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Severe Winter Storm Preparedness for Livestock - Saskatchewan

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 25, 2012 10:20

Emergency preparedness is especially important for livestock because of their size and special shelter & transportation requirements. On a farm, generally, the effects of severe storms on livestock are lessened by moving animals to avoid the storm; mitigating the storm's effect if it cannot be avoided; or sheltering the animals, ensuring they have access to food and water. The approach taken would depend upon the type of storm/emergency anticipated.
Hypothermia & dehydration are the two most probable life-threatening conditions for animals in cold weather.
 Barn fires are the most common disaster for livestock at anytime of the year
o Mount fire extinguishers in all buildings and at all entrances
· Regularly maintain them
· Make sure all family members and employees know how to use them
o Keep aisle and all doors free of debris and equipment
 Consider removing all barbed wire and rerouting permanent fencing so that animals can move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas in high winds
 Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for a least a week in the event the water supply is contaminated
 Identify alternate water and power resources
 Do you have enough feed, bedding material, supplies, medications on hand to last an extended period in case suppliers/supplies are unavailable because of the disaster
 Identify alternate location(s) for your animals in case of evacuation
 Label hazardous materials and place them all in the same safe area. Provide information about their location to local fire and rescue and emergency authorities.
 If the emergency is Winter Storm/Extreme Cold:
o Wet conditions and wind-chill add greatly to the cold-stress for animals
o Livestock should be provided with wind-break and roof shelter
o Monitored for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.)
o Provide extra hay/forage/feed as up to double the calories for normal body heat maintenance may be needed in extreme cold and if you are unable to get to the animals for a couple of days because of deep snow, etc. they will have enough food.
o It is critical that animals have access to drinking water at all times
· Usual water sources may freeze solid in low temperatures and dehydration becomes a life-threatening factor
· Many animals, especially the young, may not know how or be unable to break several inches of ice to reach water
· Animals tend to drink less in extreme cold, risking dehydration
· Research with horses shows horses drink more water if it is warmed during winter weather
o If possible, move animals to an indoor shelter or building
· Provide additional bedding to keep animals insulated & to keep them dry
 Place sand or other non-toxic gritty material on icy feedlots to provide good footing
 Ensure heaters are working properly and are in areas with adequate ventilation
 Ensure adequate ventilation in buildings
o Animals could suffocate from lack of oxygen
o Open vents to facilitate natural air flow
o Clear ice and snow from vents
 Know the signs of Cold Reated Illnesses in any species of animals you own:
o Frostbite
· Extremities (ears, tails, teats, male reproductive organs) are particularly subject to frostbite
· Signs may not necessarily be obvious for several days (waxy or pale appearance to affected areas, sloughing of freeze-damaged tissue)
Winter Storm Preparation R.M. of Corman Park Created January 2011 Page 12

o Hypothermia
· Extreme shivering
· Increased respiration
· Confused, erratic, clumsy behaviour

Livestock/Farm Emergency Kit:
During an emergency, you will need to decide whether to confine large animals in an available shelter or leave them outdoors. This will depend on what emergency/disaster is occurring and how much warning you have.
 Have a current list of all animals
o Include proof of ownership, their location, records of feeding, vaccinations & tests
 Have a contact list of emergency phone numbers (employees, neighbours, veterinarian, poison control, animal care, transportation resources, etc.)
 Supplies for temporary identification of your animals
o Plasitc neckbands, permanent markers to label with your name, address & phone no.
 Basic first aid kit
 Handling equipment such as halters, cages, blankets, etc.
 Bolt cutters to quickly free animals in an emergency
 Water, feed and buckets
 Tools and supplies needed for sanitation
 Emergency equipment
o Cell phone; Flashlights; Portable radios
o Other safety & emergency items for your vehicles and trailers
 Let everyone know where the emergency kit is being stored
 Consider evacuating your animals only on the advice of your veterinarian or local emergency management officials.

Sheltering in Place:
Sometimes evacuation isn’t posssible and can be challenging especially in winter and while it often seems that animals will be safer inside barns, in many circumstances, confinement can reduce their ability to protect themselves.
Survey your property for the best location for shelter. If you pasture meets the critereia below, your large anminals may be better off in the pasture than being evacuated.
Pasture Criteria:
 No trees which can uproot easily
 No overhead powerlines or poles
 No debries or sources of blowing debris
 No barbed-wire fencing
 Not less than 1 acre in size (less than an acre, livestock may not be able to avoid wind-blown debris)
 There is shelter &/or windbreak areas
o Shallow open front sheds
o Solid sided feed wagans can serve as temporary wind protections (place plywood or bales of straw under the wagon to block the wind
 If your pasture doesn’t meet the above criteria, you should move your animals to a barn/building
o Winterize any building that may provide shelter for livestock
o Check roof structure and stability to hold the weight of accumulated snow/ice
o Repair roof leaks
o Have proper ventilation

If your building(s) does not meet the above criteria, you should evacuate your animals. Winter Storm Preparation R.M. of Corman Park Created January 2011 Page 13
The leading causes of death of large animals in disasters are collapsed barns (winter snow is too heavy for roof or roof is susceptible to high winds), dehydration (frozen water), eletrocution and accidents resulting from fencing failure.
 If you must evacuate, do so as soon as possible otherwise everything will get caught in the storm
 Set up safe transportation including trucks and trailers suitable for livestock and appropriate for each type of animal, along with experienced handlers and drivers
 Take disaster/emergency livestock kit with you
 When sheltering off your property, make sure that they remain in familiar groupings, securely contained and sheltered from the elements
 Notify your veterinarian, processer, feed representative, etc. if evacuating
Storm damage can cost an individual or family a significant amount of money; therefore it is best to take precautions ahead of time to minimize these costs. YOU are the first line of defence against damage and it is up to you to minimize any harm that may occur.
3.1 Before a Blizzard/Winter/Ice Storm
 If a blizzard or heavy blowing snow is forecasted, you may want to string a lifeline between your house and any outbuildings to which you may have to go during the storm
o In wide open areas, visibility can be virtually zero during heavy blowing snow or a blizzard
o A lifeline will guide you and give you something to follow
 If a severe storm is forecast, secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose – indoors & outdoors.
o Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property
 When a winter storm hits, stay indoors
 If you must go outside, dress for the weather
o Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellent
o The jacket should have a hood
o Wear mittens – they are warmer than gloves
o Wear a hat, as most body heat is lost through the head
o Avoid travel; if you are safe where you are, stay where you are
 If you must travel during a winter storm
o Do so during the day
o Let someone know your route and arrival time.
 If travel is unavoidable make sure you have:
o Enough fuel
o A vehicle emergency kit
o A winterized, reliable vehicle
o Check out local media for weather updates, road conditions & the level of civic services available
 If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm:
o Remain calm and stay in your car
o Try to move the car away from trees or power lines that might fall on you
o Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side (away from the wind)
o You can run the car engine ~ 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well
o Beware of exhaust fumes and check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked with snow. Remember: you can't smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes
o To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep
o If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid overexerting yourself
· Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of sweating or a heart attack
o Keep watch for traffic or searchers.
 If you live on a farm, shelter animals:
o Generally, if the structure is sound, the animals should be placed indoors
o Once they are inside, secure all openings to the outside
o The sheltering should be ordered and completed before similar action is taken for humans
o Water supplies should be checked for freezing. Many animals have died of thirst during the winter, even with abundant water sources, because they could not drink the water as it was frozen solid.
 Prepare for Power Outages and Blocked Roads
o Winds, ice and snow tend to bring down power lines
o Make sure that you have an emergency kit (see Page 6)
 Staying warm when the power goes out may be a problem
o Be prepared with alternative heat sources and plenty of blankets
Winter Storm Preparation R.M. of Corman Park Created January 2011 Page 16

 Stock up on shovels and snow removal equipment before the snow storm
 Be sure you know how to open your garage door manually
 Cover the windows and spaces around the doors to keep drafts at a minimum in the event the heat shuts off
 Regular fuel sources may be cut off
o Have an adequate supply of alternate fuel sources available
o If you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove, stock up on dry seasoned wood
 If you live in an area that gets bad storms regularly, consider investing in an emergency generator
 A cellular phone is a 'hot' commodity for the snowbound. If you have a cell phone, make sure it is charged and easy to find. Even if the phone and power lines go out you can get word out that you are stranded and need help.

3.2 Before an Ice Storms
 Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings. If you must go outside when a significant amount of ice has accumulated, pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of the ice and fall on you. Ice sheets could also do the same.
 Never touch power lines
o A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you would run the risk of electrocution
o Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation
 When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving
o Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery
o Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.
 Rapid onsets of freezing rain combined with the risks of blizzards increase the chances for extreme hypothermia
o If you live on a farm, move livestock promptly to shelter where feed is available
o Forage is often temporarily inaccessible during and immediately after ice storms
o Animal reactions to ice storms are similar to that of blizzards

3.3 During a Blizzard/Ice Storm/Winter Storm
 If you must go to the outbuildings, dress for the weather
 If you lose Heat/Power
o Insulate your pipes so they do not freeze
o Consider letting your faucets drip a little if the temperature drops below freezing
· Moving water will not freeze as fast as standing water
· Keep a supply of antifreeze on hand to protect plumbing from freezing
o Know where your water main valve shut off is located and how to turn it off if a pipe does break or you are unable to have your faucets drip

3.4 After a Blizzard/Winter/Ice Storm
 Assess the damage to your property, if any
 Check out local media regularly for the level of civic services available
o If you must travel, plan your route accordingly. The first priority for snow clearing is to ensure movement of traffic on the major roads and access to emergency locations
 Exercise caution and care when shoveling snow, especially during very cold weather
A winter storm/blizzard/ice storm may lead to power outages.
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks, ESPECIALLY in rural areas. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines/poles and equipment. Poles may be damaged by vehicles losing control and running into them causing power outages. Cold snaps can also overload the electric power system.
During a power outage, you may be left without heating, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges. You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours.
 You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater
 Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function
 It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it
 Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time
 If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
 If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
 Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
 Program 310-2220 into your cell phone
o This SaskPower phone number is toll-free and dedicated to 24-hour outage reporting
 Keep a corded phone in the house, because cordless phones don't work during power outages
o Program 310-2220 into the phone's memory
 Plug in sensitive electronic equipment (computer, TVs, etc.) through surge-protector power bars
 If you use electronic life-sustaining equipment, make sure to have a back-up power source
o You can register your life-sustaining equipment with SaskPower and be notified of planned power outages
 Make sure you have a Personal Emergency Kit prepared (list on Page 6 of this booklet)
 Keep a supply of antifreeze on hand to protect plumbing from freezing
Winter Storm Preparation R.M. of Corman Park Created January 2011 Page 18
 Determine if the power failure is limited to your home
o If your neighbours have power, check your electrical panel to see if the main circuit breaker has tripped
 Turn the breaker off and back on again to ensure a good connection
 If your electrical panel or main breaker isn't the cause of the outage, call (SaskPower) 310-2220
 Turn off or unplug any appliances or electronics you were using when the power went out
o Leave one light on so you'll know when your power returns
 Keep refrigerators and freezers closed
o If the power is out for a long time, make sure you check all refrigerated and frozen food before you eat it
 Use proper candle holders
o Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children
o Always extinguish candles before going to bed
 Close all doors, windows and drapes to conserve heat (unless the sun is shining in)
 Never light a fire indoors unless you're using an approved fire place or wood stove
 Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector
o If it is hard-wired to the house’s electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up
 If you have to Evacuate during a power outage in the winter:
o Turn off the main breaker or switch of the circuit-breaker panel
o Turn off the water main/pipe where it enters the house
o Protect the valve, inlet pipe, meter or pump with blankets or insulation material
o Drain the water from your plumbing system
· Start at the top of the house
· Open taps, flush toilets (several times)
· Go to the basement and open the drain valve
· Drain you hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank valve and running it to the basement floor drain
· If you hot water tank is gas-fired, turn out the pilot light
· Unhook washing machine hoses and drain
o Add a small amount of glycol or antifreeze to water left in toilet bowl(s) and the sink & tub taps
o Do not worry about the small amount of water trapped in horizontal pipes
o If your house is protected from ground water by a sump pump, clear valuables from the basement in case of flooding

Weather Warnings:
 Environment Canada Public Weather Warnings for Saskatchewan http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/warnings/sk_e.html

 The Weather Network’s Page for Alerts: Weather Warnings & Public Alerts http://www.theweathernetwork.com/alerts/?product=alerts

Get Prepared Website: (Federal Government Website), www.GetPrepared.ca

All information in this post is a small part of the following document by the R.M. of Corman Park, an excellent resource. 


posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 24, 2012 07:14

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Just "like" @HorseOwnerToday and @FunkyGeeGees for an entry, "share" with your friends for 10 entries and then let us know, email us at bonnie.n@horseownertoday.com. Winner will be drawn when @Funky GeeGees and @HorseOwnerToday have 1000 Fb likes.

Record Crowds Attend the Inaugural Saskatchewan Equine Expo

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 21, 2012 12:24

Fight Against Equine Infectious Disease Helped by Equine Foundation of Canada

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 16, 2012 11:39


With a highly mobile horse community, keeping your horses free from disease is one of the biggest challenges for horse owners.  The fight to keep infectious diseases at bay has taken a step forward with a generous donation from the Equine Foundation of Canada.  The funding allows the purchase of new equipment, including a microcentrifuge and fluorometer, for the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses at the University of Guelph.


"This equipment will help us explore some new areas in equine infectious diseases and hopefully help us understand how to better treat and prevent serious infections. We are grateful for the assistance of the Equine Foundation of Canada in advancing equine infectious disease research.” says Dr. Scott Weese, an equine internal medicine specialist and microbiologist with the Ontario Veterinary College and University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses.


The funding for this equipment will help advance the specialized work being done in his lab, and complement the array of equipment that is already present in the laboratory, including a state-of-the-art ‘next generation’ sequencing system. “Our laboratory was the first laboratory of any type in Canada to obtain this system, and it provides a unique capability internationally to perform equine infectious diseases research,” continues Weese.


With increased awareness of the dangers of infectious disease, recently heightened by the news of an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) fatality in Ontario, this is a timely and welcome development.  “Biosecurity, the prevention of disease spread, is an issue of growing concern for the industry.  Equine Guelph will be working with Dr. Weese and his staff to get more information out to the horse industry in our communications and education programs.  The Equine Foundation of Canada has helped us to move this agenda forward with their funding for new equipment and are to be commended for their initiative to help the Canadian horse industry in this way.” says Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph.  Registration is now open for the new education program “Beat the Bugs: Biosecurity for the Horse Owner” which launches this spring.  Members of the equine industry will take away valuable information for themselves and for their employees to help prevent the spread of infectious disease.


For more information about Biosecurity programs offered by Equine Guelph visit: http://www.equineguelph.ca/biosecurity.php or contact:  Dr. Susan Raymond (slraymon@uoguelph.ca)



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disease | entertainment

Syd stolen palimino gelding in Aden, Ab.

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 15, 2012 14:50

Caylee's plea for Syd


We are emailing all horse rescue groups, stables, anything we can find equine related.  Our daughter's horse was stolen sometime between Feb 1 & Feb 5.  We are desperately trying to find him.  Authorities have been notified, brand inspectors and slaughter plants across Canada.  Auction marts/stables and AQHA have been notified as well.  We have attached some pictures of Syd.  The email below is accurate information on him.  (There is a typo on some ads that he is 11 yrs old and few details missing.)  We would appreciate any sharing of this information that can be done, posting on any blogs/facebook pages/websites... anything to bring him home to our daughter.  She is terrified she will never see her best friend again.


Thank you so very much in advance for any help you can offer our family.  If you require any more information please contact us through email fastrac@xplornet.ca (Stephanie) bigjimorosz@gmail.com (Jim) or phone 403-647-3888 or 403-344-2727 Stephanie News Clip on CTV Lethbridge Feb 8 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYzIRNR03BI&feature=youtu.be




Subject: Stolen Horse

Thanks again for giving him a chance!

My daughter is devastated.  She's cried herself to sleep 2 nights now.  A little detail, he was last seen with the herd Feb 1, and noticed not with them early morning Feb 5.  The pasture he was in was a section of land (640acres).  After riding that field via quad, the airplane was then used for 2 hours to try and located him.  He was nowhere to be seen alive or otherwise.  The road into this ranch Ross Ranch - Aden, AB is 8km and a private road. Therefore another reason we suspect he was stolen.  He was pastured with 7 other horses, all of which are worth more than Syd.  Syd has a crooked front end, as Caylee says "2 front left feet" so useless for working or riding hard but fantastic for the kids!  This was her 6th Easter/Bday present and she just wants him home so badly.  The last picture is one she made and put on her Facebook status. We would like him returned within 72 hrs or notified as to where to pick him up from and no questions asked - after such time, when he is found we do intend on prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law we can.  The person found to be boarding him can also be charged with possession of stolen property.  If anyone knows where he is and doesn't want to be involved or whatever the case an email could be sent fastrac@xplornet.ca <mailto:fastrac@xplornet.ca>  even. The below is the ad we are using across the internet currently and on posters sent out to all stables/auction marts. Syd is 9 yrs old (April 27, 2003), gelded, 16.1 HH, "scaly" type scar on back left leg, and a injury to front right this past summer when he sliced his foot right above hoof (from the outside along to the back) on a piece of tin.  He has a crooked front end ; 2 "left" feet and it is noticeable. He also has a white blaze, snip, and star down his nose. He is considered cream by some, but he is a registered palomino roan that is a "muddy" white in the winter. No brand on him. Please call Stephanie at 403-647-3888 or 403-330-6246.


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Biosecurity Tool – Does Your Barn get the Green Light?

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 14, 2012 18:37


With all the breaking news on the importance of biosecurity – Isn’t it time to bone up on preventative measures your barn could be taking?   Calculate your horse farm’s risks with Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Risk Calculator, a tool designed for horse owners to generate a report that grades them on their biosecurity management practices on their farms.  See if you score a green, amber or red light.

Live and online at Biosecurity Calculator, the interactive tool is an educational resource of Equine Guelph (University of Guelph) developed in collaboration with Colorado State University and sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation and Vétoquinol Canada Inc.


"Every horse owner should think about a biosecurity management plan,” says Karen Ann Paradis, Equine Product Manager of Vétoquinol. “Having a solid understanding of equine health, infectious disease and disease control is paramount in reducing biosecurity risk in a high-risk industry."


After taking the 10 minute, 42 question Biosecurity Calculator quiz - turn those amber scores green by increasing your knowledge with Equine Guelph’s biosecurity workshops this March and 2 week e-Session April 16 - 29.    The combined feedback from the Biosecurity Calculator and Equine Guelph’s upcoming programs will provide you with the best practices for decreasing risk of infectious disease in your horse(s).  


To learn more about Equine Guelph’s biocesurity programs visit:    www.EquineGuelph.ca/biosecurity.php

Consistency is Key – Says Racing Surfaces Internationally Acclaimed Publication

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 14, 2012 18:11





A number of factors affect the performance of a racing or training surface according to the well received 34-page “Racing Surfaces White Paper” published in June this year.   This international publication is a survey of current understanding on ways to enhance track safety, and is co-authored by an esteemed panel including: Michael “Mick” Peterson, Ph.D., University of Maine, United States; Lars Roepstorff, DVM, PhD, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; Jeffrey J. Thomason, PhD, University of Guelph, Canada; Christie Mahaffey, MPhil, University of Maine, United States; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, Colorado State University, United States. 


Though there is still much research to be done since the forming of the racing surfaces committee at the inaugural Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in 2006, this publication will benefit trainers, track superintendants and any person in charge of riding surfaces.  Details of proper maintenance of surfaces and training guidelines can be found, based on the knowledge gained from the researcher’s findings thus far.  The download is available at grayson-jockeyclub.org/resources/White_Paper_final.pdf


Climate and maintenance are two of many factors analyzed by the researchers looking for the best possible training surface conditions to enhance safety for the horse and rider. The Racing Surfaces White Paper publication will have future applications in helping in the design of tracks, in terms of banking and cushioning properties in track surfaces not only in racing but in training as well.  U of G, Co-author Dr. Jeff Thomason notes, “Horse industry leaders, interested in creating an optimum surface to help minimize injuries in the limbs of horses, will be interested in following this research”.


Thomason is pleased to be a part of this White Paper publication. It is the most comprehensive scientific body of research on race tracks to date; yet it is just scratching the surface.  New questions have been cultivated requiring further investigation.  Thomason will continue to be involved with this collaborative research with targeted studies on the effect of racetrack characteristics on the horse-hoof-track interaction.


With so many variables in play the next steps in research are always, short very specific experiments with a narrow focus (e.g., the effect of different height toe grabs or different shoes on the same surface).  “It is only by meticulously piecing together the answers of each precise question that you begin to see the big picture” says Thomason.  Studying the influences of forces and loads and the mechanics of loading on the hoof itself is an integral part of Thomason’s research.  One method used to measure these forces is by gluing lightweight sensors to a horse’s hooves before it goes out to the training track.  These sensors have been used to record two kinds of data: strain and shock. 


With so many track surface options available (including synthetic, dirt or turf), Thomason is often asked what the best option is.  The preponderance of evidence at the moment suggests the consistency of the surface is more important than the material it is made of.  A well-maintained all-weather track is desirable.  The track should be consistent around its circumference.  Three unknown topics requiring further research are:  1) the range of hardness or softness that is not dangerous to the horse.  2) How well does water need to run off a track?    3) Do track surfaces need to have different properties for the impact as opposed to the sliding?  Research proves good maintenance is an extremely important component for providing consistency and improving safety.  Of course, the track has to be well constructed to start with.  Regular maintenance includes light harrowing between races to level the hoof prints left in the ground.  Deeper harrowing, as required, provides a cushion at the top of the surface.  One superintendent reported a 30 - 40% reduction in catastrophic fractures at his track after attending a meeting of superintendents in North America and adopting the consistency maintenance program outlined in the White Paper. 

Climate also plays a vital and complicated role in determining maintenance.  Thomason reminisces, “Where I grew up, in England, the climate consisted of ample rain and you heard about the going being sloppy, firm or good.  This would be a measure of how slippery or firm the track was.”  Conversely California has problems with the surface becoming too dry. Artificial surfaces were designed to give a surface that was consistent.  This has not been achieved yet.  Even artificial surfaces change their properties throughout the day when the sun comes out. In the morning the surface becomes softer and records indicate the racing times slow down throughout the day showing a very local effect of sunny climate on the track. 


Thomason spends much of his time understanding the complexity of how the hoof interacts with the ground from absorbing the shock of impact to the abrasion of grinding into the surface and how the weight of the horse is distributed.  One excerpt of the Whitepaper states:  As the soil or top layer of the turf compacts, it becomes stiffer and more resistant to further compaction, bringing the hoof to a stop (Thomason and Peterson 2008). Once the motion of the hoof has been slowed or has stopped, the weight of the horse is dynamically transferred to the hoof and then to the harder surface material beneath the hoof. This dynamic transfer of the weight of the horse to the hoof is the source of the acceleration, resulting in peak loads which may approach 2.5 times the bodyweight of the horse.


The hardness of the track influences how quickly the foot is decelerated and then the stiffness of the track when the load is being applied. This rate of deceleration controls the strain which is transferred to the leg and results in higher peak loads for stiffer surfaces. Repeated loading to the bone can cause micro fractures and the catastrophic fractures (Radin et al. 1972).  Horses and their owners stand to benefit from this research when new information is discovered regarding how to reduce the factors causing injuries on limbs.


Jeff Thomason’s research has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Equine Guelph and Grayson Jockey Club. 



WCVM research survey targets Cushing’s disease

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 8, 2012 11:19

Cushing’s disease is considered one of the most commonly diagnosed endocrine disorders of horses — especially as the equine population continues to age. But just how common is the disease internationally?

It’s one of the questions that researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) are addressing through a 16-question survey of international equine practitioners. The online survey, which was launched in January 2012, is available at www.wcvm.com/veterinarians/cushings_survey.php for the next six months.

“Our objective is to determine the true prevalence of Cushing’s disease worldwide, because until now, previous surveys were only based in the U.S.,” explains Dr. James Carmalt, an equine surgeon and associate professor in the WCVM’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

Carmalt is also a PhD student in equine neurophysiology through the veterinary college’s Department of Veterinary Pathology. He and his graduate supervisor, veterinary pathologist Dr. Andrew Allen, are beginning to explore a new treatment methodology for equine Cushing’s disease.

Carmalt and his colleagues at the western Canadian veterinary college will use practitioners’ responses to the brief survey to determine the incidence of the disease and the most common treatment protocols being used by practitioners in countries around the world. The WCVM researchers also want to evaluate the need for developing new treatment methodologies.
“Right now, the only available treatment for Cushing’s disease requires daily dosing of medications for the rest of the horse’s life. It’s onerous, time consuming and a huge management challenge,” says Carmalt, who urges horse owners to inform their veterinarians about the survey.

“If the responses from this survey reflect our impression that practitioners need a new option to offer their clients, our ultimate goal is to develop a one-time treatment for the disease so daily medications for Cushing’s disease become unnecessary.”
For more information about the Cushing’s disease survey for equine practitioners, please contact Dr. James Carmalt (james.carmalt@usask.ca). As part of the survey, practitioners can also provide their email addresses if they wish to receive a copy of the survey results.

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