Merry Christmas

Bloged in General by admin Monday December 24, 2007

Now is the season to be jolly. We wish you all joy, love and happiness for Christmas !

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May Jesus Bless you and your family as you go on all your rides

Struggling with the Wood Pellet Shortage

Bloged in General by admin Monday February 5, 2007

If you didn’t think that a simple thing like keeping your
stalled horse comfortable on clean bedding was could be
affected by the oil price increases of the past four
years, think again.

Those of you who have been using wood pellet bedding to
replace plant material know exactly what I am talking
about. And the reason you are having hard time finding
bedding is that wood-pellet stoves, as a means of home
heating, have soared in popularity since 2004.

With heating oil and natural gas prices skyrocketing,
people have looked for alternate fuels, and wood pellets
were among their top choices. The Europeans, in fact,
have used wood-pellet stoves for decades, and the Canadian
wood pellet industry signed contracts, which are still in
force, to supply the European market back in 1999.

They had no idea that the North American demand would
climb the way it has, and in spite of a 35% increase in
wood pellet production in 2006, are still scrambling to
keep up.

The slow-down in the home construction market also means
that there less scrap lumber and sawdust are available for
the pelleting mills To make matters worse, in January,
Bear Mountain Forest Products of Oregon, which produces
110,000 tons of wood pellets annually, lost 20% of its
inventory in a fire.

In the meantime, those retailers who still have wood
pellets available have raised their prices, on average,
from $3.99 to $5.99 per 40-lb. bag.

So if you have been keeping your equine friends happy and
clean on marvelously absorbent wood pellets, and also
found that the pellet/ manure combination makes excellent
compost, you may feeling frustrated at the thought of
having to find a substitute. But don’t expect the
shortage to end any time soon.

But you can cut back on the amounts of wood pellets, or
whatever bedding you have been putting down, if you first
invest in rubber matting for your stall. While its
initial cost can seem steep, it will dramatically decrease
your ongoing bedding expenses.

Besides being warm and free of dust and debris, and
draining exceptionally well, rubber matting provides
enough of a cushion that you can decrease the amount of
bedding necessary to give your horse a warm soft
“lying-about” spot.

No matter what you are using, you will save yourself and
your horse a lot of grief if you remove all the wet
bedding at least once a day; otherwise you are inviting
bacteria to establish themselves and your horse’s feet will
be open season; never mind getting knocked over from the
ammonia odors when you enter the stable.

And if the bedding shortage has made you decide to winter
your horse outside for the time being, remember that it
would be happier, if your temperatures drop below 20F,
with a well-fitting blanket. Provide protection from
wind and moisture, whether it be from a planting of trees
or a simple shed.

The wood pellet shortage may cause you to make changes in
your horse’s bedding, but whatever you use, comfort and
cleanliness will go a very long way to giving you a happy,
healthy, and eager-to-perform companion!

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Barbaro, and Saddlebred Rescue

Bloged in General by admin Sunday January 28, 2007

In another troubling setback, Barbaro underwent his second
medical procedure in the past month, to treat a bruise and
abscess on the right hind leg which he shattered in the
2006 Preakness Stakes.

Barbaro’s laminitis-stricken left hind foot, until
Saturday, had been the focus of concern for his doctor Dean
Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, and owners Roy and Gretchen
Jackson. He had seemed to be recovering well from having
80% of the hoof removed last July, but earlier this month
had to undergo a surgery to cut the tendon attached to the
coffin bone and relieve pressure on the hoof.

Barbaro was fitted with an orthotic brace on the right hind
foot, both to support the hoof and allow his handlers
access to the area of the drained abscess.

While neither of the problems in Barbaro’s hind legs, when
taken separately, is, according to Gretchen Jackson,
life-threatening, they are, in combination, cause for
serious concern. Dr. Richardson has, from the time he
began caring for Barbaro, said that the colt had a sharply
uphill battle ahead, and it appears that he has yet to
reach its summit.

And, while the U.S. horse community is being confronted
with the issues of the U.S. Horse Slaughter Bill and,
should it pass, finding alternatives to care for the
estimate 90,000 horses sent to slaughter each year, the
Saddlebred Rescue group, which found homes for some one
hundred animals in 2006, is asking for help.

The group normally gets its horses at auction, but they are
sold without papers. Christy Parker and pat Johnson,
members of Saddlebred Rescue, say that, if the animals
could be properly identified, they would qualify as show
horses, and their chances of adoption would be vastly
improved.

So Saddlebred Rescue, by posting photos of its rescue
horses on its website, is reaching out to all Saddlebred
owners, breeders, and trainers, hoping that anyone who
recognizes any of the animals will contact them with that
horse’s date of birth, pedigree, and, if any, performance
history.

Saddlebred Rescue is saving some beautiful animals from
slaughter, and offers some in-depth descriptions of
them—including their temperaments and way of going when put
under saddle after who-know-what kind of treatment in their
pasts.

Because the organization is constantly rescuing new
horses–sometimes as many as five a week–they ask that
those who might be able to help visit their website at
www.saddlebredrescue.com/identify.html to look over the
photos on a regular basis.

If the U.S. Horse Slaughter Bill passes, there will be
thousands of animals needing care, and organizations like
Saddlebred Rescue certainly deserve all the support they
can get!

Here are some of the latest Barbaro pictures:

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Helping You Horse Avoid the Winter Blues

Bloged in General by admin Tuesday January 9, 2007

We humans who live in climates where the winters are cold,
dark, and long can often go stir-crazy from not getting
enough time outdoors. Some of us are lucky enough to be
able to get away to sunny places for a while–that’s why
North American winter is a top tourist season for the in the
Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

But what if you are a 1000-pound horse who can’t go to
Expedia for travel reservations and a few days of sun? Even
worse, what if your owner doesn’t have facilities to let you
out for pasture exercise when the weather permits? Chances
are you may be feeling a bit down, both from boredom and
from being kept in a confined stall area for long periods.

Those horses without pasture available would benefit
immensely if they could be kept in loose boxes with outside
access to a small paddock that they could enjoy at will
during the day. Barring that, they really need sunlight,
and as much as possible, streaming into their stalls.
Humans are known to develop SADD, or “seasonal affective
deficiency disorder”, which can lead to severe depression,
when their brains don’t get enough full-spectrum sunlight
reacting with the optic nerves, and in my experience horses
seem to get glum, or even “angry” when kept way from sun
for more than a day or two.

Another concern with stall-housed horses is their tendency
to develop mild respiratory problems from constantly
inhaling hay or bedding dust. Bedding susceptible to mould
can also create an allergic reaction in your horse, so shop
around and try to find a bedding that is treated to
minimize dust or mould.

Horses evolved to be outdoor animals, and have a highly
developed sense of smell. You already know this if you have
ever had a horse stop dead on the trail and simply refuse to
take another step, and discovered by dismounting and having
a look around the next corner that there was a washout in
the trail, or a dead animal, or a snake—I’ve had all three
happen to me. And confinement to a stall does nothing to
reduce your horse’s sense of smell.

Horses will want to see what they smell, so try to provide
your horse with as much opportunity to keep an eye on what
is happening outside its stall as you can. If your horse
is in a barn with other horses, they may want to start
conversations, so it’s also helpful if they can see whoever
might be whinnying across the way.

Putting grass hay down as a snack can also relieve
boredom–alfalfa is too sweet and, if your horse isn’t out
moving around can lead to over-fermentation during the
digestive process, and discomfort if not outright colic.
But nibbling on high quality grass hay will give your horse
something to do that is very close to the natural grazing it
would be doing outside.

Some horses will actually play with foreign objects in their
stalls–rubber feed tubs seem to encourage games of
kick-and-toss with some horses I know. Try experimenting by
putting some of your horse’s feed in a discarded rubber–not
steel-belted–tire, so that feeding time will be a little
more interesting as your horse moves the tire about the
stall in an attempt to get all the feed.

Sunlight, fresh air, a view, and a chance to snack, converse
or play a bit are just some of the things with which you can
provide your stall-bound horse to make its indoor winter
pass just a little more quickly!

 

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Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Bloged in General by admin Wednesday January 3, 2007

2006 gave the horse world some memorable moments, and 2007
seems to be shaping up as another exciting year.

The horse who cast the longest shadow–even though he did it
far from any racetrack–over the world of Thoroughbred
racing in 2006 was, of course, Barbaro.

After winning the Kentucky Derby in the easiest of efforts,
Barbaro, trained by 1994 U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team member
Michael Matz, was seen by many as having a better than even
chance of winning the Triple Crown. But Fate had other
plans for the magnificent son of Dynaformer, and just a few
strides after the start of the Preakness stakes, Barbaro’s
jockey pulled him up, dismounted, and with the help of a
very courageous fan, held Barbaro until the Pimlico
Racetrack horse ambulance arrived to return him to his barn,
and the world waited for news.

Barbaro had suffered three fractures and a dislocation in
his right hind leg, and had he not been a horse of such
enormous breeding promise, with owners able to afford the
medical care necessary to try and save him, would very
likely have been euthanized immediately.

But what began to happen after Barbaro was taken to the
University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, where Dr.
Dean Richardson surgically inserted 23 metal pins and screws
into his shattered leg bones, and fused his dislocated ankle
joint, was nothing short of amazing. The center received
thousands of letters, phone calls, and e-mail messages for
Barbaro; prayer groups sprung up to pray for his recovery;
and he received so many apples and carrots from well-wishers
each day that all the equine patients at the New Bolton
center got a share.

The biggest thing in Barbaro’s favor was that none of the
bone fragments had pierced the skin of his leg, so he was
not immediately threatened with infection. But in July,
Barbaro had to go another surgery to replace some bent
screws, and at that time, he also had 80% of his exterior
lft hoof removed because of laminitis, and inflammation of
the hoof wall which occurs when a hosre puts excess weight
on a leg for too long. After the surgery, Dr. Richardson
said Barbaro’s prognosis was very poor.

But Barbaro had other ideas. With the help of a
weight-supporting sling, in which he stood for up to twelve
hours a day, and his own good sense, which led him to lie
down when he slept at night, Barbaro began to improve. As
of early December, his right leg cast was permanently
removed and replaced with a supportive shoe, and his left
hoof is continuing to grow out; his weight was at its
highest level since his injury.

Barbaro may never recover enough leg strength to function as
a stallion, but we can certainly hope that the same Fate
which ended his racing career is kind enough that a horse
with his combination of beauty, intelligence, and the will
to conquer can pass his traits on.

And for the thousands and thousands of horses who are not
fortunate enough to have Barbaro-like connections, the U.S.
Congress attempted to legislate a Horse Slaughter Bill which
would have prohibited the slaughter for human consumption of
some 90,000 horses each year. The bill generated great
controversy between those who see the method of slaughter as
inhumane and those who raise the point that unwanted horses
are not likely to be getting appropriate care. But the
bill did nothing to provide funding for the care of the
horses it claimed to be protecting, and will have to be
re-thought if it is to be an effective piece of legislation.
In the meantime, the issue of overproduction, especially of
horses destined for the racetrack, needs to be re-examined.

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And in a story which could have repercussions well into
2007, veterinarians in Wellington, Florida, have had to
euthanize two horses shipped in for the three-month long
Winter Equestrian Festival, because they tested positive for
equine herpes virus. The horses were among a group of nine
which arrived from New York and Maryland on Nov. 29; where
they contracted the virus is not yet known. The Festival
has had to cancel its Christmas Horse Show.

On a happier note, 2007 will see a serious stepping up of
preparations for the 2008 Olympics, and I have high hopes
for the continued success of Ontario’s Jacqueline Brooks and
her beautiful bay Gran Gesto, who won the FEI World Cup
Canadian League Dressage Final in November and will be
representing Canada at the FEI World Cup Finals next April
in Las Vegas NV.

In the U.S., many are awaiting the racing debut of The Green
Monkey, the 2006 $16,000,000 yearling who has yet to
compete. And Smarty Jones’ first crop will be hitting the
sales rings; from all accounts Smarty is getting some very
impressive babies!

That’s it for now–holiday cheers to all!

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