Louisiana Department Of Agriculture Requests Restraining Order Against Kill Pen Operation

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Board of Animal Health have filed documents in court to limit the operations a well-known bail pen in the state. The two state agencies filed a petition for temporary restraining order, as well as a request for a preliminary and a permanent injunction against Gary Thompson and his son Jacob Thompson, both of the parish of Vernon, to stop buying and selling livestock.

A court date to hear the agencies’ request is set for Aug. 17.

According to the petition, both Thompsons have been expressly prohibited from buying and selling livestock after Jacob Thompson’s livestock dealer permit renewal was denied by the Board of Animal Health in 2018. The petition alleges Gary Thompson never held a livestock dealer permit, which is required in Louisiana. The two have ownership interests in Thompson Horse Lot, which has marketed horses on social media under various page names as being available for “bail” from a spot on a truck headed to Mexican slaughter facilities. The petition would also prevent anyone from acting as a livestock dealer on the Thompsons’ behalf.

 

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Arkansas Group Seeks To Pair At-Risk Youth With Thoroughbred Industry Jobs

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As horse racing continues, alongside much of the country, to ponder the challenges of diversity and inclusion in its fan base and workforce, one man is hoping he can contribute part of the answer. Michael Davis’ idea is still in the early stages and has come together at a rough time for embarking on new non-profits, but he is determined to press forward anyway. Davis is the president and chief executive officer of the Oliver Lewis Inner City Thoroughbred Jockey Club, which he hopes will connect inner city youth in North Little Rock, Ark., to the Thoroughbred industry. The goal is to provide a diversion for at-risk youth while providing the racing industry a new source for future employees and leaders.

“My mom had moved from the South when I was two years old from to a big city – Milwaukee,” Davis recalled. “She didn’t like it there — there was a lot going on with riots and things like that, so the three youngest kids she sent back to her mom’s house in Mississippi, where her oldest brother had four horses. I learned the rural life, that you could have a horse in your yard.

“They had a calming effect. Just looking into the animal’s eyes, I fell in love with the horses. I learned to ride and ended up buying my uncle three more horses when I got older and got a good job. I had older brothers and sisters so I never was going to get into trouble, but I wanted to be out there with the horses. It can really change a kid’s life when they see there’s something beautiful they can care for.”

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‘The More Information, The Better’ For Veterinarians Trying To Keep Racehorses Safe

 

New regulations requiring veterinarians and trainers to file and keep medical records on a horse in training may seem like a lot of extra paperwork, but regulatory veterinarians say it makes a big difference in their ability to keep horses safe. In a video conference held as part of this year’s Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, Drs. Dionne Benson, Ryan Carpenter, Scott Palmer and Will Farmer gathered to discuss the advantages and challenges to veterinary records reporting.

“For me, it’s real simple: I think the regulatory body in whatever state you’re working in should have access to everything you do,” said Carpenter, who was the only private practice racetrack veterinarian on the panel. “I think you have to be very accurate in how you report your information, and not only in the paper format that we turn into the CHRB but also in conversations that take place with the regulatory vets. I’ve found that’s the best way to establish a working relationship that puts the horses best interests [at the forefront].

 

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Kentucky Horsemen’s Group Sues Churchill, Keeneland, Commission Over Lasix House Rules

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This week would begin the first 2-year-old races of 2020 in Kentucky, and is meant to mark the start of a partial phaseout of furosemide on race day. The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is hoping to put a stop to that phaseout.

The horsemen’s group filed a civil suit in Franklin County Circuit Court May 15 seeking to remove racetracks’ legal ability to card Lasix-free races, as well as requests for an emergency and a permanent restraining order and a temporary injunction to stop Churchill Downs and Keeneland from running 2-year-old races without Lasix under house rules. The suit names the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Keeneland Association, and Churchill Downs Inc. as respondents.

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Enteritis In Horses: A Source Of Colic And Of Mystery

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Fan favorite California Chrome may have suffered a bout of enteritis since his arrival to Arrow Stud in Japan, but one veterinarian familiar with the illness says there’s no reason to be concerned about his long-term health.

Enteritis is the inflammation of either the large or small intestine and often results in part of the intestine failing to move its contents along, which causes it to stretch out and become painful. In horses, enteritis presents as a classic colic, with symptoms of abdominal pain like elevated heart rate, lack of manure, and restlessness which could include a horse touching or kicking at its sides. Enteritis in the small intestine is most common in foals, while large intestinal enteritis is most common in adult horses.

Dr. Bryan Waldridge, veterinarian at Park Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., said typical presentations of enteritis will also have reflux of stomach contents through a nasogastric tube. Because the contents can’t keep moving through the intestine as normal, they’ll backfill into the stomach, which causes the horse discomfort. Ultrasound can also show a veterinarian where intestinal contents have backed up.

 

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Kentucky Commission Unanimously Approves Sale Of Turfway To Churchill

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A rendering of the planned grandstand for Turfway Park.

At a special meeting convened Tuesday afternoon, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously to approve the change of control for Turfway Park, clearing the way for Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) to purchase the track for $46 million. Churchill, operating via its wholly-owned subsidiary, NKYRG LLC, announced the deal last week, noting it was contingent upon Commission approval. The closing is expected to take place tomorrow.

Kevin Flannery, president of Churchill Downs Race Track, presented the commission with CDI’s initial plans for the facility. CDI plans to hold the upcoming race meet, which runs December to March, and demolish the existing grandstand and associated buildings immediately after. Flannery said simulcasting will be moved to another, to-be-determined location during construction. CDI plans to operate during the same December to March timeframe next season, with the hope being that the majority of the construction will be completed by the end of 2020. The official grand opening for the new facility is slated sometime mid-2021.

 

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Dominguez’s 360 Gentle Touch Riding Crop: Why It’s Different And How It Fits Into The Whip Debate

by | 05.10.2019 | 3:04pm

In the hubbub of the Kentucky Derby disqualification drama, replays and still images have been analyzed and watched thousands of times as viewers try to get a handle on Maximum Security’s path of travel and the resulting domino effect. One thing people probably weren’t looking at closely, however, was the whips the jockeys were carrying. All riders in this year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby went to the post with the new 360 Gentle Touch (360 GT) riding crop, engineered by retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez. Riders at Laurel Park adopted the crop’s use in April.

Until the DQ of Maximum Security took center stage, the use of the whip (often referred to as a “riding crop” in an attempt at rebranding) was one of the central debates in racing, prompted by The Stronach Group’s suggestions earlier this year it would do away with the whip for any purpose other than safety or correction of a drifting horse. That declaration, which became a rule unanimously approved by the California Horse Racing Board, was met with displeasure by the Jockeys’ Guild, which claims its members need the whip. Horseplayers weighed in to suggest they preferred riders to use them for encouragement. On the opposite side of the aisle, animal rights groups have long demonized use of the whip, adding it in a long list of perceived abuses in the sport.

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Ask Your Veterinarian: What Are Hoof Growth Rings?

by | 01.10.2019 | 3:06pm

QUESTION: What are hoof growth rings and what does it mean when you see them on a horse at sale?

DR. SCOTT FLEMING: Growth rings are externally visible ridges in the hoof that indicate differences in the rate of growth or quality of a horse’s hoof wall. The appearance and number of rings can vary from several consecutive rings to a single or widely intermittent pattern. Growth rings can be indicative of a problem within the hoof capsule or may just be an external map of changes in activity, nutrition, or a systemic disturbance that altered hoof growth at one time.

The average hoof on a healthy adult horse will grow from the coronary band to the ground in approximately one year. Alterations in hoof growth or quality such as laminitis can greatly affect growth rates. For example, the hoof wall at the toe may grow slower than the heels in both laminitis and clubfooted hooves while exhibiting a similar dished appearance. Both conditions may take much longer for the toe to grow to the ground.

 

Visually, the growth rings will appear small and tightly spaced at the toe and become wider and more pronounced toward the heels where the growth rate is more rapid. We describe these growth rings as being divergent. They are wider in one part of the hoof than another region. They can be divergent in several planes, such as those described previously, or wider at the toe than heels or even wider on the outside of the hoof than the inside or vice versa. These patterns tell us something about the hoof and what forces, either internal or external, are causing growth differences in the hoof. Wider (faster growth) at the toe than heels can mean the heels are compressed or compromised in some manner. We often see this pattern with negative palmar/plantar angled coffin bones.

The hoof may also exhibit a rounded “bullnosed” appearance and the angle of the coronary band is higher than a normal hoof. Rings that are divergent from one side of the hoof compared to the other may result from differential loading due to conformation or can result from more significant insults such as medial sinking or failure of the internal suspension of the hoof. Divergent rings can often result from overloading or imbalance of one portion or structure in the hoof and can be improved through trimming and shoeing that reduces stress in the affected region.

Reading growth rings offers valuable information but is only part of the picture to overall hoof health. The rings that are visible, are a history of where that hoof has been recently, but internally, a hoof can be catastrophically failing without external signs having shown in the wall itself. Physical evaluation, a detailed history, and radiography remain the cornerstones for diagnosing hoof problems.

Scott Fleming, originally from Northeast Texas, grew up riding Western performance Quarter Horses and working with cattle. Upon graduating from high school, Fleming attended farrier school and maintained a quarter horse centric farrier business in Northeast and central Texas until moving to Lexington. He also served in the Marine Corps Infantry for four years.

Fleming graduated from veterinary school at Texas A&M University in 2013. He then completed an internship at Rood & Riddle in 2013-2014, continued at the hospital as a fellow, and is currently an associate veterinarian at Rood & Riddle.

Outside of Rood & Riddle, Fleming enjoys spending time on the farm with his wife, Tina and their two children, Callie and Case . A special interest for Dr. Fleming is participating in Equitarian Initiative trips to Central America to help working equids in the region.

Do you have a question for a veterinarian that you’d like to see in Ask Your Vet? Email natalie at paulickreport.com

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Fourteen Takeaways From The 2018 Jockey Club Welfare And Safety Summit

by | 06.27.2018 | 6:50pm

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation hosted its eighth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit June 27 at Keeneland, with speakers touching off on disaster preparedness, jockey safety, equine injury, and Thoroughbred aftercare.

Here are a few things I didn’t know before attending this year’s event:

  • Detail matters in disaster planning. Obviously, the San Luis Rey Downs tragedy and a pair of major hurricanes reiterated to everyone in the horse industry that wherever you keep horses, you need disaster plans. One thing people may not think about is the impact beyond the first hours following a hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood. Dr. Roberta Dwyer, extension veterinarian at the University of Kentucky, recalled a serious ice storm in Central Kentucky several years ago which left her farm property without power or vehicular access for a week.Some things you may not have thought of when making plans:
    -If you have well water, a loss of power also means a loss of water for your horses.
    -Your help may not be able to access the farm to look after horses.
    -Fencing or barns may be destroyed or unusable, and the longer access to your property is blocked, the longer it will take to get them fixed
    -Mass power outages will also mean that gas stations and ATMs will be non-functional
    -If you have more horses than trailer space and are forced to evacuate, you need to know which ones are going first and where you’re taking them.
  • An answer to an age-old question: Should horses be inside or out during a weather event? Dwyer said it depends on your barn, its location, and the type of weather that’s headed your way. If your barn is in a low-lying area and there’s a potential for flooding, the horses should be let out so they can seek shelter. If your barn is at the top of a windy hill and a storm system is coming, the barn may not be in the safest place for the horse. In the event of a tornado warning, Dwyer thinks flying debris is a big consideration and keeping horses inside may be the best way to protect them.
  • When it comes to weather at the track, change is a bigger problem than extremity. Horses, much like people, will gradually adjust to the temperature and humidity they’re exposed to. A panel made up of track managers and veterinarians agreed they’re more worried by significant changes in a short amount of time than they are warm or cold temperatures. Dr. Lynn Hovda, chief commission veterinarian for the Minnesota Racing Commission, noted Canterbury Park saw a change from two feet of snow to a high of 106 degrees in six weeks this season, along with significant humidity. That had her worried.Jeff Johnston, regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild said he is more worried by ice than snow. Track surfaces are usually fine during icy weather because they’re harrowed a lot, but pathways to and from the paddock may not be. Further, Johnston pointed out changes from thaw and freeze can impact dirt surfaces in ways fans don’t think about. Before Turfway put in a synthetic surface, Johnston recalled overnight refreezing would tighten the dirt, but in the midafternoon on a weekend card, the ground would have thawed but not dried and the surface became loose and unsafe. This sometimes prompted race cancellations which the general public found difficult to understand.
  • The Equine Injury Database is starting to look at non-fatal injuries, and the results are pretty interesting so far. We knew that a horse’s appearance on a veterinarian’s list was an increased risk for fatal injury, but of course it also elevates the risk a horse will have a non-fatal injury. This does not seem to multiply with the number of separate instances a horse may have been placed on the list, but it also doesn’t ever go back down to normal again after the horse has been flagged once. Horses who have been on the list once have a 115 percent higher risk for fatal breakdown and a 79 percent higher risk for non-fatal fracture than horses who haven’t been flagged.Track-by-track data has also shown there’s variability in risk patterns post-veterinarian’s list depending on location – and obviously, regulatory body. When a horse comes off the list and is allowed to run, some locations saw the horse’s risk spike higher/spike longer than others.
  • …However, we need much, much more complete reporting before the database can provide us helpful guidelines to reduce risk. Parkin estimates he’s only getting about 25 percent of all non-fatal injuries that happen, between injuries that happen during training or incomplete reporting of injuries during the race day. There’s also a lot of injury risk we still don’t have a statistical explanation for, and more complete data could help fill in some gaps.
  • The private nature of veterinary records could be part of the issue – for Parkin, and for horses. Of course, it would be easier for Parkin to identify trends in horses’ history if he knew what they were being treated with and when. But veterinary records legally belong to the owner of the horse at the time a record was created, and aren’t required to be disclosed to subsequent owners, Parkin, or state officials (with a few limited exceptions). Parkin suspects it’s no accident then, that a horse’s risk of fatal injury is 28 percent higher in its first start with a new trainer than it was the last time it started. Part of that could be the trainer’s lack of familiarity with the horse, but part of it may be that he’s in the dark about what the horse has experienced medically.
  • In case you needed more evidence, bringing a horse back after an injury may not be worth it if the horse is running at the lower levels. That’s because, according to Parkin’s data, they’re probably going to be starting for a purse that’s 20 percent lower than what they were running for before injury. If you’re already running a cheap horse, you have to ask whether it’s worthwhile. Among horses who suffered a non-fatal injury, only 46 percent raced again; those who did had a fatal breakdown rate of 3.1 percent – significantly higher than the .18 percent through the rest of the population.
  • Microchipping can help with more than verifying identity at saddling time. Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, noted that microchips can put a halt to abuse of shockwave therapy – if used correctly. The temporary analgesia produced by shockwave makes it a temptation for trainers to haul horses off-site to apply the therapy close to race time, then come back in. Prevailing wisdom suggests they may lie to the security attendant at the stable gate about the identity of the horse in the trailer (if they are asked for an identity at all) to evade suspicion. Guilfoil expects stable gate attendants can scan microchips to create a digital record of when a horse came on and off the grounds.
  • “Putting an inexperienced jockey on an inexperienced horse is a recipe for disaster.” Peta Hitchens, research fellow in the equine orthopedic research group at the University of Melbourne, presented stats gathered from five years of data from the California Jockey Accident Database. She found an apprentice has a 50 percent higher risk for injury than a fully-licensed rider, and several additional factors could add more risk on top of that 50 percent increase, including: the rider also has less than 250 races to their name; the horse has had less than five starts; the race is a sprint; the race takes place on a dry, fast track. Unsurprisingly, fatal injuries to horses are risky for riders: 60 percent of fatal horse breakdowns were accompanied by a jockey injury.
  • We’ve known rider falls are expensive, but now we know how expensive. Jockey claims in the Finish Line Insurance Group, which protects California riders, averaged a staggering $103,000 each in cases of fatal horse breakdowns. Claims for the average exercise rider fall: $28,000 each.
  • Besides being an important welfare consideration, having a sports medicine physician to look after the jockey colony can reduce costs. Dr. Kelly Ryan, primary care sports medicine physician with MedStar Health, admits her services don’t come cheap. MedStar contracts with the Maryland Jockey Club to allow Ryan to provide sports medicine and general care to jockeys and backstretch workers in the state. She does baseline concussion testing for jockeys and clears them to ride after an injury, but she also treats horse bites and kicks, coordinates follow-up care after accidents, and helps provide sports psychology services when needed.Ryan hears often from people who admire Maryland’s system of providing experienced care to their riders, but who say those services are inaccessible in other areas. Not true, she says. There are sports medicine physicians available nearly everywhere, and if you can’t find one of those, an athletic trainer can serve as a consultant on- or off-site for riders. Athletic trainers in other sports are on the court or field to be the eyes and ears of sports medicine doctors to identify potential problems an athlete may be battling. They’re also a lot cheaper than sports medicine physicians. Another cost consideration: In her role, Ryan says she reduces workers’ compensation claims because she can treat a lot of on-the-job injuries in her office at the track.
  • We’ve heard it before, but the quality of emergency care for a jockey is greatly improved when you have someone skilled on– Ryan is not the person riding in the ambulance to a fallen jockey during a race, but she can act as a conduit.“When you go to the hospital and they have on the paperwork ‘Complaint: rider fell from horse,’ that’s a lot different from the way we saw them, coming off at 40 miles per hour,” said Ryan, who can describe whether and where the rider was stepped on, and how exactly they hit the ground.
  • Language is key when it comes to talking about OTTBs. Jen Roytz, executive director of the Retired Racehorse Project and writer of our Aftercare Spotlight series, revealed one of the biggest misconceptions she encounters when talking to people about off-track Thoroughbreds. “Often they will tell me, ‘Oh I rescued him from the track,’” she said. “I constantly have to, very politely, correct them and say, ‘Why do you feel that horse was rescued?’ When they start talking through it, they convince themselves it wasn’t really ‘rescued.’ The lay person, mainstream public, does not give enough credence to how well cared for these horses are.”
  • Turf racing may be gaining stretch in the American landscape, and that comes with surface concerns. Trainer Graham Motion mentioned that he loves a good turf horse, but anecdotally he has concerns about long-term wear and tear on a track. This theme came up again from surfaces expert Dr. Mick Peterson, who noted there’s no easy way to freshen a turf surface. A few options for tracks trying to figure this out – change the racing schedule to let grass grow at the appropriate season, create short turf-only meets to give courses elsewhere on a circuit a rest, and increase the width of turf tracks.
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Equine Biological Passports: Years Away, But Receiving Industry Support

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04.12.2018

 

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council (KEDRC) unanimously voted this week to allocate $15,000 to funding ongoing research into biological passport. Although the technology is at least a couple of years from implementation, Dr. Scott Stanley of the University of California-Davis said the passports could solve several problems in drug testing.

Regulators face particular challenges testing for long-acting prohibited substances like erythropoietin (EPO) and drugs creating steroid-like effects in the body. EPO in particular withdraws from the blood very quickly, but its impact (increasing the concentration of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the body) lingers considerably longer. Both steroids and blood doping agents also tend to be used repeatedly but often weeks in advance of a race. Out-of-competition testing can act as a deterrent for these substances, but regulators still have a short window to actually find a positive level of the drugs in the horse’s system.

Biological passports track the responses of proteins and biomarkers to the administration of drugs like these even after the drugs themselves are gone. Stanley said the technology also gets around a common concern on the part of horsemen: what if a given horse, through no manipulation, is a natural outlier in the range of ‘normal’ for a hormone or protein? Sampling for passports would be taken repeatedly over an extended period of time, allowing regulators to compare a given reading not just with the normal range of the whole population, but also to the horse’s own previous readings.

Before the technology is ready for use at the racetrack though, Stanley and other researchers have to look at a range of markers in the equine body to decide which are the truest indicators of drug administration. Hormones and blood levels fluctuate naturally in response to the time of day, the season, and maybe a horse’s location.

Initial tests on a research horse looking at P27425 (an iron binding protein) produced exactly the results scientists expected. They plan to collect data from 50 to 100 horses in California in over one or more years to see how biomarkers behave in horses and which are the most consistent. When passport testing begins, Stanley anticipates a cross-section of horses will need to be sampled on a monthly basis in addition to post-race readings. As a greater cache of data is collected and stored, the monthly testing will become unnecessary.

The California Horse Racing Board and Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation have already provided funding to the project.

Dr. Andy Roberts, member of the KEDRC, questioned whether different (completely legal) training or feed routines could also cause a noticeable change in a horse’s passport levels. Stanley said it’s possible they could, so changes in passport readings would need to be taken as just a piece of the greater puzzle in what’s going on with a horse.

“Right now we would definitely see it as [a tool to initiate] an investigation: ‘This horse has been flagged for further follow-up’ and we’d get additional sequential samples from that to see if that horse is naturally outside the normal boundary,” said Stanley. “In the future, I think we could have enough additional data to say, ‘The upstream and downstream changes are not consistent with anything other than an administration.’ We just don’t have that data definitively yet to say what those changes should be.”

Unfortunately for equine researchers, the work that has been done on human biological passports with regard to blood-doping agents doesn’t seem as though it will be applicable to horses. The equine spleen is considerably different from that of humans, and its ability to suddenly contract with exertion causes changes in blood levels that would not be typical in a human.

The good thing about biological passports for racing regulators is that the technology won’t care what type of drug a trainer may have used to influence red blood cells or muscle tone, since they measure the body’s reaction instead of the size of drug molecules.

Like drug testing however, Stanley cautioned biological passports will be a constantly-evolving scientific process – but one that could have major impacts on integrity down the road.

“It isn’t a short-term project. It is years-long to get enough data,” he said. “The whole project is underfunded and it would take a long time even if it was fully-funded. I suspect we’ll be looking at more data in a couple years rather than a couple weeks.”

“The long-term intent is to provide deterrence. I truly believe that drug testing is about deterrence. We want to convince people we can test for everything and anything at any concentration that is prohibited. Just as we’re doing in Quarter Horse racing with a lot of hair testing right now, we would like to prevent [violators] from racing rather than penalize them after the race as an unfair competition.”

 

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