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The time of year for foals has already begun or is fast approaching for many owners and barns. Are you ready and prepared for once they arrive?
30 Days Pre-foaling:
- Deworm mare
- Booster vaccines (Equine Herpesvirus killed vaccine [Rhinopneumonitis] should be given at 5,7 and 9 months of pregnancy to prevent abortions)
- Make sure you have a clean, dry stall ready for foaling when the time comes
- Monitor the udder - the udder will usually fill 1-2 weeks prior to foaling and the teats will wax over as foaling approaches
- Try to practice "non-invasive" monitoring to keep the mare calm and comfortable
Stages of Parturition:
- Stage 1 - Onset of contractions
- May look like colicky behavior or may be un-noticeable
- Stage 2 - Expulsion of foal
- Duration should be 15-30 minutes
- Veterinarian should be called if you do not see 2 feet and a nose first
- The umbilical cord should break on it's own as the mare stands up within the first few minutes, do not cut the umbilical cord, if you notice it is bleeding then it can be tied
- Stage 3 - Passage of the fetal membranes
- The fetal membranes should pass within 3 hours from foaling
- If this does not occur then a veterinarian should be called
Normal Progression for the Foal
- Normal respiration within the first minutes
- Gain righting reflexes within 5 minutes
- Suckle reflex within 5 minutes
- Attempt to stand within 30 minutes, should stand unassisted within 2-3 hours
- Begin nursing in 1-3 hours
- Should pass meconium (first manure - dark and very sticky) within 6-12 hours
***If any of the above does not occur as it normally should, a veterinarian should be contacted immediately***
A relationship with a veterinarian should be established throughout the pregnancy process so that he/she can support the mare and you, as well as the foal. If everything proceeds normally with the parturition process a healthy foal exam should be performed within the first 24-48 hours. During this exam the veterinarian will complete a full physical exam. This exam ensures that everything is proceeding normally and identifies any congenital or other abnormalities. Foals can have a heart murmur for the first few days of life normally, but this should slowly disappear and should be monitored by a veterinarian. They can also have congenital defects associated with their eyes, nose and limbs that a veterinarian can evaluate. The umbilicus should be evaluated to ensure that it closes normally and is free of infection. Shortly after birth the umbilicus should be disinfected with iodine or chlorhexidine to prevent infection and facilitate proper closure. This procedure should be performed several times a day for the first few days. If the foal does not pass meconium within 4-6 hours or is seen to be straining, a saline enema should be administered. Monitor for urination as well. If the foal has any difficulty nursing and/or passing meconium or urine, call your veterinarian.
A blood sample to measure the foal's IgG (antibodies) levels should be taken 12-24 hours post foaling. This is a measurement to ensure that the foal received enough colostrum from the mare. Foals do not get all their antibodies until after being born and drinking the mare's first milk (colostrum) that is full of antibodies. The foal is only able to absorb these antibodies during the first 8-12 hours of life. If their levels are low they should be administered colostrum or plasma to protect them from getting sick. Low levels indicate an immature immune system which puts the foal at risk to infection. Foals often look healthy and act fine until they are very sick so it is important to identify problems early to start treatment early and ensure a good prognosis.
If you have any questions regarding preparing for the arrival of a foal or any complications that can occur early in a newborn foal's life, please contact your veterinarian or the veterinarians of New England Equine Medical & Surgical center.
Kimberly Brothwell, DVM
Jacqueline Bartol, DVM, DACVIM
New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center
Dover, New Hampshire
Touchstone Farm Reschedules Sleighing Weekend
Rescheduled for February 23/24
Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10, Touchstone Farm in Temple, NH, hosts a full weekend of fun and informal sleighing events with horse-drawn sleighs.
Boo Martin drives a one-horse open sleigh at Touchstone Farm in Temple, NH.
On Saturday, Dave Bradham of Uncasville, CT, will teach a day-long sleighing clinic for beginner to advanced drivers. Plenty of time is built in for sleighing on a prepared track through the farm’s open fields. Participants can bring their own horse and sleigh or use Touchstone Farm’s horses and sleighs.
Saturday evening features a home-cooked dinner and a presentation, “Sleighing in the Old Days.” This event takes places in Stepping Stone Lodge at Touchstone Farm. Overnight accommodations are also available at the Lodge.
Sunday is the farm’s first annual sleigh rally, which kicks off with a parade of sleighs at 11:00 AM. Participants can register for up to 10 classes, including obstacle courses, classes for miniature horses and ponies, and a dueling sleigh competition. Participants in a special Currier and Ives class receive points for costumes and how well their hitch portrays the days of old. The public is cordially invited to attend the rally on Sunday.
Admission is free to spectators, who can watch the competition, enjoy sleigh rides through farm fields, and warm up with hot chocolate around a bonfire. Connelly Brothers Dairy Farm of Temple will be on site to offer hot food and drinks for sale.
Silver Oak Jumper Tournament to Proceed As Planned Will Be Held August 7-11, Despite Passing of David Birdsall
HAMPTON FALLS, NH—January 23, 2013
Silver Oak Equestrian Center has announced that the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament will be held as planned, August 7-11, despite the untimely passing of Silver Oak proprietor, David Birdsall.
Birdsall, 58, passed away at his Silver Oak farm in Hampton Falls, NH, on January 16. His wife, Karen, expressed her deepest gratitude to the show jumping community for all their support and emphasized that the horse show that her husband had planned at Silver Oak this summer will proceed as planned in his memory.
“My children and I want to express our sincere appreciation to everyone who has contacted us and provided support at this difficult time,” she said. “At the same time, I want to emphasize that we will be proceeding with the horse show as David would have wanted. It is something that my husband was very committed to and we have every intention of putting on the world-class horse show that he envisioned.”
Focusing strictly on jumpers, the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament will offer divisions for children, adults, juniors and amateurs in addition to an international open jumper division for North America’s leading Grand Prix riders. The horse show will benefit the Children’s Wish Foundation International and all classes will be USEF recognized. Working with Karen Birdsall to produce the event will be Dr. Jeff Papows, who will be deeply involved as Chairman, and Mike Belisle, who will be horse show manager. Silver Oak Equestrian Center, located right off Route 95 less than 50 miles from Boston, has built a reputation as one of the leading equestrian sports venues in New England. Its 150-acre facility is dedicated to providing a first-class experience for equestrian competitors and spectators alike. Silver Oak’s unique grounds offer one of the country’s largest grass Grand Prix and Derby fields along with four all-weather rings featuring world-class GGT footing.
Further information on the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament is available on line at www.SilverOakJumperTournament.com or www.facebook.com/SilverOakJumperTournament.
OVERVIEW: Navicular syndrome is a commonly diagnosed cause of lameness of the front feet. The term is used to encompass many different injuries to multiple structures within the hoof capsule. The navicular bone is a small boat-shaped bone within the hoof capsule which acts as a gliding surface for the deep digital flexor tendon. This tendon attaches to the bottom of the coffin bone and when it is pulled, causes the foot to flex. There are also a few smaller ligaments within the hoof capsule such as the impar ligament and suspensory ligament of the navicular bone that help to hold the navicular bone in place. While the term navicular disease was first used to describe lameness that was thought to be caused by changes in the navicular bone, more recent use of advanced imaging, such as MRI, has implicated soft tissue damage as another cause of lameness originating from the heel region.
DIAGNOSIS: Diagnosis of navicular syndrome is based primarily on how the horse responds to peri-neural analgesia. Navicular syndrome horses' lameness significantly improves with a palmar digital nerve block, which blocks the heel and sole of the foot. These horse's lameness will commonly switch to the opposite front foot, as the condition is most usually bilateral. Once the region of pain has been localized to the foot, imaging will most likely be pursued. Radiographs of the foot can show changes within the navicular bone. Radiographs may only tell part of the story, so more advanced imaging, likely MRI, is often indicated. MRI allows the soft tissue structures within the foot to be evaluated more closely and may give a more specific cause of lameness. Because soft tissue injuries need to be treated differently than bone injuries, finding the cause of lameness is important.
TREATMENT: Depending on the inciting cause and severity of lameness, multiple treatment options are available. The least invasive is corrective shoeing. Navicular syndrome horses often benefit from a wedge shoe with a pad. The wedge changes the angle of the deep digital flexor tendon running over the navicular bone and may help to ease pain. Corrective shoeing is also indicated in some horses with soft tissue damage, as the wedge will help the deep digital flexor tendon to flex the foot. Other simpler treatments include trying treating the lameness with a course of Phenylbutazone or treatment with Tildren. Tildren is a bisphosphonate that reduces the resorption of bone. It also acts to reduce active inflammation within bone and in turn reduces pain. Injections of both the coffin joint and the navicular bursa are options to help reduce inflammation and pain. The final treatment is neurectomy, which numbs the back of the foot for a prolonged period of time. Neurectomy is a good treatment option for some horses, but significant aftercare is required and it should not be pursued in all cases and most always used as the last alternative.
Stacie Aarsvold, DVM D. Michael Davis, DVM, MS
Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, August 7-11, 2013
Silver Oak Equestrian Center to Host USEF Recognized Jumper Show,
August 7-11, 2013
HAMPTON FALLS, NH—December 13, 2012—Silver Oak Equestrian Center in Hampton Falls, NH will host a USEF-recognized all-jumper horse show, August 7-11, 2013.
Silver Oak was home of The Jumper Classic for the last five years and will now continue to bring world-class show jumping competition to New England under the leadership of Silver Oak proprietor David Birdsall, who will be President and CEO of the new event, and Dr. Jeff Papows, who will be the event’s Honorary Chairman, a position he held with The Jumper Classic for 14 years.
“We are thrilled and honored that the USEF has recognized our commitment to putting on a first-class event and to presenting the sport of show jumping in the best possible manner,” said Birdsall. “Our plan is to utilize the outstanding features of the facility to attract the nation’s best horses and riders and to add exciting entertainment attractions that will continue the tradition of attracting large crowds of enthusiastic supporters to Silver Oak. We are committed to making this event a showcase for our sport in every regard.”
Focusing strictly on jumpers, the event will offer divisions for children, adults, juniors and amateurs in addition to an international open jumper division for North America’s leading Grand Prix riders. The horse show will benefit the Children’s Wish Foundation International and all classes will be USEF recognized.
“Silver Oak is an outstanding facility,” said two-time Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward. “Dave Birdsall and Jeff Papows are both well liked and both have outstanding reputations. There is no doubt that their horse show will be a premier world-class event. I look forward to riding there next summer!”
Silver Oak Equestrian Center has built a reputation as one of the leading equestrian sports venues in New England. For the past five years it has attracted top Olympic riders and other show jumping stars. The 150-acre facility is dedicated to providing a first-class experience for equestrian competitors and spectators alike. Its unique grounds offer one of the country’s largest grass Grand Prix and Derby fields along with four all-weather rings featuring world-class GGT footing.
Located right off Route 95, less than 50 miles from Boston, Silver Oak features top quality jumping surfaces, first-class equine accommodations and pristine fields and landscaping. The Hampton Falls area is also home to many fine restaurants and hotels and is in close proximity to Boston, MA and Portsmouth, NH.
“The nation’s leading riders and trainers have gotten used to coming to Silver Oak for a world-class horse show and we look forward to welcoming them back next August,” said Jeff Papows, PhD. “They will find a lot of what they liked when they came to Silver Oak in the past and, with the leadership of our new event, some changes that are sure to please them. This will very much be a ‘Riders’ Horse Show.’”Further information is available at www.silveroakjumpertournament.
TIPS ON ESTABLISHING RHYTHM
By Nancy Wesolek-Sterrett
Dressage Department Head, Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre
Rhythm and relaxation create an endless information loop that is the basis of everything else we do with our horses, either as trainers or riders. You need both to communicate clearly with your horse and you cannot have one without the other. Think about how this combination feels in your body as you ride. Relaxation makes it easier to set rhythm, and rhythm makes it easier to relax. On the flip side, tension in either horse or rider disrupts rhythm.
Our responsibility as riders and trainers is to learn to lead this dance rather than merely following along with whatever the horse offers. In the beginning, riders start out on reliable, goldie oldie school horses that offer a predictable ride so the rider can relax as she learns to balance over the horse’s center of gravity, apply aids, and eventually coordinate those aids into horse-logical corridors of pressure using an independent seat. Leading the dance means that a relaxed rider with an independent seat can set the working rhythm for any horse, young or old, green or grand prix, mellow or nervous. And that rhythm helps create relaxation in the horse and there we are at the best starting point for everything else we do with the horse.
Even though rhythm and relaxation are a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum, rhythm is at the base training tree because that is our point of entry as leaders in the partnership with our horse. Working from the ground, our rhythmic movement sets the patterns and feelings of shapes that become familiar to the horse. This familiarity helps the horse relax. He knows what to expect. When we ask a green horse for these familiar patterns and shapes under saddle for the first time, their familiarity helps the horse assimilate the new feeling of someone on his back. Later on in his training, as we begin asking the horse to push from his hindquarters with greater energy into our guiding hand, rhythmic patterning helps him work with elastic, ‘relaxed’, muscular tension rather than with tight, bunchy muscles.
FROM THE GROUND
Simple daily routines on the ground are the start of a rhythmic relationship with your horse. Greet your horse, halter him, and groom him following the same routine each day. Become aware of working with your horse in rhythmically as you speak, breathe, touch and move around him. Type A personalities find this very difficult and must train themselves to become rhythmic. Rhythmic movement makes you a predictable presence and, as your horse finds he can depend on you as that predictable presence, he will find it relaxing to be around you. Then you can carry that rhythmic, relaxed rapport over to your work under saddle. The more nervous or reactive your horse, the more important it is to build this relationship through groundwork before you saddle up and ride.
Continue using routine, especially with a young or nervous horse, when you start working him under saddle. Move the horse from the stall to the arena a consistent way. Take him for a walk around the arena each time to check things out, paying full attention to your horse, and setting a rhythm as you walk, turn, check your girth and mount.
Once in the saddle, make it part of your routine to check your position. You set the rhythm of the ride with your seat. Until you achieve a truly independent seat, you need to check your position at the beginning of every ride and several times during the ride to make sure your position makes it possible to communicate the rhythm you want to the horse.
If you are slouching in a chair seat with your leg out in front of your seat bones a bit, you will fall behind the horse’s motion, encourage him to scoot or run, and interrupt his rhythm. If you are collapsed in your mid-section or tilting your head and shoulders forward, you will be ahead of his motion, blocking good rhythm. With your upper body centered over the horse’s center of gravity and firm core muscles, check whether your back, buttock and thigh muscles are completely relaxed so they can follow the horse’s motion easily or whether they are holding any tension that will interrupt a rhythmic seat that moves with the horse.
CONNECTED AT THE HIP
Besides sitting in the correct position, riders need to have a full range of hip motion in order to set rhythm with their seat. Many riders confuse range of hip motion and the speed with which they open and close their hip angles.
Trying to slow a horse down by limiting the range of your hip motion does not work. Opening and closing your hips less than your horse is opening and closing his joints puts you behind the horse’s motion. This creates a pushing feeling that makes a horse, especially a tense horse, scoot faster. While following the horse’s motion, you need to open and close your hip angles the same amount but more slowly to slow him down.
Working to develop a feel for this distinction between speed and range of motion is partly an issue of strength in your core muscles and legs. Some people like to sing nursery rhymes that are rhythmical to help them set the speed and rhythm of their hips. I sometimes think of riding in slow motion through deep water to help me slow my hips on a horse that is getting too fast, while others might benefit from a metronome to help keep the rhythm in their seat.
If you are riding a lazy horse that will not go forward, you might try speeding your hip up with the full range of motion. This will allow the horse to feel free to move out from under you, especially if you were tightening and blocking with your seat in the first place. Even though you really want your horse to move off your leg not your seat, making sure your seat is not blocking is key to moving a lazy horse forward.
It takes a lot of saddle time for riders to progress from sitting with rhythm and relaxation on the back of a goldie oldie to confidently setting the rhythm on a green, nervous youngster or a green, lazy youngster. Finding someone to longe you regularly on a rhythmic horse helps immensely to develop the correct feel for rhythmic motion and relaxed muscles. Challenge your ability to set the rhythm for the horse by riding different horses—different size horses with different gaits and different temperaments. Always keep in mind that rhythm is the mother of all the other training skills your horse must master. So when your ride starts going badly, rhythm is the ‘reset button’ you can use to put things right again.