Category Archives: Education

US Equestrian and the United States Dressage Federation Publish 2019 Dressage Tests

by US Equestrian Communications Department

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian (USEF) announced today that the co-branded 2019 USEF/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Dressage Tests are now available and published online through USDF.

Effective December 1, 2018, through November 30, 2022, the 2019 USEF/USDF Dressage Tests are newly co-branded with the USDF as the two organizations work together to continue to proliferate and promote the sport of dressage in the United States. The 2019 USEF/USDF Dressage Tests continue to serve as a measure of the horse and rider’s schooling and training, while each level builds upon the preceding level’s principles.

USDF’s “On the Levels” will continue to provide examples of the new Introductory through Fourth Level dressage tests.  “On the Levels” features engaging videos to help athletes understand the requirements for tests within each level, with commentary from top U.S. trainers and judges and segments geared toward improving difficult movements at each level.  Keep an eye out for the launch of this product in the coming months.

Additional test products will include a new test app containing both the USEF and USDF tests and, once produced, a test booklet, which can be purchased through the USDF online store at

Click here to view the 2019 USEF/USDF Dressage Tests. For information on licensing the new tests, contact USDF at  For questions or additional information contact Hannah Niebielski, Director of Dressage National Programs, at

No Horse Cough, No Worries? Don’t Believe It!



by Nan Meek


Tempting as it may be, don’t even think that if you don’t hear your horse cough, there’s no need to be concerned about respiratory problems. The “no horse cough, no worries” myth is just that … a myth. Read on for answers to your questions about horse cough and equine respiratory disease.


Why is “No Horse Cough, No Worries” a Myth?


It’s easy to think that because you never hear your horse cough, he actually never coughs. But how much time do you really spend with your horse – one hour a day, or more? Most riding horses see their owners for a few hours a week, certainly not 24 hours a day.


If you’re with your horse even two hours a day, four days a week (fairly normal for riding horses stabled at a boarding facility, as many horses are these days) you have the potential to hear your horse cough during roughly eight hours out of 168 hours in a week, or less than 5% of the time. During the other more than 95% of the time, you wouldn’t be there to hear your horse cough.


Why does this matter? Because he may cough – even a few times – during the 160 hours a week you can’t hear him, but you’ll think he never coughs.


However, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad horse owner. Actually, you’re in good company with the rest of the equestrian world. Ask almost any horse owner and she will tell you her horse doesn’t cough, either, and for the very same reason – she’s not around long enough to hear the occasional horse cough.


“Studies have shown that horses may cough once and then three hours later cough six times, then 12 hours later cough twice, etc. They do not cough regularly like people. So unless you fit a video camera, or put a microphone in the stable, or spend 24 hours with your horse, you won’t know how often he coughs,” explains Dr. David Marlin, PhD, equine exercise physiologist, researcher, author and Professor of Physiology at Oklahoma State University.


Is a Little Horse Cough a Big Deal?


Misperceptions about horse cough are ingrained in our equestrian world:

“All horses cough a bit when they warm up.”

“It’s just a little dust from the arena.”

“It’s just a little dust from the shavings.”

“He’s just clearing his throat.”

“It’s really dry this year.”


Dr. Marlin’s perspective is unequivocal: “It appears to be commonly believed that it’s okay for a horse to cough a few times when warming up. It’s not. It indicates respiratory disease.”


What Is Equine Respiratory Disease?


Respiratory diseases include both infectious and non-infectious conditions. Infectious equine respiratory diseases include bacterial and viral infections such as strangles and equine influenza. Non-infectious equine respiratory diseases include a spectrum of equine inflammatory respiratory disorders known as Equine Asthma that includes conditions known as Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), also known as Broken Wind or Heaves.
Respiratory diseases in horses are very common and have a variety of causes, from the infectious diseases that spread quickly through large stables or yards to the non-infectious diseases that are frequently due to equine allergies or hypersensitivity to allergens in the stable environment.


How Can I Tell If My Horse Has Respiratory Disease?


Horse cough is only one sign of equine respiratory disease; other signs range from those that are easy to identify to those that are quite difficult for a horse owner to evaluate:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Increased respiratory effort
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Respiratory noise, even at rest
  • Poor recovery
  • Lower performance


If you keep a riding journal, you can look each day for those signs and note if or when they appear. Especially for the more subtle signs, a track record of performance, for example, can help you describe to your vet the symptoms and history that can help him help your horse.


If you don’t keep a journal, now is a great time to start. It can be as simple as notes on a calendar, a written journal you keep in your grooming box or an app on your smartphone.


How Often Does Equine Respiratory Disease Occur?


More frequently than you may expect, especially if you’ve been unaware of equine respiratory disease until now. Even more remarkable is the number of horses with respiratory disease whose owners see no symptoms or signs of the problem before their horses are scoped by a veterinarian.


In a recent study, 84% of 482 horses referred for a regular health check, poor performance or equine respiratory issues were diagnosed with Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD).1


Another study, reported by Dr. David Marlin in August 2017, found that Swiss veterinarian Dr. Connie Herholz invited owners of 60 show jumpers and 52 dressage horses to come to her clinic for a free health check. Although the owners considered their horses to be perfectly healthy, Dr. Herholz found equine respiratory disease present in 53% of the horses scoped.


In further studies, Dr. Marlin and equine internal medicine specialist veterinarian Dr. Colin Roberts scoped eight British three-day event horses two months prior to travel to the Olympics. Even though all the riders were confident their horses were healthy, equine endoscopy and laboratory tests resulted in seven of the eight horses being treated for equine respiratory disease.


Dr. Marlin reports, “We also scoped 14 international endurance horses which were all performing as expected and not reported to be coughing. Many of the owners were reluctant to have their horses scoped initially because they lived out 24/7 and ‘won’t have respiratory disease’. As a result of the endoscopy and laboratory tests, 12 of the 14 horses were treated for equine respiratory disease!”


What Can I Do to Prevent Horse Cough?


First, observe. Does your horse have any of the signs noted above? If yes, call your veterinarian to have your horse scoped – that’s the definitive way to diagnose equine respiratory disease. Your vet will prescribe any needed medications and can advise you on environmental improvements to help prevent and manage equine respiratory disease.


To help prevent equine respiratory disease due to environmental conditions, reduce as much dust from your horse’s environment as possible. Stall bedding – both straw and shavings – is a major source of dust in the stable. Even the best quality hay is another major source of dust that can compromise your horse’s respiratory system. Environmental dust, leaf shatter from baling, transportation and storage, and the drying process of hay-making all contribute to putting dust, as well as nutrition, right in line with your horse’s respiratory system at every meal.


The good news is: you can help your horse breathe cleaner air with environmental stable products that significantly reduce airborne dust particles.


ComfortStall® Orthopedic, Sealed Flooring System provides a soft and comfortable stall floor that requires only enough shavings to absorb urine – typically only a quarter of the bedding used with other stall floors, even rubber mats.


Haygain® Hay Steamers eliminate 99% of mold, fungi, yeast and bacteria in hay and up to 98% of respirable dust particles – plus it retains nutritional value, improves palatability and helps manage laminitis, insulin resistance, colic and post-surgery recovery as well as respiratory issues.

Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training Imperative For First Responders in the Bluegrass


Lexington, KY (October 10, 2018) – A core tenet of the Kentucky Horse Council (KHC) is its dedication to the protection of the state’s equine community and its horses. The organization has multiple programs in place to act as safety nets for horses in the state of Kentucky, but one opportunity in particular focuses on strategic teamwork to preserve the safety of horses and other Bluegrass livestock: the Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training.


Offered to all Kentucky-based emergency service responders, veterinary professionals, animal control officers and the public at large, the training prepares attendees for a large-animal emergency rescue situation, focusing on keeping humans and animals as safe as possible during the event. Offered yearly, the course focuses on the facilitation of open conversation between veterinarians, firemen, volunteers and police, showing each how to better assist the other when responding to emergency situations where large animals are involved.


Begun in 2014, the three-day training has both hands-on and classroom learning opportunities. Scenarios that are discussed include entrapments, barn fires, trailer accidents on the roadway, water rescues, natural disaster preparation and response, and riding accidents, among others.


In 2018, 40 people received nearly 24 hours of instruction from Tori and Justin McLeod of 4Hooves Large Animal Service LLC. Based in Spring Lake, N.C., the husband-and-wife duo specialize in large animal technical rescue emergency response and in training for emergency responders and veterinary professionals.


Richard Nolan, a member of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture/Farm Safety Team, attended the Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training and had several “aha” moments during the course. “I’m a firm believer in that ‘you can’t lead someone where you have never been,'” Nolan says. “Justin and Tori McCloud are great teachers because of their breadth of experience.”


While he recognizes that no two scenarios will ever be the same, one of the biggest takeaways he had was that “The broader the knowledge of the team executing the rescue or recovery, the greater the opportunity for success.”


This focus on teamwork permeated every aspect of the workshop. Officer Scott Lynch, a mounted police officer with the Lexington Mounted Patrol, says he “gained an understanding of the requirements to succeed and therefore have a better opportunity to keep the situation from becoming worse until personnel and equipment can reach the scene.”


“This training is absolutely worthwhile and necessary for first responders or persons working around large animals.  The main thing I took away from this … is the need for preparation before an incident,” he explains.


“The Kentucky economy depends on the success of our equine and cattle industries,” says Katy Ross, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Council. “We’ve all heard the stories of both horses and cattle finding themselves in interesting predicaments. It’s critical that we have first responders and veterinarians who are properly trained in how to deal with these situations, not only to protect and save the animals’ lives, but to protect the humans dealing with them as well.”


Want to learn more about the Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training or find out how to register? Click here.  Thank you to our 2018 sponsors: US Equestrian Disaster Relief Fund, Otterbein University, Neogen, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Zoetis, Kentucky Horse Park, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and Rocky M. Mason, DVM with Lexington Equine Medical.


The 2019 Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training will be held September 20-22 at the Kentucky Horse Park.




The Kentucky Horse Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated, through education and leadership, to the protection and development of the Kentucky equine community. The Kentucky Horse Council provides educational programs and information, outreach and communication to Kentucky horse owners and enthusiasts, equine professional networking opportunities through KENA, trail riding advocacy, health and welfare programs, and personal liability insurance and other membership benefits. The specialty Kentucky Horse Council license plate, featuring a foal lying in the grass, provides the primary source of revenue for KHC programs.



It’s Not Too Late This Year for West Nile Vaccination


Although fall is underway, the American Association of Equine Practitioners urges horse owners to vaccinate or booster their animals against West Nile virus (WNV).


The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reports 152 cases of WNV thus far in 2018, with almost all diagnosed during the months of August and September. Most confirmed cases occurred in horses which were unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination history.


In geographic areas with continued warm weather and mosquito activity, horse owners are encouraged to talk to their equine veterinarian today about WNV protection.


“For unvaccinated horses, it is critical to start the multiple-dose vaccine series to prevent infection, even this late in the season,” said Dr. Linda Mittel, AAEP Infectious Disease Committee member. An incomplete series will not protect horses.” 


For horses boostered against WNV this past spring and now traveling to or stabled in areas where there is current mosquito activity and a history of WNV, an additional booster may be needed.


Also, horses considered to be high risk, such as juvenile horses (less than 5 years of age) and geriatric horses (more than 15 years of age), may require more frequent vaccination depending on risk assessment. Vaccination for West Nile virus is recommended as a core vaccine by the AAEP and is an essential standard of care for all horses in North America.


Since first being recognized in the United States in 1999, WNV has posed a serious threat to horses and humans alike. Virus transmission occurs in the horse when a mosquito takes a blood meal from a bird infected with WNV, then feeds on a horse.


WNV can be fatal. While many horses exposed to WNV experience no signs of illness, the virus can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The case fatality rate for horses exhibiting clinical signs of WNV infection is approximately 33%. Data have supported that 40% of horses that survive the acute illness caused by WNV may exhibit residual effects, such as gait and behavioral abnormalities, six months post-diagnosis.


Review the AAEP’s vaccination guidelines for WNV here and the EDCC fact sheet here.


The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

Every Horse Needs These Five Things


Photo Credit: Sharon Packer


by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.


It’s easy to spend a fortune on the next fancy feed, supplement or gadget. Sure, there are plenty of worthwhile products that may improve health and reverse illness, but none of them truly matter without first meeting these five foundational principles. These are true for all horses, regardless of age, breed, condition, or purpose. Even seasonal or regional variations do not alter these.


Here is what every horse needs. Period. 


Water – the most important nutrient

It must be plentiful, clean, and of the right temperature to encourage horses to drink. A horse at maintenance, living in a temperate climate will require a minimum of ½ to 1 gallon per hundred pounds of body weight. For the 1100 lb (500 kg) horse, that equates to 5.5 to 11 gallons (21 to 42 liters) per day.[i]  However, his demand for water will increase with activity and warmer temperatures. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Water must be freshened daily. Dead insects, bird droppings and excessive pond scum can poison your horse.[ii] Using smaller water troughs can make cleaning easier.
  • Never add salt or electrolytes to your horse’s only water supply. Plain water must always be available.
  • Pasture is high in moisture, typically containing 60 to 80 percent water, whereas most hays have only 7 to 10% moisture.
  • High protein diets increase water requirements since protein can have a diuretic effect.
  • During cold weather, horses drink less, especially if the water is ice cold. This potentially leads to dehydration – the main cause of colic in the winter. Heating water between 45 and 60 degrees F (7 to 15 degrees C) will promote more water consumption. Be sure the heater has no exposed wires that could electrify the water source.
  • If you rely on creeks or ponds, the water must be moving and deep enough to not freeze.
  • Snow consumption will not meet your horse’s water requirement. One gallon of average snow contains only 10 ounces of water. Also, eating snow will force your horse to burn precious calories needed to keep his body temperature steady.


Salt is required daily, regardless of the season


In cold seasons, salt helps promote that all-important water consumption. In warm seasons, supplemented salt replaces what is lost from perspiration. A full-sized horse requires at least one ounce (two level tablespoons or 30 ml) of salt each day for maintenance – this much provides 12 grams of sodium. Heat, humidity, and exercise increase the horse’s need. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Granulated salt can be offered free-choice. Check your source for prussic acid, an anti-caking agent. This contains cyanide and should be avoided.
  • Mined sea salt offers minute quantities of many trace minerals that are typically not available in the average diet.[iii]
  • A salt rock should be available should your horse want more. Experiment with different natural types to see what your horse enjoys most. Many horses, however, are not comfortable with constant licking.
  • If salt consumption is too low via free-choice feeding, calculate the amount of sodium your horse is getting from any commercial feeds or supplements and add salt accordingly. (For palatability, limit the amount to no more than 1 tablespoon per meal.)
  • Do not offer electrolyte supplements instead of plain salt. Electrolytes are meant to replace perspiration losses and fed in addition to salt. Never add electrolytes to your horses only water supply.
  • Watch the iodine content in mineralized salt preparations. Too much iodine, and not enough selenium, can damage the thyroid gland. Iodine and selenium intakes need to be similar.


Forage is the foundation of the diet – it must flow through the digestive tract 24/7


Horses are grazing animals and are designed to consume forage virtually all day and night, only taking a few minutes here and there to rest; this also includes ponies, minis, donkeys, and mules. There are many reasons why your horse must always have hay and/or pasture:

  • The horse’s stomach produces acid continuously, even when empty. The acid in an empty stomach can lead to the formation of ulcers anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The cecum, where fiber is fermented, has its entrance and exit at the top; therefore, it must be full in order to evacuate digested forage. If not, substances sink to the bottom, potentially leading to impactions and sand colic.
  • The digestive tract consists of muscles which are “exercised” by the steady flow of forage. “Flabby” muscles can twist or intussuscept (telescope)—increasing the risk of colic.
  • An empty stomach causes incredible stress, creating a hormonal response that raises insulin, an inflammatory hormone that can potentiate laminitis. Elevated insulin also tells the body to store fat.
  • Stress from forage restriction can lead to obesity, a damaged metabolic rate, laminitis relapses, and inflammation of the hypothalamic region of the brain, accelerating the development of leptin resistance and even Cushing’s disease.[iv]
  • Elevated stress also impacts immune function, making your horse more susceptible to infections and allergies, as well as negative reactions to vaccinations.


Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking that feeding hay free-choice will damage your horse. Please read “Equine Digestion – It’s Decidedly Different” to empower you with the knowledge needed to help your horses.[v]  Hay testing and commercially available “slow feeders” are worthwhile for many horses.[vi]


Replace what hay is missing


Many horses rely entirely on hay for their forage needs. Is hay nutritious? Not very. Hay is dead grass; it no longer contains many of the vitamins, omega 3s and omega 6s it once had as living pasture. It does, however, contain protein, carbohydrates, and minerals, and is a significant source of energy. Consider the following to fill in the nutritional gaps:

  • Add a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement that offers what hay is missing –  beta carotene (or vitamin A), vitamin D, and vitamin E.
  • Vitamin C is lost in hay; however, young horses’ bodies produce adequate amounts. As horses age, the liver can become less efficient at synthesizing this vitamin.
  • Add a variety of protein sources by feeding several types of forages. When only one type of hay is fed, the protein quality of the diet is poor and can prevent your horse from replacing and repairing tissues throughout the body.
  • Sunlight exposure is needed for vitamin D production. The precursor to vitamin D is naturally found in grass, but diminishes the longer hay is stored.
  • Simulate the fatty acid content of grasses by providing a feed source that has more omega 3s than omega 6s. Chia seeds or ground flaxseeds are good choices.[vii]


Movement, companionship and shelter are vital necessities


Horses need to move and have the protection of a buddy. Standing in a small area for hours on end (even if part of it is outdoors) takes its toll on your horse’s mental and physical health. So does being isolated from buddies. The stress can be so great that it dramatically diminishes your horse’s quality and length of life by compromising his immune system and hormonal responses. We see the effect in a vast variety of health issues:

  • Obesity, insulin resistance, loss of muscle mass, and sluggish metabolic rate
  • Porous bones and potential fractures
  • Inadequate blood circulation, reducing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the feet, joints, tendons/ligaments, and hair follicles
  • Potential for digestive disorders including colic, ulcers, and diarrhea
  • Compensatory behavior, including weaving, stall-walking, pawing, wall-kicking, chewing, head-bobbing, self-biting, and even cribbing
  • Slowed cartilage and joint development in growing horses
  • Accelerated aging, increasing susceptibility to infections, insect-borne diseases, and  allergic responses
  • Increased oxidative stress, promoting degenerative diseases such as arthritis and equine Cushing’s disease at a younger age

Horses also need shelter from harsh weather. This can best be accomplished by offering your horse the option to make choices. Barn stalls that can be entered and left at will through open gates allow your horse to decide what is most comfortable.


Bottom line

Horses are individuals and may need additional nutrients and care, but covering the basics of water, salt, forage, necessary supplementation, movement, stress reduction, and shelter will optimize your horse’s foundation for a lifetime of vibrant health.



[i] Chastine, M.N., 2009. You can lead a horse to water…  The University of Montana Western Equine Studies Program.

[ii] University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. 2015. Blue-green algae poisoning in horses. The Horse.

[iii] Consider Redmond Rock or Himalayan salt. Redmond rock products available at

[iv] Please read articles related to insulin resistance, overweight, and leptin resistance found by clicking on “Library” at

[v] Getty, J.M. 2013. Equine Nutrition – It’s Decidedly Different. Available at or online bookstores.

[vi] A variety of slow feeders is available at Dr. Getty’s Free Shipping Store:

[vii] Nutra Flax and U.S. Chia can be found at Dr. Getty’s Free Shipping Store. Other sources such as high-DHA algae from a vegetarian source and Camelina oil are also available.


Horizon Structures Presents Series….Hurricanes and Horse Barns



By Nikki Alvin-Smith


While many of us are aware of the special requirements for hurricane protection for our homes, window and door shutters, special bracing and straps between floors, roof anchored all the way down the walls to the basement, we may overlook the need for hurricane protection for our horse barn.


While some States also have requirements for hurricane protection for all structures including horse barns, many States do not. This doesn’t necessarily mean that having your horse building protected from wind damage is a bad thing. Simple upgrades can be made to a horse barn to help provide protection from the roof flying off or the building ripping off its foundation due to wind or water.


Here are some simple upgrades that you might want to consider if you are contemplating purchasing a horse barn.


Anchor The Building


Your building should be anchored down to avoid vertical lifting or shifting side-to-side during high winds. If your barn is a modular design and has tow hooks you can use a standard anchor kit available from the barn manufacturer to anchor it down with steel cables.


If you have concrete footers you can use steel strapping and set it into the concrete footer. You simply set rods in concrete and attach the concrete anchor straps Alternatively you can use hurricane brackets. These are L-shaped and should be at least ¼ inch thick steel and should attach the building with concrete fasteners to the footer. These brackets can also be used along the 6 x 6 baseboard of the building and attached with lag bolts.


While we think about anchoring a building against devastating winds the anchoring system is also important in areas where flooding may occur. This may prevent your building floating away.


Windows and Doors


The windows and doors are a high-risk area for damage and can be blown in during high winds. While many barn windows are fairly small and can be covered with Advantech or plywood during a storm, it is a smart idea to consider the type of doors carefully when choosing entry doors. A solid door will certainly fare better than a door with windows. Any area of glass can be made safer by adding permanent brackets at the top, bottom and sides so plywood can be quickly installed if the need arises or you can upgrade windows to hurricane grade.


Brace Your Barn


By making structural upgrades with extra bracing and larger joists and rafters, the building can be modified to be hurricane safe to 120 m.p.h. Ask your building company for advice. Most modular horse barn building companies have experience in building structures that conform or exceed tight hurricane code requirements in the high risk areas they service such as Florida. Making some simple adjustments in structural design for customers living in States where hurricane protection is not mandated in the building code, is easily completed by a company that has engineers on staff to make those adjustments, so don’t be shy to ask.


The Vulnerable Roof


Hurricane force winds can create a negative pressure that results in a lifting force capable of ripping your roof right off. As soon as the roof comes off, the entire building is at serious risk for falling apart. A well-prepared roof should be anchored through the walls. There are several different methods used to anchor the roof.


Hurricane clips on rafters and laminated headers can prevent your roof from blowing off. While the best solution is to attach the roof all the way down the side of the building to the foundation, even adding clips and laminated headers with closed soffits and smaller overhangs can make a positive improvement in making your horse barn hurricane worthy.


If your roof has shingles these should be rated to the highest possible rating and with the right installation technique an architectural shingle can be rated to 130 m.p.h. A second line of defense from incoming water is a water shield under the entire shingled roof.


For a metal roof the standing seam roofs are the best as these have a limited number of seams plus as the seams are raised the water flows down the roof in torrential rain and the seam is above that water passage.


Other Features


Overhangs are at high risk for being lifted from their pillars and should also be attached to the concrete footer where possible. The larger the overhang, the higher the risk of wind damage.


When designing your building remember the higher the pitch of the roof the more of a sail the roof will become during high wind. Steep pitches are necessary for high snow load areas, but a lesser pitch is needed with a metal versus shingle roof.


A wooden structure is heavier than a metal or plastic structure so necessarily will fare better at staying where Einstein’s gravity theory says it should be, on the ground. During hurricanes buildings are often damaged by projectiles, such as lawn furniture and other debris. A wooden structure will provide a better barrier to flying objects than a thin sheet of metal. Obviously they are much quieter than a metal building for their residents in a storm, which is important for the wellbeing of the animals.


The take away message here is that for peace of mind it makes sense to upgrade your horse barn with hurricane protection if you are concerned about high wind damage or flooding even if it not mandated by your local building code. An experienced barn building company will be able to address your concerns and offer customizations to fit your individual needs. Don’t be shy to ask.



PLEASE NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format on condition that credit is given to Horizon Structures Inc., and author Nikki Alvin-Smith as a byline at the beginning of the article publication and Horizon Structures URL address and Nikki Alvin-Smith URL is included.  Horizon would appreciate notification of any publication and please contact Horizon Structures for photos to accompany the article.


This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit to learn more.


About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.


All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –

Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.


Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.


For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at

What Makes a Helmet Safe?



An inside look at the different parts of the helmet.


Lexington, KY (August 15, 2018) – Gone are the days of simple hard plastic with a velveteen outer layer. Nowadays, helmets are held to a much higher standard of safety testing. They’re more aerodynamic and better padded, without adding extra weight, and they are stylish so riders will want to wear them. The safety of every ride is the main goal for each helmet manufacturer as they strive year after year to develop the safest helmet they can, while keeping it comfortable, attractive, and easy to wear.


A few of the top helmet manufacturers around the world shared with us some of their most important components when it comes to making helmets.


The Outer Shell


Each component of the helmet is equally important, but it’s the outer shell that gets the most attention because it’s easily seen. The outer shell’s material must be made of something that can prevent penetration from an object such as a sharp rock or a horse’s hoof. Manufacturers these days work to find the most stylish design that’s lightweight, yet functional.


Ovation helmets, the Troxel Spirit helmet, and Back On Track’s Trauma Void helmets all have an outer shell that is made out of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic. What is ABS thermoplastic? It is an engineering plastic that is easy to make and fabricate, and is a proven material for structural applications when impact resistance, strength and stiffness are required, such as a helmet.


The Gatehouse helmet is also constructed from a thermoplastic, with the additional of carbon fiber or aramid additional reinforcement.


The Middle Layer


The middle layer of the helmet is what should absorb the majority of the impact from a fall or accident. Liners can be made from expanded polystyrene—which is a very lightweight product made of expanded polystyrene beads—made of more than 95 percent air and only about 5 percent foam. Expanded polystyrene, like that found in Gatehouse and Troxel helmets, has strong shock absorbing properties and is compression resistant.


KEP Italia helmets feature a polycarbonate and carbon fiber combination. Polycarbonate is a pliable material commonly used in eyeglasses, greenhouses, digital discs, etc. The impact strength of polycarbonate rates towards the top for impact strength, but can be susceptible to scratching.


The Inner Layer


The inner layer of the helmet provides comfort for the wearer—if you had to wear something rigid day in and day out, you most likely wouldn’t be compelled to wear it, right? So helmet manufacturers may add a thin liner to the inside of the helmet for a softer feel, while also protecting the shock absorbing layer from the inside.


These inner layers can include a mesh comfort liner to help wick away the rider’s sweat, as well as some extra foam for the comfort and ability to make the fit a little more custom. One K’s Air helmet even includes inflatable air pockets in the liner, which allows for the riders to adjust the helmet for comfort and fit.


Retention Straps


No helmet is effective if the retention, or chin, straps do not exist. The retention system, often referred to as straps and buckle, keep the helmet on the rider’s head during a fall when fitted and used correctly.


Most retention straps are made from a nylon webbing and plastic buckle. Some may include soft fabric covers that can cover the underside, being held together with Velcro. Some, like Gatehouse, might also be made of suede or leather.


Passing The Test


Did you know that wearing a helmet could reduce the risk of riding-related head injury by an estimated 50 percent, as well as the risk of death due to head injury by a whopping 70-80 percent? To ensure a helmet can accomplish these tasks, it must pass a series of tests. There are several different tests based on where you are located around the world. For instance, in the United States the standard is the ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and Materials/Safety Equipment Institute), which includes three main tests: the impact test, the side distortion test, and the penetration test.


The impact test measures the helmet’s ability to absorb a blunt force impact should a rider fall on their head, say onto pavement while trail riding.


The side distortion test simulates what could happen if 1,200 pounds of horse happens to land on your head during a fall. It measures the ability of the helmet to resist distortion, should that scary accident happen to you.


The penetration test measures the resistance the helmet offers to a pointed object into the ventilation area. It uses an equestrian hazard anvil, designed to approximate the angle of a horseshoe or a jump standard edge, to ensure there is no penetration by a sharp object whilst wearing your helmet.


Other testing certifications include the PAS 015 (British standard), and the AS/NZS 3838 and ARB HS 2012 (Australian standards).


Time for a Change?


It is recommended that all helmets be replaced after an impact, even if you don’t see much physical damage to the helmet with your naked eye. General wear and tear of a helmet not only shows its age perhaps on the outer layer, but the materials that soften the impact can degrade within three to five years.


“Longevity depends on how frequently the hat is used, the conditions of use and how the helmet is stored and even transported,” says Paul Varnsverry, Technical and Safety Product Advisor for Gatehouse Hats.


All manufacturers recommend equestrians check their helmets regularly for any obvious signs of wear to the lining and retention straps, any cracks in the structure of the middle layer and the outer layer, and finally the operation and security of the buckle.


“Irrespective of any signs of deterioration, it is recommended to replace the helmet after five years because the protective capacity diminishes over time due to the ageing of materials,” explains Silvia Fantoni with KEP Italia SRL.


Working Together


There is no single most important material, or part of a helmet because the manufacturers and safety experts believe these materials must work together to protect the rider.


The equestrian helmet covers more of a person’s head than does a bicycle helmet, fitting lower on the head, particularly at the back of the skull, and has protection distributed evenly around the head, rather than concentrated in the front and top, which is why careful attention is taken by the world’s top brands.


To celebrate International Helmet Awareness Day, Riders4helmets has teamed up with leading manufacturers to offer special discounts on safety headgear around the globe, via their retailer networks.


Equestrians may visit this link to learn more about International Helmet Awareness Day and can search for participating retailers by “Name” or “Geographic Location” on our participating retailer map.


For more information on the Riders4Helmets campaign and more information on rider safety, visit You can also follow the campaign at,, and