North American Western Dressage Takes a Stand Against “Behind The Vertical”

North American Western Dressage (NAWD) is dedicated to protecting the welfare of all horses being ridden in competition. It is with that goal in mind that NAWD has taken a public stance against horses being ridden “behind the vertical” and enacted steps to protect horses against this style of riding in NAWD competitions. Continue reading

Extinction is Forever!

Sweet Pea here! Unfortunately today to share some super sad news with you :( There is a breed of horse that is actually on the verge of extinction…  The last genetically pure mare, descended from the first horses brought by the second voyage of Columbus in 1493, lives precariously on the Island of Abaco in the Bahamas.

Numki needs our help!

Nunki needs our help!

The 15th Century horses bred on the Cuban breeding farms of Columbus predated every horse brought to the Americas. Descendants of these resilient Spanish Barb horses were brought from Cuba to the island of Abaco in the Bahamas in the late 1800’s. This created a time capsule of pristine genes from the time of Columbus. Three separate DNA analyses have confirmed this.  The world is down to the last living descendant – the mare Nunki – who also carries one of the rarest color genes – Splash white.

If the genes of Nunki and her legacy are to live on, critical intervention (such as harvesting of eggs put to surrogates mares) is needed now, or the hope of saving and reestablishing the direct legacy of the last horses Columbus gave to the new world will be gone.

Arkwild, Inc, a 501 (c) charity in the United States, has led the efforts to keep this blood line alive since 1992. The Equus Survival Trust has supported Arkwild’s efforts since EST’s inception in 2004.  Yet getting the funding necessary for the reproductive assistance remains elusive.

It is horrible to think that this poor mare could be the end of a legacy. If you are interested in donating or would like more information, visit the Arkwild website.

EPM Continues On

It’s depressing, like seriously. But, did you know that EPM continues to march on and change the lives of equines and humans everywhere?

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine revealed that equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), caused by two different parasites, is widespread throughout the United States. The single-celled protozoal parasite Sarcocystis neurona which is shed in the feces of opossums is the most commonly recognized cause of this neurological disease in horses. However, this study found evidence that Neospora hughesi, the other EPM-causing parasite, first identified in California, is now being identified in horses across the United States. After obtaining a total of 3,123 diagnostic submissions from 49 states, UC Davis determined that horses from 42 states were affected by parasites causing EPM. Horses in 24 states tested positive for antibodies against Neospora hughesi and Sarcocystis neurona. Horses from 17 states tested positive for antibodies against Sarcocystis neurona only, while horses in one state tested positive for antibodies against Neospora hughesi only. As these results show a widespread distribution of the parasites causing EPM, horse owners and practitioners should test EPM-suspect horses for antibodies against both parasites.

Consider vaccinating your horses for EPM. Your horses will thank you!

Consider vaccinating your horses for EPM. Your horses will thank you!

“This study returned positive results from more states than we originally thought,” said UC Davis’ Dr. Nicola Pusterla, lead researcher on the study. “As the recognized geographic spread of Neospora hughesi infections expands, we are encouraging horse owners about the benefits of the advanced tests available at UC Davis to more accurately diagnose the disease. Overall, we had not been satisfied with the standard testing available, so we have spent the past decade developing and successfully validating an improved diagnostic tool for EPM.”

Awwwwwwkward….

I’ll say it. I love a good horse picture, even better, a horse sharing time with their fabulous human. But, sometimes, it doesn’t quite work out that well…  Horse Nation compiled some photos, that ummmmmm, didn’t quite make the cut.

They may make you uncomfortable, they may make you giggle, but let me tell you… you’ve GOT to check them out.  Don’t believe me? Here’s just ONE example:

Like... seriously?

Like… seriously?

You catch my drift… check it out here!

Giggle!!
Signing Out Now!
Sweet Pea

Banning Eventing? Something Stinks!

PETA is working hard to call for an end for eventing after two high profile horse deaths in European eventing competitions this past month. While I am all for the ethical treatment of horses (obviouslyyyyy), I’m thinking that this is taking it a bit too far!

In an announcement on the organization’s PETA Germany web site, the group wrote: “PETA urges all riders to be aware of the dangers that await them and their beloved animals. Every horse owner should hold) the welfare of his animals at heart, so we ask all eventers, to think carefully whether they want to risk the life of their own and their animals…In addition, we ask all spectators to refrain from visiting such events.”

And well, Ouch! I know that when my human asks me to jump a few logs in the woods she has my interests at heart. And lets face it, have you seen the look in the eyes of the high level eventers heading to the starting box? That, my friends, is pure bliss… certainly not terror.

What do you think? The United States Eventing Association is working hard to make the sport safer, but do you think it should be banned? Let me know your thoughts! I want to hear from your side of the fence!

Ta-Ta for Now!
Sweet Pea

Fake Tail Faux Pas

Fake tails are all the rage these days… but what do you think the judges think about them. While it’s been a while since my human and I made a venture into the Equitation rings however we do still dabble in the Low (LOW LOW) hunters Do you show Equitation or Hunters? Well here are what some judges had to say:

Fran Dotoli: A fake tail can make a horse look more attractive, which is a good feature in hunters and equitation. But like a nice riding coat, they should “fit”: i.e., not a huge hairpiece on a small pony.

Geoff Teall: In my way of thinking, which is very old fashioned, I would expect judges to watch either the horse in hunter classes, or the rider in equitation classes. I can think of many, many things that should be ahead of the size of the tail in determining the winner. In fact, I think everything should be considered in either a hunter or equitation class ahead of the size of the tail. This is a pet peeve of mine, and it is completely out of control in my opinion. Shame on all of us.

Katie Young: Typically, a horse with a poor or mediocre tail does look better with a fake tail. As a hunter, this improvement is a bit more valuable than on an equitation horse, but both hunters and equitation riders are being judged on the whole picture. The improvement in appearance is not equal from one horse to another, and some fake tails are unappealing and distracting. The tail, fake or not, mediocre or full, shouldn’t be more than a tie breaker in a performance class.

Betty Beran: That is a question of esthetics; a hunter may look more balanced with a better tail, as may an equitation horse. However, it is not required anywhere. How do you feel about your appearance? Would you like to make a great impression, or is it OK to sort of just show? If you are really good, you can learn to tie in a tail extension on your own without the braider or with the braider’s instruction, and then perhaps have the tail braided for your most important classes. Of course, that being said, nothing is worse than having the tail fall out.

Beverly Jovais: I think a fake tail finishes the picture of a well turned-out horse. A ratty tail does nothing to decorate the horse or add to my overall impression. It, in fact, distracts. That goes for hunters and equitation in my book.

Penny Carpenter: Being from the “old school,‟ I never expect to see a fake tail and don’t really take it into account either in the hunter division or the equitation division. My thought is that if used, it should look natural.

Debbie Sands: I do not expect a fake tail, and it does not figure in equitation at all.

What about you? Does your horse rock the fake tail? Or did you say no to the fake? 

This Just In…

There has been a confirmed case of EHV-1 at HITS Ocala… and well frankly, that stinks. The disease can be deadly and tends to move quickly. Lucky for the horse community, the horse show has handled things well, increasing their biosecurity measures and prohibiting transportation in and out of the horse show grounds.

Listen up folks!  I want to keep your horses healthy!

Listen up folks!
I want to keep your horses healthy!

While I love to be witty and be sarcastic… this situation is anything but. I brought in the experts today, talking to D. Paul Lunn, Lutz Goehring, and Paul S. Morley of Colorado State University. They let me know what we can all do to keep me and my equine friends safe from this terrifying disease.

How do I handle horses returning from events where they may have been exposed?

For horses that may have been exposed to the risk of infection, there are some steps to take to mitigate the risk at their home facility. Even if these horses are returning home from events at which no disease was reported, and even if these horses appear healthy, precautions are needed at this time as these horses could bring it home and spread it at their home farm – this is the classic way this disease spreads.

These horses should be isolated from any other horses when they return to their home facility. Isolation requires housing them away from other horses, using different equipment to feed, clean, and work with them that is used with any other horses, and rigorous hygiene procedures for horse handlers (hand hygiene, wearing separate clothes when contacting the horses, etc.).

These horses should have their temperature taken twice a day, as temperature is typically the first and most common sign of infection – horses with elevated temperatures (101.5 F or greater) should be swabbed by your veterinarian to find out whether they are shedding EHV-1. If a horse develops a fever and is found to be shedding EHV-1 then the level of risk to other horses on the premises increases significantly. Those affected farms should work closely with their veterinarian to manage that situation, if it develops.

We strongly advise owners to call their veterinarianss to discuss how long to keep the horses isolated at home, but even if they don’’t develop fevers this should be at least 14 -21 days.

What should I do if I have a potentially exposed horse on a farm?

It still makes sense to isolate this horse from other horses, even though it may have already been in contact with them, start isolation procedures to stop further exposure. It is very important to not mix horses from different groups to accomplish this. Try and isolate the suspect horse without moving other horses from one group to another – segregation of horse groups is the key, because this will help you reduce spread if an outbreak starts. Check temperatures of all horses on the farm twice daily (fever spikes can be missed if you check once daily). If fevers are detected, then test for EHV-1.

What anti-viral treatments can I use against EHM on a farm?

If EHM is present on a farm, then the risk to other horses at that farm is greatly increased. Stringent quarantine and biosecurity procedures must be implemented immediately. Treatment of horses with clinical neurological disease (EHM) is largely supportive – the use of anti-viral drugs is not known to be of value at this stage. Use of anti-inflammatory drugs is recommended;, we suggest flunixin meglumine.

For horses on the farm that develop fever, test EHV-1 positive, or have a high risk of exposure, anti-viral drugs may decrease the chance of developing EHM. Currently, the treatment of choice in a febrile EHV-1 infected horse to prevent the development of EHM is Valacyclovir (Valtrex™), given orally. The use of oral acyclovir is
unlikely to be of any value, as it is not absorbed from the GI tract.

The use of Valacyclovir in horses that have already developed signs of EHM is questionable at this time; in that circumstance, the use of intravenous Ganciclovir is preferable as it may have greater potency against the disease.

If you have any more questions about this infection, please contact your veterinarian for the most up- to-o date information