Praise Hemp

There is something exciting on the horizon of equine nutrition. As a relatively new food to western cultures, hemp is a tiny seed with gigantic nutritional benefits. So why choose hemp for your equine? Hemp seeds are a nutrient dense, all natural, low processed, easily digested form of healthy fats and exceptional source of plant-based protein. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are essential to tissue growth and help regulate many internal functions. EFA’s are by definition, essential because they can’t be produced by the body and must be obtained through diet for proper growth and body functioning.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) are the building blocks found in protein and hemp offers an excellent protein quality which rivals many grains, as well as soy and whey. By supplementing hemp oil, topping and protein fiber to our equine’s diet, you may notice an improvement in immune system, energy, digestion, skin and coat, mobility, muscle health and cardiovascular health.

Amanda Smith at the Calgary Wrangler Futurity. Photo by James Hudyma.

Western Horse Review recently got the chance to speak with cutter Amanda Smith of Wembley, AB. Smith has been using Praise Hemp products for the past year-and-a-half and loves the changes she has witnessed in one of her top competition geldings.

“I started giving it to my gelding that I show (Im Short And Smooth, aka ‘Fred’),” she explains. “Fred used to be spooky, nervous, lots of anxiety – he was wound pretty tight. I could tell a huge difference in Fred’s demeanor after two weeks of being on it. He was soft and quiet to be around and I could actually take him out on a trail ride and enjoy it! Plus he was super shiny. Once Fred had been on it for a couple of months and I noticed all the positives that came from it, I put the rest of our horses on it, along with the Praise Hemp Protein Fibre.”

Smith says that in her barn, her horses have all responded very well to the Praise Hemp products. The great thing for show horse owners is that horses will not test positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Praise Hemp’s Canadian hemp producers follow stringent guidelines under Health Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulations. It is tested multiple times in the field and has virtually 0% THC. The company can even provide certificates of analysis to verify.

Additionally, horses enjoy the taste of Praise Hemp products.

“We don’t have a single horse that won’t eat it, they all love it!” says Smith. “What I’ve noticed the most across the board with all the horses is their body condition – they’re shiny and full. With the show horses I find they have more stamina and recover faster, they also maintain their weight throughout the show season.”

Smith also uses Praise Hemp products with her younger and breeding stock, including her broodmares. “All of our horses; weanlings, yearlings, show horses, broodmares and our stallion get both the Oil and Protein Fibre. My favourite thing about the product is that ALL our horses benefit from it!”

Amanda Smith. Photo by James Hudyma.

 

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For more information about Praise Hemp products, check out www.hempcocanada.com

Diary of a Wildfire Summer

A view of the smoke and fires near Easygo Ranch. Credit: Elli Meinert

Summer is generally a season to which most Canadians look forward. But for Lac La Hache, BC, resident Elli Meinert, 2017 was a summer she was glad to bid goodbye. Little did she know that when the province of British Columbia was about to experience one of its worst wildfire seasons in history, Meinert’s home was about to become a highly sought after evacuation zone.

“I remember that on July 6, I got my first Facebook message,” said Meinert. “It read, ‘Can I bring my herd over?’” she relayed. In addition to her own animals, Meinert ended up with 8 extra horses in her care that afternoon. Meinert owns and operates Easygo Ranch, an equine facility bordering a lake, in northern BC. As the events of the summer unfolded, the raging wildfires quickly sparked in several locations in close proximity to the ranch.

“During those early days in July we were watching the fire and there was smoke on the other side of the barn. We had had a fire in that direction 3-4 weeks before. We watched them hit it with retardant and it was gone. But this time, it was different,” she said.

“On July 7, I was by myself and all of a sudden there were water bombers flying right over the house. I phoned my hubby and asked him to come home. On Friday, I hauled horses for someone who was put on Order. And then while I was trying to load horses for someone else – we were put on Alert. I shoved the last horse I could fit in the trailer and went back home. Then the news started coming in. The 108 (a big settlement of houses nearby) were also put on Order.”

To be on “Alert” means officials in the province have advised residents to be ready, in case they must leave. You can leave but you can’t come back. Highways were only open to whatever evacuation route officials deemed safe to travel at the time.

To be on “Evacuation Order” means you have to leave.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

“At that point, we weren’t just trying to look after our horses or other peoples’ horses – we were making beds for people. My Step-Dad, my neighbours – where else did they have to go? You can’t go to a hotel with two Jack Russells and cats and stuff,” Meinert stated. “So we got really efficient with the dog shuffle (because not all the animals got along). We took in a few extra people and more animals.”

On July 7, Meinert admits they all thought about leaving because the closest fire was too close for comfort. “I had trailers lined up, but soon we realized we couldn’t leave because they closed the highway.”

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

After that, another 15 horses arrived so Easygo’s tally came in at 35. “Some of the owners were stuck on the other side of road blocks. There was an orphan from the SPCA that came. We were looking after them all, full time,” she said.

The human residents of Easygo Ranch were also stuck on a 6-kms travel radius during those days. They were permitted to move around in the radius, but no farther.

“We could go to our gas station corner store, which was good but they quickly ran out of supplies. We were all put on rations: one loaf of bread and one jug of milk per household. It was stupid.

“After chores each day we would all meet up in front of the barn to decide who was cooking dinner that night. One night we had just finished and the power went out. I just wanted a shower… We spent this whole time prepping in case the fire did come to the ranch. We tried to make the place as fireproof as we could. But that night it was distressing. We’d look to the south west and you could see a plume of smoke from the 100 Mile fire. To the north west there was another huge fire from the Chilcotin. And in the north east there was the fire from Williams Lake. We were all just standing there and discussing what we were going to do and then all this smoke started drifting in from across the lake.”

Credit: Elli Meinert

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“I really wasn’t going to leave unless we could take all the horses,” she explained. “We could only take 12 horses and there were clearly more than that.”

Thankfully Easygo Ranch already had great fire suppression systems in place before summer started. These included a dry well located close tot the barn, the lake that could be pumped out of, and an indoor arena with amazing water hoses and generators for power.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

 

 

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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However there were other things Meinert learned about in the face of a crisis that also helped ride out the storm.

“Val Detweiller used to work in forestry and she contacted me. She was a huge help with her information. She gave me ideas like placing a tarp over the manure pile, to prevent it from catching a spark. We also set up panels in the outdoor arena in case something happened to the barn and I would have to get all the horses outside. The good thing was, Easygo has lots of grass and open areas with sand breaks and driveways in between things. In the worst case scenario, we may have had a massive grass fire but I still think we could have saved our animals. That was my number one priority. Of course, I was also concerned for our own safety – but let the buildings burn if they must.”

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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The group at Easygo Ranch knew that if a fire did come to their doorstep, they would not be able to force it back. Luckily, during those days in July, the fires gave them quite a scare but didn’t progress to the point of destruction for the ranch.

Yet, little did the group at Easygo realize – this would only be the first wave of fires to threaten the area that summer.

“After the first scare, many horses did go home. We only had one group of horses who were owned by people who had all their fences burned down, etc. So they couldn’t return as quickly as the rest.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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“But then, the second wave of fire evacuations began. We went down to nine horses and then I personally helped evacuate another boarding facility – again. All of a sudden we were back up to 22 horses…”

In the second round, Meinert was able to plan far enough ahead so the second round of horses came in with their own feed. This was a lifesaver for Easygo Ranch, because in the first bout of fires – feed went fast and there was no time, nor opportunity to replenish supplies.

“I fed everyone in the first round but in the second wave, we knew we were going to run out of feed. This time it was like, ‘If you can, please bring your own feed!’”

As July turned to August and finally September, a bit of relief was sighed when officials finally announced the fire situation was under control. Everyone who was housed at Easygo Ranch during the summer fared well.

 

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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Still, it’s not a situation Meinert ever wants to endure again. “Honestly, I hope to never see something like that in my lifetime again. It never needs to happen again,” she states.

A nighttime view of one of the fires that threatened Easygo Ranch during the summer of 2017. CREDIT: Elli Meinert

 

 

Mane Event Red Deer, Post Coverage

 

BY ESTEBAN ADROGUE

That’s a wrap, folks! Western Horse Review Magazine had the pleasure of attending the 11th annual Mane Event Expo held at Westerner Park, in Red Deer from April 21-23, 2017. This year’s event hosted amazing clinicians and speakers who presented a great variety of disciplines and topics; from barrel racing and ranch roping, to dressage and jumping, to driving the horse and tack fitting. Plus, the well anticipated “Trainers Challenge”. But what would be an expo without the shopping? The Trade Show, as expected, didn’t disappoint. With an array of options for everyone, from jewelry made from your horse’s hair, to saddles and farrier equipment.


Highlights of the expo included presentations by Van Hargis and Peter Gray (over 35 years of experience in the show arena and Bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games in Eventing, respectively) who filled both arenas with thrilled spectators. There was also the “Live Like Ty” booth, which commemorated the loss of champion and an exceptional individual – both on and off the arena – Ty Pozzobon. Looking to raise awareness, protect and support the health and well-being of rodeo competitors and hosted by the Ty Pozzobon Foundation, a presentation on Liberty Training was conducted by Kalley Krickeberg. During this time, Krickeberg taught the audience how to build awareness and educate the horse’s instincts, in addition to presenting other interesting topics.

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The always anticipated Trainers Challenge consists of a three-day event and this year’s competitors Glenn Stewart, Martin Black, and Shamus Haws went head-to-head, putting their skills and knowledge to the test. Each trainer relayed their methods to the audience while handling unbroke horses provided by Ace of Clubs Quarter Horses. In a progression that usually takes between 30-60 days, these amazing trainers managed to achieve it in just as little as 96hrs! After Sunday’s final session, Martin Black was named the champion of the 2017 Trainers Challenge.


On Sunday afternoon, Western Horse Review had a wonderful visit from the Calgary Stampede Royalty. Queen Meagan Peters, Princess Brittany Lloyd, and Princess Lizzie Ryman helped us draw names for our give-aways for the expo and delivered Western Horse Review goodie bags, plus had pictures taken with the public.

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After the conclusion of the Trainers Challenge, people gathered their belongings and shopping articles, loaded their horses into trailers and this year’s Red Deer, AB, Mane Event came to a closing. We hope to see y’all at the next Mane Event, which will be held in London, Ontario from May 12-14, 2017!

Mane Event 2017

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MANE EVENT

It’s Spring and that means the Mane Event, Red Deer, AB, is just around the corner!

Elevate your riding skills and learn how to communicate better with your horse at the upcoming Mane Event, Equine Education and Trade Fair April 21 – 23, 2017 at Westerner Park in Red Deer, AB. Horse owners and enthusiasts are in for a treat at this very diversified horse expo.  The Mane Event is very proud of their commitment to providing the very best equine related education, shopping and entertainment all at one location.


The mini-clinics this year include some of the best equine educators and clinicians available in a variety of disciplines including; Peter Gray – Jumping; Shannon Dueck – Dressage; Craig Johnson – Reining; Sharon and Storme Camarillo – Barrel Racing; Van Hargis – Ranch Horsemanship; Garn Walker – Cowboy Dressage; Kalley Krickeberg – Horsemanship; Nate Bowers – Driving; and Nicole Tolle – Gaited Horsemanship.

Attendees will also be enlightened by a variety of presenters in the lecture area on saddle fitting, nutrition, equine health, and much more.


The Trainers Challenge is set to be a scorcher this year with Martin Black, Glenn Stewart  and Shamus Haws working with horses from the Ace of Clubs Quarter Horse. The goal of the Mane Event is to have everyone learn including the trainers. In addition, Glenn, Martin and Shamus will each be presenting an arena session on Saturday, and participants are being accepted for their arena sessions.

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Organizers of The Mane Event have not forgotten the upcoming young horse owners and riders – 4H, Pony Clubs and riding clubs! This year they will have a special Youth Lecture Area which will feature some of the clinicians doing special presentations for youth.

Also, be sure not to miss the Friday night Youth Pro-Am sponsored by “Back On Track”. This is an event that teams youth riders and their horses up with Mane Event trainers to ride a timed obstacle course. When the concept was first introduced at last year’s Red Deer Mane Event, the demand to bring it back was very high so here it is again! There is no cost to ride in this competition and prize packages will be offered by Back On Track. Applications are available on the Mane Event website and it is limited to youth riders only.

Youth writers are additionally invited to enter the Youth Essay Contest to win a beautiful, registered AQHA filly generously donated by the Rocking Heart Ranch. The deadline for entries is April 10th – please visit the website for more information.


What would a horse expo be without shopping?!? In the trade show, you will see a diverse group of vendors from across the USA and Canada with only equine products and services, western clothing, equine décor and home furnishings for horse owners and enthusiasts.

After you have shopped and learned from some of the very best in the equine world today, it’s time to relax and enjoy some great entertainment in the “Equine Experience.” This year’s lineup includes the Calgary Stampede Showriders; trick riding by Morgan Stewart; the Millarville Musical Ride, a demonstration by Glenn Stewart, and one by Kalley Krickeberg plus more to come. A schedule for the Equine Experience will be posted closer to the event.

This is a weekend jam-packed with equine education, fun, knowledge and shopping.  Tickets are available in advance (which will save you some money!) or lots at the door – plan now for 3-days of nothing but horses, horses, horses!
Come and experience what people call “The Mane Event”
Visit www.maneeventexpo.com for more information.

BAR T5 Agra Services Inc. – More Than Trailers

Approximately 35 years ago, Greg Thomson and his family moved to the beautiful foothills of Alberta. After leaving a career in petroleum marketing and an enjoyable six year sojourn as a Councillor for the M.D. of Foothills, Greg decided to pursue his entrepreneurial instincts. A love of rural life, animals and business resulted in the formation of Bar T5 Agra Services Inc. A company focused on rural lifestyle and fulfilling the needs of the growing population of like-minded families pursuing their rural lifestyle dreams.

Fast forward 25 years and you have a unique business anchored by a feed, tack and most things rural store, plus a full service repair shop and large trailer dealership. The home location (situated north of Millarville, AB, and southwest of Calgary, AB,) is based on 10 expansive acres and a 6,500 square foot building. As well, Bar T5 has three strategically-located trailer dealerships throughout western Canada to ensure their top of the line products and services can be offered to a broad base of consumers.

The trailer dealership carries horse trailers, livestock trailers, cargo, flatdeck and dump trailers. Plus, the living quarter trailer selection in stock is second to none as well! At any one point in time, Bar T5 Trailers has in excess of 500 trailers to choose from.

From the very beginning, the Bar T5 Agra Services Inc. focus has been simple – source and form long-term relationships with highly reputable and innovative suppliers. From a trailer perspective, the company serves and markets the products of eight trailer manufacturers – each one complimenting the other, to ensure the trailer needs of all customers can be met. Additionally, their highly qualified and trained staff take pride in ensuring their customers needs relating to trailer repairs, service and warranty are met and exceeded. Whether you are looking for a knowledgeable trailer service representative or your needs have changed regarding the trailer you currently have, you can rely on Bar T5 Trailers to get you on the road and keep you there!

Their staff, comprised of the friendly faces you’ll find in the store, service department, and sales and admin offices all live the rural and equine-lifestyle. As such, the authenticity of their experience solidifies the knowledge that comes only from being immersed in the rural and equestrian way of life. Bar T5 Agra Services staff are experts in everything from animal nutrition, to fencing, to trailer safety. And their success is the product of building life-long relationships with their customers.

Life is great in the Foothills. After all this time, Greg Thomson and the Bar T5 Agra Services team continue to see the beauty of the area and recognize the vast importance of preserving the agricultural way of life. Bar T5 believes in building its community with support of numerous local events in reined cow horse, team roping, barrel racing and rodeo. Their sponsorship support has also extended to the Chinook Team Penning Association, 4-H groups and the Calgary Stampede.


Bar T5 Agra Services looks forward to sharing their knowledge and experience with customers as they interact with Bar T5 today, and for many years to come!

Stay tuned for Bar T5 Agra Services BIG EVENT announcement next week, but save the date now! March 10-12, 2017!

Contact Bar T5 today! Toll-Free: (800) 331-6977 – Local: (403) 931-2212.

www.bart5trailers.com
Or stop by for yourself! Bar T5 Trailers located at: Hwy 22 South at 274th Avenue, North of Millarville, AB, Southwest of Calgary, AB.

6th Annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo

 

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan – Prairieland Park organizers and the Saskatchewan Equine Expo committee would like to thank their partners The Saskatchewan Horse Federation and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, along with all the sponsors, the media and volunteers who helped to make the 6th Annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo such an amazing success.
The 6th Annual Equine Expo achieved a record attendance with 11,725 people taking in the 4 day show.

The Saskatchewan Equine Expo showcases many elements of the Equine industry through demonstrations, clinics, competitions, awards and an industry trade show.
The Saskatchewan Equine Expo would like to thank their three incredible trainers for the entertaining performances, and congratulate Kade Mills from Sundre, Alberta on being named the winner of the NAERIC Trainer Challenge. Both Glenn Stewart and Dale Clearwater captivated the audience demonstrating their expertise in Natural Horsemanship demonstrations and a Working Cow Horse clinic this year.

Congratulations also to the winner of the Ultimate Cow Horse Competition, Geoff Hoar, Red Deer Country, Alberta. The Battle of the Breeds was a highlight for the audience watching 6 breeds compete in 4 events to determine the overall winner – Team Quarter Horse was awarded 1st place, followed by Team Arabian in 2nd place and Team Andalusian in 3rd place.
“The weather definitely cooperated with us this year and we are so pleased that the 6th Equine Expo again attracted such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd”, commented Lori Cates, Agriculture Manager.

Hay For Equines Affected by Fort Mac Fires

hay-bales-aef 

(Calgary, AB) December 7, 2016 – The Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) is sending 1,500 bales of hay to Fort McMurray, AB, on December 16, 2016 to help support Fort McMurray equine owners through the winter. The hay will help alleviate some of the feed costs over the winter months, but also replace hay that was lost in the fires. The price of hay is slightly higher than in previous years and those in Fort McMurray typically pay an additional cost per hay bale for landed transportation.

The equine community from Alberta, across Canada, the USA and as far as the UK banded together from the moment the wild fires broke out to help the ‘horses.’ Karina Webb, President of the Tower Road Equine Association, recently praised the equine community.

“From myself as President of the Tower Road Equine Association, we are so grateful for the Equine Communities’ support. It does make a real difference. Thanks to the AEF for all your work, it is truly appreciated. The support really touches all of our hearts and is absolutely inspiring,” says Webb.

Les Oakes, AEF President says, “The AEF received many donations for ‘the equines’ since the fires of May 2016; $33,000 in Greenhawk gift cards was distributed in September so owners could replace items lost in the fires; and most recently, a donation from the Spruce Meadows Leg Up Foundation is going toward supporting this purchase of hay. As of December, 1, 2016, $53,000 in funds has been accounted for.”

Horse and equine owners share a special bond; it’s the passion for the animal, and the relationship they have with them. Whether they are for pleasure, personal, farm or ranch work, horses have a way of bringing those who own them closer together. This is what happened during the fires.

Oakes will be travelling to Fort McMurray to be on site when the hay arrives and throughout two days of distribution. He is looking forward to meeting many equine owners that the AEF kept in touch with since day one of the evacuation and who the AEF continues to hear from today.

After receiving notice of ‘hay for horses this Christmas,’ Velda Peach, Fort McMurray resident says, “I just want to thank you all at AEF for all this wonderful hay. I had $2,400 worth of hay that I lost in my barn. Thank you, thank you! Words can’t express enough of what you have done.”

Fort McMurray equine owners who registered with the AEF during the disaster will be able to pick up hay bales on Saturday, December 17th and Sunday, December 18th. Storage space and volunteers have been provided free of charge at the Clearwater Horse Club (a location that lost almost everything in the fires), Hertz Equipment Rental has donated a forklift, and AEF President, Les Oakes will also be on site to assist. It is humbling to see so many individuals and businesses continue to support and assist those in need several months after the horrible wild fires.

For more information, please visit: www.albertaequestrian.com

Winter Riding

portrait-of-horse-and-snowman
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.

 

winter-girl-horseback-riding
1. STAY WARM – YOU AND YOUR HORSE
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.

bitweb

2. WARM THE BIT AND OTHER EQUIPMENT
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.

3. FOOTING
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.

 

cleaning-snow

4. BAREFOOT OR SHOES?
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.

 

5. FITTING UP FOR COMPETITION OR RIDING FOR PLEASURE
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.

use-coolers

6. COOLING AND DRYING YOUR HORSE
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.

 

7. CLIPPING
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.

close-up-of-bay-horse

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.
Pasture-pic-(Deworming-)
GEOGRAPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
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.

Deworming-potential-lead-#3

MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
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-horse-ingests-larvae

How a horse ingests larvae.

 

FECAL EGG COUNTS – A HOW-TO
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.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE
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.”

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