Friday, May 27, 2011

Lesson Horse Joys (not so much!)

Along with my real job as an equine nutritionist, I also train a few horses and give riding lessons. Unfortunately, my little lesson herd has become fairly geriatric, and in the past year I've had to give up one of my wonderful horses to a perfect home where she could tote beginners around and be loved forever, and another of my girls is now only giving lessons to small people who are not ready to jump much larger than crossrails. So, for the last 10 months, I've been trying to find one nice horse to add to my happy lesson horse herd. While some horse people absolutely love shopping for horses, I hate it! My modus operandi is usually to wait until a horse finds me that I fall in love with, and after about a 10-minute trial ride, I just write the check and take him or her home. I don't like sifting through websites and classified ads, calling other trainers and friends, traveling to try out horses, sitting on unfamiliar saddles, getting my hopes up, getting my hopes crashed, etc, etc, etc. Just not my idea of fun!!! However, unless I want to get out of the lesson business entirely (which I don't want to do because I really enjoy giving lessons and I love my peeps), I really do need another horse.

Late last summer, I thought I'd found the right horse. The woman that I bought my personal horse (Conor) from, had another little Quarter horse that she thought would be good as a lesson horse. I went and rode him, and while he was fairly green, he was quiet, sweet, and had a really good mind. I figured that I could ride him a few months, teach him to jump, and then start putting some more advanced students on him. I took him home, named him Clancy, and started teaching him the things he needed to know about being a lesson horse. Well, in the 30+ years I've been giving riding lessons, I've never encountered a horse like Clancy. He just never could get the hang of jumping. I always start a newbie over trot poles on the ground, and then gradually move up to a crossrail, and take it on from there. My favorite moment is when the horse figures out that the jump is not actually a barrier, it's a fun thing that they get to jump over! Well, Clancy never did make that mental leap. While he was willing to hop over the barrier, you could just tell he was wondering "why on earth do these people keep asking me to go OVER the barrier when it would be so much easier to just go AROUND the barrier? And isn't that what a barrier is for - to keep me on this side?" So, much as we all enjoyed Clancy's sweet face and kind personality, I ended up selling him early this year to a friend who is using him on a ranch where he gets to work cattle and doesn't have to leap over any barriers ever again, and he's doing just great.

However, I had to go back to the lesson horse search, which was no fun at all, until I discovered Craigslist!!! There are lots of horses for sale on Craigslist, and they are close to home so I don't have to travel so far, and there are lots of horses in my price range! I found a couple that sounded good and had nice pictures, and made a few phone calls. The one that I was most interested in had a picture of the owner standing on the saddle, and I thought "this horse has the kind of attitude that I like!" Not that I condone standing on the saddle - probably not a really safe riding position, but I like a horse that will put up with that kind of thing. So I took a couple of friends on a little road trip to try him out, and came home with a lighter checkbook and a new set of Quarter horse papers. Eoghan (pronounced "Owen" in case you're curious) is an 8 year old ranch broke gelding, and we'll see how he gets along with an English saddle and jumping over barriers. So far, he's ok with trot poles and a tiny crossrail. After a week, he's already beyond Clancy in jumping potential (but that's not saying much!). He's also learned that I and my peeps are good sources of fine things to eat, including carrots, horse cookies, and even a banana (I've never had a horse that liked bananas, but Eoghan was looking at the one I was eating with such interest that I just had to share). He seems to be very happy with his new home, and as soon as his quarantine is over, he'll get to go out to pasture with his new herd. If I was a better blogger I'd have already taken a picture or video of Eoghan to post, but I haven't, so I'm posting a picture of Clancy instead. And next time I post a blog, I'll include a picture of Eoghan - maybe one of him jumping (I'm very optimistic)!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

EHV-1/EHM Update

I just listened in on a very informative webinar presented by The Horse and sponsored by Intervet Schering-Plough. Drs. Lunn and Morley from Colorado State University presented updated information on the outbreak.

The current numbers: 121 horses have tested positive for EHV-1. 142 premises have been identified as potential exposure sites, of those 42 have horses that have been confirmed to be infected with EHV-1. It will likely take at least another week or two to determine the exact extent of the outbreak, but the feeling is that the quick action taken by local and state veterinarians has really helped to minimize the spread of the disease as much as possible. It is still being recommended that a risk-benefit analysis be undertaken when deciding about the whether or not to hold horse events or move horses right now. It may not be a prudent to do so until the middle of June. Be sure to check with event organizers for scheduling changes and new requirements for entry to the event facility before leaving home.

For the latest updates, please be sure to keep checking the information available for horse owners at:

Monday, May 23, 2011

EHV-1/EHM Update

Things are fairly quiet right now with regard to news about this situation. The USDA has not issued a new situation report since the 19th of May. California is now reporting a total of 17 cases confirmed. This may just be a lull as state veterinarian's offices and local veterinary diagnostic labs are working to gather information and analyze samples from suspect exposures and cases. I am attending a webinar tomorrow afternoon being given by Paul Lunn and some of his colleagues that should provide some more information and I will update you again afterwards with any new information.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011 EHV-1/EHM Outbreak - Update

8:30 am CST

USDA reports that 33 horses in 8 states have been confirmed as EHV-1 or EHM cases.

Late yesterday afternoon, two important communications were sent out regarding the EHV-1/ EHM outbreak. The first was issued by the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) and the AHC (American Horse Council) stating that these two groups and their members and stakeholders would be working in close coordination with state veterinarians to forward data on this outbreak to the USDA: APHIS: VS (United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Service). The USDA: APHIS: VS has agreed to act as a data collation center, and to provide equine practitioners, state officials and other stakeholders with accurate information regarding the incidence of EHV-1/EHM and the extent of the outbreak. This is a very important step in working to contain this outbreak. On the heels of this announcement, the USDA: APHIS: VS released its first situation report. The May 19 situation report contains the most accurate information available regarding the number of horses, premises and states affected to date. I have included the link below.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

EHV-1/EHM Outbreak - Afternoon Update

DVM Newsmagazine reports that 29 cases have now been confirmed in 8 states. The original 400 horses that competed at the NCHA Western Nationals in Ogden Utah came from 29 different states. The state veterinarians in all of those states of origin are working to track those horses and assess their current health status and subsequent movements. Here is a current state by state report from
• Arizona — One confirmed case; • California — 10 confirmed; • Colorado — Six confirmed cases; five that attended the NCHA event and one that was in contact with sick horses; • Idaho — Two dead, no confirmed cases; • Montana — 30-35 horses under observation, no confirmed EHV-1 cases reported; • Nebraska — Five farms quarantined, no cases confirmed; • Nevada — No confirmed cases; • New Mexico — One dead, one suspected and no confirmed cases; • Oregon — One confirmed case; • Texas — 20 under investigation. The one confirmed case was a horse from New Mexico that was taken to West Texas for treatment. • Utah — Five confirmed cases; • Washington — Three confirmed cases; • Wyoming — No confirmed cases
(When I add this up I get 27 cases in 7 states –however, another report states that 4 cases have been confirmed in Canada)

The Wyoming State Veterinarians’ office has issued new requirements for horses travelling to the state. The new requirements include a valid health certificate issued within 72 hours of the time of travel listing a temperature for each horse, and statements by the veterinarian (written on the health certificate) certifying that the horses are not infected, have not been exposed to and are not currently exhibiting clinical signs of EHV-1. A link to the press release is provided below:[1].pdf

The Arizona State Veterinarians’ office has confirmed one case of EHM in the state. The horse is under quarantine at its’ home farm. State officials are attempting to contact the owners of other Arizona horses that competed at the NCHA event in Ogden Utah which is considered to be the epicenter of this outbreak.

In case you haven’t heard…The National Cutting Horse Association has cancelled all NCHA-approved shows for this weekend (May 20-22). Whether or not future shows will still be held is still up in the air. In a letter posted on the NCHA website, the president of the organization asked its’ members to report any reliable news about the outbreak to the NCHA offices in order to help them make the most informed decisions regarding future events. Go to to learn more.

EHV-1/EHM Breaking News

8:30 am CST

In response to the current outbreak, the state veterinarians’ office in Colorado has issued new transport requirements for horses entering the state. Horse owners wishing to travel to Colorado with their horses must first contact their veterinarian, who then must contact the Colorado state veterinarians’ office to receive a permit number which will be required on the health certificate accompanying the shipment. This policy is being implemented in order to track the origin and destination of horses in order to quickly implement quarantine measures should they become necessary. Here is a link to the press release outlining the new policy:

It is strongly advised that if you are planning any interstate travel with your horse, that you contact the state veterinarians office at your destination to determine if any new policies or restrictions are in place governing the movement of horses. Additionally, if you are planning on attending a show or other horse event, call ahead to be sure that the event is still taking place as scheduled and to determine if any new requirements for entry into the facility have been implemented.

The veterinary teaching hospitals of Colorado State Univeristy and the University of California-Davis have closed their equine and camelid hospital services to non-emergency cases. This is being done in an effort to minimize spread of the virus. These hospitals are NOT quarantined at this time. Washington State University veterinary teaching hospital IS under quarantine at this time due to the presence of a confirmed case that was discharged prior to detection. All horses in the hospital population during that time have to date tested negative for EHV-1.

New Mexico is reporting 2 suspected cases. These horses are under quarantine.

Dr. Paul Lunn of Colorado State University, perhaps the foremost authority on EHV-1/EHM, has given some radio interviews that contain essential information for horse owners regarding the outbreak. Links to the broadcasts are below:

Here is a link to a very informative report from This story includes updates and comments from authorities in numerous states.

Be sure to continue checking in with the AAEP at their EHV-1/EHM Resources webpage. The AAEP continues to update this page with new information and resources daily, particularly in the “Related Items” section.

I will continue to monitor the situation and update you regularly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EHV-1/EHM Outbreak Affecting the Western United States and Canada

At this time, 17 horses in several western states (Idaho, Utah, California, and Washington) and Canada have been diagnosed with Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease caused the Equine Herpesvirus 1 virus (EHV-1). The origin of the outbreak appears to be a NCHA event held April 29-May 8, 2011 in Ogden Utah. More than 400 horses competed at this show.

At this time, it is recommended that the movement and co-mingling of horses from different herds be restricted in an attempt to contain this outbreak. Owners of horses that have travelled to events (particularly in the western states) recently should monitor their horses closely for signs of infection.

Often the first clinical sign of EHM is fever. Horses can also first display signs of respiratory disease such as nasal discharge and coughing. Neurological signs include incoordination (usually of the hind limbs), urine retention or dribbling, lying down and being unable to rise. It is highly recommended that horses have their temperatures taken twice daily to detect possible infections in the earliest stages.

EHV-1 can be spread by inhalation of droplets from coughing or snorting from an infected horse or by direct nose to nose contact. People, equipment (buckets, feed pans, manure forks etc.), grooming utensils and tack can also spread the virus if they have come into contact with or have been used near a horse that is infected and shedding the virus through their nasal secretions or coughing. EHV-1 does not infect or cause disease in humans. The virus can persist in the environment for several weeks under the right conditions.

Treatment for EHM is largely supportive and includes intravenously administered fluids, anti-inflammatory agents and nursing care.

Horses suspected of being infected or that have fevers but no other signs of EHM may be treated with an anti-viral drug called Valtrex (valacyclovir). This drug is very expensive but has been shown to prevent EHM when given prior to exposure to EHV-1 or before neurological signs develop, in most cases.

Horses that are suspected of being infected with EHV-1 or who may have come into contact with an infected horse should be quarantined. Facilities housing horses that have been diagnosed with EHV-1 should also be quarantined. Extreme care should be taken in moving between quarantined and non-quarantined horses and facilities. It is recommended that non-quarantined facilities and horses be worked with first before moving to the quarantined area. Equipment, tack, and grooming supplies should not be transported between facilities and personnel should change clothing and boots after working with suspect or infected animals. Use of hand sanitizer and hand washing is also required after working with affected horses to prevent human’s from carrying the virus from horse to horse.
Unfortunately, at this time there is no evidence that currently available EHV-1 vaccines offer any protection against EHM. Therefore, vaccination does not preclude the possibility of EHV-1 infection and/or the development of EHM.

If you are concerned that your horse has EHM or may have been exposed to a horse infected with EHV-1, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The link provided below is to the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) web page on EHM and EHV. This web page contains further links and resources for you to better understand this disease and outbreak.

We will keep you posted via this blog and our Purina Horse Facebook page as updates on the outbreak become available.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Legends done until next year

We had a good showing at the Legends of Ranching sale last weekend, our horses all went to good homes and the students that trained them were very appreciative of the opportunity to work with some of our horses. We have the next batch getting ready for their turn in Colorado, (we send 4 a year). They have to do a little research work for us before they go, or sometimes they have to stay back to help with growth and development projects for a period of time before they can leave. Our foals from this year are growing like crazy, they are all able to wear a halter and lead fairly well. The next step will be to get them weaned in a couple more months! Unitl then rate of growth is tightly monitored, and we watch them very closely.

This picture is Kool Dory going through the ring at the sale last weekend, the student that trained her, John is leading her.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help People, Help Horses in Alabama

As you know, the recent tornadoes in the South have devastated areas of Alabama and surrounding states. Our own Equine Specialist, Rhonda Bowles (from Ashville, Alabama, pictured above) is lucky to be alive and her family and farm are OK. The area around her however, is in desperate need of help. One farm that was integral in our research of Omolene 500 in 2008 was 5W Ranch owned by Donna Preskitt. Her farm has been demolished by the storm. Our hearts go out to everyone there. We have sent feed for horses that is being distributed, but further financial donations would be helpful. If you would like to help, please send donations to:

22401 US HWY 441

Also the following youtube link shows the devastation in Hackleburg and Phil Campbell areas.

Rhonda is going there today with the Sheriff to help catch surviving horses that are reportedly running loose.

Please donate if you can.