Monthly Archives: August 2011

Medical Monday: Equine Infectious Anemia (aka Swamp Fever)

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is an infection of the blood spread by biting insects such as mosquito’s and various biting flies.  Pregnant mares that become infected are automatically assumed to have transmitted the disease to the foal and both mare and foal (once birthed) should be kept in isolation until the foal is weaned and can be tested.  The foal should not be tested prior to weaning as it may give a false positive due to ingesting antibodies from the mare’s colostrum.

There are three “levels” of EIA;

  • Acute
    • Symptoms appear within 1-4 weeks of first exposure
    • Sudden fever, often reaching upwards of 105°F
    • Rapid weight loss, anemia (in EIA the horse’s own white blood cells may attack its red blood cells) and hemorrhages of the mucous membranes
  • Subacute
    • Horse may have several bouts of fever, with normal periods in between
    • Weight loss is more pronounced in this level since it is more due to its longer duration
    • Horse may become depressed and stop eating altogether
    • Anemia may be more severe
    • Swelling of the legs and lower abdomen
  • Chronic
    • Horse may experience periods of fever, anemia and weight loss.

Any “level” of EIA can occur without any outward signs of the disease.


  • There, unfortunately, is no effective treatment at this time.
  • Once a horse contracts this virus it is impossible to eliminate it from the body.  If the horse survives the virus it will be a carrier for as long as it lives.


  • Fly and mosquito population control
  • Sterilization of medical equipment (including dental equipment)
  • Test all new horses (including new purchases and new boarders)

In my research for this article I found a few conflicting facts on the virus and so have included links to a few different sources for your own edification.  My primary source for this article comes from the “Horseman’s Veterinary Encyclopedia, Revised and Updated” published by The Lyons Press in 2005.  If you have any questions about this disease or suspect your horse may have come in contact with it, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Health


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A Mare’s Heart to Win

A Mare’s Heart to Win
By Betsy Kelleher

Zenyatta is one of the great mares in racing history. Her owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, planned to retire the six-year-old after the Breeder’s Cup Classic in Louisville, KY on November 7th, 2010. Instead of retiring with an outstanding record of twenty wins, she came in second by a nose in this last important race. Zenyatta’s record of nineteen wins out of twenty starts should be her lasting tribute, however, more than her one loss.

Crowds lined the area where Zenyatta walked to the paddock to be saddled. People yelled and cheered their encouragement while her handlers tried to shush the noise, hoping to lessen the pressure on her. She showed her nervous anticipation in her characteristic walk, lifting her right front foot, and sometimes her left, in a dressage-like extension, as if pawing the air. The announcer called it a dance movement. Maybe they will name it the Zenyatta Step.

We all watched as horse number eight headed for the loading gate, entered without problem and stood waiting. We saw her come out of the gate more slowly than we hoped for and follow the pack of eleven other horses for way too long! We urged her forward, urged her on to find her way to the front! And then she came, fighting to get there, finally getting through the bunched pack to enough space where she could move out. She tried. She gave it everything she had. She lost by a nose. And we all felt that moment of heartbreak for her, for her jockey, her trainer and her owners, and for all those others who have grown to admire this fantastic mare.

Zenyatta came up from dead last to almost win. As the sunset cast a rosy glow over Churchill Downs, she was led back to the barn for the first time without her moment of glory in the winner’s circle—while Mike Smith, her jockey, fought to control his emotions over perhaps his greatest loss. Her trainer, John Shirreffs, walked back with his head down, hands in his pockets. Her owners seemed stunned.

Did we expect her to be invincible? Didn’t we expect her to come up from behind again with her thrilling power and heart to win and to cross the finish line with her usual last-minute triumph? Things happen. If anything, blame the dirt thrown in her face from the flying feet in front of her. She was used to a synthetic track. But in spite of the dirt and the late start, she gave it her all, as most mares do.

Speaking for women in general, many of us know something about the pressure to win in a male-dominated sport. Zenyatta definitely has the heart of a winner and we will remember her valiant try. This mare has won the hearts of countless fans. May her babies continue her legacy!

Betsy Kelleher’s second book, MARES! (ya gotta love em), is a compilation of stories from mare owners across the United States, sharing the challenges and joys of mare ownership. Her first book, Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse, shared her experiences training her first mare and the spiritual message she found in their relationship. Betsy writes a monthly column for the Illinois Horse Network newspaper under the heading, Sometimes God Uses Horses. Visit her website or her Mares and More Blog to learn more about her horses, her books and her columns.

See review by Carol Upton of MARES! (ya gotta love em) here.

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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Book Reviews


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Pricing Your Horse Too Low

Yesterday we talked about why pricing your horse too high could discourage potential purchasers.  Today we’re doing a 180 and discussing why you shouldn’t price your horse too low.  A lot of people think that just because you can sell something for a lower price, means that you should.   It don’t!  (The preceeding instance of bad grammar was intentional and meant to emphasize just how much you shouldn’t low ball your own sale!)

Like it or not, the sale price of an item does influence people’s perception of said item.  For example, if you’re looking at two cars for sale, both the same make, model, year, everything’s the same!  For the purpose of this example let’s say even the mileage is the same.  Let’s also say that you’ve been very thorough in your research and know that similarly comparable (but not as awesomely comparable as these two) are selling for around $18,000.  If one car is priced at $17,500 and the other at $11,000, which one are you going to look at first?  Most people are going straight to the $17,500 one because they’re brain is busy wondering what’s wrong with the $11,000 one that it’s priced sooo much lower!  You’re not thinking that maybe it’s being sold by a dealership employee who got a great deal on the price back when they first bought the car, because you’re too busy wondering how many accidents has it been in and whether or not the engine will fall out two minutes into your drive home!

The same thought process can, and should, be applied to horse purchasers.  If a beautiful and talented horse is priced well under what comparable horses are being sold for, purchasers are wondering what is wrong with the horse that the owner is selling it for less than the industry is telling them it’s worth.  Unlike a car, where you can research the VIN, there’s no Horse Identification Number to tell you about underlying medical conditions or specific environmental triggers that cause the horse to attempt to rip out the throat of its rider.

Given the current economy, a lot of horses are being sold due to financial hardship.  And though you may think that lowering the sale price of your horse will help it sell quicker, chances are it won’t.  You may get lucky, and a trainer who can spot a bargain might find your ad.  But keep in mind that that, unfortunately, is not the norm.

For assistance in determining the optimum price at which to sell your horse, Horse Resource Network offers a Fair Market Valuation service.  For more information please visit our website or email for more details!

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in General


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When A Sale Price is Too High

You may think that by pricing your horse on the higher end of the spectrum that you’re weeding out the lookey-loo’s but in fact you may be discouraging serious purchasers!

The smart way to buy a horse these days is to develop a maximum price before the search even begins.   The people that do this tend to stick to their “budget” like glue.  Your horse may be perfect for them in every way, but if you’ve priced your horse on the higher end of the spectrum, you may just be pricing yourself out of a sale!  There are numerous factors to consider when pricing your horse, but this article is going to focus on you, the buyer and (most importantly) your horse.

Why are you selling your horse?  If you’re a breeder or a trainer who bought the horse as an investment and are now selling to earn some money then your situation is very different from someone who, say, is selling due to financial hardship.  Just as a seller should know their maximum buying price, a seller should know their minimum sale price – especially when selling because you can’t afford to keep the horse anymore.

Think about who you are selling to.  Who is your “target market”?  Are they wealthy competitors?  Or are they backyard riders?  Being aware of the type of purchaser your horse is likely to attract can help you determine a realistic price.

When setting your sale price, make sure you focus on the horse’s current worth.  Don’t think about what you’ve spent so far on training, boarding or any other expense.  If it’s a relatively young horse, you can factor in the horse’s potential, but be objective about it.  If you can, get the opinion of a trainer or a professional rider– they can give you an accurate assessment of your horse’s potential.  If you get them chatting they may even offer you their professional opinion as to what the horse should be priced at!

While there are many factors that should be carefully considered when pricing your horse, these are a few that should be given careful thought.  For further assistance Horse Resource Network offers a Fair Market Valuation to help make sure your horse is priced right where it should be.  For more information please visit our website or email

Next week we go to the opposite end of the spectrum: How pricing your horse low can scare away potential purchasers!

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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in General


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Medical Monday: Navicular Disease

Navicular disease (or syndrome) is the degeneration of the navicular bone, navicular bursa and the digital flexor tendon.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the degeneration, however, there is no known cause.

  • Repeated compression can wear down the navicular bone and surrounding cartilage
  • Excessive tension placed on tendons supporting the navicular bone
  • Toe landing first may contribute to navicular problems due to the increased strain on the deep digital flexor tendon
  • Conformation may have an impact (genetic predisposition) – specifically conformation flaws that promote concussion
    • Upright pasterns, too straight shoulders, small feet, significant downhill build, long toes with low heels
  • Poor shoeing/trimming can have a negative impact
  • Any work that places additional stress on the deep digital flexor tendon – including steep hills, galloping and jumping

Symptoms can include

  • Heel pain (causing the horse to walk on their toes)
  • Mild/intermittent lameness


  • Corrective trimming/shoeing (with the purpose of shortening the toe and elevating the heel)
  • Continue exercise to promote blood flow/circulation but should be low impact – swimming may help.
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Health


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Charmayne James on Barrel Racing

Charmayne James on Barrel Racing
Charmayne James with Cheryl Magoteaux
A Western Horseman Book
Western Horseman Magazine, 2005, $23.95 CAD
Soft cover, ISBN-978-0911-647-76-7
Available through tack stores and Chapters/Indigo

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton –

Much of what you’ll read in this book goes against popular barrel racing theory and technique, but I ask you to give it chance. Take the time to learn the techniques and I know they’ll help you. ~ Charmayne James

Charmayne James is the All Time Leading Money Earner in Barrel Racing. She conducts clinics that are booked years in advance and she has developed the unique approaches outlined in this book. Whether you are a long-time competitor or just starting out, Charmayne can make your road a whole lot easier.

This book is laid-out in the classic style we have come to expect from Western Horseman books. Each chapter includes sidebars listing tips, to help us learn and remember, and colourful stories from Charmayne’s experiences with her own horses. The usual basics are covered, but there are also terrific chapters on the Strategy of Competition, Pattern and Position, and Winning Attitude.

Solving problems through slow work and bonding with the horse is a hallmark of Charmayne’s training philosophy. In her section on Common Problems, she uses case studies to demonstrate workable solutions. She has found that many difficulties, such as a horse that doesn’t want to enter the arena or one who displays lack of control nearing the barrels, can be resolved by improvement in riding skills.

Very few books have been written on the topic of barrel racing. This one is thorough, motivating and shares Charmayne’s years of proven experience. “Becoming a winner,” she says, “ is in your grasp if you want to work hard enough at it.” Keep her book handy on your barn shelf and you too can become unbeatable in the barrel racing ring.

Charmayne James became a World Champion Barrel Racer when she won her first title in 1984 at the age of 14, a title she continued to win for the next 10 years.  She earned National Finals Rodeo qualifications for 19 consecutive years, also beginning in 1984.  Charmayne has been heralded by professionals across the world as “one of the greatest horse people of all times.”

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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Book Reviews


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We Cantered! (on purpose!)

It’s been a while since my last post, not because I’ve been lazy and haven’t posted! But because I just haven’t ridden.  Which is unfortunate but my schedule got away from me :S  Anywho, I’m back! I rode Carbo today in the blazing hot sun (*sigh* heaven).  As per what is our current “usual”, we did most of our work at the walk – a lot of leg yielding, shoulder-in, haunches-in and 3 loop serpentines.  It’s all still done with a longish rein, but we’re working on shortening them and getting a little more organized. However, I’m finding that riding with a longer rein is allowing me to really feel when my half halts go through – I guess because the entire movement is more exaggerated and thus so is the response.

After I got some really nice steps of shoulder-in at the walk I kicked (not literally) him up to the trot for a break and let him stretch out as a bit of a reward.  He did start out the first couple strides giraffing but I kept my hands steady and put my legs on and he went to work pretty quickly.  We had a really nice, forward trot today which really let me concentrate on getting him to bend properly around my leg through circles and figure-8’s.  I did find that my eyes were wandering downwards today, looking at where his headset was.  When I figured out what I was inadvertently doing (closer to the end of the ride, of course) I concentrated on keeping my eyes up and did a few quick succession transitions – walk to trot, trot to walk, and made sure he moved forward into the transitions, especially the downward ones.  This may sound like a contradictory term to some, moving forward into the downward transition, but what I mean is that he doesn’t drop from the trot to the walk, he keeps his impulsion and moves steadily from one gait to the other.

We were doing so well that I decided to bump him up into the canter.  Usually I prefer to go walk to canter because it’s just that much more organized.  But I’ve decided that I do that too much and need to practice my trot to canter transitions and since I’m not worrying about headset right now I figured it was a perfect time to try.  It was not a pretty transition.  He hollowed; I hunched my shoulders and leaned into the transition but thankfully it was only 2 strides of sitting trot and we were cantering.  I didn’t keep it going long because he really doesn’t have the muscles, so we just cantered down one long side.  It was nice and forward, he didn’t invert and I really sat up and used my seat.  This was going to the left, which apparently is my good side because going to the right was craptacular.  It was disorganized and he was running on the forehand – not horribly, but more than I would have liked.  For such a short canter I feel that we should keep it together a little bit better than what we did.  But I guess that just gets added to the list of stuff we have to work on!

Overall, I’m absolutely thrilled with how Carbo is progressing.  I also feel a lot better about my riding.  I’m thinking more about my position and about being correct and effective – no nagging legs or hands!  I mean, it still happens, but I’m catching myself at it and retraining my muscle memory.  I guess I’m doing an ok job – Carbo doesn’t run away at the sight of the saddle!


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