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Guelph, ON Feb, 18, 2020 - Bits and breathing. Both words start with the letter B and most might assume their relationship ends there. But Dr. David Mellor, a leading animal welfare expert at Massey University in New Zealand, believes there is more to the story, especially when it comes to our horses. His research, shared in a talk at the University of Guelph in autumn 2017, looks at how bit use can impact equine breathing during exercise and what this means for equine welfare.   Interested in breathing, exercise and performance in horses? Check out Equine Guelph’s upcoming 2-week course on Racehorse Respiratory Health.   One of the first topics that Mellor covered during his talk was bit-induced pain (pain that comes from bit use). Mellor introduced the topic by asking audience members to take a pen, press it lengthwise against their teeth, increase the pressure, and consider the amount of pain this caused. He then asked audience members to repeat the steps, with the pen pressed against their lower gums instead. Audience members agreed that this location produced more pain.   Try this experiment for yourself. Mellor compared the sensation felt on the lower gums to the sensation felt by your horse when a bit is in their mouth. He explained that the sensation can range from mild agitation to severe pain, depending on factors like bit type and rein use.   Mellor then extended this topic to links between bit use and breathing in horses. He explained that many horses will open their mouths to deal with bit-induced pain. Unfortunately, when a horse opens his mouth, especially during intense exercise, it becomes harder for them to breathe.   This is because horses breathe only with their noses, and not their mouths. In fact, a horse's mouth actually needs to be closed for optimal breathing. When the mouth is closed, there is a negative pressure that the horse creates and maintains through swallowing. This pressure keeps the soft palate from blocking the nasopharynx. If something, like bit-induced pain, causes the mouth to open, then the pressure is disrupted and the soft palate can block the pharynx. This obstruction can cause the horse to experience breathlessness, which can impact the horse's athletic performance.   More details on the links between bit use and breathlessness in horses can be found in Mellor's recently published literature review.   In another talk at the University of Guelph, Mellor presented on his research looking at the big picture of animal welfare. One of the core concepts of animal welfare is the Five Freedoms, which cover the five main aspects of animal welfare (e.g. freedom from hunger or thirst). Dr. Mellor explained that the Five Freedoms give an animal reasonable survival, by looking after their nutrition, environment, and health. However, he believes that it's time to move towards giving animals a  "Life Worth Living". This is based on the concept that for animals to have "lives worth living" not only necessary to minimize their negative experiences, but also provide the animals with opportunities to have positive experiences. For instance, giving them experiences to feel engaged, positive, and providing time for bonding and play behaviours. For more on Dr. Mellor's fascinating work, check out his talk on the topic.   Did you know that horses are obligate nose-breathers? Have you thought about how this impacts their respiratory system health and their performance? Topics like these will be covered in Equine Guelph’s upcoming Racehorse Respiratory Health course, available exclusively to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) licence holders. Register here.   by Nicole Weidner, for Equine Guelph University  

Guelph, ON Feb. 13, 2020 - In 2015, Lara Genik and Dr. C. Meghan McMurtry from the University of Guelph’s Department of Psychology conducted a survey at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, looking into the prevalence and impact of less studied painful incidents among children while handling and riding horses. Some of the results may surprise you. “There hasn’t been much work conducted about less serious incidents”, says Genik. “When I looked at the literature that did exist, I found that it has primarily focused on serious injuries that led to hospitalization. For example – we don’t know much about how often less serious incidents are occurring, when or where they are occurring, and what the impact is on youth and their parents.” Genik’s research survey set out to understand common painful incidents associated with riding and to gain insight that could potentially lead to intervention through safety and educational programming.   With the help of Equine Guelph and their EquiMania! youth display, data was collected at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. 120 children aged 8-18 (who participated in riding at least once per week) and a parent completed brief questionnaires about their riding habits including helmet use, supervision, painful incidents that have occurred, and their impact.   A startling result indicated that 75% of the children surveyed had experienced at least one type of painful incident more than once, yet only 7.3% said they had modified their behavior (e.g., keeping fingers away from the horse’s mouth after having been bitten). “We were quite surprised that these incidents had little impact on children’s behavior around horses,” says Genik. “This implies that the incidents may continue to occur even if they could be prevented – and we know from recent work that many incidents around horses may actually be preventable.”    Responses from parents and children were quite consistent and revealed regular and consistent helmet use and supervision were more commonly endorsed when riding horses compared to handling them on the ground. There were just a few responses that differed; specifically, parents believed children’s helmet use occurred more frequently when handling horses on the ground compared to their children’s reports. The same was true for the answers regarding supervision when working around horses from the ground.   'Once Bit, Twice Shy' not the case in equine research study   When incidents did occur, it was mainly parents and coaches who addressed them. Therefore, a proactive suggestion would be for both coaches and parents to have current first aid training and knowledge about concussions. The study also identified many benefits associated with riding, which Genik identified with, having been involved with horses since a young age herself. “It is a fantastic sport and there has been many positive changes in regards to safety around horses over recent years,” says Genik, “but we still need to do more. Specifically, we think there would be value in learning more about how and what is happening when these incidents occur – this could allow us to more specifically inform, develop and implement targeted interventions to relevant stakeholders.”   Genik hopes future research into the relatively unknown prevalence of minor incidents around horses will help parents and riding coaches supervise and educate children in proactive ways, as well as work through incidents and talk about prevention strategies. The development of problem-solving skills was one of the benefits of riding, according to survey participants. This is a great opportunity for parents to apply these problem-solving skills with children.   Future studies collaborating with stables could provide a better understanding of incidents to tailor and update safety programming. Detailed incident reporting and real-time reporting are just a few of the items cited for potential research that could contribute to education influencing behavioural change.   Read the full research paper at ScienceDirect.com   Equine Guelph has been happy to support this important research. With the same goals for increasing safety through education, Equine Guelph offers online courses benefiting anyone who handles horses. Visit TheHorsePortal.ca for the next offering of Horse Behaviour & Safety. This short course is available for both Adults and Youth (age 13 – 17) and our students say, “I recommend this course for everyone involved with horses to gain a better understanding of their behaviour and how we can make safety our top priority.”   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Guelph, ON Jan, 29, 2020 - A cheque for $10,000 was presented to Equine Guelph by The Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) on December 18, 2019 as a donation toward the redevelopment of Equine Guelph's JobTrack service. JobTrack is a service used to link employers with people dedicated to working in the equine industry.   "The donation falls under our organization's mandate to encourage an awareness of agriculture and to promote improvements in the quality of life of persons living in an agricultural community," says Grand River Raceway director of operations Jamie Martin.   Equine Guelph's JobTrack has been providing a free, invaluable service to the horse racing industry linking employers and job seekers for over 15 years, thanks to the original funding from The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA).   It was HBPA president, Sue Leslie, who was first to pledge her support to the proposal for an update.   "I'm excited that the Jobtrack program is being modernized, says Leslie,"The Board of the HBPA recognizes the importance of this site to our members who rely on it. We are pleased to assist Equine Guelph financially, to keep the program going, make much needed updates and improve the interface for a user friendly and interactive experience. We look forward to the final result."   Both The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario and Ontario Racing have agreed to provide seed funding for the redevelopment of JobTrack.   "The employment aspects of horse racing cannot be underestimated; many involved in the industry do so for the love of the horse and the dedication to their craft," says Executive Director, Ontario Racing, Katherine Curry. "Ontario Racing is proud to support Equine Guelph and its JobTrack program endeavors."   “JobTrack has been promoting careers in the racing industry since the inception of Equine Guelph," says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker. "The service has helped pair up employers with grooms, trainers, barn managers, breeding farm employees and has reached upwards of 40,000 visitors in a calendar year. We are certainly appreciative of the generous funding which will help us give JobTrack an upgrade!"   by Jackie Bellamy-Zion, for Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Jan, 23, 2020 - Congratulations to the Ontario Racing Industry Tuition Award Winners and December draw winners! What a great way to start the New Year with new learning.    Thanks to two very generous families, honouring the memory of their loved ones with strong passion for the racing industry, future ambassadors of the sport may apply for tuition into two Equine Guelph 12-week online courses.    The Roger L'Heureux Memorial Equine Award for 2019 has been presented to Holly De Way and the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award has been presented to Natalie Elliott.                   Holly, who started grooming Standardbreds in 2014, is keen to put the tuition courses towards achieving her diploma in Equine Studies at Equine Guelph. She has already completed six out of the ten courses required! “There is always something to challenge me about these animals and this industry and that just keeps me motivated to learn more,” says De Way.                               Natalie has been involved in the sport of Standardbred racing for over 15 years starting as a groom and working her way up to owner, breeder and now trainer. “I look forward to advancing my equine knowledge with this tuition award and to sharing that knowledge with future youth and new participants in the racing sector,” says Elliott.   Equine Guelph thanks the L’Heureux family, David L’Heureux and Crystal Fountains Inc., for establishing this memorial award in loving memory of Standardbred driver, trainer and groom Roger L’Heureux. Roger was the son of Ephraim L'Heureux, a Standardbred driver, who won the first Maple Leaf Trot at Woodbine in 1950.    Equine Guelph also thanks the Stocks family for setting up the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award in memory of their beloved brother, son and uncle, Mr. Stuart Stocks. Stuart Stocks was born in Sheffield England in 1957. He struggled throughout his life with a multitude of medical issues, but had a dry sense of humour, zest for life and love for horses.    Since 2016, there have been eight recipients of these awards set up for Ontario Racing industry members.  See Equine Guelph Tuition Awards  for entry details on how to apply for these opportunities in 2020.    December Horse Portal course raffle winners: Kari Lukianow of Woodstock, ON and Kat Irvine of Blackfoot, AB, learned that there is great value in being an Equine Guelph monthly E-News subscriber. Not only do you stay up to date on all the Equine Guelph course offerings, special events, horse health and research features but in the month of December a free HorsePortal.ca online course was drawn for both one current subscriber and one new one. Thanks for joining us Kat! The monthly E-News is free; sign up today at EquineGuelph.ca      Hear what another Equine Guelph course winner has to say. Rina Reddy earned her course through her dedication as an EquiMania! volunteer and what she has learned is having an impact back in her homeland of India! Learn more about EquiMania! and its volunteer rewards program.      by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Guelph, ON Nov 14, 2019 - On November 17, the 4th annual Equine Industry Symposium will be hosted by the University of Guelph.   Join attendees from different areas of the horse industry to discuss the theme of "change" and what the word means for the equine community.   "With a consistently growing industry, keeping pace with change is crucial for everyone," says Katrina Merkies, event organizer. "As part of an inclusive community we can all work toward improving the welfare of the horse."   The Symposium will be held in Rozanski Hall, Room 101 on the University of Guelph campus. The event will run from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m.   Registeration is open for this free event, and is available online.   The symposium agenda features three international speakers: Dr. Sandra Olsen from the University of Kansas will discuss the evolution of our relationship with horses. As a renowned scientist and zooarcheologist, Dr. Olsen has extensively researched horse domestication and the development of horse-human relationships. Lisa Ashton, a clinician from the United Kingdom, will present an evidence-based approach to riding and training. Ashton advocates to "be the change your horse needs".  Ashton runs two educational equestrian businesses, EquiSci and Equicoach.life, which are both dedicated to helping horses by helping people. Debbie Busby is a BHS certified Stage 4 coach and registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist in high demand by a variety of people from riders to PhD students to veterinarians. Busby is often called on to provide expert witness opinion in legal disputes involving horse welfare and specializes in human behaviour change for animals.   The symposium will also hold a panel discussion featuring industry entrepreneurs Anthony MacDonald (Thestable.ca), Warren Byrne (The Horse Agency), Linda Hauck (Tapestry Equine Products), and Pam Coburn (Ontario Equestrian) presenting how they have embraced change in the industry.   "Experiences and approaches shared by the panel members are intended to spark open conversation with attendees," says Katrina Merkies. "Their innovative and forward-thinking approaches will showcase how we can expand and improve our equine industry."   Akaash Maharaj, former CEO of Equine Canada, is returning for a fourth time as the symposium facilitator.   This event is organized by students in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management -Equine Management program. Updates leading up to the symposium will be shared on Facebook: "Equine Industry Symposium 2019".   Register: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/equine-industry-symposium-2019-tickets-72742947113   From Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON - Horses are highly adapted performance animals, but one unexplained adaptation "a delicate gastrointestinal tract" is their Achilles heel.   As in humans, horses' stomachs contain acid to digest and break down their food and mucus to protect the stomach wall against the acid. But for a vaguely inexplicable reason, horses lack mucus in the upper half of their stomach. This causes all sorts of issues, including gastric ulcers.   In fact, gastrointestinal diseases are the leading cause of death in horses.   “If acid splashes up, or their stomach is empty, it can really damage a horse’s stomach,” explains Jennifer MacNicol, a PhD candidate in the Department of Animal Biosciences. “But what if we can keep food in there longer and potentially buffer that splashing, or use nutraceuticals to reduce acid production or increase mucus production?”   Her research seeks to “determine what makes a horse’s gastrointestinal tract tick,” and to investigate the effectiveness of nutraceuticals proposed by industry.   Jennifer, who was awarded a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, is also working to create an in vitro protocol to test nutraceuticals before animal trials.   An in vitro protocol simulates digestion in different compartments of a stomach. She hopes this will be a less invasive way to conduct equine research.    “I think as scientists we have an obligation that if we use live animals, we need to make sure they are the most directed and valuable studies,” Jennifer says. “I want to develop strong and robust in vitro methods so that we can do a lot of things before taking it into the live animal.”   More information on Jennifer’s research is available at uoguelph.ca/oac/horses-stomach   by Stephanie Craig, for Equine Guelph  

Guelph - ON, Oct, 10, 2019 Horse Racing Alberta (HRA) has partnered with Equine Guelph to offer their license holders online industry training on The Horse Portal. The partnership offers trainers, grooms, owners, jockeys, drivers and other current license holders significant savings on short online courses that aim to give their racehorses a competitive edge.   "Through The Horse Portal, horse caregivers can access common sense, practical training that can be used on a daily basis," says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "Equine Guelph is pleased to partner with Horse Racing Alberta, bringing racehorse owners and caregivers together to learn about optimizing equine health and performance as a community. A healthy horse is a top performer."   Equine Guelph has been a pioneer and global leader in online education for equine professionals since its inception in 2003. The newest initiative, The Horse Portal, was launched in 2017 and became a national success, partnering with ten English-speaking provincial equestrian federations across Canada. It is a partnership platform for the equine community, available to everyone in the equine industry.   The Horse Portal has quickly grown to include youth organizations, international safety associations, and horse racing partners including Ontario Racing and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission in Ontario. Each partner has its own customized webpage on the portal. Horse Racing Alberta licence holders will be able to access their page and 15% course discount at www.TheHorsePortal.ca/HRA   Upcoming online short courses include:   Sickness Prevention in Horses: Oct 21 - Nov 1 Gut Health & Colic Prevention: Nov 11 - 29 Horse Behaviour & Safety: Nov 25 - Dec 6   "HRA is pleased to partner with Equine Guelph to provide an online training program for the horse racing industry in Alberta," says Kent Verlik, CEO of Horse Racing Alberta. "These courses will be invaluable to assist HRA license holders in achieving top performance with their racehorses."   Horse Racing Alberta's mission is to lead and enable a healthy, vibrant and progressive racing industry to function in the province of Alberta with high integrity and self-regulated responsibility.   Horse Racing Alberta and Equine Guelph look forward to working with all three sectors of the Alberta racing community, Quarter horse, Standardbred and Thoroughbreds to further strengthen the unity of the racing community and help licence holders deliver the best possible care for their horses.   Register today at TheHorsePortal.ca/HRA! No prior online learning experience required. Flexible schedule.     From Equine Guelph University  

Guelph, ON Aug. 28, 2019 - Racehorses are a big investment and we are not talking just financial. It takes time, effort and exceptional care to bring these star athletes up to peak performance. Give your groom outstanding tools to provide the best possible care to your horses. Equine Guelph offers two tuition awards for 12-week online university-accredited courses set up by families passionate about the racing industry and the welfare of the athletes within it. Applications for the 2020 tuition awards are now open.   Applications are being accepted for the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award and the Roger L"Heureux Memorial Equine Award. Equine Guelph thanks both families for their support to educate future industry professionals to be champions for the health and welfare of horses. Each tuition award winner will receive two online 12-week, university-accredited courses through Equine Guelph valued at $549 each (Certificates are available in Equine Science, Equine Welfare and Equine Business – six courses complete the certificate).   "Knowledge acquired in Equine Guelph online courses has opened doors for me in the industry," says, Standardbred breeder, and past recipient of both awards, Cameron Lago. "The racing industry is a tight knit community and since taking the courses, I have seen a few big name trainers pushing towards hiring Equine Guelph students and have motivated a few friends to look into them."   "Equine Guelph has forged wonderful partnerships with Ontario Racing over the past few years, launching short courses on The Horse Portal as identified as priorities by the racing industry," says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker. "It is fantastic to see future ambassadors in the racing industry keen to carry on with the 12-week courses to further advance their scientific knowledge. A groom who can pick up on potential problems before they become health and performance issues is clearly an asset to their employer."   The candidates for Equine Guelph's 2020 tuition awards are required to write a 250 word letter demonstrating their love of horses and commitment to the industry and submit along with a reference letter. Entries will be accepted until Dec, 1, 2019. For submission details visit: https://www.equineguelph.ca/education/tuition_awards.php   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph  

June 18th, 2019 (Guelph, ON): Only a month away until the 15th Annual International Equitation Science Conference is here!   Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to ‘Bring Science to the Stable’ by attending lectures, seminars, and hands-on workshops from world renowned equine scientists. It is all coming to the University of Guelph August 19 - 21, 2019.   Register Now at TheHorsePortal!   Keynote speakers include Dr. Sandra Olsen, Dr. Camie Heleski, Dr. Nic de Brauwere, and Dr. Andrew McLean. Their topics range from the historical horse-human relationship, the development of equitation science, how human behavior effects equine welfare, and learning theory across different species. A special presentation on using current research to manage both wild and domestic horses will be shared by Clever Hans speaker Dr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya.   There will be pre-conference workshops that include looking at equine behaviours in ethograms with Dr. Marc Pierard and how to communicate scientific information to equestrian communities with Christina Wilkens and Kate Fenner. The pre-conference also includes a large animal emergency rescue training session so you can be prepared for anything!     The third day of the conference is a practical day which includes demonstrations and seminars that feature some of the latest technologies in equitation science.   Learn more about these amazing speakers and topics at the ISES 2019 Blog; become part of the community that’s working to continue to improve equine welfare. Some of the blog posts include:   Give your Riding Precision with “Vert” Working Towards a Better Understanding of Equine Welfare at the Farm Level Revolutionizing Equestrian Sport: A Dashboard for Horses? If the Unspeakable Happens, Are You Ready? The Myths of Saddle Fitting – Helping Horses one Saddle at a Time! Equine Behaviour Expert Dr. Andrew McLean Can we all agree on what horses do? An ethology workshop with Dr. Marc Pierard A short evolutionary note of Equitation Science to be presented by Dr. Camie Heleski Digging Deeper into the Life of Equine Archaeologist Sandra Olsen Clever Hans speaker Jonaki Bhattacharyya: What feelings and images does the thought of “wild horses” evoke in you About the International Society for Equitation Science The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. www.equitationscience.com   For more information contact: ISES Honorary President Janne Winther-Christensen presidents@equitationscience.com   Local Conference Organizer: Katrina Merkies, PhD Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph (519) 824-4120 x54707 ISES2019@uoguelph.ca

Abortions in horses continues to be a very frustrating problem for breeders and veterinarians. So much time and effort is put into producing quality horses and it is heartbreaking when it does not work out; even more so when you don’t know why. “About 40% of abortions in horses that are submitted to the lab come back with no diagnosis, and an unknown cause; this means we are missing a significant number of potentially infectious and potentially preventable abortions in horses” shares Dr. Tracey Chenier at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).   Dr. Chenier has been a researcher in equine reproduction at the OVC for almost 18 years, investigating equine infertility, reproductive efficiency, and embryo freezing. Her next project will investigate the exposure rate or the seroprevalence of a parasite, Neospora caninum, and its potential link to equine abortions.   Neospora caninum is the single most important cause of abortions in cattle in Ontario and has a significant impact across North America. Previous studies have looked at the seroprevalence of this parasite in Europe and the United States but no studies have been conducted in Canada. Recently, this parasite was found in an aborted equine fetus in Israel. This discovery sparked the interest of researchers in Israel who then reached out to Dr. Chenier to conduct a collaborative study. This amazing team of researchers includes Dr. David Pearl and Dr. Robert Foster from the OVC who have special expertise in disease surveillance and Neospora caninum in cattle, as well as Dr. Amir Steinman and his lab in Israel who are very familiar with the detection of this parasite.   This collaborative study will be the first of its kind in horses in Canada, and will be focusing on Ontario broodmares. Research begins this September taking place over the course of three years thanks to industry partners and OMAFRA. “It’s not possible without both industry funding and industry involvement,” says Dr. Chenier. The first step is to collect blood samples from broodmares on randomly selected breeding farms across Ontario. The owners will be involved in a comprehensive survey, so researchers can have a full understanding of the horses’ history, farm management practices, and risk factors like dogs and coyotes on or near the farm (known to increase risk levels in cattle). Next, the researchers will be looking at aborted fetuses for the presence of the Neospora caninum parasite.   This study will provide insight on the unknowns surrounding the seroprevalence of the Neospora caninum parasite in Ontario broodmares, risk factors for exposure, and if it plays a role in equine abortions. It’s important to address these unknowns in order to take precautions and work towards minimizing unknown diagnoses.   Planning on breeding your mare? Dr. Chenier has great tips and videos in Equine Guelph's Mare & Foal Care Tool sponsored by PFERA to make sure you are prepared!   https://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/Mare-&-Foal-Care.php   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Melissa McGilloway

Guelph, ON June 12, 2019 - Equine Guelph’s education partner, Merck Animal Health, recently launched its national Equine Biosurveillance Pilot Program to fill an unmet need in Canada. Although there are some initiatives at provincial levels, there was currently no nationwide equine biosurveillance program in the country, until now!   In event of an outbreak of common equine respiratory diseases, this program is designed to support equine clinics with the diagnosis. It will also enable collection of information at the national level on the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory pathogens. This information can then be communicated to the horse industry to promote a better knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving nature and dynamics of those pathogens.   ‘’At Merck Animal Health, we are both very excited and proud about this new and unique initiative which will not only benefit participating clinics but the whole equine industry,” says Dr. Serge Denis DVM, Equine Consultant for Merck Animal Health. “By sharing the information collected through the program, we hope to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory diseases by the various stakeholders be it veterinarians, horse owners, barn managers or trainers.’’   In the initial phase, Merck’s Equine Biosurveillance Program will be offered to a limited number of equine clinics. Future plans include rolling it out to a significant number of practitioners.   Pathogens tested through the program:   Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is available for: Equine Herpesvirus types 1 & 4, Equine Influenza Virus, Equine Rhinitis A and B Viruses, and Streptococcus equi subsp. equi.   Participating clinics are provided with a diagnostic kit containing all necessary material to collect and submit samples to the Diagnostic Service of the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire in St-Hyacinthe, University of Montreal.   There is no cost for participating clinics. All costs of the program are covered by Merck Animal Health.Veterinarians interested in this initiative can contact their local Merck representative.   ‘’This innovative program is a powerful addition to our unique value offering and reflects Merck Animal Health’s commitment to support the Canadian equine industry through science-based products and services,’’ says Douglas Wong, Product Manager, Farm Animal Business Unit with Merck Animal Health.   Equine Guelph supports this national program as it aims to benefit overall welfare of horses in Canada. "The possibilities for developing best vaccination strategies through information gathered in this biosurveillance program are quite exciting,” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "We encourage all horse owners to learn more about the importance of vaccinating by visiting our vaccination resource at EquineGuelph.ca/vaccination tool."  Should you have any questions or concerns about the health of your horse, please speak to your equine veterinarian.     by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

The early bird deadline for the 2019 International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference is fast approaching! The 2019 ISES conference is being held in Guelph, Ontario, Canada from August 19-21. With the theme “Bringing Science to the Stable” the conference will focus on mankind’s history with horses, what we have learned about horse-human interactions, and how we can continue to improve our relationships with these amazing animals.   Due to a delay in getting abstract acceptances back to authors, the early bird deadline has been extended. Register by June 10 to receive a discount in your registration fees.   All information about the conference is available on the Equitation Science website andThe Horse Portal. Check for updates on the program, registration information, hotel accommodations, transportation options, and local attractions.   Follow the ISES2019 blog for detailed information on speakers, exhibitors, demos and more.   The theme for this year’s conference is “Bringing Science to the Stable”, highlighting our past relationship with horses and examining where we are headed.   Join our line-up of thought-provoking speakers as we journey through history and into the present, supporting and challenging the way we interact with horses through scientific research. Dr. Sandra Olsen (Curator-in-Charge, Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, University of Kansas) will trace how our relationship with horses began. Dr. Camie Heleski (Senior Lecturer, University of Kentucky) will describe the field of Equitation Science and what we have learned about horse-human relationships. Dr. Nic de Brauwere (Head of Welfare, Rehabilitation and Education, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, UK) will discuss how human behaviour change into the future can improve equine welfare. Dr. Andrew McLean (Equine Science International, Australia) will present similarities and differences in the application of learning theory across species. The ever-popular Clever Hans talk will be hosted on Monday evening with guest speakerDr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya, Ethnoecologist and Senior Researcher with Firelight Group. Dr. Bhattacharyya has spent time in the interior of British Columbia, observing the wild horses and their impact on the land and interactions with the indigenous peoples. She will highlight how modern research can fit into other ways of knowing and approaches to managing both wild and domestic horses.   The third day of the conference is a practical day with demonstrations on the application of learning theory and science from world-renowned experts: Shawna Karrasch (Terra Nova) – positive reinforcement training Nightwatch – Smart halter for monitoring horse biometrics Drs. Katrina Merkies and Cordy DuBois – equine welfare assessment Saddlefit4Life – saddle fitting for improved performance Visualise – technical sportswear to improve rider position IPOS – rein tension sensors equla vert – technical sensor to monitor horse head position Registered delegates can also attend two free pre-conference workshops on Sunday, August 18. Cristina Wilkins and Kate Fenner (Australia) will offer advice on how to communicate scientific information to equestrian communities. Dr. Marc Pierard(Belgium) will lead a discussion in describing equine behaviours for the equine ethogram. For an extra fee, delegates can register for a short course on large animal rescue training. Space in this hands-on workshop is limited, so be sure to register soon!   Early bird conference registration pricing is available until June 10. After that date regular conference fees apply. Check the ISES website https://equitationscience.com/conferences/ or the Horse Portal https://thehorseportal.ca/ISES-2019/ to learn more. Check back regularly to the Horse Portal for updates, sneak peaks, and local information.     About the International Society for Equitation Science The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. www.equitationscience.com   For more information contact: ISES Honorary President Janne Winther-Christensen presidents@equitationscience.com   Local Conference Organizer: Katrina Merkies, PhD Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph (519) 824-4120 x54707 ISES2019@uoguelph.ca     By Jackie Zions for Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON May, 9, 2019 - "Somebeachsomewhere: Horse of a Lifetime", made its big screen debut Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre, Milton, Ontario. The event proceeds were kindly donated to support equine research at University of Guelph. The screening was made possible through the cooperation and generous support of the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA), Eastlink Community TV, and the USHWA Canada chapter.   Eleven years ago today, Somebeachsomewhere qualified at Mohawk Racetrack to start his sophomore season.   On May 4th, a select group of his greatest admirers gathered to share an exclusive film fundraiser celebrating the late pacer's life and career.   "Somebeachsomewhere: Horse of a Lifetime" premiered on Eastlink Community TV earlier this year, and received glowing reviews.   Fans of the Schooner Stable's star enjoyed a one-time-only screening of the film May 4 at Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre, Milton, Ontario.   Ontario Veterinary College Dean Dr. Jeff Wichtel and Equine Guelph Director Gayle Ecker attended and introduced the screening, which raised proceeds through donations and sponsorships. "The industry has continued to work through the challenges of re-structuring within the Ontario racing industry," says Dean Wichtel. "Every donation counts to help support research towards improving the lives of our racing athletes, and we would like to thank all the organizers and participants of this event."   Ron Mervis, Eastlink Regional Manager for Southern Ontario, and Brian Tropea, OHHA General Manager, also gave opening remarks.   Driver Paul MacDonell answered audience questions after the film, generously signing autographs until his departure to drive in race 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   To learn more about how donations, however large or small, benefit the care and health of racehorses, please visit www.equineguelph.ca.     Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON May, 2, 2019 - Have an older horse? Take a minute this May to learn about the management and health of your loyal companion during their golden years with Equine Guelph's Senior Horse Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/seniorhorsetool), developed in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.   There is no standard age to determine when a horse becomes a senior. Instead, factors like breed, health conditions, previous use, and history of care can all affect when your horse is considered senior. Changes that might make your horse a senior can creep up slowly over time and this makes it important to continually assess your older horses.   Equine Guelph's Senior Horse Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/seniorhorsetool) can help you learn more about the management of senior horses and conditions that may affect them. Take the Senior Horse Challenge quiz to test your knowledge on issues related to the health and management of senior horses. Then, try out the Click and Reveal Activity and see if you can pick out which horses have Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), a condition that can affect 15-30% of senior horses. Finally, check out the lists of additional resources that feature links to helpful videos and fact sheets on senior horse issues, like nutrition and PPID.   Most horse owners realize that every horse should be treated as an individual when developing a diet to meet their nutritional needs. However, there are four main groups that senior horses can be divided into when categorizing their needs. Check out the Senior Horse Nutrition Fact sheet (under the PDF Resources list) for more information on the category that your senior fits into:   1) The Healthy Senior 2) The Overweight/Obese Senior 3) The Senior that is Losing Condition 4) The Senior with Health Issues (the Geriatric horse)   Some of the horses that fall into the final 'Senior with Health Issues' category may be affected by PPID. You can find a video of horses with PPID before and after treatment and more information on PPID under the Additional Resources list on the Senior Horse Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/seniorhorsetool).   "Every fall Boehringer Ingelheim sponsors a PPID testing campaign in partnership with Animal Health Laboratory." says Doug Myers, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. "Over the past 5 years more than 1700 horses have been tested and 62% were positive for PPID."   Have an older horse that means the world to you? Let us know by sharing this article and telling us about your horse! Let’s thank the senior horses that have spent their years making ours better by spreading the word about the Senior Horse Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/seniorhorsetool) and educating fellow horse lovers on how to give senior horses the best care possible.   Story by: Nicole Weidner

Guelph, ON April 18, 2019 - Researchers at the University of Guelph are leading the way in equine research again, this time with studies looking at tools that may help predict disease spread in horse populations.   The studies were published in early January. In the first study, researchers looked at using small, non-invasive radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, placed under vet wrap on each horse's halter, to collect data on which horses came into contact with one another on horse farms. In the second study, researchers used data collected with the RFID tags to help create and compare contact networks (see explanation below) at horse facilities in Ontario.   Scientists use contact networks to help understand how a disease might spread in a population. To understand what a contact network is, picture a big map with different dots. Each dot represents a person. When one person comes into contact with another person, a line is drawn to connect them. So, if Kathy met Laura for coffee, there would be a line between Kathy and Laura's dots. There would also be lines connecting Kathy's dot and Laura's dot with the people they interacted with while they went for coffee, like the cashier at the coffee place. It's like a scientific "connect the dots", where the lines you draw are based on who comes into contact with who. Now try picturing this for your horse. What lines would you draw between your horse and others at your facility?   Rachael Milwid, a former OVC PhD student and the lead author of the studies, comments on several important findings from the work, "Groups of horses that are turned out together had the most contact with one another which was to be expected, however the data also suggests that even horses that are not turned out together or that are not neighbours in the barn actually have significant contact with one another over the course of each day. These results imply that in the case of a disease outbreak, extra care should be taken to keep the horses separate to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the entire farm."   To learn more about how the researchers used the RFID tags and other results from the studies, read the articles Validation of modified radio-frequency identification tag firmware and Comparison of the dynamic networks of four equine boarding and training facilities.   The authors of the studies are Rachael M. Milwid, Terri L. O'Sullivan, Zvonimir Poljak, Marek Laskowski, and Amy L. Greer. The work was supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Ontario Veterinary College.   Find out what you can do to prevent disease spread at your facility with Equine Guelph's online Biosecurity course (https://thehorseportal.ca/course/sickness-prevention-in-horses-f19/).   by: Nicole Weidner

Guelph, ON March, 28, 2019 - Milton Fire Chief Dave Pratt recalls the fire at First line Training Centre in Milton, ON , Dec 21.    The call came in the middle of the night, around 1:30 am. The scene upon arrival was that of a front-end loader tractor beside a barn engulfed in flames. The tractor block heater plugged into the barn appeared to be the cause of the fire and the side of barn next to the tractor was fully involved. Crews of fire fighters from both Milton and Halton responded. Milton put hot spots out, Halton worked on suppression (knocking down the fire with water) and then all hands were on deck evacuating horses from barn.     Rescue fire fighters were on air (SCBA Self-contained breathing apparatus equipment) to rescue horses in the barn. They worked quickly to get 35 of the 37 horses out.   Horse owners and staff had halters and lead ropes at the ready as horses were handed off to be put in secure areas. “We were really lucky to have so many horse handlers at the scene,” said Chief Pratt “It was a team effort not only from fire department staff, but from everyone who led horses away from danger and into safe containment areas.”     Horse owners and first responders on site worked quickly to arrange transport. Many horses were received by Woodbine Mohawk Park, who supplied temporary stabling, after initial assessments and first aid was delivered by the team of vets and vet techs who came together including - Drs. Liz Shiland, Abigail Stovman and Marisa Markey. EMS and police on the scene all worked diligently with community effort. Huge acknowledgements must be given to all who sprung from their beds in the dead of the night to support the rescue.   In a very well attended presentation to horse owners at System Equine Mar 19, Riley McGilloway from Halton Hills Fire Department outlined some of the reasons they were able to save the majority of horses at the First Line fire. He also gave a clear run down of what a barn owner can do in emergencies, starting with that first deep breath to give clear information to the dispatcher.     Calmly relaying the problem and location of an incident at the first sign of a problem is key and always remembering to give your name and phone number. McGilloway explains that information from dispatch reaches the team already in transit. Important details help them prepare a plan, such as how many are involved? If a human becomes a casualty by rushing into a burning barn, they know their priority has shifted from saving livestock to saving human life.   McGilloway elaborated, educated/experienced horse people including Joe Stutzman, on the scene at the first line fire, did not pull open the doors until fire and rescue arrived so the fire did not receive additional oxygen further fueling it.   A brilliant diagram aided review of the owner’s role after the call to dispatch: Send someone to the road to meet the firetruck and give directions on exactly where to go.   Help with the scene survey giving first responders the layout of the barn and letting them know what is connected that could be further ignition sources.  Move anything that may be in the way so the firetrucks can get to where they need to be.     A rescue team effort becomes faster and more effective when those arriving on the scene are informed what they can and cannot do to help. The many owners who arrived at the First Line fire quickly became an asset to the rescue, helping with containment of the horses pulled from the burning barn and then holding and assisting as the veterinary team sprang into action. The System Equine Barn Fire Prevention and action plan evening was also broadcast via webinar and the recording is available at: https://www.facebook.com/systemequine/videos/1665571347083745/   Wendy McIsaac-Swackhamer, recently appointed, manager of Emergency Preparedness and Fire Prevention at Woodbine Entertainment, was also on the scene on the night of Dec 21. Amazed from the moment she arrived by the sight of fire fighters and police officers with horses in their hands, she quickly became part of the massive team phoning and arranging relocation of horses. “Everyone came together, knew they had a job to do and got it done,” said Swackhamer of the well-coordinated effort.   Swackhamer, has been involved with the fire service, horses and technical large animal rescue for a number of years now. She was quick to join in organizing a hands-on Barn Fire Safety Seminar at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville, ON, Wednesday April 10 from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm.     “We were tremendously proud of everyone involved in the rescue and the quick decisions that were made,” says Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine Mohawk Park. “The importance of barn fire knowledge cannot be underestimated and we are pleased to help facilitate barn safety training for horse people.”   Milton fire department will attend on April 10th and play a role in the mock set up of hazards in the barn to help participants identify them. Participants will also practice using fire extinguishers and come away with a greater understanding of barn fire prevention, evacuation procedures and animal safety. Register by April 5 for the Barn Fire Safety Seminar at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   Equine Guelph will also be launching a Fire & Emergency Preparedness online short courseon TheHorsePortal.ca– Apr 8 – Apr 15     Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph  

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