Lessons Learned From Recent Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreaks – April 29th FREE Webcast

April 21, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Educational Programs, Events

My Horse University

My Horse University is offering a FREE webcast on recent EHV outbreaks.  To participate in the webcast please visit:


Speaker: Nicola Pusterla, PhD | UC Davis

Date: April 29, 2014 7:00pm EDT

Presentation Summary: Equine herpesvirus-1 myeloencephalopathy is sporadic but is a potentially devastating manifestation of EHV-1 infection. Anecdotal field evidence suggests that EHM is becoming increasingly more common, leading to speculation that viruses with increased neurovirulence are circulating. This webcast will give a review of EHM and highlight new developments in the epidemiological, therapeutic and preventive field.

Please Note: In order to participate in this webcast live, you need to have a high speed internet connection.

Harrington to Host Summer Harness Racing Camp

April 17, 2014 in Educational Programs, Events, Youth Corner

2013 HHYF Camper Driving on the Front Track at Harrington Raceway

2013 HHYF Camper Driving on the Front Track at Harrington Raceway

Harrington Raceway is again playing host to a summer harness racing camp for youth ages 12-14.  The camp is provided through a 3 way partnership formed between the Harness Horse Youth Foundation(HHYF), Harrington Raceway and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.  Campers will stay overnight at Harrington Raceway and spend a significant amount of time working hands on with the HHYF stable of Trottingbred racing ponies.  Campers will participate in and learn about the daily care of race horses, racing equipment and harnessing, safety around horses and how to drive their equine athletes on the track.  In addition to HHYF and extension staff, local, professional drivers and trainers will be present at camp on a daily basis to help guide and instruct campers.   The 5 day engaging camp experience culminates with campers partnering with professional drivers to race their ponies on the main track at Harrington Raceway, Wednesday evening June 25 in between the betting races.  Registration for the camp is $150 and covers all accommodations, meals and field trips.  Registrations must be received by May 15, 2014. Applications are available by clicking on the link below:


HHYF_logo_blueThe Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people’s lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials.  For more information on the HHYF, please visit their website at: http://hhyf.org or check out the HHYF video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhMLHlYSEXc

Pasture Associated Laminitis Prevention Strategies Webcast

April 15, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Ask the Expert, Educational Programs, General, Uncategorized

EXtension logoFor horse owners looking for additional learning resources on pasture associated laminitis, here is an excellent, recent webcast that was offered through eXtension and Michigan State University’s My Horse University.  Click on this link to take you to the archived webcast:


Speakers: Paul D. Siciliano, PhD | North Carolina State University; Shannon Pratt Phillips, PhD | North Carolina State University

Presentation Summary: Excess pasture consumption is often cited as a factor associated with the precipitation of laminitis, a devastating disease affecting horses feet. However the relationship between pasture consumption and laminitis does not appear to be similar among all horses, i.e. some horses appear to be more at risk for developing laminitis while grazing pasture than others. In this webinar the relationship between pasture consumption, horse-type and laminitis will be discussed in the context of strategies aimed at preventing pasture-associated laminitis.

Presenter Information: Paul Siciliano is Professor in the Department of Animal Science at North Carolina State University where he teaches courses in equine management and conducts research in equine nutrition.  Siciliano received a B.S. (1987) from The Ohio State University and an M.S. (1992) and Ph.D. (1996), both from the University of Kentucky.  He was previously a faculty member in the Department of Animal Science at Colorado State University from 1996 to 2006.  Siciliano has been a member of the Board of Directors (2000-2005), Secretary/Treasurer (2005-2007), Vice President (2007-2009), and President (2009-2011) for the Equine Science Society.  He also served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Horses (2004-2007).

Shannon E. Pratt Phillips is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science at North Carolina State University. She teaches in the field of general equine science and equine nutrition, both via traditional face-to-face classes and online. She conducts research in the field of glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and obesity in horses. Pratt Phillips received her B.S. (1997) from the University of Guelph, her M.S. (1999) from the University of Kentucky and her Ph.D. (2005) from the University of Guelph. She is a member of the Equine Science Society, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, American Society of Animal Science and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, and she is the Past-President of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition.

Boost Spring Pasture and Hay Productivity

April 14, 2014 in Advice and Tips, General, Uncategorized

Spring Pasture Fertilization

Spring Pasture Fertilization

Many equine and animal producers are running close to the edge this year with hay supplies since the frequent and heavy rainfall last summer either resulted in lower quality hay or prevented hay making completely. Grazers as well as hay producers should consider fertilization of their fields as soon this spring as soil conditions permit. The heavy rainfall last fall and over the winter months has leached nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) from the upper rooting zone in pastures and hay fields.

Nitrogen application boosts the growth rate of the grass component in pastures and hay fields and with the very cold start to spring this year and the short hay supplies most producers will want to get their pastures and hay fields off to a rapid start. At least in the northern portion of Delaware, pastures and hay fields are just beginning to green up and start spring growth. With warmer temperatures and drier conditions expected until Tuesday of next week, now is the time to fertilize pasture and hay fields. Many producers will be using urea (46-0-0) as their primary N source but since S has leached out of the upper rooting zone in the soil, I suggest that producers consider applying at least a portion of the required N as ammonium sulfate. Application of both nutrients will ensure that the proper N to S ratio is available so that the sulfur containing amino acids are produced by the plant. Ammonium sulfate is the most acidifying of the N fertilizers but the proper N:S ratio is required by pasture plants.

If the pasture or hay field has a significant amount of legume (white, red, or alsike clover or alfalfa) present, you should limit the N rate to 20 to 30 lbs N/acre and in that case I would use 100 percent as ammonium sulfate. For pure grass hay fields or pastures with less than 25% legumes, apply about 50 lbs of N/acre per ton of expected yield. Apply about half of the N from ammonium sulfate but once the S application rate reaches about 40 lb S/acre change back to pure urea or other N source. You are unlikely to see a response past the 40 lb S/acre/year rate.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, University of Delaware Extension Agronomist, rtaylor@udel.edu

Pasture Associated Laminitis: Be Aware of the Risks in Spring

April 12, 2014 in Advice and Tips, General, Uncategorized

Editors Note:  Spring has finally arrived after a very long winter on Delmarva.  While this article was originally posted in 2013, it is a timely reminder for horse owners eager to turn horses out on spring pasture.

Introduction: What is laminitis?

Laminitis is an important health concern, especially during spring months when horses are given access to or are turned out on pasture. Laminitis is an inflammation of the laminae in the hooves, which is the tissue connecting the coffin bone with the hoof wall. When the laminae become inflamed, depending on the severity of the case, the coffin bone can rotate downwards. Complete downward rotation of the coffin bone is known as “founder.” Even if the case of laminitis is not so severe as to cause the rotation of the coffin bone, it may lead to lameness and other hoof health issues.

Pasture associated laminitis can be prevented by implementing pasture management strategies and the condition, if caught early, is somewhat treatable. Unfortunately once a horse has had severe inflammation of the laminae, the damage is never completely reversed and that horse will be more likely to develop the disease in the future.

Hoof Image Laminitis

Figure 1. Source: http://www.thehorse.com/images/content/hoof_anatomy.html

What causes pasture associated laminitis?

When horses consume excessive amounts of sugars, fructan and starch, they pass though the small intestine (where they are normally digested with the help of enzymes) and spill over into the hindgut where they are rapidly fermented. Horses do not posses enzymes capable of breaking down fructans so they pass through to the hindgut where they are rapidly fermented. Rapid fermentation in the hindgut results in the proliferation of lactic acid producing amylolytic and saccharolytic bacteria.  This may result in reduced hindgut pH, which in addition to hindgut acidosis, may lead to a cascade of events culminating in compromised blood flow (and thereby reduced nutrient supply) to the foot resulting in laminitis.

Laminitis is also associated with insulin resistance in equines, whereby the uptake of circulating glucose by tissue cells normally potentiated via insulin is reduced, leading to impoverished glucose supply to cells (or its metabolism within them), including those of the foot.  Insulin resistance is often seen in very fat horses and ponies, and may be exacerbated by high intakes of sugars and or starch.  While research has shown both digestive and metabolic forms of laminitis, the exact nutritional and physiological mechanisms are not completely understood. In either case, there is a clear link between the high levels of sugars in spring grasses and the resulting laminitis.

Management Solutions

The following are a few management tips that may help reduce the risk of pasture laminitis in horses.

  1. When the time comes to reintroduce horses to pasture in the spring, do so gradually. By turning a horse out for small increments of time (15-30 minutes at first) and gradually working them up to full day turn out, they will be able to acclimate to the change in nutrients and will be less likely to experience grass founder.
  2. If a horse is pre-disposed to laminitis (from previous occurrences or equine metabolic disease), then it may be a good idea to turn them out in the early morning or at night, especially during the spring months. One study found that sugar content is highest in the grass in the early evening and that it decreases to its lowest point in the early morning. This pattern was most prominent in April when compared to data from other months.3
  3. Be sure to graze grass that is at an appropriate height. Overgrazing can result in horses eating the re-growth of the pasture. The new growth of grass usually has higher sugar content. On the other hand, if the grass stand in a pasture is overgrown or too mature, a horse may consume seed heads, which can also have high sugar levels.
  4. Graze a horse with a muzzle on in order to reduce the amount of grass it is able to eat while allowing for exercise.

If a horse is pre-disposed to laminitis, for instance due to genetics (breed) or obesity, there are further steps that may need to be taken in order to reduce the possibility that the horse will experience laminitis. A webinar by Dr. Bridgett McIntosh, available through My Horse University, has several tips on managing a horse that may be more likely to develop laminitis.3


Pasture associated laminitis can be a serious problem and it is more commonly seen when pastures are lush and horses are transitioning back to grazing pasture after being inside or housed in a sacrifice lot and maintained primarily on hay. Some horses are especially sensitive to the sugar levels in lush pastures while others may not have a problem making the transition. By being aware of the management techniques that help prevent laminitis, horse owners can take the steps necessary to help avoid the disease.

Article prepared by: Sarah Thorne, Pre-veterinary and Animal Biosciences Honors Student,

Susan Garey, Animal Science Agent, and Carissa Wickens, Assistant Professor and Equine Extension Specialist, University of Delaware

Article reviewed by: Bridgett McIntosh, Assistant Professor and Horse Extension Specialist, University of Tennessee

References and Further Reading

  1. Wickens, Carissa and Stephanie Fraze. Equine Laminitis. September 2011. Accessed 12 April 2013: http://extension.udel.edu/equine/files/2010/07/EquineLaminitisFactSheet.pdf
  2. Valberg, Stephanie, Peterson, Paul and Krishona Martinson. Founder and Spring Pastures. Accessed 12 April 2013: http://www.extension.umn.edu/forages/pdfs/Founder_and_spring_pastures.pdf
  3. The Role of Nutrition in Horse Colic and Lameness. October 2011.  Accessed 12 April, 2013: http://www.extension.org/pages/12213/the-role-of-nutrition-in-horse-colic-and-laminitis
  4. My Horse University. (21 April 2009). Countermeasure for Equine Laminitis [Webinar]. Accessed 11 April 2013: http://www.myhorseuniversity.com/resources/webcasts/equine_laminitis_april09
  5. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation RIRDC Newsletter. Pasture fructan concentration as a cause of equine laminitis. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.  December 2004. 24 (12): 542.
  6. Normal and Chronically Foundered Hoof Anatomy. Accessed 10 April 2013 : http://www.thehorse.com/images/content/hoof_anatomy.html