Tag Archives: Horse Welfare

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Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) – The Facts

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A recent outbreak of Neurological EHV-1 in Hampshire resulting in four fatalities to date, has led to multiple temporary yard closures in the area. As this disease affects all areas throughout the year, it seemed important to share the facts surrounding the disease. We sought advice from veterinary professionals to provide you with the most up-to-date information on the virus, its symptoms and the precautionary measures to take should you be concerned that your horse may have come into contact with the virus. 

 

Equine Herpes Virus is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in horses worldwide. Almost every horse will have been in contact with the virus at some stage in its life with no serious side effects, it can lay dormant in carrier horses without causing any problems. It is not yet understood what causes some infected horses to develop neurological forms which can be fatal. It is a highly contagious disease particularly affecting younger horses and in-foal mares. It is spread through both direct (nose to nose) contact, indirectly through tack, rugs, feed buckets, owners’ hands, through sharing drinking water where it can survive for up to one month, and airborne through coughing and sneezing. It is therefore vital that the correct bio security procedures are followed to prevent further spread. 

 

The Equine Herpes Virus is a family of different viruses that are closely linked to the viruses that cause cold sores, chicken pox and shingles in humans. The two most common species in horses are EHV-1, which can cause sudden abortion in in-foal mares, respiratory disease and occasionally neurologic disease; and EHV-4, which will cause respiratory disease but only rarely cause abortion and neurological disease where the infection has damaged the spinal cord, in the event of this occurring, its is generally advised that the horse is euthanized on a welfare basis.

 

Clinical signs of the disease will depend on the form of the disease but can include:

  • Fever
  • Nasal Discharge 
  • Depression
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abortion
  • Loss of bladder and tail function
  • Hind limb paralysis

 

‘If you are concerned that your horse may have come in contact with herpes virus it is extremely important that you place your horse in isolation immediately for 14 days. Stringent bio-security measures are paramount. These include regular disinfection of the surrounding environment and equipment, hand washing, disinfection of boots, removal of outer clothing after seeing your horse and visiting no other horses to avoid direct and indirect contact with other horses. You should notify your vet, who will recommend collection of a blood sample for herpes serum antibody at the beginning and near the end of the isolation period. It can take up to 14 days for a horse to develop antibodies which is why two samples are required for comparison. A nasal swab should also be collected at the end of the isolation period to ensure your horse is not shedding virus. During the isolation period regular monitoring including twice daily rectal temperature recording is essential. A fever is often one of the first signs of herpes infection.’

Beth Robinson

New Forest Equine Vets

 

It is important to let others know that you have a suspected case of EHV, these people include, other horse owners, vets, farriers and anyone likely to have come into contact with the horse.  Only through open communication will we  break the stigma surrounding the virus and help prevent the spread of the disease.

 

Treatment for the virus once confirmed is predominantly supportive care as many antiviral drugs used in humans aren’t effective in horses. The virus is allowed to run its course whilst keeping the horse as comfortable as possible, anti-inflammatory drugs such as bute are often administered and some horses might require intravenous fluids.

 

The best methods of prevention are the EHV-1 vaccination which is effective against the Respiratory form of the disease which prevents abortion and correct bio-security. There are currently no vaccinations that can prevent the Neurological form of infection. The vaccination is considered ‘risk based’ so for more information on the vaccine, seek veterinary advice. It is most commonly used in breeding mares, but it begs the question, should we be vaccinating against this virus as religiously as we do with flu and tetanus?

 

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The British Equestrian Federation has issued the following statement regarding the recent outbreak 

‘The Federation supports the actions of the centre who have ceased all activity, including cancelling shows and hire bookings until further notice. The Animal Health Trust has issued advice stating that all horses who have recently visited the centre are immediately isolated for a period of 14 days and that owners seek veterinary advice regarding clinical monitoring and laboratory test clearance.’

 

British Show Jumping stated on 13th January 2020 

‘Following the recent outbreak of EHV-1 it is now a requirement that any horse or pony that has been on site at Crofton Manor, Hampshire since the 20th December 2019 is required to have a negative swab and blood test before competing at any British Showjumping show or organised event.’

 

British Dressage stated on 13th January 2020

In consultation with the Animal Health Trust and on the advice provided in today’s British Equestrian Federation updateBritish Dressage requires members with any horses or ponies who visited Crofton Manor EC between 20 December and 7 January for any reason (training or competition) have them tested by a veterinary surgeon for EHV-1. This is in addition to the originally recommended isolation period of 14 days and daily clinical monitoring. Owners of any horses or ponies who have been to Crofton EC in the specified should liaise directly with their veterinary surgeon on the testing process and advice.’

 

At this stage, there have been no confirmed cases in horses outside of Crofton Manor. It is only with complete transparency and strict bio security procedures that we can control the spread of this awful disease. 

Our thoughts go out to the Centre and the owners of the horses that were sadly euthanised. 

 

World Horse Welfare Conference

Subjects and opinion from the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference: Part 2

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Who is Responsible?

In the second part of our round-up of the World Horse Welfare Conference, we discuss the importance of communicating the right message, equine flu and the power of social media to educate.

 

We all know that social media can be a vice and a virtue in the equine world. Fake news, incorrect information from “armchair experts” and cyber bullying is a modern day problem. YouTube sensation Esme Higgs talked about how she is trying to put this powerful tool to good use. The 18 year old amateur rider is working with the FEI and other equine organisations, together with charities, to produce videos on horse care and correct horse practice. The objective is to help other young equestrians learn more about horses, riding and welfare. Esme is working closely with World Horse Welfare to deliver positive messages to a global audience.

 

Equine Influenza was a key subject of the Conference and it was a shock to learn that only 30 % of British horses are vaccinated. Speaking on the subject was Dr Madeleine Campbell, a vet and European Diplomate in Animal Welfare Science, Ethic and Law.

 

Equine flu can be devastating. It affects the respiratory system, leading to fever, coughing and mucous. It can be debilitating and effect the lungs long term. Ultimately, it can kill. There was an outbreak in Africa, which resulted in the loss of over 100,000 horses and donkeys. Australia fared even worse with the Hendra virus which killed not only horses but vets and horse owners who came into contact with infected animals. They also suffered an outbreak of equine flu in 2007, the industry was shut down for six months and the country was not declared free of the disease until 10 months later.

 

In the UK, we experienced the fear factor and potential for huge disruption earlier this year, when several racehorses tested positive to equine influenza. All racing and equestrian sport came to a standstill until it was assured to be under control. It made headline news and cost the racing industry between £150m and £200m. It could have been so much worse and trainers and riders alike were praised for their professionalism and discipline in halting the movement of horses. The question remains at large, who is responsible for ensuring that horses are vaccinated? Is it the vets, the owners, the sports governing bodies?

 

Some responsibility lies with the pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccine, Dr Campbell states. “Flu changes all the time and can become immune to the vaccines. Many of the drugs still available on the market, are old and it is up to the producers to keep it up to date.”

 

What is confusing and raises opinion, is that all the sport bodies seem to regulate a different frequency. For example, FEI rules state that horses competing must be vaccinated every six months, whilst outside of this in sports such as racing and Pony Club, it is once a year. How can we possibly know what is right or wrong for horse welfare, with such conflicting regulations?

 

However, the overall conclusion is that we should focus on the benefits of health and welfare of the horse rather than the competition regulators. At the end of the day, consider that if you choose not to vaccinate your horse and he is exposed to equine flu, he could die. Not to mention the grave consequences, that could arise if it is not kept under control with vaccines as the strains could mutate and be immune to the vaccine.

 

Horse owners often say that their horse doesn’t go anywhere so there is no need to vaccinate but if he is in a stable yard alongside horses who do compete or leave the yard, these horses could bring back the virus. The higher the vaccination percentage in the overall population, the less opportunities there are to infect horses.

 

HRH The Princess Royal, as long standing President of World Horse Welfare closed the conference, with her thought provoking conclusion on “Who is Responsible?”

Princess Anne - World Horse Welfare
World Horse Welfare Conference 2019

 

“Responsibility is not an academic subject. It comes inherently but it needs to be defined. There is so much knowledge out there but it doesn’t translate to power” she said. We must understand and respect the importance of horses to individuals and societies not just the 100 million working horses around the world but also those in first world countries, Princess Anne advocated.

 

Finally, she reinforced the importance of seeing our horses as partners and understanding their needs. “Animals can adapt, as seen with those working for the Riding for the Disabled Association and we should not underestimate horses ability to make decisions. We need to listen to what they are telling us and be prepared to be their partners. It is our responsibility to ensure it is a good partnership and that we learn not just their physical needs but also their emotional needs.”

 

Written by Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly who was in attendance at the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference 2019.

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Richard Davison: Welfare in top level Equestrian Sport

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Part 1: What do our horses really want? 

 

When the words “Equine Welfare” are used, associated with animal cruelty, to me it conjures up images of emaciated, lice-infested horses and ponies. Yet at the recent World Horse Welfare Annual Conference, a number of other “modern” welfare issues were highlighted. Olympic Dressage Rider Richard Davison has been at the top of the sport for many years, having contested four Olympics. He was a founder of the Burghley Young Event Horse series and his yard is made up of dressage horses and his son’s international showjumpers. Therefore he is highly regarded both as a great horseman and spokesperson on Equestrian matters, who is not frightened of sticking his neck out.  At the Conference last week, Richard spoke candidly on the welfare issues seen even at the highest level of Equestrian Sport.

 

In our first blog, Richard raises his concerns over the modern fashion of “humanising” our horses, relaying one example he saw at a show recently.

 

“For those of you have visited international competitions, you will know that horses are confined in relatively small stables for four to five days. I was in Denmark last week and I watched a groom perform surgery on a teddy bear (used as a stable toy) who had lost a limb. The process of sewing up the teddy took half an hour or more. I wondered whether this half an hour would have been better spent, taking the horse out of the stable and giving it a walk in the sunlight or finding some grass for a graze and a stretch. For me, this “humanising” behaviour displayed by owners can skewer the priorities.

 

In my world (Dressage), they’ve all got the bling browbands, the matchy-matchy stuff, and the belly-deep shavings beds but actually what does a horse really want? What is really important, is to get out in the field, not to be kept in a stable, never mind how beautifully decorated it is with toys or anything else. They really want to be outside, stretching their back, being with their mates, sniffing each other’s bottoms and rolling in the mud. Thankfully is not generally something that us humans do, any longer. So I put this to riders and grooms- ditch the teddy bear and take the horse out of the stable and give them fresh air. That is what they really want- to be horses.

 

We are all stakeholders in this. We all feed off equestrian sport, either professionally or just gaining an awful lot of enjoyment from it. We all need to get behind education and spend more time, learning how horses really function. In these days in horse sport, where horses command huge sums of money we must never forget that their natural habits and herd instinct are really essential for both mental and physical welfare.”

 

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Changing times. World Horse Welfare Annual Conference

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Last week, Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly was in attendance at the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference in London. It is an exclusive event attended by leading figures in the world of veterinary medicine, equestrian sport, horse racing, politics, and animal welfare as well as HRH Princess Anne. The theme of the conference this year was Changing Times. Essentially how change- both good and bad, is continuing at a meteoric rate and what the future for equine welfare might hold.

 

The day was opened by Michael Baines, Chairman of the World Horse Welfare who had recently visited some of their projects in Cape Town and Lesotho which are jointly run with several other charities based in these parts of the world as well as other international animal charities like The Brooke and The Donkey Sanctuary. “I saw firsthand how important it is to take a holistic approach to equine welfare and, to be prepared to work with multiple stakeholders to achieve the best results,”  said Michael.

 

Perhaps this is a lesson we can all take away generally when striving to improve not only our horses lives but also our own livelihoods and interests in the equestrian sphere. As equestrian sport, recreational riding and general horsemanship evolves and improves in some areas but declines and is devalued in others. The advent and reliance on social media for information and as a marketplace is both a vice and a virtue.

 

Utam Kaphle, a young professional from Nepal, spoke on the innovative work being done by Animal Nepal. As Executive Director of the charity, he has spearheaded projects to improve animal welfare in the country by working with the local communities. With the help of government institutions, Animal Nepal has helped the lives, health and education of poverty-stricken communities as well as their working animals and the large number of strays which can spread disease.

 

Four-time Olympic Dressage rider Richard Davison then gave some compelling arguments on what was wrong and right in the sport horse industry. “When we riders, in our quest for success and our competitive side gets the better of our horsemanship.” Rollkur, hyperflexion and nose pressure was a recurrent theme and he expressed the importance of more clarity in the rulebook and more scientific evidence to prove the effects of a tight noseband- more on this in our next blog.

 

The future of Gypsy Cobs was addressed by Andrea Betteridge, founder of the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association. Andrea has spent decades obtaining and recording historic information and collecting DNA from different herds to prove the heritage of the breed and its historic bloodlines. This formed the foundation for recognition of the breed by British and European governments with member registrations from over 35 countries and the authentic breed database recognised all over the world. Overbreeding has led to the “dumping” of cobs, which the so often become welfare cases. As well as establishing the breed and educating would be breeders on the implications, Andrea has prompted other initiatives such as specialised showing classes and  “Give a Cob a Job”.

 

Tim Collins, a former Tory MP talked about the perceived implications which Brexit will have on the equine world as well as the enthusiastic following and power that animal charities had at the present time. At this stage in political proceedings, no one really knows what will occur after Brexit. Although he highlighted the reality that nothing will happen quickly as it will take years for the UK to fully leave the EU. “The average time it takes to even join the EU takes a decade and for Estonia, it was 20 years,” he said, with a further warning. “Therefore the issues you care about in the horse world are going to carry on but you must not take our eye off the ball and assume that this is all going to be carried out in the next few months. There is nothing as long as the temporary arrangement. We may have to live with this for a very long time so don’t assume any arrangements can be fixed later. Bear in mind how immensely powerful those of you who care and campaign about animal welfare actually are. For example, the inflection point in the 2017 General election was when the Conservatives got on the wrong side of animal welfare on the ivory trade and fox-hunting and that lesson has been learned deeply in both the party main headquarters. One of the biggest issues amongst the young population is animal welfare, so you guys can be pushing on an open door.”

 

The next topic covered was how charities and win trust and broaden their horizons. This came from Joe Saxton who featured in the top ten of the most influential people in UK fundraising. He is also the founder of a research consultancy for charities called nfpSynergy. The main pointy to take away was that support for animal charities is well up the national order, featuring higher than charities concerning homelessness, social welfare, overseas aid, religious and environment and conservation. So we Brits remain, “a nation of animal lovers”.

 

The day was rounded off with a discussion panel between influential veterinary delegates who covered topics such as changes in culture, technology and the internet and social media- friend or foe to both horse owners and vets. Overweight riders and horses were also commented on as this is a welfare issue we all see too often at shows around the country.

 

The use of artificial aids was also addressed, where Gemma Pearson highlighted horses “limited learning capacity”. She explains: “the spur and whip refine our instructions further so we can be more precise about what we are asking. But what we need to move away from was using the whip and spur for punishment as that is what creates problems”.

 

The Chief Executive Roly Owers summed up the conference: “When we talk about making change we have to base it around common sense, around experience and around the evidence. The second point is the issue of value. The value of our reputation, the value of time, the value of trust and the value of horses.”

 

If you would like to watch the Conference in full as well as discussions from previous years, click on the link:

http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/conference

 

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Mud, sweat and germs

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Mud, sweat and germs
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It is time for spring cleaning. That smell of ammonia that has hung around the yard, those bacteria infested stables you have not had time to get on top of. Beyond the bugs and bacteria, even just the grease and grime eating its way into your tack and equipment. Let us introduce you to a new range of products from The Logical Range.

Already these products are being favoured by professional yards. If it is good enough for the prized animals found with an international eventer, a high goal polo player and a top dressage rider in Emily King, Hazel Jackson and Ellie McCarthy, then it must be good enough for the rest of us.

Germ Kill

Did you know, strangles is responsible for 30% of infectious disease in the equine industry worldwide? Furthermore, data from the Animal Health Trust implies that the disease is on the rise in the UK. It is a disease that can impact any yard or equine individual, professionals and happy hackers alike and even those with excellent management. As well as being extremely distressing for both the animal and the owner, this disease causes major economic losses to the industry due to its contagious nature, prolonged course and associated complications, which can be fatal.

The Logical Range’s product ‘Germ Kill’ has been produced to kill 99.9% of germs including Equine Strangles. Not only does it disinfect and keep the dangers of micro-organisms at bay, but it is a product that also cleans. It can be used on stables, yards and horse equipment. It is safe to use for humans and environmentally friendly.

  • Effective against Equine Strangles.
  • Powerful cleaning and disinfection in a single environmentally friendly product.
  • Safe to use around animals and humans.
  • Effective at killing bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.

 

Stable Cleanse

Do you wish you could replace stable smells with a fresh minty aroma? Now you can with Stable Cleanse – the ultimate odour eater for use on stables, yards, horseboxes and trailers.

If you think how that strong smell of a stable yard can take your breath away, imagine what it is doing to your horse’s airways, as well as your stable staff.

This is a product that is safe and effective:

  • Kills the unpleasant odour under rubber matting but without eating into the matting.
  • Can be used with any bedding and on any floor surface.
  • No special handling requirements. Safe for your horse and you.
  • Great value: one five litre lasts up to six months on a standard size stable.
  • Money back guarantee, if you’re not happy.

 

All Rounder

So here is quick and easy to use product that every yard should have – for safe use on all your equipment. Have a bottle on the yard, in the horsebox, even by your kitchen sink. You can stop buying washing up liquid which can eat into fibres and enjoy not having grime embedded in your nails any more. This is a product that will not damage your skin and you will not harm the environment either.

  • Effortlessly removes sweat, grease, grime, mud etc.
  • Can be used on rugs, saddle cloths, clothing, synthetic and leather tack.
  • Safe to use for you and your horse, in the home and on trailers and horseboxes.
  • A highly versatile natural orange cleaner- environmentally friendly.

For more information visit the website:  http://thelogicalrange.co.uk 

 

Written by Ellie Kelly 

Stabilising Pilates for your stable

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Horse Scout Blogger is a great fan of Pilates as a way of increasing and maintaining good core strength. Using Yoga or pilates type exercises to improve fitness are as useful for your horse as for you.  Theses are exercises which have been adapted to take into account your horses structure.

  1. Core Strength

Core strengthening exercises strengthen and stabilise the spine and pelvic muscles as the horse responds to pressure over specific areas. If you have strong hands, you can apply pressure manually; if not, use a metal thimble over your thumb or finger. Perform three to five repetitions, allowing the muscles to relax for a few seconds after each exercise. Some horses, especially those that are girthy or cold-backed, may resent certain procedures. If resentment persists, omit the exercise until you’ve consulted with your veterinarian.

The following exercise stimulates lifting of the base of the neck, sternum, and withers through pressure on the ventral midline between the forelimbs. These movements are essential for self carriage.

Sternal, withers, and thoracic lifting exercise:

1. Stand facing the horse’s side, just behind the elbow.

2. Apply upward pressure to the sternum (breastbone) in the middle of your horse’s chest, between the pectoral muscles. Gradually slide your hand back between the forelimbs and behind the girth line while maintaining a steady upward pressure.

3. The horse responds by initially lifting through the sternum and withers. Then as the pressure moves further back, he responds by lifting in the thoracic area immediately behind the withers, and finally in the thoracic area under the saddle.

Note: the amount of pressure needed to stimulate a response will vary between horses, so start gently and increase pressure gradually, or use a slow stroking action until the horse responds.

  1. Balancing Exercises

Balancing exercises improve balance and stability by inducing the horse to use active muscular contractions to shift the centre of gravity toward his haunches and/or to resist displacement of his centre of gravity. A horse uses his muscles in some of the balancing exercises to shift his centre of gravity, while in others, he uses his muscles to resist a shift. Many of the balancing techniques used in horses are similar to those performed in Pilates and yoga training in people.

The next exercise stimulates activation of the pelvic stabiliser muscles to maintain the horse’s balance.

Tail pull:

1. Stand to one side of the hindquarters.

2. Take hold of the horse’s tail, pull it toward you by flexing your elbow. (The goal is not to pull the horse off balance, but to stimulate resistance in the pelvic stabilizer muscles.) You’ll see the muscles around the stifle contracting as the horse resists the pulling force.

3. You can gradually increase the amount of force applied to the tail or the number of repetitions as the muscles get stronger.

Remember to check with your veterinarian before including such exercises into your horse’s training regimen; this is especially important if the horse is recovering from an injury.

Core training exercises can be done without a warm-up–for example, in horses that are recovering from injury–because the horse controls the amount of motion, and loading of the joints is less than during locomotion.

Are we building in redundancy ….. will wormers go on working?

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Its hardly making headlines today but it should. We are helping build in redundancy of effective measures by arbitrarily worming horses rather than worming as and when necessary. So in the spring test your horses for Tapeworm and FEC for redworm and ascarids.

It is big news though that 81% of worming strategies not effective in fight against resistance. If you read this the other way round Horse Scout Blogger draws a conclusion that this means 81% of worming strategies are contributing to resistance to wormers.

According to research published on Country Wide Farmers showing that whilst 67% of horse owners believe they are protecting their horses from the rise of resistance, 81% of those asked are not conducting the adequate level of faecal egg counts (FEC) of which 47% had never conduced a FEC. It should be noted that experts say that FEC’s are the only way to prevent the build-up of resistance to wormers because worms are only targeted when necessary and therefore do not build a resistence.

The survey

Routine testing, not routine worming, is the advice given by experts involved in a survey conducted by Countrywide, a leading equestrian supplier of products and advice. This was in collaboration with Westgate Laboratories, Norbrook and BW Equine Vets. Nearly 1,000 horse owners were surveyed on their current worming practice and knowledge.

The aim of the research that will help build awareness and start to change attitudes and behaviour in the approach to effective worming strategies. The survey has brought out the disparities in current practice against best practice and how this is leading to the rise in resistance to wormers.

Routine testing, not routine worming

Parasitic worms can seriously undermine the health and wellbeing of horses. With worms becoming resistant to some worming drugs, simply dosing all horses with routine wormers is not adequate. With 80% of parasites being carried by only 20% of horses, a targeted approach, which considers each horse as an individual, is needed,” says Mark Hawkins.

Routine testing is simple and the results will help you to decide:

  1. Which horses do, and do not, require worming
  2. Which types of worms are present on your pastures
  3. Which are the appropriate worming products to use
  4. How to achieve the most cost-effective approach to worming
  5. How to reduce unnecessary treatments
  6. How to maintain the efficacy of wormers by only using them when needed

When asked about their current approach to worming practice 59% of respondents do so out of routine, interval dosing at set times of the year with only 31% conducting regular FEC tests. 59% of respondents do so out of routine.  These results show that the majority of horse owners are not updating their worming practice to match the increase in resistance and improvement in testing technology. Previous worming practices have led to the resistance problems we now have so it is vital that there is change.

For more information on Country wide farmers’website here

 

Five facts about a snaffle: There’s no hiding away from the effect of the bit in your horses mouth.

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Bitting your horse is not to be taken lightly.  It is really important to understand how a bit functions in your horses mouth.  Lets start simple with snaffles.

Horse Scout Blogger was watching some babies out on their first competitive outing yesterday…. I love it, all starey eyed and long legs!! (well some of them anyway). This got me to thinking about the snaffle, and all its variations.  When you go into a tack shop and that multitude of variation set before you. An Aladdin’s cave; but only if you know what you are looking for and why. Knowing how the snaffle bit works is helpful in developing effective rein aids, and avoid either being ineffectual or too hard on your horse’s mouth. Although the basic action of most snaffle bits is the same, it sometimes takes trying a few different bits to find one your horse is comfortable with. After riding my mare in a French Link and finding her fussing with the bit, I changed to the loose ring, which was lighter, and seemed to be much more comfortable for her. Sometimes choosing the right bit, even if you are choosing among snaffles can take a bit of time.

1. Snaffle Basics

A snaffle bit has a straight or jointed mouthpiece with rings on each end of the mouthpiece. There are many different types of snaffle bits. However, the basic structure is the same for all, and the basic action in the horse’s mouth is very similar, with some subtle modifications. The snaffle bit is regarded as a relatively mild bit. The addition of variations can make it much harsher.

When the reins are pulled, pressure is applied to the area of the gums that have no teeth called the bars of the mouth. This gap is between the front teeth that crop grass, and the back teeth, that grind the food. A properly fitting bit sits comfortably within this gap, just forward of the grinding teeth. Occasionally, a horse will have problems carrying a bit comfortably this can be from small teeth called wolf teeth which may have to be removed.

2. How the Horse Reacts to the Signals

The simple snaffle applies pressure to the bars of the horse’s mouth. There is no pressure anywhere else on the horse’s head and no leverage comes into play as it does with a curbed bit or lever action (gag). When you pull straight back, the horse will understand that equal pressure on both sides of its mouth means to stop. A pull to the right, that applies pressure on the right bar, means turn to the right and a pull to the left, of course, means turn left. As you learn to refine your rein aids, combining them with using your seat and leg aids, you will learn to cue your horse for things like leg yields, half-passes, lead changes, changes of gait and other more advanced riding skills. While at first you may be simply ‘pulling’ the reins, you will in a short time learn to give much more subtle signals that can be felt by the horse, but are almost imperceptible to the average observer.

3. The Function of Bit Rings

The rings on a snaffle may be D shaped or have small piece sticking up or down like a full cheek snaffle and Fulmer snaffle. The rings may slide or they may be fixed to the mouthpiece. The shafts perpendicular to the mouthpiece on full cheek and driving bits prevent the bit from slipping through the horse’s mouth. Large leather or rubber type discs can be used to keep bit from chaffing the sides of the horse’s mouth as well. The rings can effect the weight of the bit and prevent the bit from pulling sideways through the horse’s mouth.

4. How Mouthpieces Differ

Bits with jointed mouthpieces will have a nutcracker effect, while straight mouthpieces spread the pressure evenly over tongue and bars. An egg butt snaffle will have oval rings, and the mouth piece will get thicker as it approaches the rings. These bits are amongst the most mild, because they distribute the pressure of the rein aid over a wider area of the bars. Generally the thicker the mouthpiece the milder the bit. However a horse with a large tongue or low palate might be uncomfortable in a bit with a thick mouthpiece. The French link is considered the mildest jointed snaffle. The Dr. Bristol, although it looks very similar, is much more severe, because of the way the plate in the middle of the bit lays in constant contact with the tongue—either flat or on an angle, depending on how the rider attaches the bit to the bridle.

5. Variety

Snaffles can be hollow to reduce weight, flexible, twisted, jointed with one or more links, have keys or rollers, be squared or oval, or have any combination of shapes and joints. Mullen mouth bits are the same width from end to end. Wire bits are quite thin and wire wrapped bits add to the sharpness of the pressure on the bars of the mouth. All of these variations are intended to enhance the rein aids. Different metals and material can be used to encourage the horse to accept the bit for its taste or encourage salivation. Copper, sweet iron, vulcanite and other synthetics can be used. Some bits, often used for teaching a young horse to hold the bit, are flavored.

Snaffles are often the first bit a horse will carry. Many will be ridden throughout their entire lives with a snaffle bit.

How to compete using a “Class Ticket”. Tried and Tested, Job Done!

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Yesterday Horse Scout Blogger spotted that you could get a free class ticket on the British Dressage facebook page but “What are class tickets?”

By buying a class ticket, you can enter one British Dressage class without being a member or having a registered horse. You can use class tickets to compete and will be eligible to win rosettes and prize money, but will not receive BD points or qualification, except for Area Festivals and Combined Training Championships. If a rider using a class ticket wins a qualifier other than those specified above, qualification will pass to the next eligible competitor. You can buy a class ticket from the British Dressage Web site. These are also available in the competition section of this website. You will need to pay the usual class entry fee and abide by British Dressage Rules rules.

British Dressage say: Much more than just a ticket to compete!

If you are already competing in unaffiliated dressage competitions and want to get more involved in this fantastic sport then British Dressage is the place for you! Much more than just a ticket to compete, BD, the National Governing body for the sport in the UK, is a nationwide club for all things dressage, offering training, competitions, information and social opportunities for all. Your horse can earn nationally recognised BD points and you can qualify to take part in prestigious Championships or Festivals.

Most of all affiliated dressage is accessible. Complete competition schedules and lists of training days arrive on your doormat every two months as part of BD magazine. The BD website also carries this vital information (and much more!), and staff at the BD office are on hand during office hours to answer any queries you have. From where to go and what to wear, to competing internationally and representing your country – British Dressage is working to help you get the most out of your sport.

Getting Started

All affiliated shows are open to the public and the major championships are excellent opportunities to see the best at all levels and particularly the nation’s dressage celebrities competing for prestigious national titles. You may also want to go along to your local affiliated venue to check out the facilities and the competition!

You can get a taste for affiliated competition without becoming a full BD member by using class tickets available through the BD shop or by entering Prelim classes.

Class tickets cost £8 each and each ticket allows you to enter one affiliated dressage class without being a member or having your horse registered. You can win rosettes and prize money but you will not receive BD points or any qualifications. You can also use Class Tickets to gain the score sheets needed to qualify to enter an Area Festival.

More information about class tickets here

KEY FACTS – BEF BASIC BIOSECURITY INFORMATION SHEET in respect of transmittable Equine Herpes Virus

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Its Spring time, more horses are out and about, travelling around the country and meeting in groups.  Last year there were cases of Equine Herpes Virus reported in Southern UK.  It is good to know what you are looking for.

To safeguard the horse population within an establishment the British Equestrian Federation recommend that the following basic steps are taken:

You should also be aware of disease prevention, identification and hygiene procedures.

Vital Health Signs

The following are a set of vital signs for the normal healthy horse and appropriate examinations for general health:

ü  Temperature 36.5-38.5C

ü  Breathing rate 8-15 breaths/min

ü  Heart rate 25-45 beats/min

ü  Look for eye or nose discharges

ü  Observe how the horse is standing

ü  Check for consistency and number of droppings

ü  Check consumption from water buckets and feed bowl

ü  Assess horse’s general demeanour

We recommend good records are kept in the yard diary and that rectal temperatures are taken twice daily (asit is a very good indicator of disease)

Biosecurity

  1. Isolate new arrivals for a period of 10 days or introduce horses from properties with a known high health status only. Isolate and pay particular attention to horses from sales /competition complexes, from unknown mixed population yards and those that have used commercial horse transport servicing mixed populations.
  2. Verify the vaccine status of new arrivals.
  3. Keep records of horse movements so that contacts can be traced in the event of a disease outbreak.
  4. Regularly clean and disinfect stables between inmates and also clean and disinfect equipment and horse transport between journeys. Remember to remove as much organic material as possible before disinfection.
  5. Maintain good perimeter security for your premises and maintain controlled access for vehicles and visitors.
  6. Ensure that everyone understands the hygiene principles and thereby do not pass disease to horses at other premises
  7. Eliminate the use of communal water sources. Instruct staff not to submerge the hose when filling water buckets
  8. Horse specific equipment (feed and water buckets, head collars etc) should be clearly marked as belonging to an individual horse and only be used on that horse.
  9. Any shared equipment (lead ropes, bits/bridles, Chiffneys, twitches, thermometers, grooming kits etc) should be cleaned of organic debris and disinfected between horses.
  10. Equipment that cannot be properly disinfected (like sponges or brushes) should not be shared between horses.
  11. Cloth items such as stable rubbers, towels, bandages etc should be laundered and thoroughly dried between each use disinfectant may have to be used as part of the rinse cycle, e.g., Virkon.
  12. Isolate horses at the first sign of sickness until an infectious or contagious disease has been ruled out.
  13. Contact your veterinary surgeon if any of your horses show clinical signs of sickness.
  14. Do not move sick horses except for isolation, veterinary treatment or under veterinary supervision. Attend to sick horses last (i.e., feed, water and treat) or use separate staff.
  15. Provide hand washing facilities and hand disinfection gel for everyone handling groups of horses and provide separate protective clothing and footwear for those handling and treating sick horses.
  16. The isolation/quarantine unit should have a changing area for staff so that clothing and footwear worn in the restricted area are not worn elsewhere.
  17. Barrier clothing, waterproof footwear and disposable gloves should be used when working with sick and in-contact horses and after use they should be disposed of or laundered and disinfected.
  18. When using disinfectants, always follow the instructions on the label. Select a Defra approved disinfectant and chose from the general order disinfectants that have documented effectiveness in the presence of 10% organic matter, works in the water hardness of the locale and is safe to use in the environment of horses and people. www.archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/control/disinfectants.htm
  19. Stables, mangers and yards should be kept clean, free of standing water and thoroughly scrubbed and cleansed with an appropriate detergent/disinfectant after use and then allowed to dry.
  20. Take care when using pressure washers as those set at greater than 120psi can produce aerosols that spread infectious agents through the air.
  21. This document was compiled by The BEF and World Class Programme they have passed their thanks on to Clive Hamlyn MRCVS and the National Trainers Federation www.racehorsetrainers.org for their help in producing this document.