New Programs to Help Horse Owners Stay Up to Date on Health and Medical Issues

There are some great new programs and websites to help horse owners get timely information - check them out!


Outbreak Alert Gives Veterinarians and
Horse Owners the Edge in Fighting Disease

When it comes to equine health care, a partnership between horse owners and veterinarians is a must. Equally important is staying informed about potential disease threats that may put a horse’s health at risk. That’s the reason Merial launched, a free program used to notify horse owners and veterinarians about reports of equine disease throughout the country.

Since June 2011, the program has provided notification of more than 500 disease reports threatening the overall health and well being of horses. As of late October 2011, those notifications included 52 cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in seven states1 and 69 cases of equine West Nile virus (WNV)in 20 states. Notifications of other preventable diseases such as rabies, Potomac horse fever (PHF) and equine influenza have also been shared with concerned horse owners. Cases of Equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), which is highly contagious, have also been reported through the program.

“I think the Outbreak Alert program is an excellent way for my clients to stay informed about diseases that might threaten the health of their horses,” says Kerby Weaver, DVM, Wilhite & Frees Equine Hospital, Peculiar, Mo. “It is an especially valuable tool for horse owners who travel with their horses because they may not otherwise be aware of potential disease threats in the areas they are traveling to.”

In addition to the cases reported on the website, which are visually displayed on a map of the United States, the Outbreak Alert program also offers a notification system. Those who sign up for the free service receive an e-mail or text message when a disease is reported in a specific geographic area. Horse owners who travel may enter multiple zip codes so they can stay abreast of disease threats throughout the country.

Recently, printable reference materials and articles about the most common equine diseases, their transmission and potential impact on a horse’s health were added to the site. “Horse owners want to provide the best care possible for their horses,” says April Knudson, DVM, equine specialist for Merial’s Large Animal Veterinary Services. “Veterinarians can use these tools to help educate their clients, strengthening the veterinarian-client relationship. Ultimately, as horse owners become even more educated about the importance of preventive care, the horses will benefit.”

When considering vaccinations, horse owners should be aware of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) guidelines which include recommendations for vaccinating against core diseases, including WNV, EEE, Western equine encephalitis, tetanus and rabies.2 All of these diseases can have devastating effects on the short- and long-term health of horses. Of the horses diagnosed with WNV, one in three dies or must be euthanized.Horses diagnosed with EEE face as high as a 90 percent mortality rate.4,5 Rabies is always a death sentence to a horse.6

Veterinarians and horse owners can sign up for the service by visiting and clicking the “register” button in the top right corner. As soon as people register, they will begin receiving information about potential threats in their geographic areas as they occur.


Here's a course from Equine Guelph:




New Equine Welfare Course -

Take Your Online Learning to the Next Level at Equine Guelph


More often than not, once you have committed to the Equine Industry, a life-long passion will ensue!  Equine Guelph is continually expanding course offerings for these devoted horse lovers to help them transition into dedicated leaders.  Equine Guelph has more to offer than any other online equine studies certificate or diploma program with 19 courses taught by highly qualified, top industry professionals from the University of Guelph’s renowned Ontario Vet College and beyond.


And now, Equine Guelph is pleased to announce the first offering of: 


Equine Welfare

March 05 – May 27, 2012


This online course is designed for individuals who desire heightened awareness of global horse welfare issues including housing, management practices and procedures that can affect a horses well being.  Equine Guelph’s director, Gayle Ecker explains, “We know that horses are a prey species and therefore may be very good at hiding health concerns.  It is our responsibility as caretakers, and members of the industry, to reach a high level of education and understanding in order to provide a high level of care.”


Students will discuss pertinent welfare topics including: how to recognize negative emotional states, how welfare can be objectively assessed in the horse, and specific practices which may compromise horse welfare.


Instructor Katrina Franken (BSc and MSc Equine Science) is excited about this unique, online course designed to instill professional perspective and provide hands–on tools to tackle welfare issues, “The horse has a vast variety of roles in our lives. Whether it is a working equid in a developing country, an Olympic athlete flying around the world to compete or a cherished family pet – they all have similar needs that can be surprisingly different from what we think.”


This course will provide the students professional perspective.  All too often horse lovers project very human characteristics onto their horses. The cheeky teaching pony who pulls every trick out of the bag to ditch its rider might actually be suffering from back problems caused by its saddle. Recognizing situations like these are some of the first steps to becoming a professional with advanced knowledge in equine welfare.


This course will look at the biological and emotional factors that affect a horse’s quality of life.  Students will learn how to assess welfare in practice and will discuss practical issues from a global perspective.  Over the duration of the course, you will be provided with the background that is essential to really make a difference for our horses.’


NOTE: This course is a core (required) course in the new Equine Welfare Certificate program offered by Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare and Equine Guelph. 

The Equine Welfare Certificate core courses include:

Equine Welfare

Advanced Equine Behaviour

Advanced Equine Health through Nutrition

Global Perspectives in Animal and Equine Welfare

Plus 2 elective courses:

Health & Disease Prevention

The Equine Industry

Equine Nutrition

Advanced Equine Anatomy


Please visit www.Equine for more information and prerequisites.



Here's a great online tool, also from Equine Guelph:


Is Your Horse Lame?


Equine caregivers know all too well, identifying and treating lameness in horses can be a frustrating and expensive process.


Equine Guelph’s new Lameness Lab online tool, sponsored by Pfizer Equine Division, will help you learn about lameness through interactive activities. 


“We think that a visual approach to lameness will greatly help horse caregivers better understand the basics of lameness and how to recognize the signs or symptoms in their horse,” says Dr. Cathy Rae, equine Technical Services veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health.  “This understanding should help them detect lameness earlier as well as guide them in knowing when to call their veterinarian.” 


The Lameness Lab will allow horse owners to discover the causes and factors contributing to increased risk.  You will learn about the body tissues involved and how to tell if your horse is lame.  Plus, see videos of lame horses; test your knowledge and find out how a veterinarian detects lameness.


This online tool features video commentary by Dr. Nicola Cribb, assistant professor and equine surgeon at the University of Guelph, and Dr. Ken Armstrong, equine veterinarian and partner of Halton Equine Veterinary Services.


“I am pleased to help out with the ‘working with the vet’ section of the online tool,” says Armstrong.  “In the videos, I explain to horse owners a typical process that vets go through from lameness assessment to diagnosis.  Because it’s a team effort between the vet and the owner, it’s important for owners to understand what the vet is doing and why.”


To check out this tool, go to Equine Guelph’s ‘Toolbox’ at and click on Lameness Lab.




And for those horse breeders out there, an in-person course at University of Kentucky on equine reproduction and young horses:

UK Equine Initiative to host equine showcase, breeders’ short course

By Jenny Blandford


LEXINGTON, Ky., (Dec. 15, 2011) – The University of Kentucky Equine Initiative will host a UK Equine Showcase Jan. 20 and the 3rd Annual Kentucky Breeders’ Short Course Jan. 21 at the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lexington.


The UK Equine Showcase is a program highlighting the latest UK equine research focused on the young horse. The program will run from 1 to 5 p.m. with a reception following.


The 3rd Annual Kentucky Breeders’ Short Course is an in-depth equine reproductive program from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 with lunch provided.


Both programs are open to veterinarians, owners and managers of all horse breeds or anyone with an interest in learning more about equine reproduction and topics concerning the young horse. Continuing education credit for veterinarians and veterinary technicians is pending approval by the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners.


“The UK Equine Showcase is a great opportunity for those in the industry to learn about the latest equine research that is ongoing at the University of Kentucky. The annual Kentucky Breeders’ Short Course will focus on equine reproductive efficiency,” said Ed Squires, director of the UK Equine Initiative and executive director of the Gluck Equine Research Foundation. “UK is fortunate to have many experts in equine science who can serve as speakers.”


Topics and speakers for the UK Equine Showcase include:

Common infectious diseases of the young horse; David Horohov

Cartilage development and maturation; James MacLeod

Building muscle in young horses; Kristine Urschel

Nutritional needs of the young horse; Laurie Lawrence

Vaccination strategies and immunity in young horses; Amanda Adams

Deworming strategies for the young horse; Martin Nielsen

Pricing of young horses in the Thoroughbred industry; Jill Stowe


Topics and speakers for the Kentucky Breeders’ Short Course include:

Pregnancy rates when breeding with natural mating or fresh, cooled or frozen semen; Ed Squires

Causes of fertilization failures; Barry Ball

Pregnancy losses during early gestation; Barry Ball

Pregnancy losses during late pregnancy and diagnosis of placentitis; Barry Ball

Factors affecting the incidence of dystocia; Ed Squires

Performance of foals from high-risk pregnancies; Sydney Hughes

Endometrial biopsy as an indicator of uterine artery rupture; Neil Williams

Effect of tall fescue on pregnant mares and how to contain fescue; Karen McDowell, William Witt and Ray Smith

Proper nutrition for rebreeding mares; Laurie Lawrence

Practical biosecurity for horse farms; Roberta Dwyer


To register, visit Early bird registration (by Jan. 9) for the UK Equine Showcase is $45, or $35 when two or more people from the same organization register at the same time. The price is the same for the Kentucky Breeders’ Short Course. Attendees can attend both days for $75. After Jan. 9, prices increase. Students are eligible to have their costs waived, but student designated space is limited and on a first-requested, first-served basis. Students interested in attending should email Jenny Blandford at


The VDL is located at 1490 Bull Lea Rd in Lexington.

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