Category Archives: Horse Care/Protection

Decomplexicating Equine Nutrition: The High Fat Diet, by Geoff Tucker DVM

The Safe Fats and Oils

There are two rules of thumb about fats and oils. The first is that the more saturated the fat is, the less inflammatory it is. The second is that the shorter the fatty acid chain is (as in short chain, medium chain and long chain fatty acids), the better it is. Unfortunately, these rules of fats are made for humans. We can only assume and extrapolate for horses. There are some important reasons why there is a lack of good information in feeding horses. One is that there is little independent research on this subject. By independent I mean that there isn’t an agenda or a company behind the research. The second is a little subtler. Let me explain.

Can we really compare the horse of today with one from 1000 or 10,000 years ago? More importantly, if we could find ancient horses untouched by humans and test them for nutrition, how would this compare with your horse living today? If your horse is kept in a stall, competes somewhere every weekend, lives in FL for the winter and 1500 miles away for the summer, is fed grain and carrots or is not fed them – how can all of these variables be considered when determining what to feed a horse that only grazed naturally thousands of years ago?

Click here to read the full article.

Geoff Tucker
www.TheEquinePractice.com

Decomplexicating Equine Nutrition: Carbohydrate Dependency, by Geoff Tucker DVM

When I enter any convenience store in the United States and walk through all the aisles of food available, I discover just how dependent we are on carbohydrates. After eliminating all items containing grain (corn, wheat, rice and others), grain fed meat (jerky, hard boiled eggs, dairy products), inflammatory oils (vegetable, grain, seed, soy), non-nuts (peanuts and cashews) and artificial sweeteners, I am left with water and pistachios. That’s it!

When I enter a feed store for all animals (horses, swine, cattle, goats, sheep, poultry, fish) I see bag after bag of grains, grain byproducts and inflammatory oils. This leaves stacks of hay which is the preserved staple of all equines and ruminants. Poultry should be eating grubs but instead are fed grain. The fish don’t eat grain except when farm raised where they do.

What Is Hay?

Hay is made of carbohydrates called non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs). This is a fancy way of saying starch which is how sugar is stored in plants.

Click here to read the full article.

Geoff Tucker
www.TheEquinePractice.com

Equine Herpesvirus: What You Need to Know

Photo: Taylor Pence.

Ask horse owners to name their most-feared horse diseases, and chances are equine herpesvirus, or EHV, will be on the list. With the competition season underway, it’s important for equestrians to be vigilant and take preventive measures, from vaccination to biosecurity.

A good first stop for information is the Equine Disease Communication Center’s website, which tracks outbreaks and provides disease information and biosecurity protocols.

EHV spreads from horse to horse through nasal discharge, whether by nose-to-nose contact, aerosol droplets sneezed or coughed into the air, or shared equipment and feed or water. The types equestrians are most likely to see, EHV-1 and EHV-4, often cause only respiratory illness with few long-term aftereffects, but EHV’s easy movement between horses and the fact that the virus can cause potentially fatal neurological symptoms have made it a serious concern for horse owners, facility managers, and competition organizers alike.

Fortunately, the neurological form of the disease – which is most often associated with EHV-1 and causes a horse to lose coordination to varying degrees – is rare. And there are steps you can take to reduce your horse’s risk, says Dr. Nathan Slovis, director of the McGee Medicine Center at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky. Slovis also noted that although there is a greater awareness and increased reporting of EHV cases, the incidence of the disease is not on the rise.

General Symptoms of EHV

Fever is a key symptom of both EHV-1 and -4, and in some cases it might be the only warning sign, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the Equine Disease Communication Center. But horses can also display other symptoms in conjunction with an elevated temperature. Signs of the infection can include:

  • Fever, the single most significant symptom
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge accompanying fever
  • Coughing
  • Swelling in legs
  • Hind-end weakness or lack of coordination
  • Conjunctivitis, or swelling and redness in the pink area at corner of the eye

“They won’t get neurologic without having had a fever,” Slovis said. “They’ll have fevers of 103 to 105 degrees, not a mild fever, but a significant fever. So if there’s a horse with a fever, don’t blow it off, especially if they just came back from a competition. Anyone with a fever should be isolated. The incubation period is 21 days, so if your horse has been exposed, they should spike a fever in a 21-day period. So keep checking their temperatures.

“Now that we have sophisticated testing, we can break it down and identify one strain versus another,” Slovis added. “But the bottom line is that herpes can cause severe illness and severe disease, and I can’t tell you which horse is going to get sick and which horse isn’t, if they have it. Each horse is different, and it depends on things like their immunity, their age, and their stress level. Just because a horse has it doesn’t mean it will come down with neurological signs, and it doesn’t mean it won’t come down with neurological signs.”

Neurological symptoms also can vary in degree, and horses can recover if the neurological signs are mild. “It all depends on the severity,” said Slovis.

The good news, Slovis said, is that the neurologic form of equine herpesvirus is also rare.

What Can You Do to Prevent EHV?

  1. Vaccinate.

“For the backyard horse that goes on an occasional trail ride, once or twice a year is more than adequate,” said Slovis. “For the horses that are competing more often, they’re going to need to get it done about every 120 days, about three times a year. That’s a good ballpark: early spring, late summer or early fall, and then again in the middle of winter.”

But don’t just think about your horse’s own activities. Consider what the horses around him are doing, too. You may only ride your horse at home, but if his stablemates travel regularly to compete, his exposure risk will be greater.

“If you board at a high-traffic barn, you might have to do the two- or three-times-a-year vaccine program,” Slovis explained. “Your animal won’t be stressed like an animal that travels a lot more, but if there’s intense traffic in and out of that barn, maybe three times a year is good for your horse, too.”

For information on vaccinating your horse against EHV, consult your veterinarian.

  1. Plan ahead.

“You don’t want to vaccinate a horse two days before a show. Do it at least seven days before a show and ideally two to three weeks before,” advised Slovis. “Some horses may get sore in the neck area, which is possible with any vaccine, so plan ahead. Some horses may have an active herpes infection and you might not even know, and when you go to vaccinate them their body will react tremendously: the legs will swell up, they’ll get a fever, they’ll feel blasé.”

  1. Monitor your horse’s temperature.

Know your horse’s baseline temperature, and monitor your horse’s temperature daily during and after a competition. “A horse with a temperature might act perfectly fine, so taking the temperature can give you a heads-up,” Slovis explained. “It’s good basic information to have.”

  1. Establish good biosecurity on the farm, at competitions, and in the trailer.
  • Even for a vaccinated horse, it’s always important to use good biosecurity protocols to reduce the chances of exposure to or spread of the disease.
  • Don’t share water troughs, buckets, or sponges.
  • If a barn or event facility has a communal hose, don’t use it. Use your own (and don’t share it) or remove the hose and fill your water and bathing buckets directly from the faucet. “People will often dip the end of the hose in a water bucket, and if a horse has the virus, this will contaminate the end of that hose,” said Slovis.
  • Clean and then disinfect hay nets, bags, or troughs after use, and don’t share them between horses. “The virus can live in that environment for a time under ideal conditions, and that can set you up for future infection,” said Slovis. “You can use any disinfectant. Even commercial household cleaners like bleach wipes can kill herpes.”
  • Clean and disinfect areas in the trailer where a horse’s nose or nasal discharge might be.
  • If you handle multiple horses, wash your hands before moving from one horse to the next.
  • For biosecurity guidance, see the USEF brochure “Biosecurity Measures for Horses at Home and at Competitions” and the Equine Disease Communication Center’s website, which features an area devoted to biosecurity.

by Glenye Cain Oakford

© 2018 US Equestrian Federation

The Basics of Botulism

Basic management measures, combined with vaccination, will reduce your horse’s risk of contracting this deadly form of poisoning.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria produce the deadliest biological toxin known to man. When ingested, botulinum toxin causes botulism, a fast-acting, often fatal form of food poisoning. Horses who consume feed tainted with botulinum toxin may die within hours or days unless they receive fast, appropriate treatment.

And then there’s the really bad news: The types of C. botulinum most dangerous to horses are present in the soil and in the grasses and hays that they eat. Especially if you live in or purchase forage grown in a region where C. botulinum is endemic, eliminating the bacteria from a horse’s environment is impossible.

But the news isn’t all bad. C. botulinum proliferates and produces botulinum toxin only under specific conditions, which can be prevented with basic management precautions, and vaccination of at-risk horses offers an additional layer of protection. So botulism is fairly rare in horses, and with a few basic steps to keep your horse’s food and water fresh and clean, you can greatly reduce the risk that he will ever have a problem with this disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Profile of a killer

Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobe, which means it thrives in the absence of oxygen. And, when environmental conditions aren’t right for it — when it is in a dry, oxygen-rich atmosphere, for example — it goes dormant, encasing itself in a tough, protective outer membrane called an endospore. In this form, the bacteria do little harm to a horse.

But when external conditions change in its favor — that is, in anaerobic conditions with the right amount of moisture — C. botulinum emerges from its dormant state and multiplies rapidly. As each individual bacterium matures and dies, it releases its deadly toxin.

Seven distinct types of botulinum toxin have been identified — designated by letters from type A through G — but only types A, B and C are likely to produce illness in horses in the United States. Types A and B both reside in soil, but your risk of encountering them depends largely on where you live. Type A is more common in the West, and type B is seen more frequently east of the Mississippi River, especially in Kentucky and the Mid-Atlantic States. Type C is found in animal carcasses and bird droppings, which can be anywhere. However, up to 85 percent of all cases of equine botulism are caused by type B, which means that the risks are highest for horses in the eastern United States.

Botulinum toxin can cause illness in three ways:

  • Food poisoning (botulism). Botulism is most likely to occur in horses who eat forage stored in a moist, anaerobic environment that encourages the proliferation of C. botulinum. This might occur, for example, if hay is baled while still moist or stored improperly; the wetness at the center of the bale causes spoilage and creates the ideal conditions for C. botulinum. Improperly processed haylage or silage — fermented forages normally fed to cattle — may also cause botulism in horses, as can clumps of grass clippings left by mowers. A far less common threat is feed or forage that has been contaminated by bird droppings or an animal carcass.
  • Toxicoinfectious botulism (“shaker foal” syndrome). Foals are vulnerable to this form of botulism when they ingest the endospores as they nibble on grass or other things in their environment. The bacteria may activate and form colonies in gastric ulcers or the intestines.
  • Wound botulism. Dirt and contaminants can carry endospores into a wound; if the surface heals over, an anaerobic environment may be created that allows the bacteria to gain a foothold within the surrounding tissues. This is more likely to occur with punctures and other deeper wounds.

A deadly threat

No matter how the botulinum toxin gets into the horse’s body, the effects are the same. The toxin binds to the synapses of the nerves that control the muscles, blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. With no source of input, the muscles go flaccid, causing paralysis. Signs may appear within hours or days and often begin with the inability to swallow. A foal might have difficulty nursing.

As the toxin spreads, the effects begin to appear throughout the body, with signs such as muscle tremors, generalized weakness, a limp tail and gait issues. The severity and extent of the paralysis depends upon the amount of the toxin that a horse consumes. If he ingested only a little, he may just become less active and eat less before recovering after several days. A large dose of botulinum toxin will likely cause a horse to become recumbent. In the most serious cases, the cause of death is often suffocation, as the toxin paralyzes the muscles that facilitate breathing.

The early signs of botulism — difficulty swallowing, lack of eating, lying down, flaccid muscles — can look like other conditions, such as choke, colic or neurological disorders. Signs more specific to botulism include muscle tremors and weakness in the tongue; if you gently pull the horse’s tongue out of his mouth, he won’t be able to retract it. Even if you’re not sure it’s botulism, it’s best to call your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these signs, however subtle they might be.

If you suspect botulism, remove all food from all animals on your farm, including cattle and other livestock, as you wait for the veterinarian to arrive. Botulism often occurs in outbreaks when multiple animals are fed the same tainted forage. You’ll also want to keep the horse quiet and still to avoid exhausting his weakened muscles.

The only effective treatment for botulism is to administer an antitoxin, which must be done as soon as possible. The antitoxin works by binding with botulinum toxin that is still in circulation in the bloodstream, preventing the toxin molecules from binding with nerve cells and preventing the disease from progressing. Nothing can be done to treat neurons that have already been blocked. If treatment is delayed, the horse may be beyond help. If multiple horses have been fed from the same source, your veterinarian may suggest administering the antitoxin to all of them, in case others have ingested the toxin but are not yet showing signs of illness.

If the affected horse can be kept alive, the damaged nerves will heal within a few weeks, and he can make a full recovery. In the meantime, depending on the severity of his signs, he may require extensive supportive care, including nutrition and fluids via intubation.

Vaccinate “at risk” horses

Currently, only one vaccine against C. botulinum is approved for use in horses in the United States. The vaccine, which works against C. botulinum type B, is about 95 percent effective, and though it may not prevent all cases of botulism, it can reduce the severity of the illness and increase a horse’s chances for survival. The vaccine does not provide cross protection against C. botulinum types A or C.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) includes botulism on its list of “risk-based” vaccines, which means it is recommended for those horses most likely to come in contact with the bacteria or toxin. However, according to the AAEP, “Vaccination is warranted for all horses, as C. botulinum type B can be found in soil samples from many areas of the country and movement of horses or forage from non-endemic to endemic regions occurs frequently.”

What that means, says Amy Johnson, DVM, DACVIM, of the University of Pennsylvania, is that “it would be reasonable to vaccinate any horse for botulism, even though certain areas of the country are very low-risk. Since horses move around so much these days, it is possible that the horse would end up in an area of the country where botulism is more common. Likewise, hay and other forages can be shipped long distances, so it is possible that a horse in a low-risk geographic region could be exposed if fed hay from a high-risk geographic region.”

In Kentucky and the Mid-Atlantic States where botulin type B is most common, veterinarians may recommend the vaccine for all horses. “That is because the organism is so prevalent in the soil that sporadic botulism cases occur even in adult horses who are not fed high-risk feedstuffs, such as fermented feeds or large bale hay,” says Johnson. “Also, any horse fed high-risk feeds should be vaccinated.”

Vaccination is also recommended for pregnant mares, especially in endemic areas, to protect their foals against toxicoinfectious botulism. Foals can receive a three-dose series at four-week intervals, beginning at the age of 2 to 3 months, if the dam was vaccinated, or as early as 2 weeks of age if she was not.

Ask your veterinarian whether vaccinating against botulism might be advisable for your horse. If there’s any doubt, consider vaccinating anyway. “The vaccine is not that expensive and almost never causes adverse effects,” says Johnson.

Other preventive measures

  • Discard damp or moldy hay. If a hay bale gets moist, the anaerobic conditions at the center create ideal conditions for the growth of C. botulinum. Large round bales are especially susceptible to retaining moisture at their centers. Even if your hay is dry now, any previous dampness may have harbored bacterial growth, and the toxins left behind will still be present. The toxin itself will not detectable by color or smell, but the damp conditions that fostered the bacteria will leave hay smelling musty or moldy. Examine each flake as you peel it off the bale, and discard any hay that is moist or smells funky.
  • Protect stored hay from the elements. Periodically check for leaks in the roof and walls of your hay storage area. Stacking hay on wooden pallets will help air circulate and prevent moisture from accumulating underneath.
  • Offer hay in feeders. Hay dropped on the ground can easily become contaminated, and rain and mud will help foster the growth of bacteria. Instead, provide hay in a commercial or homemade feeder that keeps the forage dry. Especially if you live in a wetter climate, consider investing in an enclosed feeder that will keep out the rain and snow. Clean up dropped hay regularly. If your horse has a condition, such as heaves, that requires you to soak his hay, do not soak more than he can eat in one meal.
  • Avoid high-risk forages. Haylage — grass that is baled with a higher moisture content and sealed in plastic — is typically meant for cattle or sheep, which are less susceptible to botulism than horses. Some people do feed haylage to horses, especially if they need a low-dust alternative to dry hays, and haylage that has been properly processed and sealed ought to be safe, but the risk of botulism remains, even when the forage seems fresh. Definitely do not feed horses any haylage from bags that have been torn open or that look or smell spoiled. Also, don’t let your horse graze in areas where clumps of cut grass remain from a recent mowing, and warn your neighbors against tossing grass clippings over the fence as “treats” for your herd.
  • Watch out for dead animals and bird droppings. Botulism type C is fairly rare, but you do want to avoid feed or water that has been tainted by carcasses or droppings. Discard any hay or bagged feeds if you discover body parts from dead animals, and routinely check water buckets or troughs for drowning victims. (A mesh escape ramp built into the side of a large trough can help small animals who fall in to climb out safely.) Prevent birds from nesting in areas where a lot of droppings would fall onto feeders or stored hay, and do not use poultry manure as fertilizer on hayfields or pastures.

This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #481).

US Equestrian Federation
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511
P. 859 258 2472 , F. 859 231 6662

Multiple Grade 1 Winner Private Zone Euthanized

Private Zone at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – FEBRUARY 3, 2018 – Multiple grade 1 winner Private Zone was euthanized at Park Equine Hospital at Woodford in Versailles, KY.

According to Park’s attending veterinarian, Dr. Bryan Waldridge, the cause of death was complications of duodenitis/proximal jejunitis (anterior enteritis).

“This is a small intestinal colic characterized by inactivity of the small intestine and large amounts of reflux from the stomach,” said Dr. Waldridge.

A full necropsy report is pending.

The 9-year-old gelded son of Macho Uno had been pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, since last April.

Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Private Zone (Macho Uno – Auburn Beauty, by Siphon (BRZ)) made his first nine starts in Panama where he became a group 1 winner.

A temperamental colt, he was purchased by former jockey Rene Douglas and was campaigned by his Good Friends partnership under several conditioners, including Doug O’Neill, Alfredo Velazquez, Jorge Navarro, and Brian Lynch.

After losing his first eight starts in North America, Private Zone went on to become a four-time grade 1 winner with his breakthrough coming in the 2013 grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational Stakes.

He counted the 2014 grade 1 Cigar Mile and 2015 grade 1 Forego Stakes among his victories.

Private Zone retired with 10 wins from 33 starts and $2,924,620 in earnings.

“We were so grateful when the owners of Private Zone retired him to us, and that only increases our sadness that he died this morning,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “He was a marvelous animal, and we are thankful to everyone who cared for him at Park Equine Hospital for the last two weeks trying to help him overcome this difficult illness.  Private Zone was a fighter to the end, trying to help us help him.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Green Mask to Old Friends

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 30, 2018 – Multiple graded-stakes winner and sprint superstar Green Mask has been retired to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

Trained most recently by Brad Cox for owner Abdullah Saeed Almaddah, the now 7-year-old gelded son of Mizzen Mast was retired from racing in September of 2017 after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his left foreleg during a workout at Belmont Park.

In a career that spanned five seasons, Green Mask traversed the country — starting on 11 different ovals — as well as the globe, racing at Woodbine, Meydan, and Sha Tin.  His greatest victories include the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes, the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, and his last start, the Troy Handicap, where he posted a personal best 111 Beyer Speed Figure and pushed his career earnings over the seven-figure mark.

Before the career-ending injury, Green Mask was considered a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar last fall.

In his 24 lifetime starts Green Mask captured eight wins and career earnings of $1,064,761.

“Green Mask always gave 110 percent on the track,” said trainer Cox, “so when he was injured it was devastating to the whole team. We’re so thankful to New Bolton Center and Dr. Richardson, who help save his life and make retirement even possible. And we are so grateful that Green Mask will now spend his retirement years at Old Friends.”

“Our thanks to Brad Cox, Mr. Almaddah, and the people at Dell Ridge who took such good care of Green Mask following his surgery,” said Old Friends’ Blowen. “We’re very thrilled to have him with us. He was a wonderful racehorse that certainly earned his retirement, and his wonderful disposition, I’m sure, will make him a big fan favorite.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 180 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Hollywood Gold Cup Winner Early Pioneer Euthanized

Early Pioneer at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 15, 2018 – Early Pioneer, winner of the 2000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), was euthanized January 12th at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement sanctuary in Georgetown, KY, where he had been pensioned since 2009.

The 23-year-old son of Rahy and winner of over $1.1 million was experiencing complications of chronic laminitis and cancer was also suspected.  The results of a full necropsy are pending.

Prior to Early Pioneer’s Gold Cup win, he finished second in both the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (G2) and the Californian (G2) after upsetting the San Bernardino Handicap (G2) at odds of 27-1. The flashy chestnut was bred by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee and raced in their colors before being claimed for $62,500 in 1998.

Typecast as a sprinter, new trainer Vladimir Cerin gave Early Pioneer a shot at two turns, and it made all the difference. He was never finer than in the 2000 Gold Cup, where he bested favorite General Challenge at odds of 24-1.

Early Pioneer raced only twice after his Gold Cup win, and was retired. However, in 2007 he was discovered racing on the unofficial fair circuit. He was bought for $1,000 by Nevada horseman Shawn Davis who later worked with Arizona’s Second Call program and equine aftercare advocate Rhonda “Cass” Dewey to permanently retire the former champ.

Given his background, Dewey thought Early Pioneer was a good candidate for Old Friends and contacted founder Michael Blowen.

“Early Pioneer was one of four Hollywood Gold Cup winners that have been retired at Old Friends, and we were so proud to have him,” said Blowen. “He was a fan favorite and a farm favorite, and I know he will be missed by all.

“Special thanks to Cass Dewey and all those who helped him and helped him find his way to Old Friends,” Blowen added.  “Caring for him has been a privilege.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints Lend Old Friends a Helping Hand

Photo: Retired race mare Misszoey Belle and equine surgeon Dr. Chris Johnson at Old Friends.

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 5, 2018 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY, owes a big debt to the NFL this week — specifically New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Thanks to the Big Ten record-holder — who will kick off against the Carolina Panthers in the first NFL Wild Card Round this Sunday — one of Old Friends’s retired mares was able to have a life-saving operation.

Old Friends is a non-profit sanctuary for more than 175 retired race horses, including two Kentucky Derby winners and numerous other champions. When one of its residents, Misszoey Belle, a now 13-year-old mare, showed sudden and severe signs of a gastrointestinal disorder in mid-December, it was quickly determined that surgery was her only chance for survival.

A hard-knocker on the track, Misszoey Belle had 74 starts and 7 wins, earning only $70,000 in her career and racing until she was eight. After he final start she was bought back by her breeder, John C. Oxley (whose Classic Empire won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2016), and retired to Old Friends.

The mare was rushed to Lexington, KY’s Park Equine Clinic, which usually provides Old Friends with cost-free veterinary care. But an equine surgeon was not available. So the clinic called in Dr. Christopher Johnson, whose Equine Surgical Services is located in nearby Versailles, KY.

She underwent surgery to repair a very serious intestinal obstruction known as an epiploic foramen entrapment. Her life spared, Misszoey Belle returned to Old Friends a few days later and is now recovering well with an excellent prognosis.

Discovering that the mare was an Old Friends retiree, Dr. Johnson offered to waive his fee. But knowing that he was a huge Saints fan, Old Friends resident veterinarian Dr. Bryan Waldridge offered Johnson a concession: How about an autographed football?

“I went to high school in New Orleans, so I have been a Saints fan as long as I’ve been alive,” says Johnson.

Luckily, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is also a well-known racehorse owner, and one of his former runners, Saint Aloysius, was retired to Old Friends after suffering a career-ending injury last year.

Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen made a call to the Saints’ office and Brees was kind enough to help out.

“We always love helping Old Friends and Michael,” said Greg Bensel, who manages GMB Racing for the Bensons and is also the Sr. Vice President of Communications for the Saints. “After all, he was there for us when we needed a good home for Saint Aloysius.

“Drew is so kind and giving with his time that when we need a signed ball he’s always available,” Bensel continued. “And to be honest, he loves the horse-racing industry and he loves that the horses at Old Friends get great care. So while he is busy planning for the Panthers game, I know he feels great about this.”

“It’s really great to see professional athletes such as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints helping our professional athletes like Misszoey Belle when they need us most,” said Blowen. “We can’t thank the team and Dr. Johnson enough.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen, (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Senate Draft Bill Denies Funds for Killing

Our wild horses and burros received a small victory from the United States Senate this Thanksgiving week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft version of their Interior Appropriations Bill on November 20, 2017. The draft language maintains protections for our wild horses and burros, and states that they cannot be killed or sold in any way that results in their destruction.

This draft language retains the status quo, meaning our wild horses and burros will be protected as they have been for nearly ten years.

“While this is only a temporary victory, we at The Cloud Foundation are extremely thankful for this good news out of the Senate,” said Lisa Friday, Director of Communications for The Cloud Foundation. “We are so grateful to Senators Murkowski and Udall, and the entire committee, for standing with the wild horses and burros today.”

This draft bill will enable the ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to begin negotiations on critical items within their respective draft bills. The House’s draft bill removed many of the protections for wild horses and burros. Now the negotiations will begin between the two bodies to determine what will end up in the final draft, including whether or not the killing of wild horses or burros will be allowed.

“Our work is not finished, but as we gather with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving, we at The Cloud Foundation are giving thanks not only to the Senators who stood with the wild ones, but also to the American public who spoke up loud and clear,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “The thousands of calls to lawmakers made by wild horse and burro advocates across the country were instrumental in producing today’s good news.”

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Racing Warrior Midnight Secret Euthanized

Midnight Secret at Cabin Creek (Photo: Connie Bush)

GREENFIELD CENTER, N.Y. – NOVEMBER 17, 2016 – Racing warrior Midnight Secret was euthanized November 16 due to injuries sustained in a paddock accident.

The 20-year-old gelding was pensioned at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm based in Greenfield Center, NY, an official satellite to the Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, KY.

Bred in New York by Flying Z Stables, Midnight Secret (Key Contender – Flannel Sheets, Triocala) raced almost exclusively at Finger Lakes and earned $212,749.  In 111 starts the game gelding had 14 wins and hit the boards and additional 51 times.

Debuting as a 2-year-old under trainer David Donk, Midnight Secret moved to Gregory Martin, then as a 4-year-old entered the barn of Oscar S. Barrera, Jr., who trained him for the rest of his career. Barrera transferred him to Finger Lakes, which was to remain his home track. There, he had a rivalry with fellow Old Friends at Cabin Creek resident Karakorum Patriot – from several square-offs, they scored about even. But few can beat Midnight Secret’s hardihood.

Barrera retired the horse at Cabin Creek in 2009.

As Barrera once noted: “You never read stories about horses like this, but they’ve got something special in their heart. For a 12-year-old, he was like a 2-year-old. I walked him every day and he’d be prancing.”

“He may not have been a stakes winner, but he was a champ to us,” said Cabin Creek farm manager Joann Pepper.  “He will be deeply missed.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Joann Pepper, (518) 698-2377, cabincreek4@hotmail.com