August 30, 2015

Spread The Word, Not Germs

August 19, 2015 - Equine Guelph, in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry, has launched a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program for all levels of the racing industry – from key stakeholders all the way down to grassroots.

Training sessions, tools, resources and videos are available to all three horse racing disciplines – Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse – to help protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease. Visit the Equine Guelph Infection Control Resources page.

Infection control is easier to understand when illustrated by Mark and Dan. Through unique whiteboard videos, Equine Guelph would like you to meet Mark, a lifelong member of the horse racing industry. Mark takes you on a journey through a steep learning curve as he recognizes the threats viruses and bacteria pose for his herd. You will hear about how he experienced the need for good infection control practices firsthand. His story is all about the basics and answers: What are the differences between bacteria and viruses? How are they spread? What can you do to prevent them?

His brother Dan also has an important story to tell. Watch a second video where he tells his story about improving infection control practices to keep his horses happy, healthy and at peak performance. This video answers: What should my goals for infection control be? How can I prevent illness at home? How can I prevent illness at the track?

Both whiteboard videos are part of a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program launched by Equine Guelph in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry. The program consists of training sessions, tools, resources and videos available to all three horse racing disciplines – Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse. This three-stage program will help to protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease.







In the first stage, Equine Guelph tailored its successful two-week online biosecurity course to Ontario Racing Commission officials (ORC) in a half-day workshop and subsequent two-week online course. The course covered racing specific topics.

In the second stage, a ‘Virtual Video Tour’ featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Scott Weese was developed. These informative five-minute videos offer assessments and practical solutions for racetrack paddocks and training centre barns. The videos are packed full of useful and practical information that make sense for every racing stable wanting to reduce the chances of illness. The videos can be viewed on the Equine Guelph website, under infection control resources.




“Biosecurity is trying to prevent things from coming on the property and infection control is trying to contain the risk we always have.” Weese explains. One practical example of infection control is using chain cross ties rather than rope because they can be easily be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. They should also be adjusted short enough that horses cannot chew on them.

In stage three, racehorse owners, trainers and groomers have been receiving material distributed by the ORC and racetrack officials. Printed resources are available at all ten Ontario race tracks, paddocks and offices as well as approximately twenty major training centres. The print material includes posters outlining five key things horse care takers need to know to protect horses from getting sick, and a handy checklist to use at home and the track. USB sticks containing the new video resources will also be distributed.

The key to prevention is focusing on what you can control. Using vaccines to lower the odds of sickness, not sharing equipment such as buckets and washing hands regularly, especially if you are handling more than one horse are just a few of the practical steps. By spreading the word on biosecurity and infection control, Equine Guelph is helping facilities save money in veterinary bills and days off by lowering the odds of their horses getting sick in the first place.

In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Equine Guelph is developing a ‘Full-Circle-Responsibility’ equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors.

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Equine Canada, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Racing Commission, Ontario Veterinary College, Quarter Horse Racing Association, Standardbred Canada and Vétoquinol Canada Inc.

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.

(with files from Equine Guelph)
(Standardbred Canada)

Equine Guelph’s Farm Fire Safety Tips

Equine Guelph has announced a list of farm safety tips for everyone looking to minimize fire risks on their properties or in their barns and stables.

Barn fires are every horse owner’s worst nightmare, one that can bring significant emotional and economic loss. The most reliable approach to fire safety is to plan for the worst by having solid procedures in place for fire prevention and adhere to them daily.

Fire is caused when a ‘fuel’ and ‘ignition’ source meet. Hay, bedding, and wooden materials are common examples of fuel found on the farm, while improperly-cured hay, electrical malfunctions, and carelessness with smoking are common sources of ignition. Practicing protection and prevention techniques will help keep these two elements from contact.

Data released in 2012 by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management in Ontario indicated $57.6 million in losses in buildings classified under the National Farm Building Code in 2007, notes Ralph Snyder, Assistant District Chief of the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department. This represents a 67.4 per cent increase over the previous year’s loss of $34.4 million due to fire. With the evolution toward large-scale farming and associated farm buildings increasing in value, the financial losses continue to climb.

“When these large structures catch fire, they are more difficult to control and extinguish, resulting in greater financial losses to both the structure and its contents,” he adds.

Electrical malfunctions are a primary ignition source for many fires, including barns, advises Snyder. “Farm buildings can be at an increased risk because of the corrosive environment found in livestock barns,” he says. “This causes corrosion of exposed metal components (such as wires, connections, etc.), which creates increased resistance and heat at wiring connections. This can result in ignition of surrounding combustible materials. The Electrical Safety Authority has stringent requirements for installation of electrical equipment in animal confinement areas.”

In order to offset any potential fire hazards, Snyder recommends having an annual electrical inspection done by a qualified electrician to check for signs of deterioration or corrosion and repair any issues that are found.

In addition, all electrical wiring, switches, or plugs should be placed well out of a horse’s reach and covered in weatherproof boxes or conduit. All light fixtures should be caged and approved for stable use. When not in use, electrical equipment should be unplugged and properly stored away. Special attention should be paid to water bucket heaters, as they continue to heat even when the water bucket is empty. This could result in the plastic melting and igniting stall bedding and hay.

“In our experience, we find that barn fires seem to be more prevalent in cold weather conditions,” states MacPherson. “For example, the heating/electrical system can be taxed pertaining to drinking water freezing and thawing, and allowing the watering buckets to run dry. This leaves the elements exposed causing bedding or other combustible material to ignite. We have also found that in the fall months, improper storage of fall crops contain too much moisture and spontaneous combustion occurs in the stored feed.”

MacPherson says the best way to combat stable fires is to identify all potential ignition sources and take the necessary steps to eliminate them. This starts with good housekeeping, which includes installing a fire detection system and keeping the system functional and operational by keeping the sensors clean and in good working order.

“Depending on the value associated with your stable, a dry sprinkler system with the connection outside the barn for fire department connection, or an independent pump system, would be a valuable tool to stop the spread of fire,” he says.

Other important housekeeping steps include keeping the stable clean and free of clutter such as cobwebs and dust, which are excellent fuel sources. Any loose hay or straw should be swept up and disposed of properly. The removal of potential combustible materials also includes the trimming of weeds, grasses and brush from around buildings and regular removal of rubbish. Equip all buildings with a minimum five pound ‘ABC’ fire extinguisher at all exits and in any mechanical and feed rooms, and make sure employees know how to use one.

Another important tip is to regularly maintain farm equipment and have it stored in a separate building. It is also recommended that hay and bedding be stored in a building separate from where the horses are kept or that it be restricted to a separate section of the stable separated by a firewall. Enforce a ‘no smoking’ policy in and around the facility and post signs prohibiting this where they can be easily seen.

“We highly suggest that every stabled horse has a halter that fits hanging on their stall door with the lead rope attached,” he says. “Leather is preferable, as a nylon halter can melt in the heat. Consider marking each halter with glow-in-the-dark paint or attaching reflectors to assist during times of poor visibility.”

MacPherson strongly recommends that farm owners prepare a site-specific fire safety plan, known as a ‘pre-plan.’ This would include mapping out the location of where all animals are being housed, as well as the location of all emergency utility shutoffs, and identifying all buildings on the property and sources of water available, should firefighters require access to it.

“Have a detailed fire plan, which includes listing the location of combustibles and where feed is stored, with a copy given to your local fire department for their pre-plans,” he says. This would greatly assist firefighters in familiarizing themselves with your property before a fire happens.

Stable owners can consult with their local fire department for advice on preparing a pre-plan and obtain information on fire prevention. Most fire departments will visit your farm if invited and point out ways to minimize potential fuel sources on their property. This would be especially beneficial before one begins to renovate their stable or build a new facility.

There is no such thing as a fireproof building, and no matter how well you prepare, accidents can happen. Develop a fire emergency plan ahead of time, keep it readily accessible and practice the plan prior to any emergency, as these steps will assist in keeping you and your horses safe. In case of fire, it’s important to remain calm, call 911, and proceed with the emergency plan. Once the fire crew arrives, step aside, wait for direction, and let the professionals do what they’re trained to do. For further information on preparing an emergency plan, please refer to ‘When Disaster Strikes, Plan to be Prepared.’

In case of an emergency, Snyder recommends that the stable’s physical address be posted in a prominent place, preferably by the phone should someone who is not familiar with the address be making the emergency 911 call. Also make sure that the address can be easily seen from both directions of the road in order to get the fastest response.

“Always keep an open roadway around the perimeter of buildings for access by heavy firefighting equipment, and then keep it well-maintained so that it is accessible year around,” he says.

Every stable user should have fire safety in mind. Plan ahead with fire prevention practices and have an up-to-date pre-plan on hand to help to reduce the risk of fire.

“Education of fire prevention awareness is fundamental to both the property owner and hired hands,” says MacPherson. “Internet information from reputable sources such as universities and colleges of agriculture offer valuable information, as well as discussing any concerns with your local fire department.”

Want to learn more? Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Workshop for Horse Owners in Guelph on September 18 followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level Course on September 19, 20, 21.

(Equine Guelph, Standardbred Canada)

Try Free Colic Risk Evaluator Tool From Equine Guelph

After declaring 2013 the ‘Year of Colic Prevention,’ Equine Guelph has announced the release of its latest online health care tool, the Colic Risk Rater. The free, customized tool is designed for the individual horseperson to rate his/her horse’s risk of colic.

The Colic Risk Rater assesses and calculates colic risk while providing useful feedback on management practices through a series of questions in 10 categories, requiring less than 10 minutes to complete.

The goal of the Colic Risk Rater tool is to provide horse owners a simple way to determine if their horse is at a high risk for colic, given the horse’s personal scenario. After each question, the risk rater dial will fluctuate back or forth, revealing the constantly changing risk – and in the end, providing an overall colic risk rating calculation for each horse.

Historically, colic became the horse’s arch nemesis thousands of years ago when humans started taking horses out of their natural environment. The use and management of modern horses are a huge departure from their wild counterparts, placing them at a higher risk of colic.

Logically, it follows in Dr. Christine King’s writings from ‘Preventing Colic in Horses’ that 80 per cent of colic cases are management-related. Dr. Crossan, guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s colic prevention eWorkshop, concurs with Dr. King’s staggering statistic. “Experts agree that the majority of colic’s are a result of management practices,” says Dr. Crossan. “Prevention through management is the best course of action when it comes to colic.”

Thus, horse owners can play a major role in reducing colic risk through management. Owners must be aware of the risk factors, especially the ones we can manage such as feeding, housing, parasite control and stress.

The Colic Risk Rater is one more crucial tool in the horse caregiver’s arsenal, designed to identify the risk factors and provide prevention tips, aiming to minimize needless pain and suffering of our equine companion. Given that colic is the No. 1 killer of horses (other than old age), the 10-minute investment in this free tool is invaluable.

In addition to funding from Standardbred Canada, investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, the Agricultural Adaptation Council delivers this program. Partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Society of Ontario, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association and the Ontario Veterinary College.

To check out the Colic Risk Rater or to find out more about Equine Guelph’s Colic Prevention Programs including the upcoming fall eWorkshop, scheduled for September 9 -22, click here.

(Equine Guelph)

Equine Guelph Offers Popular Course On Advanced Equine Behaviour

 Finding out just why horses do the things they do is the focus of Advanced Equine Behaviour, a 12-week course being offered by Equine Guelph that has been designed to increase your knowledge through evidence-based research as it relates to horse behaviour, learning theory, and related welfare issues.

“The field of horse behaviour and welfare has exploded with research in the last 10 years and more is generated each season,” said course instructor Kelly Hecker-Jimmerson. “My job as instructor is to highlight some of the areas that are getting the most attention – for example, equine learning, neurophysiology of behaviour and stress, and welfare management. We also show students where to find the latest research, without reading or hearing about it from a second or third party, so that they can stay informed even after the class is over. This will help them develop the proper skills to critically assess research and apply it to real life situations.”

Hecker-Jimmerson is a graduate of Michigan State University with an M.S. in equine behaviour and management and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. She is a certified riding instructor with CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association), PATH International (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship), and is certified through ARPAS (American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists) as a Professional Equine Scientist.

Course topics include exploring equine behaviour research, understanding equine learning and abnormal behaviours, and relating management practices to equine behaviour and welfare. Students will also be provided with the opportunity to conduct a research project with a topic of their choosing as it relates to equine behaviour. Through researching, students will also be able to obtain different interpretations on the information gathered and share it with their peers.

“In our first offering of this course last year, students became quite intrigued with issues related to understanding horse psychology and behaviour,” said Hecker-Jimmerson. “One popular topic is horse learning theory: how does the horse really learn what we ask of him and what can we do to enhance our communication to facilitate that process.”

“We also look at equine stress and stereotypies,” she added.  “Just how do we know when a horse is stressed? Can we identify stereotypic behaviours and manage them effectively? Learning about behavioural and biophysical indicators of stress that are used in conducting research can be very helpful in assessing the mental status of a horse at virtually any point in our care.”

Not only will students have the opportunity to review some of the latest research in horse learning theory through this online course, but they will also have the opportunity to discuss learning theory with certified trainer and behaviourist Shawna Karrasch.  In the late 1980′s, Karrasch trained marine mammals such as killer whales and dolphins at SeaWorld in San Diego, California, and now uses the same technique with horses.

Hecker-Jimmerson said that often times, our interactions with horses becomes very subjective, and can be influenced by our personal mood and perceptions. Helping students to develop tools and skills that allow them to more objectively evaluate the horse and their interactions, frees them from their own emotions to get another view of what is happening in that relationship, and hopefully give them some insights on to how they can improve their communication with their horses and strengthen that bond.

“And isn’t that what most of us are striving for?” she added. “A strong bond based on trust and respect?”

Advanced Equine Behaviour is part of the Equine Science Certificate continuing education program and will be included in Equine Guelph’s Fall 2013 online lineup. Other course offerings include Management of the Equine Environment, Equine Nutrition, Equine Functional Anatomy, Equine Genetics, Equine Growth and Development, Stewardship of the Equine Environment, Equine Business Management, and Equine Journalism. Registration is now open, with courses running from September 9 to December 1, 2013.

For more information, please contact Open Learning and Educational Support at, call 519-767-5000 or visit



Equine Guelph Fundraiser In Rockwood, Sept. 6, Features 5 Star Parelli Professional In Evening Of Entertainment

Equine Guelph will benefit from a special presentation by 5 Star Master Parelli Professional trainer David Lichman who is coming to Rockwood, ON on Friday, September 6, 2013.

Lichman’s show is improvisational. Although there are specific things the horses know, the horses have a say in what happens, depending on how they are feeling.  The result is a display of affection, bonding and respect.  By asking instead of telling them to do things, Lichman puts his relationship with the horse above all else.

“I try to help people connect with horses so that it’s fun for both the human and the horse,” said the California based horse trainer.

The show will take place from 7:00p.m. to 9:00pm at:  Northfield Farm, 8368 Hwy 7 Rockwood, Ontario. N0B 2K0.

Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph, will share the spotlight with Lichman and his three horses as the evening’s guest speaker.

Lichman’s lifelong passion for helping humans and horses has inspired him to collaborate with equine organizations worldwide.  His first encounter with Equine Guelph was with researcher Dr. Jeff Thomason, a leading expert in measuring stress in the hoof. Lichman was intrigued with the future research applications that could be made with the ability to electronically measure and quantify stress applied to the hoof.

Fifty percent of the proceeds of the one and only Canadian show date on Lichman’s North American  tour will go to Equine Guelph.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door (children 12 and under are free). Tickets are available through this link:


Equine Guelph Silent Auction At Can-Am A Success

Equine Guelph extends thanks to all the donors and buyers at the Silent Auction  hosted during this year’s Can-Am Equine Emporium which was held at the  Orangeville Fairgrounds and attended by over 7500 people.

Can-Am President Ross Millar matched the monies raised, sending the total over $5000 to benefit the operation of the educational and research  centre at the University of Guelph.

Special thanks to the auction coordinators Janice Blakeney and Ross Millar.


Equine Guelph Advises of Equine Herpes Virus Case in Wellington County

Equine Guelph has advised in a recent newletter that a case of Neutropic Equine Herpes Virus-1 was diagnosed in Wellington County in mid-April.

To read  details on the treatment for and suggested prevention measures against this highly contagious virus, please  see the Equine Guelph Newsletter here.

Free Equine Guelph Seminar To Provide Latest Research Updates For Horsepeople, Sat., April 6

Equine Guelph is hosting a free daylong seminar on Saturday, April 6, to highlight the Ontario Veterinary College researchers who have been featured in the popular “Report On Research” Series.

You can be one of the first to find out about the latest developments in equine research by attending this event which celebrates the Ten Year Anniversary of Equine Guelph.

Some of the topics covered will include: breakthroughs in stem cell research, recent developments in treating heaves, new understanding about the equine heart and fascinating advances in studies examining how the hoof functions.

During Equine Guelph’s 2013 “Report on Research” Update, participants will be able to ask questions and learn about how these new developments affect the people and the horses within our industry.

Many thanks to the Knowledge Translation and Transfer Program under the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs OMAFRA-U of G Partnership for the grant which made the “Report on Research” videos possible.

Register early – space is limited. Equine Guelph is a not-for-profit organization.  Donations are appreciated.

For more information about our researchers please visit

To view the Report on Research videos go to:

If you are interested in attending the “Report on Research” seminar on April 6th, please call Equine Guelph at 824-4120 ext. 54204 or email Jolene Perdue at

Or Register Online:


University of Guelph Students Now Worried About Job Prospects In Equine Industry As Slots At Racetracks Program Closes

University of Guelph students pursuing an equine specialty are becoming increasingly concerned about job prospects as fallout from the Slots at Racetracks fiasco continues to trickle down.

Uncertainty in the horse racing sector will undoubtedly lead to drastic cuts in funding for research in 2013 and Equine Guelph head Gayle Ecker is concerned about the drop in enrolment in equine courses and certificates.

Read the full story by Dave Briggs writing in The Guelph Mercury here.

Equine Guelph Again Offering Popular Infection Control Workshops For Horse People

Equine Guelph has announced the second offering of the Biosecurity Prevention eWorkshop from October 22 to November 4, 2012 and four more local workshops in Ontario.

Equine Guelph’s new eWorkshops are two-week online short courses designed for busy horse owners. They provide the latest evidence-based information available from University of Guelph facilitators and experts from the industry.

Last April horse enthusiasts from around the globe enjoyed the launch of Equine Guelph’s first eWorkshop on equine biosecurity.  Over a two-week period students learned how to protect their horses from infectious diseases in three steps:    1. Identify risks of infectious disease in the barn 2. Apply practical ways to reduce risks of disease 3. Reduce the chances of sickness

The first offering was met with positive feedback by students. Patty Russen, New York, USA said, “This course offered extensive information on biosecurity. I believe it to be valuable, and even essential, for any barn owner or for any horse owner/boarder that wants to protect and give their horse the best and safest conditions possible.”    Students joined in from around the globe, reaping the benefits of the flexible online format. Sue Kristiansen from Sweden commented, “This course really brought home the meaning of equine biosecurity.”    Local area students who just can’t find enough hours in the day to get off the farm were also among the participants of Equine Guelph’s first eWorkshop.

Jan Huntley of Ontario notes, “If you care about the health of your horse don’t miss this course! This was the best equine course I have taken. I gained new, valuable knowledge from every assignment. The assignments provided information and practical practices that you can apply immediately around your barn and horse to make the chances of catching or spreading diseases less likely. It is about time someone made the topic of biosecurity available to equine owners and handlers.”


Equine Guelph will also be offering free two- hour Biosecurity Workshops at:

Grand River Raceway, Elora, September 6, 1 – 3pm

University of Guelph, Guelph, September 13, 5 – 7pm

Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, September 25, 1 – 3pm

Best Western Inn, Orangeville, September 27, 1 – 3pm

To register please contact Susan Raymond (

“Beat the Bugs” was developed by Equine Guelph with the assistance of its 13 industry partners: American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation, Colorado State University, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, Ontario Veterinary College, Standardbred Canada, Vétoquinol Canada Inc. and Woodbine Entertainment Group.   This program is funded through the Agricultural Biosecurity Program (ABP), part of the Best Practices Suite of programs under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario.

For more information about Equine Guelph’s biosecurity programs and to view the Biosecurity Calculator please visit or  contact Susan Raymond at Equine Guelph,

Equine Guelph offers award-winning online education from one of the top universities in Canada — the University of Guelph.   Students benefit from insights offered by leading industry experts from across North America. Equine Guelph’s online program has attracted over 1,000 students from all around the world, including every province in Canada, the United States, France, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Egypt, Australia, Austria, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Israel, Columbia, India and South Africa. Equine Guelph is known worldwide as one of the most respected online equine learning communities.

Don’t miss out on the next two-week eWorkshop from October 22 to November 4, 2012.  Cost is $75 + HST. Visit for course details.