Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 07/14/2016 7:56 AM | Deleted user

    It can seem a bit daunting to ride under a Big Name Trainer whom you don’t know, but clinics are wonderful ways to get a new set of eyes on your riding and add additional insight into ways to make your horse even better. 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    We all have equestrian idols, those we admire for their partnership with their horse, the way they get the job done and even the grace with which they accept a less-than-stellar outcome at a horse show or event.

    Lucky for us, many of these equestrian superstars offer clinics as a way to supplement their training and riding income and as a way to give back to the equestrian community. If you’ve never given a second thought to riding in a clinic, now is the time to rethink your decision.

    Erin Strader

    Erin Strader, Barn Manager and Trainer for the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, tries to attend between two and three clinics a year, depending on what her work schedule will allow. She finds clinics helpful as they can help her refresh her riding and look at how her horse goes differently. “They allow me to get a lot of quality instruction in a short amount of time,” she adds. Erin currently has a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse she got in the fall of 2015 who is ready to move up to Novice.

    Though many clinics are typically in a one- or two-day format, Erin prefers the two-day format as she feels that the first day is more of an evaluation period for each horse and rider combination. By the second day, the instructor can really hone in on some key areas that need improvement, she notes.

    To prepare for a clinic, Erin ensures that both she and her horse are fit and ready for any jumping or galloping that is asked of them. She also makes sure that her horse is fit to jump the height at which she is entered. She goes into the clinic with a good idea of where the horse will be headed in competition and what specific things she needs to work on. Erin recommends that it’s best to bring up and concerns or issues with your horse at the beginning of the clinic, so the clinician has an idea of what troubles you have been facing and how you have been dealing with them at home.

    And don’t think the learning stops when you step off your horse. To get the most from her clinics, Erin tries to bring a notebook with her to jot down phrases and explanations while auditing other lesson groups. “I also try to write a recap of my own lessons at the end of each day, specifically noting what did and did not work for me and my horse. I will also draw diagrams of any jump grids/courses with distances so that I can recreate them at home.”

    No matter with whom you decide to clinic, “you can always find at least one takeaway from a clinic, and if nothing else, it gets you and your horse off the farm and used to riding in front of other people in a new place!” Erin says.

    Jody Cattell

    Jody Cattell clinic between two and four times a year for a few reasons: “It is one of the only ways I hasve of getting comprehensive cross-country instruction,” she notes. Jody lives in Columbus, Ohio, where event barns are virtually non-existent. “I am usually the only eventer where I board and/or take lessons, so clinics are one way of meeting other event riders--I know more event riders in Michigan than any other state because I’ve attended so many clinics over the years at Hunters Run in Metamora!” she says.

    In addition to the camaraderie, Jody appreciates that clinics are typically relaxing environments; there are “no boots to polish or coats to wear. Often there is a group dinner, which is a good opportunity to ask the clinician questions about conditioning, bits, favorite boots, etc.  Plus, they usually have interesting stories to tell,” she explains.

    Like Erin, Jody appreciates riding under a different set of eyes. “However, they may say things a little differently that brings on the ‘aha’ moment or have a helpful exercise you have never tried before.” She, too, will address any issues she and her horse are experiencing with the clinician beforehand if the clinician is interested in tailoring the lesson for them specifically. Jody has cliniced with Leslie Law, Kim Severson, Kyle Carter, Doug Payne, and Buck Davidson, as well as Cathy Wieschhoff, Diana Rich and Robin Walker.

    Jody has this advice for people who are looking to clinic:

    •  Ask around about the instructor. If you are a beginner novice rider, ask if this person is appropriate choice.  There are some clinicians who have more patience than others. If you have not participated in an event (recognized or unrecognized), you might be better off putting your money toward regular lessons instead of one shot with someone whom you may never see again.
    • Even if you are an experienced rider, you need to know the instructor’s idea of the appropriate degree of difficulty at each level.  For example, when I was thinking about moving up to Preliminary with my current horse, I still rode with Buck in a Training group, knowing full well that we would be jumping a lot of Preliminary fences. With another trainer, a Preliminary group might be more like a Training group.
    • Find out how many riders are going to be in a group.  To me, four riders or less is ideal.  I won’t ride in a clinic with six riders--the wait time is too long.
    • If possible, find out from the organizer how the groups are going to be arranged. I think this is an important factor that many people, including organizers, overlook. Ask other people if the organizer arranges the groups properly. Many years ago, I took a clinic from Jimmy Wofford at Training level. No one in my group had ever gone Training. Only one participant had ever been to a recognized event (at Novice). We spent the day jumping 18-inch logs! It’s even worse if you are over faced in clinic--chances are that both you and your horse will lose confidence.

    Jody also recommends watching the sessions both before and after yours while you’re at the clinic. The “sessions before yours will help you understand the exercises and what the instructor is looking for. The sessions following your ride will solidify what you learned,” she notes. Jody, also, makes notes as soon as she can to help remember what she has learned.

    To make the session enjoyable for others as well, Jody suggest that those riding in a clinic “ask questions, but be careful and be considerate. Don’t ask every question that pops into your head and don’t interrupt the flowing of the session with questions.” 

    Clinics are great ways to ride your horse under a new set of eyes, meet new friends and gain new tools for your riding toolbox. 

  • 07/10/2016 5:08 PM | Deleted user

    As the heat keeps coming and the grind of the show season wears on, it can be hard to keep your heart in the show ring game. While many riders can’t afford the luxury of weeks of downtime for either themselves or their mount this time of year to get their heads back in the game, there are some easy tricks to try to keep you from getting burnout on horses and showing. Here are just a few tips to keep things interesting and lively for you and your horse. 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Every rider knew that one lesson pony when they were younger: The sour steed would pin its ears every time it was saddled, try to scrape an inattentive rider off on the rail or turn and bolt for home while out on a trail ride. While now you can probably assess each of these actions as a sign of burnout and stress for that lesson pony, sometimes determining that your show horse is burned out is a bit harder to do. 

    Signs of Stress

    While your steed may not try to bite you every time you tack him up, more subtle signs like shifting weight away from the saddle or refusing to be bridled may indicate that there is more going on than simply a bad day. Barring health issues (which should be investigated by your vet), your mount might be trying to tell you he is simply done for a bit.

    If you mount outside the arena, does it take more encouragement than normal to get your beast to the arena? Does he have a harder time paying attention while in the ring? Is he sticky to go forward or has he lost his crisp changes? Conversely, has he turned into a fire breathing dragon that anticipates everything and adds drama to every request? Any of these could indicate that your horse needs a break from the ring. 

    Combatting Equine Burnout

    While it can be easy to mount up, walk for a few minutes and want to get down to business, to keep your horse from getting tired of his work week, you might want to consider a long, leisurely warmup, maybe even outside of the ring, before asking for more-intense work. Additionally, adding in frequent walk breaks on a loose rein, especially as the heat of summer intensifies, can keep him happy and more eager to work.

    Though it’s most likely difficult to work in extended vacations with show season at its height, consider stringing together three or four days where your horse can be just that: a horse. Letting him play outside, roll in dirt and hang out with his friends can do loads for his state of mind. Asking nothing of him but to be groomed and maybe hand graze will hopefully let him return to the ring refreshed and ready to work.

    If you’re worried about maintaining fitness, try hacking on trails or even taking him off the farm to new environments to trail ride or play. Knowing that every time he gets in a trailer he won’t be asked to show will also help him maintain an eager attitude. Though long lining and lunging is really “work,” if it’s not part of your horse’s routine, alternating these in with mounted work may be a way to keep him from feeling overworked. 

    If you really are feeling that the show ring is no longer calling your name, in theory there should be no issue with simply walking away for a while, or in stepping down your competition level to give both you and your horse a mental break. But we all know riders are competitive—that’s why we horse show. It can be hard, but important, to remember that you are not in competition with anyone but yourself. Taking time off, or even stepping down a level, does not mean in any way that you have failed. Actually, it means the exact opposite: you’re acutely in tune with both your horse and yourself.

    So what can you do to make riding seem like less of a chore? Consider a lower-key horse show or event, or even taking time to do events like Summer Bird Dressage or some cross-country schooling at Masterson with less pressure.

    Instead of going hot-and-heavy with 5 to 6 rides a week, contemplate sitting on your horse three times a week or so, dimply to keep him fit. Riding should not feel like a job (unless it is!) – and it certainly should not be one more thing on an ever-growing to-do list.

    Consider finding an additional passion, if you don’t have one already. Kayaking or hiking may be just as fun for you as riding, especially if you can share the time with friends. It’s easy to get trapped in the workworkworkriderideride mentality and not leave room for other fun activities like dinner or drinks with friends or a leisurely walk through the park.

    Reassess your goals. While most of us make yearly riding goals in the winter before the show season starts, now is not a bad time to take a step back and reassess if your original goals were on-target or so lofty that you’re pushing yourself and your horse. Though it might be hard to conclude that you may not be making a move up this year, making the determination now may save you months of stress through the remainder of the show season.

    Burnout isn't Permanent

    That being said, if you’re overwhelmed in additional areas of your life, your horse is being a stinker and you just aren’t feeling the show ring—don’t fret. Your riding mojo will return—it just make take a bit. Don’t make any rash decisions when you’re in a state of unhappiness, like putting your horse for sale or giving away all your show clothes.

    Sometimes a few days away from the stresses of the showing ring, as well as some distance from a bad ride, can lend a perspective that’s hard to find when you’re in the throes of show season. 

  • 07/07/2016 7:32 PM | Deleted user

    By Mandy Alexander

    Are you interested in getting year-end awards with MSEDA? All members still need to achieve eight (8) hours of volunteering. Four of those hours have to be at either the MSEDA Dressage at the Park show or at Midsouth Team Challenge Horse Trials. There are a couple of awards that need a little extra to achieve. We have put together a list of these awards to help all of our members get the most out of their MSEDA Award experience! Get your information and needs in NOW to have a chance to win these fabulous year end awards!

    The FEI Certificate of Achievement

    What is it? This award is given in Dressage to any member who completes an FEI test with a minimum score of 57% at a USEF/USDF recognized competition.

    What to do to be eligible? You need a copy of YOUR qualifying dressage test from the FEI show. It must have a judge’s signature (but if it’s from the FEI show, it will have it because judges have to sign every test). This must be submitted to the MSEDA Points Secretary along with information on date and location and name of the FEI show you competed in.

    ßThe Eventing High Point Adult Amateur Award

    What is it? This award is given to the adult amateur (over the age of 21) who has amassed the greatest number of points competing in eventing during the competition year

    What to do to be eligible? Submit a copy of your amateur card to the MSEDA Points Secretary!

    The Pony Club Award ---> 

    What is it? This award is given to the MSEDA member in good standing who accumulates the highest number of points and is also a member of Pony Club.

    What to do to be eligible? Notify the MSEDA Points Secretary of your Pony Club status!

    Important Note Points on this award don’t start accumulating until the Points Secretary is notified!

    The Hall of Distinction Award

    What is it? It is awarded to any MSEDA member who completes an FEI competition (Dressage or Eventing). A trophy plaque will be presented in the initial year of induction. Each subsequent completion will be recognized with a new brass plate to be added to the plaque.

    What to do to be eligible? Members must self-report for this award. Proof of FEI completion must be sent to the MSEDA Points Secretary

    ßThe Grasshopper Award

    What is it? Awarded annually to the high point OTTB in the Eventing division.

    What to do to be eligible? The horse must be tattooed and nominated for eligibility. Members must notify the MSEDA Points Secretary.

    So, if you think you would like to apply for any of these awards please notify the MSEDA Points Secretary, Mary Margaret Sterling as soon as possible! Imagine, you could have a lovely perpetual award or certificate or plaque to show off as a reminder of your achievements for the year! Good luck and happy competing MSEDA!

  • 06/21/2016 10:34 AM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    There are many options to keeping your horse in top condition—here are three more of the most commonly used techniques.

    Myofascial Release

    Myofascial release is a hands-on technique that uses sustained pressure on restricted areas in the horse to eliminate pain. It focuses on the fascia, the web of three-dimensional connective tissue that surrounds every cell in a horse’s body. This technique is also used to restore motion in the horse.

    Similar to a spider’s web, the fascia is literally one structure that runs from head to tail in the horse’s body, covering every bone, muscle, nerve, vein and artery. The constant pull of the fascia provides stability to the horse’s body. Healthy fascia is wavy and relaxed; it can stretch and move easily. When there is damage or inflammation, however, the fascia becomes restricted and a source of tension and pain.

    Myofascial release treats this fascia dysfunction. The use of sustained pressure on the area of restriction for 90-120 seconds allows the tissues to release. The practitioner then follows the release down the horse’s body to make all tissues soft and pliable once again, taking the pressure off sensitive tissue, and restoring alignment and mobility.

    Myofascial release is typically used in conjunction with other modalities to treat horses. It differs from chiropractic care as it does not directly manipulate the bone structure of the horse. It also differs from massage therapy as massage therapy providers shorter-term results by addressing the elastic components of the fascia. Myofascial massage provides longer-term results as it engages the entire fascial system.

    Myofascial therapists need not be veterinarians, but many have taken classes to learn techniques. The laws about if they need veterinarian supervision vary from state to state. 

    Lower-level Laser Therapy

    Low-level laser therapy (also known as LLLT, therapeutic laser or cold laser) uses monochromatic and coherent light to stimulate healing in equine injuries. This laser is not the same as thermal or surgical lasers. The use of this modality aids in pain relief, reducing inflammation and increasing the strength of tissues.  These lasers cannot damage living tissue.

    “Laser” stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers supply energy to the body in the form of photons of light, which transmits through the skin and fat, increasing cellular metabolism, which assists in healing

    While traditionally known for their ability to heal acute injuries, these lasers also help stimulate the body’s repair processes for chronic conditions. Some of the most common applications for laser therapy include tendon injuries, back issues and osteoarthritis, in addition to wound healing. A laser’s effect is cumulative, and is usually used in conjunction with other modalities.

    Some cold lasers are available for purchase with no training (most just have an on/off switch), but it is wise to work with a veterinarian or other practitioner who is familiar with both equine anatomy and the machine. Programmable lasers that have varying power levels typically require classes and a certification to purchase and use.

    Osteopathic Care

    Osteopathy is based on the idea that tissue that has a sufficient blood supply, nerve supply and lymphatic drainage will be healthy. Osteopathy uses physical manipulation to remove tension and restrictions in the horse’s body, restoring and maintaining health.

    Osteopaths use their hands to identify problem areas in the horse’s body, then use gentle stretches and adjustment techniques to manipulate joints to facilitate healing. Osteopathic care in horses is not relegated to the spine; it can also help with stiffness, rehabilitation and chronic conditions.

    Osteopathic care is traditionally used in conjunction with other modalities to keep a horse in peak condition.  While an osteopath need not have a DVM, they typically work in conjunction with primary care veterinarians, though the laws vary from state to state.

  • 06/17/2016 11:22 AM | Deleted user

    The MSEDA Awards Committee is conducting a survey on your Year-End Awards! We invite all MSEDA members to participate & are grateful for your feedback.

    Please click here to take the survey! 

  • 06/16/2016 9:18 AM | Deleted user

    We invite everyone to attend the upcoming Area VIII Town Hall Meeting! This is a great place to connect with the USEA. 

    From the USEA's website 

    "Area VIII is next up in a series of 11 town hall meetings being hosted around the country this year. The town hall meetings are a continuation of the Eventing 2016-2026 Summitwhich was held at the 2015 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention.  Those in attendance will be invited to discuss the issues facing the sport and their recommendations on how the USEA can address them.  Members of the USEA Board of Governors, USEA staff and local leadership will be present to listen and take notes on the input provided. All town hall meetings will be free and open to all people with a stake in U.S. Eventing. Food will be served to all attendees. "

    Please click here to read more.

  • 06/08/2016 11:08 AM | Deleted user

    There are multiple modalities available to aid ailing horses now than ever before. Here are just a few ways you can help your horse feel his best in addition to traditional Western medicine. Many of these are used in conjunction to keep your steed feeling top-notch. The first in a two-part series will cover the two  most common alternative therapies: acupuncture and chiropractic care.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    While Western medicine has long been the gold standard of equine care in the United States, over the past few decades, dedicated horse owners have been expressing interest in a wide range of non-mainstream modalities to keep their horses feeling top-notch.

    Here are just a few of the alternative therapies that can assist you in your quest to keep your horse feeling his best. 


    One of the most-common Eastern medicine modalities, acupuncture is used most commonly for musculoskeletal complaints, explains Dr. Martha Rodgers of Shephard Hill Equine in Lexington, Ky. “Acupuncture can also be utilized as a treatment for other conditions, like cardiac, respiratory, reproductive and gastrointestinal issues, as well as part of a wellness exam.”

    Acupuncture involves the insertion of a needle over specific points of a horse that correlate to certain anatomic structures of the nervous system. The needles cause a small place of trauma, which incites a local inflammatory response. This in turn triggers increased blood flow and muscle relaxation.

    While most people are familiar with the use of just needles for acupuncture (called “dry needling”), there are additional acupuncture modalities that can be used to help a horse. Dr. Rodgers explains the different types of acupuncture therapy:

    -          Dry needling
    -          Aquapuncture, the injection of a fluid through the needle (typically B12), which will continue to stimulate the point after the needle is removed and until the liquid is absorbed
    -          Moxibustion, where an herb is burned over an acupuncture point to stimulate the point
    -          Electroacupuncture (also called electrostimulation), where electrodes are attached to the acupuncture needles and a pulsing electrical current is applied

       Any of these acupuncture treatments can offer both local and systemic effects. They all cause vasodilation and a change in pain fiber transmission.  Acupuncture can also cause histamine and endorphin release, promoting healing.

    While some people have their horses regularly receive acupuncture treatments, it truly is a case-by-case basis. Whether or not your acupuncturist needs to have a doctorate in veterinary medicine degree varies state by state, but because of the use of needles and the potential for harm to an underlying structure (ie. joint or vessel)  a DVM is usually required to have a thorough knowledge of the horses’ anatomy.

    Chiropractic Care

    Like acupuncture, chiropractic care seeks to keep your horse in optimal health. Chiropractic care, however, assesses the alignment and mobility of the spine. When any area is out of alignment, also called subluxation, your horse can be affected in a myriad of ways, including pain and changes in gait. This misalignment can also cause a physical issue by limiting the range of motion and flexibility typically exhibited in a joint.

    A chiropractor will apply force to a misaligned vertebra or joint to return it to its proper position. Depending on the issue being addressed, you may see an immediate improvement or the recovery may be more gradual, taking place over a period of days.

    Similar to acupuncture, chiropractic care can be an ongoing regimen for your horse, or it can be used on an as-needed basis once any initial issues are addressed. For some horses, chiropractic sessions are helpful when regularly scheduled for an underlying issue.

    Like acupuncturists, different states require chiropractors to have different certifications, though 20 of the state currently require that equine chiropractors hold a degree in veterinary medicine. An additional 20 require that the equine chiropractor be under the supervision of a practicing vet.

    In the next issue: equine myofacial release, the use of lasers and osteopathic care. 

  • 06/06/2016 2:49 PM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Snowbird Dressage has been a staple in the Bluegrass since 1987. Hosted by Julie Congleton and Judi Tudor, the dynamic duo began to wonder how they could reinvent their ever-popular show series. Thus, Snowbird Team Challenge was born.

    Launched this past winter, the Team Challenge offered riders an opportunity to ride as a team in addition to riding for individual awards. “You sign up as a team of three, paying a one-time fee of $30 to register the team. You can mix the levels of the team, meaning you could have one rider at walk/trot, another at training or any combination you want in regards to team members,” explains Julie.

    Teams had to compete at three of the five Snowbird Dressage shows, and then points were awarded in accordance with placings, similar to how Mid South awards points in first through fifth place. A “low score” was not dropped, it riders who attended four or five of the shows accumulated more points than those who only rode in three shows. There were 14 teams that competed this year.

    Teams must use the same horse and rider combinations, and riders could not change levels; a team test must be declared at the beginning of the series. Though riders can still ride two or three tests (three is the maximum number any horse can participate in), only the declared test counts toward team points.

    “The Team Challenge classes really increase our numbers,” says Julie. “We were oversubscribed at all five shows! People were all over it.:

    And for good reason! The money used to register the teams was put directly back into prizes for the division, explained Julie. “We gave coolers, groom boxes, neck ribbons and saddlepads.” The hope is that the prizes and ribbons would encourage participation in Team Challenge next year, as well.

    “We have such a good, loyal group who come to Snowbird,” Julie explained. It has been exciting to offer them a new class, which has been very well received! Both Julie and Judi look forward to offering Snowbird Team Challenge in the upcoming 2016-2017 show season.

    For the latest on Snowbird Dressage, find them on Facebook here!

  • 05/17/2016 4:10 PM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E Coleman

    MSEDA members give back to their equine communities in a number of ways, including scribing, stewarding, working with show secretaries and more. Some MSEDA members are lucky enough to volunteer at some of the biggest events in the country, including “The Best Weekend All Year:” The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Find out what integral roles three MSEDA members play to keep the event running smoothly. 

    Erin Woodall: Chief of Saturday Cross-Country Groom Shuttle

    Erin Woodall has been involved with Rolex for the past 20 years, 10 years as a driver for the shuttle and 10 years as the Chief of the Groom’s Shuttle. Erin had been involved in various volunteer roles with Rolex before becoming a shuttle driver. On how she got such an interesting volunteer role, Erin explains “Judi Tudor … put me in a truck and said ‘drive!’”  

    As Saturday is one of the busiest days of the show for riders, grooms and owners, shuttle drivers provide transportation from the vet box and back for both the people and all the equipment necessary for a competitor in the vet box.

    Erin thinks that talking with the riders, grooms and owners is the best perk of her job at Rolex. The people she shuttles have a range of emotions from excitement, deflation and elation, depending on how their rider/horse goes. “Everyone is so appreciative of our group donating our time and use of our personal vehicles,” she says. “The groom shuttle team has grown to be a family who have our reunion at Rolex each year.”

    The hardest part of the shuttling job, Erin says, is “not expanding the Groom Shuttle force to 50! I have so many offers from people who want to help, but our crew keeps coming back year after year, and openings are few and far between.” What a great problem to have!

    Mary Fike: Stable Manager

    Mary Fike has been the Stable Manager at Rolex for the last 34 years. She stepped into the role when Edith Conyers, executive director of Rolex from 1976 to 1985, asked her to be the stable manager after TDing Mary’s Painted Stone Horse Trial in 1982.

    The role of stable manager includes a lot of moving parts, not the least of which includes stall assignments and stable credentials. Another main responsibility of the stable manager is to act as a liaison between competition management and the competitors and owners to ensure they have the best Rolex they can. Mary works very closely with Vanessa Coleman, the Competition Manager of Rolex, because her office has become the Show Office for the competitors. Another way Mary keeps competitors happy? “We have the best coffee and donuts for them every morning!”

    Mary says that the best part of being Stable Manger is helping the horses and riders. “We have the live feed in the office, and that’s where they come to watch—unless they’re out on the field of play. I get to be part of their ‘talking shop,’ and for the past few years, Sally O’Connor has watched the Saturday cross-country in my office. It’s been wonderful to be able to have her commentary live!”

    The hardest part of the Stable Manager’s role is having to say no, she says. People in the office have to act as the intermediary with people who want to get into the barns “just because.” Over the years, Mary has come to know most of the people and can usually tell when someone has a real reason to go into the barns. “Occasionally we get someone who is rude or unpleasant, but not often,” she says.

    This year, Mary was featured on the USEF Network! Click here to watch the video on Facebook.

    Megan Carr: Vet Box 

    Megan Carr has been running the End of Phase D/Vet Box at Rolex since 2011. The vet box is a very busy place to be. Once the horses come off cross country, they’re examined by a group of international vets (this year it was Drs. Catherine Kohn, Karen Nyrop, Duncan Peters and Jennifer Miller). Megan is responsible for providing six vet scribes, in two shifts, for the vets to record all the horse’s vitals. Also in the box is a competitor hospitality tent, logistics (which includes ice and water for the horses) and security (since this is a high-activity area, only people with the proper credentials are allowed in)—that’s a lot to coordinate!

    “The best part of this role is the amazing crew I have gained over the past six years! This year went off almost without a hitch, and it’s really because I have a crew who work so well together and is so efficient.” The hardest part of her role is problem solving, Megan explains. “There is a lot that can be planned ahead of time, but there are always things that pop up. One year, we had zero electricity, so we had no coffee, which people where not happy about! Some things just can’t be planned for. Also, for the past two years: THE WEATHER!”

    Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the sport, and there are many exciting volunteer opportunities at Rolex. Getting to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the only four-star event in North America is an added bonus! If you’re interested in volunteering, it’s helpful to speak with someone who already volunteers, or click here for more information: http://rk3de.org/competition/returning-volunteer-login/

  • 05/16/2016 9:04 AM | Deleted user

    While most people see lush, green grasses as a hallmark of spring, many horse owners see bright green warning signs dotting Kentucky fields.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    The heavy rains we’ve gotten in Kentucky this spring have led to rich, lush grasses in many pastures and fields. For those who own easy-keeping equine companions, the bright green fields, while lovely to look at, could be a potential disaster. 

    Horses that “get fat on air” have a higher insulin response, meaning they are at a greater risk of developing laminitis. It has been theorized that this greater insulin reactivity is an evolutionary response from when forage was difficult to come by or of poor quality. When these conditions occurred, it was necessary for a horse to release greater amounts of insulin to support body condition.

    When food was plentiful, the increased insulin response allowed horses to lay down more fat, which in turn helped them survive harsh winters. While helpful years ago when herds were wild, this insulin response can be frustrating for modern-day horse owners.

    The intake of high-quality pasture (sometimes constant if your horse is out 24/7) that is high in non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) can create sustained levels of high insulin, which can contribute to pasture-associated laminitis. Studies have shown that maintaining very high levels of insulin for 48 to 72 hours in otherwise “normal” horses will reliably cause laminitis. (Asplin et al., 2007, de Laat et al 2012).

    The Signs of Laminitis

    A very painful condition that affects the laminae in a horse’s hooves, the terms “founder” and “laminitis” are typically used interchangeably, but “founder” generally references outwardly visible signs on the hoof, such as founder rings.

    While many of us are well versed in what a stereotypical founder case looks like, recent research has indicated that what had once been considered a hallmark of the disease, the “founder stance,” is actually found in less than 50 percent of cases. In this position, a horse stands with his legs stretched far out in front of him, rocking back on his hind legs to alleviate as much weight bearing as possible on his front limbs.

    In a British study of 381 laminitic horses, laminitis was found to occur in all four feet, but both front feet were most commonly and most severely affected, followed by the right fore alone, the left fore alone, then the right hind and left hind, then all four feet. http://www.scarsdalevets.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/DocsEquineCareAboutLaminitis2016.pdf

    Although there were no individual signs present in all577 cases used in a 2013 study, the most common signs included:

      - difficulty turning
      - increased digital pulse
      - short, choppy walk

    Because some of these common laminitis signs could easily be confused with other conditions (like arthritis), it’s important to be vigilant in the observation of horses turned out on lush grasses.

    Becoming familiar with your horse or pony’s normal temperament, gait, hoof temperature and digital pulse will help you notice any abnormal changes. Be aware that the above clinical signs, though being common, don't always occur in every case, so it’s important to also keep an eye out for general discomfort and foot lameness.

    Do All Grasses Cause Laminitis?

    Not all grasses are harmful to horses. Classified as either cool- or warm-season, depending on how and when they metabolize and photosynthesize sunlight, specific grasses pose health threats at different times of the year. In the spring, cool-season grasses like tall fescue, timothy and orchardgrass are the main concerns for horse owners.

    How to Prevent Laminitis

    Horses prone to laminitis are those that are overweight or those that have metabolic issues. If your farm has a plethora of these grasses and your horse is prone to laminitis, the following precautions are recommended:

    -  Adapt him to new spring grasses gradually (start with one hour and increase by 30 minutes each day)

    -   Place a muzzle on your horse at all times when he’s turned out
    -   Put him in a drylot
    -      If you don’t have access to a drylot, only turn your horse out in the very early morning while wearing a muzzle

    Take lateral X-rays of your horses feet twice a year to monitor coffin bone position

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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