Tag Archives: Horse Care

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
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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

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

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

Fall Happenings at Old Friends – Breeders’ Cup and More

1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup (Photo © Laura Battles)

The Breeders’ Cup always brings back great memories, whether it’s Black Tie Affair and Alphabet Soup winning the Classic or our four Sprint winners: Precisionist, Gulch, Amazombie, and Cajun Beat. The greatest day in American racing brings the best to run against the best every year. Now, I always look at the entries for both handicapping information and, more importantly, speculating on who might be a future Old Friends resident once their racing and breeding careers are complete.

Special thanks to Hall of Famers — trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jerry Bailey — for signing the limited-edition, commemorative Maker’s Mark/Breeders’ Cup Champions for Charity “Cigar” bottle.

A few are still available and information about ordering can be found HERE.

All the money will be shared by Old Friends and The Edwin J. Gregson Foundation. For those who have already purchased one, we thank you for your support!

(PS: You don’t have to be at Breeders’ Cup to collect your bottle — other options are available.)

Keeneland’s 5th Annual Sporting Auction will be held Sunday November 19th at 2 pm at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, and an item in the catalog will benefit Old Friends. “Sheep in a Meadow,” a 36″ x 57″ oil on board by German artist August Friedrich Albrecht Schenk, has been consigned by our friend Jim Smith, and proceeds from the sale will help the horses. You can see the catalog and register to bid online by CLICKING HERE.

For more information on any of our Fall happenings, call us at the office: (502) 863-1775.

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

Equine Organizations Pull Together to Provide Disaster Relief

Photo Credit: KBAK & KBFX Photo, Sonoma Valley Stables, and Stephanie Chalana Brown.

The USEF (US Equestrian) Equine Disaster Relief Fund has received incredibly generous support from the equestrian community, with over half a million dollars raised to date in response to the devastation and flooding caused recently by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. With raging wildfires spreading throughout areas of California and continued relief needed in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands, there is still a need for funding to directly assist equines of any breed who are victims of natural disasters such as these.

As the wildfires continue to spread and cause devastation in California, US Equestrian is working with organizations on the ground providing aid to ensure the support helps as many horses as possible.

In Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, through a joint fundraising effort with Equestrian Canada, the Pan American Equestrian Confederation, and the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation, US Equestrian has helped contribute to over $100,000 in aid to horses to ensure they receive feed and care in the wake of the recent disasters.

Tens of thousands of pounds of hay and feed have been sent via shipping containers to the affected islands, helping to address immediate needs, such as lack of forage and nutrition. In addition, supplies sent will allow veterinarians to better assist horses needing medical care.

Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc. (CTA), which helps thoroughbreds in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is using funds provided through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund not only to help more than 850 U.S. thoroughbreds stabled at the Hipodromo Camarero Racetrack, but also to provide assistance to smaller organizations in Puerto Rico, including riding programs, Paso Fino stables, and others. “We have been so blessed to have so much support and good people helping the horses,” said Kelley Stobie of the CTA.

On the hard-hit island of Sint Maarten, a shipping container with feed will help feed over 80 horses at Lucky Stables, a riding school on the island that provides equine-assisted therapy for at-risk families and youth. Since the hurricanes, the stable has taken in additional horses, and the generous contributions from the equestrian community will ensure they have feed for at least the next month.

Although relief is being provided, the recovery is far from over. One 40-foot container can feed about 40 to 50 horses for two to three weeks, but it costs as much as $15,000 to fill and ship each one. Additionally, many of the horses will need care in the upcoming months as rescue agencies help find new homes for horses that may not be able to return to their owners.

Money donated to the fund is held by US Equestrian in an account dedicated for this purpose and distributed only upon authorization of the US Equestrian Chief Executive Officer. Any donation to the Equine Disaster Relief Fund is a timely and efficient benefit for horses and horse owners in need.

Make a donation to the USEF Disaster Relief Fund today.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Hundreds of Caribbean Horses in Peril after Multiple Hurricanes

I am Shelley Blodgett, co-founder of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc., a non-profit (501c3) that helps Thoroughbreds racing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I think there is a story that needs to get out.

There are 864 U.S. Thoroughbreds (all Jockey Club registered) stabled at Hipodromo Camarero Racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. The racetrack, including the barns, was heavily damaged during Hurricane Maria. Further, the horses cannot leave their stalls due to debris, downed fencing and flooding. They are standing in water, and there is NO clean water or hay. I was told that they are giving them some grain (presumably without water). No horses died during the storm, but some needed stitches and such.

I learned this from a brief phone call from CTA co-founder, Kelley Stobie (the call was disconnected). She is at the track seven days a week, working as an equine therapist. She toured the track and spoke with the backstretch supervisor, some owners, trainer and vets. She told me the situation is dire and there is no way to get needed water, hay and medical supplies right now.

More than half of the Thoroughbreds in Puerto Rico were bred in the States. I have a line graph of numbers for both Puerto Rican-bred and U.S.-bred. There are some good horses there, including 2012 GI Belmont S. runner and 2013 Maxxam Gold Cup winner Unstoppable U, as well as Arch Traveler (who was also on the Triple Crown trail early in his career) and Becky’s Kitten. We gathered data and determined that 1,500 people have a stake in the racing industry in Puerto Rico (see pie chart). Thus, these horses are essential to the well-being of many people in Puerto Rico.

I do not believe that there has been any formal request by the Puerto Rican government to help the horses at that time, but I have been working to rattle the bushes and get things moving. I have spoken with a veterinarian, who is an equine disaster response specialist and on the National Veterinary Response Team, but they cannot help until there is an official request to FEMA from the Puerto Rican government official. Also, I’ve spoken with the Secretary of Agriculture for U.S.V.I., Carlos Robles, but he has not been able to make contact with his counterpart in Puerto Rico, though I know he has sent him an email.

There are about 200 Thoroughbreds in St. Croix, including race horses and breeding farms, and there are 40 Thoroughbreds racing in St. Thomas and many OTTBs in rescue/aftercare as well. Mr. Robles is assessing the situation in U.S.V.I. and trying to initiate needed federal help down there. I have tried calling all of the CTA board members, which include a prominent breeder, an equine veterinarian and an attorney, but all cell service is out. Further, I’ve called the Racetrack Administrator, Jose Maymo, but his cell phone isn’t in service.

We really need the racing industry and other equine organizations in the States to help urgently as there is little time to waste. These horses survived the storm, but are facing dehydration, starvation and risk of secondary health issues (e.g., colic, infection) due to the environmental hazards and lack of basic needs. These are U.S. horses. They do their jobs faithfully as racehorses and deserve better. They support the livelihood of many in the islands. Thank You.

https://www.facebook.com/horserescue/

Source: Thoroughbred Daily News

Old Friends Receives Donations from Owners of Forego Winner Drefong

Silver Charm (Photo: Rick Capone)

GEORGETOWN, KY – SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 – Champion sprinter Drefong crushed the competition in the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego Stakes at Saratoga on August 26.  His gate-to-wire score also did much for Thoroughbred aftercare.

Charles and Susan Chu of the Baoma Corporation, owner the 4-year-old son of Gio Ponti, donated $10,000 of Drefong’s winnings to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY.

“The Chus are deeply committed to aftercare,” said Baoma representative Ed Nevins, “and they are also very impressed with the work being done by Old Friends. As the Chus benefit from racing, they want to continue to give back to the industry that has given them so much happiness.”

This latest donation is one of several Old Friends has received from Baoma following the success of Drefong, who is trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“Susan has visited the farm and has been such a generous supporter,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “We are indebted to them for their generosity and to their steadfast commitment to the horses.”

Old Friends in Georgetown, a non-profit organization, is home to more than 100 former race horses, among them such luminaries of the turf as Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm and War Emblem and three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude. The farm is open to the public for daily tours by appointment.

The Chu family, long-time pleasure riders and amateur show jumpers, got into horse racing in 2012 after years of involvement in Olympic show jumping. Aside from Drefong, they have campaigned other top racehorses such as graded stakes winners Chitu and Super Ninety Nine.

With his Forego win, Drefong earned an automatic return trip to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, to be held this November 4 at Del Mar.

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

Kentucky Horse Park Offers Help to Hurricane Irma Evacuees

200 Stalls Available for Horses in Potential Path of Hurricane

LEXINGTON, Ky. (September 6, 2017) – The Kentucky Horse Park has opened stabling to horses that are being evacuated from areas expected to be impacted by Hurricane Irma. 200 stalls are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until September 17 for $20 per stall per night.

“Although we have limited capacity, it’s important for us to help however we can,” said Laura Prewitt, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park.

Due to contractual obligations with scheduled horse shows, no pasturing, lunging or riding will be possible. A negative Coggins test is required for stabling.

To reserve stalls, please contact Sheila Forbes in the park’s Equine Operations Department, at 859/259-4290 or at Sheila.Forbes@ky.gov. Any additional information will be made available on the park’s website at www.kyhorsepark.com.

Contact: Lisa Jackson
(859) 259-4224
Lisa.Jackson@ky.gov