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How To Introduce Your Horse to Spring Grass

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spring grass

Spring. The days are getting longer and warmer. The snow is disappearing and the grass is starting to sprout. As appealing as that grass may be to your horse, it can potentially be dangerous this time of year.  How can you prevent grazing grief?

Introduce grass slowly

You need to gradually introduce your horse to grass. Allow them to graze for a short period of time and gradually build this time up. Also be aware of when is the safest time to allow your horse to graze. NSC (nonstructural carbohydrates) levels in grasses tend to increase throughout the day, peaking at about 3 or 4 p.m., and decrease overnight to lows in the very early morning hours. NSCs can be divided into three groups: sugars, starches, and fructans, all of which can lead to metabolic issues in horses when ingested in high amounts.

Supplement with hay

Don’t stop feeding hay entirely once you turn your horse out to pasture in the spring. Your horse’s stomach will need time to adjust from eating strictly hay all winter.

Have a sacrifice area

A sacrifice area is an area with little or no grass. Your horse can spend most of his time here until he is fully adjusted to eating a diet of mostly grass.  Having a sacrifice area will also help your pasture last longer as removing horses will allow your pasture to rest and regrow without being destroyed by hooves or overgrazing.

Use a grazing muzzle

If you are unable to have a sacrifice area, a grazing muzzle will help reduce the amount of grass your horse can graze on. Make sure the fit is correct and that it has a breakaway mechanism so your horse won’t get caught up.

Monitor spring grazing

Not only should you watch for signs of metabolic issues from eating too much lush pasture, your horse is also more susceptible to weight gain during this period due to the extra calories grass provides.

spring grass

Here is a tip sheet on pasture management from Equine Guelph: https://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/infosheets/Pasture_Management.pdf

March 31, 2017 |

Strangles in Horses

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strangles

It is going around that there are some unconfirmed reports of strangles affecting barns in the Guelph, Cambridge, Paris, Woodstock, and St. Thomas areas. Whether or not this is true, it is a good idea to educate yourself on the disease and how to prevent it from coming into your barn. It is also advised that you talk with your veterinarian to discuss the possible risks in your area and whether or not the vaccine is right for your horses and/or situation.

Some good reads: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/15256/strangles-risk-and-treatment

From the OMAFRA Fact Sheet on Strangles in Horses (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/03-037.htm):

Introduction

Strangles is a highly contagious and serious infection of horses and other equids caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus equi. The disease is characterized by severe inflammation of the mucosa of the head and throat, with extensive swelling and often rupture of the lymph nodes, which produces large amounts of thick, creamy pus. Strangles is caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi, better known as Streptococcus equi (S. equi). The organism can be isolated from the nose or lymph nodes of affected animals, and is usually readily identified in the laboratory by simple sugar tests.

Transmission and Environmental Survival

Horses of all ages are susceptible, though strangles is most common in animals less than 5 years of age and especially in groups of weanling foals or yearlings. Foals under 4 months of age are usually protected by colostrum-derived passive immunity. (1) S. equi is main-tained in the horse population by carrier horses but does not survive for more than 6–8 weeks in the environment. Although the organism is not very robust, the infection is highly contagious. Transmission is either by direct or indirect contact of susceptible animals with a diseased horse. Direct contact includes contact with a horse that is incubating strangles or has just recovered from the infection, or with an apparently clinically unaffected long-term carrier. Indirect contact occurs when an animal comes in contact with a contaminated stable (buckets, feed, walls, doors) or pasture environment (grass, fences, but almost always the water troughs), or through flies. (2)

Clinical Illness

Susceptible horses develop strangles within 3–14 days of exposure. (2) Animals show typical signs of a generalized infectious process (depression, inappetence, and fever of 39°C–39.5°C). More typically of strangles, horses develop a nasal discharge (initially mucoid, rapidly thickening and purulent), a soft cough and slight but painful swelling between the mandibles, with swelling of the submandibular lymph node. Horses are often seen positioning their heads low and extended, so as to relieve the throat and lymph node pain.
With the progression of the disease, abscesses develop in the submandibular (between the jaw bones) and/or retropharyngeal (at the back of the throat) lymph nodes. The lymph nodes become hard and very painful, and may obstruct breathing (“strangles”). The lymph node abscesses will burst (or can be lanced) in 7–14 days, releasing thick pus heavily contaminated with S. equi. The horse will usually rapidly recover once abscesses have ruptured.
Although the disease process described above is classic, some horses (especially older animals) will develop a mild, short lasting disease without or with minor lymph node abscessation. This is thought to be the result of partial immunity although this may also result from infection by S. equi of relatively low virulence. Classic strangles is a severe infection that can be fatal, usually because of a variety of complications that occur.

The main and often fatal complications of strangles are:
• Bastard strangles, which describes the dissemination of infection to unusual sites other than the lymph nodes draining the throat. For example, abdominal or lung lymph nodes may develop abscesses and rupture, sometimes weeks or longer after the infection seems to have resolved. A brain abscess may rupture causing sudden death or a retropharyngeal lymph node abscess may burst in the throat and the pus will be inhaled into the lung.
• Purpura haemorrhagica, which is an immune-mediated acute inflammation of peripheral blood vessels that occurs within 4 weeks of strangles, while the animal is convalescing. It results from the formation of immune complexes between the horse’s antibodies and bacterial components. These immune complexes become trapped in capillaries where they cause inflammation, visible in the mucous membranes as pinpoint haemorrhages. These haemorrhages lead to a widespread severe edema of the head, limbs, and other parts of the body. Purpura can also be a complication of routine vaccination.
Minor, non-fatal complications include:
• Post strangles myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle), which may follow strangles in a small proportion of horses. An electrocardiogram (ECG) can determine that a horse can return to heavy work or to training after an episode of strangles.
• Purulent cellulitis (inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue), which is an unusual occurrence where infection spreads locally in the subcutaneous tissue to the head.
• Laryngeal hemiplegia, which involves paralysis of the throat muscles. It is commonly referred to as “roaring”. The condition may follow abscessation of cervical lymph nodes.
• Anaemia (low red blood cell count), during the convalescent period because of immune-mediated lysis of red blood cells.
• Guttural pouch empyaema (filled with pus), which may be concurrent with classic strangles, or follow in the immediate convalescent period. The 2 guttural pouches are large mucous sacs; each is a ventral diverticulum of the Eustachian tube. They are present only in Equidae and are situated between the base of the cranium dorsally and the pharynx ventrally. (3)They open into the nasal pharynx and each has a capacity of about 300 mL. (4) Persistent infection in the guttural pouch may lead to inspissation (drying) of pus and, in some cases, the formation of a solid, stone-like, concretion called a chondroid. Animals that have persistent infection of the guttural pouches become the carriers, the major source of infection to spark outbreaks in susceptible horses with which they are mixed.
Apart from the problem of long-term guttural pouch carriers, discussed below, recovered horses may shed S. equi from their nose and in their saliva for up to 6 weeks following infection. Therefore, isolate all horses that have had strangles from susceptible animals for 6 weeks following infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis can be confirmed by culturing pus from the nose, from abscessated lymph nodes or from the throat of clinically affected horses. Although S. equi isolates are thought to be genetically identical, isolates may vary in virulence and atypical isolates occur, which differ in their sugar tests from typical S. equi.
There is argument among veterinarians as to whether or not to treat an animal with strangles with antibiotics. Many veterinarians think that treatment will impair the development of immunity and may predispose an animal to prolonged infection and to bastard strangles. Treatment of a horse in the early stages of strangles is usually effective and is not associated with untoward effects. The causative agent is highly susceptible to penicillin G. If the disease is more advanced, then most veterinarians will not use antibiotics but rather will recommend nursing care and trying to hasten the development of abscesses (which can be drained) by poulticing. Antibiotics may, however, be used if complications arise.

Prevention of Strangles

Detection of carriers
In recent years, work in the United Kingdom has added substantially to the understanding of the carrier state in strangles. (5) This work has shown that carriers are usually horses that, following recovery from clinical illness, remain with persistent infection of the guttural pouches. This infection is associated with persistent, purulent inflammation in this site or, in some cases, with the presence of chondroids. These carriers can be detected either by culture or by detection of S. equi DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. PCR is a more sensitive test but also is currently more expensive. The combination of these tests may be even more reliable, but is expensive.
Because the organism is adapted to the horse, a system of control based on detection, isolation and treatment of carriers could potentially be used to eradicate the organism on a continent-wide basis. Horse owners and veterinarians have not yet organized to take advantage of this new understanding. However, vaccination with a live vaccine may interfere with the detection and eradication approach to control.
A series of 3 nasopharyngeal swabs (e.g., swabs introduced through the nose and collecting material from the back of the throat), evenly spaced over 2 or 3 weeks, will result in the detection of about 60% of carriers using isolation and identification of the organism, or of about 90% of carriers using PCR. For the detection of carriers, the laboratory should use a selective medium (Columbia blood agar with nalidixic acid and colistin).

Investigation of carriers should be done either before a new animal is introduced into a stable or herd, or at least 30 days following recovery of a horse from strangles. Animals should be isolated until there have been 3 consecutive negative cultures and/or PCR reactions.
If an animal is positive, endoscopic evaluation of the guttural pouch is recommended, chondroids removed, and guttural pouches treated by flushing and infusion of 5 million units of penicillin G in 3% gelatin. In addition, these horses should be treated with penicillin G intramuscularly for 7 days, isolated for 30 days, and then retested with the 3 consecutive series of nasopharyngeal swabs and culture. PCR is not usually recommended in these animals because it is so sensitive that it may identify dead bacteria and so give a “positive” reaction. Animals that remain positive should go through a repeat treatment and culture cycle.
This system of identification of carriers by culture and/or PCR, while not 100% reliable, is more reliable than the usual recommendation for the control of strangles. These are to isolate or quarantine new arrivals for 2–3 weeks, look for evidence of strangles-like upper respiratory tract infection, and carry out one or more nasal swabs that are used for culture. Your veterinarian will be able to give you the current laboratory costs per test for bacteria isolation and for the PCR test. Owners may not be prepared to take this route to control strangles due to the financial costs.

Vaccination

Both a killed and a live vaccine are available for the control of strangles. The only killed vaccine currently available in Canada is StrepguardTM by Intervet. Killed vaccines, in general, are administered with an initial series of intramuscular injections followed by an annual booster. There may be adverse reactions at the injection site (marked pain, even frank abscesses). Some animals have even developed purpura haemorrhagica following vaccination. The killed vaccines do not provide complete protection because they do not result in the local, nasopharyngeal antibodies thought to be important in protection, but they do reduce the severity of clinical illness should it occur.

More recently, a live, attenuated S. equi vaccine (PinnacleTM I.N. by Fort Dodge) has been introduced as an intranasal vaccine for the prevention of strangles. The vaccine is administered twice, at an interval of 1–2 weeks. This approach to vaccination is intuitively more attractive than a killed, intramuscular vaccine since it produces the local antibodies necessary for protective immunity. Because the vaccine is a live but attenuated (using a low virulence organism) S. equi, take care to avoid contamination of injections elsewhere in the horse. Concurrent injection of other vaccines has resulted in S. equi abscesses at these sites, presumably through inadvertent contamination. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to not administer other vaccines or injections at the same time as administering the intranasal vaccine — or to be very careful about preventing contamination of injection sites. Other adverse reactions have also been reported. According to the manufacturer, adverse reactions occur at a frequency of about 5 per 10,000 doses. These include submandibular and pharyngeal lymph node swellings, with or without abscessation, purpura haemorrhagica, which may be severe, and even bastard strangles. Since the live organism may persist in the nose, approaches to control that involve detection of carriers may not be effective in horses immunized with this vaccine.

Immunity

After developing strangles, most horses eliminate infection fairly rapidly (i.e., within 30 days after recovery). Approximately 75% of horses develop a solid enduring immunity to strangles following recovery from the disease. (2) However, individual animals may remain with infection persistent within the guttural pouch, and may secrete the organism in nasal exudate or saliva for months or years. These carriers show no evidence of clinical disease and are the major source of infection for other horses with which they are mixed.

Control of Strangles

Isolate clinically affected animals or identified carriers immediately in a quarantine area, and clean and disinfect their water buckets or feed containers daily. Bedding can be burned or alternatively composted under a plastic sheet (to prevent spread by flies). Scrub with water and detergent any areas contaminated by infected horses, then disinfect by steam cleaning and/or applying effective disinfectants. Fly control is required to prevent spread during an outbreak.
Under optimal conditions, the bacteria can survive probably 6–8 weeks in the environment. Jorm (1991) has shown that S. equi survived for 63 days on wood at 2°C and for 48 days on glass or wood at 20°C. (6) The organism is readily killed by heat (60°C) or disinfectants (particularly povidone iodine, chlorhexidine). Rest contaminated pasture areas for 4 weeks, since the natural antibacterial effects of drying and of ultraviolet light will kill the organism.
Have quarantine area staff change their coveralls and boots before leaving the quarantine area, and wash their arms and hands carefully with chlorhexidine soap.
Approaches used to control strangles will depend on the circumstances of the individual horse or horse farm, but all people involved with horses need to maintain constant vigilance. These approaches involve a combination of knowledge of the history of individual animals and their source of origin, general hygiene, quarantine, and immunization, with appropriate action if an outbreak occurs.
Farms with large populations and movement of horses, particularly of older foals and yearlings, will want to maintain a routine immunization program of all horses to reduce the incidence and severity of disease. On these farms, depending on the vaccination program including the type of vaccine used, all incoming horses should be isolated for 2 to 3 weeks and, although expensive, a series of nasal or preferably nasopharyngeal swabs taken during this time for demonstration of the organism or its DNA. Only then should these isolated horses join the rest of the group.
Where a few adult horses are kept together and are uncommonly mixed with other horses, immunization may not be required since all immunization carries a slight risk of adverse effects. Incoming animals should be quarantined for 3 weeks, during which time nasal swabs should be assessed for the presence of the organism.

References

1. Timoney JF. Equine strangles:1999. Am. Assoc. Equine Pract. Proceedings 1999; 45:31-37.
2. Timoney JF. Strangles. Vet. Clin. North Am. 1993; 9:365-374.
3. Sisson S, Grossman JD. Anatomy of the Domestic Animals. WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia 1953; p901.
4. Habel RE. Applied Veterinary Anatomy. Robert E. Habel, Ithaca NY 1975; p57.
5. Newton JR, Wood JLN, Dunn KA, DeBrauwere MN, Chanter N. Naturally occurring persistent and symptomatic infection of the guttural pouches of horses with Streptococcus equi. Vet. Rec. 1997; 140:84-90.
6. Jorm LR. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Equine Infectious Diseases, Cambridge, 1991; p39.

March 24, 2017 |

5 Reasons Your Equestrian Business Needs A Business Plan

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equestrian business

It absolutely floors me that many equestrian business owners, especially stable owners, do not have a business plan.  Even if you’re not planning on raising money or going to the bank for any sort of financing, it is still a smart idea to have a document that can help give you a clear statement of your business’s mission or vision, benchmarks to help you keep track of performance, an honest assessment of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and an opportunity to test out your idea to see if it holds a real promise of success.

equestrian business

Why your equestrian business needs a business plan.

Whether you are planning on starting up a new business or are already operating an existing one, here is a list of a few reasons why your equestrian business should have a business plan.

1.To map the future – when things are written down, you are more likely to follow them. You can plan out different future scenarios and how to deal with them, and set goals along with what resources you are going to need to achieve these goals and how you are going to acquire such resources. Use this opportunity to assess the feasibility of your idea. Is this actually going to make you money? Do people need this product or service?

2. To secure funding – no one is just going to throw money at you to help you get your business started.  You need to give the bank, investors, etc. a reason to support you.  Your business plan will let them know what you plan on doing with their investment, how that money will grow, and how new revenue will be generated.

3. To develop a game plan – Who are your customers? What do they want? Will they buy your product or service? What is your marketing plan going to be? How are you going to measure performance?

4. To better understand your competition – Are you the only one of your kind in the marketplace or is it saturated? Are your competitors in your immediate area or are they far enough out of your zone to not really be a threat.  Is their business thriving or failing? Not only will this help you plan out how to stand out from the rest, it can also be an indicator as to whether there is a need for your product or service.

5. To uncover new opportunities – by putting everything down in writing, it forces you to really think and be creative. You may end up seeing your idea in a different light. Your business plan does not have to be a static document. By revisiting it regularly, you can see what is working or not working and come up with new ideas for marketing your service or product and running your business.

 

What could happen if you don’t have a business plan?

Going bankrupt because you don’t have a plan for how to make money.

Running out of money before you even open you doors for business because you haven’t accurately planned your start-up costs.

Losing customers because your quality or service falls short.

Falling short on your sales/income projection because you don’t really know who your customers are or what they want.

 

There are many great resources out there to help you craft a business plan. Equine Guelph also hosts a number of courses and their Equine Business Management certificate is ideal for anyone looking to start up a business or already running one.  If you can only take one course, I highly recommend their Equine Business Management course which walks you through writing a business plan.

March 21, 2017 |

Moody Mare Scents (and a CONTEST!)

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moody mare

Moody Mare is a brand new company based out of Mono Mills, Ontario that offers amazing homemade pampering products that are perfect for yourself or for a gift.

Head on over to our Facebook page for a chance to win a gift basket from Moody Mare!  https://www.facebook.com/horseontario/photos/a.1707197126158816.1073741828.1511839732361224/1876444719234055/?type=3&theater

Moody Mare Products

Sugar scrubs:

“Dressage Diva” a rich, soothing blend of French Vanilla Extract and Sweet Orange essential oil.
“Pony Lines” a soothing, healing blend of Green Tea Leaves, Honey and Lavender essential oils.
The bath salts that would like out of their stalls are:
“2 Refusal” a gotta find my happy place blend of Green Tea Leaves, Lavender, Clary Sage & Bergamont essential oils.
“Frozen Buckets” a definite sinus clearing blend of Rosehip Tea Leaves, Rosemary, Eucalyptus & Lavender essential oils.
“Arena Circles” a calming, take a deep breath blend of Orange Tea Leaves, Lavender, Sweet Orange & Frankincense essential oils.
“Morning Feed” a soft alarm bell ring of Green Tea Leaves, Sweet Orange & Lemongrass essential oils.

New products to Moody Mare include “Arena Dirt” which is a facial scrub/mask made with activated charcoal. “Accident Prone” which is an all around ouchy healing salve. “Wrong Bush” is a classic drawing salve that has activated charcoal and pine tar, don’t let the smell put you off, this stuff works! My personal favorite is “Parting Company”, which is a muscle soothing salve for when you and your mount “part ways”

You can find Moody Mare at the florist in Tottenham mall or email twitch@bell.net to place an order.

 

moody mare

March 17, 2017 |

*CONTEST ALERT* Eat Sleep Ride Repeat

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eat sleep ride repeat

One of our sponsors, Eat Sleep Ride Repeat, wants your input on what they should offer in their online store.  Complete a quick survey and be entered for a chance to win an Eat Sleep Ride Repeat quarter sheet and ride card holder (a $75 value!). Draw to take place April 29th at the first OCTRA endurance ride of the season.  The Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team will be doing a Facebook live session so make sure to follow them to see if you’re the big winner!

Enter here: https://eatsleepriderepeat.com/2017/03/06/answer-our-quick-survey-for-your-chance-to-win/

About Eat Sleep Ride Repeat (more…)

March 6, 2017 |

10 Tips for Being a Better Boarder

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boarding

We all want to be that boarder that barns just love to have and beg to keep. We’ve also heard the stories about so-called ‘barn drama’ but does such a thing really exist? If boarders followed the tips below, many barns owners would be in a much mood, caring for you and your horse. Feel free to comment and add suggestions of your own.

  1. Pay your bills on time! Nothing creates more stress or damages a relationship more quickly then being tardy on rent or board. Consider paying early to give a good impression that you value your partnership. It doesn’t matter what excuse you may have to being late, it’s the first thing that gives a property owner legal rights to have you removed.

(more…)

February 27, 2017 |

EHV-1 Confirmed In Two Horses in Ontario

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ehv-1

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of two confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1).

The horses from Durham Region were referred to the Ontario Veterinary College with neurological signs and are receiving treatment. Three other horses on the farm have tested positive for the mutated (neuropathogenic) strain of EHV-1 on nasal swabs but are not demonstrating neurological signs at this time. The farm owner has voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread.

Current vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.

See the press release here: http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/notices/2-16-17/ehv-1-confirmed-ontario.html

 

OMAFRA Fact sheet on Equine Herpes Virus: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/vet/facts/13-003.htm

 

February 17, 2017 |

9 Tips to Nail a Job in the Equine Industry

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equine job

Recently, it has been great to see schools offering equine programs. These produce knowledgeable professionals and creates standardization across the industry. But are grads from these programs finding the jobs they want in the industry?

Many of them will probably end up working as in a barn or maybe they’ll take an office position until something opens up in their field. For many, the hardest part may be just getting their foot in the door. So, what’s the best way to do that?

  1. Keep in touch with former employers and colleagues. They may know of positions coming available and could be used as references.
  1. Follow instructions – read the entire job posting to find out exactly what the employer is asking for. It would be a shame to miss out on a great opportunity because your application was missing one line of information.
  1. Don’t just print off your standard resume and cover letter. Tailor it to the position you are applying for. Is your dream job not posted. Try sending your resume off to the company. They may have something come up that is not publicly available yet.
  1. Come to the interview prepared. This is not the time or place to wing it. Bring questions to show that you did some research about the company and to find out if the company and/or role is right for you.
  1. Be honest. Don’t pad your resume with skills that you don’t have. The truth will eventually come out.  It also goes the other way too. If the job is not for you, say so.
  1. Work out details of accommodations or how you are going to get to this job ahead of time. You don’t want to waste their time or yours if you get a job only to find out you won’t be able to show up to work on time (or at all!)
  1. Show that you are interested. Show up on time and dress appropriately. You don’t need to show up in a suit or skirt if it’s a position in a barn, but look professional.
  1. Show initiative and don’t be shy. Be confident about yourself and what skills you can bring to the company.
  1. Be realistic about wages. Unfortunately most positions in the equine industry are not well paid.
February 15, 2017 |

She helped me to figure out who I am

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van paassen

By: Brianna Bell

Originally posted in GuelphToday

van paassen

Guelph resident Alana Van Paassen started riding horses competitively at the age of 6.

“My mom grew up on a farm and rode Western, she loved horses and wanted to learn English riding,” said 27-year-old Van Paassen.

Mother and daughter took lessons together each week in Georgetown, a short drive from their home in Caledon.

Van Paassen’s love for horses grew, and her thrill and skill in competing became obvious. By the age of 8, she was the proud owner of her very own horse, TJ, and by 12 she had three horses.

Alana’s mom, Louise Van Paassen, continued to support her daughter even when their weekly riding lessons discontinued. Alana’s competing schedule grew more intense, with three day events all over Canada and the United States. She continued training and growing in her skills, with her mother by her side.

By 2001 the 12-year-old rider had won a Provincial Title — her first major win.

In April 2006 the Van Paassen family experienced a devastating loss.

Alana was in a tragic motor vehicle accident that claimed her mother’s life and left Alana with serious injuries. The mother and daughter duo were on the 401, just outside of Cambridge, and were heading to Kentucky to watch a riding competition. Shortly after leaving their house in Caledon Louise had a heart attack at the wheel of the car.

The Van Paassen vehicle rear-ended a transport truck at 80 km/hour, and Louise died of a heart attack. Alana’s injuries were substantial. The dashboard of the car fell onto Alana’s left leg, breaking her femur in 12 different places.

The jaws of life removed the debris and rescued Alana from the wreckage, where she was transported to Cambridge Memorial; she stayed there for five days and had emergency surgery on her shattered leg.

Following the accident Alana had a long road to recovery, along with processing her grief over her mother’s death.

Van Paassen was on crutches for nine months, and went to many physiotherapy appointments to recover the use of her left leg. For 18 long months Van Paassen did not ride a horse. She was also in her final year of high school at the time, and was able to graduate with her class in 2007.

“As I recovered I started thinking about riding without my mom around,” she shared. “A woman named Shannon Gerryts was my riding coach at the time.”

Shannon became a sister and confidant to 17-year-old Alana, helping her to process her grief over her mother’s loss. Gerryts even rode the teenage Van Paassen’s horses while she couldn’t, continuing to motivate the young equestrian and encouraging her to consider competing again.

“She helped me to figure out who I am,” said Van Paassen, speaking softly. “She stepped in some ways, and helped me to be independent in other ways.”

By 2009 Van Paassen was accepting her first championship title since her 2006 accident, despite the intense pain she continued to experience from her injury.

In 2010 Van Paassen was back in surgery, after she broke her leg a second time while riding, and began the process of relearning how to use her left leg again. She said that despite the many setbacks, the 2010 injury turned into a blessing, with the surgery being more successful and her pain moving forward more manageable.

Around this time Van Paassen began teaching riding lessons, and word of mouth spread about her talent as a teacher and a rider. After studying at the University of Guelph Van Paassen decided to stay in the city, and eventually purchased her first home.

“I never thought I’d be teaching full time,” said Van Paassen, who now boards horses and owns and operates For the Win Equestrian, where she trains equestrians of all skill levels, from novice riders to competitive riders.

Recently Van Paassen has decided to branch out and learn new skills beyond riding.

“I’m trying to get out of the struggling artist lifestyle,” she said with a laugh, adding that she’s working in the real estate industry in investing and property management.

Alana still remains close to her friend and confidant, Shannon. She said Shannon is her “training partner,” and has been a great encouragement as she begins to train to compete once again.

There’s no doubt that Guelphite Alana Van Paassen has overcome many obstacles as a young rider, but her story is proof that perseverance and determination can make anyone a winner.

Today, when she rides she remembers her mother’s love for their horses, and is thankful for that her mother gave her the greatest gift of all — her own passion for horse riding.

Find the original article here: https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/she-helped-me-to-figure-out-who-i-am-531690?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

February 9, 2017 |

Paula Fedeyko of Doc Ridge Dressage – Podcast

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paula fedeyko

On this episode of the Horse Show podcast, we sit down  with Paula Fedeyko. Paula owns and operates Doc Ridge Dressage, based out of Puslinch, Ontario.  Paula offers training, lessons, part boarding, in barn leases, coaching and sales out of Doc Ridge Dressage.

Not always a horse lover, Paula tells us in this interview how she came about to dressage after not always being a horse lover and spending some time in the hunter and equitation rings. She also spent 2 years in Holland working in the horse industry there both training and showing and she shares one of her embarrassing stories from her time over there. All of this experience in different aspects of the horse world are helping her to achieve her goal of being a great all-around horseperson, not just a great rider.

She currently has two horses: Bosco, who she plans to compete in Prix St. George again once he has recovered from an injury and an up and coming yearling who she hopes will take her to the international stage in the future.

Fedeyko also shares her opinion on the importance of having that connection or bond with your horse and matching the right horse with the right rider and she leaves us with some advice for the horse industry.

You can find out more about Paula Fedeyko and Doc Ridge Dressage at http://www.docridgedressage.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

February 1, 2017 |
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