Health & Horsemanship
September 2021 - Veterinary Technicians
Written by courtesy of Pet Talk
Wednesday, 01 September 2021 00:23
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courtesy of Pet Talk

Most pet owners have visited the veterinarian’s office at least once. Although veterinarians play an important role in treating and caring for pets, they are not the only people involved in pet care. Veterinary technicians, the people who provide the technical support for patient care, assist veterinarians with many responsibilities. D’Lisa Whaley, veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained her responsibilities as a veterinary technician.

“Veterinary technicians have such a wide range of responsibilities such as restraining a patient for a physical exam, checking vital signs, administering medications, obtaining diagnostic samples, monitoring a patient under anesthesia, or assisting a veterinarian during a surgical procedure,” Whaley said.

Technicians are also trained to operate and troubleshoot all of the equipment in a veterinary hospital or clinic, including monitoring equipment, anesthesia machines, and radiology equipment, Whaley said.

Although veterinary technicians can be trained on the job by shadowing a veterinarian, the landscape of the profession is changing. Whaley said many practices are hiring formally educated technicians over those without training or education in veterinary medicine.

“In order to receive a degree in veterinary technology, one must attend and complete an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited technician program,” Whaley explained. “Many of these programs are offered at junior or community colleges. Some programs even offer a ‘2+2’ program in partnership with a four year college so that the student is able to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science. After completing the veterinary technology program, the student can take a national exam and a state exam to earn the title of licensed or registered veterinary technician.”

Though Whaley said there are many things she loves about being a veterinary technician, her favorite aspects of her job include a challenging and fast-paced work environment, interacting with patients and finding the best treatment options, and obtaining diagnostic samples. Additionally, Whaley enjoys interacting with Texas A&M veterinary students.

“Since I work at a teaching hospital, my situation is pretty unique,” she said. “I enjoy working with our senior veterinary students on the best ways to train future technicians. I also like developing long-term relationships with patients and clients. Snuggling with puppies and kittens is a pretty great part of the job as well.”

Although veterinary technicians help provide care for furry patients and save animal lives, there are challenges veterinary technicians may face, such as comforting an owner about their sick pet.

“One of the most challenging aspects of being a veterinary technician is compassion fatigue,” Whaley said. “Whenever our patients are in pain, we do everything we can to help make them more comfortable. When we lose a patient or comfort an owner as they make the difficult decision to euthanize their beloved pet, we grieve along with the family.”

Despite this challenge, Whaley said, “The great things about this job far outweigh the bad, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”


Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

June 2021 - Lyme Disease in Horses
Written by courtesy of Stable Talk
Thursday, 27 May 2021 21:48
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courtesy of Stable Talk

Whether you blame it on climate change, increased deer numbers, movement of horses for sport and pleasure — or all the above — the fact remains that Lyme disease in horses is on the rise.

Named for the town in Connecticut where it was first diagnosed in the mid-1970s, Lyme disease is one of the three main tick-borne diseases that can infect horses. Equine piroplasmosis and Anaplasmosis are the other two. Humans, dogs and cats can also be affected by Lyme disease.

It’s worth noting that, although some people refer to it as “Lyme’s” disease, this is incorrect.


Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, an infective organism known as a spirochete that is specifically found in the tick species Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick) and Ixodes pacificus (western black-legged tick), both of which are commonly referred to as “deer ticks.”

“Where ticks are active year-round, then transmission can be year-round, but as tick ‘questing’ activity intensifies [in the spring], transmission is reported as increased,” notes Eric Lockwood Swinebroad, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM. A board-certified equine internist, Swinebroad was one of seven specialist co-authors of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine consensus statement “Borrelia burgdorferi Infection and Lyme Disease in North American Horses.”

“If it takes weeks for antibody levels to rise, and if the disease is in fact due to the host immune response to the spirochete, then it could take weeks for signs to be seen,” says Swinebroad, who operates Newmarket/Indialantic Equine, a sport horse practice specializing internal medicine and lameness based in New Hampshire and serving clients throughout New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida.

“The Northeast, Upper Midwest and California-Pacific Northwest are considered endemic regions,” notes Swinebroad, adding that Florida is likely in that grouping as well as a “transient epicenter” due to all the horse show travel in and out of that state.

Clinical Signs of Lyme Disease

A big challenge for both horse owners and veterinarians is that tick-borne disease can present with nonspecific clinical signs, so veterinarians have to consider numerous possibilities before arriving at a specific diagnosis.

Lyme disease isn’t usually even suspected unless the horse lives in, or has traveled to, an area known to have ticks infected with B. burgdorferi and ticks have been found on the horse.

The veterinarian will look for clinical signs while at the same time rule out other causes of those clinical signs. If you think diagnosing Lyme disease sounds like a major investigative process, you’re right.

Adding to the difficulty of diagnosis is the fact that Lyme disease in horses has only three definitively proven clinical presentations: 


  • Pseudolymphoma around a tick bite site (appearance similar to nodular skin cancer)
  • Anterior Uveitis (inflammation within the eye similar to “moon blindness”)
  • Neurological disease (especially if the horse also has uveitis), known as neuroborreliosis

Swinebroad notes that beyond these proven clinical signs of Lyme disease, other indications that have been reported in suspected cases include stiffness, shifting-leg lameness, shuffling gaits, muscle soreness, lethargy, behavioral changes and skin sensitivity that makes it irritable to the touch (hyperesthesia).

Diagnosing Lyme Disease

Part of the ongoing challenge with Lyme disease is that horses can be exposed to the bacteria, and even infected by it, but not actually show any of the clinical signs. And there is a definite difference between being exposed, infected and diseased. Look at it this way:

If someone who has an influenza virus sneezes on you, you’re exposed, but you’re only infected if you breathe in the virus particles. Even if you’re infected, you only become diseased if your body doesn’t mount an effective immune response to fight off the virus and you show clinical signs of influenza.

Swinebroad says that this is very similar to how it is with horses and Lyme disease. A horse could be exposed if a tick infected with B. burgdorferi attaches to him, but the horse is only infected if the bacteria gets into his system. Even then, the horse is only considered diseased if he develops clinical symptoms after being exposed and infected.

A veterinarian will draw blood and have it tested for B. burgdorferi serum antibodies. Yet even if testing shows positive levels of these antibodies, this doesn’t 100% mean the horse has Lyme disease. Positive serology simply indicates past or present infection (or in some cases, vaccination).

“There is no test for Lyme disease (just exposure and infection), nor does a positive result predict whether infection will cause clinical signs in the future,” says Swinebroad. “Once in the positive range, the patient with the higher antibody titer doesn’t mean the horse is sicker than one with a lower titer.” The ACVIM consensus paper clearly states: “There is no known correlation between magnitude of titer and likelihood of disease.”

Interestingly, the only definitive way to prove the presence of Lyme disease is upon necropsy.

Swinebroad explains that to make a Lyme diagnosis, the horse must have clinical signs associated with Lyme disease, which are supported by serological testing. As he says, “If you have a horse with clinical signs and a positive titer, and you’ve ruled everything else out, then you have an evidence-based rationale to treat the horse for Lyme.”


Antibiotic treatment is the typical approach if a horse has increasedantibody levels and compatible clinical signs and if the veterinarian has ruled out other diseases. The tetracycline class of antibiotics is the most commonly used for treating Lyme, and treatment usually continues for at least four weeks.

Swinebroad adds that in some cases, horses being treated for Lyme disease may also need anti-rheumatoid arthritis/anti-inflammatory medications. Your veterinarian would determine the best course of treatment for your horse.

“Although antibiotics are generally effective at all stages of the disease, clinical signs may persist in some patients an extended period of time despite oral and intravenous antibiotic treatment,” notes Swinebroad.

Preventing Lyme Disease

Since ticks are to blame for transmitting the disease, guarding against them is the best preventive measure.

Woods, tall grass, shady areas and layers of vegetation are where ticks hang out when they aren’t attached to a host. With that in mind:

  • Fence off wooded sections of the pasture
  • Keep pastures mowed so that grass isn’t excessively tall
  • Clear areas of brush/weeds in turn-out areas
  • Maintain a mowed strip of several feet between woods and horse areas

In addition, choose an on-horse repellent product that specifically addresses ticks. Spot-on topical products are ideal for pastured horses that aren’t groomed routinely and checked for ticks daily.

Make checking for ticks a regular part of your grooming routine — whether you ride or not. Ticks can attach anywhere but tend to prefer areas with thin skin, so pay close attention to your horse’s legs, neck, flank area, and all along the base of the mane, as well as the tail head.

It is generally accepted that an infected tick must be attached for a variable period of time to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, which is why daily checks are important.

Some research has shown that Lyme disease transmission is greatest when ticks are in the nymphal stage, typically around May and June. Unfortunately, nymphs are tiny — about the size of a pinhead or poppy seed — making them much harder to find on the horse’s body.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking ticks are active only during warm weather. Ticks are adaptive and some are active even during cold weather, so using protection on your horse and yourself, and doing tick checks should be a year-round habit.

At this time there are no vaccines labeled for horses with tick-borne diseases, although there is one for dogs.

“Guarding against ticks is best; there isn’t an effective prophylactic protection,” says Swinebroad. He points out that in endemic regions, some equine veterinarians are using canine Lyme vaccines on horses, injecting them multiple times a year.
If you live in an area where Lyme disease is an issue, it’s worth asking your veterinarian if the canine vaccine could be a reasonable  approach for your horse.

Removing Ticks

Should you find a tick on your horse (or yourself), remove it with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or forceps, not your fingers. Holding the tweezers as close to the skin as possible, grasp the tick by its mouthparts. Pull back with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk, and don’t squeeze the tick’s body, as this can release infectious organisms. Once removed, drown the tick in a dish of soapy water or just flush it. Wash your hands well with soap and water.

Even if a tick doesn’t transmit a disease, it can still cause inflammation, swelling and itching. The small wound left after removing a tick can be contaminated by flies feeding on it, which can lead to secondary bacterial infection. Clean the area with alcohol or an antiseptic formulated for equine use and apply antibiotic ointment or wound care product to aid healing.

June 2021 - Understanding The Risks and Signs of Equine Ulcers
Written by courtesy of Valley Vet Supply
Thursday, 27 May 2021 21:40
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courtesy of Valley Vet Supply

How familiar are you with the signs of equine ulcers and the preventive measures to take?

Ulcers impact 60% of show horses and 90% of racehorses, according to American Association of Equine Practitioners. But racehorses and performance horses are not the only horses at risk for Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS). The painful condition can affect all horses, regardless of age, breed or riding discipline. Equine stomach ulcers are caused by excess stomach acid, which horses often produce as a result of stress, among other factors.

Nelda Kettles knows the signs of equine ulcers like the back of her hand. Alongside her husband Larry, Nelda co-owned and operated CK Running Horses for more than 30 years, and after breeding and raising Thoroughbred racehorses, they wanted to give back to the industry. Together, they founded the Thoroughbred aftercare organization, Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation, which to date has found homes for more than 300 off-track Thoroughbreds.

“The statistics of ulcers are frightening. Some 90% of horses coming off the track have ulcers,” said Nelda. When Kentucky-bred Bluegrass Bronco – a war horse with 38 starts under his girth – arrived to Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation, “He was suffering from ulcers so badly, you could touch his side, and he would start bucking – he was not happy,” said Nelda.

“We immediately put him on UlcerGard. He was adopted out to an equine veterinarian who continues to keep him on UlcerGard [for prevention of equine ulcers].”

By preventing equine ulcers, “The weight comes back, and quickly you see a world of difference,” said Nelda. “Ulcers in horses can be frustrating, but when they are taken care of, it’s like night and day. Horses are happier. They eat better, gain weight and have a better disposition overall.”

Frequently Asked Questions About Ulcers in Horses

Can equine ulcers impact a horse’s competitive performance?
For a closer look, one animal health company conducted a study examining 84 horses with ulcers. Some 77% displayed poor performance, resulting in loss of jumping style, resistance to dressage work and training, stiffness and lack of response to a rider’s leg.  When asked if a horse’s performance can be impacted from ulcers, Nelda says, “There is absolutely a difference in how horses perform. Nobody wants to run with belly ache, and ulcers definitely give belly aches and affect a horse’s competitive spirit.”

What causes ulcers in horses?
Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome is most often the direct result from physical stress and behavioral stress. The list below outlines examples of both stressors on horses, some of which are commonly experienced among performance horses competing in any discipline. 

Physical stress:
Pain, such as lameness

Behavioral stress:
Stall confinement
Changes in routine
Social regrouping

What are signs of ulcers in horses?
Horses can react to gastric pain in a variety of ways. Irritability while being groomed, changes in attitude, resistance while being tacked up or under saddle, and stress-related habits like cribbing can be signs of gastric ulcers. But, so often these signs are dismissed as “bad behavior.” Ulcers could be the cause. Is your horse displaying any of these behaviors, or the common signs of ulcers in horses outlined below? If so, you may need to talk with your veterinarian.


Poor performance (the No. 1 sign)
Looking at his side
Weight loss
Reduced appetite
Poor hair coat
Recurrent colic
Attitude changes

How are ulcers in horses diagnosed?
Proper diagnosis is crucial for fast, effective treatment of ulcers in horses. A gastroscopic exam allows your veterinarian to examine the inside of the stomach and to definitively diagnose equine ulcers. If an ulcer is found, your horse may be prescribed treatment, and recommendations may be made for environmental and management changes that can help prevent ulcers in the future.

How do you prevent and treat ulcers in horses?
Equine ulcers can be prevented through three different methods that include reducing stressors, altering feed strategies and through trusted medications.
1.    Reduce the above outlined stressors horses may experience, and offer them more turnout, horse toys and distractions, and minimize overtraining if possible.
2.    Alter feed strategies to include free-choice hay, multiple small grain meals throughout the day, decreased amount of grain in rations, and to include alfalfa hay, which creates a buffering effect on your horse’s stomach, developing more saliva production. Some experts have even referred to alfalfa as “horse Tums.”
3.    Provide trusted medications to help horses suffering from ulcers. A horse diagnosed with gastric ulcers must be treated. GastroGard (omeprazole) is the only proven effective and safe treatment and is available with a prescription from your veterinarian. You also can further prevent ulcers by using UlcerGard paste (omeprazole) during times of stress.

Preventing ulcers is an important part of your horse’s overall health program; you can learn more about horse health solutions by visiting veterinarian-founded

January 2021 - How to Winter Horses
Written by Katie Young, Ph.D. - Equine Nutritionist, Manager Equine Technical Services
Friday, 01 January 2021 19:37
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Katie Young, Ph.D. - Equine Nutritionist, Manager Equine Technical Services

During the cold season, horse owners must make sure that their animals receive proper care. Horses are more able to maintain body heat if adequate hay is provided. Horses need at least 1 percent of their body weight per day in roughage to maintain a healthy GI tract, but 2 percent or more may be appropriate during cold weather, especially when the horse lives outdoors.

Although grain does not provide as much of an internal warming effect as hay, it is often necessary to supplement a horse’s winter ration with additional grain to boost calorie supplies. Cold temperatures increase the number of calories a horse needs to maintain body weight, as well as support activity or production. Ideally, the temperature of available water should be between 45˚F and 65˚ F. If the water is too cold, the horse may drink less, thereby decreasing water and lubrication in the gut and increasing the chance of impaction-induced colic.

In the absence of wind or moisture, horses tolerate temperatures down to near 0˚F, and even colder if shelter is available. Horses living outside should have access to adequate shelter from wind, sleet and storms. Horses that live indoors will need adequate blankets.
Exercise is important, so longe your horse once or twice a week. If longeing is not possible and you have more than one horse, ride one and pony the second. If you ride your horses, be sure to cool them down completely afterwards to reduce the risk of pneumonia, cold or colic. Local stables often allow outside horses and riders to use indoor and/or outdoor arenas for a fee.

As winter approaches and temperatures drop, horse owners need to consider how to winterize their horses. During the cold season, horse owners must make sure that their animals receive proper feed, water and shelter to stay healthy and comfortable. Further, since riders usually put a lot of time and effort into getting their horses ready for shows, trail rides or other events during the warm months, all that effort won’t go to waste and have to be started over in the spring, if they maintain their horses over the winter.

Feeding Horses in the Winter

Many horse owners believe that when the weather is cold, horses need to be fed rations containing more corn, because they think of corn as a heating feed. However, corn and other cereal grains do not cause the horse to become warmer, they simply provide more energy (calories) to the horse. Hay, which contains more fiber than grain, provides more of a warming effect internally, as more heat is released during the digestion of fiber than of starch from grain. Therefore, horses are more able to maintain body heat if adequate hay is provided in the diet.
Further, good quality hay is important during cool weather and winter months when pasture grasses are short or are not growing. Horses need at least 1 percent of their body weight per day in roughages to maintain a healthy GI tract, but 2 percent or even more may be appropriate during cold weather, especially when the horse lives outdoors.

Although grain does not provide as much of an internal warming effect as hay, it is often necessary to supplement a horse’s winter ration with additional grain to boost calorie supplies. Cold temperatures increase the number of calories a horse needs to maintain body weight, as well as support activity or production. Because a horse may digest feed less efficiently as the temperature drops below the horse’s comfort zone, additional feed may be required to maintain body weight and condition. It is important to maintain the horse in a body condition score of 5 to 6 (moderate to moderately fleshy) because a layer of fat under the skin provides insulation against the cold.

Further, horses in moderately fleshy condition require less dietary energy for maintenance in cold weather than thin horses. In general, feeding an additional 1/4 lb. of grain per 100 lb. body weight daily to nonworking horses will provide adequate calories during cold, windy and wet weather. Working horses may require up to an additional 1/2 lb. per 100 lb. body weight per day, depending on workload, to maintain body weight during cold weather.
Senior horses, which are unable to chew hay completely due to poor teeth and suffer from less efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients in the GI tract, need a feed specifically designed for them especially during winter months. Equine Senior® horse feed contains enough roughage and added fat to ensure that the older horse can meet its fiber and calorie requirements without depending on long-stemmed hay or grass.

Watering Horses in Winter

Water should always be readily available to the horse. Snow is not a sufficient substitute for water, as the horse cannot physically eat enough snow to meet its water requirement. Ideally, the temperature of the available water should be between 45 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is too cold, the horse may drink less, thereby decreasing water and lubrication in the gut and increasing the chance of impaction-induced colic. Further, if the horse drinks less water, it may also eat less feed, resulting in loss of body weight and condition. Finally, if a horse is forced to drink very cold water, its energy requirement will increase, because more calories are required to warm the water to body temperature inside the digestive tract.

Winter Shelter for Horses
Another consideration in cold weather horse care is housing or shelter. In general, even in cold climates, horses are happier and possibly healthier outdoors. Closed and heated barns are often inadequately ventilated. Horses living in poorly ventilated stables tend to develop respiratory diseases more often than horses maintained in pastures, even during cold weather.

If given the opportunity, horses adjust to cold temperatures with little difficulty. A horse’s comfort zone is very different from that of a person. In the absence of wind or moisture, horses tolerate temperatures down to near 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and even colder if shelter is available. Horses living outside should have access to adequate shelter from wind, sleet and storms. Trees, brush, or an open-sided shed or stable can provide adequate shelter. In severe cold, horses will group together to share body heat. They may all take a brisk run to increase heat production, and then come back together to share the increased warmth. A long thick coat of hair is an excellent insulator and is the horse’s first line of defense against cold temperatures. Horses that live outdoors during the winter should be allowed to grow a natural, full winter coat. Horses that live indoors will need adequate blankets in the cold weather to ensure that they do not get too cold. With sufficient thought and care by the horse owner, even horses that live outside in very cold climates will survive quite well during the cold winter months.

Exercising Horses in Winter

Many horses are given the winter off from work due to the cold weather, the rider’s lack of time, or because they are given a break after a heavy show season. However, if horses are let off for too long, they may forget some of what they have been taught and lose the fitness level that they gained over the year of work. So, to prevent the winter slump, here are a few suggestions: 

1.    Longe the horse once or twice a week. This not only gets the horse exercising, but it gives you an opportunity to brush, clean feet, check for injury and evaluate the overall condition of the horse.
2.    If longeing is not possible and you have more than one horse, you can ride one and pony the second. This can be a good time saver and gets both horses working.
3.    If time is available and weather permits, ride your horse or horses whenever possible. Keep in mind, your horse is   not in the same shape and does not have the stamina as when you were riding more in the warmer seasons, so you cannot work as hard nor expect as much from the horse. Be sure to cool the horse down completely after work to reduce the risk of pneumonia, cold or colic.
4.    Another option is to check with local stables to see if their facilities are available to non-boarders. Often, stables allow outside horses and riders to use indoor and/or outdoor arenas for a fee.

Winter may not be the easiest time of year for enjoying our horses, but with proper feed, water and shelter, and some exercise and conditioning, our horses will make it through comfortably and be ready to go again as soon as the weather allows.


November 2020 - Letting Flooring Do Its Thing
Written by by Kim F Miller
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:43
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Bedding traditions are debunked at Sacramento-area boarding facility.

by Kim F Miller

Oak Knoll Equestrian Center owner Layla Schackner has a beef with Haygain. She loves the company’s flooring product, ComfortStall, but scolds it for not educating horse owners that its layer of orthopedic foam eliminates the need of bedding for cushion.


The Schackners purchased the seven-acre horse property near Sacramento from FEI driver Leslie Berndl three years ago and the barn had four stalls of ComfortStall. “At first I wasn’t excited about them,” says Layla, who added barn manager to her busy life as a mom and high school teacher. Berndl had not used any bedding atop ComfortStall’s single-piece layer of durable rubber that is sealed to the stall wall. When the Schackners took over, however, boarders were using deep shavings. While that is horse keeping “tradition” in many circles, it was unnecessary and, in fact, negated one of ComfortStall’s biggest benefits: reduced dust from bedding.


“Getting boarders to trust the flooring to do its job was hard,” Layla recounts. Three years later, however, Oak Knoll’s four ComfortStalls have a waiting list nine boarders deep. It includes one owner who realized ComfortStall’s benefits after keeping her horse at a stable without it for a few months.

“I lost a few clients over it,” Layla recounts of drastically reducing the amount of bedding. “They wanted stalls deeply bedded in big fluffy flakes of pine shavings. Some people want to build nests for their horses, but horses are not nesting animals.”

Further, the pine shavings “don’t do anything: they don’t absorb urine.” Instead, urine accumulated in soiled bedding. Labor and time-intensive excavations were needed to remove it and it stunk things up with dangerous and unpleasant ammonia odors in the interim. “It was gross!” Layla recalls.

Even at the risk of losing boarders, Layla followed her gut on how much bedding was beneficial. She did side-by-side trials with fluffy, deep pine shavings and three different pelleted products. Mallard Creek’s Megazsorb pellets with zeolite emerged as the best fit for ComfortStall. Oak Knoll uses them in small quantities needed only to absorb urine, which is then easily removed. “A lot of our boarders say we are the only barn they’ve been at where you never smell ammonia, and it’s because of the stall mats. It’s something I forget about until I go to a show or another barn and get hit with that massive wall of ammonia that hits you in the face!”

Doing As Designed

The new bedding approach lets ComfortStall do what it was designed to do: provide cushion and comfort, improve barn air quality and lower maintenance costs and labor.

“Our stall floors are mostly exposed,” Layla explains of the four 12’ x 16’ and 16’ x 20’ main barn accommodations. “We only do the bedding on half of the floor, and only about an inch, inch-and-a-half deep.” Even that thin layer nicely absorbs urine, then clumps into pitchforkable patches. Stall cleaning is much easier, and Oak Knoll’s bedding bill is cut by at least half. Waste and its removal cost and environmental impact are significantly reduced, too.

With a typical horse count of 20, Oak Knoll used to haul manure off property three times a week to minimize flies, odors and unsightly piles. “Now we can go a solid two weeks between manure removals,” Layla explains. “A couple of our farmer neighbors take all of our manure because there is so little bedding product in it. So, it’s good all around.”

Labor and costs savings pale in comparison to the horse health benefits ComfortStall offers. Layla describes the case of a 24-year-old retired hunter mare who arrived at Oak Knoll with a hoof abscess, a history of frequent colics and discomforts that made her unrideable more often than not. “After about five months with us, everything leveled out and the owner could ride her again regularly. The abscess cleared up, she put weight on, and hasn’t had a colic in the 2.5 years she’s been with us.”

“You can’t be 100% sure why that is, but her owner feels like the ComfortStall has a lot to do with it. She’s very happy to be here. My only complaint about ComfortStall is that we don’t have more. It should be in every stall.”

Layla and Christopher Schackner have two horse-crazy daughters to thank for the equestrian lifestyle in which they are now happily immersed. Living on site and managing the boarding and training facility and United States Pony Club Riding Center base is a 24/7 labor of love. “On paper, it looks like you can make money owning a horse property,” Layla laughs. That’s been a little harder in practice, but the immediate emotional rewards are ongoing. “We are very passionate about our barn and property and we try to make it as environmentally green and as family friendly as possible.” The park-like setting includes a pond stocked with fish so non-horsey guys have a fun activity when their kids or wives are taking lessons.

Since COVID, Oak Knoll’s commitment to its families has sometimes included swapping labor and skills with boarders undergoing extra financial stress. “I know how much of a difference horses have made in my kids’ life,” Layla reflects of her incentive to help families keep horses in their lives, especially in tough times. Making smart decisions as a stable manager, even when they weren’t initially popular, has been a big part of Oak Knoll Equestrian Center’s ability to do that.

September 2020 - True Colors
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:20
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Keep colors true and leather soft with Farnam® Leather New® Total Care 2 in 1.

When you want your true colors to shine, look for a cleaner and conditioner that keeps all of your leather soft, supple and looking brand-new.

Farnam, your partner in horse care™, is pleased to introduce Leather New® Total Care 2 in 1, a convenient new leather cleaner and conditioner in one. The innovative formula safely cleans and conditions all colors of tack without stripping dye from dark leather or darkening light leathers. With no silicones, waxes or petroleum distillates, the formula even keeps stitching looking new.


Leather New® Total Care, with its avocado oil-based formula, simplifies the leather care routine by cleaning and nourishing in one simple step. The creamy, mess-free texture rubs in easily to clean away dulling dirt and grime and reveal the leather’s natural shine. Conditioners work deeply into the leather to restore moisture and elasticity to older leather and help break-in new tack.


The go-anywhere formula comes in a compact bottle that is small enough to fit in tack bags for quick and easy touch-ups. Leather New® Total Care is also versatile enough to clean and protect nearly any type or color of leather, from equestrian tack to boots and purses, to furniture and car seats.

Like all the nourishing Leather New® leather care products, Total Care 2 in 1 keeps leather looking new and feeling soft for a lifetime.  For even deeper cleaning and conditioning, look for our two-step system of Leather New® Easy-Polishing Glycerin Saddle Soap and Leather New® Deep Conditioner & Restorer.

For a limited time, horse owners can find $2 off instant savings coupons attached to the product in retail stores, or at

To learn more about Leather New® Total Care 2-in-1 and the complete line of Farnam® grooming products, visit Press release provided by Farnam.

Founded in 1946, Farnam Companies, Inc., has grown to become one of the most widely recognized names in the animal health products industry and has become one of the largest marketers of equine products in the country. No one knows horses better than Farnam. That’s why no one offers a more complete selection of horse care products. Farnam Horse Products serves both the pleasure horse and the performance horse markets with products for fly control, deworming, hoof and leg care, grooming, wound treatment and leather care, plus supplements. Leather New, Farnam and your partner in horse care are registered trademarks of Farnam Companies, Inc.

September 2020 - Respiratory Health
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:53
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Every breath horses take affects every move they make.

by Kim F. Miller

“Respiratory health is essential to performance,” stresses Dr. Emmanuelle Van Erck Westergren of a key focus at her Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Waterloo, Belgium.

The prominent veterinarian and thought leader spent 15 years engaged in equine health from a University-based perspective. She then left academia to apply that knowledge in private practice, immersing herself in a 360-degree perspective on horse management. Equine Sports Medicine Practice specializes in high performance horses and prioritizes prevention and career longevity.


“I want to help horses compete successfully over a whole season and a whole career,” Dr. Emmanuelle explains. Accomplishing that involves working with owners to evaluate and implement best management practices related to every aspect of their horse’s health. Respiratory function is critical to that, yet often under-appreciated and misunderstood. Worse, warning signs of trouble are easily missed or misinterpreted.


That’s why Dr. Emmanuelle welcomes the chance to speak on equine respiratory health, as she did here with journalist Kim F Miller.

Kim: How is the equine respiratory system different from a human’s?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Several factors contribute to the horse becoming deficient in oxygen even in sub-maximal levels of exercise. This state is called hypoxemia. In man, oxygen levels stay the same during all levels of exertion.

Kim: What are those factors?
Dr. Emmanuelle:

  1. Horses breathe only through their nose. There is no communication between the oral cavity and the airways. Think about exerting yourself while only breathing through your nose.
  2. Their narrow upper airway and the long distance from there into the lungs makes it that much harder to move the column of air in and out. It’s “dead space” because nothing happens to the oxygen during the trip. It is only transferred to the blood stream when it gets into the lungs.
  3. Horses breathe in and out at the same rate as their gait. As they canter or lope, they inhale in suspension, and exhale when their first foreleg hits the ground. Standardbred trotting horses have an advantage because, if they become oxygen deficient, they can take a big breath over several trot steps. A Thoroughbred racehorse is limited because they can’t compensate with a big breath over a few strides. They have to breathe in and out with their stride. As they become oxygen deficient, they have to breathe more often, which means shortening their stride.
  4. Horses bodies are over 60% muscle and muscles demand a lot of oxygen. By comparison, muscle mass for a “normal” 18-40-year-old man is 33% to 39%.
  5. Horses have a higher heart rate and that faster circulating blood means it doesn’t stay anywhere long enough to output all the oxygen it carries.

Kim: Will the horse’s ability to intake and use oxygen improve as his fitness improves?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Unfortunately, no. The horse’s muscle and heart function adapt and improve with conditioning, but the oxygen capacity of its respiratory system does not. Human performance is limited because we have small hearts. Horses have big hearts that get bigger and can pump more blood with conditioning, but their performance is still limited because the respiratory system can’t deliver enough oxygen to the muscles.
Because of all the limitations, even a little bit of inflammation or obstruction anywhere in the respiratory tract has a big impact on performance.

Kim: How often to you see sport horses with some type of respiratory disease?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Too often! We have tracked 400 cases in which horses were referred to our practice for poor performance.  Between 50% and 80% had some degree of respiratory disease. Eventers had 100% and international show jumpers had 85% at the high end, while driving and leisure horses were at the “low” end with 50% affected.  In a study published last fall, we found that 88% of 731 horses referred for poor performance had Inflammatory Airway Disease, a range of conditions on the milder end of the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

Kim: Do owners typically recognize poor performance issues as related to respiratory health?
Dr. Emmanuelle: No. Most of the complaints were very unspecific. “Feeling heavy” is a top complaint. Heavy breathing, breathlessness, lack of energy and slow recovery times are more common complaints. Owners seldom noted coughing or nasal discharge, which are more clear symptoms of respiratory problems.

Kim: What are some of the biggest risks to respiratory health?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Respiratory diseases fall into the category of Equine Asthma, a relatively new label in veterinary medicine. Some horses have a genetic predisposition for it, but otherwise it is an occupational disease. Environment, stresses of training and competition which can lower immunity, and mingling with other horses are all risk factors for Equine Asthma.

Kim: How do you figure out what’s causing the problem?
Dr. Emmanuelle: I look at the horse and his environment. We do measurements of dust levels and samples of contaminants. Some are easy to see. Have you seen someone sweep dust from the barn aisle, then stash that in the horse’s stall? Or seen mold stains on barn walls or ceilings?
A condition called Sick Building Syndrome exists in human medicine and it can apply to horses, too. They may not be coughing or having nasal discharge, but they clearly don’t feel well. That can often be linked to the amount of contaminants growing inside the building.
Horses were designed to live outside, but many horses spend 23 hours a day in the barn. Living inside, they’re exposed to 50 times more inhalable irritants! Even if they live outside, if they’re getting hay with contaminants, it’s still a problem.

Kim: Does weather affect the amount of contaminants to which horses are exposed?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Yes. Europe experienced particularly warm weather this year, and earlier in the spring than normal. That corresponds to a record number of respiratory cases, as did record pollen levels with record numbers of asthmatic patients.
A Canadian study found a correlation between the temperature and humidity and worsening symptoms of equine asthma. And global warming is having an effect because there is a shorter or non-existent period when there is a layer of frozen ground. That all affects the number of contaminants, including fungi, mold and bacteria found in soil, in which hay or straw is grown.

Kim: Fungi sounds especially nasty and dangerous.
Dr. Emmanuelle: It is. Fungi, which is the same as mold, can be very allergenic because it has proteins that can trigger a very strong reaction. It can become infectious and start to grow inside the horse’s airways. That process can produce toxins and irritations to the respiratory mucosa, which can ultimately affect the throat muscles. Fungi can also trigger inflammatory responses that manifest as rhinitis and sinusitis.
The role of fungi is not yet broadly recognized in the veterinary world. When a fungal infection is suspected or diagnosed, current treatments often include corticosteroids to address inflammation. Those further depress the immune system, enhancing the opportunity for fungal infection.
In our study of 731 horses referred for suspected respiratory issues and/or poor performance, 88% were found to have Inflammatory Airway Disease. Horses with fungal elements in their airway were 2.1 times as likely to have IAD.
In a study we did on sport horses, we detected a link between fungi in the airways and the likelihood of Exercised Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage: a horse is seven times more likely to bleed from the lungs, through the nose, during extreme exertion when they have fungi in the airways. In the United States, this could get a lot of attention as racetracks are in the process of phasing out Lasix, the medication that reduces EIPH.

Kim: That’s a lot of bad news. How can we protect our horses from these microscopic assailants?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Assess and improve your horse’s environment!

  1. Make sure there’s ventilation in the barn. That means circulation and renewal of the air. If there’s no renewal, moisture will accumulate and foster contaminant growth. Cobwebs indicate there isn’t enough ventilation because spiders won’t make them where there’s any breeze.
  2. Reduce dust: the fine dust that can be inhaled and lodge in the airways and deep in the lungs.
  3. Look for signs of mold on walls, everywhere and especially on walls near stored hay.
  4. Look at floor mats: specifically, what is growing between and underneath them. Urine accumulation can make it really dangerous and gross. It’s awful for horses and people. Stables don’t have to be sterile, but they do need to be clean.

Kim: What about hay & bedding?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Both play a big part in respiratory health. I strongly advise all my clients to get a Haygain Hay Steamer because it reduces up to 99% of the fine, respirable particles and kills fungi, bacteria and yeast in hay. Ample scientific studies demonstrate the benefits of killing the fungi/mold. It hasn’t been studied yet, but I think killing the bacteria has a positive impact on horses’ digestive function. I would like to look into that.
When it comes to preventative medicine, Haygain is something that speaks for itself over time. That’s why you don’t see many hay steamers for sale second-hand. Once horse owners adopt it, they don’t go back.
As for bedding, first consider flooring that can be disinfected. Then, wood shavings are better because wood contains terpene, which is a natural anti-septic. Cardboard and paper shavings are cleaner options. Straw, on the other hand, can foster bacteria and fungal growth.

Kim: What about homemade hay steamers?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Not an option. Temperatures need to reach the range of 212°F (100°C) to kill bacteria and fungi. Steaming at lower temperatures actually serves as an incubator for contaminants.
This happened with a dressage horse referred for coughing while exercising. Using an over-ground endoscope, we found he had an obstruction in his upper airway. Determined to help their horse, the owner had made their own hay steamer. What happened, though, was putting contaminated hay into what was, in effect, an incubator. It wound up culturing fungus to the highest level, to where the fungus produced neurotoxins that affected the muscle function and resulted in the obstruction.

Kim: How receptive are horse owners toward these preventative measures you recommend?
Dr. Emmanuelle:As a sports medicine practice, we work mostly with high level competitors. It has taken a while to educate our clients. As we treat horses year to year, if we are always treating the same problem, I like to review the management over going first for medications. As horses do better over the long term, the results speak for themselves.

Kim: Thank you!!

Dr. Emmanuelle Erck van Westergren. Photo: Wilhelm Westergren

July 2020 - Trailering Tips
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:28
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Hit the road with respiratory health on board.

The horse world is cautiously getting back on the road as competitions re-emerge on summer calendars. Productive horse people likely spent some of the pandemic doing horse trailer maintenance: checking breaks, tires, interiors, hitches and electrical connections.

Those critical aspects of safe equine transport tend to get a lot of attention. Horse’s respiratory health merits equal consideration because it can be badly compromised during trailering.


Competition itself has enough variables, notes Virginia-based two-time World Equestrian Games eventer Lynn Symansky. “They really increase when you combine those variables with respiratory issues horses can pick up while travelling. Especially when you are traveling with multiple horses in the trailer. You already have dust from shavings and bedding, plus whatever is coming in through the open windows. When each horse grabs and pulls hay from their hay net, it can be worse.”

Hay is mostly a good thing for traveling horses. Having something to munch on keeps them occupied, which helps reduce general travel stress. Chewing and digesting food keeps stomach acids at bay, lowering the risk of ulcers that often accompany that stress.     

From a respiratory health standpoint, however, hay can be harmful in the trailer or van. That’s because even hay that has good nutrient quality and looks clean can be loaded with inhalable irritants. Dust, mold spores, bacteria and other allergens are not limited to hay that looks and smells bad. These are the main triggers of conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum that affect a surprisingly high percent of the equine population.

When these microscopic bits lodge in the airways, an inflammatory response to foreign objects kicks in. This can restrict the upper airway and impede the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream. That’s never good for the horse’s welfare or performance, and it’s especially bad when heading to a show.

Before hitting the road, Lynn’s crew steams their horses’ hay in a Haygain Hay Steamer. The high-temperature steaming process rids hay of up to 99% of the dust, mold, bacteria and allergens found in all hay. Putting clean hay in the trailer is especially important because the hay sits right in the horse’s breathing zone for the duration of the trip.
Heads Up: Not Healthy

Eating hay from an elevated position is already problematic, notes Kentucky-based veterinarian and dressage rider Dr. Wren Burnley, DVM. Eating from the ground is nature’s design for allowing the horse to clear inhaled material from its airways. They can’t do that in the trailer.

Opening vents and windows is important for ventilation during travel, although that can also disperse breathable bits further within the trailer. (Use a fly mask or other protective gear to guard the horse’s eye and face from anything that might fly in the window, Dr. Burnley notes.)  Stopping for rest breaks every four hours is the conventional wisdom for long trips. If a safe place can be found to unload the horses, letting them drink or graze with their heads lowered will help them clear their airways.

Castle Larchfield Purdy, the 2016 Olympic eventer, always travels with steamed hay, says Andrea Bushlow, who works with his rider Lauren Billys. That’s true whether they are making a relatively short trip for routine veterinary check-ups or the long haul from California to Rebecca Farms in Montana.

In the early preparation for making a second Olympic appearance, “Purdy” was diagnosed with a mild case of Inflammatory Airway Disease. This surprisingly common condition on the Equine Asthma Spectrum intensified eventing’s already rigorous physical challenges and slowed his respiratory recovery rate. Since the diagnosis, steamed hay has helped Purdy return to top form -- so much so that he is qualified for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics. “He always travels with steamed hay,” Andrea notes.

In this time of heightened awareness about airborne respiratory risks, Haygain Steamed Hay offers the assurance of greatly reduced respiratory risks for travelling horses.

For more information on Haygain Hay Steamers and Haygain’s ComfortStall Sealed Orthopedic Flooring, visit Article provided by Haygain.

July 2020 - Signs of a Healthy Horse
Written by by Tom Lenz, DVM, M.S., DACT
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:35
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Ten daily minutes assessing your horse is time well spent.

by Tom Lenz, DVM, M.S., DACT

I tell veterinary students that to recognize a sick or lame horse, they need to look at a lot of healthy, sound horses. Horses vary, but there are signs of general good health that apply to all.

Attitude - Healthy horses are bright and alert, and interested in other horses, you and their surroundings. They will roll occasionally, especially after being turned out, but always shake the dust off after rolling. A horse that rolls over and over and often looks at its side might be experiencing signs of colic. Contact your veterinarian.

Appetite - The No.1 sign of an infectious disease like influenza or West Nile virus is the horse has a decreased appetite or refuses to eat. In some cases, teeth problems may prevent eating, so to differentiate, take the horse’s rectal temperature. An adult horse at rest should have a body temperature of 99 - 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that level can indicate an active infection. The normal temperature range for a foal is 99.5 - 102.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eyes and noses - Your horse’s eyes should be clear, fully open and clean, not cloudy or discolored. Any indications of an unusual discharge or a dull glazed appearance should be looked into by your veterinarian. The nostrils should be clean and free of excessive mucus. However, it is normal for a horse to have a trickle of clear liquid from the nostrils.

Weight and body condition - You should ensure that your horses maintain optimum body condition and not let them get too fat or too thin, as each presents health risks. Use the Henneke Body Condition nine-level scoring system to evaluate your horse’s body condition. A body condition score of 4-5 is ideal.

Hair coat - A shiny, glowing coat is a sign of good health that comes from meeting the horse’s nutritional requirements and frequent grooming. A dull coat can be a sign of poor nutrition, parasites or general poor health.

Vital signs - It’s important that you know your horse’s vital signs, as they are early indications of a problem. If the horse is excited or it’s a hot/humid day, heart and respiration rates can be slightly elevated:
•    Heart rate: 28-44 beats per minute depending on the horse›s size.
•    Respiration: 10-24 breaths per minute.
•    Mucous membranes: The horse›s gums should be moist and a healthy pink.
•    Capillary refill time: If you press your finger firmly against the horse›s gums, the point of pressure should return to a pink color within one to two seconds.
•    Intestinal sounds: Gurgling, gas-like growls, tinkling sounds and occasional roars are normal. No intestinal sounds or decreased intestinal sounds can be a sign of colic.

Manure and urine - A healthy horse will pass manure eight to 12 times a day. Urine should be wheat-colored and either clear or slightly cloudy.

Hydration - The average horse drinks between five and 10 gallons of water a day, depending on exercise level and weather conditions.

Legs and feet - The horse should stand squarely with its weight evenly distributed over all four feet. Slightly raising and taking the weight off a hind leg is normal, but not for a foreleg. Your horse’s legs should be free of bumps, swelling, cuts or hair loss. There should be no heat in the horse’s feet.

A quick evaluation of your horse can be done in less than 10 minutes. Check him daily so you will know what is normal and what is not.

Article provided courtesy of AAEP and AAEP Alliance Partner, AQHA. About the author: Thomas R. Lenz, DVM, M.S., Diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, is a trustee of the American Horse Council, past chairman of AQHA’s research committee and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.


July 2020 - Gut Issues
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:04
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Colic comes in many forms and has many, often indeterminate, causes.

Colic could certainly be labeled as the most common health concern in the modern horse. In a 2017 report by Pet Plan Equine, colic was reported to be the third most common insurance claim for adult horses, superseded only by arthritis and ulcers. Combine ulcers and colic into “gut health” claims, and you will conquer the greatest insurance claim race.


To further the pain, the average cost of a colic incidence is about $2,000 and the maximum cost, with lengthy surgery and recovery, can climb up to $10,000.

But what is colic? Even though we tend to treat colic as an illness in itself, it is actually a clinical symptom. Yes, the definition of colic is “pain of the abdomen.” There is obviously a plethora of things that can cause abdominal pain so there are many types of colic. These commonly include impaction colic, displacement or entrapment, gas colic, sand colic, strangulation colic, enteritis, and idiopathic (unknown cause) colic. We can define these as follows:

Impaction colic: Impaction occurs when forage, sand, dirt or other material gets lodged in the colon, causing the horse to be unable to pass manure and putting a halt to the whole digestive system. Impaction can also be caused in some cases by enteroliths, naturally occurring mineral deposits that can reach up to 15 pounds in size.

Displacement or entrapment: This occurs when the large colon moves to an abnormal location. Often this occurs at the pelvic flexure, an area where the colon narrows and makes a sharp turn. In some cases, displacement can also lead to entrapment, where something traps the gut and can cut off blood supply.

Gas colic: Mild abdominal pain can simply be the result of gas buildup in the horse. This can be caused by a change in diet, low roughage consumption, parasites or administration of wormer.

Sand colic: Sand colic is caused by the abnormal consumption of large amounts of sand while grazing or eating off dry, sandy ground. Upward of 80 pounds of sand have been found in a colicking horse’s gut.

Strangulation colic: A twist occurring in the gut causes strangulation colic, which often cuts off blood supply and results in dying tissue. This type of colic is one of the most serious and can be fatal.

Enteritis: Abdominal pain can be caused by enteritis, the general inflammation of the gut. This inflammation is most commonly caused by colonization of the gut by pathogens (bacteria or viruses).  

Idiopathic colic: The majority of colic cases are idiopathic. This means the cause is unknown or unable to be determined.

Common General Symptoms

Most types of colic have a few general symptoms in common. These include restlessness, pawing, frequently rolling and lying down, looking back at the flank, lack of appetite, inability to pass manure, sweating, increased respiration rate, kicking at the stomach with hind legs, and overall discomfort.

If you notice a horse exhibiting these symptoms, without resolve, a veterinarian should be called. The veterinarian may ask you to walk the horse, withhold feed, or possibly administer an NSAID, such as Banamine. However, do not medicate the horse without first speaking to a veterinarian. The many faces of colic make it difficult to understand what exactly you are dealing with. The vet may be able to ask questions to determine more about the instance of colic and determine the best course of action and if a visit is required.

Prevention is ideal but challenging at best. Think about yourself; it is difficult to prevent a stomachache entirely. However, there are some things you can do to limit the chance of colic developing. This is no different than preventing a stomachache by not drinking spoiled milk or eating a whole package of cookies!

First, make sure the horse has easy access to fresh, clean water. If horses are housed individually, make mental notes on how much water the horse usually drinks in a given amount of time. This will help you determine if there is a change in water consumption, which could indicate a potential problem.

Provide good quality forage as the major component of the diet and limit the intake of grains to the smallest amount required. Also, if you plan to change the horse’s diet, make changes gradually. This will allow the microbes in the gut to adapt to the changes and help ensure proper digestion.

Try to limit the amount of stress put on the horse. Allow as much time in the pasture or paddock as feasible, and allow them to move freely, socialize and graze. Stress is likely one of the most common causes of colic. Stress causes release of the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands, which can cause colic, ulcers and diarrhea.

Lastly, providing digestive support to the horse can reduce the risk of colic. Digestive supplements can enhance gut health to improve digestion and limit interruptions of the microbes in the gut. One example is Vitalize® Equine Digest More Plus, a daily supplement with Amaferm®, BioZyme®’s proprietary prebiotic, to enhance the good gut microbes and MOS, a beta-glucan, to eliminate pathogens.

In addition to a daily supplement containing prebiotics and/or probiotics, a concentrated single-use product, like Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel, can also provide support to the gut in desperate times. Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel is designed to be used as a preventative against digestive upset from any changes in the horse’s routine, diet, or environment that cause stress. Administer Recovery Gel anytime your horse is under stress, or at the first signs of digestive upset, for a happier, healthier horse.

Article provided by BioZyme®. For more information, visit

June 2021 - Cast Care
Written by courtesy of
Thursday, 27 May 2021 21:51
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courtesy of

Your horse has been fitted with a cast to give it the best possible chance of recovery. A cast provides both protection and support and thereby gives the horse’s injury a chance to heal.

Because you can’t actually see what’s happening beneath a cast, caring for a convalescent horse can seem a bit daunting. You can ease your mind and decrease the chances of complications by knowing what to watch for and what to do. You’ll also keep your horse more comfortable and help speed healing. Careful observation will be your best tool.

Your Horse’s Cast

Casts are used for a variety of problems such as some bone fractures, tendon and ligament injuries, wounds, and abnormal growth and development.

Several important functions are:
•    First Aid Tool
•    Immobilization of Limbs
•    Overcoming Tension – keeping skin from pulling apart at wound sites
•    Rigid Support – allows horse to stand and use limb during convalescence
•    Protection and Reduced Concussion to Limb
•    External Support – reinforcement for internal fixation devices such as plates or screws used in fracture repair

Better Technology

Fortunately for your horse, casting materials and techniques have greatly improved over the years. Today, casts are generally made of lightweight fiberglass or plaster. They conform well to the horse’s anatomy, set quickly, and are durable, strong and porous.

A well-constructed cast permits the skin to breathe, the wound to drain, and is comfortable for the horse. Horses normally adjust quickly to wearing a cast.

The type of cast will depend on the nature and location of the injury.

•    Full Cast – includes the foot and extends the length of the limb to just below the elbow or stifle.
•    Sleeve/Tube Cast – partial cast that generally covers only a portion of the limb but does not encase the foot (usually immobilizes the knee or hock).
•    Half Limb/Distal Limb Cast – extends from below the knee or hock down to include the foot.
•    Short Cast/Foot Cast – starts below the fetlock joint and covers the foot.

Symptoms For Concern


While your horse is in a cast, you will need to pay extra close attention to it. Check your horse several times a day, paying special attention to the cast area. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe any of the following:

1.    Increased pain or lameness
2.    Discharge (exudates) from the cast that has a foul odor, unusual color or seems to be excessive
3.    Swelling above or below the cast
4.    Focal warmth (noticeable heat emitting from the cast)
5.    Elevated body temperature (100F + or – 1 is considered normal)
6.    Chewing at, or other apparent irritation with the cast
7.    Recumbency – horse spends an abnormal amount of time lying down
8.    Secondary Wounds – rub sites or pressure sores that develop where the cast contacts the skin
9.    Cast damage or breakage
10.    Lack of appetite or depression

Doctor’s Orders

While your horse is in a cast, follow your veterinarian’s instructions to the letter.

1.    Prevent excessive movement by keeping your horse confined to a stall.
2.    Check the horse regularly.
3.    Keep the horse’s environment scrupulously clean and dry to prevent contamination of the cast or wound.
4.    Seal the cast openings with bandaging tape (not too tight) to prevent dirt and debris from entering it. Check and change as required.
5.    If the cast becomes excessively dirty or wet, contact your veterinarian. Follow cleaning and drying instructions explicitly.
6.    Give medications only as prescribed by your equine practitioner.
7.    Do not provide drugs or pain relievers that could mask a horse’s condition – unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.
8.    Do not trailer your horse while in a cast without express permission and guidance from your veterinarian.
9.    Stay in close communication with your equine practitioner for guidance in monitoring and evaluating your horse’s progress.

Your Health Care Partnership

Be assured that your equine practitioner will do everything in his or her power to help you get your horse out of a cast and back to work as soon as possible. If you have questions or need more information on cast care management, contact your veterinarian.

This information was produced through a joint venture between 3M Animal Care Products and The American Association of Equine Practitioners.


June 2021 - Caring for Barn Cats?
Written by courtesy of Valley Vet Supply
Thursday, 27 May 2021 21:46
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Veterinarian shares 8 tips for looking after our most resourceful felines 

courtesy of Valley Vet Supply

Barn cats are kings and queens at horse farms and ranches, keeping away varmints like moles, mice and consequentially, even snakes. But even the most independent outdoor cats can benefit from added protection and routine care. For advice on caring for barn cats, we turned to Oklahoma State University’s Assistant Clinical Professor with the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sarah Peakheart.  


Purrr-use these top tips for thriving barn cats:

1. Construct a perch or loft area, so barn cats have a safe space from potential predators. “Offer them a few choices,” encourages Dr. Peakheart. “Cats love high perches or small holes they can dive into, if needed.”

2. Spay and neuter to prevent litters, as well as to deter them from roaming away, fighting with others and overall from channeling their inner ‘Tomcat.’

3. Have an updated identification tag on their collar, and if possible have them microchipped, which is an easy option available at veterinary clinics during their spay or neuter procedure. This way, should they be lost or picked up by the city animal welfare, there is a better chance of being reunited with them.   

4. Store feed in enclosed bins or feed rooms to deter food-indulging predators, such as raccoons and others that can harm even the toughest barn cats. Dr. Peakheart warns that, “Other wildlife can spread diseases, like rabies, intestinal parasites, and fleas and ticks. Opossums can carry so many fleas, they are like walking flea salt shakers.” 

5. Place common chemical-based items like horse fly spray and antifreeze safely out of sight. Some substances, even when ingested in small amounts, can cause seizures (or worse) in cats. Cats do not even have to ingest some of the fly sprays or other chemicals to be affected, just being around them while they are in use or still wet can cause damage. While they may not purposely ingest some things, they will groom it off their fur – like antifreeze, in which even the smallest amounts can cause acute kidney failure in cats.

6. Offer any outdoor cats (or dogs) a safe, warm place to sleep. A heated or insulated cat house is perfect for keeping outdoor cats in winter months cozy. Also, ensure they have plenty of food and fresh water. Consider a heated water bowl to help prevent frozen water during wintertime.  

7. Make plenty of noise before starting up your vehicles or farm equipment, especially during the wintertime when outdoor cats look for places to stay warm, like under the hood of your vehicle. Dr. Peakheart warns others to, “Make sure you bang on the hood before starting the car to give them a chance to get out.” 

8. Prioritize preventive care for healthy barn cats, including cat vaccines, parasite, flea and tick control, and heartworm prevention. Talk with your veterinarian about any additional health considerations for your barn cat.

Visit veterinarian-founded to learn more and find trusted solutions to support your cat’s well-being.

January 2021 - Cure Winter Boredom With Barn Aisle Exercises
Written by CRM
Friday, 01 January 2021 19:43
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When wintery weather sets in, many riders put a halt to all horse activities other than rudimentary care, in essence missing a great opportunity to continue training throughout the year. Actually, a fair amount of groundwork can be done right in the aisle of the barn while you watch the snow or rain whipping around outside.

Safety First!

Your barn aisle must be wide enough for your horse to turn around without bumping into anything, so remove all hanging objects on the stalls that jut into the aisle. Be mindful of herd dynamics. Don’t try an exercise right in front of the herd boss’s stall if she’s apt to lunge with bared teeth into your space.

Don’t try any training if all your horse’s body language says “not today.” Use common sense – don’t choose a day when he’s been inside for days and already hyper, carpenters are hammering on the roof, feeding time is minutes away, or a thunderstorm is approaching.

If your horse starts getting fidgety or uncooperative, don’t push him. Either try something easy for him until he calms or put him back in his stall. Aisle space is too tight for a fight.

Relaxation on both your parts is the key to success. Do these exercises in short sessions especially for youngsters. If your horse doesn’t understand an exercise, work with him briefly, then move on to something else and try again the next day.

Let your horse learn by watching; horses take their cues from others just like we do. Don’t rush the learning process and always reward a try by releasing pressure and using encouraging words.

Never use force or fear to try to teach a horse anything especially in a relatively confined space like a barn aisle.


Move Away From Pressure
Put pressure on your horse’s side with the handle of a crop until he takes a step away from the pressure. Wait until he does it, then IMMEDIATELY release the pressure. Repeat on both sides.

Lower Head
Again, get your horse to move away from pressure by pressing your fingers down on his poll just enough to be a nuisance (you’re not pushing his head down.) It may take a while, but stay with it until he lowers his head even a tad. Always reward the slightest try with release of pressure.

Yield To The Bit
Standing slightly to the side in front of your horse that is bridled with a smooth, jointed snaffle, hook your thumbs through the bit rings and apply slight pressure backward. If he doesn’t yield and “nod” to the rear, keep the same pressure and “toggle” gently from one side to the other so your horse can’t brace against you. Increase pressure until you get a response.

Pick Up Feet
If your horse has issues about picking up his feet, loop a soft rope around his fetlock and lift the leg up and hold it until he settles. Stand safely out of kicking range and be patient until he accepts it.

Walk Across Tarp, Blanket, Or Plywood
Throw an old saddle blanket on the aisle floor and have your horse walk over it. If he hesitates, let him sniff it before urging him forward. He may try to sidestep or hop it, but eventually that will be too much effort and he’ll cross comfortably. Put a ¾” square of plywood on the floor and have him cross that. It’s great training for stepping onto bridges or hollow-sounding trailer floors.

Back Up
Say “Back” and gently pull back on your horse’s halter while pressing the handle of a crop in the middle of his chest until he steps back.

First Saddling
Introduce your youngster to saddling by showing him a saddle pad, letting him sniff it, rubbing him with it, and eventually placing it on and off his back from both sides. Assess his reaction to each step before going to the next. When he’s totally bored with the pad exercise, introduce the saddle the same way. You can hand-pull a cinch up until it touches him and then let it go a number of times, but never secure a cinch for the first time in an aisle.

Clipper Training
Trim the whiskers of a horse accustomed to clippers while your round-eyed “newbie” is nearby in his stall. He’ll see that the clipper monster didn’t eat his stall-mate and be much more receptive when it’s his turn. Turn the clippers on and off to acquaint him with the sound. Let him sniff the clippers when they are off. Rub his nose with them and expect him to startle the first few times because it tickles. Don’t rush the process. Click here for more on clipping.

Spray your other horses with a spray bottle first, then spray a newbie from a distance. Move closer as he accepts it. Never start near the face, but spray the lower legs and slowly work up. If he appears anxious, back off and let him think about it before resuming.

The key reasons aisle training works so well are:
1)    your horse feels secure in his stable;
2)    his buddies are typically indoors too and add to his sense of security;
3)    the aisle boundaries keep him close to you and straight;
4)    learning something new alleviates boredom; and
5)    best of all, you reinforce your horse/rider bond by spending time together.
November 2020 - Alert System
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 October 2020 01:56
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The Equine Disease Communication Center celebrates five years of improving horse health.

This year the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) is celebrating five years as an industry initiative, which continues to advocate for the use of technology in reporting equine diseases. Conceived after a major equine herpesvirus outbreak in 2011, involving 240 plus equine premises in 19 states and two Canadian providences, it was apparent a universal communication system for the equine industry was necessary to help prevent disease spread. 


Rapid spread of infectious disease can do irreparable harm to horse health and cripple the horse industry. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for consistent reliable medical information for people, the Equine Disease Communication Center serves as the source for providing the current facts about infectious disease in horses.


During the last five years, the EDCC has sent out more than 1,800 alerts for about 4,460 cases or outbreaks to more 8,400 email subscribers and 13,970 Facebook followers.  The website ( offers horse owners pertinent disease fact sheets and biosecurity information, reviewed by veterinarians on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Infectious Disease Committee.

The benefits of the EDCC communication system are evident from recent outbreaks of equine herpesvirus at racetracks where large numbers of horses comingle and frequently move to and from the tracks, farms and training centers. The prompt EDCC reports have allowed the affected track and local equine community to communicate the steps taken to stop the disease from spreading. Dr. Kathleen Anderson from Equine Veterinary Care at the Fair Hill training Center uses the EDCC to keep informed about current disease outbreaks across the country. “Having timely and reliable information allows unaffected racetracks and other horse facilities to assess risk before moving horses. Knowing that a track or farm has successfully contained the disease by quarantine helps surrounding horse activity to continue uninterrupted.”

Up until five years ago, the equine community had to rely on multiple sources to learn about infectious diseases in their area. That sometimes-caused confusion and misinformation. Because horses are transported more than any other animal, up to date information is necessary to know where there is a disease risk. “I am happy to celebrate five years of growth for the EDCC service and look forward to increasing of our efforts to educate all stakeholders about infectious disease” says Dr. Nathaniel White, director of the EDCC. 

The EDCC is entirely dependent on funding from owners, horse organizations and allied companies. “The need for this type of system has been a long time coming, and we are happy to be a part of the EDCC’s efforts to continue to protect and improve horse health by providing real-time and reliable information”, says, Dr. Katie Flynn, chair of the AAEP, Infectious Disease Committee.
Donations are needed annually to support the EDCC staff and activity. To donate go to the EDCC website support page

October 2020 - Farnam Leather New Total Care 2-in-1
Written by by Michelle Kopp
Thursday, 01 October 2020 16:34
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Care for show tack of any color.

by Michelle Kopp

Are you sitting on some high-end leather in your show saddle? Caring for everyday tack is easier than ever with all the leather care products available today.

But in the show ring, many equestrians choose to splurge on the elevated look of light blonde tack or darkly dyed leathers, and both of these pose some significant maintenance challenges, due to their striking color.

Light leathers are particularly problematic, because most leather cleaners and conditioners will darken light leathers, even after a single use. Black or other dyed leathers pose a similar challenge; leather care products can sometimes strip the dye from the leather, leaving uneven color. Some horse owners choose to skip cleaning and conditioning altogether to maintain the original color of their show tack for longer. But regular cleaning and conditioning is critical for keeping your tack soft, supple and looking amazing.

Dry leather is a serious safety concern because instead of giving slightly under pressure, the leather can crack or even break. Natural moisture in leather evaporates over time, especially when subjected to sunlight or dry conditions, leaving it more brittle. Regular conditioning replaces the moisture and oils to keep it pliable. Keeping leather clean and conditioned also maintains the appearance and extends the life of the tack. After all, what good is a beautiful color when the leather looks dull and dry?

The irony is that the lightest and darkest leathers may need to be cleaned more often, because they show dirt, dust and stains much more clearly.

Prevention is key to keeping them looking pristine. Immediately wiping off salty sweat and oily spills with a soft cloth helps avoid staining. It is also important to remove dust and dirt before they can scratch or get ground into the leather. Traditional bar saddle soaps and water will usually discolor light leather and may strip dyes, so a swipe with a dry, cloth is the often the first step toward cleaning tack.

Air Cleaning

A less conventional tool for cleaning delicate leather is air. Yes, air! A concentrated blast from an air compressor will gently but thoroughly remove debris and dirt particles, even getting into all the stitching, tooling and crevices that a cloth cannot reach. For quick cleaning on the go, you can also use a hair dryer on the cool setting or a can of compressed air duster, found at office supply stores for cleaning computers. A vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment may also be used in a pinch.

But there is just no substitute for regular deep cleaning and conditioning for long-term leather care, and this is where things get challenging. The wrong product choice will completely change the look of the tack if it darkens or strips the leather’s color. Worse yet, the wrong product can damage the integrity of the leather, making it weaker and potentially unsafe. It is important to look for a cleaner or conditioner that is labeled as “color safe,” such as Farnam® Leather New® Total Care 2-in-1. Color safe leather care products are specially formulated with ingredients chosen to help keep from altering the coloration of any leather. But they also provide the deep clean and conditioning so essential to maintaining moisture and keeping leather soft and supple.

Of course, the most important rule in picking the right leather care product for your light or dyed tack is to test and confirm before cleaning or conditioning.

Read the label instructions completely and use exactly as instructed in a hidden spot first to confirm that the product is truly colorfast for your leather. Make sure your test spot is someplace that you will be able to see subtle changes of color and inspect the treated area under a bright, natural light.

The more different products you use, however, the greater likelihood that one of the products will affect the color of your leather. To provide the best protection with the least risk of changing the color, look for a one-step or 2-in-1 cleaning and conditioning product. A product like Leather New® Total Care 2-in- 1 conditions every time it cleans, so with regular use there is no need for a separate conditioner. And that means mean more time in the saddle with less change in color.

For more information, visit

September 2020 - Grazing the Metabolic Horse
Written by by Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:01
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Grass isn’t what it used to be.

by Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD

Eating grass seems like the most natural thing in the world for a horse, but the grass in managed pastures bears little resemblance to what is available to a feral horse. The other part of the scenario that is very different, is that the feral horse will often travel an average of 20 miles a day — much more exercise than domesticated horses get.


Exercise is the best way to keep insulin and glucose in good control. Otherwise, tight restriction of sugar and starch intake to no more than 10% of the diet is needed.


Spring growths of grass at their peak almost invariably exceed that limit. They are extremely dangerous for any horse with problems in controlling insulin. Areas that experience considerable regrowth in the fall after high summer heat, may have a similar high sugar scenario at that time.

Also dangerous is regrowth after a period of drought. Stressed grasses in general, whether from drought, high heat, cold, or poor nutrient availability, can also have high levels of sugars particularly in the lower portions of the plant, which are likely to be consumed in over-grazed pastures.

Mature stands of grass which have gone to seed will have the lowest levels of sugar and starch, but even this fluctuates. In the warm months, sugars are considerably higher in late afternoon than early morning. However, the onset of cool nights (below 40oF) means even early-morning grazing is risky.

Limiting your horse’s time on pasture won’t necessarily lower the risk. Research has shown that horses that have their grazing time restricted will compensate by consuming up to three times as much as usual in the time they do spend on grass.

The bottom line is that allowing metabolic horses to graze is always Russian roulette. Turnout for exercise, but with a muzzle that completely prevents grazing, is the safest alternative. Because exercise activates muscle and liver glucose uptake by mechanisms that do not require insulin, allowing 15 to 20 minutes free grazing after moderate (trotting) to heavy exercise sessions is also safe.

For those who insist on pushing their luck, allowing grazing (hopefully with at least a partially sealed muzzle) on mature stands of grass that have already dropped their seed is the least risky.

Contrary to what you might think, dormant pastures in winter are not safe. The lower portions of these plants are extremely high in sugar. This is how the cells keep from freezing.

Depending on how severely affected they are, the weather in any given year, how much they move around on pasture, you may get away with grazing your metabolic horse for a year or two — but sooner or later it will catch up with them. It’s just not worth the risk.

About ECIR Group Inc.
Started in 1999, the ECIR Group is the largest field-trial database for PPID and EMS in the world and provides the latest research, diagnosis, and treatment information, in addition to dietary recommendations for horses with these conditions. Even universities do not and cannot compile and follow long term as many in-depth case histories of PPID/EMS  horses as the ECIR Group.
In 2013 the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation, was approved as a 501(c)3 public charity. Tax deductible contributions and grants support ongoing research, education, and awareness of Equine Cushing’s Disease/PPID and EMS.
THE MISSION of the ECIR Group Inc. is to improve the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders via a unique interface between basic research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal. The ECIR Group serves the scientific community, practicing clinicians, and owners by focusing on investigations most likely to quickly, immediately, and significantly benefit the welfare of the horse.

September 2020 - Calming Influences
Written by by Barbara H. Wright
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:51
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Equine Stress Control Therapy differs from training and other relaxation techniques.

by Barbara H. Wright

Horse training and all other equine relaxation techniques treat the body, not the horse’s brain. ESCT is the only equine psychotherapy and the only treatment method to calm horses using the brain as the primary treatment target. 


This is achieved with neural reprocessing. This makes all the difference in the world in achieving quick and lasting results in calming nervous, anxious and spooky horses. Body changes, through operant conditioning, can take many tries and a great deal of time to achieve results. However, combining operant conditioning with ESCT creates a new treatment modality, one that accelerates the learning process and envelopes the horse in a therapeutic safety net at the same time. Behavior modification usually takes as long as operant conditioning, in most cases. 


Again, with ESCT the behavior modification process is sped up. By combining ESCT with traditional training methods, both body and mind in the horse are trained to maximum benefit.

Massage, acupressure, acupuncture and other bodywork does not neurally reprocess the brain as does ESCT. They are wonderful methods for relaxing horses temporarily and assisting them through an issue. But, they do not change the fearful memory or remove the anxiety like ESCT, which is then reactivated when the treatment is over. By using such relaxation techniques with ESCT, behavior changes take place in a calm manner. The horse learns in a relaxed state and is later able to engage his awareness of new situations and objects in the same relaxed way.

You are encouraged to use ESCT along with the methods already working for you and to experiment with combining it with other treatments in ways that are particularly beneficial to each horse. Horses are eloquent and straightforward with their body language and you will have no problem understanding what he likes least and best. I emphasize that ESCT is a process and that means a work in progress.

What is Neural Reprocessing with ESCT?

Equine Stress Control Therapy (ESCT) is effective in horses due to neural reprocessing of the horse’s brain circuitry using the ability of consciousness itself to create change. This harkens back to quantum physics and the idea that our minds or a horse’s mind are not the only instruments that can understand information and/or meaning. Our bodies can also understand information and meaning at the physical cellular level. 

Meaning is both physical and mental in nature because meaning carries thought and information. In humans, both thought and information are carried. We assume horses do not think, so their meaning is carried physically, not mentally as thought as words. (I personally do not feel that horses can’t think as they can make choices and know better than me how to be a horse). 

Thought and information are precursors to the physical world, as worked out by the great physicist David J. Bohm and described in his book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. This explains why healing in animals in therapeutic settings without the language link is possible. Animals do not need to speak to understand the meaning of the deeper reality, the implicate order, out of which matter arises, forms into life and becomes sentient and happy to be alive and well. They dwell in the implicate order as we all do and benefit from the intelligence and information offered by the unseen as it transforms itself into molecular existence, then cellular existence, then in-body sensation of life experienced.

“The active use of information by electrons and, indeed all subatomic particles, indicates that the ability to respond to meaning is not only a characteristic of consciousness but of all matter,” said Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe.

So now, when we deal with neural reprocessing with ESCT, we have a better understanding of why this intelligence gathering and reorganizing can take place. The electrons that jump across the empty space between synapses on neural cells are taking that “leap of faith” because they are armed with information that you, as the healer or therapist, guide with your technique and intention to heal. You cannot take yourself out of the process, nor can the object of your treatment, be it horse or humans. In the experiment, at the basic level of “stuff” as we know it, the observer is the observed.

With ESCT, one deals with brain chemistry changes in the horse brought on by the gentle neural reprocessing created during therapy. The eye movement and tapping transmit electrical signals to the brain via the bony structures, fascia, muscles and optic nerve, depending on which approach is used. The knitting together continues after therapy during integration. Fear-based reactions are replaced with responses.
While horses don’t have the frontal cortex of humans, they still develop the fear cycle the same way humans do as we both share amygdala driven responses. We know that with spooky horses, the scan and evaluate capability is erased or greatly diminished and the automatic startle response is highly activated. ESCT creates a more benevolent body chemistry that makes it easier for the horse to calm itself, allowing his brain to lay down new neural pathways by making choices that encourage him to “stay and play” instead of “run away.”

Author Barbara K Wright is the founder of Harmony Horseworks, based in Cottonwood, AZ. For more information, visit

July 2020 - High Quality Hay Cubes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 05:24
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Six generations of California farming family leads to trusted hay supply for horses.

Here at Harlan Feed we take pride in producing, manufacturing, and supplying our customers with a consistent product from a trustworthy source. Providing a high-quality agricultural product is not only the focus of our business, it is our heritage that stems from the creation of our family farm.


Since 1852, The Harlan family has been farming in Yolo County. In 2005 we expanded our operation to meet consumer demand for a year-round, high quality hay product. As we have become more vested in the hay market, developing methods of directly marketing our hay products has become a natural complement to our business, which spurred the creation of Harlan Feed.


Harlan Feed is a premium hay cube feed supplier. Being the producers of the hay that we process has many advantages. We can directly control not only the field quality, but also the quality of product going into the mill. All hay is tested from the field for quality and adequate warehouse storage has been added to supply our customers with product year-round. As our business has seen steady successful growth, we again have expanded our production lines to enable us to meet customers’ needs, as well as to add new blended types of hay cubes.

We understand that our customers have many choices when selecting a feed source. We invite you to take a moment to review our operation and our products. On behalf of the Harlan Family, we thank you for allowing us to introduce ourselves. We look forward to working with you in the future.     

Please visit our website at Press release provided by Harlan Feed.

July 2020 - Famous For Farnam
Written by by Cynthia McFarland • photos: ©Shelley Paulson
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 04:27
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Photogenic Quarter Horse captures 2019 Farnam SuperMask® SuperModel title.

by Cynthia McFarland • photos: ©Shelley Paulson

When Stephenie Bjorkman decided to enter her horse’s photo in Farnam’s 2019 SuperMask® SuperModel contest, she had no idea how much the competition had grown.

“I follow Farnam online and saw the contest; I thought Maxwell would love this. I had a good picture of him and just thought I’d enter. I didn’t realize how competitive it was,” says Stephenie, an Arizona native and small business owner from the Scottsdale area.


“We were very pleased with the participation in the 2019 SuperMask® SuperModel Contest. We more than doubled the number of entries from last year. The word is spreading,” notes Anna Brunetti, Digital Marketing Manager for Farnam. “Over 2,000 horse owners submitted photos from all over the country. The entries included many different breeds, colors, sizes, and ages, each image as unique as the next. It’s great seeing all these horses so loved by their owners.”


Every entry was carefully studied by contest officials and after much deliberation, the top ten entries were identified, and those ten images were then submitted to a diverse panel of judges to determine the winner.

“The SuperMask® SuperModel contest is a great way for Farnam fans to showcase the outstanding care they give their horses all year long. As we all know, it is continuous, quality care that keeps horses happy and healthy for the long haul, and it showed in the caliber of entries we received. Many of the contenders put in valuable time and lots of elbow grease to ‘spit shine’ their horses for this contest,” notes Martha Lefebvre, Senior Marketing Manager for Farnam.

After Stephenie received notification that her horse was chosen as the winner, she was amazed at the abundance of prizes he’d won, an impressive fly control and grooming package worth $1,000 in Farnam products.

“I didn’t realize I was going to get so much,” she says. ‘”I’ve been in horses since I was six years old and have always used Farnam products. When I opened the prize box, I realized I used most of them already. But there were some products I’d never tried before, so that was cool.”

Of course, another big part of the win was that Maxwell would have a professional photo session so his image can be used in upcoming advertisements for Farnam’s ever-popular SuperMask® fly mask.

“I told Maxwell, ‘you’re going to be a model,’ and he is a horse who wants to have his photo taken. He has a look about him,” says Stephenie. “I’ve always loved spending time pampering and grooming him, so this is proof it’s worth it.”

“A well-cared for horse doesn’t happen overnight. We appreciate that it takes hard work, total commitment and a lot of love,” says Martha, adding that plans are in the works for the 2020 contest.

Horse-Centered Life

Stephenie has shared her life with horses ever since she was a young girl. Growing up, she team roped and was very involved in rodeo. Although reining and reined cow horse competition always appealed to her, she just didn’t have the right horse. At least, not until recently.

Four years old at the time, Electric Java, was a rich sorrel Quarter Horse gelding with a striking blaze and a kind eye. He was talented, sound and personable. Although he’d only been shown once or twice at that time, the horse had a big stop and was impressive. It didn’t take more than one ride for Stephenie to fall in love.

Electric Java goes by the barn name of “Maxwell” and the duo has been making their mark in the show world. “When you take him in the show pen, he wants you to be happy with him,” says Stephenie.

Stephenie rides as a non-pro, so their accomplishments have taken time and she gives all the credit to her “consistently amazing” horse. Maxwell has a laid-back personality and nothing seems to faze this handsome gelding. His personality endears him to everyone who meets him. An accomplished competitor, he’s definitely successful, but it’s more than that.
“He’s gentle with dogs, kids, and my minis; I have four miniature horses and he thinks he’s one of them,” laughs Stephenie. “If he could have a job of being groomed and photographed, that would be his job. He loves the attention. He’s a pet, but he’s not annoying, or at least not to me!”  

“It took a long time to find one like him,” she says happily. “I have owned enough horses to know he’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse and a dream come true!”
Article provided by Farnam. To enter this year’s SuperMask SuperModel contest, visit and submit your entry before the July 17, 2020 deadline. Only one entry allowed per person. Contest winner to be notified on or about August 21, 2020.

June 2020 - Bad Things In Good Hay
Written by CRM
Thursday, 28 May 2020 04:15
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That “weird thing,” hay steaming, cures a debilitating cough.

Lynda Goodfriend’s new horse, Brooke, was fine for the first month after arriving in the Los Angeles area from Oregon last fall. “Then all of a sudden she started coughing a little bit when she went to work,” says Lynda, a dressage enthusiast. “It got worse, with a lot of nasal discharge. Then, it got much worse and she really could not take a step without severe coughing.”

The mare’s vet first suspected a common cold and treated it as such. That didn’t help. Neither did the next step: steroids to suppress inflammation. Environmental allergies were the next cause considered, but even if that was identified as the culprit, the only cure -- moving Brooke to a different area - was not an option. Lynda works full-time and needs to be relatively close to her horse in order to have time to enjoy her.


“Ultimately, I decided I had to be the one to figure it out,” Lynda shares. Hay was the recurring theme in her research into allergies. The mare had been on orchard grass, as she had been in Oregon. A switch to timothy hay that appeared to be cleaner and less dusty reduced the mare’s cough a little, but not enough. “Then I read about the Haygain Hay Steamer, and It all made sense. And if nothing else, it sounded like the hay would taste better and be healthier.”


“She has gotten much better,” says Lynda of her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Indoctro. The previously severe coughing reduced to one or two sputters at the beginning of exercise. Those went away when Lynda added an extra step of wetting the shavings in Brooke’s stall to dampen the dust they produce.

Indeed, hay and shavings are the biggest contributors to poor air quality inside the barn. Even hay that looks good and has high quality nutrient content can be loaded with breathable irritants. These microscopic bits of dust, mold, bacteria and allergens can nestle deep in the lungs. The body’s inflammatory response kicks in and all the sudden an otherwise perfectly health horse is not breathing easy anymore.

What’s That Weird Thing?

Multiple studies show that over 80% of active sport horses have some degree of respiratory challenge, often without obvious symptoms. An occasional cough, a slower respiratory recovery rate and unexplained poor performance can be early indicators of a problem. As conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum are becoming better understood by veterinarians and owners, Haygain’s high temperature hay steaming is emerging as an effective method for treating, managing and preventing diseases of the upper and lower airway.

A full-time career as a college professor prevents Lynda from getting to the barn every day. Her groom has found it easy to incorporate daily steaming and Lynda handles it herself on Sundays. “It’s quite simple to do.”

Along with significantly helping her horse, hay steaming has raised some eyebrows from her fellow dressage enthusiasts at the barn. “They can be quite opinionated,” she laughs of barn friends who asked, “What is that weird thing you are doing?” But the pleasant scent of freshly steamed hay has made them fans and the mare’s response attests to its benefits.

Brooke’s vet is impressed with how the mare has improved on steamed hay. Lynda is happy and relieved. “It was so hard to see her suffering and miserable,” Lynda says of her “amazing” horse. And, based on how Brooke takes to her hay, “It must taste as good as it smells!”

Article provided by Haygain. For more information, visit

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