Category Archives: Horse Health

Has Your Horse Been Exposed to a Parasite that Causes EPM? 



Be aware of the signs of this debilitating neurological disease

When it comes to the neurological disease Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM), the sooner a diagnosis is made and treatment can begin, the better the horse’s chances are for recovery.EPM is a serious neurological disease primarily caused by Sarcocystis neurona, a protozoan parasite that invades the brain, brainstem and spinal cord. Neospora hughesi is a less common cause of EPM.

One study indicates that overall, in the United States, 78 percent of horses have antibodies against Sarcocystis neurona and 34 percent have antibodies against Neospora hughesi. However, less than 1 percent exposed to EPM will develop clinical signs.2

Sarcocystis neurona is spread to horses from a definitive host, in this case, an opossum. Horses become infected with EPM through contact with opossum feces through grazing or contaminated feed.The definitive life cycle of Neospora hughesi is not yet fully understood.

In a horse’s life, there can be a time when he is considered seropositive – meaning the horse has been exposed to the parasite that causes EPM. Some horses harbor the parasite for months or years and then slowly or suddenly develop signs, while others may never develop signs of EPM.1

Because horses have such a high chance of being exposed to the protozoa Sarcocystis neurona or Neospora hughesi, horse owners should be aware of the subtle early signs of EPM so they can promptly consult their veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

When it comes to neurological diseases such as EPM, missing the subtle early signs could mean lost time before veterinary diagnosis.

Horse owners should look for:

  • Stumbling or tripping
  • Tilted head
  • Asymmetrical muscle loss
  • Lameness or gait abnormality
  • Leaning against walls


While virtually every horse is at risk, some horses are at greater risk than others, with age, time of year, location, training and history all potentially affecting a horse’s susceptibility. For those horses that are exposed to the protozoa Sarcocystis neurona or Neospora hughesi, stress from things such as travel or training can compromise the immune system, thus potentially activating the disease.2

“Early detection by horse owners and farm managers, diagnosis by a veterinarian and an effective treatment plan are the keys to stopping the progression of the disease,” says Sarah Reuss, VMD, DACVIM, Equine Professional Services Veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim. “The faster treatment begins, the better the chance for the horse to recover.”

The importance of prompt treatment of EPM cannot be overstated. Marquis® (15% w/w ponazuril) is formulated to reach steady state in as little as 24-48 hours when using the loading dosage of 15 mg/kg.4 MARQUIS kills the parasite Sarcocystis neurona to stop it from inflicting further damage to the central nervous system.5

Your horse may have been exposed to the parasites causing EPM. Make sure you’re aware of the subtle signs of this debilitating neurological disease so you can promptly contact your veterinarian.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: The safe use of MARQUIS in horses used for breeding purposes, during pregnancy, or in lactating mares, has not been evaluated. In animal safety studies, loose feces, sporadic inappetence, lost weight, and moderate edema in the uterine epithelium were observed. For use in animals only. Not for use in horses intended for food. Not for human use. Keep out of reach of children.

MARQUIS is a Merial product. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim.

®MARQUIS is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2018 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQU-0600-MARQ0418.

1Morgan K. EPM: Understanding this debilitating disease. American Association of Equine Practitioners. 2016. Accessed May 1, 2018.
2James KE, Smith WA, Packham AE, et al. Seroprevalences of anti-Sarcocystis neurona and anti-Neospora hughesi antibodies among healthy equids in the United States. JAVMA. 2017;250(11):1291-1301.
3Reed S. Neurology is not a euphemism for necropsy: a review of selected neurological diseases affecting horses. American Association of Equine Practitioners. 54th Annual Convention Proceedings. AAEP. 2008:78-109.
4MARQUIS Freedom of Information Summary supplement.
5Lindsay DS, Dubey JP, Kennedy TJ. Determination of the activity of ponazuril against Sarcocystis neurona in cell cultures. Vet Parasitol. 2000;92(2):165-169.


About Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
As the second largest animal health business in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to improving animal health. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has products available in more than 150 markets and a global presence in 99 countries. For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, click here.

Boehringer Ingelheim
Innovative medicines for people and animals have for more than 130 years been what the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim stands for. Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the industry’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies and to this day remains family-owned. Day by day, some 50,000 employees create value through innovation for the three business areas human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing. In 2016, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around 15.9 billion euros. With more than three billion euros, R&D expenditure corresponds to 19.6 per cent of net sales.

Social responsibility comes naturally to Boehringer Ingelheim. That is why the company is involved in social projects, such as the “Making More Health” initiative. Boehringer Ingelheim also actively promotes workforce diversity and benefits from its employees’ different experiences and skills. Furthermore, the focus is on environmental protection and sustainability in everything the company does.

More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found on or in our annual report:

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

A Novel Approach to Balancing the Equine Digestive Microflora for Improved Health and Soundness



The equine digestive microbiome has become an area of interest in recent research, attempting to determine if connections exist with other health and lameness concerns.  In human research, a large amount of data has been produced regarding the health of the digestive microbiome and implications on overall health and quality of life in the individual.  The microbiome is essentially an organ system, composed of hundreds of species of bacteria, protozoa, and fungal organisms that play a direct role in digestion of food, but also play a major role in cellular signaling, cognitive function, and inflammation. When this microbiome is out of balance, problems can quickly develop and can be life threatening on many levels.  Ultimately, considering the vastness of the equine digestive microbiome and potential connections with conditions ranging from metabolic concerns, to laminitis, joint health, emotional disturbances, and digestive upset, functional solutions are being investigated.


In this recent research trial, Nouvelle Research, Inc., conducted a small trial of 16 horses, evaluating the use of a proprietary blend of herbal concentrated extracts and their impact on the overgrowth of lactic acid bacteria in fecal samples.


As a part of the trial, the patient’s feces were cultured before and 14 days after initiating the herbal supplement, with no further changes in their diet or overall regimen.


The end result, after 14 days, indicated that each patient demonstrated a reduction in lactic acid bacteria counts in their feces, which correlates with an improved overall microbiome balance to the hindgut.  Due to this positive shift in the microbiome, each patient demonstrated clinical improvement on various levels from an improved soundness, to energy, to increased hoof growth and sole exfoliation.


This novel approach is utilizing past research and therapy options that have been conducted or utilized in traditional cultures of medicine to support and enhance digestion.  The concentrated herbal extracts appear to be well tolerated and accepted in the horse, and could be used along with other supplement regimens potentially.


For more information on the research trial, further details, and results, please visit:


To inquire further, please contact Dr. Tom Schell via email at

Are You Up To Date on Targeted Horse Worm Control


By Nikki Alvin-Smith


Horse deworming is a necessary part of responsible horse ownership and most horse folks have a protocol in place to manage their horse’s health and protect against the array of equine internal parasites that horses can harbor.


Thankfully in the 1970’s and 1980’s the advent of the simple paste dewormer product, Ivermectin, revolutionized the world of equine worm control and was extremely effective in treatment of bots, large and small strongyles, ascarids and the other nematodes that worm their way around our horse pastures and are laid on our horses’ glossy coats by flies.


When resistance to dewormers began to appear, we were all advised to implement a new program, the rotational rationale. So we blindly began administering different types of dewormers (hopefully not by brand name but by type of effective ingredient), through the myriad of present day pastes on the market on a 6-8 week basis. This random deworming schedule took no account of what worm eggs our horses were actually shedding or how many. The approach was untargeted and this overmedication has caused ever more worm resistance to present day equine deworming products.


Your tack room is probably stocked with an array of deworming pastes. I confess that is the case in my cupboards, and that the Google Calendar pop up reminder was my mode of operation. Which was silly really, because when I think back to my life as a horse crazy kid growing up in England, we never dewormed our ponies without an equine fecal worm egg count completed under the microscope by the neighborhood vet twice a year and administered select worm powders strictly on their advice.


While I realize that we still need to deworm our horses in Spring and Fall to protect them from tape worms and bots, my over-use of dewormers has probably done its fair share of damage to the efficacy of paste dewormers as a whole. Of course, unless I complete fecal worm egg count tests ( F.E.C.T.) on my horse herd, I have no idea if any of my horses harbor worms at all, if any of them are classified as high shedders or if any of them are shedding worm eggs which will infect the pasture with parasites resistant to dewormers. My blind program has probably also cost me unwarranted product expense and caused my horses’ unnecessary stress and exposure to the chemicals contained in those products.


I don’t want to call my vet out every time I want to test or repeat test my horses’ worm egg counts. That would be expensive. But I do want to have a vet’s expertise available to me directly, on the phone or via email, when I need treatment advice or have a question about how to analyze a report. It’s even better if that vet is an expert in equine parasitology.


So my advice is to choose a lab that will not only send you out simple test kits to take your own horse herd manure samples and mail in for testing and provide accurate reports, but also offers a one on one consult directly with a vet. A good lab service will also send you out reminders for re-testing based on the individual horse’s previous results and for busy trainers like myself, an automatic system of replenishment for sampling kits in my barn.


The access to a qualified veterinarian, is especially important when I complete a follow up test to check a horse that has shown a worm egg count that required and has received the necessary targeted wormer product treatment, and the second test reveals a high count or a resistance in that horse’s parasites to the dewormer. Given that my horse didn’t spit out the dewormer and that he received the correct dose, the worm egg count test is truly the only way to know whether my equine worm control program is on target.


As a responsible horse owner I am happy to follow the recent medical advice from veterinary professionals on how to effectively control horse parasites and to conduct fecal worm egg count tests on my horse herd. Are you contributing to the equine dewormer worm resistance issue or are you part of the solution? It’s important, because what we were doing with a rotational dewormer program is not sustainable and there are no new products on the horizon according to equine parasitology experts.

Exercise and Gut Health in the Heat 


From trail riding to endurance, and from lessons to racing, exercise in the heat can have negative effects on the digestive tract.

Intensity of work is related to how much heat is generated during exercise, but intensity is relative. Activity easily handled by a fit horse may require an extreme effort by a horse that is not fit. Also, fluid and electrolyte losses in sweat are greater for intense efforts, but horses working for prolonged periods at lower levels may accumulate equivalent sweat losses.  An additional factor for horses working for prolonged periods is less opportunity to eat and drink, and possible changes in diet.  Horses shipping in hot weather also have less opportunity to drink and their sweat losses in hot trailers can be considerable.

The body and intestinal tract coexist closely, but there is normally little exposure of the body tissues/blood to intestinal contents because of proteins located between cells of the intestinal wall called tight junction proteins. It has been shown that increases in body temperature commonly seen with exercise can alter these tight junctions, resulting in cramping and diarrhea. Alterations in tight junctions are also believed to be related to the generally “sick” feeling that athletes can perceive after exertion and contribute to immune dysfunction.

High core body heat can also reduce the number and diversity of organisms in the digestive tract.  Reduced efficiency of fermentation and lowered generation of volatile fatty acid fermentation products means less efficient use of fibrous feeds and less efficient absorption of nutrients and water.

We can’t completely avoid the influence of heat on the GI tract, but we can take some sensible measures. Make sure your horse has been properly conditioned for the work you do. This is no time of year for “weekend warriors”. Also guarantee adequate intake of salt/electrolytes and a constant supply of water to avoid the disrupted intestinal function that comes with dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.

Supplements containing ingredients like L-glutamine, Marshmallow root, Licorice root, Slippery Elm, sodium copper chlorophyllin and Aloe Vera can help soothe irritated linings while mannanoligosaccharides and beta-glucans provide gentle stimulation for the local gut immune system.

Probiotic supplementation after the horse has been cooled out from exercise could also be helpful in restoring beneficial populations.  This supports good fermentation, absorption and immune function.  A blend of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast and bacterial species is best.

Diet can also be very helpful in supporting fermentation and levels of fatty acids as well as promoting good hydration both in the intestinal tract and throughout the body.  Easily fermented and high soluble fiber supplements such as fructooligosaccharides, psyllium husk fiber (always wet before feeding) and beet pulp accomplish this.  Regular use of a supplement with good digestive enzyme (amylase, lactase, cellulase, phytase, lipase, protease) activity can assist with small intestine functions so that the hind gut does not get overloaded.

Exercise and heat have effects on gastrointestinal integrity and activity, and should not be ignored. Solid conditioning, reasonable work expectations and targeted support can make this manageable.


About Dr. Kellon
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, is an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years, and a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience.  Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.

Understanding Pain 


This is a short title for an incredibly complicated topic.  There are many different types, causes and pathways for pain.  For the purpose of this discussion I will limit the discussion to acute and chronic pain that involves inflammation.

At the cellular level, the horse’s body is in a constant dynamic balance between damage and repair, death and replacement. When this balance is disrupted in favor of death and damage, whether from injury or simply temporarily from overdoing exercise, it triggers the release of cytokines.

Cytokines are small proteins which allow cells to “talk” to each other and directs their activity.  For a much more in-depth description, see this link.    There are 45,161 entries to date in the cytokine encyclopedia associated with this web site.

In most cases, production of cytokines is turned off in default mode. Their production begins in response to cell injury or death. In addition to directing clean up and repair processes, cytokines are an integral part of triggering pain.  Some, such as one with the deceptively innocuous name BAMBI, react directly with nerve endings or neurochemicals.  Others respond to reactive oxygen species (ROS)/oxidative stress associated with cell injury, and keep the reaction going.

Cytokines aren’t all bad. Once damage has been cleaned up by the immune system, cytokines are important players in the regrowth of blood vessels and cell regeneration.

Pain is the body’s way of signaling that there is a problem. The nervous system will reflexively act to protect injured areas by splinting muscles and limiting movement.  Since horses don’t follow directions, this function of pain is important in reducing the chance of further damage.

Our first impulse on finding the horse is pain is to get rid of it, but this must be tempered by realizing pain has a protective role. Anti-inflammatory pain medications are also a bit of a sledgehammer approach because they also inhibit pathways needed for healing.

There are ways to work with the horse’s own homeostatic mechanisms to assist these mechanisms in dealing with inflammatory reactions.  For example, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) helps maintain normal counter-regulation of the cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-6 and supports antioxidant defenses.

Speaking of antioxidant support, you have many effective options there including bioflavanoids, vitamin C, low dose garlic, N-acetyl-cysteine, quercetin, lipoic acid and vitamin E as well as the herbals Turmeric, Boswellia, Ginger, Ginkgo and grape seed extract.

Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil’s Claw) offers powerful nutritional support against oxygen free radicals as well as cytokine TNF-alpha and IL-6 plus harmful prostaglandins. Devil’s Claw also has a direct nutrigenomic effect in maintaining normal activity of genes involved in TNF-alpha and COX-2 enzyme activity.

We dislike pain, and no one wants to see a horse suffer, but it serves an important purpose. The trick is to recognize the source of the pain response and assist the body in returning to normal balance without interfering with healing. Targeted supplementation has a lot to offer in that battle.

Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya®, offers formulas that promote a healthy inflammatory response.   


MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural form of sulfur that supports joint health and movement. A natural antioxidant, MSM supports the reduction of free radical formation and oxidative stress that can take a toll on joint tissues.

Devils Claw Plus is a powerful herbal and antioxidant blend that supports free and easy movement for horses with joint or muscle injury or flare-ups. Devils Claw Plus promotes healthy joints and flexibility to ease joint stiffness associated with normal daily activity.  Promotes joint strength and mobility with Boswellia, Resveratrol, and Yucca.

Phyto-Quench features powerful antioxidants featuring Devils Claw to help maintain healthy immunity, especially for horses not on fresh pasture.  With phytonutrient rich ingredients for vascular and tissue integrity, Phyto-Quench fights the damaging effects of free radicals by neutralizing oxidative reactions to maintain a normal inflammatory response. Plant-based phytonutrients include Garlic, Devil’s Claw, Turmeric, Grape Seed, Ginkgo Biloba, and Boswellia.  Also available in a palatable powder that does not contain Devils Claw.