Gastric ulcers in horses have been a problem for trainers, owners, and managers for years now, and studies suggest a majority of racehorses and performance horses suffer from them. As a result, they’ve been a topic of much academic research in the past five years.
Dr. Ben Sykes, assistant professor of equine internal medicine at Massey University, sat down with the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation recently to give the public an idea of what we’ve learned in the past five years and what he and other researchers plan to focus on in the next five.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture is proceeding with cases against two people associated with a well-known kill pen operation in the state. Hearings for Jacob Thompson and Tara Sanders were postponed from an October meeting of the state’s Board of Animal Health until its next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 3.
Earlier this year, the Department asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order against Gary Thompson and Jacob Thompson, both of Vernon Parish, to stop them from buying and selling livestock. The order was also designed to prevent anyone from acting as a livestock dealer on the Thompsons’ behalf. According to the state’s complaint, both Thompsons had acted in the capacity of livestock dealers — buying horses and cattle and selling them within 30 days of purchase — while they did not hold dealer licenses in Louisiana.
Charges from mid-September state Jacob Thompson is alleged to have committed ten violations of state regulations requiring agents and dealers to be licensed by the Board of Animal Health and ten violations of a different regulation requiring dealers to file a surety instrument with the state in order to operate.
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.
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.”
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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