Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 04/16/2018 8:36 AM | Deleted user

    While warmer weather has all of us excited about the ability to ride in less layers than Nanook of the North, spring in Kentucky is not without its share of equine complications, including slightly feral steeds, abscesses from mud and the seemingly ever-persistent (and dreaded!) rain rot.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    One of the most-common skin infections seen in horses, the technical term for rain rot is Dermatophilus congolensis. Caused by bacterial spores that invade the outer layer of skin, the horse’s body produces extra white blood cells as a response to the attack. The blood cells and protein then create tiny, pus-filled pustules on the horse’s coat. When the pustules mature, the skin beneath dies off.

    Occurring in warm, damp conditions, rain rot can manifest in multiple ways, including as individual lesions affecting only portions of a horse’s body or in broad patches. Eventually these lesions form crusty scabs, which then peel off with clumps of hair, leaving patches of the horse’s body bare and potentially painful.

    Common on the head, neck and back, some rain rot truly follows the path of the rainwater as it runs off the horse’s body.While your horse has an active case of rain rot:

    • Don’t share equipment, including saddle pads, girths, wraps and brushes
    • Disinfect the equipment used on the horse

    Healing Options

    Short of keeping a rain sheet on 24/7, it’s hard to prevent rain rot here in the Bluegrass. So what to do when your horse gets it? There are both over-the-counter options and some homemade remedies. If your horse has a very persistent case, it may be in his best interest to have a vet come out and either do a skin scraping or prescribe some other medications (shampoos that contain keratolytic agent are common) as secondary infections of the open lesions can occur.

    OTC Options:

    • Antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoo or rinse (betadine or Nolvasan are options)
    • MTG
    • Equiderma
    • Hay, Where’s That Blue Stuff
    • MicroTek
    • Chlorhexidine scrub
    • Zephyr’s Garden fungal spray
    • Tea tree oil

    Homemade Remedies

    • Clip the horse so air can get to the affected areas
    • Put a 50/50 mix of Listerine and water in a spray bottle and apply up to three times a day
    • Mix mineral oil and Betadine solution, leave on for three days
    Do you have any remedies for rain rot you swear by? Share them here!
  • 04/02/2018 11:29 AM | Deleted user

    Horse showing at a new venue can be a bit like flying blind. Find out why attending MSEDA-sanctioned shows and events can ensure you feel like you’re riding with a no-fail GPS.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Horse shows can be great fun no matter where you are, but attending a new event or horse trial can be fraught with doubts: What kind of judges will be there? How will the event be run? Will anything overface my horse? Will it be worth my trip down here?

    Some of these fears can be allayed with three little words: “Sanctioned by MSEDA.” When you’re looking to attend a new event, this small phrase can guarantee you a few things: that the show will be a quality event; that the officials will be licensed by MSEDA, USEF or USDF; and that qualified medical personnel will be on the grounds should you need them (we hope you won’t!).

    The Positives Behind Sanctioning Shows

    MSEDA sanctioning helps show managers in a myriad of ways, arguably the most important of which is bringing additional competitors to the venue. Fully 40 percent of competitors attending dressage shows, events and horse trials in Kentucky and the surrounding states are MSEDA members. Sanctioning shows encourages more riders to compete in their quest for year-end honors.

    Sanctioning can remove a lot of stress from show managers. Sanctioning ensures that show managers provide their competitors with a level playing field. It does so by requiring that they have a sanctioned technical delegate (TD) at the competition. There is a vast list of all the requirements a TD must do or provide at every horse show s/he attends.

    This list is extensive and includes everything from ensuring that fence heights are correct, that there is ample warm-up areas, that horse and rider behavior in the warm up is appropriate, that all the letters in the dressage arenas are correct, and much, much more. A TD’s job is critical to the smooth and accurate running of a horse show, and it can be a relief for a horse show manager to have competent, endorsed help during an event.

    Another boon for horse show hosts and managers? Sanctioning with MSEDA looks great to insurance companies. MSEDA requires that medical personnel be present during the show, a proactive preparation should an accident happen. This measure is not required by most insurance companies. In most cases, unsanctioned shows let local rescue services know they are hosting an event, but don’t have someone physically on the grounds. Sanctioning requires a medical professional be on the grounds, dedicated to ensuring the safety of riders.

    A Competitor’s Edge

    Competitors appreciate attending MSEDA-sanctioned shows as there are never any surprises, no matter where they attend an event or show. Every MSEDA-sanctioned event follows the same rules with regards to details, including fence height, types of fences offered, etc., allowing riders to bring green horses (and trainers to bring green riders) and know that they will not be overfaced—there are no surprises on unfair jump options at sanctioned shows.

    MSEDA-sanctioned shows offer exhibitors more than just a quality experience—they also offer the ability ride under sanctioned judges who offer meaningful, insightful feedback that will allow riders to improve if they take the comments to heart. “The feedback and remarks [on tests] are more meaningful if I know the type and amount of training a judge went through to get them,” says Nikki Seto, a MSEDA member who competes in Western Dressage. This is especially important in a new discipline like western dressage, she explains. “MSEDA has several local judges, officials and instructors who have taken the time and expense to learn to rules, expectations, purpose, terminology and roots of this emerging discipline.”   

    Nikki, like the majority of MSEDA members, competes to garner points toward year-end awards. Riders can only accrue these points at shows that are sanctioned. Here, sanctioning translates directly to the show manager’s bottom line: If the show is sanctioned, more riders will attend in an attempt to earn points.

    In addition to points, showing at sanctioned shows allows riders to track their progress with their horse as the show season continues—knowing they are riding under multiple judges who have worked hard to receive certifications means that the comments and thoughts truly describe how the horse-and-rider team compares with the ideal.

    Currently, Western Dressage riders can only accrue points at sanctioned, schooling-level shows under current USEF guidelines, Nikki notes. Unfortunately, the closest Western Dressage Association of American (WDAA) show is in Tennessee, forcing local competitors to travel out of state for competition.  Should more shows within Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana were to become sanctioned, their base ofrider support would grow (which, again, means more money for horse show hosts in addition to the growth of the discipline).

    How Can we Help?

    How can MSEDA encourage show managers to sanction their shows? In addition to more pushes for sanctioned shows on social media and the MSEDA website, how else can our organization serve you? Let us know by emailing Nikki Seto at nikki.w.seto@gmail.com 
  • 03/16/2018 10:55 AM | Deleted user

    Riding in a well-run clinic taught by a profession in your discipline can be an enlightening experience, allowing you a fresh take on your riding.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Ellen Murphy rides in a George Williams clinic.
    Photo by Veronica Ferth.

    Riding in a clinic can be extremely helpful, allowing you to not only ride under a professional with whom you may not ride regularly, it also offers you the opportunity to watch other riders as well, allowing you to glean information from their lessons and efforts.

    If you’re going to spend your time and hard-earned money, you’ll want to do your due diligence to be sure that the clinic you select is the right one for you and your horse. Doing a bit of background checking is helpful: Google the clinician if you’re not overly familiar with him or her. Look at reviews that have been posted and ask friends if they’ve ridden with the instructor before. Watching YouTube videos of clinicians you may like to ride with is a great way to evaluate their teaching style.

    Preparation is Key

    Just like a horse show, preparation or the clinic is key. Ellen Murphy of Ellen Murphy Sporthorses in Georgetown, KY, plans her week to two weeks leading up to the clinic specifically to ensure her horse is tuned up, comfortable, loose and working well, but not sore or over drilled. “If I have a chiro or my massage therapist due, I schedule that to get the most out of it for the clinic. The key is to know your horse,” she explains. “If I go to a clinic on the weekend then I will do my harder schooling earlier in the week and then maybe a day off, hack day, and then a long-and-low day leading up so my horse is stretched out and fresh.”

    Chelsea Smith, owner of two OTTBS and Smith Equine Media, prepares her horses training programs as well. “I take some extra lessons and school cross-country if it’s an eventing clinic,” she explains. “I want my horse to get out and see things before I go so that I make the most of the opportunity!”

    As you will have only a limited amount of time to ride with the instructor, you want to ensure that you arrive to the clinic venue on time and ready to ride. If you’re going to a barn or arena you have never been to before, arrive early enough that you can familiarize yourself with the facility layout, and find your way around.

    If you can, get your horse in the arena before the clinic or during breaks so you’re not wasting valuable time getting him used to the spooky corners. If you are not the first ride time of the day, watch some of the other riders go, especially if it is a new-to-you clinician—this will help you determine the tone of the clinician and his or her lessons.

    Whenever possible, stay and watch the other clinic sessions. “It’s one thing to ride and experience the lesson, but it's so much more helpful when you can watch other people experience it as well,” says Ellen. “They [riders] don't always have the exact same lesson, but it really helps with understanding the clinician’s exercises, objectives, and approach and technique!

    Chelsea Smith rides in an MSEDA Kim Severson Clinic.
    Photo by JJ Sillman.

    Stretching Boundaries

    Remember that “a clinic is NOT a regular lesson,” says Ellen. “Your regular instructor builds on things week by week. A clinic is a fresh set of eyes with two to three days to meet an objective. They [the clinicians] are going to push you out of your comfort zone most likely. And that's why you go!”

    It’s important to go to a clinic with an open mind. “Just because that isn't how you do it [a movement or technique] at home doesn’t mean it isn't right,” Ellen reminds riders. “You’re there [at the clinic] to push the limits a bit and discover new limits. I see so many people end up upset and crying at clinics, and I think that is because they expect to be told everything is great. But the point of a clinic is to really push you through to that next level. So embrace the suck and learn from it!”

    Chelsea seconds that clinics can be a stressful situation for both you and your horse. “Just be patient,” she says. “I also try to treat it like a horse show—I prepare as much as possible at home, and then just try and have fun!”

    The key to getting the most from any clinic is to approach everything with an open mind. “Be ready to learn and never assume you know anything,” says Ellen. “And check your ego at the door,” she reminds. You are not at the clinic to show off or engage in a deep discussion on training philosophies with the clinician--at least during your scheduled clinic time.

    “Be really open to trying new approaches. Just because you think you have figured out what works well for your horse doesn't mean that the clinician doesn't have an experience with a similar type of horse that is going to allow them to show you a totally different approach, which may be way more effective,” says Ellen. “It might not be effective with this horse at all at this point in time--but that doesn't mean 6 months from now or on the next horse you own that it won't be effective.” What is conveyed at a clinic is meant to help you not only on this horse at this point in time; the knowledge given you should be a tool in your training kit you can use on many horses in the future.

    Photo by JJ Sillman

    The Takeaway

    The end goal of a clinic is not to walk away with the clinician having told you everything is perfect; you should walk away with some added insight into how your horse responds to different training techniques. Be sure to ask the clinician what he or she feels you the next steps for you and your horse should be.

    After your ride, sit down and write or type notes to yourself on what exercises you did, what you learned and how your horse reacted. If you get the chance to watch other portions of the clinic, take notes on those as well, including exercise that intrigued you or those you think could benefit your horse.

  • 03/16/2018 10:03 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

    Photo by JJ Sillman

    Spring Bay Horse Trials: April 7-8, 2018

    Event History: Spring Bay Horse Trials is the first event of the year in Area VIII. It began as the Ha’Penny Horse Trials many years ago, then became Spring Bay Horse Trials, organized by Stanley Wiggs. In 2003, Mary Fike became the organizer. It is the unique format of dressage and stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park and cross-country at Masterson Station Park makes it a staple on many competitor’s calendars.

    Date and Time: April 7-8, 2018.  On Saturday April 7, dressage and show jumping are held at Kentucky Horse Park. On Sunday April 8, cross country is held at Masterson Station Park.  

    Volunteer Opportunities: 
    - flagging of cross-country course
    - decorating cross-country
    - putting up signage

    During the show:
    - scribes
    - ring stewards
    - scorers
    - bit check
    - show jumping timers
    - warm-up and in-gate stewards
    - cross-country starters
    - runners

    After the show:
    - cleanup help
    - social media shares
    - articles for the MSEDA newsletter (and other interested publications)
    - press release creation

    Interested? Email Bev Henson bevhenson@me.com (preferred) or text 502-220-0187 

    Tips for Volunteers

    Volunteer vouchers are provided for every volunteer.  Voucher good for discounts on merchandise or post-event schooling; these vouchers are good for an entire year. Lunch is provided, as well as snacks and drinks for all volunteers.  Dress is weather appropriate, but there is no dress code requirement.

  • 02/26/2018 3:07 PM | Deleted user

    While most of us know the signs of Lyme disease in people (a bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms and fatigue), the signs horses exposed to Lyme disease exhibit can be quite different. Interestingly, diagnosis and treatment in both horses and humans is the same!

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Lyme disease, while the most prevalent of any tick-born disease in humans or animals in the United States, hasn’t gotten a lot of play in the horse world, at least in this part of the country. Most of the reported cases come from the Northeast, the upper Midwest and California, though this soon may change as the areas in which Lyme-infected ticks have been found spreads.

    Ticks that carry Lyme disease are slowly expanding their area, which can be cause for concern for horse owners. First identified in Lyme, Conn., in the 1970s, the Centers for Disease Control tracks human cases of Lyme; there is no body that tracks equine cases, but it’s strongly believed that they occur in the same areas as human cases.

    Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. This disease infects dogs, cats, cattle and horses. Clinical signs of Lyme disease are caused by the inflammation of the membranes of joints and nerves.

    Signs of Lyme disease can include:  

    • Fever
    • Muscle pain
    • Swollen joints
    • Stiffness in the major joints, including hock, stifle, knee, elbow and fetlock
    • Rotating, sporadic lameness
    • Lack of energy
    • Crankiness
    • Overreaction to sensory stimuli, called hyperesthesia

    How is it Diagnosed?

    Vets will use a combination of history, blood tests, clinical signs, risk of probable exposure and antibiotic therapy to determine if a horse has Lyme disease. It’s important to remember that the results of the blood test do not always correlate to the disease status in the horse; horses will test positive for Lyme disease if they have been exposed to the organism even if the signs they are exhibiting are not tied to the disease.

    Lyme can have long-term consequences on horses, including damage to skin, joints, nervous system and vision.

    How is it Transmitted?

    Lyme disease is transmitted when a blacklegged tick (including deer ticks and Western blacklegged ticks) feeds on a wild mouse that is infected with the disease. The tick, now infected itself, then feeds on human and animals, spreading the disease via blood. It is mainly adult ticks that infect horses and they generally cause infection in the spring and fall, though horses can become infected any time ticks are active (like during an unseasonably warm winter).

    How is it Treated?

    It’s important to note that all horses that are bitten by ticks infected with Lyme will not get the disease. Horses may be infected with Lyme disease, but not develop any signs. The horse is considered to have the disease when he begins to exhibit recognizable signs of the disease.

    Like many equine diseases, early diagnosis is key to preventing the most-serious effects of the Lyme, though this may not be for five or six weeks after your horse has been bitten.

    Many horses are treated for Lyme disease each year; treatment can be expensive, span a long period of time and carry some chance of toxicity. Almost all horses that have Lyme are treated with doxycycline, tetracycline or ceftiofur. Banamine or another anti-inflammatory may also be given to ease discomfort. Treatment usually lasts for 30 to 60 days.

    There is no approved Lyme vaccination for horses on the market and there is no glimmer of one on the horizon. So how best to protect your four-legged friend? Limit his exposure to ticks that carry the bacteria if you live in an area where the disease is prevalent. This can be done by:

    • Grooming your horse daily, looking for ticks specifically at the base of the mane and tail, around ears, belly and throatlatch.
    • Using fly repellents that contain permethrins.
    • Mow grass and brush in your horse’s fields, and cut down overhanging branches where ticks like to hide out.
  • 02/26/2018 3:04 PM | Deleted user

    Each year it’s important that MSEDA members are reminded of important competition tidbits; these friendly reminders help our members gain recognition for their accomplishments at year’s end. MSEDA seeks to highlight and reward its members and their equine partners for their hard work. Read on for important notifications.

    Member Kristen Brennan Volunteering as a Ring Steward

    • Each member is responsible for their own volunteer hours. This means knowing the rules (attached at the end of the article) and turning in the paperwork. Volunteer hours are always welcome, even if a person is not a MSEDA member. MSEDA offers volunteer awards and appreciates the people who go above and beyond to keep these sports going! Members must submit a volunteer form for EACH show in which they volunteer. Forms must be signed by the volunteer organizer and can be emailed (scan or picture) or snail-mailed to the address at the bottom of the document. This year, hours will be counted once the Points and Volunteer Hours Secretary receives them. The form to report hours can be found on the MSEDA website.  
    • It’s membership renewal time. Get your membership renewed as soon as possible. Points for year-end awards begin accumulating when your membership is activated.
    • This goes for your horses, too! Do you plan to compete your best friend’s horse? What about that client horse? If there is even a possibility you will be riding a horse, it’s imperative that you register the horse under your name. Horse activations are accepted all year and are free until March 1; after March 1, each registration is $10
    • Are you an amateur? There’s an award for that. Adult Amateurs in both Dressage and Eventing are eligible for high point year-end awards. To be eligible, send a copy of your amateur status to the Points Secretary, Mandy Weissmann. Points begin accumulating when the status is received.
    • Are you a Pony Club member? There’s an award for that, too. Current Pony Club members are eligible for a high point year-end award. Be sure to specify the club and center of which you are a member on your paperwork sent to the Points Secretary. Points begin to accumulate once the Points Secretary is notified of your membership.
    • And finally, do you compete a Thoroughbred? Thanks to a gracious donation by Megan Moore in honor of her horse Grasshopper, your Thoroughbred could be eligible for a high point year-end award. This award is given to the Thoroughbred in Eventing that earns the most points during the year. To be eligible for this award, you must notify the Points Secretary; points begin to accumulate once notification is made.

    Points can be confusing, but the MSEDA board is here to help. If you feel something on the points or volunteer hours is amiss, please email Mandy Weissmann. Please take a few moments to read through the MSEDA rulebook (LINK HERE) to learn what other awards are offered, as well as how to accumulate the most points-- MSEDA wants to celebrate you and your horse for your yearly endeavors.

    To email Points and Volunteer Hours Secretary Mandy Weissmann, use this address: trinitymja@msn.com

    ARTICLE​ ​IX Volunteer​ ​Hours IX.1. Required Hours – In order to qualify for year-end awards in dressage and eventing competitions, the member/rider must volunteer a total of eight (8) hours at MSEDA-sanctioned competitions, at least four (4) of which must be at either MSEDA Dressage at the Kentucky Horse Park or MSEDA Team Challenge. Written proof of this service must be provided to the individual designated by the MSEDA Board of Directors no later than October 31 of each year. A minimum of four (4) of the eight (8) hours must be completed by the rider, the rest of the required hours may be donated by someone other than the rider and donated in his or her name. Service as an officer of MSEDA, as a member of the MSEDA Board of Directors, or as the non-compensated chairman of a committee officially appointed by the MSEDA Board of Directors (i.e., Sanctioning Chairperson Points Chairperson, Education Chairperson, etc.) shall constitute fulfillment of the requirement for 8 volunteer hours. However, volunteer hours earned for being a Board Member may not be donated for year-end awards.

  • 02/15/2018 9:52 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

    Photo by Smith Equine Media, LLC

    Snowbird Dressage: March 3, 2018 at the Kentucky Horse Park Covered Arena

    Event History: Started in 1987, Snowbird Dressage has primarily taken place at the Kentucky Horse Park, though it was held at Masterson Station Park for a few years. It was moved to the Horse Park permanently to utilize the warm up area and to use the covered arena.

    Offering dressage, eventing and western dressage tests, Snowbird Dressage is designed to offer a no-pressure way to practice new tests or levels in a competitive atmosphere. Using MSEDA and USEF judges, a team competition is offered, as well as a series championship. Snowbird has been MSEDA Dressage Show of the Year multiple years and is a winter dressage destination for many in the Bluegrass.

    Date and Time: The last date is March 3, 2018. The show starts at approximately 8:00 am and runs until around 5:00 pm, depending on how many rides are scheduled.

    Volunteer Opportunities: 
    Prior to every Snowbird show:
    - setting up rings
    - stuffing of packets
    - picking up prizes
    - putting up stall cards
    - filling out dressage tests

    During the show:
    - ring stewards
    - runners
    - scorers

    Interested? Email Julie Congleton at malcomsmom@gmail.com

    Tips for Volunteers: Dress appropriately for the weather; the show can be cold, so warm footwear and gloves are imperative. The show will provide lunch,

    Visit the Snowbird Dressage Facebook page here and the Snowbird Dressage website here for more information.

  • 02/15/2018 9:43 AM | Deleted user

    In this age of digital overload, getting in front of potential horse buyer is easy—but selling them on your horse be the tricky part.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    With the advent of online selling platforms, it’s much easier to get your horse seen by buyers far outside your local area, but with this ease of access comes quite a few potential pitfalls, among them the scrutiny that every since piece of your video will undergo.

    Know that any video you post will be seen by (hopefully!) thousands of people, especially is a buyer is interested. It will be seen by the buyer’s trainer, vet, farrier, friends, colleagues and barn mates (at a minimum!). Because of this, it’s imperative that you present your sale horse in the best light as possible, combining many small details to make a video that’s clean and enticing to get buyers to contact you to learn more.


    • Know your equipment before you begin. If you’re having someone use your camera, iPad or phone, be sure they are familiar with how to use it before beginning. Take a few practice videos and watch them together before getting ready to film the actual sale video. Fumbling for the start/stop button and losing the subject are annoying and off-putting enough that many people may stop watching the video entirely. Consider investing in a tripod that will eliminate all shakiness and jitters of the camera.
    • Keep it fairly short. Though you know your horse is fantastic and you want to show off every single thing he does well, sales videos that are under 5-10 minutes are best. If you care to add in some “highlight reels” of your horse showing or at liberty, here is the place to do it, but edit the segments so they flow smoothly.
    • Edit wisely.  Some potential buyers get suspicious if the video is choppy, cutting out in odd places or a mishmash of clips from different days all put together. People always wonder why the cameraman turned off the camera: Was the horse bad? Did he miss the change he was set up for?
    • Turn down the sound. It can be wise to consider turning off the volume on the filming device, especially if it’s windy or the rider and camera person are chatting as the piece is filmed. Nothing is quite as annoying as the camera man yelling at a dog or kid or hearing nothing but wind when you’re trying to focus on the horse.
    • Take the video when lighting is best. Making people squint through bright light to decipher what they’re looking at does your horse no favors and will make sure they don’t stick around on your sales page long enough to see just what your horse can do.
    • Eliminate distractions in the arena. if you know you’ll be filming a sale horse, it’s wise to take out as many objects in the area that are cluttering the view as possible. Remove some jumps, take out clutter like buckets of jump cups, stools and other things that are visually distracting to the viewer. Have the videographer stand where she doesn’t have to move around objects to film the horse. While it may seem like a lot of work to move things in and out of the arena for such a short video, it will be worth it in the end if you get your full asking price!
    • Clean up! While your horse doesn’t have to be braided for a sales video, he should be clean and tidy, with mane pulled (if acceptable in your breed and discipline) and trimmer whiskers. His tack and pads should be clean as well, and the rider should be presented in neat clothes with shirttails tucked in. Remember: You’re essentially selling yourself, too, so put your best foot forward. Consider neutral colors for pads and polos to create as little distraction from the horse as possible. While the horse is neat and tidy, take some good conformation videos, as well, which will also help him sell.
    • If possible, consider overlaying text over the parts of the video, explaining who the horse is and where he is located, as well as how to contact you and an intro to any other clips you are including (like what show, how the horse finished, etc.).
  • 02/11/2018 8:19 PM | Deleted user

    Author: Kristen M Brennan, PhD, Alltech Inc.

    In my first column, we covered what makes the equine digestive tract unique and how food migrates from the point of ingestion to those piles of manure we all love to scoop every day. Now that we all have a basic understanding of gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology, let’s start to talk about the basic or essential nutrients that are needed in a healthy horse’s diet.

    We left the last article talking about what a nutrient is. Just to review, simply put, a nutrient is a component in food or feed that is necessary to support life. Nutrients can be further broken down into two types: macronutrients, or those required in higher levels and micronutrients, or those required in much smaller amounts (but are still important!). This time we are going to focus on macronutrients in your horse’s diet. There are three major macronutrients in your horse’s diet: water, protein and energy.



    When I talk about essential nutrients, I always list water as number one. Often referred to as the “forgotten nutrient”, water is the most important nutrient because horses cannot live long without it. Every horse needs a constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water at all times of the day. An average 1200lb horse will drink about 5 to 10 gallons of water per a day, or about 2 quarts minimum per a pound of hay. In the summer, when horses are grazing on fresh pasture, some of this intake comes from the grass they consume. Just like people, water intake will increase with outdoor temperatures, increased exercise or during lactation and decrease in colder temperatures or with decreased exercise. Horses also may also drink less if they are sick or if they can’t find a source of water that is palatable to them.


    Protein is an essential nutrient that provides your horse essential amino acids which are the building blocks for all aspects of your horse’s body from the growth and repair of muscle, bone and soft tissue to the proper functioning of the immune system. While we talk about protein in a general term as the required nutrient, its actually the individual amino acids that are so important. These amino acids are called the “essential amino acids” and horses must get them from their diet because they cannot synthesize them.

    On a feed tag, protein content is defined as “crude protein”. This a common term in animal nutrition and is a calculation based on nitrogen content of the feed to estimate the actual protein content. One thing crude protein does not tell us is the actual amounts of amino acids. Just like with humans, not all protein sources are equal as they may provide different levels of individual amino acids: therefore, it’s possible for your horse to consume enough protein but not enough of individual amino acids. Legumes like alfalfa and soybean meal are high quality sources of protein in equine diets.

    One of the biggest challenges is that we are just now starting to understand how much of each essential amino acid is required in the diet. Luckily equine nutrition researchers are contributing valuable studies in this area that will eventually tell us this valuable information. One thing we do understand is that the amount of protein a horse can make from amino acids it consumes is limited by the amino acids that runs out first. If you think about a bucket of water with holes at various heights up the side, you can only fill the bucket as high as the lowest hole. Same thing goes for protein synthesis: you can only make as much protein (water in the bucket) as the amino acid that runs out first because of the lowest supply (the lowest hole in the bucket). Luckily, we do know that the most likely to run out first (called the limiting amino acid) is lysine.  Therefore, you may see additional lysine listed on your feed tag below crude protein.


    While technically not a nutrient because horses can’t consume energy per say, energy is essential for supporting life. Horses have two main sources of energy: carbohydrates and fats. Just like most other nutrients, energy needs increase with growth, exercise, gestation and lactation in horses.

    Carbohydrates are the main energy source in equine feeds and can be further broken down into structural and nonstructural fractions. Structural carbohydrates, like fermentable fiber sources, are broken down in the hindgut and fermented by microbes to release energy in the form of volatile fatty acids. While we think of forages like pasture and hay when we think of fiber, feeds like beet pulp can also be great sources. Nonstructural carbohydrates like starch and sugar can be thought of as the “quick acting” carbohydrates-the are easily broken down and absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream as glucose. Both forages and grains contain nonstructural carbohydrates, but levels are highest in cereal grains like corn, oats and barley. While starches and sugars often get a bad reputation, it’s important to note that in a normal, healthy horse, they are a great source of energy.

    For a long time, it was thought that horses could not use fat an energy source but research has shown that horses tolerate a fairly high level of fat in their diet. Fats are energy dense (more than twice that of carbohydrates), are easily digestible and an economic way of increasing the energy content. Traditionally most concentrates were formulated to be low fat, but more recently there has been a trend for higher fat feeds containing up to 12% fat. One thing we are still trying to understand is the importance of the form of fats-namely the omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acid groups. These fats have been shown to have an important role in the health of other species, but research is still on going in horses.  

    Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of macronutrients and why they are important in your horse’s diet. Next time we’ll visit the micronutrients-the small but mighty nutrients that are so essential to health.

  • 02/02/2018 12:32 PM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    If you’re interested in running a local horse event, whether it’s a combined test, mini trial, dressage show, hunter pace, competitive trail ride or other endeavor, there are three key things you need: a deep volunteer list, a solid set of organizational skills and a good sense of humor.

    So, you’ve attended local horse shows, hunter paces or trail rides for years, and you truly understand what works in your area and what doesn’t. Why not try your hand at equine event management and host your own show, pace, mini trial or other equine endeavor? While there’s a lot of planning that goes into hosting an event, there are some very specific strategies and timelines that can make organizing an event less stressful.

    Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse

    But before you start dreaming of the awesome prizes you’ll offer, there are a few other things you’ll need to consider. The first, and most important, is choosing a date. Before you get your heart set on a specific weekend, think long and hard about the time of year in which you want to host your event. Early spring and late fall can be iffy weather-wise in many locales across the country. If you don’t have an indoor arena or other covered space to utilize, it can be worthwhile to rule out the very early and very late dates, especially if you’re not expecting to ask riders to pre-register. It’s helpful to plan your event as far in the future as possible—a year in advance is not unheard of. The more time you can have to prepare and get the word out about the event, the better.

    When deciding on an event date, also be sure to look at other local equine organization’s event calendars. Making sure you’re not running a hunter pace at the same time as an event or local jumper show can help make sure riders are not forced to choose between your new event and an already-established one.

    If you’re not hosting your event on property you own, it’s a good idea to have an additional one or two dates in mind as back-ups as well. Then, when you approach the hosting venue, you already have a back-up date in mind if your first choice is taken.  

    Checking Your List

    Once you have a date nailed down, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty details. While you might be able to manage without checklists in many areas of your life, hosting an event is most likely not one of them. Most event organizers live and die by checklists. Here are some of the particulars you may need to have in place well in advance of the event:
    • medic
    • food
    • ribbons and/or prizes
    • secretary/check in location
    • signage
    • stall map (if neede)
    • show/event programs or maps
    • judges, announcers, ring crew, stewards (if needed)
    • photographer
    • course/track design (if needed)
    • jump/obstacle rental
    • portapotties
    • numbers or pinneys
    • vet/farrier or on-call vet or farrier

    Getting the Word Out

    So, the date is set, the venue is booked and you’re diligently working away at your checklists. What next? Getting the word out! The biggest key to having a well-attended event is making sure that as many people as possible know when and where your event is, AND how to contact you should they have any questions.

    If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive show programs or color flyers, don’t fret! Social media is the least expensive way to get the word out about your event. Mock up some cute ads or silly social media posts, and start posting it in every equine group you can! Email all your horsey friends and ask them to share, as well. If you have any sponsors of classes, events or prizes, thank them as much as you can on social media and ask them to share their support of your event with their fans and followers.

    Making Sure You're Covered: Liability Insurance

    If the event you will be running will take place on your own farm, it’s important to contact your insurance agent to be sure you’re covered for the event on the farm. You will most likely be asked to provide details about what type of event it is, about how many people you expect and if medical personnel will be on site.

    If you will be hosting your event at a location other than one you own, the entity that owns the facility will likely ask for proof of insurance and ask to be named on your policy for the date of the event. The owner of the facility will also ask that the insurance cover exhibitors, competitors and spectators with a minimum policy limit (normally $1 million).  While this may sound like a lot of hassle and expense, it’s normally quite affordable to add on a one- or two-day event to an insurance policy that’s already in place. And, should anything happen, you’ll be glad you have insurance in place!

    Rallying the Troops

    So, you’ve laid the foundation for a successful event. You’ve chosen a good date with minimal conflicts, you’ve spread the word about what a great event this will be and you’ve gotten as many detail in place early as you can. Now you need more manpower.

    Even the most seasoned event host knows that an event cannot run smoothly with only one person at the helm. So, contact everyone you can think of who might have a few hours to spare or who may need community service hours. While you will want the majority of people to come and attend your event, a lot of local schools, community groups, scout troops, pony clubs and 4-H groups needs volunteer hours each year. Reach out to them as early as you can to see if you can round up some volunteers from their member.

    And Finally

    While you can have plan A, B, C and D in place, but some things will happen just before or the day of the event that you will be unable to control (like the weather!). Just remember: It will be OK. Many an event has been salvaged from a potentially harmful incident by the event manager being attentive, courteous and listening to those who are having issues. A little bit of kindness goes a long way, especially when stress levels run high. So don’t forget—the attendees have come to your event for a good time, so do your best to ensure that they want to come back next year!

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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