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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.


Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association
202 - 224 Pacific Ave
Saskatoon SK S7K 1N9
T. 306.955.7862 | F. 306.975.0623
svma@svma.sk.ca | http://www.svma.sk.ca

Biosecurity Workshop @ e-Session Dates Announced by Equine Guelph

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2012 13:45

January 26, 2012– Find out what steps you can take to protect your barn from sporadic disease, outbreaks and infectious diseases.

 

“The recent devastating outbreak of EHV-1 in North America has highlighted the importance of infection control and biosecurity, as well as the deficiencies in knowledge and application that are present across the industry,” says Scott Weese, associate professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Guelph.  Proof-positive that the time for prevention has now arrived is the January 2012 biosecurity update from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirming cases of Equine Herpes in Southern Ontario.

 

Equine Guelph’s “Beat the Bugs with Biosecurity,” program promotes biosecurity throughout all sectors of the horse industry. The program is funded through the Agricultural Biosecurity Program (ABP), part of the Best Practices Suite of programs under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario.

 

“Increasing knowledge of best biosecurity practices stands to benefit the horse industry by reducing the risk of disease transmission and, in turn, could create a huge positive economic impact and prevent a potential catastrophic outbreak,”  says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker.

 

The “Beat the Bugs” program includes four workshops, conducted by biosecurity specialists, offered free of charge on a first come, first served basis. The workshops are scheduled as follows:  Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, March 7, 1 – 3pm; Western Fair, London (during Can-Am), March 16, 10am – noon; Kemptville College, Kemptville, March 24, 2 – 4pm; and Georgian Downs, Barrie, March 27, 1:30 – 3:30pm.  Contact Susan Raymond at Equine Guelph, slraymon@uoguelph.ca, to register and for more information.

 

For those who are looking to take their biosecurity knowledge to the next level, a two-week Equine Biosecurity e-Session is available April 16 – 29 for $75 (plus HST) per person.  Contact Susan Raymond at Equine Guelph, slraymon@uoguelph.ca, to register and for more information.

 

“Beat the Bugs” has been developed by Equine Guelph with the assistance of its 11 industry partners: American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Colorado State University, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, Ontario Veterinary College, Standardbred Canada, Vétoquinol Canada Inc. and Woodbine Entertainment Group.

 

For more information on the “Beat the Bugs with Biosecurity” initiative, and to view the Biosecurity Risk Calculator, visit www.EquineGuelph.ca/biosecurity.php.

 

 

 

 

 

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American Horse Council's 2012 Immigration Reform Outlook

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 21, 2012 19:58

 

Despite substantial efforts to recruit and train U.S. workers, horse farms, ranches, horse shows, trainers and others must rely on foreign workers and use both the H-2B and H-2A temporary foreign worker programs to meet their labor needs.  For this reason immigration polices have a profound impact on the horse industry.

 

In 2011 numerous bills were introduced in the 112th Congress concerning immigration, most enforcement oriented.  Most notably, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885), which would require all employers to use the federal E-verify system to make sure their workers are authorized to work.   The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on this bill and reported it out of committee on September 21.

 

“In the Summer and Fall we saw a lot of action in Congress on immigration.  Committees in both the House and Senate held numerous hearings and the House Judiciary Committee approved a mandatory E-verify bill. Since then however, there has been little movement on the issue because even Members of Congress who are in favor of beefing up enforcement and passing mandatory E-verify can’t agree on the best way to proceed,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass.

 

In response to concerns that mandatory E-verify would cripple the U.S. agricultural industry several bills, like the American Specialty Agriculture Act (H.R.2847) and the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act (H.R.2895), were introduced.  These bills would create new, less burdensome temporary foreign agricultural worker programs to replace the current H-2A program. However, no consensus emerged on which of the many proposals on the table would  best accommodate the needs of agriculture.

 

 “It is absolutely vital for the horse industry to have access to functioning, efficient, and cost effective foreign temporary worker programs to meet its labor needs and the horse industry can not support any bill unless it provides for those needs,” said AHC President Jay Hickey. “We would like Congress to reform our system in a comprehensive way.  However, as we enter another election year it is unlikely Congress will have much of a desire to deal with a hot-button issue like immigration.”

 

“It is likely more immigration bills will be introduced in 2012 and there maybe action taken on specific issues like the H-2B wage rule, but right now it doesn’t look like Congress will take action on major legislation like mandatory E-verify,” said Pendergrass.    

 

Link to full article on AHC website

 

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As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.                       

The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen's associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.

American Horse Council Helps YOU to connect with Congress

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 21, 2012 07:45


Despite the low approval ratings for Congress, Americans are still interested in what Congress is doing.  Why?  Because what Congress does - or does not do - impacts the horse industry.  This is true regardless of your breed or discipline, whether you are an individual owner, run a track or show, own a horse business, work in the industry as a service provider or ride for recreation. 

 

It is important that we build relationships with our elected leaders in Washington and that they understand and appreciate the $102 billion horse industry’s contribution to the economic, sporting and recreational sectors of the U.S. and their states.  2012 is a terrific opportunity to do this because it is an election year and so many members of Congress and new candidates are running for federal office and they want to meet you.

 

One of the best ways to build a relationship is to simply invite a member of Congress to your farm or ranch or to an equestrian event back in the district or state.  Invite other horse people so there is a built-in crowd of voters.  A personal experience with the horse community makes an impression. 

 

All across the country there are farms and ranches getting ready for the breeding season, a great time to showcase the industry.  There are horse shows, large and small, races, rodeos, organized and disorganized trail rides, horse sales, etc. Each of these events is an opportunity to build a relationship with a member of Congress or a candidate and to help them understand the horse industry a little bit better.  Remember that going to a horse farm or event is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  Having voters there makes it even more pleasant for those running for Congress.  

 

Building relationships with members of Congress is more important now than ever. There are many issues before Congress such as taxes, federal spending, immigration reform and racing legislation, trails legislation and disease programs that could all have profound implications for the horse industry. Only by having personal exchanges with their constituents, who are involved with the horse industry, will members of Congress fully appreciate how these issues impact the industry.    

 

If you would like to invite a member of Congress to your facility or your organization has an upcoming event you think would be appropriate for your Senator or Representative to attend, please contact the AHC.  The AHC will help you invite them and provide any guidance you might need.  You can call or email the AHC at (202) 296-4031 or AHC@horsecouncil.org  for help.  Ask for our brochure, Getting Involved in the 2012 Elections, which will give you some pointers. 

 

Please get involved.  You will be helping yourself and your industry.  And remember that while Congress’ approval rating as a whole is very low, polls still show that most people feel their Senator or Representative is doing a good job so you might even enjoy the visit.  They will.

 

Link to full article on AHC website

 

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As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.                       

The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen's associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.

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