Winter Riding

Winter can be a brutal time of year when it comes to riding horses, but it’s not impossible. With careful planning and knowledge, you can ride safely and enjoyably throughout the winter months. Here are a few tips to help you and your horse make the most of your riding, be it for pleasure or getting fit for spring competitions.


The minus degree temperatures might not mean much until you factor the wind chill in. When riding in the winter that cold, raw wind can have negative effects on your horse’s lungs, so use good judgment when taking your horse outdoors, and try to stay out of the wind as much as possible.

You can layer your winter clothes, but keep in mind – you do have to get on the horse, and you don’t want to limit your movement so that you can’t ride effectively. Choose winter boots that have some kind of heel, and a smaller foot that will easily slide in and out of a stirrup.


There are varying opinions on this subject but if putting our tongues on cold metal is similar to what a horse feels when a cold bit is put inside its mouth, it’s easy to imagine how it feels. A heated tack room is ideal, but if you don’t have one, at least keep your bridle and saddle pad in a warm area. If your saddle pad is warm and sweaty when you remove it from the horse’s back after riding, put it somewhere where it can dry. If not allowed to dry properly, this can create the opportunity for bacteria to grow on the underside.

It is imperative that you find somewhere to ride where your horse has good footing. It goes without saying – avoid ice at all costs and stay off frozen gravel roads, where the ground can be like cement. Also, avoid riding in hard crusted snow which can cut your horse’s legs and make the bulbs of the heels very tender. The best place to ride is a snow-packed trail, where there is no hazard of slipping and there is some snow to minimize concussion.



There are pros and cons to both options.  If you are unable to avoid icy areas, shoes with borium or caulks might be a good option. It depends where and how much you are riding; your farrier’s advice will be your most valuable tool in this case. A major problem with shoes is that they allow the snow to pack in the cup of the hoof and your horse ends up with big balls of snow stuck to his hooves.

This will also happen with a horse that is barefoot, but it may not be as much of a problem. Some riders swear by “snow pads” – rubber pads that can be put on by your farrier and help force the snow out of the horse’s foot.


Whether you are riding for pleasure, or in preparation for spring competition, it is important to treat your horse like the special athlete he is. If you are only riding sporadically throughout the winter, go easy on your horse, as he won’t be in shape for miles of hard riding.

If you are conditioning your horse, start slow and progress accordingly. Factor in the activity level of your horse prior to the training program. How many months did he have off? Was he stabled or in a pasture? What kind of feeding program has he been on? How much hair does he have?

It only takes a bit of exertion to get a horse sweating when it’s really cold, and this is something you should try to avoid in the winter. A wet, long haired horse can take an awful long time to sufficiently dry, but you should not put him back outside in the winter elements until he is completely dry.


It’s always necessary to get a horse cooled down properly before turning him out, but in the cold months, it is absolutely imperative. If you have a warm barn, you can leave your horse inside until he’s dry but if you have a cold barn you may need to find other ways to help your horse cool down and dry in a timely manner. Grooming with a curry comb in a circular motion lifts the hair and allows it to dry a little quicker than if it is all laying flat.

A cattle blower/vacuum is a good tool, as you can “blow dry” your horse’s hair. The noise of the machine could be a limiting factor, but most horses eventually relax.

After grooming, put a woolen blanket or cooler on your horse to wick away the moisture. If your horse wears a blanket, the outdoor blanket must fit well. The belly straps must be snug to keep the blanket in place and to avoid the possibility of the horse getting a foot or leg caught. A hood provides more protection, keeping the neck covered as well. Using a blanket and hood will encourage shedding in the spring and the horse’s hair will stay slick and shiny during the winter months.


Body clipping is an option but only if you are prepared to keep your horse in a warm indoor environment until the weather warms up, unless you have a heavy-duty blanket with a hood for your horse to wear outdoors. Certainly, the cooling off period for a clipped horse will be much shorter than long-haired one.

If your horse will still be kept outside, it is not recommended to clip the fetlock/pastern hairs. Horses need that hair to protect their legs from the crusty snow and to keep their legs warm.


With some preparedness and consideration, winter riding can be most enjoyable, for yourself as well as your mount.

Parasite Burdens

by Clix Photography.

Photo by Clix Photography.

Article By Jenn Webster

When Dr. Ela Misuno, DVM, MVSc first came to Canada from Denmark to pursue her veterinary residency program, she was surprised to learn of the differences our country presented in terms of equine deworming strategies. By comparison, Denmark had been employing routine fecal egg examinations since the 1990s and dewormers were only sold to horse owners by veterinarians – after they delivered a fecal sample for testing. Only horses that were determined to be moderate and high shedders in respect of the level of parasitic eggs found in one gram of manure, were then given a dewormer.

“When I first came to Canada, it seemed as though no one was talking about fecal egg exams and pasture management,” says Dr. Misuno, now a technical veterinarian for Vetoquinol.  “And learning about parasites in vet school was not an exciting subject. I felt it was a highly important topic for horses in North America, so chose parasitology research project for my master’s studies.”

With internal worms developing increased resistance to deworming drugs, the war against equine parasites has changed. Rotational deworming is a thing of the past. Here Dr. Misuno guides us through new parasite considerations such as geographic location, herd management, manure control and targeted deworming for better practices to suit our needs as horse owners today.
All horses carry some amount of a parasite burden. The big questions are, are they carrying numbers high enough to cause disease? And are any of those burdens large strongyles, tapeworms or small strongyle encysted larvae? No amount of deworming will eliminate parasites completely however, the point of a parasite control program is to prevent horses from amassing such high parasite burdens that cause those animals to experience diarrhea, colic, weight loss or even death.

The parasitic cycle is such that to develop parasites, a horse will ingest larvae from their surroundings. Next the larvae develop and migrate through the body. They become egg laying adults in the gut and eggs are passed through the horse’s manure. The eggs hatch and larvae live in the horse’s environment – and the cycle starts all over again. The parasitic cycle is very dependent on weather conditions and the environment.

“A freeze / thaw cycle will kill larvae because they are sensitive,” states Dr. Misuno. “Except for one specific worm – parascaris (roundworms). In Canada the cycle is generally halted in the winter because the cold will stop larval development. It all depends on temperature and humidity. Larvae like moderate temperatures and high humidity, hence, they can develop quickly in the spring early summer and fall.

Eggs are much more hardy than larvae. Eggs can start to develop slowly in a cool, Canadian spring. Any temperatures above 30-degrees Celsius can kill both eggs and larvae however, the ambient temperature must also be dry – no humidity. That’s why the Canadian prairie provinces get a winter break from parasites, but British Columbia can have a problem all year long. Not all provinces are the same. Parasite burdens depend on susceptible horses and favorable environments.


Dr. Misuno states that every equine property needs to be assessed on an individual basis. The best way to create a tailored parasite control program is to first identify “herds” of horses in each property. A herd is a group of horses who are in close enough contact to transmit parasites to each other. This would include horses who are housed together on one pasture or pen. Each herd would then have a parasite control program based on the concentration of horses per acre, feeding practices, age and fecal shedding levels. Horses kept in individual stalls should be treated individually.

“Larvae develop on grass where there’s organic material and moisture. That’s why their development is a bit halted on dirt paddocks. Paddocks aren’t perfect but at least they have less parasitic transmission. In a pasture, the concentration of horses to land is crucial. That’s why there are certain things an owner can do for management practices to help stop parasitic transmission.”
These include cleaning up the areas in pastures where horses eat regularly. In the wild, horses eat grass and walk away. In a pasture situation, they walk around in a circle and come back the eating area.

“If you can only do one thing like clean around those high-traffic areas in your pastures, you would be making a great difference in parasite control,” Dr. Misuno says.

“Notice the trends of your pasture to help you make a difference. And why are we talking about this in the first place? Because of the accelerating problem of resistance to current deworming drugs. We have to start thinking about what else we can do to manage parasites. The simple fact is, if you provide your horses with an environment that has very few parasites in it, you help decrease the infection level in your animals..”

Additionally, not all horses on the same property are the same. Based on research we have to date, it seems that adult horses tend to follow the 80/20 rule in regards to their egg shedding levels. If you follow a fecal egg exam on horses over the years, you will see that only 20-30% of horses will be considered “high shedders.” Why does this happen? Because the immune system of every horse is different.

“We believe that horses of three years of age and throughout their adult life, are consistent in their shedding levels. Young horses need time to prime their immune systems against parasites. An old (geriatric) horse’s immune system changes as they get older – so older horses may change their shedding levels.”


How a horse ingests larvae.


There is actually a proper way to submit a fecal sample for testing. Two to three fecal balls are necessary. Also, “A sample must be fresh (‘steaming’) but that still means it can be kept in the fridge for two to three days to be considered ‘fresh.’” says Dr. Misuno.

This allows horse owners, or boarding facilities time to collect samples from numerous horses for a simultaneous submission – since it’s often difficult to collect samples from several horses on the same day.

Ziploc bags are the best way to store samples and each bag must be clearly labelled on the outside as to which horse it belongs, the age of horse and the time of last treatment with dewormer. Samples should never be frozen or left at room temperature. When samples are submitted to a veterinarian, horse owners should also make the vet aware of any current symptoms occurring in a particular horse. These include things like diarrhea, colic or weight loss.

Ideally, another fecal sample should be submitted to your veterinarian two weeks after deworming your horse. It is called a fecal egg count reduction test and helps you choose the most effective drug for your herd of horses and assure that no resistance is developing to it. Parasites of foals may be sensitive to different dewormers than parasites of adult horses. It is recommended to perform fecal egg reduction test on around 30% of moderate to high shedders, and repeat it at least once every three years.

“If we can kill all the adult parasites, there will be no new egg production,” explains Dr. Misuno. “In a moderate to high-shedding horse, a rechecked fecal example two weeks after deworming means there should be zero eggs – we killed 100% of all adult forms.

The best way to develop a parasite control program for your needs is to contact your local veterinarian and have them devise a plan for you. Fecal egg samples are crucial for success as is appropriate pasture management. Do not spread horse manure on your pastures. Cross-species grazing is a smart technique to keep parasite levels down – it’s better to rotate one year with cattle, if possible. Also remember that if your system is to typically deworm only in the spring and fall, you’re not protecting any high shedders on your property.

With only four drugs to rely on and drug resistance becoming a very real problem, Dr. Misuno points out the time for action is now.

“Parasites are a problem that affect 100% of horses. Not addressing this problem is no longer an option.”


Good Advice


Sensible counsel prevailed at this year’s Alberta Horse Conference, hosted each year by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta. In the April issue of Western Horse Review, we featured 44 notes of advice curated from those two days of lectures. Here are 16 more.

Billy Smith (speaking on transitions in the horse industry)

Billy Smith grew up in the western part of Texas and is the current executive director of the American Paint Horse Association (APHA). He spent eight years as a practicing journalist before accepting a teaching position at West Texas A&M. Smith later joined the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) where he served as executive director of information technology and various marketing roles for 13 years.

1. One of the chief challenges we have today in equine organizations is that information is instant. At board meetings we know significant information has gone out before the meeting even ends. We live in a world in which information moves instantly.

2. Over the last 75 years of developing equestrian organizations we’ve done a lot of things right in the marketing and grooming of our breeds. We’ve also fallen into some traps that have left us short-term gains but have seasoned the horse community with long-term challenges.

3. We ought to take a very hard look at what our cattle guys have done in their industry. We should invest in the genetic evaluation of our horses. There probably are some performance genetics out there that we can tie into in the quality of our animals. We’re exploring that in the Paint breed now. The reality is that there are genetics out there that can allow us to be much more predictable, with some of the genetic tools that are available to us.

4. No matter where you go in the horse community, the hue and cry is the same. How do we get more youth involved with horses?

Dirk Stroda.

Dirk Stroda.

Dirk Stroda (speaking on mental coaching in equine sports)

Dirk Stroda, from British Columbia, is the High Performance Mental Coach for Equine Canada. He currently coaches the Canadian Dressage, Para Dressage and the 3-Day Eventing teams on their way and at the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games. He has helped international athletes and national teams towards 11 Olympic Summer and Winters Games, many world championships, and PanAm Games and countless national championships.

5. I’ve coached athletes towards some major awards. And what I discovered was there was a blueprint I was able to see in highly successful people, vs. the blueprint of an average person. I thought, “there must be something there we can all learn to help our own businesses and careers, because these are principles. We can really get towards success more directly, with less struggle and be happier.”

6. There are seven principles to success: Context Vs. Content. I’m not giving you content, I’m giving you context. You create the content and I give you the framework.

7. When you change your emotions, everything changes. It’s that simple.

Dr. David Wilson.

Dr. David Wilson.

Dr. David Wilson, DVM (speaking on the laminitis vaccine)

Dr. David Wilson (Saskatchewan) is a 1980 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. After completing an internship at Iowa State University and residency in large animal surgery at the University of Florida, he was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 15 years. His research includes implant biomechanics, development of orthopedic disease, minimally invasive surgical techniques and equine laminitis.  

8. The fact that pretreatment with the antibiotic, virginiamycin will prevent the development of laminitis, implicates microbial involvement in the disease.

9. Australian researchers have recently confirmed an overgrowth of streptococcal species in the hindgut and ex vivo studies have confirmed that bathing the hoof tissue in Streptococcus bovis exotoxins results in dissolution of the basement membrane and separation of the hoof wall from the underlying sensitive tissues.

Dr. Camie Heleski.

Dr. Camie Heleski.

Dr. Camie Heleski (speaking on using learning theory in everyday life)

Dr. Camie Heleski is coordinator of the two-year Ag Tech Horse Management Program at Michigan State University. As well as recruiting for the program, she also teaches and advises. Dr. Heleski earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

10. Operant / instrumental learning is when an animal learns to operate on its environment.

11. Signal learning or classical conditioning is the example of Pavlov’s dogs. Ring a bell, the dogs would salivate and they would get food.

12. There are fundamental key factors; consistency, predictability, contingency, appropriateness of reinforcements, and precision of cues.

Jim Anderson.

Jim Anderson.

Jim Anderson (speaking on developing the versatile horse)

Jim Anderson’s lifelong involvement with horses began with him starting colts and taking clinics with legendary trainers Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. As a professional trainer, Jim has lifetime earnings in excess of $200,000 in several events. He has won the Canadian Supreme Reining Futurity, the Calgary Stampede’s Cowboy Up Challenge, and the Extreme Cowboy Association World Championships. Recently the Albertan won the Road to the Horse first ever Wild Card Champion, Fan Favorite and the Colt Starting World Championship.
13. In order to gain success with our horses we must prepare the horse to learn and this is a three-step process; 1) the horse wants to focus on you and learn; 2) the horse understands pressure and looks for the release and reward; and 3) the horse joins up.

14. I use outside riding a lot! Confidence to ride alone comes from the horse taking confidence from the rider, rather than another horse. My favorite thing is riding with friends outside but then I lope away from them. Then I’ll lope back towards them, but go straight past the group.

15. How long do I work with a horse per day? About10-20 minutes of groundwork if I’m going to also ride him. It depends on how the horse is being that day – he might need more, he might need less. I can feel the horse out, if he’s not being good on the ground he probably won’t be in the saddle. I need his mind in the state of “wanting to learn.” I do think you can overdo your groundwork and the horse can became grumpy.

16. I don’t numb my horse out with any tools or cues. I want to keep that “feel” in my horse. Confidence in the horse comes from understanding, rather than by numbing due to repetition.


Maintaining Condition with Less Forage


Photo by Ingrid Schulz

In times of drought, which can lead to a hay shortage, what can horse owners to do ensure their equine friends maintain their condition? The answer lies in the proper and complete digestion of forages: in order for a horse to completely digest forages, digestive health is key. Just like in humans, horses require pre- and pro-biotics to aid in better digestive health, but the need for good bacteria, as well as digestive enzymes, is magnified in horses because they are herbivores and need to break down the cellulose found in forages. To ensure horses get all the energy they can out of their feed, equine supplements with digestive enzymes and pre and probiotics are particularly helpful.

Biotic 8 is one such product – this is an equine pre- and pro-biotic digestive tract formula made by Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals. This orally-administered product is “used to change the bacterial flora in the large intestine and also to promote good digestion and intestinal health,” according to Omega Alpha. This is recommended to improve the digestive health of horses of all ages, including mares and foals.

Fusion TIFF File


Biotic 8 is a source of eight different probiotic species that not only support optimal digestive health, they are delivered in a way that ensure the bacteria are protected against stomach acid, and helps prevent bad bacteria from growing, which can result in chronic health issues.

The prebiotics found in this product aid in the growth of good bacteria in the intestinal system. Biotic 8 also uses three digestive enzymes to help break down and get all the energy you can from proteins, carbohydrates and cellulose; the last of which being extremely important as it increases the absorption of phytonutrients, which are found in plant material and key in a horse’s diet.

In addition to those features, here are some other ingredients and benefits in Biotic 8:

  • Flax seed: a source of fibre, Omega 3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants
  • Iodine: needed for the health of the thyroid gland, and a source of essential minerals
  • Spirulina (blue green algae) and kelp: provide minerals and micronutrients
  • Brewers yeast: a source of B vitamins
  • Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm: used to soothe stomach irritation
  • Biotic 8 also contains several natural minerals to help increase energy

Biotic 8 is good for keeping your horse’s health in good shape, particularly when traveling, during the winter or if more confined to a stall. It’s also recommended for restoring good bacteria if your horse has been prescribed antibiotics.

The recommended dosage is two scoops mixed with feed daily. Biotic 8 is available in 400g and 1Kg packages, as well as single-serving packs. The single-serving packs, a 20g serving of the product, come in containers of 30, which make them good for traveling and going to shows. The packaging keeps the product fresh and protects the bacteria against humidity, ensuring the probiotics remain viable.

Vaccination Strategy

Discuss vaccinations with your vet to devise the ultimate plan for your horse's needs.

Discuss vaccinations with your vet to devise the ultimate plan for your horse’s needs.

By Jenn Webster

If you’re a horse owner, it’s likely you’ve come up against the vaccination debate a time or two. For every individual equine, risk factors vary based on the animal’s age, exposure risk, value, general management and geographic location. There is no one single vaccination protocol for horses, however an informed vaccine strategy is one of the basic, most important things you can do to maintain your equine’s health. Your best bet is to discuss a protocol with your vet, however.

Here are a few basic considerations with specific key points regarding foals. 


Tetanus is caused by toxic-producing bacteria present in the intestinal tract of many animals and found in the soil where horses live. Spores enter the horse’s body through wounds or the umbilical cord of newborn foals. Tetanus is a constant threat to horses and humans and as such, horses should be vaccinated against annually.

Foals can receive their first tetanus vaccine as early as six months of age if the mare was vaccinated within 30 days of foaling, or three months of age if the mare was not vaccinated. Talk to your vet.


This disease is often referred to as “sleeping sickness” and caused by Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE) or Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE). These two strains of the disease have been seen throughout North America. A third version, Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis (VEE) has recently been seen in Mexico. These diseases are usually transmitted via mosquitoes and symptoms vary a great deal, however they result in the degeneration of the brain.

Foals can be vaccinated at six months of age if the mare was vaccinated within 30 days of foaling, or three months of age if the mare was not vaccinated. Talk to your vet and specifically ask if your foals need an encephalomyelitis booster.


This is one of the most common respiratory diseases in horses and the virus is highly contagious. Horses that travel or are exposed to high horses traffic should be vaccinated regularly against it. Flu viruses can result in nasal discharge, fever, coughing and loss of appetite. The disease can be expensive to treat and is usually very uncomfortable for your horse to endure. Often, this vaccine is given in combination with the rhinopneumonitis vaccine.

Foals can be vaccinated at six months of age if the mare was non-vaccinated.


It’s important to know that there are two very different disease viruses: equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4), that cause two different diseases, which are both known as rhinopneumonitis. Both cause respiratory tract problems, however EHV-1 can also cause abortion in pregnant mares, foal death and paralysis.

Since this vaccine is often given in a combination with the flu vaccine, as mentioned above, foals can be vaccinated at six months of age if the mare was non-vaccinated. Speak to your vet about flu/rhino boosters.


No matter where you live, strangles is a highly contagious disease you should hope your horse never contract. If your equine does contract this disease, consult with your veterinarian for a treatment protocol. If your horse has contracted strangles in the past, ask your veterinarian about vaccinating this animal specifically – some vets think the horse may receive enough immunity from being exposed to the disease in the first place. There are some side-effects associated with the vaccine, because it is a modified live virus. This means the vaccine cannot cause serious disease in the horse, also allowing it to provide longer lasting protection. As such, this class of vaccine is often not recommended for pregnant mares. The efficiency of this vaccine has been questioned by many vets because outbreaks can occur even in vaccinated herds. Administered intra-nasally (IN), this vaccine requires a booster administered three to four weeks after the initial shot has been given.

Can be given to foals starting at six to nine months.


Rabies is a scary disease that always results in death. Luckily, it is more prevalent in some areas than others – concern areas include southern Saskatchewan and the hotter southwestern states like Arizona and New Mexico. If you also choose to vaccinate your horses against rabies, your veterinarian may not want to administer a rabies vaccine on the same day as other vaccines as some serious health threats can occur.

Foals can be vaccinated against rabies at six, seven or 12 months of age if the mare was vaccinated. Speak with your vet.

West Nile Virus

There haven’t been a lot of Canadian cases in recent months, but West Nile Virus (WNV) should not be forgotten about. This disease is a mosquito- borne virus that can cause swelling and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord in horses, birds and humans. In Alberta, WNV is a federally reportable disease. This vaccine requires a booster in the initial sequence.

Foals from unvaccinated mares can be vaccinated for WNV for the first time at six months of age or older. The second vaccination should come three to four weeks later.

A Tale of Mistaken Identity

By Jenn Webster


As the date of April 9, 2013, approached, owners Janice and Jack Hepburn of Cochrane, Alberta, waited with anticipation. The days passed. April 10th became April 22nd and still, no foal for their beautiful palomino mare, Miss Chexy Whiz, better known as “Chexy”.

Rewind to 2012.

Chexy had been bred via artificial insemination to the 2004 sorrel stallion, Lokota Chic with the help of a professional veterinarian. Her last breeding date was recorded as May 2, 2012. The Hepburns were ecstatic that their mare was pregnant and upon their return from the vet clinic, they put Chexy out to pasture with a couple of their older geldings and a younger stud colt, yet to be gelded. All was well on their little acreage, with the prospect of a new foal to arrive in the spring.

Fast forward to 2013.

In preparation of Chexy’s foaling, she was brought into a stall each evening in April and Jack began the midnight hour checks on the mare. As the days continued to go by, the Hepburns couldn’t understand why the foal’s grand entry into the world was taking so long. They decided to borrow a FoAlert birth monitoring system from a friend, so Jack was no longer required to go out to the barn in the middle of the night.

“I called our vet and discussed our concerns about Chexy. He confirmed that the due date was April 9, 2013, but since she has never foaled before we had nothing to which we could compare this pregnancy. My mare was healthy and all seemed fine,” relayed Janice.

All the Hepburns could do was wait. Yet, as the middle of May approached they became increasingly concerned for the health of their mare and foal in utero.

Janice researched what she could about other broodmares in similar situations and discovered that it was possible for some mares to be pregnant longer than 11 months.

“We continued to bring her in at night and finally, the signs were becoming obvious that Chexy was nearing the end of her pregnancy. We could see her sides moving as the foal kicked and moved around. Chexy began waxing up.”

On May 21, 2013, the Hepburns left Chexy in the barn on a cold and rainy afternoon for two hours, so they could visit a friend. When they returned, they found a beautiful buckskin filly aside the mare, standing, dry and nursing. Both horses appeared healthy.

“We were so happy that things went well, especially because our records indicated that Chexy had been in foal for over a year!” said Janice.

“I plastered Facebook with baby pics and talked to the stallion owner and of course, we were all excited that everything had turned out fine.”

The players in this wacky tale of mistaken identity, Taylored Revolution (bay) stands in front of Miss Chexy Whiz.

The players in this wacky tale of mistaken identity, Taylored Revolution (bay) stands in front of Miss Chexy Whiz.

With a darling little buckskin filly running in their pasture alongside her dam, the Hepburns never gave the foal’s lineage another thought. Janice pulled hairs to submit for DNA testing, picked out a few name choices and filled out all the necessary paperwork to get her registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

“We were waiting for her papers. And waiting. And waiting,” chuckled Janice.

Finally she picked up the phone to contact the AQHA directly.

“I spoke to someone in the DNA department who told me that sire of this foal was not Lokota Chic but instead – Taylored Revolution,” Janice recalled.

The news hit her like a ton of bricks, for this was the registered name of the year-and-a-half-old stud colt which had been pastured with her pregnant mare, and long since been gelded. She tried to wrap her head around what the DNA agent was saying.

“Taylored Revolution was a gelding… I said to her, ‘AQHA has made a mistake. There is no way this could happen. My mare was pregnant when we brought her home…’”

Janice could hardly believe her ears. She kept repeating the word “impossible” to the agent.

To which the agent politely replied, “DNA does not lie, Ma’am.”

“After several minutes of listening to her, telling me that DNA does not lie, and yes, ‘Your stud at a year-and-a-half bred your mare…’ I had to believe her.”

The agent suggested that Janice look at the dates of when her stallion, Taylored Revolution, had been gelded. She gently reminded Janice that he had been in the same pasture as Chexy. And for further proof, the agent checked with a color specialist who said a sorrel (Lokota Chic) and a palomino (Chexy) could not produce a buckskin.

“I never knew that!” laughed Janice.

“She said a palomino and a bay (Taylored Revolution), however, could produce a buckskin. I never knew that either!”

"We have hopes that she will be a reining horse that I can show one day. She has the bloodlines." - Janice Hepburn

“We have hopes that she will be a reining horse that I can show one day. She has the bloodlines.” – Janice Hepburn

When Janice called her vet to explain what had happened, he immediately said, “Well that explains why the foaling dates were wrong!”

Janice and her veterinarian have determined that Chexy had been in foal when she came home from the clinic. However, they figure that she absorbed the pregnancy and came into her cycle again approximately 20 days later. On approximately June 15, 2012, Chexy was bred by the Hepburn’s then stallion, who was only one-and-half-years-old at the time.

“When we took Chexy into the vet to confirm the pregnancy as per our contract, she was indeed in foal. But not to Lokota Chic,” Janice said.

And since the breeding to Lokota Chic had been via artificial insemination, the AQHA required the resulting foal to be DNA-tested.

“There are so many lessons I have learned as a result of all this. Thank-goodness for DNA testing! Tough lesson to be learned, but what a lesson to remember!” she quipped.

“My sister-in-law asked me if I still liked our filly, now that we knew she was something different than what we expected. I told her, ‘I liked her yesterday when I thought I knew who her sire was and I like her today, now that I know who her sire really is.’

“It still amazes me that this happened. I just shake my head! We are so thrilled that we have a beautiful buckskin filly with great bloodlines. We couldn’t have planned this any better even if we tried to,” Janice expressed.

As a result, the Hepburns will have to redo the filly’s AQHA paperwork – since Janice was actually the owner of the stallion at the time of breeding. The date and type of breeding on the papers will have to be amended. Plus, the filly’s registered name will have to be changed.

“I have changed it to Taylored Made Whiz. I think it’s kind of cute and appropriate,” Janice smiled.

Taylored Revolution is now in training with Wendy Nelson and his owners are hopeful he will make it to the futurity show arena this year.

Taylored Revolution is now in training with Wendy Nelson and his owners are hopeful he will make it to the futurity show arena this year.

Turning Them Out

Stallion-and-mareUnder the right circumstances, pasture breeding can be an effective technique for breeding operations to maximize their foal crops, while minimizing costs. Yet, with the demand for higher control over mating’s, plus the high values of individual mares and stallions, pasture breeding is a technique that often results in an increased conception rate in a world already riddled with too many unwanted horses. Even so, pasture breeding is a convenient approach to producing foals and may prove beneficial big and small. Here are some of the considerations to keep in mind when considering pasture breeding for your operation.

In simple terms, pasture breeding involves placing a stallion in with a band of mares to encourage natural breeding behavior. Unlike artificial insemination or hand-breeding, there is little human interaction involved. Ideally, the horses are turned out in an area that is big enough to encourage grazing and without small,confined corners where individuals can become cornered. Fencing should be adequate, shelter should be provided and the animals must have appropriate access to feed and water. Additionally a stallion should not be able to contact other horses on the opposite side of the fence, as this can sometimes lead to territorial problems, unnecessary altercations or unwanted breeding’s. If foals remain at the sides of mares involved in pasture breeding, the area should also be secure and designed properly for foals. If mares will be giving birth in the same pasture, this is typically not an issue, however the area should be designed and maintained for safe foaling as well.

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The Disadvantages

Once a stallion is introduced into a harem of mares, the horses are seldom handled individually in the environment. Care must be taken prior to introducing the stallion with mares to ensure that all horses involved are infection-free. An infected mare can contaminate a stallion, who will in turn contaminate the other mares. Screening of reproductive infections should take place prior to introducing the animals together in a pasture.

Close observation and care of the animals can be difficult especially if the stallion becomes overprotective. Additionally, there is a potential for injury to both the mares and the stallion in a pasture situation. Nicks and scrapes are one thing but a stallion receiving a kick to the testicles from an unwilling mare is a very real possibility too. Plus, her dynamics and acceptance of the horses of one another are other factors that play key in pasture breeding.

It is possible for a stallion to reject a mare or certain mares. It is also possible for a stallion unaccustomed to “life on the range” due to a long history in the race or show arena, be unsure as his new position as a breeding animal. Some stallions take to a natural breeding program with no problem, while others may be confused by elements like creeks, uneven ground or even a mare in full heat. Inexperience stallions may require a paddock next to the mares (or a single mare) for a short while to help provide positive experiences and “education” – and ensure a stallion should be added to the group.

Safety is a primary concern with this breeding technique and one of the biggest limiting factors of pasture breeding. Some stallions may react violently when another animal or human approaches the herd, which makes the practice dangerous for a novice horse breeder. Additionally, the number of mares a pastured stallion can service is limited in comparison to breeding through other techniques such as artificial insemination – one of the biggest reasons it has become a less commonly used strategy in the equine industry.

The Advantages

The fact that very little hands-on involvement from humans can be done in a pasture environment can also be one of the biggest advantages of this process. Much less time consuming than teasing mares and preparing them for artificial insemination or hand-breeding, pasture breeding requires less from an owner and often results in a increased conception rate. (In a pasture situation, 20 to 40 mares per season is a reasonable number to expect a stallion to cover. Pasture breeding also typically garners high conception rates in healthy animals.)

Increased receptivity in shy mares and a relaxed attitude in mares that are opposed to restraints, stocks or other management-related stresses are additional benefits seen from pasture breeding. The practice may also be more economical for some breeders as there is a reduced need for stalls, breeding equipment and an experienced technician.

A Natural Situation Needs Forethought

Depending on the circumstances of a specific breeding farm, pasture breeding can be very beneficial. Careful consideration into all of the technique’s aspects should be weighed with insight from veterinarians and experienced breeders before entering into a pasture breeding plan. Although natural breeding situations can be very successful, they can also result in severe economic loss when they are executed carelessly.

100-Day Hydration Challenge


Signal-Health – the North American distributor of the Equiwinner™ non-invasive dermal patch – is on a quest. The company wants to alert owners and trainers that healthy horses will stay well hydrated on their own and to provide the solution to achieve such a healthy state.

Company owner, Barbara Socha, says, “We know people are skeptical to try something new when they already use something that seems to work and that they depend on. That’s why we’re launching the Equiwinner 100-Day Hydration Challenge – to convince them that it’s better to eliminate hydration problems rather than just treat the symptoms.”

In healthy horses, electrolytes work properly. Thirst is triggered as necessary, when there’s an increase of extracellular fluid sodium concentration in the body. This must work especially well in winter, when horses need to drink MORE because their forage has likely changed from moisture-rich pasture to dry hay. And, because horses aren’t as keen on cold water, they often drink LESS so it’s even more critical for their thirst mechanism to be triggered properly.

If a horse doesn’t drink enough to stay hydrated, it’s because this system has failed and the thirst signal has not been triggered. The Equiwinner patch is a natural electrolyte balancing system that ensures proper electrolyte activity. It supports healthy internal hydration and ensures the thirst signal is triggered as needed.

The recently released Farmers’ Almanac is predicting another nasty winter similar to last year’s Polar Vortex. A well-hydrated horse is better able to outlast a power failure and frozen water pipes. Proper hydration provides a safety net in times of trouble.

She invites anyone whose horse doesn’t drink enough or has a dry coat, mouth, manure or hooves to take the Challenge. A single treatment takes only 10 days yet can be effective for up to a full year. “If a horse owner or trainer takes the 100-Day Challenge and sees no benefit at the end of it, we’ll gladly refund the purchase price. There’s no risk and nothing to lose.”

“Years of scientific research have gone into developing the Equiwinner patch but the results are so quick and astounding, people just can’t believe it’s so simple! Horse owners and trainers really must try Equiwinner to see for themselves.”

For more information about the product or to register for the Equiwinner 100-Day Challenge, visit or phone toll-free: 1-877-378-4946.

Jonathan Field Giveaway

We seem to be contest-crazy lately, and this latest is a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


And, if you’re a fan of Jonathan Field (and who isn’t?) and Recovery EQ, this is one contest practically tailor-made for you.

Whether our horses are our teammates, our best friends, or part of the family, we take the necessary steps to make sure they are as happy and as healthy as possible. For many supplements such as RECOVERY EQ is an important part in making sure our horses perform to the best of their ability.

Designed to unlock your horse’s potential, Recovery EQ aims to provide healthy joints, circulation, and works to help fight tissue damage. This is all achieved through a unique blend of anti-oxidants from foods that have been proven to support cellular health such as green tea, and red grapes.


Seeing the effect Recovery EQ has had on his own horses, proven horseman and trainer Jonathan Field personally vouches for the life changing product. The supplement has allowed him to take his horses down the road and to be confident in the fact that they are healthy and sound enough to make the journey.


Now, we want to hear what Recovery EQ has done for you and your horse!  In the comment section below, please tell us about the positive effects this supplement has had on your animal in 200 words or less.

The best story will receive two VIP tickets to the Jonathan Field and Friends International Horsemanship Education Conference in September!


Total value for this prize is $520, so get to pennin’ about your success with this fab product.

Small print: The contest will run until August 20, 2014 and the winner will be announced the following day. Prize does not include transportation to the venue. Winner must agree to have their story published in a future issue of Western Horse Review.