Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 09/05/2018 1:08 PM | Deleted user

    In an effort to keep our membership educated and abreast of errors in competition that can be avoided, this issue will focus on showjumping and what can be done to reduce the chances of faults and disqualification that can happen in addition to the more run-of-the-mill time and dropped-rail penalties.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    There are common mistakes among riders in all disciplines, and show jumping is no exception. While it may seem fairly straightforward (leave all the jumps up and jump the course in the allotted time), errors are still common during this phase, at all heights. Janice Holmes, an eventing trainer and USEF “r” judge in eventing, as well as MSEDA licensed in eventing, stadium and dressage, offers these insights to not gain any additional penalties (as well as stay in the judge’s good graces!):

    1.     Starting before the bell has rung. Be sure to listen for your signal. If two rings are going at the same time, know if you are a tone, bell or whistle. EV154 2.6
    2.     If you slide into an obstacle, listen for the signal. If there is no signal, you can continue and are charged four points for a knockdown. EV153.4
    If there is a signal, you have been charged with a refusal and must wait for the jump to be rebuilt so you can have another go at it. You will be charged 4 points for the refusal and 6 seconds will be added to your time. EV150.6.d
    3.     A jump blows down after the bell has rung, but before the competitor starts. The bell will eb run again and the jump will be reset. If the competitor does not stop, he continues at his own discretion. He may or may not be eliminate. EV152.9
    4.     You have a refusal at the B element of an A/B combination. You must re-jump element A. EV154.2.n
    5.     It is your responsibility to enter the ring when your name/number is called. You may be eliminated if it’s your turn and you don’t follow the directions from the warm-up steward. “My coach is not here,” “I am not ready” and “I didn’t know you were running early are not excuses, you should jump during your division. Posted times for show jumping are fairly accurate, and you should check with the stewards to see if they are running early or late. If you need to go out of order, check with the stewards and the warm-up volunteer BEFORE show jumping starts. With computer scheduling, adequate time is allotted between ride.  EV154.3.a
  • 07/23/2018 9:15 AM | Deleted user

    Western Dressage is gaining traction in the horse world as many riders who traditionally compete in western show pens are venturing into the classical dressage sandbox.

    USEF recognizes the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) as the sole affiliate representing the discipline of Western Dressage. A discipline that encourages all-breeds engagement, any horse that can walk, trot and canter can participate (WDAA also has rules for gaited horses, as well!).

    Photo by Lisa Dean Photography

    A core principle of the WDAA is the celebration and stewardship of the American West. Top-tier Western horse trainers have long used classical dressage techniques, but until the formation of WDAA, they have not had a place to showcase their techniques.

    WDAA’s mission statement is to “build an equine community that combines the Western traditions of horse and rider with Classical Dressage.

    • We honor the horse.
    • We value the partnership between horse and rider.
    • We celebrate the legacy of the American West.”

    Nikki Wahl-Seto, MSEDA Newsletter Editor, is a staunch proponent of Western Dressage and has shown in the dressage ring in both a western and a classical dressage saddle. She is excited to see that Western Dressage is growing both as a national discipline and as a MSEDA-supported one. Here is her take on the differences between the two disciplines.


    There are many details that differentiate Western Dressage from Classical Dressage, the first of which is tack and its use. Riders using a curb bit can ride either one-handed or two-handed (riders using a snaffle must ride with 2 hands) said Nikki. Similar to classical dressage, there are legal bits and those that are not permitted in the show ring. For now, western curb bits are permitted in WDAA competition, though there is talk about only allowing snaffles in the lower levels, says Nikki.

    “This rule has not taken effect yet as most western horses are trained in a curb bit and this would have limited the number of riders entering into western dressage,” she notes. As the purpose of WDAA is to encourage riders of all backgrounds to enjoy the competition of western dressage, it is unclear if and when this rule will take effect. Additionally, in the majority of western breed and disciplines events, a horse that goes in a snaffle is typically 5 years old and younger.

    Similar to classical dressage, there are a plethora of bits that are both legal and illegal. Legal tack includes spade bits, most English bits, smooth or bosal cavessons, ported curbs, bitless bridles, and curb chains—the list goes on! “In addition to bits, stewards must also check spurs and whips,” said Nikki. “Yes, we can carry whips, though most true western riders see this as a very foreign concept!”


    The attire for Western Dressage is quite simple; most schooling shows outline just pants, boots, a long-sleeved, collared shirt (short-sleeved shirts are permitted at the judge’s discretion),  chaps or chinks and a helmet or western hat. “Helmets can be required, but their use is determined by the show and/or the show grounds, so it’s imperative that you check your entry form carefully,” says Nikki. If you have any questions, be sure to check with your steward or show management before the show. It also never hurts to email USEF regarding any rule questions!

    “I have ridden against folks at the Horse Park in a cowboy hat, but most WD riders you will see in a helmet—safety first!” she says. “At big shows you will see the fancy outfits with sparkles and silver [those these don’t tend to come out for the smaller, local shows]." Bling is allowed on the rider, but not on the horse.

    Read more about the WDAA attire and equipment here.

    What Judges Look For

    “In our area, we are riding in front of traditional dressage judges, and we’re lucky enough to have several judges who have put the effort and money into training themselves for Western Dressage,” says Nikki. Currently, WDAA lists two USEF Western Dressage judges in the MSEDA area: Susan Posner (“R”) and Karen Winn (“r”).

    Traditional Dressage and Western Dressage are more alike than they are different, and are based on the same principles. Here are some places where they may differ:

    • The ability to ride with one hand (with curb bits). Rein hold depends on the type of reins used. Roman reins can be used only with a curb bit and may only be ridden with one hand. A rider can ride with two hands with split reins, connected reins or mecate reins (without the popper),
    • Gaits: Although maintaining the same principles (correct beats, steady tempo, suspension in gaits with impulsion, etc.) the trot is called a jog and the canter is called a lope. There is the distinction that these gaits must remain energetic and have the correct footfall (unlike some horses seen in Western Pleasure today). The tempo of these may be a little slower than those of a trot and canter but in gaits must remain pure. Excessive speed or slowness will be penalized.
    • Quiet, gentle voice commands are permitted in all levels of WD.
    • Posting is optional for the working jog through the basic level; posting is optional in all levels for the free jog and lengthening of the jog.
    • Movements: Turn on the forehand is introduced in WD test but not in Traditional Dressage. Also pivoting is allowed in WD as it is a common and useful move for Western stock horses.
    • WD allows gaited horses to compete. Gaited horses are penalized in traditional Dressage as their gaits to not meet the requirements.

    Western Dressage riders can ride Intro, Basic, and First through Fourth level tests. Each test is based in dressage fundamentals and “showcase applications for the Working Western Horse,” the WDAA website states.

    Read about the dressage rules and guidelines here.

    The View from the Judge's Box

    Janice Holmes, an eventing trainer and USEF “r” judge in eventing, as well as MSEDA licensed in eventing, stadium and dressage, notes that there are a few things she wants to be sure WSD riders are aware of.

    • While the use of the voice may be used in Western Dressage that it should not be distracting. “Clucking like a chicken laying an egg or a frantic ‘WHOA!’ may be considered distracting, so please don’t over-do it,” she notes. (WD 125.3)
    • Also of note, you’re allowed to pet your horse! “If you are riding one-handed. a gentle touch is allowed. Tiny scratching on the withers, if riding two-handed, is permitted,” she says (WD 125.4)
    • In the “below the line” marks, there is a separate category for “willing cooperation and harmony,” says Janice (WD 117). “Harmony should be demonstrated by the horse showing attention by his confidence and acceptance of the bit while staying up in the poll and keeping his nose in front of the vertical” which can be difficult to do in a curb bit, she notes. (WD 117.d)
    • A rider who begins a test one-handed must complete it one-handed; a rider who begins a test two-handed must complete the test two-handed. To switch in the middle of a test is actually a cause for elimination (WD 127.0)
    • While polo wraps are permitted (WD 120.6), they should match the horse as much as possible. “Also, decorating the horse with ribbons, flowers or Christmas tinsel is not permitted unless you are doing a freestyle,” Janice notes.
    • Attire can run the gamut. “Long-sleeved shirts are the norm, as are chaps, shotgun chaps, breeches, fringed breeches, split skirts, vests, jackets or sweaters,” she says. This leaves attire open for a lot of individual interpretation! And while bling is a thing, “please don’t blind me!” she says. “I still need to see your number!”

    Fun Facts

    Nikki noted the following interesting facts about Western Dressage:

    • You can always use your voice during a WD test without penalty
    • You may use equine legwear, but it must be white or the same color as your horse
    • Western Dressage shows do not have to be sanctioned, many schooling shows host WD tests
    • Readers are allowed for tests, but make sure they take a look ahead of time, movements come quicker than many traditional tests!
    • Changes of direction came up faster and not always in the most traditional location; more movements are asked for at the lower-levels and tests may not always be symmetrical in what is asked for on each rein
    • The entry-level tests require much more than circles and changes of direction can be more complex with elements/changes of direction coming up faster and in lower levels than we may see in many traditional tests (this is one of the biggest differences Nikki noticed).

    Currently, Western Dressage is sanctioned only by USEF. The organization is focused on growing organically; the first WDAA/USEF sanctioned shows will be near Kentucky this year; the closest WD shows used to be were in Ohio and Tennessee, Nikki notes.

  • 07/23/2018 9:11 AM | Deleted user

    Even if you are not a Kentucky Dressage Association member, it’s well worth your time to have a peek at Impulsion, their very well-done informational e-newsletter. Each issue is chock full of information, including a show and clinic calendar; up-to-date volunteer hours, personal points of view, and more.

    The interviews in particular offer some really great advice; this issue has a wonderful interview with Callie Jones, who explains the USEF/USDF Discover Dressage Emerging Athletes Program, how participants are selected, what the purpose of the program is and what her own personal goals entail.

    A bi-monthly publication, Impulsion covers topics pertinent to dressage riders in Kentucky; it’s a quick and easy way to stay up-to-date on current news and events in the dressage world.

  • 07/23/2018 9:03 AM | Deleted user

    Volunteer opportunities for MSEDA members abound. Each month, we will feature an opportunity for members to obtain volunteer hours and help put on a successful, MSEDA-sanctioned show.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Date and Time: Saturday, July 28, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Masterson Station Park

    History: Horse Aid Live was established in 2009 to promote humane treatment for all equines, regardless of breed, and to provide support for nonprofit organizations that provide humane treatment and shelter for equines. Horse Aid Live has donated to dozens of recognized 501c3 organizations throughout the United States.

    We are expecting 200+ rides with three dressage rings starting approximately 8 a.m. and run continually until 4 p.m. Showjumping will begin approximately 10:30 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. 

    Classes will be further split as entries warrant. Western Dressage has been split into two divisions because of the continued increase in entries.

    Dressage: Introductory - 4th Level

    Western Dressage: Introductory - 4th Level

    Gaited Dressage: Introductory - 4th Level

    Combined Test: Greenie - Preliminary

    Competitors can compete on the same horse in two consecutive levels. Un-judged schooling jump rounds are offered after each level for rider/horse combinations who are entered in those divisions.

    Sponsors to date include Park Equine Hospital and, Liquor Barn. Sponsorship information for those interested in donating monetary and/or prize donations: http://www.horseaidlive.org/sponsor.html

    Volunteer opportunities before the show:

    Friday, July 27 - 3:30 - 7:30 pm Show Jumping Ring Setup

    Volunteer opportunities during the show:

    Saturday, July 28 - 7:30 am - 4 pm; any amount of time: All day or for a few hours.

    • Score Runners
    • Scribes
    • Ring Stewards
    • Showjumping Ring Crew

    What should volunteers know?

    All volunteers have drinks; anyone volunteering four hours or more are provided lunch from the food truck. Volunteers will need to dress for the weather; ring stewards/crew should bring a chair if they would like to sit.

    Website: www.HorseAidLive.com

    FB: https://www.facebook.com/HorseAidLive/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/HorseAidLive

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/horseaidlive/

    Contact: Cyndi Greathouse

    cyndi3334@gmail.com  |  (859) 699-3334

  • 07/03/2018 8:38 PM | Deleted user

    Dressage is an entire game devoted to details. Everything from dress to tack to boots to bonnets is under scrutiny, not to mention the horse himself. Dressage horses are supposed to be obedient, supple, willing, athletic … the list goes on and on.

    So, you’ve trained to the best of your ability, memorized your test and you’re ready to show the world just what you’ve got. Don’t dim your horse’s star power by making a common dressage mistake!

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Here are some of the most common dressage mistakes as told by Janice Holmes, an eventing trainer and USEF “r” judge in eventing. Janice is MSEDA licensed in eventing, stadium and dressage. Janice collected the following rules, stories and experiences from MSEDA competitors and trainers during recent events.

    Read on to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes!

    Mistake No. 1: Using an illegal bit or piece of equipment.

    Be sure to check with USEF Annex A (which can be found here), says Janice. Listed there are the only legal bits allowed to be used in competition. “Just because your bit was legal last year, it might not be legal this year!” she says. Additionally, just because a bit was legal at a dressage show does not mean it will be legal for eventing, and vice versa.

    Simply put: If your bit doesn’t match the pictures, it’s not legal. The same goes for bridles. It is not the warm-up steward or bit check person’s responsibility to make sure your bit is legal.

    Mistake No. 2: Not being on time. (EV 136.1.c.4)

    You must enter the arena within 45 seconds after the signal, or you will have a 2-point error, notes Janice. After 90 seconds, you may be eliminated. It’s your responsibility to be at your ring at your designated time. “Don’t blame your mom, coach, groom or ring steward [for your being late],” says Janice. “Wear a watch and check it!”

    Mistake No. 3: Not placing both reins in one hand and saluting the judge at the end of your test. EV134.5

    Some riders get so excited by the wonderfulness of surviving the dressage test that they start petting their horse and forget to salute, Janice explains. While this is cute, it’s still a 2-point deduction. “Get to some semblance of a halt and salute,” she recommends. If your horse isn’t perfectly still, go head and salute anyway.

    Mistake No. 4 Entering the area around or in the dressage arena with boots or leg protection used to result in an elimination—now riders received a 2-point deduction. EV136.1.c.1

    When the judge notices you have leg protection on your horse, you will be halted and someone can remove the boots, then you are allowed to continue. “One rider entered with a quarter sheet on on a cold day and tried to remove it herself,” Janice said. “It went flying off like a magic carpet and a handy spectator tackled it before it spooked another horse!” Great save!!

    Mistake No. 5 Don’t enter the arena before the bell (or signal).

    Some competitors are so eager for the test to start that they come in before the signal. This is a 2-poinyt deduction as well. Be sure that you know if your judge has a bell, whistle, car horn, dog squeaky toy or bicycle jingle bell, Janice advises.

    “The judge may be doing the collections for the person ahead of you and may not be watching your stellar center line, so make sure she is looking up! Many judges do a second signal, such as waving, tipping their hat or standing up. You may ask “Is that my signal?’” Janice says. Most judged will nod.

    Mistake No. 6 Leaving the arena before the test is finished. EV136.2.6.5

    All four feet must leave the arena (usually at A) for elimination. If you are quick and pull the horse back in before all four feet get out, the score is only reflected for that movement. If all four feet leave the arena, you should ask permission continue; most judges will grant you permission to finish the test, but you are still eliminated. Then, you must go to the show office and ask permission to continue to the other phases. The usual ruling is “OK to continue, but one stop and you are out,” Janice says.

    *Mistake No. 7 No use of the voice. EV134.7

    * Use of the voice is allowed in Western Dressage, which can catch many by surprise. This will be discussed in a later MSEDA article.
    You will have 2 points deducted per movement when a judge hears your voice. “This means no clucking, chirping, praising, laughing, crying or whining during the test!” says Janice. “We can hear you even in a stiff wind, so be careful not to cluck.”
    “In theory, you can lose 2 points per movement, so in Beginner Novice A, there are 14 movements and if you clucked for the movements or whoa’d for the movements, you could lose 28 points! Yikes!” reminds Janice.

    Special thanks to Janice Holmes for addressing a very serious matter in such a candid, kind way. We are deeply thankful for your insight (and humor!)

    Have a dressage faux paus you want to share? Email it to MSEDA e-news editor Nikki Seto at nikki.w.seto@gmail.com.

  • 06/17/2018 9:32 AM | Deleted user

    Volunteer opportunities for MSEDA members abound. Each month, we will feature an opportunity for members to obtain volunteer hours and help put on a successful, MSEDA-sanctioned show.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Date and Time: June 22-24 at the Kentucky Horse Park

    Event History: The Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial began as a fundraiser for the Midsouth Pony Club region to help Pony Club members cover the costs of hosting the Eventing Rally.

    Volunteer opportunities before the show, June 19-21:

    • Setting dressage rings (Tuesday morning, June 19)
    • Painting and decorating XC (Tuesday-Thursday, June 19-21)
    • Setting stadium courses (Thursday afternoon, June 21)

    Volunteer opportunities during the show:

    Friday, June 22:

    • Dressage scribe
    • Dressage ring steward
    • Bit check
    • Showjumping timer
    • Showjumping ring steward
    • Showjumping ring crew

    Saturday, June 23:

    • Dressage scribe
    • Dressage bit check
    • Stadium ring crew

    Sunday, June 24:

    • Showjumping ring steward
    • Showjumping in-gate
    • Showjumping ring crew
    • XC warm-up steward

    Volunteer opportunities after the event:

    • Sending in scores
    • Writing thank you notes
    • Creating press releases

    What should volunteers know?

    Midsouth will cover parking at the Kentucky Horse Park if volunteers don't have a pass. Lunch will be provided if a volunteer shift occurs during that time period. This event is MSEDA sanctioned so MSEDA volunteer hours count; additionally, all volunteer hours are logged in the USEA Eventing VIP system.  

    Interested in volunteering or learning more? Contact Erin Woodall at gtowngrits@gmail.com or (502) 316-3565.

  • 06/17/2018 9:15 AM | Deleted user

    With the onslaught of heat and the rain, weeds have come on in a hurry, in pastures and fields and around barns and homes. Find out which weeds need to be eradicated from your fields immediately and how to control them.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    While horse people are well-versed in the quality of the concentrates and hay they feed their steeds, the quality of the forage in horses pastures is often overlooked. To make your pasture work the hardest for you, it’s important to correctly identify what types of weeds are growing so you can effectively eradicate them; certain weeds will take specific methods to remove them from a field.

    Thankfully, the majority of weeds found in fields cause little threat to horse health; most weeds are not tasty and in general, and a horse would need to consume a good amount of the weed for it to be toxic. While this means that weed eradication is not an immediate chore to keep horses safe, it is important to maintaining the health of your fields.

    Though it may be tempting to try to control weeds now, when they seem to be growing out of control, you should never apply herbicides to plants that are stressed from heat or drought.

    Some weeds common in horse pastures include:

    Buckhorn Plantain



    Hemp dogbane* (also called Indian hemp)


    Johnson grass*



    Poison hemlock*


    Star of Bethlehem*

    White snakeroot*

    Wild carrot* (also known as Queen Anne’s Lace)

    *Indicates weeds are poisonous and should be removed from pastures as soon as possible.

    Preventing Pasture Weeds

    Some ways to remove and keep weeds at bay on your farm:

    • Mow and weedeat fencerows and not just fields; weeds on the edges will equal weeds in the pastures in short order
    • Avoid overgrazing fields
    • Dig out weeds by the roots; though this can seem overwhelming in large fields, it’s a worthwhile endeavor in smaller paddocks and pastures
    • Mow before weeds go to seed
    • Consider spraying, but you will need to know what plants you are fighting to get the right kind of product. It’s also imperative to make sure the spray is safe for livestock
    • Take soil samples so you know what needs to be done to create the healthiest soil for quality forage

    Visit the Cornell University Department of Animal Science website for a complete list of plants that are poisonous to horses.

  • 06/05/2018 4:10 PM | Deleted user

    In an effort to garner even more support for MSEDA members, the official MidSouth Eventing & Dressage Association Facebook Page and the official MSEDA Instagram are being taken over by members at MSEDA recognized horse shows and events. The goal of these takeovers is to support current MSEDA members and to encourage more members to join.

    Jenn O'Neill on Alex

    The Social Media Member Spotlight premiered at Sayre School Combined Test and Dressage Show by Hollyn Renfro. Hollyn, a junior rider, shadowed Jenn O’Neill on her training horses Eliot and Ande, as well as on Jenn’s personal horse Alex.

    Kerri Sweet and Shake the Glitter Off

    The next spotlights included Kerri Sweet and Shake the Glitter Off, “Abacus,” who competed at MayDaze Horse Trials and Courtney Calnan with CC Little Black Dress, “Harper,” who competed at the KDA Spring Dressage Show. Kerri took over both the MSEDA Instagram and the Kentucky Horse Park Instagram, posting her competition story to both. Sweet finished fifth in Beginner Novice in a very deep division. Calnan debuted her new First Level Musical Freestyle and ended up finishing in as the Open Reserve High Point winner for the Freestyle in the Warm Up as well as Open High Point Freestyle in for the overall show.

    CC Little Black Dress owned by Courtney Calnan

    This past weekend Sally Holman and Wistful Silence, “Simon,” were our latest pair to be spotlighted. Sally and Simon were competing in the Novice Three-Day where after a wonderful weekend finished in the weekend in 9th place.

    Sally Holman and Wistful Silence

    Members are encouraged to nominate and also take pictures of their friends for social media. Interested in nominating someone for a Social Media Spotlight? Email Tess Utterback (tessutterback@gmail.com)

    Want to see what you’ve missed? Search #msedamemberspotlight and #mseda on Facebook and Instagram.

  • 06/04/2018 8:56 PM | Deleted user

    Most equestrians give spring and fall shots to our equine counterparts religiously, but few of us take the time to understand what diseases we are safeguarding against. Here we delve into Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and why it is considered a “core vaccine” with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Many of us give “combo” shots, typically four- or five-way combinations of vaccines given in one vial so our horses don’t have to get stuck multiple times with individual needles. These combinations typically include what the AAEP dubs “core vaccines” – those that all horses, no matter their location or occupation, should be vaccinated for to protect their wellbeing.

    These core vaccines include:

    • Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis
    • Rabies
    • Tetanus
    • West Nile Virus

    Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis

    Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), is one of the core vaccines recommended by the AAEP. EEE was first recorded in the Northern hemisphere in 1831. Similar to West Nile Virus, EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes, so horses that live or spend time near ponds or other still bodies of water have a higher risk of contracting the disease.

    Horses (and humans) are a dead-end species for EEE, meaning they cannot pass it on; horses become infected when they are bitten by a mosquito that has picked up EEE from wild birds or rodents, which are “natural reservoirs” for the virus; this means they can carry EEE, but are not affected by it.

    EEE causes severe encephalitis in horses; it has a 90 percent mortality rate in horses that are not vaccinated. It is most prevalent in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states in mid-summer to fall. Evidence suggests that young horses are particularly susceptible to the disease.

    Signs of EEE

    EEE comes on in a hurry and can be confused with other diseases that affect the central nervous system, like bacterial meningitis, rabies, tetanus, Western Equine Encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus. This disease is also sometimes confused with poisoning. To definitively diagnose a horse, blood must be tested in a lab to see if there are antibodies to the virus present.

    Time is of the essence with EEE cases as most affected horses die within three days. An animal that survives may have permanent brain damage.

    Signs of EEE include:

    • Anorexia
    • Fever
    • Depression
    • Heat tilt
    • Impaired vision
    • Muscle twitches
    • Staggering gait
    • Irritability
    • Head pressing
    • Limb weakness or paralysis
    • Coma
    • Sensitivity to light

    Controlling EEE

    EEE tends to appear in “outbreak form,” meaning that the infected horses are generally in close proximity to one another. EEE occurs when horse owners don’t vaccinate their horses or don’t vaccinate so the proper coverage is attained. Horses vaccinated for the first time must receive an injection of EEE followed by a second dose of the vaccine three to four weeks later. This two-dose series is essential to establish an effective immune response. A “booster” is then given in the spring each year thereafter. Veterinarians in some areas may recommend a fall booster, as well.

    Vaccination is the No. 1 way to prevent EEE. It is unusual to see EEE in a horse that has been vaccinated for the disease. There is no treatment for EEE; horses are offered only supportive care, including fluids and corticosteroids.

    Controlling mosquitos is also key in preventing EEE. This can be done in a number of ways, including:

    • Eliminate standing water, including in wheelbarrows, gutters, tarps and other easy-to-forget areas.
    • Use larvicidal products that kill mosquito larvae.
    • Change drinking water regularly in buckets and troughs.
    • Keep horses inside at dawn and dusk, when misquotes are most active.
    • Turn on fans to keep mosquitos at bay.
    • Encourage predators, including insects that feed on mosquitos and their larvae.
    • Apply flyspray and investigate the use of a fly sheet and mask on horses that are outside.

    EEE Fast Facts

    • In 2016, there were 116 cases reported nationwide to the USDA.
    • 24 cases of EEE were in Florida, but cases were reported in every coastal state from Virginia to Texas, as well as in Tennessee and Arkansas.
    • Isolated cases in New Jersey and Michigan, plus an outbreak of 19 in Wisconsin, also occurred in 2016.
  • 05/21/2018 2:51 PM | Deleted user

    Though formerly described as a “sporadic” disease affecting horses that lived near the Potomac River, Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) has now been identified in multiple other geographic areas in the United States and Canada. While not dubbed a “core vaccine” with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, many veterinarians recommend their clients vaccinate for the disease.  

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    How Potomac Horse Fever is Transmitted

    Known by other more-uncommon names like Ditch Fever, Shasta River Crud and Equine monocytic ehrlichiosis, Potomac Horse Fever is a seasonal disease seen in spring, summer and early fall on farms that are located near creeks or rivers. The disease is caused by a bacterium called Neorickettsia risticii, which is found in flatworms that develop in aquatic snails. The snails then shed the bacteria when the water warms in the spring and summer. From there, the bacteria can be ingested by horses drinking from rivers or streams, or, more likely, the bacteria is picked up by aquatic insects like mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies or damselflies.

    These infected insects can be ingested by horses as they graze, or they may be eaten by bats and barn swallows, which may also inhabit barns; it is not known if the feces from bats and birds play a role in PHF infection.

    Signs of PHF

    PHF causes diarrhea, mild colic and fever, and may cause abortion in pregnant mares. Horses infected with PHF become depressed and anorexic before developing a fever; they will have an elevated heart rate and dark mucous membranes. Horses may sweat and intestinal sounds may be decreased; within 48 hours horses typically develop diarrhea with some mild colic signs. Some horses may become dehydrated or septic, and some will develop laminitis.

    The incubation period for PHF is 10 to 18 days, and infected horses are not contagious. Acute colitis in the small and large intestine is a possibility, but the biggest complication of PHF is laminitis, which occurs in 20-30 percent of affected horses; it is normally severe and averse to treatment. Fatality from PHF is between 5 and 30 percent.  


    Often confused with salmonella, a definitive diagnosis of PHF requires testing for the bacteria in blood or feces. Many vets opt to begin treatment of the affected horse before the blood work is back as the disease can progress rapidly.  

    Horses infected with PHF can be treated with oxytetracycline if they are diagnosed early in the disease progression. Horses generally begin responding to treatment within 12 hours. Responses typically include the return of appetite, a brighter attitude, a reduction of fever and an increase in intestinal sounds. If the horse is exhibiting signs of entercolitis, fluids and NSAIDs are normally given. If discovered early, signs of the disease resolve by the third day of treatment.


    If PHF has been confirmed on a farm or geographic area, it’s very likely that additional PHF cases will occur. Vaccinations for PHF are marginally effective; there are more than 14 strains of N ristcii, so the vaccination may not cover all strains (similar to being vaccinated for human influenza and still ending up with the flu, but with a less-severe case). There are some strategies horse owners can employ to help minimize the prevalence of insects that may be responsible for PHF. These include:

    • Turning off lights at night to avoid insect attraction

    • Maintaining barriers along bodies of water to encourage insects to stay near their home base

    • Cleaning water and feed buckets regularly to avoid accidental ingestion

    • Covering horse feed to avoid insect contamination

    PHF can have grave consequences for horses, so discussing the disease with a vet and determining the best course of action to protect equines is paramount.

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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