Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 09/15/2017 8:57 AM | Anonymous

    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: September 29-October 1 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

    Event history: Jump Start Horse Trials is the only annual fundraiser for Keeneland Pony Club.

     Volunteer opportunities before the event: 

    • Setting up dressage rings
    • Setting up stadium
    • Painting and decorating cross country

    Volunteer opportunities during the event:

    • Ring stewards
    • Dressage scribes
    • Scoring
    • Jump crew

    What should volunteers know?
    Volunteers should wear appropriate footwear for working outside (not flipflops!) and bring raingear. Jump Start will provide lunch and snacks, and drinks all day, as well as a T-shirt.

    For more information or to sign up for a volunteer time, please contact Jennifer Madden or Sally Lockhart.

  • 09/15/2017 8:45 AM | Anonymous

    It can be disconcerting when your normally sure-footed steed begins to trip or when your no-nonsense Steady Eddie starts to spook at things that wouldn’t normally faze him. So what’s the deal? Is it the weather change? Is he being lazy? Maybe … but maybe not: Vision loss may be to blame.

    By Sarah E. Coleman 

    Photo by Audrey C. McLellan

    Vision loss is not a death knell for horses or their competitive careers. While some loss may be dramatic, many times the loss of equine eyesight is gradual and over time; often the horse can adapt to his new vision and still be ridden.

    There are many causes of vision loss in horses, including chronic uveitis, permanent damage from EPM and other diseases, acute viruses, injury, cancer and more. No matter the cause, the ways you can make your horse more comfortable are the same.

    Testing Your Horse's Vision

    The signs that your horse may be losing his vision can be subtle, from a peek at a normally unspooky fence when light is low to fairly dramatic reactions for a normally-well-behaved horse, like being reluctant to walk from bright sunlight into a darkened barn or trailer.

    Horses tend to adapt to vision loss quite easily, which can be a hindrance for the humans caring for them: We may not pick up on the loss as readily as we should! If you think your horse may be losing some of his site, try these quick tests:

    • Walk your horse over a hose on the ground. Does he cock his head to look at the hose out of only one eye? Does he step directly on the hose or is he careful about stepping over it, indicating that he can see the hose? Cover one eye at a time and walk your horse over the hose, noting any differences in how he places his feet.
    • Cover one of your horse’s eyes with a fly mask or other soft blinder and toss cotton balls into his field of vision in the eye that is uncovered. Is he able to follow the objects with his uncovered eye?
    • With one of your horse’s eyes covered, wave your hand about six inches from the uncovered eye. Does he blink? If he can see well, he should.
    • Walk your horse over ground that changes drastically in color (like from black pavement to concrete or from a sand ring onto dark mulch). Does he act afraid to step onto the new color? Horses that are having a hard time seeing are sometimes reluctant to step onto something with a different color. 

    Next Steps

    So, you’ve performed all the tests and feel confident that your horse is having vision issues. Now it’s time to call the vet. So, what will your vet do differently than you have?

    • She will visually examine at the horse’s eye, looking for anything abnormal about how the eye looks structurally.
    • She will examine him physically to see if he has more marks on one side of his body or head than the other, which would indicate that he is bumping into things and may not be able to see well.
    • She will watch him to see how he reacts to a stimulus on one side of his body. She may then observe his behavior while he is turned out and while in a stall to see if he behaves the same way whether humans are interacting with him or not. 
    • She will also perform the “menace test” by making a menacing gesture toward the horse’s eye (the same test you performed above). 

    Caring for the Visually Impaired Horse

    If you’ve determined that your horse is in fact losing his site, it’s important to make him as comfortable as possible in his surroundings. You will need to:

    • Give him safe housing he is familiar with
    • Consider turning him out with only one good buddy; herd situations can be hard as there is much for the horse to deal with: ranking, food competition, new horses, etc.
    • Provide safe fencing with no tight corners, holes, equipment or downed trees
    • Keep food and water in open locations that are easy for him to find
    • Keep his routine as close to the same every day as possible so he feels confident even as his vision worsens
    • Don’t shave his whiskers
    • Speak to him – often!
  • 08/28/2017 10:38 AM | Anonymous
    We’ve all seen it: Horses that eat hot dogs or prefer soda or sweet tea over water. But are these things REALLY safe for your equine to be snacking on? Like in human diets, the answer is: Everything in moderation.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    While some horses are snobby about just what they’ll eat (only apples with no brown spots!) and others will eat just about anything (slimy carrots? No problem!), there are certain foods that should never be offered to equines—and there are some more-unusual ones you may just have to try!

    Safety First

    Many fruits and veggies are safe for horses eat, but some are definitely not safe for them to snack on. It’s important to note that if your horse is chubby, insulin resistant or has other metabolic issues that you should refrain from giving him anything high in sugar, including fruits and veggies with a high sugar content.

    Though a little snack of bread is OK for most horses, it’s important to remember that some prepared foods can be toxic to horses. Chocolate is one example; though an occasional chocolate chip cookie is harmless, a steady diet of chocolate treats can be hard on a horse’s health. Caffeine can also be toxic in large quantities, in the form of drinks or treats.

    So what can you feed your steed to reward him for a job well done?

    • pumpkin
    • tomato
    • mango
    • pear
    • green beans
    • berries
    • watermelon
    • cantaloupe
    • banana

    For Those Horses With Metabolic Issues….

    If your horse has metabolic issues, you will need to avoid feeding an abundance of these: 
    • apples (this includes apple sauce)
    • carrots
    • watermelon
    • jellybeans
    • yogurt
    • pretzels, chips and most cereals
    • cookies, both human and equine
    • candy
    • jelly beans
    • yogurt

    Good snacks include: 

    • beet pulp with no molasses
    • strawberries
    • cherries (without the pit)
    • peanuts (in the shell)
    • pumpkin seeds
    • celery
    • sugar-free candy (like that for diabetics)
    • hay cubes, cut into pieces
    • alfalfa pellets
    • banana or apple peels

    For horses that have HYPP, owners will need to stay away from treats and food that are high in potassium, like bananas, pumpkin and plums (prunes are also very not healthy for HYPP horses).

  • 08/22/2017 9:25 AM | Anonymous

    By Chelsea Smith, MBA // Smith Equine Media, LLC

    Photo by Kristin Posner

    The Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association (MSEDA) welcomed International Dressage rider, trainer and coach Jeremy Steinberg for a two day dressage clinic held June 24-25, 2017 at Bellantrae Farm in Lexington, Ky.

    Riding in the clinic was MSEDA Treasurer Cheryl Steele with her mare Melody. Steele was the recipient of the USEA Area 8 Volunteer Awards Grant for $250, which was used to further develop her partnership with Melody, a 10 year old, 17 hand Hanoverian mare.

    “I was looking for my next event/sport horse after my previous horse Irish Whiskey, AKA Junior, needed to drop down a couple of levels.  He is now 21 years old. I found Melody three years ago through Julie McVey.  She does a lot of trail riding and knew I was looking. She raised and trained Melody since she was a baby,” said Steele.

    Steele injured her shoulder in a fall two years ago and has been working to regain core strength and muscle tone.  With this in mind, Steele was eager to ride with Jeremy to see how her progress was developing.

    At the beginning of their session, Steinberg worked with Steele to be steadier with her body and quieter with her hands.  After Steele trotted Melody around the arena a few times, Jeremy quickly instructed Steele to keep Melody going forward and to directly challenge her to keep the momentum going forward.

    “The trot is a good challenge point to correct continuous, honest, energy output. With the trot there is no help—the body has to produce it. Challenge the trot and exploit the canter,” said Jeremy.

    Once Steele asked Melody to transition from canter to trot, Steinberg asked her to keep the energy going and to be stricter with her cues.

    As the lesson continued, Steinberg urged Steele to ignore when Melody gave her a wobble or a loss of connection and to instead keep pushing her forward.

    “If you wiggle and wobble in the front and get too involved in that, that can shut down the engine to where the engine doesn’t output enough to give her the arc of roundness through the topline. NO slowing down. Don’t give into any discussion or any dialogue in the front end—keep pushing forward. Don’t accept anything other than, “Yes ma’am, you got it!” I would be very tough on her,” said Jeremy.

    As they continued around the arena, Melody started to fall or lean into the turns.  Steinberg directed Steele to accelerate to help the mare correct her own balance. He explained his theory by comparing Melody to a car engine.

     “[With Melody] there needs to be a constant build up of RPM’s in her engine that give you more and more power right up into the steering wheel,” he said.

    Cheryl is looking forward to continuing Jeremy’s exercises at home, "I have only been home about 2 days and already noticed a difference in the way Melody moves. She has been more accepting of my leg aids in going forward and quicker to respond." 

  • 08/15/2017 9:39 AM | Anonymous
    The invention of smartphones has made equestrians lives so much easier. From tracking health and vaccination records, miles logged, equine heart rates and local tack swaps (and not to mention just how easy it is to take snaps of your four-legged love!), it’s wonderful to have all equine info at your fingertips.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    The vast majority of us are a little too connected to our phones, taking them with us everywhere we go and sleeping with them next to our beds at night. While some could see this connectivity as an issue, for obsessive horse owners (and really, isn’t that all of us?), this kind of knowledge at our fingertips is a fantastic way to help us feed our equine organization obsession.

    With this in mind, here are some apps you might enjoy:

    Hey NEIGHbor

    Find and list horses, tack, livestock, barn supplies and more. Easy uploads and searching, you can filter to find local items or those within your budget. All posts are removed 30 days after they are listed, so you know you won’t get your heart set on something that sold in 2015.

    Keep your horse’s gaits as even as possible with EquiTempo, which allows you to figure out the beats per minute (BPM) of any gait. Then set the app for the desired speed and EquiTemp ticks like a metronome.

    Horse Rider SOS
    This app will alert your emergency contacts when you have parted ways with your steed and indicate your exact GPS location for rescue. Now if only finding your horse were this easy!

    Manage individual horse’s feed, health, repro records, performance and training, or view all of the horses in your barn. You can also record expense and income and pictures of everything from receipts to injuries.

    Coach My Video
    Coach My Video allows you to upload photos and videos, and annotate them with lines (frame-by-frame) to check your alignment. You can then email the photos or videos to anyone.

    Hay Price Calculator
    Created by Regents of the University of Minnesota, this app will calculate hay price per ton, helping you choose the most cost-effective bundle.

    EquiSketch Dressage
    Help memorize your dressage test (in large or small arenas) by creating each movement of your test and then using an animated horse to perform the test.

    Healthy Horse
    Estimate your horse’s body weight for feeding and medication dosages by entering your horse’s height, girth circumference, body length and neck.

    SmartPak SmartBlanket App
    Create customized recommendations for your horse’s apparel based on the local weather conditions with the SmartPak SmartBlanket app.

    Horseware Turnout Guide
    This app gathers weather forecasts for three upcoming days and then makes recommendations on which Horseware turnout is best for your horse.

    Stable Secretary
    This app will help you keep equine business records and health records organized and get reminders about future appointments and due dates. You can add your team members (farrier, vet, etc.) and everyone can view and add info about your horse. Billing is also simplified.

    Preloaded with a checklist of standard items you would need for a horse show, including vet documents, tack and rider equipment, this app is a must-have for those riders who constantly leave at least one necessary item at home! You can add items and check things off, as well.

    Show Jumping Strides
    This app allows you to estimate the number of strides between two fences in a line of stadium jumps. Simply enter the distance (in meters) between the fences in the “distance” box, the height of the fence (in meters), the prescriped meters per minutes and the type of fence (vertical, oxer, triple bar or water) and the app will estimate the number of strides between the two obstacles.

  • 08/15/2017 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    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

    Park Equine Kentucky Classique Horse Trials

    Date and Time: The Horse Trial will be held September 2 and 3, but a Friday dressage is in the talks with management because of our AWESOME riders supporting Area 8. We will let riders know ASAP if we're going to make the switch, says Mary Fike.

    Event History: Kentucky Classique filled the date in the fall calendar when Mary Bayer and Stanley Wiggs discontinued doing the ever-popular Fall Ha’Penny Horse Trial.

    Volunteer opportunities before the event:

    • Stall cards
    • Labeling dressage tests
    • Setting up the office
    • Setting Dressage
    • Hanging banners
    • Roping XC

    We also can use volunteer to help set stadium, Mary noted. It’s usually on the Thursday of event week. If folks like to paint/stain, we can arrange to gift them a paintbrush and they can spend some glorious time out on XC and maybe befriend the park’s resident fox or catch sight of the newest owlets in the old Burr Oak tree.

    Volunteer opportunities during the event:  
    • Jump judges
    • Scribes
    • Score runners, etc.

    It should be noted that if anyone is interested in volunteering, please email Lynn and let her know your availability, we can work around ride times, groom schedules, crying, freaking out and drinking, says show secretary Erin Murphy.

    Volunteer opportunities after the event:

    • Thank you notes to all officials.
    • Creation of a press release, article about the event
    • Take down SJ, dressage, XC flags and decorations, etc. 

    What should volunteers know?

    We all know that weather in September can be unpredictable, so make sure to come prepared. Jacket, rain pants, boots, bug spray, sun glasses, wine (jk, but no really).  We do provide lunch. I always bring my earbuds and music and a chair and boots, says Mary.

    For more information or to sign up for a time, please email Lynn Davis at lynndavis@twc.com.

  • 07/31/2017 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    For only the second time in its history, the World Equestrian Games will be held on United States soil: This time in Tryon, N.C.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    For those of us who lived in Kentucky in 2010, it’s easy to remember the hype that surrounded the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Game. The insistence that farms were going to be sold for well over their asking price, as well as the thought that the city would be overrun with out-of-town guests was perpetuated by every facet of Lexington commerce. In the horse world, many of equine enthusiasts were led to believe that we had to buy our tickets in discipline packages, the minute they went on sale, or we risked being shut out of the Games completely.

    Those who survived WEG 2010 were privy to a lot of things that did not go as planned; thankfully those who didn’t call the Bluegrass home never noticed. And though the horse community seems pretty evenly split about whether or not they would welcome the Games back to Kentucky, there are some things each of us can be thankful for that was a direct result of the Games being held in Lexington: The Rolex Stadium, the increase in sport horse farms in the area and a massive increase in tourism that appreciates both our horses and our bourbon, just to name a few (we won’t mention that hole that’s slowly becoming something downtown, 8 years later….)

    Here Comes the World

    The World Equestrian Games 2018 are going to be held state side once again, this time in Tryon, N.C., at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Once can only imagine that that small town is in as much of a tizzy as Lexington was 14 months out, with massive infrastructure supplementation and rumors spinning around.

    So, how prepared is Tryon for a horse show of this magnitude? Carly Weilminster, the Marketing, Advertising, and Media Relations Manager of ‎Equestrian Sport Productions and Tryon International Equestrian Center, answered some questions for MSEDA.

    Carly said that the facility currently encompasses 1,600 acres in Polk County, N.C., while external facility amenities are located in Rutherford County (a big concern of holding WEG at Tryon is where people are going to stay!). The current George H. Morris Arena comfortably seats 6,000, while a larger stadium construction has begun and will seat between 20,000 to 25,000 spectators.

    “There are currently 1,200 permanent stalls on-site, 12 riding arenas and a 12-acre state-of-the-art grass derby complex. The facility also already boasts an extensive cross-country course, which resides on the adjacent property, which was formerly an 18-hole golf course,” Carly said.

    “There will be a significant amount of construction occurring over the next 15 months. Much of the equestrian and competition components that are necessary for the event are already in existence. The construction of the stadium, several on-site hotels, and the additions to the covered arena, which will be used for vaulting and reining, will take place throughout the year leading up to the event.”

    How Do People Get There?

    A major concern among the equestrian community is just how people will physically get to the competition grounds. The Tryon venue is situated between three major airports, which include: Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, Asheville Regional Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Each airport is between 45 minutes to an hour and a half away from the venue.

    And where will they stay?

    Carly notes that the Tryon venues “currently have a significant amount of on-site housing available for competitors and spectators for our national and international competitions hosted throughout the year. We are in the process of constructing additional on-site housing, which will include four hotels. The cities of Greenville, Asheville, and Charlotte are all within an hour’s drive from the venue, which will also support the generous number of spectators traveling to watch the Games. Forest City, Hendersonville, Rutherfordton and Spartanburg will also provide additional housing and lodging support.”

    Test Events

    According to FEI rules, test events in each discipline must take place at the venue prior to the Games. In Tryon, test events will begin in October of 2017 and continue through the spring of 2018, dependent on the discipline. Eventing will take place in October 2017 (the American Eventing Championships will be held there), while the driving test event will take place in the spring of 2018.

    The endurance paths have not yet been established, but will run over the Tryon grounds as well as on adjacent property.

    A Notch Above

    “TIEC offers several on-site amenities that help to make it one of the most unique equestrian destinations in the world,” Carly says. Ten on-site restaurants are open during the competition season, with several open year-round, she notes, allowing competitors and spectators to dine and socialize on-site. “These include an iconic 50s themed diner, sushi, up-scale American grille cuisine, Italian, Mexican, pub food, ice-cream and sweets, and much more.”

    If you’re wishing to do something non-horsey during your downtime, Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club is just five minutes down the road, with a beautifully designed 18-hole golf course and newly renovated pool and sports complex. The Cleghorn Gun Club, also just five minutes away, offers a spectacular clay shooting experience with certified instructors.

    The Lodge on Lake Lure, also owned by Tryon Equestrian Partners, overlooks pristine Lake Lure, one of North Carolina’s hidden treasures.

    “We have heard and understand the feedback regarding past FEI World Equestrian Games events and are proactively planning to make this event one of the most spectator and competitor friendly events that the sport has seen!” Carly said.

    Securing Your Seat

    The discipline schedules have been set, minus start and finish times, but the days of competition have already been announced and are available for viewing at www.tryon2018.com.

    Tickets will go on sale in September. They will be available on a major ticket platform and specific package options will be available. A broad announcement marking the start of ticket sales will be released ahead of the platform launch.

    For much more information on the facility and the Games, visit http://tryon.coth.com

  • 07/12/2017 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    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

    Nancy F. Newton Memorial Dressage and Combined Test

    Event History: Antebellum Farm began hosting a summer combined test in 1992; this is their 25th anniversary. This is the second year that the combined test will be held in honor of Nancy Newton, who passed in 2016. The profits from the event will go to an undetermined charity in her name.

    Date and Time: July 23rd, 8 a.m. until the last test is finished, typically about 4:30 p.m.

    Volunteer Opportunities:

    • timers
    • dressage stewards
    • dressage scribes
    • jump crew
    • parking assistants
    • stadium steward
    • runners

    Interested? Contact Dylan Newton 859-489-3375; antebefarm@aol.com. Lunch, snacks and drinks are provided to volunteers throughout the day.

    Visit the Antebellum Farm website here

  • 07/12/2017 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    Many riders look at their riding time as their “gym time”—and for many of us, this is the time during the week that we raise our heart rates and really work up a sweat. However, if you ride only a few days a week or don’t really work hard enough to burn calories, there is still some calories to burn in order to stay fit to ride your horse well. 

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    MSEDA interviewed Megan Arszman, freelance writer and Communications Coordinator for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, about rider health and fitness. Arszman believes that the main reason riders are reluctant to go to the gym is lack of time. Many horse people, even if they don’t ride every day, still make time to go to the farm and check on their horse if he isn’t kept at home. Additionally, Arszman also feels that riders believe the exercise they get at the farm is enough to keep them fit and healthy. While there’s no doubt that they burn calories while performing farm chores, it is not always enough to keep riders fit and healthy.

    Many riders are not aware of how much being unfit affects their mount. “You have to have core strength in order to be an effective rider, no matter the discipline,” Arszman explains. “I've talked with many trainers in different disciplines and that is a very important part of the rider's body position. If you don’t have the strength and conditioning to hold yourself correctly in the saddle, you can put uneven weight on your horse or you might find yourself relying on the reins to keep your balance, which means pulling on his mouth.” 

    “While farm work is a good workout, there are some things you need to work on at the gym or separately to help you stay healthy and ride better,” Arszman says. Addressing the time issue, Arszman notes that “You don't necessarily have to make the drive to the gym; you can build your own home gym with a few essential pieces.”

    Gym Time Time Out

    Arszman, a horsewoman herself, knows innately that there is simply not enough time in the day, especially to get to the gym. So what does she recommend for an overall body workout?  Body weight circuit training. “You can do a circuit of body weight exercises: air squats, push-ups and planks.”

    If you’re really in a time crunch, Arszman loves the HIIT {High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. “You basically do a series of exercises, rotating between something high-intensity [e.g., sprints, mountain climbers, jump squats, jumping jacks, etc.] and other workouts.”

    Arszman provides an example: 

    Do each exercise at a high intensity for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds

    1. Mountain Climbers
    2. Push-ups
    3. Squats
    4. Crunches
    5. Burpees
    6. Plank
    7. Jump Squats
    8. Tricep Dips
    9. High Knees
    10. Lunges


    You Are What You....Eat?

    Specific eating plans can be difficult for riders to follow, especially if they’re running between home, work and the farm, or if they spend multiple days at horse shows. Arszman suggests that, rather than following a specific diet plan, riders watch what they eating--increasing veggie consumption, and decreasing the carbs and sugar. Arszman aims to eat no later than 7 p.m., which she admits is hard in the summer for horse people.

    She tries to eat lean meats (fish, turkey and chicken) and increase water intake. “I've really been focused a lot on watching what I eat lately after some weight gain and it's helped. My brother-in-law has lost almost 200 pounds since last year and tracks everything he eats on his MyFitnessPal app--that's a great tool that I recommend!” 

    So what are some of Arzman’s go-to meals and snacks? I love my green smoothies! I make one every morning after my work out before I wake up my daughter so I can drink it on my way to work. I'll throw in fresh spinach, frozen cauliflower, frozen fruit, plain Greek yogurt, some milk and some protein powder. Sure the spinach and cauliflower sounds gross,” she says, “but trust me, you don't taste it and it's the easiest way to jumpstart your goal for eating veggies!”

     “I also love snacking on string cheese, hard boiled eggs, apples and peanut butter, and Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookies.”

    Prioritizing Fitness Goals

    So, how can riders make fitness a priority? “Set small goals with deadlines and know that you have to work toward them,” Arszman says. “It has to be important to you in order for you to be dedicated. Even if you only have 20 minutes, that's 20 minutes to a healthier life. Wake up 30 minutes early with your workout clothes already set out so you literally roll out of bed and into your clothes and to the gym [or garage gym] before your mind is fully awake to know what you're doing.

    Also, don't feel like you need to work out for 2 hours a day, every day--start off with 30 minutes three times a week and build up. Include your family in your goals and invite them to workout with you, or pick a buddy to help you stay accountable,” she says. 

  • 06/27/2017 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    Navicular syndrome has long been a catch-all term used on any heel pain in horses; even more elusive than a concrete diagnosis has been an effective form of controlling the pain associated with it.

    By Sarah E. Coleman 

    In the beginning of 2014, the equine community welcomed the approval of two new drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug administration: Tildren and OSPHOS. Though Tildren has long been used in human medicine, its release into the equine market is new.

    Both of these drugs are bisphosphonates intended to control the signs of navicular syndrome, which is commonly the cause of front-end lameness in horses. Navicular syndrome is defined as chronic pain arising from the navicular bone and closely related structures (like the deep digital flexor tendon, suspensory ligaments of the navicular bone, etc.). This chronic heel pain includes pathological changes to the ligaments, bone, cartilage and tendons in that area. The exact cause is unknown.

    Navicular syndrome can affect any breed of horse at any activity level; affected horses are typically between 4 and 15 years old. There is no one test that can confirm navicular syndrome; but hoof tests, X-rays, nerve blocks and other imaging modalities may be needed to determine if a horse has navicular disease. 

    Treatment Options

    In the past, navicular has been a catch-all term used for a front-end lameness that could not be definitively determined. Treatment options were somewhat limited, with Isoxsuprine (to increase blood flow to the area) and corrective shoeing being the two most-popular treatment options.

    Oher treatment options include:
    Work and rest protocols determined by the horse’s vet
    Pain management  (NSAIDs)

    What is a Bisphosphonate?

    Bisphosphonates are a class of drug that have been used in human medicine for years prior to their introduction to the equine markets, but they are used for different reasons in human medicine: mainly to decrease bone loss (osteoporosis). Bone is a living tissue that is constantly forming and resorbing in a balance; in diseased bone, this balance is interrupted. Bisphosphonates attach themselves to active sites on bones, and block the ability of the bone to regrow.

    Interestingly, Bisphosphonates were first created as industrial chemicals to prevent corrosion.

    Dr. Laura Werner, a field care veterinarian and surgeon at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, has used Osphos extensively since its introduction in early 2014. Prior to Osphos use, Dr. Werner treated cases of navicular with Tildren, as well as with corrective shoeing, joint or navicular bursa injections, isoxsuprine, shockwave therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.

    Osphos is an intramuscular injection, given in three separate sites on the horse during one treatment, so Dr. Werner typically utilizes the neck and pectoral muscles as administration sites.  Similar to Tildren, it can take up to two months to see the full effects of Osphos treatment. It can be re-administered every three to six months or longer, based on clinical signs.

    Side Effects

    Dr. Werner notes that colic or pain at the injection site are possible adverse reactions to Osphos. Additionally, she recommends that a horse that is being treated be monitored for hydration and kidney values, especially in older patients.

    The Osphos label notes that owners should watch their horses for two hours after the administration of the drug, looking for agitation, pawing, and other abnormal behavior like lip licking and head shaking. The horse may also experience cramping; if this occurs, it is recommended that the owner hand walk the horse for 15 minutes. 

    A Word of Caution

    The recommendations on Osohps is that it not be given to horses less than four years old, and Dr. Werner notes that it is contraindicated in fracture cases as the drug inhibits osteoclasts and those cells are an important part of fracture healing.

    As always, it’s important to know the USEF and FEI guidelines on withdrawal times for any drug you are administering. Osphos withdrawal time for the FEI is 28 days.

    Osphos (and Tildren) can be effective tools in managing the pain associated with navicular syndrome. As with any medication, care must be give during administration and a close eye kept on the animal being treated. 

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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