Trainer Magazine

Trainer Magazine - the horse racing magazine for the training and development of the thoroughbred racehorse. Europe and North America.

Profile - Mick Ruis

PROFILE (NA VERSION)Web Master

Trainers are nothing if not confident.

It’s rarely their fault when they lose a race.

It’s the track, the ride, the post position, the equipment, the weather.

Mick Ruis is a refreshingly standup guy in a game where the batter often receives a curve ball rather than a pitch right down the middle. He speaks with a child’s innocence, and he believes in the Golden Rule.

After he won three races at Santa Anita on opening day, September 29, he was humble, appreciative, and forthcoming when asked about the feat.

“Usually we’re lucky if we run one horse a day,” Ruis (pronounced ROO-is, as in Lewis) said, speaking of Ruis Racing, LLC, the ownership comprised of himself and his wife, Wendy.

“But we saved all the horses for that meet. I’m a believer that if someone helps you, like Santa Anita did by giving us stalls, you try to help them, so we wanted to save our horses for the short meet (19 days) since we were stabled there.”

Most magnanimous, but one would expect nothing less from a man whose philosophical foundation is based on curiosity and practicality. His esteemed business sense was developed through hands-on application, not surprising from a high school dropout who became a millionaire.

“I was penniless when I started, and to this day I work for everything I’ve got,” he said.

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The Art of Clocking Horses

RACING (NAT)Web Master

Time, an old racetrack axiom holds, only counts in prison.

But that ain’t necessarily so to horse players and horsemen worldwide who depend diligently on mathematical mavens called clockers to provide thorough, accurate, and prompt figures that might help cash a bet or win a race.

Clockers, succinctly described as people who time workouts, ply their trade at tracks from Aqueduct to Zia Park, zeroing in on Thoroughbreds and their exercises from before sunup until the track closes for training, a span of some five hours.

There are private clockers, too, whose primary interest focuses on padding their wallets or making their valued information available to the public for the right price.

They all watch like hawks, displaying the close-up intensity of a movie directed by Sergio Leone, often adding a comment such as “breezing” or “handily,” the latter being the most accomplished workout.

Each track later in the morning sends its works to Equibase, which publishes distances and times of said workouts for all to see, a regimen that has been ongoing for decades...

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Trainer Profile - Dennis Collins

Training (NAT)Web Master

Accepting reality is a lot more difficult when you’re on your back in a hospital bed. When your whole world has crashed. When you realize the rest of your life will be spent in a wheelchair.

Asked when he was able to wrap his mind around that, Dennis Collins, a 53-year-old jockey with 2,287 victories who was paralyzed in an accident at The Downs at Albuquerque in 2016, said, “The third day. I said, ‘This is the way it’s going to be. Why bitch and moan about it? I’m not going to walk again. But I’ll always have my own chair in a restaurant.’”

Collins, who recently began training horses with his fiancée Heather Brock – his lifeline, his saint, and his best buddy – has already scored a victory by not letting an accident take him out of racing and away from his passion, one begun whenever his parents, who had no connections to racing, took him out for a drive from their home in Gloucester City, New Jersey. “When I was a kid, every time we’d drive by a farm, if I saw a horse, I’d scream and cry,” Collins said. “We’d stop, and I’d go pet him. They’re beautiful animals. I’ve always loved horses. It was in my blood. I knew if I was short enough” – and at five-feet tall, he was – “I wanted to get into horse racing.”

Brock is so glad he did.

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Better Owner-Trainer Relations

BUSINESS (NAT)Web Master

The owner-trainer relationship is the core of racing. The owner supplies the horses, and the trainer supplies the know-how to manage them. It's a simple concept, but sometimes things go awry.

Some owners go through a succession of trainers with barely time for the horses to settle into a new routine before moving them again. If the owner has more than a couple of horses, the move is disruptive for the trainer, also. And the owner may develop a reputation as a difficult client who could pull the horses at any time.

Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg had 220 horses snatched from him one day because he was charging $25 a day and a young trainer, whom Van Berg had mentored, offered owner W. O. Bridge a $20 day rate.

"I won 368 races for them in 1974 and on January 1, 1975, they took 220 horses away from me. My friend took them over," Van Berg said.

The racing icon devotes an entire chapter to the incident in his book, Jack: From Grit to Glory.

Asked about owners who habitually change trainers, Van Berg said, "That's their prerogative to switch where they want to, and they'll see a trainer get hot and win a few races, and they'll want to put their horses over there."

Terry Finley, founder and president of the racing syndicate West Point Thoroughbreds, said owners have the right to manage their horses however they choose. Some changes are for the best, some are not.

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Social Media Horse Sense Part I: The Thoroughbred Trainer in the Digital Age

BUSINESS (NAT)Web Master

This is the first article in a two-part series on social media for Thoroughbred trainers. It examines social media usage and issues faced by trainers who wish to promote their business online. Part II will focus on broader industry issues and how trainers may use social media to affect positive change and ensure the future of the sport.

In less than 15 years, social media has changed the way Americans meet, work, shop, communicate, consume news and entertainment, find romance, and more. Few aspects of our lives have been left untouched by this remarkable phenomenon. Social media has made a limited group of people incredibly wealthy, empowered others to create new businesses or expand existing ones, and made various individuals famous or infamous.

Simply defined, social media consists of online networks that allow users to connect, create, communicate, and share in virtual communities. And Americans cannot seem to get enough. The Pew Research Center’s annual Social Media Fact Sheet on 2016 includes the following sobering statistics.

• 69% of Americans use some type of social media.

• The number of Americans using social media increased 64% in the 11 years from 2005 to 2016.

• 68% of Americans use Facebook, the most popular social media platform.

• Many Americans, including three-quarters of Facebook users, log onto social media sites as part of their daily routine.

• Most American social media users utilize more than one social media platform.

• The growth of social media is likely to remain steady for years to come.

Meanwhile, Google reported that 58% of Americans had watched at least one video on YouTube in 2016. Though some refer to YouTube as a video delivery platform, it is also a social media entity that allows commentary and conversation.

As a trainer, you may be one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who is familiar with the ins and outs of social media. You may be an occasional, routine, or even heavy user. Alternatively, you may be a hold-out who is too busy or privacy-oriented. After all, the Handbook for Thoroughbred Owners of California has described many horse trainers as “secretive” individuals who “keep to themselves.” Regardless of your personal opinion of social media, it is worthwhile to step back and examine how social media may assist in expanding your training business or, alternatively, present potential risks including both civil liability and criminal violations.

As a trainer, unless you have a full roster of owners, it is wise to have a social media presence to promote your business. Consider the many positives:

Getting Found

Traditionally, personal recommendations and referrals have been the method that owners use to learn about and connect with trainers....

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Does Nutrition Factor in Injury, Repair and Recovery?

Nutrition (NAT)Web Master

Lost training days through injury or infection are problematic for trainers, both practically and commercially. It is a stark fact that 50% of Thoroughbred foals, bred to race, may never reach the racecourse.  In young Thoroughbreds, musculoskeletal problems have been cited as the most common reason for failure to race, and this appears to continue to be a major issue for horses in training.  

An early study carried out in 1985 in the United Kingdom reported that lameness was the single biggest contributor to lost days of training, and subsequent research 20 years later found that this was still the case, with stress fractures, which involve normal bone being exposed to abnormal stress, being cited as a significant underlying cause.  Perhaps not surprisingly, two-year-olds were more susceptible to injury than three-year-olds.  

While there are of course many other reasons – including muscular issues such as tying up, respiratory problems, and viral infection – why horses may fail to train, in this survey medical issues accounted for only 5% of the total training days lost.

Balance between damage and repair processes are imperative

There are many factors that affect the chance of injury in Thoroughbreds in training, including genetic predisposition, conformation, and training surface.  Style and type of training, in terms of frequency and intensity and how this is balanced through recovery protocols, is also likely to be a significant factor in the incidence of injury.  The nature of training means that a balance between damage and repair processes are imperative.  Physiological systems need to be put under stress to trigger a suitable training response, which inevitably involves a degree of micro-damage.

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Epiduroscopy: An Exciting Window Into Back Pain In Horses

VETERINARY (NAT)Web Master

Back pain is a well-known cause of lameness, gait alterations, and poor performance in sport horses. Up to 25% of dressage horse owners report back problems in their animals, but not only sport horses are affected.

Although racehorses compete at a younger age than other equine athletes, they might suffer from back pain more often than we think, as autopsy studies have identified pathological changes in the back of the majority of examined young Thoroughbreds.

Until recently, it has been very difficult to investigate back pain and it is easy to overlook this as a cause of disappointing performance. A novel surgical technique that has recently been reported in Equine Veterinary Journal may change all this....

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Training Yearlings: Schools of Thought Around The World

Training (NAT)Web Master

Consider throwing a 13-year-old school child into a university environment straight from prep school.

The child would be faced with sights, sounds, and influences that the young mind would struggle to compute, with physical rigors on the sports field that would either disappoint the mind or cause physical damage. I cannot think of any parent that would choose this for their adolescent. Yet we often do this to the young horse, plucking them straight from the sleepy pastures of their nursery into an environment that is measured upon its production of top-level runners. Perhaps we send them via the sales…an entrance examination of sorts.

When put like this it is clear that, as custodians of young bloodstock, we might consider a period of preparation during which the horse would be introduced to saddle and rider and taught the basic lessons that would allow it to fit into the program of the trainer that its owner chooses. These early lessons would also give each individual a careful conditioning of the physical stresses that will be tested further upon his or her graduation to the greater strains required to reach race fitness.

For the sake of this article pre-training will be considered to be the safe development of a horse towards its first joining a trainer or returning from a break not enforced by injury, as opposed to rehabilitation. The American racing industry has the perfect phrase for this: “legging up.”

While there has been a constant uptick in the number of commercial pre-training yards in Europe over the last 25 years to satisfy a growing demand for this service, this is something that has been a longstanding practice further afield, particularly in countries where there is stabling pressure at the racetrack or in metropolitan stables, not to mention numerous larger owners who employ a farm trainer or establish their own pre-training division.

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Isn't Training Thoroughbreds Hard Enough? - Overcoming Adversity

Training (NAT)Web Master

Nearly 30 years before paralyzed jockey Dennis Collins turned to training Thoroughbreds to continue his lifelong passion with horses, Donna Zook took that journey, one she’s still on. Racing primarily at Mountaineer Park and Charles Town Races in West Virginia, she has saddled 205 winners from 2,617 starts, with earnings of nearly $1.5 million, all after her terrifying riding accident nearly took her life.

Her journey – made even harder by prejudices against women trainers - gives hope that others can also train Thoroughbreds from a wheelchair. And others have, indeed, followed that incredibly difficult path.

Isn’t training Thoroughbreds hard enough? “I wouldn’t tell anybody to become a trainer,” said California trainer Dan Hendricks, whose successful career has continued despite a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed in 2004. “It’s a tough way to make a living. It’s 24/7. And it’s become harder, much harder to start out than when I did.”

He had considerable success before his accident, but two of his best horses, Brother Derek and Om, came after Hendricks was forced to train from a wheelchair. “The one advantage I had is I had been training for a while,” he said. “I had owners who stood with me. I didn’t lose a single owner.”

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The Importance of Identifying Lower and Upper Limb Lameness

VETERINARY (NAT)Web Master

In Thoroughbred racing, injuries to the limbs are a major welfare and safety concern, the leading reason for horses to be taken out of training. Lameness causes a high turnover in racing stables and, as many trainers know, it has huge financial implications for the owner, trainer, and the racing industry in general. Previous investigators have found that just over 50% of horses in training in England and Germany experience lameness during training, and approximately 20% of horses in the U.K. suffer lameness that prevents them from returning to training. With this amount of horses on lay-up, it can be difficult to run a profitable racing stable.

In addition to having an impact on the horse’s welfare, severe musculoskeletal injury poses a serious danger for riders, who are at risk when a horse sustains a catastrophic injury or suffers sudden death.  Researchers in the U.S. found that a jockey was 171 times more likely to be injured when a horse they were riding in a race died. In Thoroughbred racing, the most common life-threatening injury to horses involves fractures of bones in the fetlock. Therefore, the best way to improve safety and welfare of both horses and jockeys is to highlight risk factors for fractures in an attempt to prevent these catastrophic traumas.

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Trainer of the Quarter - Tim Glyshaw

TRM AWARDS (NAT)Web Master

Trainer Tim Glyshaw might still be pinching himself. On October 7th at Keeneland, the five-year-old horse Bucchero, owned by Ironhorse Racing Stable, LLC and trained by Glyshaw, captured the Grade 2 Woodford Stakes by a length and three-quarters at odds of 26-1. Eight days later in Toronto, he trained Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins’ five-year-old gelding Bullards Alley to a win in the Grade 1 Canadian International by 10¾ lengths at odds of 42-1.

“It was pretty incredible,” the former high school teacher and basketball coach said. “We always thought those horses were really nice horses, but it’s almost unimaginable.”

The kicker? Bullards Alley, who had given Glyshaw his first graded stakes victory by taking the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 21st, 2016, hadn’t won another race since, losing 15 straight, including all nine starts this year, heading into the Canadian International.

“He hadn’t won a race all year, but he sure picked a good time to do it,” Glyshaw laughed.

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Alan Balch - CTT Column - Achtung!

CTTWeb Master

Now there’s a word to get your attention.  For those of us of a certain age, it comes freighted with emotions from our parents, who fought World War II.  As well as from countless movies and books whose characters would shout it at hapless suffering minions.

But it’s really a simple German word meaning just that, “attention,” although sometimes translated to carry “danger” along with it.  Here, I mean it both ways.

During this championship season in America every year . . . and the northern hemisphere . . . we’re treated to such definitive racing, including the Arc and British Champions Day.  Then the Breeders’ Cup, while still not really the “world championships” worthy of genuflecting, is a wonderful showcase of the sport.  Ending the calendar year gives us a chance to take stock of where we stand, what has changed, what hasn’t, and where we’re going...

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PHBA: PA Day at the Races

RACING (NAT)Web Master

Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races 2017 kicked off Parx Racing’s fall season, and proved to be another exciting day in Pennsylvania racing. Despite the rain that threatened, then rolled in, before the first stakes race, over 80 PA-breds showed what they’re made of as they battled down the stretch in each of the card’s 10 races.

The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) treated Pennsylvania breeders and their guests, owners, and trainers to a buffet lunch, complete with a private third-floor view of the track. Keith Jones, retired NHL player, current hockey studio analyst for NBCSN, and member of competitive nature, as he has throughout his career, and never gave up. He took on his rivals in the stretch, grabbed the lead near the wire, and won with the determination that he’s known for.

Winning the Medal and his connections celebrated for the second year in a row as the six-year-old son of Medallist rallied to win his second $100,000 Marshall Jenney Stakes. Even with the race being forced off of the turf due to the nonstop rain, the gelding provided the biggest upset of the day, blasting from last at the half-mile pole and flying by his competitors to for the win. Bred by Rick Molineaux, owned by R and L Racing, and trained by Patricia Farro, he went off at 15-1, paying $32.

Ted Vanderlaan, brother to Dr. Teresa Garofalo, namesake of the fourth stakes race of the day, was in attendance to cheer on the winner and celebrate his sister. Garofalo was the treasurer of the PHBA board before she passed away in 2010 from acute myeloid leukemia. Her equine practice in West Chester, Smokey’s Run Farm, focused on equine reproduction, and the stakes in her name is a special one to the PHBA. The winner, three-year-old Grand Prix -- a half-sister to 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint-G1 winner Finest City -- had her own cheering section with breeder and owner Hank Nothhaft and the crew that traveled to Pennsylvania to watch the filly run. Under jockey Jose Ferrer, the daughter of Tale of the Cat went to the front after the first sixteenth of a mile and never looked back to win by a length and a half. Grand Prix won the New Start Stakes at Penn National back in June, and the win in the Garofalo gives her a second black-type win.

As the rain continued to fall, the $100,000 Mrs. Penny Stakes for fillies and mares aged three and up, was also moved off the turf. Jockey Brian Pedroza and four-year-old filly Great Soul, by Great Notion, opened a three-length lead with an eighth of a mile to go and held off latecomer Imply for a close win. Great Soul was bred and is owned by Steve and Jane Long, and trained by Tom Proctor.

We extend a sincere thank you to all of our members and guests who attended, as well as the board members and special guests who presented the gifts in each race. We’re looking forward to a successful and productive 2018 breeding season and wish everyone the best of luck in the coming year. Visit www.pabred.com for a full gallery of the day’s photos!

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Sid Fernando - What have you done for me lately?

SID FERNANDOWeb Master

Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, the champion three-year-old colt of 2016, has won seven of 11 starts and earned $17,302,600 – a record for a North American-trained racehorse – he entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but following two consecutive losses, in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 22 and the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on August 19, he did not go off as the favorite in the race.

It wasn’t that long ago, following emphatic wins in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes in January and the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airlines in March, that he was being heralded in the media as one of the all-time greats. But in a classic case of “What have you done for me lately?”, the big grey son of Unbridled’s Song’s stock has plummeted. His workouts leading up to the Classic had been put under the microscope by all types of “experts” on social media, and their consensus view is that Arrogate didn’t train as well as he did last year before he defeated California Chrome in a thriller of a Classic.

Some of these same folks, however, had said the same thing about Arrogate before the Pegasus – there’d been an issue with his right hind foot that required a three-quarter shoe – but Arrogate won that race in brilliant style.

Arrogate’s losses this year have all been at Del Mar, the site of the Breeders’ Cup, and the track’s surface has also been mentioned as a culprit. He’d run at Del Mar last year in an allowance race in early August that he’d won by “only” a length and a quarter, but in his next start, the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga, he’d walloped a field by 13-and-a-half lengths at 11.70-1 in track-record time...

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NEW: 'Hindsight' - Clive Brittain

HINDSIGHTWeb Master
Hindsight - Clive Brittain   In a training career spanning more than 40 years, Clive Brittain and his Carlburg Stables in Newmarket became synonymous with high-profile success in Britain and on the international racing scene.   Clive’s lengthy resume of top-flight wins includes six British Classics and overseas triumphs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup, achieved by horses such as the legendary Pebbles, User Friendly, Jupiter Island and Warrsan.   Two years on from his retirement, Clive reflects on the pivotal moments and people in his amazing career.   During your time with Sir Noel Murless, you were part of the move from Beckhampton Stables to Newmarket, which has been your home for more than 60 years. What are your memories of working for Sir Noel Murless and what changes have you seen in Newmarket in this time?   “Sir Noel was a very good boss, a very fair man, and never changed. I started out as an apprentice jockey, but I made a very good stable man and went with Sir Noel and the team to Warren Place. At the time, the stable held around 70 horses, which was a lot in those days, as most of established trainers would have around 50 horses with Geoffrey Brooke possibly having around 60, most of which were two-year-olds.   “Sir Noel later became the first trainer to have more than 100 horses, but numbers today for the larger trainers are typically well over 150 horses per trainer. We later had 160 horses between two yards, Carlburg and one at Stetchworth, on Bill Gredley’s estate, of around 30 boxes.”   You achieved notable success with long-priced runners in the big races (such as Terimon's second in the 1989 Derby at 500/1). What do you think of the BHA's recent decision to put a minimum qualifying rating of 80 on contenders for the Group 1 races for three-year-olds and upwards?   “To put a limit on ratings you are taking a big risk. A lot of my big winners at home and abroad wouldn’t have qualified!   “You have to be careful as you do have owners spending big money, but you also must never exclude the other owners from the top table. It is still supposed to be a sport, after all. These races are the pinnacle for horse, trainer and owner. If you can afford to pay the entry fee, there should be no restriction.   “I was often accused of running horses out of their class, but I proved on more than one occasion that the horses justified their inclusion. You can’t ultimately assess a horse’s ability until they have finished racing.”   “I trained for some great owners, such as Marcus Lemos, who owned Azerof and Julius Mariner, who bred and initially owned Pebbles. Sheikh Mohammed came on board and I had a lot of success for Arab owners.”   40 years separate your first and last Group 1 winners (Averof, 1974 St James's Palace Stakes, and Rizeema, 2014 Coronation Stakes). What developments in training technique came along during your career, and which did you feel were the most beneficial?   “One of the biggest advances for Newmarket as a whole was the introduction of the all-weather gallops. These massively cut down the injury rate, particularly the Al Bahathri, which I think once we all got used to it, halved the injury rate.”   You were always reputed to be the first trainer to have his string on Newmarket Heath every morning. Was there a particular reason for this?   “Well, this goes back to the days before the all-weather gallops. I always wanted to be the first trainer on the gallops, before 6am, when the ground is freshest. I also chose Tuesday and Friday as my gallop days, as most other trainers worked on Wednesday and Saturdays. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, horses would end up queuing at the bottom of the gallops, which then meant they became frustrated and more stressed.”   As one who became a trainer after time served as an apprentice jockey and then stable lad, what are your thoughts on the current staffing shortage in the racing industry?   “Any job needs a bit of backbone. I treated my job as my life and I put in what I expected to get out. There do seem to be some people coming into the industry, through a racing school, yet don’t know about what they should be getting into a horse, and are going to the races as ‘ready-made jockeys’. You can’t do that.”   “It’s not a 9-5 job. Racing should be a passion for staff; our horses won a lot of best-turned-out awards.   “As a trainer, I made a few changes and we were one of the first yards to start sending out three lots, but also gave staff every other weekend off, rather than one weekend in three as was the norm at the time.   “Evening stables always take time but we always tried to avoid wasting time. One of my habits was to take a packet of Polo mints around with me, so I could more quickly find the horses who were out of sorts; if there was something wrong, the horse didn’t come for the Polo.”   You’re regarded as something of a pioneer for British trainers when it came to having runners at major overseas meetings. Were you aware that you were blazing a trail for British trainers in those early days?   “John Dunlop and Paul Cole were certainly among the first British trainers to go overseas, beyond Europe, which to me seemed the right thing to so, as the prize money was very good. This was something I noticed as a stable lad when attending races in Paris.   “A lot of the races used to be invitationals, so it was crazy to overlook them. Sir Henry Cecil wouldn’t run abroad for a long time, but when he did, he was soon converted.   “Travelling is now a lot easier than it used to be and the staff on flights are very good. If I had a horse now, I wouldn’t hesitate. After one disappointment with an overseas runner, we learned that it was best to keep everything simple and the same for the horse, particularly their eating routine, so feed and watering times were kept the same. Even a two-day interruption to the eating rhythm could cause trouble.”   Of all your achievements as a trainer, which were the most satisfying and why?   “The Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup are certainly up there. Even finishing second in the Kentucky Derby with Bold Arrangement. On breeding he should have been 1000/1, but nearly won! I did feel some pride in flying the flag for the country, and the money’s there, but the prestige far outweighs the money.   “Pebbles was very flighty and got upset very easily. She would be accompanied everywhere by Come On The Blues. Our head lad Jock Brown got on with her very well and would know exactly at what pace to go with her in her work. She wasn’t the soundest, either, and probably swam more miles than she galloped.   “It was with horses like Pebbles that all the little things you have learned over the years come into play, all of which essentially combine to take the stress out of training.”     Who has been the biggest influence on your career?   “It was while working for Sir Noel that I met my wife, Maureen, who was at that time his secretary. Maureen knows everything about breeding and with my brawn and her brains, the combination worked a treat when I was training.   “Maureen is now in a care home, Oaklands, just down the road in Bottisham, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff there. They’re so good and would make the perfect stable lad or lass, given the care and respect they show their residents.   “Sir Noel could undoubtedly get the best out of a horse, and was very good with fillies. Just as he influenced my career, I can draw parallels between the late Michael Jarvis and Roger Varian, who bought Carlburg from me. In fact, Michael and I once had a long chat about Roger and we both saw the potential that he has realised.”   Which horse, past or present, who you have liked to train?   “St Paddy, who I rode at home. He was a horse who pulled like a train and I managed to get him settled and relaxed. To see him win the Derby gave me a great deal of pleasure.”  
 
 

Gallery

In a training career spanning more than 40 years, Clive Brittain and his Carlburg Stables in Newmarket became synonymous with high-profile success in Britain and on the international racing scene.

Clive’s lengthy resume of top-flight wins includes six British Classics and overseas triumphs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup, achieved by horses such as the legendary Pebbles, User Friendly, Jupiter Island and Warrsan.

Two years on from his retirement, Clive reflects on the pivotal moments and people in his amazing career.

During your time with Sir Noel Murless, you were part of the move from Beckhampton Stables to Newmarket, which has been your home for more than 60 years. What are your memories of working for Sir Noel Murless and what changes have you seen in Newmarket in this time?

“Sir Noel was a very good boss, a very fair man, and never changed. I started out as an apprentice jockey, but I made a very good stable man and went with Sir Noel and the team to Warren Place. At the time, the stable held around 70 horses, which was a lot in those days, as most of established trainers would have around 50 horses with Geoffrey Brooke possibly having around 60, most of which were two-year-olds.

“Sir Noel later became the first trainer to have more than 100 horses, but numbers today for the larger trainers are typically well over 150 horses per trainer. We later had 160 horses between two yards, Carlburg and one at Stetchworth, on Bill Gredley’s estate, of around 30 boxes.”

You achieved notable success with long-priced runners in the big races (such as Terimon's second in the 1989 Derby at 500/1). What do you think of the BHA's recent decision to put a minimum qualifying rating of 80 on contenders for the Group 1 races for three-year-olds and upwards?

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EMHF - Our concern for horse welfare takes a myriad of forms

INDUSTRYWeb Master
OUR CONCERN FOR HORSE WELFARE TAKES A MYRIAD OF FORMS In the wake of the now infamous incident in which jockey Davy Russell was seen to strike his horse on the head prior to the start of a race, the marked difference between the media reaction in Ireland (more forgiving) and that in Britain (more damning) was commented upon. Just one example of the wide variation, as between European countries, in public opinion on horse welfare, and animal welfare more widely. In some regions, the ‘volume level’ of discussion of such matters is turned up high; not so in others. In a sport with no global Rules Book, it would be strange if these cultural differences were not reflected to some extent in the practices and regulations of individual Racing Authorities. And sure enough, they are. Indeed, what a country’s Rules of Racing says about its culture would make for a fascinating study. One could make a crude start by marking up, on a map of Europe, the number of whip strikes allowed in a race by the various countries. Very broadly, it would resemble a climatic map of the continent, with higher numbers accepted in the hotter south, reducing as one travels north until reaching the point of zero tolerance in Norway. Skim through the Rules Book in any of our countries and you will find a plethora which promote the welfare of our racehorses. In many cases, that aim is indeed their sole purpose. These Rules and procedures fall into many categories – from the horse-care component of the course which a trainer must pass in order to be granted a licence, to the requirement for a minimum number of vet’s to be present before a race meeting can take place, to enforced stand-down periods following the administration of certain veterinary interventions, to the mandatory abandonment of jump racing when the ground is designated ‘Hard’ – the list goes on and on. And while explanations and a rationale can often be found for a given country having adopted one particular policy over others, in many cases, this would seem to be the result merely of historical happenstance, without any burning underlying principle. I found it an interesting exercise taking a random selection of five European racing nations – Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Sweden - and comparing their Rules in a number of specific areas chosen by the German Direktorium’s Racing Director and EMHF Executive Council member, Rudiger Schmanns. For example, consider first their Rules relating to two-year-olds. Restrictions on the distances over which 2yo’s are asked to race are universal. But in Spain 2yo’s cannot reappear on the racetrack within five days of their last run and in Germany juveniles may not run more than 8 times and there is also a special whip that must be used – shorter than the normal crop, at <40cms. In Czech Republic, the same whip is used as in races for older horses, but a lower maximum number of strikes (4) applies. And in Sweden, the whip cannot be used at all on a 2yo, except for correction on the shoulder (a restriction which applies, unusually, to jump races, also). Let us turn to more general Rules, not limited to 2yo’s. While the need for a starting stalls test in advance of a horse’s debut outing is universal, Sweden goes further, requiring all horses to take part in a qualification race. When it comes to flu vaccinations, a high degree of commonality is evident, although Germany is an outlier in insisting on boosters being administered to its home-trained horses no more than nine months apart, as opposed to annually. In Sweden, a horse may not race within four days of a vaccination – in Germany and Czech Republic the moratorium is one week long. How quickly may horses turn out to race again? In Czech Republic or Germany, there must be at least one clear day between outings. In Sweden, two clear days are required. In Spain, no horse may be declared in a race until any race in which it has previously been declared has been run – which normally guarantees a gap of at least four days. And Jumpers in Germany must run no more than twice within any 12-day period. Germany is also unique amongst this group in setting an age limit for racehorses (15 years old). It also caps the number of times horses may race: a general limit of 25 times in the current year, plus, for jumpers only, a maximum of 10 outings for 3yo’s and of 12 outings within any 12-month period for older horses. Tubing is outlawed in all these countries except Ireland, where the only stipulation is that the operation cannot have been performed within a week of the horse running. All these Racing Authorities forbid the racing of pregnant mares beyond 120 days – but the Czech Rules go further: pregnant mares are not allowed to run at all. Ireland, Sweden and Spain ban horses which have been subject to a neurectomy. In Ireland and Spain, if a horse has received an intra-articular administration of a corticosteroid, it must be stood down for a fortnight. While in Germany, Sweden and Czech Republic, this applies to any intra-articular administration. Ireland extends this principle to such events as respiratory infection, coughing, illness, stress, injury – all attract a time period during which the horse cannot run. The German and Czech Rules require horses to be shod on all four feet; the Swedish also, but only for races on Turf. In Spain, for certified veterinary reasons, a horse may remain unshod behind. Ireland has no requirements as to which feet must be shod. All the countries other than Ireland have signed up to Article 32 of the International Agreement, which now prevents horses which have fallen to be re-mounted with the intention of continuing in the race. (An exception did apply in Czech Republic for the Velka Pardubicka, where the rider has been allowed to re-mount once only, but this is to be withdrawn). The EMHF recognises European trainers’ concerns at all the subtle differences in the Rules which confront them when they race internationally and it was a subject discussed at our Executive Council Meeting, as described below. But, while the inconsistency of approach is very evident, so, too, is the fact that never has concern for the health and welfare of the Thoroughbred been more central to the agenda of racing’s administrators. The racing world is on a journey and we share a direction of travel. There may be differences in how many times one can strike a horse, but every change in the Rules – and there have been many of late – has seen a reduction in this number, never an increase. Take Ireland as but one example of this sharpening focus. Here, plans are in train to develop a Horse Welfare Strategy, in conjunction with stakeholders, which will cover racehorse aftercare; to introduce a fatal injury post-mortem programme to identify accurately the injuries that are occurring and feed this information into an injury prevention programme; and to introduce assessment of horses by use of a ‘Racehorse Welfare Index’. And this heightened concern for welfare is being driven from the top. The EMHF’s parent body, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), has just made available to its member Racing Authorities around the globe a series of ‘Principles of Good Practice’ drawn up by its Horse Welfare Committee. These guidance documents fall under headings such as the monitoring of racing injuries and fatalities, activities to minimise injury and optimise horse welfare, veterinary emergency care procedures, the aftercare of racehorses and the use of the whip. Such concern need not be seen as wholly altruistic. At the individual level, a healthy racehorse will perform best for its connections; more generally, as the IFHA recognises “the health and welfare of racehorses, in all stages of life, (are) fundamental to the long-term viability of the sport.”   EMHF EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEET IN JERSEY Last year, Jonathan Perree, Stewards’ Secretary at the Channel Islands Racing and Hunt Club – a role akin to Racing Director in many racing jurisdictions - was elected onto the EMHF’s Executive Council, alongside representatives from Ireland, France, Britain, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Sweden and Czech Republic. This year, the Channel Islands played host to our annual Executive Council Meeting, receiving delegates the day prior to ‘The Clarendon’, their August Bank Holiday fixture at the picturesque Les Landes racecourse, which stands on an elevated spot in the North-West corner of Jersey. The relationship between the weather on the island and the size of the crowd apparently traces a U-curve: too dismal, and people will stay indoors, but too glorious, and the lure of the beach often wins out.  All the more pleasing, then, that, on this most perfect of summer afternoons, the crowds did turn out in decent numbers. In addition to a hurdle race and three other flat events, they witnessed a strong weight-carrying performance in the £3,750 Clarendon Handicap from locally-trained Black Night, who effortlessly humped 10st 12lbs round the mile and a half trip, having previously been beaten just 8.5 lengths in a Deauville Group III. Black Night was expertly called home by regular Les Landes commentator, Mark Johnson, who engagingly bills himself as the ‘voice of the Jersey, Kentucky and Epsom Derby’. From how many tracks around the world, I mused, can racegoers gaze out over several islands (including Guernsey, Herm and Sark) and indeed to another country (the French mainland is but a few kilometres distant)? Not only that…but Marilyn Monroe turned up as well. The Executive Council Meeting the next day covered much ground, from new applications for membership to commitments to good governance – on all of which, more in a future edition. Rarely these days does a meeting go by without the ‘B word’, and Brexit once again featured in Jersey. It has been heartening how the whole of the European and Mediterranean racing community has come together to insist that there must be no diminution of the levels of movement we all currently enjoy when travelling Thoroughbreds to, from or through the UK – as happens tens of thousands of times each year. Ease of movement throughout Europe is largely taken for granted – no veterinary inspections, no customs papers, no border delays – and the profound disruption which a ‘hard Brexit’ could bring would ripple across the whole Continent. The EMHF, national administrators and breeders are on the case. Among the outcomes from the meeting was a commitment on the subject discussed above – the Rules of Racing. I have been aware that this is a matter close to the hearts of European trainers since attending the European Trainers’ Federation’s General Assembly the year before last, when the call was made for consistency. More recently, the subject has been raised with key European regulators by the ETF’s Chairman, Guy Heymans, who has selected a number of  practical areas which can cause trainers confusion when sending a horse abroad, such as the country’s entry and declaration regime, rules on headgear, starting stalls procedures, parades, doping control practices and shoeing restrictions.   In Jersey, the Executive Council agreed that the EMHF should look to establish a Rules Committee, as its second Standing Committee alongside its European Union Committee.   There is, of course, broad – probably universal - support for harmonisation of racing’s Rules. But while that call is easily made, selecting the one specific policy on which to harmonise, from amongst the different approaches adopted in the various European countries, is more challenging. Here, the European Trainers’ Federation can play a useful role. Should the ETF come forward in favour of the way a Rule has been drawn up in a particular country or countries, perhaps on the grounds that, in trainers’ professional view, that is best for the smooth running of the race or for the horses’ welfare, then this would be a powerful message from a key stakeholder group which should carry weight with Racing Authorities.   It is important to realise that each country’s Racing Authority is autonomous – the EMHF can encourage, but not dictate. Where differences in the Rules remain, it is important that trainers and others racing internationally within Europe have access to as clear a picture as possible of the Rules that apply in the jurisdictions they visit. The information should be easily found and clearly understood. And, while it works towards achieving the nirvana of identical Rules, this is an important ‘second prize’ for a Rules Committee to pursue.   EUROPEAN BEACH RACING ASSOCIATION: OFF AND RUNNING AT PLESTIN-LES-GREVES The beautiful Breton bay at Plestin-les-Greves provided the backdrop for a magical day’s racing when representatives of six of Europe’s seven beach racetracks gathered together for the first time. A personal highlight was the opportunity to track the runners, at a distance of but a few feet, in a customised minibus, with a row of seats set laterally for optimum viewing, la Manche glistening behind. The impression was rather like those sequences now common in wildlife documentaries, where the camera flies alongside the geese! I have been fortunate enough to have raced in nearly 30 countries around the world, but this experience was one I will not forget. Many of the delegates were meeting each other for the first time, and much of the discussion at the following day’s inaugural meeting of the European Beach Racing Association, held in the Tourist Office at the centre of the little town, was devoted to exchanging views and experiences of running – to rigorous standards - pop-up race-meetings on strands of sand. The occasion generated considerable interest from touristic and municipal authorities in this region of Brittany. Already significant to the local economy, there was general recognition that, were beach racing to be better branded, and a recognisable European beach racing circuit and season more widely identified, great benefit could derive to the businesses surrounding each of the seven tracks.  

Paull Khan - News from the EMHF

 
 

Gallery

In the wake of the now infamous incident in which jockey Davy Russell was seen to strike his horse on the head prior to the start of a race, the marked difference between the media reaction in Ireland (more forgiving) and that in Britain (more damning) was commented upon.

Just one example of the wide variation, as between European countries, in public opinion on horse welfare, and animal welfare more widely. In some regions, the ‘volume level’ of discussion of such matters is turned up high; not so in others.

In a sport with no global Rules Book, it would be strange if these cultural differences were not reflected to some extent in the practices and regulations of individual Racing Authorities. And sure enough, they are. Indeed, what a country’s Rules of Racing says about its culture would make for a fascinating study. One could make a crude start by marking up, on a map of Europe, the number of whip strikes allowed in a race by the various countries. Very broadly, it would resemble a climatic map of the continent, with higher numbers accepted in the hotter south, reducing as one travels north until reaching the point of zero tolerance in Norway.

Skim through the Rules Book in any of our countries and you will find a plethora which promote the welfare of our racehorses. In many cases, that aim is indeed their sole purpose. These Rules and procedures fall into many categories – from the horse-care component of the course which a trainer must pass in order to be granted a licence, to the requirement for a minimum number of vet’s to be present before a race meeting can take place, to enforced stand-down periods following the administration of certain veterinary interventions, to the mandatory abandonment of jump racing when the ground is designated ‘Hard’ – the list goes on and on.

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A report from the Merial - Performance Horse CPD and Raceday at Gowran Park

VETERINARYWeb Master
Performance Horse CPD, Gowran Park Racecourse Vets from all over Ireland congregated at Gowran Park racecourse in July for a continuing professional development event on the Performance Horse. The event, organised by European Trainer Magazine and Merial Animal Health, was the second in a series of veterinary CPD events for 2017 and featured a panel of expert speakers. The event was co-sponsored by Haygain and Connolly’s RED MILLS. Becky James BSc, MSc attended the seminar and reports on the key messages. Managing Inflammatory Airway Disease – Dr Emmanuelle Van Erck-Westergren   The first speaker Dr Van Erck-Westergren was due to fly in from Brussels on the morning of the event, so when her flight was cancelled at the last minute there was a moment of concern for the organisers but they arranged to bring her into the room via a video link so all was not lost!   Using her experience in practice at the Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Belgium, Dr Van Erck explained the importance of vets helping clients to manage the environment of the horses to prevent and manage Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). She described managing the horse’s environment to reduce exposure to noxious inhalable particles and improve hygiene and ventilation in the stable as the cornerstone to the success of treating IAD.   Important considerations for the environment include building design, bedding, stable activities and most critically, the forage, as this is in the horse’s breathing zone. Dr Van Erck explained that hay remains an important source of forage for horses but it is also a major source of dust and contaminants. Soaking hay is a cheap way of reducing airborne dust but it promotes bacterial proliferation and leaches out the nutritional value so well-made haylage or preferably steamed hay should only be fed to horses with IAD.   The hygienic and nutritional quality of haylage produced by local farmers can be irregular. Some horses’ digestive systems do not tolerate it well and horses can get gases or diarrhoea. Commercially-available haylage usually undergoes quality control but is expensive and although lower in airborne dust, is never “dust-free”.   Hay steamers are a promising alternative, reducing the airborne respirable dust by 98% and the wet heat of the steam killing the bacteria and moulds in the hay without altering the nutritional quality. In comparison to all other hay sources, steamed hay has been shown as the optimal solution to significantly reduce IAD in affected horses [1]. It must be noted that some homemade hay steamers do not allow homogenous circulation of the steam and improper temperatures at the core of the hay results in microbial incubation rather than elimination.   [1] Dauvillier J. & Van Erck-Westergren E. Prevalence of fungi in respiratory samples of horses with Inflammatory Airway Disease. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACVIM Forum, Denver, USA.   Assessment of a novel antioxidant supplement for TB horses in training – Maureen Dowling   Maureen Dowling was next up to speak and presented the results of a study which tested the effects of a novel supplement on markers of antioxidant status and muscle cell physiology on thoroughbred horses during and following a moderate training programme.   It is known that the increased utilisation of oxygen during exercise can have detrimental effects on equine muscle cells. The production of such reactive oxygen species can outweigh the ability of the horses to detoxify these molecules which disrupts the antioxidant-oxidant equilibrium causing oxidative stress. This can lead to muscle cell necrosis resulting in muscle tissue damage, which in turn, can affect performance.   The research found that horses supplemented for a period of 12 weeks have significantly less oxidation levels in their blood 24 hours after strenuous exercise and immediately following a maximal intensity trial, than horses not supplemented.   Sweet is the sound of silence – respiratory obstruction in the performance horse – Claire Hawkes MRCVS DipECVS   Claire Hawkes set the scene explaining that a resting horse has a respiratory rate of 12 breaths per minute and breathes a total of 60 litres of air per minute. Compare this to a racehorse under race conditions - the respiratory rate increases to 120 breaths per minute and exchanges up to 1800 litres per minute. She went on to describe the structure and function of the respiratory tract describing the larynx and soft palate as weak points in the upper respiratory tract. These weak points can become sites of airway obstruction when under the extreme fluctuations of air pressure experienced during intense exercise.   Upper airway obstructions result in reduced airflow leading to reduced oxygen intake which, in turn reduces ventilation and impaired oxygen perfusion of the muscles, ultimately resulting in reduced performance.   Overground endoscopy has allowed us to assess horses during experience making accurate diagnoses readily accessible. These systems can be used in conjunction with GPS and ECG monitoring to give a more thorough investigation.   There are three common airway obstructions seen: vocal fold prolapse, arytenoid collapse (roarer) and axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds, Table 1 below describes their severity and treatment.   INSERT Table 1: Common airway obstructions and their treatment (P15 of the speaker notes)   How equine influenza and equine rhinopneumonitis viruses impact performance horses – Professor Ann Cullinane   Professor Cullinane has been Head of Virology at the Irish Equine Centre since 1987 and Head of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory for equine influenza since 2009.   “The most common viruses encountered in racehorses in Ireland are equine influenza and equine herpesvirus 1 and 4.” Professor Cullinane stated. She went on to explain that in a naïve population, equine influenza spreads rapidly. For example, in an unvaccinated population stabled at a racecourse in Australia it was reported that over 700 horses showed clinical signs within five days. However, in a partially immune population clinical signs may be subtle or absent, and viruses spread at a considerably slower rate.   Real-time PCR has revolutionised the diagnosis and management of these viruses. They can be identified in nasal swabs or other samples on the day of submission. In addition, it is relatively simple to screen all horses in a yard repeatedly, allowing the veterinarian and trainer to monitor both the spread of virus and the extent of the virus shedding by infected horses. Equine herpesviruses may take several weeks to spread through a yard, causing significant frustration to the trainer.   Vaccination against equine influenza is effective but vaccines should contain epidemiologically-relevant viruses. Since 2010, all outbreaks of equine influenza in Ireland have been caused by Clade 2 viruses of the Florida sub-lineage. Proteq Flu is the only vaccine available in Ireland that contains Clade 2 virus and is in compliance with OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) recommendations for equine influenza vaccine strain composition.   Vaccination against equine herpesvirus appears to be less effective than equine influenza vaccination but may reduce virus shedding and therefore limit the recovery period.   What’s new with Gastric Ulcers? – Dr Kevin Corley   Dr Kevin Corley is a consultant in equine internal medicine and critical care at Veterinary Advances Ltd and was the penultimate speaker of the day. He started by describing the horse’s stomach, defining the two very different regions: the squamous area at the top of the stomach which is pink in colour and has the same lining as the oesophagus, and the glandular area at the bottom which is dark pink to red in colour and produces acid. The acid has two major roles, it is the first step of digestion and also acts as a barrier to reduce the number of bacteria entering the rest of the intestine.   Squamous ulcers occur from acid injury to the non-protected squamous epithelium when the horse exercises faster than a walk and acid is thrown up to the top part of the stomach. There is a very high prevalence of squamous ulcers in horses in training. 80-100% of Thoroughbreds in full training, 66-93% in Endurance horses in a competitive season. In comparison to leisure horses, kept and worked in their home environment and rarely competed, the prevalence is around 11%.   The pathogenesis of glandular ulcers are not fully understood but it is believed that ulcers occur as a result of a breakdown of the protective barrier. In humans, steroids and bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) are the principal cause of glandular ulcers.   Again, there is a high prevalence in horses in training with 47-65% of thoroughbreds and 33% in competing Endurance horses.   Clinical signs of ulcers are varied and not consistently present but can include: Difficulty in maintaining body condition Poor appetite Colic after feeding Poor coat condition Wind sucking and crib biting Behavioural changes – aggressive or nervous Poor performance   Dr Corley made the interesting point that the severity of clinical signs doesn’t correlate well with the severity of lesions which appear on a gastroscopy.   Nutritional factors were the highest risk for ulcers, if horses are left with no forage for more than six hours this significantly increases the risk of ulcers and if more than 2g/kg body weight of starch is fed per day. This is because food, especially forage, is a buffer to the stomach acid, and therefore prolonged periods without food promotes the formation of ulcers.   Environmental stress is also implicated in gastric ulcers. Different trainers have different incidents of ulcers in their horses, the time in training also has an effect on the percentage of horses with ulcers, the highest percentage of horses with ulcers occurs five months after starting training. Surprisingly, even playing the radio in stables is associated with ulcers. If a talk radio station is on in the stables, horses are 3.6 times more likely to have ulcers. A music radio station means horses are 2.8 times more likely to have ulcers and the longer the radio is played the more likely the horses are to have ulcers. Training at the same location where the horse is stabled is associated with increased ulcers.   The mainstay treatment of gastric ulcers is omeprazole, but Dr Corley emphasized the need for a few management practices in order to reduce the incidence of ulcers. These included keeping a calm and quiet environment for the horses, allowing constant access to forage and to feed less concentrates and to turn horses out in the field as often as possible in pairs or groups.   How to maximize the benefit of MRI and bone scanning – Warren Schofield MA, VetMB, CertES(Soft Tissue), MRCVS, Dip ECVS   The final speaker was Warren Schofield, who gave an overview of diagnostic tools for modern equine lameness investigations. Research over the last 20 years has shown that a horse lame in the foot looks the same as a lameness originating in the shoulder, so it can be difficult to accurately diagnose the problem.   There have been four main areas of development in the field of equine lameness diagnostics over the last few decades:- 1. Bone scanning or nuclear scintigraphy   This is a screening tool for the entire skeleton, the limbs, back, neck and head and is not just useful for lameness diagnosis, but for assessment of poor performance, where a specific lameness is not obvious on examination. Orthopedic pain is now recognised as the most common cause of loss of performance and non-work days in racehorses. He commented that at Troytown Grey Abbey Hospital, they scan approximately 150 horses per year. The scanning shows up regions of “hotspots” where there is any increased bone turnover. These hotspots in performance horses are regions of bone remodelling – either fractures, stress fractures, stress bone remodelling, arthritis and sometimes, though rarely, bone infections or tumours. It is a highly sensitive method and therefore extremely useful for confirmation that something isn’t there, such as a stress bone reaction. For example, when considering stress fractures in the pelvis of racehorses, the scan will identify over 98% of horses which have a fracture, compared with ultrasound scanning, which will only identify about 50% of horses with a fracture.   2. MRI Scanning   MRI scanning is used to image feet, pasterns, fetlocks, cannon bones, the ligaments, tendons up to the carpus and hock, and even carpus and hocks themselves, if the patient is cooperative. The strength of MRI is its ability to show soft tissues and bone on the same image and to have multiple directions to find the right angle to assess the structures. It gives definitive, non-invasive assessment of bone pathology.   3. Lameness Locator Device   A relatively recent innovation, developed by veterinary researchers at the University of Missouri, uses lightweight sensors on the horse’s head, pelvis and right pastern to assist clinical judgment during lameness investigations. It is good at quantifying levels of lameness and can be used to assess the response to diagnostic anaesthesia.   4. Diagnostic anaesthesia   Diagnostic anaesthesia remains an extremely important part of lameness investigations, giving an approximate guide to the region of pain. However, it should be remembered that it is approximate and just one stage of the investigation.   The talk concluded with advice on how to get the best out of MRI and bone scanning, highlighting the need for case selection and prior work-up investigations, but when used appropriately they are both powerful, accurate tools in lameness investigations.   The well-attended seminar finished with lots of stimulating discussions amongst the speakers and delegates over a late-lunch and some exciting racing on the Gowran Park track.

Becky James BSc, MSc - Haygain

 

Vets from all over Ireland congregated at Gowran Park racecourse in July for a continuing professional development event on the Performance Horse. The event, organised by European Trainer Magazine and Merial Animal Health, was the second in a series of veterinary CPD events for 2017 and featured a panel of expert speakers. The event was co-sponsored by Haygain and Connolly’s RED MILLS. 

Managing Inflammatory Airway Disease – Dr Emmanuelle Van Erck-Westergren

The first speaker Dr Van Erck-Westergren was due to fly in from Brussels on the morning of the event, so when her flight was cancelled at the last minute there was a moment of concern for the organisers but they arranged to bring her into the room via a video link so all was not lost!

Using her experience in practice at the Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Belgium, Dr Van Erck explained the importance of vets helping clients to manage the environment of the horses to prevent and manage Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). She described managing the horse’s environment to reduce exposure to noxious inhalable particles and improve hygiene and ventilation in the stable as the cornerstone to the success of treating IAD.

Important considerations for the environment include building design, bedding, stable activities and most critically, the forage, as this is in the horse’s breathing zone. Dr Van Erck explained that hay remains an important source of forage for horses but it is also a major source of dust and contaminants. Soaking hay is a cheap way of reducing airborne dust but it promotes bacterial proliferation and leaches out the nutritional value so well-made haylage or preferably steamed hay should only be fed to horses with IAD.

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