Category Archives: horse care

5 minutes…saving our horses one letter at a time

Slaughter. A term used for the killing of animals for food consumption. Pigs, cows, chickens, goats, and yes, horses – not just in Europe but here in Canada. In fact, Canada is a world leader in the production of horse meat with approximately 67,979 horses having been slaughtered in Canada in 2015.

I’m sure many of you are shocked to hear that our beloved pets and riding companions, can end up from paddock to plate but this business, very sadly is growing. Horse meat exports brought in $85 million last year, as per Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with more than 12 million kilograms of the product being shipped. The majority of horse meat is still being sold and shipped to Europe but what has become most alarming in the last year is the increase of LIVE transportation of horses to Japan for sushi.

In Japan, “premium consumption,” a philosophy in which consumers do not mind spending large amounts of money on trendy products or services, is on the rise. The Japanese are embracing “members-only” clubs and resorts upwards of ¥355 billion ($4,176,200,000 CDN), up 13 percent from 2015. Horsemeat is increasing in popularity in Japan due in part to a boom in these exclusive and often secretive dining clubs.

Canada is the ONLY country that ships LIVE horses for slaughter.

Every year, approximately 7000 horses are transported by air from Canada to Japan. These shipments are often conducted weekly, with up to three to four large draft type horses crammed together in wooden crates. There is little room to move around, let alone lie down. No food or water is provided during the often 30+ hour journey overseas. Canadian legislation permits horses to be transported without food and water for up to 36 hours and sometimes, due to flight delays, the 36-hour period is breached.

Canadian legislation prohibits horses over 14 hands high to share a crate with other horses; however, the majority of horses being shipped to Japan are draft or draft crosses who exceed the height restriction.

They must be shipped individually if over 14 hands. Their heads must not touch the ceiling of the crate. They must not be deprived of food and water for any longer than 36 hours.

The law says all of the above things.

But for reasons of profit (up to $20,000 per horse shipped to Japan), Canada ignores the law.

I follow an amazing woman on Facebook. Her name is Dr. Judith Samson-French and she is a veterinarian who is based out of Western Canada. She advocates for ALL animals, sharing well informed articles, posting petitions to be signed and making the “average” person aware of situations such as the live transportation of horses to Japan. Below, is her Facebook post from today with a letter, for her Facebook followers, to address to Dr Cornelius F. Kiley, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

In sharing all of the information with you on this blog, my hope is that you will copy, sign and email the letter (or write in your own words) to Dr. Kiley and perhaps, we just might help make a difference:

“Can you spare 5 minutes?

Please read the letter below, if you agree copy, sign and send away (email address at the bottom).
Thank you so much!

Attention: Dr Cornelius F. Kiley, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

I am writing to comment on the following: Amendments to Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations, which pertain to the transport of animals, are now in the public comment phase in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 150, No. 49.

There are a number of concerns with the proposed regulations. Firstly no provisions have been made to prevent transport of animals in weather extremes. In Europe, transportation of animals is not allowed in weather extremes and trucks have to be temperature controlled. They are required to have on board ventilation systems. The proposed regulations do not deal with the issue of temperature extremes in Canada, and the kind of conditions (extreme Canadian cold and heat) that it is inhumane to transport animals in.

Secondly, the length of time of animal transports is still a concern. While there has been a proposed reduction in the times animals can be transported without food and water, it is still 28 hours in the case of horses and pigs. Considering the clock is re-set to zero when shipments of animals leave Canadian borders, slightly reduced Canadian travelling times will not make any difference to the actual travelling times between countries. For example , there will still be horse shipments to Japan from Alberta that are approximately 30 hours long from the time of loading at feedlots until arrival and unloading in Japan (longer if there are flight delays). Numerous studies have shown that horse health and welfare deteriorates significantly after 8 – 12 hours of travel without rest (for example the European Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare (SCAHAW) and Stevenson: ”Long Distance Animal Transport in Europe. A cruel and unnecessary trade”2008).

Another concern with the live draft horse shipments is that horses are not being segregated currently, and I believe under the new regulations there will no longer be any requirement to segregate horses over 14 hands high. According to veterinarians, this practice of loading multiple horses into crates, while obviously cost effective and financially beneficial to the exporter, is detrimental to horse welfare in airplanes. From FOIP documents it is apparent that horses in the live shipments frequently go down during takeoff and landing, and with multiple horses in crates there is greater potential for injury if they are not segregated or no divider is used.

Another regulation that should be kept, not eliminated, in the horse shipments is the regulation requiring sufficient head space for horses, especially considering the fact that they will be standing in one position in the same wooden crate for approximately 24 hours (from the time they are first loaded into the crates until they are unloaded in Japan). It would be inhumane to have the heads of taller horses bent in unnatural position the entire 24 hours.

I am unclear as to how things will be improved for animals with the new transport regulations, and in fact with proposed removal of some of the existing regulations (segregation and head clearance) designed to protect horses during live horse shipments to Japan, the situation could become even worse for these animals. If Canada is going to make changes to animal transport laws, please ensure that they make significant improvements to animal welfare instead of maximized profits for exporters and producers.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
YOUR name here, address & phone number
email to: animaltransportanimaux@inspection.gc.ca
and you can cc: lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca
PM@pm.gc.ca ”

“Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

And it only takes 5 minutes,

Until next time,
Robyn

PS – you can also make a difference by emailing Atlas Air, the American company that provides the majority of the horse transportation from Canada to Japan:

Peter Beckett Senior Director Charter Sales and Marketing Email: peter.beckett@atlasair.com

And signing the petition at Change.org
https://www.change.org/p/richard-broekman-staff-vice-president-commercial-development-and-charter-sales-email-richard-broekm-peter-beckett-senior-director-charter-sales-and-marketing-email-peter-beckett-atlasair-com-jo-ask-atlas-air-to-end-the-shipment-of-live-horses-f?recruiter=309243881&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_res

Horses enroute from Canada to Japan

Horses enroute from Canada to Japan

Beating the barnyard bugs the natural way – how to make your own horse flyspray

There’s a fly in your eye…and many more on your horse! Spring has sprung and so have the bugs in the barn. There is nothing more annoying to a horse, whether while grooming or when riding, than having flies, mosquitoes and other annoying insects around.

I’d like to share a blog written by my good friend and fellow horse keeper, Michael Stuart Webb which gives us some homemade recipes for creating our own fly sprays:

“Much to our chagrin, and the dismay of our horses, fly season is once again upon us. At this time of year, many of us douse our beloved equine companions with ready-made, chemically based potions we pick-up at the tack shop. While many of these may work, they also introduce our horses to a myriad of toxic constituents that are oftentimes ingested and stockpiled in the soft tissues; awaiting opportunity to wreak havoc on our horse’s immune systems at a later date.

Fret not my fellow horse lovers! Available to us are easy-to-make, safe, non-toxic, homemade tinctures that work just as well and are cheaper! Below are some recipes you might want to try:


Citrus Insect Repellant

▪ 2 cups light mineral oil
▪ 1/2 cup lemon juice
▪ 2 tsp. pure citronella oil
▪ 2 tsp. eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 2 tsp. lemon dish soap

The Quick and Easy Fly Spray

▪ 4-7 parts water
▪ 1 part citronella essential oil


Apple Cider Tinture

▪ 1 quart raw apple cider vinegar
▪ 1 teaspoon citronella essential oil


Eucalyptus Oil Fly Spray

▪ 2 cups white vinegar
▪ 1 tablespoon eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 1 cup water


Dr. Mary Brennan’s Fly Spray Recipe

▪ 1/2 teaspoon oil of myrrh
▪ 2 cups water
▪ 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
▪ 1/4 teaspoon of pure citronella essential oil

* An important note about the citronella oil! Never buy citronella oil from the hardware store for these applications. These are meant for use in devices that burn the product and so they are oftentimes petroleum based and highly flammable. Buy all of your essential oils from your local, and trusted, health food store.


When applying these remedies, I use a small pump-style sprayer similar to those used to spray plants and trees with. Always exercise extreme caution when spraying these, or any products, on your horses so as to avoid getting any overspray into their eyes. When applying products to your horse’s head, it is always best to apply it first to your hands and then gentle wipe the product off onto your horse. Just like people, some horses display allergic reactions to some compounds, natural or not. If you should notice any irritation to your horse’s skin, immediately discontinue use and bathe your horse to remove any remaining product.”

So, before you head out to go horsebackriding or to visit your horse, pick up some of the ingredients above and try making your own flyspray. You’ll be happier, but more importantly, so will your horse.

Until next time,
Robyn

There's a fly in my eye!

There’s a fly in my eye!

Far from home, but never far from a barn or a horse!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many different countries in my life and have had the opportunity to ride on several Caribbean islands; however, when presented with the idea of horseback riding, in many cases, the horses were not in very good condition. Instead of wanting to ride, I wanted to help these horses who were so thin and made to carry riders in the heat of the day. I remember on one trip to the Dominican Republic, I took the horses at the resort some apples from the breakfast buffet and some of the decorative flowers made out of carrots, from the lunch/dinner table. The horses were delighted with their treats and I knew that it was very rare for them to ever get anything like a piece of carrot or apple.

On the case of my recent adventure to the sunny south, I was extremely surprised and delighted to find the horses and pony at Oceanview Farm in Eleuthera, in excellent condition. I was travelling with my daughter, my sister and her family, and the kids all wanted to try a beach horseback ride so we ventured over to the stables at Oceanview one day to check out the facilities.

My first impression was that the horses were in good weight, had grassy paddocks for turnout and at each stall, there was a fan hanging above. Upon talking with the barn staff, we were told that when it is very hot outside (and this would be most afternoons especially during the summer months), the horses are turned out early in the day and brought in during the heat of the afternoon – with fans turned on to keep them cool.

Just like our horses at Foxwood Farm, certain horses have specific dietary requirements and in the Bahamas, all of the feed, hay and barn supplies need to be ordered and shipped by boat, from Miami. I was curious to find out the cost of keeping horses in the Bahamas and the farm owners were more than happy to answer my questions. Although they may pay slightly higher prices for grain, it was the cost of hay that shocked me! On average, here at Foxwood Farm, we pay between $5-5.50 per square bale of timothy/alfalfa mix. At Oceanview Farm, they pay betweeen $34-36 PER BALE for similar quality hay!! The hay is grown in Kentucky and then is shipped to Florida. From there, the hay is loaded onto pallets and sent via boat over to the Bahamas.

Another expense is the vet and farrier who both have to come over from the United States and Oceanview Farm has to pay for their plane ride over to the Bahamas at every visit. Due to the rocky terrain and dry conditions, all of the horses at Oceanview Farm wear front shoes – the cost every 6 weeks for a trim and reset is $150 US…again, a substantial increase over the cost of a farrier visit on the mainland.

Having decided that we definitely want to come for a ride, we returned to the farm a few days later in the morning to go for our beach ride. Our horses had already been groomed and tacked up before we arrived, so they were ready to go. My daughter was assigned LJ, who was a kind Thoroughbred gelding who had been rescued by Oceanview Farm and I was going to ride Major, who had been the personal horse of one of the owners. Because of the salt water in the Bahamas, Oceanview farm uses synthetic saddles so that they can be hosed off easily. These saddles were not similar to the English saddles that we are used to but are Australian saddles which reminded me more of a Western saddle, without the horn at the pommel. They have a deeper seat and were VERY comfortable for a 1 hour trail ride. The bridles used are made from nylon, again, as leather would not hold up to the salt water when venturing down to the ocean.

Starting off, riding around an inland lake, we then came to the glorious beach that beckoned us to ride upon it. I took a deep breath, looked around at the beautiful scenery around me, and enjoyed every minute and every step that Major took. This had been on my bucketlist forever and I couldn’t have wanted to share it with anyone else but my daughter. It was perfect!

Until next time,
Robyn
IMG_9105

Winter care for our Foxwood horses and ponies

4 more days…yes, I am counting down until the end of February. According to the local weather networks, this has been the coldest February on record and for those of you, like me, who have to work outside, we KNOW it is! Even though we have bundled up our horses and ponies this winter in warm blankets and bring most of them into a warm stall at night, they have also had enough of these temperatures! Some of our horses live outside 24/7, but with access to a run in shelter, they are able to get out of the elements.

I have been monitoring our horses and ponies very carefully this winter to make sure that they ARE staying warm and in good health. A good blanket is needed and it must not only be warm but waterproof as snow soaked blankets will only make a pony/horse colder. There are lots of blankets on the market but I have found that the more expensive brands like Rambo and Bucas, last longer and are better quality than others. If you wash and waterproof your blankets at the end of each season of use, this will also help prolong its’ life. It’s important to check blankets over daily for rips and any damage done to surcingles or leg straps. Leg straps should be checked before your horse/pony goes out in the morning and again, when it comes in at night. The same with the surcingles as often, horses and ponies love to roll so the blankets may shift slightly. Now that my horses and ponies have been wearing their blankets for many months, some of them have started to get some slight hair loss across the chest. Once the blankets are removed in early spring, generally, it doesn’t take long for their spring coats to grow in and repair the bald patch.

Another major issue to monitor in the winter is how much water your horse/pony is drinking. Some people assume that horses can eat snow to get their required intake ; however, this is definitely NOT the case. Horses will actually drink more water in the winter than at other times of the year because unlike spring/summer grass, hay is dry and they require more water to help digest and to avoid colic situations. To encourage my horses and ponies to drink more, I keep my outdoor water trough heated and I always have a salt and/or mineral block available. These blocks have vitamins and minerals that they do not get otherwise and the salt block makes them thirsty, which then sends them to the water. My current outdoor trough is 150 gallons and during the winter months, I will fill it up twice/day…that’s alot of drinking! For those horses that come in at night, they have water buckets in their stalls that get filled up several times over the course of the evening. If the buckets are completely frozen at night check, I will replace the bucket with a new one with fresh water. I have become very strong and skilled at using the rubber mallet this year to pound out ice;)

Some of our horses and ponies require a little extra feed over the winter as they may be old or just have trouble keeping up to the chubby ponies. Some of them get grain in the morning and at night – both times after they have had a feeding of hay which generates heat in their bodies. Without going into full detail about who eats what, every horse/pony has specific requirements so when introducing a new feed or when I get a new horse/pony, I always check with my local horse feed nutritionist to see what is best suited for that animal.

So, all of the key elements are covered at Foxwood to keep our ponies and horses happy in the winter: food, water and shelter…and of course lots of love! And let’s hope that all of the shedding we have been seeing while grooming our ponies and horses lately, is a sign that spring is just around the corner!

Until next time,
Keep warm!
Robyn

Salty keeping warm in his blanket and eating LOTS of hay!

Salty keeping warm in his blanket and eating LOTS of hay!