to have her, she’s been on fire this year,” he said.

“I think the AEC this year has been incredible,” he continued. “It is an awesome venue, and the competition was stiff with several good competitors jumping clear just before me, but it is a brilliant event and I can’t thank the USEA enough for putting it on.”

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap made a steady climb up the leaderboard throughout the competition starting in 14th and ending in the reserve position.

“He’s a special horse,” Payne commented of his 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) who he has produced since he was a yearling through the USEA Young Event Horse program. “I think he is an incredible athlete and I’m beyond excited for the future. I’ve got to echo Boyd [Martin]’s in that I think this venue is one of the best in the country, and for the future of this sport.”

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap.

Following a successful finish in the Bates USEA Preliminary Horse division the day before, Liz Halliday-Sharp and another Cooley Farm sourced mount, Cooley Quicksilver, rode for ribbons as the final of the top three finishers.

“He just keeps getting better,” Halliday-Sharp emphasized of the now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal) gelding. “He loves a big atmosphere and I think I also got a little excited about the crowd; when I finished tonight, I got a bit excited like ‘wow we have a crowd again’.”

“This is actually my first AEC event as I have been in England for so many years,” finished Halliday-Sharp. “It has been so much fun, and to be able to have it here at Kentucky Horse Park has been an incredible opportunity for all of the horses and riders to get into these iconic rings.”

While Davidson’s rails dropped him off the podium he still finished in fourth with Jak My Style, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Kathleen Cuca, and fifth with the Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo, a 14-year-old Holsteiner (Caresino x Ramatuelle).

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver.


October 2021 - IEHJA Meets the Challenge
Written by by Patti Schooley
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 02:51
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Nominates Seven to Compete at the USHJA National Championships in Las Vegas

by Patti Schooley

USHJA has upped the challenge to its affiliate organizations by adding both Under Saddle and Jumper sections to its National Championship Show’s class offerings. This is in addition to the 2’0 and 2’6” hunter section previously offered. By expanding affiliate sections USHJA is “offering more accessibility to a broader set of members than any other national final or championship.”


The “challenge” for the nine affiliate members in Zone 10 (California and Nevada) has been creating a criterion to select nominees. Each affiliate organization was charged with creating its own selection  process with the first nominee in each section guaranteed a slot. The second and third section nominees compete against all regions for their spot. The IEHJA Board of Directors took the nomination process seriously by developing a fair and unbiased evaluation criterion. Members were solicited to submit applications on a form created by the board of directors and accompany it with a letter of recommendation from their trainer. A formal review process of all eleven submittals resulted in nine selected for referral to USHJA. The latter is responsible for the final selection of competitors for each affiliate section.

IEHJA is proud to recognize its nominated competitors:

Khloe Valderas, 2’.0 hunters and 14 & under equitation
Khloe and her horse June ride at Joy Farms in Norco CA. with trainer Nicole Lear-Helms. Khloe started out riding “naughty” ponies that taught her the basics of equitation and jumping and gave her the skills to move up to June. Khloe describes June as the best horse ever and provides her the opportunity to compete at the 2’.0 level. In addition to her amazing riding skills Khloe always has a smile on her face, is the first to offer help and cares for all her barn mates and their horses. Khloe has a large support team in her family. Her 2021 riding goals include “keep pushing forward, move up in the divisions, ride more and worry less.” A great philosophy for a 14 and under rider who, according to her trainer works hard and is determined to advance.

Carly Hareld, 2’6” Jumpers
Carly and her horse Spyder ride with Buffy Lake at Creek Hallow Ranch in Ramon CA. Carly has ridden with Buffy Lake for the last four years as a working student. According to her trainer, Carly is willing to ride any horse and is an attentive student. She reads articles and outside sources for better understanding what she is taught and is willing to ask questions about a specific skill or caring for a horse. When her horse came down with a virus Carly learned how to care for it, taking his temperature, counting his respiration and heart rate, checking for inflammation in his legs, and giving the right medication dosage. When Spyder lost weight due to his illness she researched various feeds and supplements that were natural and not a “bunch of chemicals going into his body.” Due to her horses’ illness and long period of recovery Carly worked hard on bringing him back on the muscle and her technical riding. This experience taught Carly you can always chase points, but nothing is more important than your horse’s health. She also feels that there is no better feeling than succeeding at something difficult. Two great life skills to guide this young equestrian.

Harlow Horstman, 2’.0 hunters and 14 & under equitation
Harlow and her Grey’s Anatomy ride in Norco with Nicole Lear-Helms. She purchased Grey, an off the track Thoroughbred, in September 2020 after her previous horse became unfit to compete. Grey raced until he was eight and came to Harlow with many quirks and challenges. According to her trainer Harlow and Grey connected right away and through hard work have resolved many of the challenges. One of Harlow’s many strengths is she never gives up and does the work to improve her riding skills. She has great sportsmanship skills and is always there to help around the barn. Harlow works at the summer camps held at Joy Farms and helps the “little” kids with basic horsemanship. It reminds her of where she started and how much love she has for this sport. Judging by the time she spends at the barn riding and helping others, smiling, and joking through the trials and tribulations of horse ownership you know that she has found her love. Harlow has said it best, “understanding my horse and his needs has made us a great team.” All riders should take that to heart.

Jocelyne Reiche, 15-17 equitation and 2’6” hunters
Jocelyne and her mount Crystal Image ride at Showcase Training Stables under the guidance of trainer Gretchen Clark and assistant trainer Jessica Abbott Clark. Jocelyne has ridden at Showcase for many years and worked hard to improve her equestrian skills. She competes regularly at IEHJA sanctioned shows and enjoys competing with her barn friends. Her 2021 show goals include becoming a stronger leader, advancing her skills, compete in an upward trajectory and hopefully win division championship at the IEHJA yearend horse show. Perseverance is her is her mantra when faced with challenges.  Jocelyne believes in excellence in all aspects of her life. She is a straight A student and is on her high school honor role. For Jocelyne perseverance, hard work and excellence are her guiding principles.

Audrey De Tavis, 2’.0 hunters and 14 & under equitation
Audrey and her medium pony Shooting Star are another rider from Joy Farms and Trainer Nicole Lear-Helms. Audrey and Star became partners in 2020 and had to work through those “pony moments” to become a great team. Audrey’s trainer calls her the toughest little cowgirl she knows, which is especially notable since she comes from a non-equestrian family. However, she does have four brothers and that probably accounts for her toughness. Her mom calls her focused and determined and wants to “go all the way” in the horse show world. She competed at the Desert Horse Park International Show in March 2021 to see what the A circuit was like!  Watch out Las Vegas, a whirlwind in flying pigtails astride a white pony is headed your way.

Masha Tafoya, .80 jumpers and .90 jumpers
Masha and her horse Strawberry Wine have become great partners under the tutelage of trainer Gretchen Clark and assistant trainer Jessica Abbott Clark of Showcase Training Stables. It’s been a three-year journey of learning “how to work with my horse instead of against her.” Strawberry Wine responds best to guidance as opposed to demand and now trusts Masha to guide her through the jump course. Masha has worked hard on “getting out of her head” while riding and not micromanaging her horses every move. Like most riders Masha wants to flow with the horse and trust the ride she is having. Masha’s enthusiasm for jumping is well known to her barn mates and other IEHJA competitors. One of Masha’s personal goals is to expand the number of jumper riders competing in IEHJA sanctioned shows. Strawberry Wine is not a Warmblood or Thoroughbred but a red roan mustang that has lots of heart and is ready to move up to the 1.0 meters. Strawberry Wine proves the point that any breed or size of horse can become a successful jumper given its inborn talent, proper training, and the rider’s desire to put in the time and work necessary! Las Vegas get ready for this small  but mighty combo!

Chloe Welker, .70 Jumpers
Chloe and her horse Dibriooka  ride with trainer Hope Davis at Camino Real Farms in Temecula. Chloe has been riding with Hope for five years and is recognized as a valuable member of her barn. Other adjectives associated with Chloe include punctual, dedicated and team player.  Chloe has a willingness to learn and work hard. One of her focuses in 2021 has been on groundwork which has helped to build her confidence and form a closer bond with her horse. This has transitioned to her performance in the show ring as both horse and rider are better attuned. Chloe’s 2021 competitive goals include riding in more medal and equitation classes and moving up to the .90s jumping division. Competing at the USHJA Championship Show would be a great experience and a forum to use all the skills acquired this year.

IEHJA wishes all our nominees’ good luck and hope that all are selected to participate at Las Vegas. For information on final selections please contact the USHJA website.


October 2021 - A Modern Day Miracle
Written by by Summer Grace, courtesy of USEA • photos: USEA/ Meagan DeLisle
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 02:42
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One Horse’s Rebound from Near-Death to Near-Champion

by Summer Grace, courtesy of USEA • photos: USEA/ Meagan DeLisle

On the final day of competition for the Preliminary Rider division at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds, Sallie Johnson and her Irish Sport Horse gelding, Fernhill DiCaprio (Finnanloon Flight x Finnan Scarlet) were named the reserve champion combination after an intense three-day event period in which the pair managed to come in only 0.3 points behind the winner. In March of 2021, Johnson was making an impossible decision – whether or not it was in his best interest to put the gelding to sleep.

According to Johnson, an aggressive bout of acute enteritis, either having presented bacterially or virally, landed the gelding at the University of Georgia (UGA) equine medical center for an undetermined amount of time as he was placed in what the clinic deemed to be supportive care.
“One morning I went out to get him and he was just thrashing around in the field in so much pain,” Johnson recalled. “We rushed him to UGA where they recommended we might have to put him down but I just couldn’t, he is everything to me.”

Sallie Jonson and Fernhill DiCaprio

The members of the UGA veterinary staff were left with a difficult puzzle to try and solve. The gelding was not suffering but at the same time, doctors were unable to come up with an aggressive treatment plan. Performing surgery was a last resort option for the medical staff as they were worried it would lead to worse illness but with Johnson refusing to quit, the gelding was placed on a series of IV antibiotics with round-the-clock care and still no promise of recovery.

Two grueling weeks later, Johnson saw her first glimmer of hope.

Sallie Jonson and Fernhill DiCaprio

“We really had no hope that he was going to get better but we kept on with treatment so long as he wasn’t suffering and then miraculously one day he just started to get better,” she said. “He was skinny and he couldn’t even eat hay, but he could have grass so when we finally were able to bring him home we made him the biggest, grassiest pasture we could.

Assembling a makeshift turnout, Johnson allowed the gelding as much grass as he would eat and slowly began to reintroduce additional nutrition from grain and hay back into his diet. A mere month later, she swung herself back onto his back for the first time.

“The feeling of my first ride with him again was incredible,” she remembered. “I truly thought I was never going to be able to get on him again.”

In a truly unbelievable rebound, Fernhill DiCaprio won his very first return to the show ring and like a fairytale, Johnson soon found herself back on the way to the AEC.

It’s a reality Johnson feels is almost too good to be true.

“I can’t believe we are here. Less than six months ago I was trying to even contemplate what I was going to do if he didn’t make it, but I never even dreamed I’d be at a championship with him, especially this soon.”


October 2021 - Holiday Gift Guide
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:23
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Do you have a great gift idea to share with our readers? Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !


Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle

Sometimes when you just can’t find a bit that works trying the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle could be the answer to your problems.


The Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle allows gentle effective control with pressure that is distributed evenly around the horse’s head. Available in English or Western styles,
made in the USA. Prices starting at $69.95, in stock for free same day shipping.

To order visit or call 877-942-4277

Hands-Free Video & Pictures While Riding!

Better than a GoPro and only $9.99! Secure your cell phone in this case, strap it to your saddle and take great videos of your riding adventures! From your horn, your phone is positioned so you can readily use it to make and receive calls and video while your in the saddle. 4" x 7" compartment - large enough to accommodate today's
larger cell phones too! Available in 9 colors/designs!

October 2021 - Heat, Hydration & Electrolytes
Written by by Richard G. Godbee, Ph.D., PAS, Dipl. ACAS-Nutrition, courtesy of Horse Health Products
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:19
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by Richard G. Godbee, Ph.D., PAS, Dipl. ACAS-Nutrition, courtesy of Horse Health Products

It’s summertime, which is usually the time of year when most horse owners begin riding and working their horses more. However, this is also the hottest time of the year and riders need to be aware of the dangers that heat poses to their horses and the increased demands to keep them hydrated.

In addition to humans, horses are one of the few animal species who use sweating as the primary means to cool themselves. Sweating is an example of evaporative cooling and is more efficient in areas with low humidity. Sweat not only contains water, it contains electrolytes, certain minerals and a protein called latherin. It is this protein that imparts the “foam” in heavily sweating horses. Wiping sweat off the horse is counterproductive since it decreases the evaporative cooling effect.

In hot temperatures, horses may become dehydrated due to excessive sweat loss. Maximum sweating rates in horses may exceed 10 quarts per hour and averages about 8 quarts per hour at the trot and canter combined. Failure to replenish this in a timely fashion can have many health consequences.

In order to keep horses hydrated, an adequate amount of clean water must be provided. Although water is a large part of hydration, it’s not the only factor. Several minerals (commonly referred to as electrolytes) are lost in the sweat as well, and are comprised of sodium, chloride, potassium and small amounts of calcium and magnesium. Horses will lose 3 times the amount of sodium and chloride and up to 10 times the amount of potassium as compared to humans. Both sodium and chloride are required to help regulate all body fluids, maintaining acid-base balance and muscle function due to their involvement in nerve activity.

Unlike many other nutrients in the body, electrolytes are not readily stored and are excreted if not needed. While “stockpiling” electrolytes in advance of sweating may not be effective, it is recommended to give additional electrolytes shortly (8-12 hours) before exercise. While this practice may be helpful, it is paramount that electrolytes lost in sweat are replaced for a day or two after the activity, since it may take that amount of time to replace what has been lost.

Feeding Electrolytes

A horse can lose 8-12oz of salt per day with moderate to heavy sweating. Since heavy sweating does not usually occur on a daily basis, adding this amount of salt daily is not required nor recommended. A horse in moderate exercise will lose 6.8-9 quarts of sweat and may require about 2oz of electrolytes per hour. Feeding a good electrolyte is imperative to replenishing a horse’s mineral levels. Since electrolytes will stimulate drinking, it is imperative that water is readily available.

Electrolytes may be added to a grain mix to ensure consumption or given as a paste. When feeding prior to exercise, it may be easier to top dress the horse’s grain. If giving electrolytes during exercise, a paste electrolyte should be used. A paste or gel electrolyte is great to have on-hand when on the trail or at a horse show. The administration of electrolytes should be given in addition to supplying the horse with 2-3oz of salt on a daily basis to encourage adequate water consumption and help maintain electrolyte balance. Regardless of the form used, be sure water is available and follow the directions for use.

By understanding why horses need electrolytes and how they are utilized, horse owners can ensure that their horses stay hydrated through the summer heat. Happy Riding!


October 2021 - Dodger’s Story With Equine Cushing’s Disease
Written by courtesy of Valley Vet Supply
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:14
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courtesy of Valley Vet Supply

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), also referred to as Equine Cushing’s disease, is one of the most common endocrine disorders in horses.
After 17 years of marriage, she heard her husband say he was ready for a horse of his own. Casey Olson, an equestrian since age 5 who has ridden in everything from dressage to barrel racing, was thrilled. Trying her best to contain her excitement, she asked Chris what his dream horse would be. Finding a “tall, broad, safe horse with ‘cool coloring like a Paint’” would be a tall order to fill. But within just two weeks, Casey found a horse that more than checked all the boxes – an 18-year-old Paint horse named Dodger. “He instantly fell in love with him. He’s a perfect fit,” Casey said.

“When he came to us, he was extremely overweight with a crested neck. His mane moved like a separate entity. It was like he was bubble-wrapped,” Casey said. ”We put him on a slow weight-loss diet, but during the winter, we noticed he wasn’t holding his weight well. His coat has gotten long and curly, his mane was wavy and he was losing all of his top line. When spring came, the other horses were shedding, but Dodger didn’t shed at all.”

Perplexed, Casey put in a call to her veterinarian, who also cared for Dodger when he was with his previous owner. During his examination, she knew right away there was something different about him. His coat condition and weight had never been an issue before, and he was receiving excellent care. The likelihood he had developed Cushing’s Disease was high, but thankfully they had caught it early.

“We finally had our answer,” Casey’s husband, Chris, said. “It was not great news, but we knew what we needed to do now.”  

Cushing’s disease in horses

Cushing’s disease, also more correctly referred to as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), is a common hormonal disorder affecting horses and ponies. PPID has reportedly been identified in 21% of horses over the age of 15; however, horses as young as 5 have been diagnosed with the disease, studies report. The disease causes the horse’s pituitary gland at the base of the brain, which controls body functions through hormone levels, to work double-time, which results in a variety of lifelong problems for affected horses. Often, signs go unnoticed.

•    Decreased athletic performance
•    Loss of muscle mass
•    Change in attitude or energy
•    Delayed shedding or no shedding at all
•    Excess fat on tail head or neck
•    Infertility
•    Abnormal sweating
•    Laminitis
•    Blindness
Experts recommend that horse owners perform frequent health checks to identify early signs. An early diagnosis can have a profound impact on how the horse responds to treatment before other signs appear.


Prascend is FDA-approved to manage Cushing’s in horses, improving an affected horse’s well-being and overall quality of life, reducing common signs and risks for other illnesses associated with the disease. “Right now, Dodger is on one pill of Prascend a day,” said Casey, who ordered the prescription medication from Valley Vet Supply. “My vet said, ‘Valley Vet is great; if you put the order in, they’ll send me the prescription request.’ It was easy.”

Dodger is no longer suffering from abnormal sweating, weight loss and a poor coat. With the treatment he has received, he now sports a healthy weight and shiny coat. His regular energy has returned, so Chris can enjoy trail rides with him again.

In conjunction with treatment, implement best management practices to help keep a PPID horse healthy and comfortable.

•    Provide a balanced diet.
•    Casey, who developed an impressive chart comparing feeds to ensure the best diet for their horse Dodger, advises others managing the condition to “Watch the starch and sugar contents of everything that goes in your horse’s mouth.” Low-sugar, low-starch diets are often the best approach for horses with PPID.
•    Deworm as needed.
•    Horses with PPID have shown to have higher fecal egg counts, suggesting greater risk for a higher parasite burden.
•    Vaccinate against disease threats.
•    Ensure horses are vaccinated against core equine diseases and any risk-based diseases that could threaten his well-being. Horses with advanced PPID may need to be vaccinated twice yearly against West Nile virus to help ensure a sufficient immune response.
•    Clip coats and blanket when necessary.  
•    Horses with PPID often have varying consistency of coat shedding, some shedding too frequently while others barely shed at all. Keep them comfortable by clipping their coat in the summertime and blanketing them in the wintertime.
•    Maintain a regular dental and hoof care schedule.
•    Implement a yearly or as-needed dental care schedule, and ensure hooves are trimmed on average every six to eight weeks.  
Casey shared how difficult it was for her to see her husband Chris going through all of this with his first horse. “It was a crash-and-burn lesson into horses. We want to do what’s best for Dodger, and we will.”

“I would do it all again,” said Chris. “Dodger has such a personality, and he is a great trail horse that I can trust.”

Visit for horse health needs, and to learn more.


October 2021 - The Oft-Forgotten Bot
Written by courtesy of America’s Horse Daily
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:08
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courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

She may be doing a good imitation, but that hairy black-and-yellow insect buzzing around your horse’s front legs is not a bee. It’s a female horse bot fly, intent on “gluing” her eggs to the most advantageous spots.

Give that bot fly some credit. She’s no slacker. In fact, she can travel several miles in the quest for a host, and that host is your horse.

Life Cycle

There are three species of horse bots, and despite having similar life styles, the females oviposit (deposit using an organ at the end of the abdomen called an “ovipositor”) their eggs in different locations on the horse. The most common is Gasterophilus intestinalis, which attaches her eggs primarily to hairs on the horse’s front legs and sometimes on the flanks and mane. Gasterophilus nasalis places her eggs on hairs beneath the horse’s jaws, while Gasterophilus haemorrhoidalis attaches her eggs to hairs found on the horse’s lips.

An adult female bot fly may only live for a week to 10 days, but during that brief lifespan, she can deposit anywhere from 150 to 1,000 eggs. You’ll find these yellowish, cream-colored flecks at the ends of the hairs on specific places on your horse, typically around August and September.

The bot’s ultimate goal is for those eggs to reach your horse’s gastrointestinal tract so the life cycle can continue. In order to accomplish this, they must first hatch into larvae, which either crawl to the horse’s mouth, or are ingested when the horse licks or bites at its body where the eggs are attached.

Once in the horse’s mouth, these first instar (first-stage) larvae burrow into the tongue, gums and lips. As you can imagine, this can be highly irritating and may even cause pus pockets and decreased appetite. After literally incubating in the horse’s mouth for three to four weeks, the larvae molt into their second stage (second instar) and migrate on to the horse’s stomach.

Horse bots have three larval stages; both the second instar and third instar stages are highly adapted for life in the equine GI tract. Thanks to their hooked mouthparts, larvae are able to fasten themselves securely to the lining of the stomach and the intestinal tract.

At this point (third instar), the larvae are as long as one-half to three-quarters of an inch. Research has shown that the horse can tolerate an infestation of about 100 larvae. But in great numbers, larvae can cause various GI disturbances, including chronic gastritis, stomach ulceration, squamous cell tumors, anemia and loss of functional stomach lining.
After making their home in the horse’s GI tract for about seven to nine months, the third-stage larvae finally mature and detach from the lining of the stomach and intestine, passing out of the horse’s body in the manure. At this point, they bury themselves in the soil for one to two months, depending on the season. Once the larvae develop into the pupal stage, the adult bot fly emerges, and the cycle begins anew.

Flies, Not Worms

Because most of the bot’s life cycle is spent inside the horse as an internal parasite, we tend to think of them in the category of worms, but this is incorrect.

“Bots are fly larvae, so while they are intestinal parasites, they are NOT worms. Understanding that bots are fly larvae and the life cycle of these flies is important to the control of the flies. It is also important in understanding the pathology associated with the migration of the fly larvae through the animal’s tissues before reaching the stomach,” notes Tom Kennedy, Ph.D., a veterinary parasitologist based in Westport, Wisconsin.

You should also realize that although bot flies vastly prefer horses, donkeys and mules as hosts, there have been occasional reports of bots burrowing under the skin and into the eyes of humans. That should be enough reason to remember to wash your hands thoroughly and don’t rub your eyes after handling your horse during bot fly season.

Control of Bots

Fortunately, there are definite ways to control and kill bots. For starters, be diligent about manure management. Remove manure from stalls and horse areas routinely. Ideally, have it hauled away, but if this isn’t possible, maintain a concentrated manure pile away from the barn and not in an area where horses are turned out. Do NOT spread manure on pastures where horses graze, as this just helps the proliferation of parasites.

Add a bot knife or a grooming block to your supplies and put it to use as soon as you spot bot eggs on your horse. These tools make it easy to remove the eggs, but for safety’s sake, slip on a pair of rubber gloves so there’s no chance of any hatched eggs getting into your own skin.

“Removal of bot eggs by mechanical means can be effective in reducing the numbers of bots that enter the horse and cause damage before treatment can kill them,” Tom says.

You should also use a topical equine insecticide or fly repellent to discourage bot flies from depositing their eggs on the horse. Always follow label directions to be certain you are applying the product correctly for best results.

Even with these two external methods – grooming tools and equine insecticide – you need one more piece of the puzzle: a deworming product that specifically targets bots.

“Using a boticide is the most effective way to make sure some did not ‘make it through,’ ” Tom says. “Check product labels carefully. All equine deworming drugs do not necessarily control horse bots. Before purchasing any product, read the pest list on the label and note any precautions regarding product use.”

Classes of dewormer products that are effective against bots include avermectin/milbemycins (ivermectin) and moxidectin. You may already be using a daily dewormer, and that’s fine, but remember, you still need to treat for bots seasonally. Daily dewormers, such as pyrantel tartrate, are not effective against bots.

When should you deworm with bots in mind?

“Bot flies have only one life cycle per year. It usually occurs after the appearance of warm weather for emergence of adults. Horses become infested mid-summer in most areas. Based on the larval life cycle, bots won’t be present in the stomach until late summer or fall,” Tom says. “Application of effective treatment in mid-summer can control first instar (larvae), and then treatments later in the fall remove the second and third instars in the stomach.”

As with any type of internal parasite, you should speak with your veterinarian and develop an appropriate control program, based on your horses and your specific region.


October 2021 - An Overweight Horse: No Joking Matter
Written by courtesy of America’s Horse Daily
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 03:01
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courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

We horse owners have our ways of laughing things off. “My horse isn’t fat, he’s fluffy.” Or, “My horse is in shape...Round is a shape.” I’ll admit that one of my own geldings has been described as just “big-boned.”

Those things sound better, after all, than the words “morbidly obese.” SmartPak veterinarian Dr. Lydia Gray says that many horse owners have on “skinny goggles,” which cause an inability to see – or a refusal to admit – that there is a problem in the pasture. But as the saying goes, you certainly can kill a horse with kindness. An overweight horse has to cope with increased stress on his heart and lungs; more strain on his hooves, joints and soft tissues; fatigue; and, in the summer months, less-efficient body cooling. As an added menace, laminitis can also rear its ugly, life-threatening head.

Recognizing an Overweight Horse

So how do you know when your horse needs to trim down? Let’s review the Henneke body condition scoring system. This objective system allows the ranking of horses from 1 to 9, based on the amount of fat present in certain body parts.

Horses that are 7s, 8s and 9s are considered fleshy, fat and extremely fat, respectively, with telltale signs being a crease down the back and increasing amounts of fat over the ribs, at the tailhead, along the withers and behind the shoulder. A thickened neck is also an indicator.

And remember that this isn’t a sliding scale. Brutal honesty is essential here, because regardless of your horse’s age, discipline or bloodlines, fat is still fat, and these upper-end scores are the sign of a problem.

Dr. Gray says that periodically scoring your horse’s body condition score is of utmost importance, so that you can see if your weight-loss strategies are working and adjust them as necessary as your horse transitions back to a healthy score of 5.

What’s the Cause?

Well, as Dr. gray points out, there are some problems with modern horse-keeping – much like the problems with modern human-keeping.

Sedentary lifestyles aren’t doing anyone any favors, after all. Diet and exercise – too much of one and not enough of the other – can be a culprit.

Genetics also can play a role. Think of wild horses and how they evolved to subsist on virtually nothing. Donkeys and English ponies are other examples, Dr. Gray says, of the equine “thrifty gene” that allows for the conservation of calories, the ability to survive in frigid temperatures and the extraction of nutrition from things like scrub-brush.

Can Quarter Horses inherit the thrifty gene? Absolutely, Dr. Gray says.

They can also fall victim to a disease process called equine metabolic syndrome, which is especially dangerous because of its link to laminitis. Not all overweight horses, however, have EMS, and for the purpose of the main story, we’ll focus on those who do not.

When you’re dealing with an easy keeper, it’s essential that you start with some cold, hard numbers. You’ll need to estimate as closely as possible how much your horse weighs by using either a weight tape or a weight calculator.

These options might not be 100 percent accurate, but if the same person is measuring the horse over a period of time – so that the measurements are consistent – you’ll get a good sense of weight loss or gain.

And, you’ll need to know what your hay weighs. Dr. Gray weighs her hay by the bale and by the flake, so she knows exactly how much “Newman,” hereasy keeper, is getting.

The third number you’ll need is the one to your veterinarian’s office. Any time you start making changes that affect your horse’s health, it’s essential to get an expert on board.

We’ll offer guidelines here, but those are no substitute for the advice of your veterinarian who has seen your horse in person. He or she will also be able to determine if equine metabolic syndrome is a possibility.

So, the guidelines? The general rule of thumb is to feed horses 2 percent of their body weight in forage each day. For an average 1,000-pound horse, that would be 20 pounds of hay per day.

Start by calculating how much hay your horse is getting now, and then gradually – over the course of a few weeks – adjust that amount to 1.5 percent of his body weight. For our example horse, that would mean he’d eventually get 15 pounds a day.

The type of hay is important, too, and it’s best to find one with a low level of sugars and starches. Soaking hay may also be helpful, as Dr. Gray says that 30 minutes in warm water or 60 minutes in cold water removes some of these simple carbohydrates but not other nutrients.

In Part 1 of this series, we learned that small-hole hay nets are great for hard keepers, because they keep the horse interested in his hay but not able to make a mess of it. Dr. Gray also strongly recommends them for easy keepers, because they’ll slow down the horse’s hay consumption. The normal-sized hay nets are suitable for stalls and paddocks, and there are even super-sized ones that fit over a full bale of hay.

And we know that turnout is good for a horse’s mind and body, but lush, green grass doesn’t fit with the diet plan. Dr. Gray says that grazing muzzles allow horses to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Balancing Your Horse’s Diet

Some horse owners might be tempted to feed their overweight horses just hay – and perhaps a lower-quality hay, at that – in an attempt to promote weight loss. But that strategy might cause unintended consequences.

“We’ve found that having the right ratio of minerals can help horses’ metabolism and help them maintain a correct weight,” Dr. Gray says. “When you deprive them of basic nutrition, sometimes that makes the problem worse.”

Microminerals such as copper, manganese, zinc, selenium and iodine are essential to metabolism, so it’s essential to provide a complete and balanced diet that meets the horse’s minimum requirements.

Dr. Gray explains horse feed as a pyramid. At the top are vitamin-mineral supplements that are low in volume, with feeding rates as little as one ounce.

The next step down on the pyramid is a ration balancer. Ration balancers are useful for horses who need to feel like they’re getting a little something – maybe every other horse in the barn gets grain, and they don’t want to be skipped. And they’re also good for horses who may be getting lower-quality hay and need the protein boost.

Dr. Gray uses a ration balancer for her easy keeper, as it offers a little more “stuff” for his other supplements to be mixed into.

Next on the pyramid would be fortified grains. “That’s when you begin to add calories that these overweight horses don’t need,” Dr. Gray says.

These grains also provide vitamins, minerals and protein – but only at adequate levels when they’re fed as directed on the bag. The recommended feeding rate might hover in the five-pound range.

“So people who are saying, ‘I know my horse is fat, and I’m just giving him a handful of sweet feed morning and night.’ … that may be a carrier for supplements, but it’s not enough volume or weight to provide adequate vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Gray says.

The bottom level of the food pyramid would be complete feeds, which offer vitamins, minerals, calories and roughage at the recommended levels of approximately 15 pounds a day.

Dr. Gray recommends that easy keepers stay at one of the top two levels of the pyramid – where they’ll get nutrients but not calories.

Remember that any diet changes need to be made gradually, over the course of seven to 10 days, to reduce the risk of colic.

Sometimes, additional help can be found in a supplement that supports normal metabolism.

Dr. Gray says ingredients that have been found to help metabolism include chromium and magnesium; cinnamon, fenugreek and other herbs such as adaptogens; amino acids like taurine and tyrosine; and biotin.

Many of these supplement are targeted to horses with equine metabolic syndrome but can also be useful – with a veterinarian’s guidance – in horses who are simply overweight.

“Sometimes the maintenance serving is appropriate in an overweight horse or one with active insulin resistance,” Dr. Gray says, “but as the horse loses weight and his metabolism improves, the ingredients in this supplement are no longer needed at that level. On the other hand, horses that are refractory to diet and exercise may need their supplement levels bumped up during the spring and fall when metabolisms change.”

Veterinarian advice is key here. The doc might say, “That product worked fantastically, along with exercise and your other diet changes, so this horse is now a 5; I don’t want him any thinner. So whatever you’re doing, we need to back off a little bit and see if we can maintain him at this new weight.”

Dr. Gray says antioxidants might also be helpful to these horses whose bodies are undergoing changes.

“Horses who are overweight or losing weight need to be protected from free radical damage, just like horses with insulin resistance from equine metabolic syndrome, so I’m a fan of vitamins E and C, alpha lipoic acid, bioflavonoids and other ingredients that neutralize dangerous free radicals,” she says.

Levothyroxine sodium is a pharmaceutical (prescription required) that may be worth talking to your veterinarian about, Dr. Gray says.

It can jump-start a weight loss program, although its use should be short-term, and it also increases insulin sensitivity, Dr. Gray says. It isn’t FDA-approved, however, for the treatment of equine metabolic syndrome or for obesity, and Dr. Gray says its use “is a decision you need to come to with your veterinarian.”

Exercising Your Horse

My horse is on turnout, so he’s exercising himself. right? Dr. Gray has just one word for that theory: “Phooey.”

“These easy keepers are that for a reason. Their favorite gait is most likely the halt, where very few calories are burned,” she says.

So you, the horse owner, have to put on your personal trainer hat.

Dr. Gray says that 30 minutes of controlled exercise a day is ideal, and it’s even better if you can split it up into two sessions.

But any exercise is better than no exercise, so she encourages horse owners to do the best they can. And make it fun for both horse and human. There’s hand walking, longeing, long-lining, riding, ponying and driving – and even that can be mixed up with ground work, hill work, cavaletti or free jumping.

A few caveats: First, don’t force exercise on a horse who is not sound – especially if he is suffering from laminitis. This is where your veterinarian needs to be called upon. Also, recognize that some difficulties under saddle – such as an unwillingness to canter – may stem from a subtle case of laminitis.

And, don’t make an abrupt transition from pasture potato to marathon runner. Introduce exercise gradually, starting with some of the lower-impact options.

Tracking Your Horse’s Weight

Remember that it’s a multi-pronged approach. Much like with human weight loss, there’s no one easy answer, but by addressing the basics outlined above, your horse can get on a healthier track … maybe even be the next Equine Biggest Loser!

Chart your horse’s BCS regularly – say on a monthly basis – so you’ll know how your horse is trending and you will be able to develop a long-term management plan with the help of your veterinarian.

And if you have a horse who seems to have a predisposition toward weight gain, take steps early to keep him at a healthy weight.


October 2021 - Emergency Preparedness for Eventing
Written by courtesy of AAEP
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 02:55
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courtesy of AAEP

Preparation for emergencies at an eventing competition is an exercise in advance planning and seamless cooperation to make it seem smooth and effortless. This only happens if there is a concerted effort between veterinarians and the event administration. The second thing to remember in preparing for an eventing competition is the unique nature of the cross country phase of eventing. Running horses at speed at large fixed objects results in a unique set of sports-related injuries.

The first step that the event organizer faces in preparing for emergencies is selecting a veterinary staff. The veterinarian is selected as the veterinary delegate (VD) for an Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI) event or a treating veterinarian at a national level horse trial. The VD acts as a veterinary judge in cooperation with the competitions Ground Jury. The treating veterinarian is to provide emergency care on the days of the competition. The next step is to contact the organizer and technical delegate (TD) at least 3 mo before the competition. This call should cover what arrangements have been made by the organizer for emergency preparedness. A VD should reference the FEI website ( and download the latest version of the FEI veterinary regulations and appendices to prepare for their role as veterinary judge and advocate for the horse.

A national level horse trial will often be governed by the rules of the U.S. Eventing Association (USEA), and the technical delegate can often provide invaluable information to the less experienced veterinarians involved in this level of competition. The questions that should be asked to prepare for emergencies are as follows:

•    Who is the veterinarian that will be covering emergencies on the dressage and/or show jumping days? Some events will be conducted so that one or more of the three phases of the competition will be ongoing at the same time. The cross country phase is the one that the majority of emergencies will occur at and should always have precedence but you must be prepared to respond to multiple phases of the competition at the same time. Will the emergency veterinarian be available when competitors start arriving as well as after hours? The veterinarians providing the emergency services should be posted in the Omnibus along with their phone numbers.

•    What arrangements have been made to cover the cross country course? Many organizers have been doing this for years and have an excellent emergency plan that can be adopted completely or with little modification. Most organizers have broken the rather large distances of the cross country course into zones based on accessible geography. Each zone usually contains a cross country repair crew, a human ambulance, a horse ambulance or transportation vehicle, and a veterinary ambulatory vehicle. Sometimes, at small competitions, there may be only one zone crew. At larger competitions, there may be several zones with a veterinary crew in radio contact at each one. The veterinarian should consult with the TD and organizer as to how many zones and therefore how many veterinarians are needed and if they have been contacted. The veterinarian should confirm each veterinarian’s willingness to attend and have them reminded 1 wk before the competition and agree when to meet to review their zone assignment and what time to arrive at the competition. If they need passes, these should be issued at the time they come to the competition ground to review their routes to move within their zone, usually the night before the cross country day. It is imperative that veterinary ambulatory units not move unless instructed by cross country control or veterinary control because of horses still in the competition coming up rapidly on the vet units and the risk of these horses being injured. Numerous near misses and actual injuries have happened in the past. Also, unless the vet units have familiarized themselves with the course, it is easy to get lost. Responding with the cross country repair crew is a wise strategy because they know the course quite well.

•    How will communication among veterinary staff and administrative staff be conducted? Radios for the competition should be arranged ahead of time. The solution may be as simple as a single radio (provided by the event) by which the treating veterinarian may communicate. Or the organizer may have multiple radios that carry multiple networks that provide the veterinarians and the administrative a network to talk. This will allow all the veterinarians to communicate together and yet know when to respond to the sector response teams or the veterinary control. This veterinarian is usually called the veterinary control officer in larger FEI competitions and sits near the cross country control to coordinate veterinary emergencies. At smaller or larger national competitions, the veterinarians may be directed by cross country control. If they are at a smaller national competition and treating in the barn as well as the cross country course, they should listen closely to the radio because cross country emergencies must be responded to as rapidly as possible.

•    Who will make arrangements for emergency transport of horses off the course? This may be as simple as a trailer with a ramp to transport an injured horse off the course. The larger challenge is how to transport the recumbent horse. This can be done with an emergency equine ambulance. Many large practices, local equine rescue societies, veterinary schools, or nearby racetracks have vehicles with these capabilities. The less desirable but effective approach is to have a flat bed car transport and nylon pastern slings on site to safely move a recumbent horse. Although some organizers may not want to incur the cost this may involve, if a horse is dead or unable to rise on course there is no other aesthetic way to remove the horse. The cross country jump repair crew or the equine ambulance itself should carry screens to quarter off the situation from the public while emergency treatment or removal is effected.

•    How will a dead horse be taken to necropsy? The VD should discuss with the organizer how the dead horse will be quickly removed from the course as well as where it will be taken and how it will be cooled until it can be transported to a suitable veterinary pathology necropsy facility. This must be determined ahead of time, and prior arrangements should be made for a rapid necropsy or at least cooled storage until the horse can be posted. The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) stated that, after the June 2008 Safety Summit, it would cover costs associated with necropsy of event horses that die on course.

Each discipline has its own set of injuries associated with its competition. The unique combination of three disciplines for the eventing horse incorporate injuries from either dressage, show jumping, or cross country. I would refer the reader to the excellent sections in this in-depth session on emergency preparedness in Dressage and Show Jumping and concentrate on the injuries sustained by the event horse during the cross country jumping phase. The most common injuries reported for the eventing horse include lacerations, superficial digital flexor tendonitis, suspensory ligament desmitis, foot bruising, stifle trauma, rhabdomyolysis, and exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. This list is not exhaustive. Each injury will require its own set of technical equipment. Many different injuries may be sustained by the event horse. They can be categorized by lacerations and abrasions, speed-related injuries, and jump-related injuries.

Lacerations of the distal limb are common because of the horse jumping over fixed fences and varied terrain. Over-reach wounds of the heel and stud-related punctures are quite common and can be quite painful to the horse. Because of the water jumps the horse is commonly going through, these wounds are often contaminated and will require antibiotic therapy and a drawing poultice and tetanus prophylaxis if needed. Abrasions of the carpus are associated with water jump falls and a too deep or rough gravel surface. These can be significant injuries, and if several of them are seen at the same event, they should be pointed out to the TD and/or organizer, who may not be aware of the deteriorating surface under the water. If any of the wounds are suspected to be penetrating injuries of a synovial structure, they should be carefully examined and possibly sent to a referral center for a more detailed assessment than what may be available at the competition.

Speed-related injuries can be many and varied. These will often be similar to injuries of the Thoroughbred race horse.

•    Bleeding or exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). These are often not seen during the new short format until the end of the course. If the VD is present, they should examine the horse. If not, the veterinarian at the end of cross country should summon the VD. These can be quite mild with a trickle of blood seen that is not clinically relevant or can be more severe and require rest and a significant workup to determine the underlying cause. The worse expression of this is the extremely rare rupture of an aortic or pulmonary vessel and often presents as sudden death during exercise.

•    Running at speed can result in a variety of tendon and ligament injuries. These may present with obvious swelling and pain with lameness in the affected area. They may also present as a lameness with no apparent swelling, or the swelling may develop later. Some superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) core injuries and origin of the suspensory ligament injuries will present in this manner. The most common injury is superficial digital flexor tendonitis, with desmitis of the suspensory ligament being the next most common. Injuries to the inferior check ligament, suspensory branches, origin of the suspensory, and collateral ligaments of the coffin joint are the next most significant injuries. These injuries almost without exception will require withdrawing the horse from the competition once they are detected. Anti-inflammatory therapy, cold therapy, and support wraps, as well as ultrasound diagnostics to determine the degree of the injury, are indicated as soon as possible. However, it is rare that it is needed to medicate the horse on the field of play, and it is safer and more prudent to transport the horse back to veterinary care in the barns to perform a more detailed assessment. Severe manifestations of SDFT and suspensory injury may require the use of a Kimzeya splint or a Robert Jones type bandage to appropriately support the non–weight-bearing leg and allow the horse to be loaded in a trailer and be taken to its stall or a pre-designated surgical referral center for further evaluation.

•    Exertional rhabdomyolysis (ER) or tying up is common in the event horse and may be seen even at lower level events. It is less common in eventing’s new short format. It may present as a horse that shows bilateral or unilateral stiffness in the hind limbs, or it can present as a horse that is unable to walk at all. Sometimes it presents as a horse reluctant to leave the stall after competition. Stiff and hard muscle masses, most commonly in the area of the middle gluteal muscle group, can sometimes be palpated. In its extreme form, ER can present as a recumbent horse that may need fluids to rise. The significant factor is that it is recognized for what it is and that the horse is transported off the course and examined in more detail. A mild case may require nothing more than an anti-inflammatory injection and usually being withdrawn from competition. Blood work (aspartate aminotransferase [AST] or creatine phosphokinase [CPK]), although useful, is usually hours or days away from the initial treatment point. The veterinarian will likely have to make a clinical diagnosis on the site and wait for the blood work to note the severity of the case. For a moderate to severe case, the treating veterinarian should have a large-bore 14-gauge IV catheter to insert in the jugular vein and have a large-bore IV fluid administration set with the ability to run 20, 40, or more liters of a balanced electrolyte solution rapidly. Important factors to understand when treating ER at an event is that the horse or horses may require significant amounts of fluid, and the treating vet should be prepared to have access to these amounts of isotonic fluids.

•    Jump-related injuries. Impacting a solid fence is a common scenario in the cross country phase of the event horse. It may have no injury associated with it; however, the fall of horse (hip and shoulder striking the ground) would normally result in elimination of the horse and rider combination. It also can result in a wide variety of injuries, with the most common being trauma to the stifle area, as well as the shoulder, carpus, pelvis, and neck areas. The mild version of these injuries are ones that surface as abrasion, stiffness, and swelling after the cross country phase, and the horse should be examined to see if the injury is mild and if the horse can continue in the competition with icing and minor treatment. The more significant injuries are those in which the horse has gone acutely lame and requires transportation off the field of play. If the horse is lame but able to be transported, only a cursory assessment should occur in the field of play, and the horse should be more completely assessed at the barn or referral clinic. The worse case scenario is that the horse has impacted the fence or fallen and is unable to rise or is stuck in the jump. This should result in immediate mobilization of the area veterinary treatment crew and jump repair crew and the horse ambulance or flat bed tow truck to transport the recumbent horse. The cross country controller should stop the other horses on the course and delay the start. If the horse is stuck in a jump, often the horse can be calmed or sedated, and the jump crew can disassemble the jump around them. The jump crew should deploy tarpaulin with wood-braced screens, and the veterinarian should do a quick but detailed assessment of the injury and determine whether the horse can rise or whether it needs to be administered short-term anesthesia and transported to a referral facility. In the worse case scenario, the veterinarian may determine that the horse has an injury that it will not recover from and must be humanely euthanized. Hopefully, the rider or family is able to give that permission, and the horse can be put down as soon as feasible to reduce suffering. The veterinarian should be sure of the manner of the injury and the prognosis because multiple parties (VD, TD, and insurance company) will be in consultation with him/her regarding the details. Currently, the FEI rules do require a necropsy, and the USEF rules will likely require it in the near future. The organizing committee must have this scenario in mind, because they will need the horse ambulance back for the remainder of the competition as soon as possible.

The overall role of veterinarians at an eventing competition is to act as advocates for the horse and to provide the care needed if a problem occurs. The VD has the primary role as advocate for the horse and should be referred to by the other veterinarians on the grounds when there is a question. Their job is to protect the horse, allow the horses to compete safely, and make sure the rules are followed. This requires experience, forethought, and prior cooperation with the organizing committee. Another critical factor to understand is that the VD in a FEI competition or the treating vet in a national competition is an advisor to the Ground Jury, who are the judges of the competition. The veterinarians never act alone in the removal or even significant treatment of a horse in the competition but only in cooperation with the Ground Jury. This close cooperation is a hallmark of the eventing competition and sets it somewhat apart from other equestrian competitions, including its similar FEI disciplines.


October 2021 - Your Horse Has A Question
Written by by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 02:45
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Are You Feeding Me Omega 3s Every Day?

by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D

You already know that the answer is supposed to be, “yes.”  But over the years, I have found that there is a 50:50 chance that this question will be answered, “no.”  Not because of neglect, but simply because many horse owners are not aware of why they’re important, or even what feeds contain them. Or they simply assume that the commercial feed they are feeding already contains enough.

But here’s the truth… most commercially fortified feeds contain more omega 6s than omega 3s, which creates an imbalance that damages your horse’s health. And that hay you’re feeding… well, it lost its omega 3 content a long time ago!

Why are omega 3s so important?1

There are only two fatty acids that are called “essential,” meaning that they absolutely must be in the diet every day because the horse’s body cannot produce them. The first essential fatty acid is an omega 6, known as linoleic acid (LA) and the other is an omega 3, known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Both have specific roles, however, omega 3s, in particular, are involved in functions such as:

•    protecting the blood vessels, heart, lungs, digestive tract, bones, and joints.
•    pcreating hormonal balance, including assisting with insulin resistance.
•    ppromoting a healthy immune response and protection against allergies and skin problems.
•    pprotecting the brain against inflammatory conditions, most notably PPID (Cushing’s disease) and leptin resistance.

Not only do both have to be in the diet, but they must be present in the proper proportion to one another. Ideally, there should be more ALA (omega 3) than LA (omega 6). However, if LA is higher, it will result in elevated inflammation throughout the body.

Healthy pasture grasses, in their growing seasons contain, on average, plenty of both ALA and LA, in a 4:1 ratio ALA to LA.2 And if your horse is lucky enough to graze on pasture much of the year, you generally do not need to concern yourself with additional supplementation (unless your horse is suffering from inflammatory conditions that affect immune function, allergic responses, and chronic pain).

Supplementation for hay-based diets

Essential fatty acids diminish when the grass is not actively growing, so your horse likely relies on hay during the colder seasons. Year-round supplementation is necessary for horses consuming hay-based diets because once living grass is cut, dried, and stored to make hay, most, if not all, of the essential fatty acids have been oxidized and destroyed.

Your commercial feed may not be a good source of omega 3s. Most of the fat content from commercially fortified feeds is from soybean oil (sometimes called “vegetable oil”) which is extremely high in omega 6s with very little omega 3s. Some newer formulas, however, are including flax and chia seeds to improve the ratio.

Choose organic when feasible

Feedstuffs that are organically grown have a lower detectable level of pesticides and herbicides. Exposure to these chemicals, especially over time, can be detrimental to your horse’s heath. Interestingly, nutrients such as antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids are more plentiful in organic plants because they aren’t oxidized by commercial chemicals.3

Concentrated sources of ALA

Ground flax or chia seeds are the most popular whole foods sources for ALA. The nice thing about feeding these is that they also provide protein, thereby improving the overall protein quality of the diet. USDA certified organic versions4 offer the highest nutritional benefit for your horses.

The following dosages are recommended:

•    Ground flaxseeds: 2 ounces by weight (equivalent to 1/2 cup) per 400 lbs of body weight (120 ml per 180 kg of body weight).
•    Chia seeds: 2 ounces by weight (equivalent to 1/4 cup) per 400 lbs of body weight (60 ml per 180 kg body weight).

Amounts can be reduced for overweight horses and increased for horses with special health needs.

Algal oil contains an omega 3 fatty acid called, “DHA.”  Inside your horse’s cells, ALA is converted to DHA. DHA is highly active in reducing inflammation, protecting again metabolic conditions.5

Hemp seeds are interesting. The fat found in hemp seeds is excellent, although the ALA to LA ratio is inverted. There are 2.8 times more LA than ALA, so it would be useful to also include some flax or chia. But what makes the fatty acid content of hemp seeds remarkable is its gamma linolenic acid (GLA) content. GLA is an omega 6 fatty acid, but, unlike other omega 6s that increase inflammation, GLA reduces it.

Oils that are high in ALA include flaxseed oil and camelina oil.

•    Flaxseed oil is not very easy to use. It gets “sticky” and oxidizes easily, making refrigeration necessary.
•    Camelina oil comes from the edible Camelina sativa It is high in ALA with a 2.4:1 ratio of ALA to LA, and its shelf life is far superior to flaxseed oil. This is because of its remarkably high vitamin E content: 100 ml (slightly less than ½ cup) of camelina oil contains 150 IU of natural vitamin E which protects the fatty acids from oxidative damage when exposed to air, humidity, and light.

Bottom line

Healthy, growing pasture grasses provide the horse with plenty of essential fatty acids in the right proportion. Diets that consist of hay, as well as most commercial feeds, are out of balance, or even devoid of the necessary omega 3 fatty acids that must be fed daily. Adding chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, or other whole foods can help your horse maintain vibrant health for a lifetime.
1    Getty, J.M. Omega 3 supplements – the old and the new,
2    Boufaied, H, Chouinard, P.Y., Gremblay, G.F., et al., 2003. Fatty acids in forages. I. Factors affecting concentrations. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 83(3), 501 – 511.
3    Mayo Clinic. Organic foods. Are they safer? More nutritious?
4    Organic ground flaxseeds and organic chia seeds are available in Dr. Getty’s Free Shipping Store,
5    Getty, J.M. Research reflection: Impact of DHA supplementation on inflammation reduction in metabolic horses,