Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 11/03/2016 10:12 AM | Deleted user

    Winner of the National USEF CCI* Champtionship Meghan O'Donoghue on Rehy USA. 

    PC: Point of View Photography/- Darlene Shantz

    Held on October 19-23 at the Kentucky Horse Park, the Hagyard MidSouth Three-Day Event and Team Challenge was once again a success, hosting a CCI One-Star and Training Three-Day along with Preliminary, Training, Novice and Beginner Novice horse trials competition. The longest running horse trials team challenge in the United States, the 2016 event was graciously supported by Kentucky Performance Products with a Gold Level Sponsorship. This horse trial is our largest annual fundraiser for the Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association and we are so thankful for everyone who participates as a competitor, volunteer, vendor or sponsor!

    MSEDA sponsors a team at each level and provides its members with an MSEDA saddle pad and ear bonnet. It's always a great time and as always, our teams fared well!


    Beginner Novice- 5th Place Team Overall

    - Chelsea Smith, Marty Riney, Robyn Munson, Kristen Brennan

    Novice- 3rd Place Team Overall

    -Caroline Greathouse, Madison Nichter, Whitney Morris, Zoe Zanides


    -Jeannine Buhse, Debbie Iezzie, Pam Kimmel, Lauren Kolegraff

    Preliminary- 8th Place Team Overall

    -Elissa Gibbs, Katie Hensley, Leah Snowden, Tiffany Smith

    The MSEDA Beginner Novice Team. L to R: Chelsea Smith, Marty Riney, Robyn Munson, Kristen Brennan

    A neat statistic from the weekend: the horses that competed in the event were lucky enough to enjoy 600 peppermints, 500 packages of Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses, 400 pounds of carrots and 250 apples. Lucky ponies!

    Complete results can be found here

  • 11/02/2016 9:20 AM | Deleted user

    We know we need insurance to cover everything from catastrophic accidents to routine health care. But what do our equine partners need, if anything? 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Equine insurance options can be quite overwhelming, but can offer horse owners incredible peace of mind. While the most commonly purchased equine insurance policies are mortality and major medical, there are lots of other option.

    These two types of insurance are best explained in terms many people may be more familiar with: life insurance and health insurance. Typically mortality insurance (“life insurance”) is paid out if the horse dies. Owners are paid for the full or partial value of the horse. Medical and surgical policies (“health insurance”) can cover the costs associated with treatment of injuries or illnesses.

    Mortality Insurance

    The most popular equine insurance Kristin Detwiler sells in Girard, Ohio, is mortality and major medical. Detwiler, an Agribusiness and Equine Specialist with Gibson Agri&Equine Insurance, explains that “every policy is required to have mortality coverage and then anything else that is added is added as an "additional" endorsement.”

    So, she says, major medical, loss of use, surgical expense, extended renewal protection, accident, sickness and disease coverage, third party liability, and stallion infertility (among others) are all insurance options in addition to mortality coverage.

    Mortality coverage generally covers any cause of death, including colic or fatal injuries. A horse’s age will limit his mortality insurance; many insurance companies can insure horses that are 24 hours old up to about 17 years old. Detwiler notes that 15 years old is about when it becomes more costly to insure the horse and when medical packages are restricted.

    A horse can be insured later in life; but, for every year the horse ages after 15, the rate debits making it more expensive,” She explains. “Often, veterinarian examinations are required each year for older horses as well.

    Many factors are taken into account to determine a horse’s value; these can include age, sex, breed and discipline. A mortality policy can cover 100 percent of the horse’s value, but the premiums will be more expensive. While it can be very hard to objectively define what a horse is worth, it’s imperative to ensuring you have the adequate policy in place on your horse. 

    Major Medical

    Major medical insurance covers a lot of medical and surgical treatments that may be cost prohibitive for owners. This coverage can include things like medications, diagnostic tools, surgery and care after surgery.

    Major medical policies do not cover routine care like vaccines, teeth floating or sheath cleaning; many alternative treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic and massage are also not covered. Many policies also do not cover any cosmetic surgeries or surgeries on things that took place before the insurance policy took effect (think about things like birth defects).

    Detwiler notes that a pre-existing condition could limit insurance coverage. “If a horse has a history of lameness in a specific leg or a history of colic, the company is typically going to exclude coverage for that condition The horse can still be insured for coverage for other conditions, but that specific condition would be excluded. For example: If a horse is diagnosed and treated for EPM in writing the policy, all claims related to EPM would not be covered. However, a colic claim or an unrelated injury or sickness could still be covered.”

    “Insurance is designed to cover more ‘catastrophic’ accidents and injuries,” she says. “Though each company is different, there is always a deductible [around $300] for medical claims that are made. This helps to deter claims being made against routine procedures.”

    Colic Insurance Programs

    The American Association of Equine Practitioners estimates that 900,000 horses will colic in the United States each year. That number is staggering to think about! Gibson Agri&Equine Insurance is partnered with SmartPak to raise awareness of and education horse owners about colic. Detwiler explains that SmartPak has “a program in which if the horse is on SmartDigest Ultra [a SmartPak supplement] and is (strictly) following basic veterinary recommendations (up to date on shots, etc), SmartPak will cover up to $7,500 worth of veterinary expenses if the horse colics while on their supplement.”
    But this is all the policy will cover, she expounds. “Their program ONLY covers expenses related to colic, whereas if you also have an equine policy with major medical coverage, any other kind of accident, injury or sickness or disease would be covered as well. And, if the expenses exceed what is paid by SmartPak the equine insurance would kick in if the horse colics.” 

    The Application

    Be prepared to answer a lot of questions when it comes to insuring your equine. It will ask you everything from your name, address and phone number to details on where the horse is housed, who cares for him and what his intended use is. They will also ask his age, breed, sex and for a registration, tattoo or ID number. You will be asked to provide photos of your horse if it is not registered with an organization. You will also need to answer his date of birth and date of purchase. You will then be asked a series of question on the horse’s health and its history. These questions could include is he sound, has he colicked, has ever had joint injections or been nerved, does he have any conformational issues, and more.

    Additional questions may include who the primary veterinarian is, is the horse co-owned, is he leased and is he covered by any other insurance. 

    So, Who Really Needs Equine Insurance?

    “I would especially recommend equine insurnace for high-profile horses that were costly to purchase; this will protect the investment. And, these types of horses tend to be at greater risk as they are moving around--going to shows, races, in training, etc.. However, I would recommend it to any other horse owner as well. Even if the initial investment in the horse wasn't costly, the medical bills for any kind of accident or sickness can easily add up,” Detwiler says. “This is when it is beneficial to have the insurance to afford such expenses.” 

  • 10/12/2016 9:14 AM | Deleted user

    Keeping a horse on stall rest can lead to unexpected health and behavior issues in response to being cooped up for days on end. Here are some ways to prevent these unwanted changes in your injured equine. 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Keeping a horse confined to a stall is sometimes a necessary evil if he is ill, injured or recovering from surgery. While not the most desirable treatment management-wise, minimal movement is sometimes required for a horse to fully heal.

    If your horse is used to living outside, being worked every day or even just having a few hours of turnout on a regular basis, switching to being stalled 24/7 could be problematic. This transition can make even the most mild-mannered horse so upset that he develops some health or behavior issues, which could include everything from forming gastric ulcers to kicking at walls and acting unruly when handled.

    Here are some ways to help your horse handle stall rest as easily as possible:

    Adjust his diet.

    If your horse is not in work, he won’t need all the calories he usually gets when he is ridden or shown regularly. You will still need to ensure that he gets adequate vitamins and minerals, but backing down on his grain may help prevent him from having too much energy and gaining too much weight.

    Provide a small-hole haynet.

    Once your horse has eaten his grain, he needs to have something to occupy his time and his tummy. As equines are designed to constantly move and forage, providing access to hay at all times can help prevent ulcers if he’s not able to constantly nibble grass. It will also prevent him from eating his bedding, which some horses will do if they’re bored.

    Consider changing stalls.

    This option can work two ways: If your horse gets anxious while watching horses go out to pasture or work in the arena, moving him to a quieter area of the barn may be a good bet to keep him calm. Conversely, if your horse gets lonely and bored, moving him to a stall with a window where he can watch horses in the field, see his buddies being groomed or engage in a high-traffic area of the barn might help to keep him mentally happy. If he enjoys (and respects) a stall guard, consider letting him hang his head out and feeling like a part of the activity.

    Leave a buddy in with him.

    Is it possible to keep another horse in a stall close to your stall rester to keep him company? Many horses don’t do well if they’re the only horse in the barn, but are typically OK if they can see another horse next door or across the aisle. If it’s not possible to keep a horse in with yours, could you get him a (horse friendly!) goat or chicken to pass the time? If all else fails, consider installing a shatter-proof mirror in his stall so he thinks he has some (very handsome!) company.

    Give him some toys.

    There are loads of horse toys on the market and each is designed to keep a horse occupied and happy while confined to a stall. Whether they are balls your horse can kick and bite, toys designed to be hung and licked or homemade items like milk jugs filled with stones (without their caps), it’s important that each is used safely, without any way for a horse to get trapped or stuck in them. Large stuffed animals can also be used to keep a horse happy; tying one to a stall door or placing a large one in the back corner of a stall can make a horse not feel as lonely.

    Administer drugs to take the edge off.

    It can be helpful to use veterinarian-prescribed drugs to take the edge off an extremely rambunctious horse. Whether it’s to ensure the safety of barn workers handling the horse or to keep him quiet enough to heal, a variety or drugs or herbal supplements may be key to keeping him quiet.

    Spend time with him.

    We all know how boring it is to be sick or injured, and stuck at home with no one to talk to--your horse feels the same way! Spend as much time as you can with him, whether it’s a delivering a good grooming session, teaching him clicker training or simply sitting with him in his stall while he eats or hangs out. While stall rest is no fun, you can deepen your relationship with him if he knows that every time you come to see him, it’s not just to work.

    Hand walk or graze him.

    If the vet gives the go-ahead for your horse to hand walk or graze, take him out as much as you are able. Some horses tend to like a few shorter sessions outside a stall versus one longer time spent in the fresh air. As always, your safety is most important, so if he’s too overly eager to get outside, make sure you can handle him safely. 

    Ease the ache of confinement.

    As your vet if chiropractic, acupuncture or massage might help your horse feel more comfortable during his confinement. Like people, the more cooped up a horse is, the more likely he may be to develop aches and pains from not being able to stretch and move. Additionally, read up on stretches and basic massage techniques (if your vet OK’s it) to add in to your grooming sessions.

    Ask others to stop by and say “hi” as well.

    Most horses love attention, whether it’s in the form of treats, a scratch in those hard-to-reach places or a simple soothing word. Ask your fellow barn mates to stop by his stall and check on him when they’re at the barn so he doesn’t feel as isolated.

  • 10/12/2016 9:02 AM | Deleted user

    Equine liability insurance options can seem daunting, but whether you own a boarding barn or keep horses in your back yard, they’re necessary to keep you safe from legal action. And even if you don’t own a farm, carrying some form of equine liability insurance may help keep you safe lawsuits. Read on to find out why.  

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Investigating insurance of any kind can be overwhelming, whether you’re looking at health insurance, life insurance, truck and trailer insurance or equine insurance. And as equine insurance is something many horse enthusiasts feel they don’t have to have, it can easily fall by the wayside (it can be hard enough to remember to renew our equine association memberships at the end of the year!).

    However, being uninsured or under-insured can be even scarier: The thought of losing your farm, your home, your horses and most of your assets is enough to make any horse owner quiver in their muck boots. While you may feel that your clients are stand-up people who wouldn’t sue you, it’s important to remember that many times, the injured do not have an option in whether or not legal action is taken—their insurance company makes that call.

    So, what insurance is best for you? 

    Liability Insurance: Who Needs it?

    Sadly, in the litigious world we now live in, having liability insurance is more than just peace of mind--it can be key to protecting yourself and your assets should you be brought to court.

    One term of importance, says Kristin Detwiler, an agribusiness and equine specialist with Gibson Agri & Equine Insurance in Girard, Ohio, is to make sure you’re working with someone who truly understands the equine operation and what needs to be covered.

    For example, some home owner’s insurance policies will cover the liability for a few horses kept in the backyard, but will not cover someone who owns a large farm with boarded horses (owned by other people) on the property. For those people who board horses, they need a different policy: a farmowner’s insurance policy.

    The easiest way to tell what type of insurance you need is to ask yourself this question: Is someone making a profit from this operation? If they are, this becomes a "commercial" exposure and a commercial farm policy would be needed, as opposed to a personal policy (meaning you make your income elsewhere).

    Insurance Options

    There are many different types of liability insurance, but agribusiness and farm owner’s policies are typically what is used to cover a farm property and the liability that comes with it, notes Detwiler. Each liability policy is then tailored to the individual based on their needs and their operations.

    For example, the liability insurance a boarding barn owner carries will be different from that carried by a trainer who travels to various farms to give lessons, but insurance is necessary for both. What differs for each is what is specifically covered under each policy.

    The most popular liability insurance options for those involved in the equine industry are Equine Personal Liability and Equine Professional Liability.

    Generally speaking, for someone who just owns a few pleasure horses in their backyard, equine personal liability would be a good fit, explains Detwiler. This type of policy would include coverage for things like damage to another person or to another person’s property. Equine personal liability insurance would cover episodes like a horse getting into the road and then getting hit by a car, damaging the car or injuring the people in the car.


    A more-specific policy targeted to professionals in the equine industry, an equine professional liability policy also covers those who may not own a farm or barn from which they provides these services.


    When dealing with equestrian professionals who give riding lessons, board, breed, train, offer clinics, riding camps or something similar, a Commercial Farm Owner’s Package would be a better fit as it could cover all these endeavors. A specific policy would again be tailored to the individual, farm or corporation to cover all of the exposures from their equestrian involvement.

    This package insurance policy is the most comprehensive (and often the most affordable) way to cover the entire exposure of the farm to those who may try to sue the farm owner—and it’s done on one policy, says Detwiler.
    This policy would cover the actual farm property itself (dwellings, barns, machinery, hay and animals) and provide liability insurance. This liability can include liability for boarding, breeding, training, lessons, clinics and more. 

    Personal Liability Policy

    That being said, stand-alone equine personal liability policies for horse owners who do not own their own farm and aren't covering their liability on a farmowner’s policy are also available. This type of insurance is best suited for horse owners who board or lease a horse that is not housed on property they own.

    Some homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the liability from owning a horse, but some will not, so it’s worthwhile to call your current carrier to see if they would extend liability to one owned horse, explains Detwiler. 

    If your current insurance carrier doesn’t extend coverage, equine personal liability insurance should be considered. These policies are generally very reasonably priced. This policy would provide liability insurance for the horse named in the policy, no matter where it goes. For example, if you were to take your horse to a horse show and the horse bit someone who then tried to sue you, this insurance policy would protect you and your assets.

    What is NOT Covered With an Equine Insurance Policy

    While there is no “blanket” insurance policy, it’s important that any farm with commercial exposure (think boarding, riding lessons, training, etc.) have liability release waivers and hold harmless agreements, which can be drawn up or reviewed by a lawyer. It’s also important that each farm abide by state-specific equine laws, which could include the posting of equine activity awareness signs. (In Kentucky, you can get yours through the Kentucky Horse Council www.kentuckyhorse.org)

    “Insurance agencies do not provide such documents,” notes Detwiler. “It is advised that a person meet with an attorney to draft up such paperwork as it will pertain to them and their farm specifically. In writing a commercial farm policy or general liability policy, these waivers are typically required to be used and copies must be sent to the insurance company prior to beginning coverage.”

    Insurance in a Nutshell

    “If someone owns their own farm, a good catch-all insurance would be an actual farmowner’s policy,” explains Detwiler. “This policy would cover all of the property and the liability based on the liability exposure on the farm itself. For someone who might not own their farm, but is leasing or travels to different barns to give lessons, someone who is doing some boarding, breeding, clinics, or other equine endeavor, a Commercial General Liability policy with equine personal liability and professional liability along with any of the other exposure coverages would be a good catch all.” You could never cover everything on one policy and it can be changed as the exposures change, she notes.

    Keeping this in mind, once you have insurance, it’s a good idea to go over your policy each year with your agent when the renewals come due. A lot can change over the course of a year, and you might not think to call your agent every time you offer a new service or hire new employees, but it’s imperative that he or she know exactly what is being done on the farm so they can make sure you’re protected to the very best of the insurance company’s abilities.

    It boils down to this: No matter how you are involved in the equine industry, you need to have liability insurance—it depends on what you are doing with the horses that will determine what type of coverage you will need.  

  • 09/27/2016 12:15 PM | Deleted user

    Nori Scheffel has long been a fixture at MSEDA sanctioned events, course designing and setting fences, as well as coaching kids and adults, and lending a hand wherever needed. 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada, Nori Scheffel’s introduction to horses was a bit different than most. Instead of being exposed to horses by a classmate or a babysitter, “I actually started riding because of my school bus driver in Canada: Ruth Ohlmeyer.”

    Scheffelridge Farm hosts two hunter/jumper horse shows a year: one in May and one in July. They have a variety of classes and recently added one near to Nori’s heart: the Ruth Ohlmeyer Equitation Challenge. Ruth passed away last year. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be riding at all,” Nori says.

    Nori’s background is deep and varied. “I grew up not knowing there was English riding; being from Calgary, I grew up with the Stampede. I began in the Canadian pony Club, evented through my formative years and then turned into a hunter who rode some dressage.

    “My first was a pony named Sugar that Ruth gave my family for Christmas. All three of us [Nori has two sisters] rode and showed her; we did pony club and hunters. She was a 14 hand bay Quarter mare. After that, Ruth gave me her horse Sunny, who was a Saddlebred/Arabian cross that challenged my horsemanship every day. After that, my mom and dad bought us better horses, so I got Gully, Pacific Fire, who was a Thoroughbred I did the hunter jumpers on.

    A Change in Country

    Nori ended up in the States for a great reason: “We actually moved to California because my dad didn’t want to shovel snow anymore. He bought a house and said ‘we are immigrating to California!’” However, Nori and her sisters refused to leave Canada until they got to show at Spruce Meadows, which was back when the show still hosted hunters.

    Nori completed her first year of college at at Palomar College in California, then she needed to leave the country while my Visa paperwork came through. She then attended Yorkshire Riding Centre, where she got a BHSAI (British Horse Society Accredited Instructor). “After school, I worked in Yorkshire and Salisbury for 8 months, then I went to Germany to work at a Grand Prix dressage stable for 7 months. Then I came back  to California, where I freelanced teaching and riding. I also started teaching at a local Pony Club.

    Life is Better in the Bluegrass

    So how DID Nori end up in Kentucky? “I met Dave Scheffel, my husband, when I came back to the States—my mom had hired him and Jim Boyce to shoe my horses when I was overseas. We bought the farm in Paris in 1996, got married and moved to Kentucky the next day. We started building on the 44 acres we originally had bought, then purchased an additional 75 acres 7 years ago.”

    Scheffelridge Farm is now home to about 50-odd horses, and the clientele is everything from casual riders, junior, pony kids, hunters, jumpers, dressage, eventing riders and western horses and riders as well; Nori’s husband Dave is a farrier who ropes. Additionally, the Georgetown College Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team trains out of Scheffelridgem as well.

    Of all the horses on the farm, Nori owns just one: Secret Madison, or Maddie. She’s a retired 24-year-old Warmblood mare Nori raised and competed in the jumpers. 

    Delving Into Course Design

    So with such varied boarding clients, how did Nori get into course design, as well? “I had a student 16 years ago who worked for Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, which hosts the Paul Frazer dressage show and combined test. At the time, they were lacking a course designer, so she asked me if I would be interested in helping. That’s really where it all began! After that I began building Spring Bay when I was asked by Stanley Wiggs. It’s really grown from there.”

    Nori designs everything from unsanctioned events like mini trials and her own jumper shows at the farm to one-star events at the Kentucky Horse Park. “Course designing is my creative outlet. I love fitting the necessities into a pattern that’s smooth but challenging,” she explains. 

    A Passion for Teaching

    When asked what she is most passionate about with regards to her job, Nori explains that “my passion isn’t really riding—it’s seeing my students grow and learn as riders. My specialty is talking people off the ledge!” she says, smiling. “No, in all honesty, my specialty is building confidence in my riders, whether they are timid beginners or adult amateurs who can’t afford to get hurt.

    I love when I can teach something well enough that my rider walks out of the ring with a smile—I know they have really learned something—a lightbulb came on and they GET it. And that feeling can come with the smallest thing—any sort of breakthrough makes me feel like I have accomplished something meaningful.

  • 09/27/2016 8:27 AM | Deleted user

    By Susan Harris

    Continuing Education is amazing! Last winter I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship form MSEDA.  This scholarship allowed me to attend the outstanding USDF Trainers Conference in Wellington, Florida.  The symposium was with Johann Hinnemann.  He has been the coach for German, Dutch and Canadian Olympic Teams.  He also is a Reitmeister or Master Rider.

    Every year the seminar is held at a beautiful farm in the White Fences Equestrian community.  The participants range from 1st level through Gran Prix.  The horses and riders are outstanding!  Each pair has specific issues that are addressed in their sessions.

    It is such a wonderful learning experience to sit around and watch these amazing athletes.  It is always good to hear the about new techniques in dealing with training problems and to refresh yourself on the basics.

    The following are some of the ideas and exercises I found particularly helpful:

    Focus and structure:

    1. Saying out loud what you plan to do at each letter.

    2. Visualize each movement you plan to do.

    3. How should it look - how to prepare to do the movement – finish & evaluate.


    1. Not to go so deep in corners as to upset the rhythm or cadence.

    2. Always shoulder fore.

    3. Canter to achieve more activity.

    4. Many transitions within the gaits and in lateral exercises.

    5. Renew activity – example, medium to collected to medium.

    6. Look where you want to go.

    7. Clean simple aids and repetition.

    I am still excited about the seminar.  Learning so many great exercises and new ideas is wonderful.  I continually refer to the extensive notes that I took during the conference.

    In addition to attending the MSEDA Trainers Conference, I went to the USDF Certified Trainers Symposium with featured speaker Shelley Francis. (Shelley and her horse, Doktor were the alternates for the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio).

    Shelley gave an overview of her training philosophy.  I loved her simple and quite approach, while maintaining the utmost attention to detail.  We viewed her instructing to several of her students. She also gave a fabulous demonstration on her Grand Prix horse, Danilo.

    Fortunately Shelley made room for me to take several weekly lessons the entire time I was in Wellington. My 6 year old horse, Endeavor, who is just starting 3rd level greatly benefited from Shelley’s patient training methods.  Shelley really helped with his overly enthusiastic Flying Changes.

    My students benefit every day from the new exercises I learned, my better eye on the ground and the enthusiasm I attained while in Florida.  I appreciate the financial help from MSEDA very much!  Florida 2016 was such a wonderful experience.

    Thank you for your sponsorship!

    Susan L. Harris

  • 09/27/2016 8:19 AM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E Coleman

    This year’s MSEDA at the Park was held on September 9 and 10. Though the show was a bit smaller as many riders has just returned from the American Eventing Championships in Tryon, N.C., and it ran between some United States Dressage Federation Regional Championships.

    A total of seven USDF teams competed, with five adult teams and two youth teams.  The results can be found here: http://showsecretary.com/rs.asp?Show_ID=602

    The 2017 show dates are September 8-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. There will be both USDF Youth and Adult team competition once again.

    We would love your feedback on the competition!

    We look forward to seeing you in 2017!

  • 09/21/2016 9:10 AM | Deleted user

    While choking in humans can be a very violent, noisy affair, choke in horses can present in a very different way.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    What horses are at risk?

    The main cause of choke in horses is a lump of poorly chewed food, though horses can choke on non-food items, as well. These objects are typically rocks or some other item a horse samples, or could be wood if a horse is a cribber.

     Horses that bolt their feed are more at risk for choke than horses that eat more slowly, as they eat as much food as they possibly can as quickly as possible. Additionally, older horses that have bad (or no) teeth are also at higher risk for choke as they have a harder time chewing their food properly.

    Horses that eat specific types of feed can also be predisposed to choke: pelleted feeds, in particular, can cause a horse to choke as they are compressed during the processing of the feed, then expand when exposed to moisture, like saliva. 

    How to diagnose choke

    While not all chokes present the same way, some indications that your horse may be choking include:

    • Standing with his neck held straight out and down
    • Repeatedly trying to swallow (the horse might seem like he is gagging)
    • Drooling
    • Saliva and/or food or grass coming out of the horse’s nose
    • Coughing

    How choke is handled

    No matter what, choke is a veterinary emergency. While you’re waiting for your vet, if you’re comfortable doing so, you can sedate your horse to try to get him to relax. Sometimes the sedation alone will allow your horse to relax enough that the mass will pass. Once your vet arrives, she will administer anti-spasmodic medicine to try to get his esophageal muscles to relax. If this does not work, she will pass a tube through your horse’s nose until it hits the obstruction. She will them pour warm water into the tube and empty it repeatedly as she tries to gently push down the mass. The goal is to soften the mass with enough liquid to allow it to pass into the stomach. If your vet is unable to get the mass to pass manually, your horse may need surgical removal of the obstruction.

    Once your vet gets the mass to pass, which may take quite a bit of time, you will most likely be advised to not let the horse eat for 24 hours. This time allows the throat to rest and begin healing from the trauma of the lodged mass. Once your horse can eat again, he will most likely need to eat food that has been softened with water before transitioning back to dry food in a few days.

    Your vet will administer pain medications to your horse to alleviate the inflammation from where your horse had the obstruction. Choking horses are also at risk of developing pneumonia, so your vet may opt to place your horse on a round of broad-spectrum antibiotics. 

    Reasons why horses choke

    Horses can choke for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are:
    • Anxious about grain meals (there are also many causes of this, but it could be related to having had food withheld from him in the past, being low in the pecking order, etc.)
    • Not enough saliva
    • Poor dentition
    • Complications from EPM (where muscles surrounding the larynx may not work as well and allow food to get trapped
    • Injury to the esophagus (either from trauma or a tumor)

    How to prevent choke

    There are certain things that can be done to prevent choke. These include:

    • Getting your horse’s teeth checks at least twice a year, more if he is older or having issues
    • Feeding a non-pelletized feed
    • Using a slow feeder for grain meals or drop some large, smooth stones in his bucket if he bolts his feed
    • Adding water to his meals to make them more moist
    • Feeding more grain meals so he is not as anxious to bolt feed
    • Feeding hay first so he is not as hungry when his grain comes
    • Separating him to eat if he is fed in a herd and bolts his feed
    • Having water available to him when he eats grain meals

  • 08/30/2016 11:32 AM | Deleted user

    By Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS 

    The Mid-South Eventing and Dressage Association welcomed Missy Ransehousen on August 21-22nd at Masterson Station Park in Lexington, Kentucky.  Missy has made her own mark on the equestrian world through her chosen sport of eventing. Many would view her to have an obvious advantage of growing up with an Olympic legend (her mother, Jessica), but proving herself in this sport has been based on hard work & dedication. When you grow up in the shadow of a three-time Olympian, you work hard, develop your own style, and choose what you love the most:  coaching & eventing!

    Photo by Erica SpradlingPhoto by Erica Spradling

    Saturday's Dressage Lessons

    Day one began with individual dressage lessons at the Dressage Complex under cloudy and sometimes rainy skies.  Tiffany Smith and the lovely bay gelding Indigenous Gent (currently competing at the preliminary level) took to the sandbox first.  Missy and Tiffany joked about her horse “assuming the position” in dressage, so they took to challenging him to take his frame outside of his comfort zone.  After a brief warm-up, Missy instructed Tiffany to canter a 20-meter circle in the center of the ring, working on stretching the horse’s head and neck downwards.  Keeping him supple through his jaw will his body to follow suit.  “This horse doesn’t need to be low in his frame but should be through,” Missy said.  

    Photo by Kristen Janicki

    Then, staying on the circle in that downwards stretch, Tiffany worked on bending him to the outside for several strides, allowing him to straighten and then bending to the inside.  By straightening her upper body, Tiffany brought Indy’s head and neck up.  “If, when you lift, he starts bracing, bring his head and neck back down and ask again,” Missy explained.  She encouraged Tiffany to keep the canter swinging, and, if it starts to feel up and down, push forward for a bigger stride.  

    Tiffany Smith. Photo by Kristen Janicki

    Tiffany also admitted that riding the corners are a challenge for her, so Missy reminded her to keep her eyes and chest up to prevent the upper body from tipping forward in the corners.  Instead of using her inside lower leg to support and bend the horse’s body, Tiffany should close her inside thigh with steady lower leg contact.  

    Beginner novice level riders, like Claire Mulhollem and Anastacia Curwood, worked to create a steady rhythm throughout the three gaits.  At the trot, Missy had them work off the rail and leg yield over on the long side, using their legs and body to move the horse rather than directing with the reins. 

    Anastasia Curwood. Photo by Kristen Janicki 

    To improve your horse’s walk, Missy suggests stretching your leg downwards and be conscious of your position in the saddle, sitting tall.  If you are wearing spurs, turn your toe outwards keeping your legs long rather than shortening your lower leg position.  Riders should “feel your horse’s hind legs stepping underneath them,” Missy said.

    Sunday’s Stadium Jumping 

    Beginner Novice

    Beginner Novice group, consisting of Sharon Anthony and Claire Mulhollem, worked on creating a steady rhythm to the fences either at a trot or canter and keeping the same rhythm throughout their courses.  For Sharon, Missy wanted her to think about keeping her eyes and chest up with her weight in her heels.  This helped to create better balance over the fence itself.

    Photo by Erica Spradling

    Claire’s big mare tends to get very enthusiastic about jumping and the key element to controlling that energy included maintaining a steadier canter to the fences.  Staying centered to the fence, especially off of a turn, requires preparation.  Making sure the horse remained on the aids helped Claire prepare for the fence ahead. 

    Photo by Erica Spradling


    Martha Lambert. Photo by Erica Spradling

    Hannah Hubsch and Martha Lambert were up next aboard their mismatched mounts, a tall Thoroughbred and Connemara pony.  For Martha, Missy concentrated on keeping the connection and hind legs moving.  Keeping the horse on the aids and maintaining connection helps the horse balance his body.  If the horse loses balance in the turns, “finesse the reins and use a half halt,” Missy said.

    Hannah Hubsch. Photo by Erica Spradling

    Missy really challenged Hannah’s position over fences, having her shift her hips more underneath her and forward.  “That way, as you jump, you don’t have to move as much with your body,” she said.

    With her tall and lean mount, Missy told Hannah “don’t get in a hurry to get to the jump with a big horse,” especially one with a lot of scope.  Keep the rhythm of the stride you want and close your leg rather than using your upper body to meet a distance.


    It was all about pace and energy for Bridgette Aickelin’s big grey gelding who would rather poke his way around the course.  Missy worked on getting Bridgette to use more power while maintaining the same ground-covering stride, resulting in a steadier smoother round and scopier jumps.

    With Megan Lynn, Missy emphasized her position to help Biggin’s jump.  “Don’t throw your shoulders forward, he has to jump up to you”.  Maintaining a firm lower leg in the last stride to the fence helped to keep the stride moving forward.  

    Photo credits:  Kristen Janicki (Saturday), Erica Spradling (Sunday).

    MSEDA would like to thank Missy Rasehousen for sharing her eventing expertise with all of the horses and riders.  

    For more information about MSEDA, go to www.mseda.org

  • 08/16/2016 8:15 PM | Deleted user

    Weed control in pastures can seem futile, especially if you have limited space and resources, but proper pasture management is key to making sure your horse’s get the most nutrition from turnout.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    We all know that horses can be picky eaters, so it behooves farm managers and owners to eliminate as many weeds as possible in their fields. While it may not be possible to eliminate every weed single weed, in reality you may not want to: some weedy plants provide horse’s with nutrients, as odd as that may seem. In Kentucky, some of the most common non-palatable weeds include curly dock and tall ironweed, but crab grass is readily eaten by most horses.

    Thankfully, most horses will not eat poisonous plants unless there is no other forage option available. Here in Kentucky, the most poisonous to horses are horsechestnut, red maple, wild black cherry, Japanese yew, mountain laurel and rhododendron.

    Weeds are tough buggers: they tend to be more aggressive than grasses and other desired forages, competing with them for water, light and soil nutrients. If nothing is done to stop them, weeds tend to win and take over entire fields.

    Ways to Win the Weed War

    The way you manage your fields will have a major impact on the presence (or lack thereof) of weeds. While it may not be possible to incorporate every weed control strategy, the goal is to incorporate some practices that promote the growth of desired plants instead of weeds, which thrive on low soil fertility levels.

    To maintain fields well, you need to use some of the following strategies:

    • Use controlled grazing practices
    • Maintain proper soil pH and fertility levels
    • Mow at the proper time of year and for the stage of maturity of the weeds and forage
    • Renovate pastures as needed
    • Allow new plants to become established before turning out horses on the fields
    • Apply herbicides

    Typically an effective program will need to incorporate a few of these strategies.

    Overgrazing is typically the most-probable cause of weedy pastures, but if you have only one pasture or your field is small, consider sectioning off portion of the field using electric fencing tape that is easy to move. While this may not be possible on every farm, keeping horses off of parts of the pasture to allow the grass to grow is one of the best ways to improve pasture quality.

    Now is the time to seed (just be sure that the seed tag tells you how pure the seed is you are applying!)! Seeding in late summer or early fall will let the crop get established and compete with weeds like yellow foxtail and crabgrass that will come on in the spring; a spring seeding will have to compete with these weeds. However, weeds like chickweed will compete with the grass seed in the fall. There is no time of year where you can seed that will 100 percent guarantee that your seed will take, sadly.

    It may be most beneficial to apply grass seed in late summer or early fall and then seed legumes the next spring. Application of seed in this manner would allow you to apply a broadleaf herbicide in the spring before seeding the legume species if you wanted to.

    You should test your soil before applying any herbicide or seeding so you know if any additional steps will be necessary to give your seed the best shot at surviving. Knowing your soil’s pH and nutrient levels will help you judge whether or not you should add lime or fertilizer first. The addition of lime or fertilizer alone will not usually help control weeds—in fact, some weeds respond well to lime application in the field—exactly what you DON’T want!

    Herbicides can be used on fields, but to just apply them willy-nilly will do no good. If the forage in the herbicide-treated field is not strong enough (and actively growing), new weeds will begin to grow in the bare areas where the older weeds died. 

    Know When to Mow

    Mowing can help control weed growth, but it is mainly effective in preventing and reducing seed production—which means you need to mow when weeds are growing, but before flowers or grass seed heads come on. Fields mowed after weed seeds become mature don’t prevent future weed development. In fact, some weeds grow better once they have been clipped (cocklebur)!

    Mowing should be done when weeds are about 12 to 18 inches tall. Best results come when the vegetation is mowed as close to the ground as possible. It’s even more important to mow pastures that have been selectively grazed by horses as this will help reduce or prevent seed production of the plants that were not eaten.

    Not all weeds are inhibited by mowing, however. Dandelions and crabgrass, for example, tend to be more prevalent in pasture that are mowed frequently; however horsenettle and johnsongrass can be suppressed by repeated mowing (pick you poison, eh?).

    Should You Use an Herbicide?

    The type of herbicide you use on your field will be largely be determined by what weeds are present, but that is not the sole deciding factor as to whether or not using an herbicide on your farm is necessary.

    Other things that should be considered are:

    • Stage of weed growth
    • Amount of weeds present
    • Temperature and rainfall
    • Time of year
    • Cost
    • Waiting period after treatment necessary before horses can be returned to the field

    If you determined that your farm is a candidate for herbicide application, a good general rule of thumb is to keep horses off treated fields for 7 to 14 days, though some herbicides state that they have a zero day waiting period

    County extension agents are some of the most underutilized tools for horse owners and farm managers. If you have questions on your pasture and its management, it can be helpful to contact your local agent for help.

    Find the agent for your county here.

    For more info on herbicides, click here.

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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