TRF At Montpelier Farm – Great Resource For OTTBs

We are fortunate to have The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Montpelier Farm, a haven for OTTBs in need of a new home, fresh start and/or rehabilitation, practically in our backyard. Under Kim Wilkins’ management, the lucky horses who end up at Montpelier Farm find a beautiful, sprawling sanctuary where they will get the love and care they need regardless of their condition and soundness. It is our pleasure at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic to partner with Montpelier Farm to care for these horses.

Founded in 1983, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is the largest equine sanctuary in the world devoted to the rescue, retirement, rehabilitation and retraining of Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack. Over 4,000 horses have come through their programs and they currently care for 950 nationwide. More than 1,000 Thoroughbreds have been adopted out to loving homes. At re-training farms like Montpelier Farm, retired racehorses are prepared for adoption as riding and companion horses.

There are horses available for adoption or sponsorship, as well as just to see, visit and appreciate. Kim works tirelessly to care for these horses, and welcomes volunteers, inquiries and especially now, as Fall approaches, hay donations of round or square bales. Sponsoring one of the permanent residents at Montpelier Farm is a wonderful gift for yourself or someone special. There are several levels of sponsorships, and if it is a gift, the TRF will mail the sponsorship packet to the recipient along with a personalized greeting card. If you would like to meet your sponsored Thoroughbred in person, Kim would love to arrange for you to visit.

Please visit the Farm’s website: see pictures of and read the stories of the lucky horses who now call Montpelier Farm home. The TRF is a registered 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization and your gift is tax-deductible. Sponsorship donations help support the overall TRF efforts on behalf all retired Thoroughbred racehorses, including those at Montpelier Farm.

Dentistry Considerations For Horse Owners

Dr. Donovan DagnerDr. Donovan Dagner, partner at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, gave a presentation on Equine Dental Care last night at our Client Education Seminar at The Elks Lodge in Charlottesville.  If you missed it, here is the link to his Power Point presentation:  DentalCarerevised2011[1]logo (takes several seconds to download).

From wolf teeth removal to routine floats to complex dental imaging and care, Blue Ridge Equine Clinic is available to help.  Please call us with any equine dental questions you may have or to schedule your horse’s dental care:  (434)973-7947 Earlysville Clinic or (540)460-5702.

Vaccinations: Common Response Or Cause For Concern?

What to Expect When Vaccinating Horses:  Common Response or Cause for Concern?

We know you love your horse and understand that vaccinations can help protect it from life-threatening diseases. But vaccines can come with side effects due to the immune stimulation they have to create. Most of these effects are mild and transient, but it’s important to be able to distinguish between minor side effects and those reactions that warrant a call to your veterinarian.

“Keeping current with annual vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian is the best way to help prevent potentially deadly equine diseases and help keep horses healthy,” says Megan Green, DVM, Manager, Large Animal Veterinary Services, Merial. “Equally critical is understanding that vaccines are designed to stimulate an immune response, and since your horse is unique, his specific response may be different from other horses.”1

Normal Responses

After intramuscular vaccination, it’s fairly common for horses to experience mild, temporary side effects for a few hours such as:2

  • Local muscle soreness or swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy or alertness

“Even humans experience signs like this following vaccination,” says Dr. Green. “These types of clinical signs help demonstrate that an immune response has been stimulated, which is exactly what we want the vaccine to do.”

However, if the signs listed above last for more than 24 hours, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to inform them of what is going on with the horse. This will allow your veterinarian to provide you with treatment advice and care instructions.

Causes for Possible Concern

Dr. Green cautions that sometimes more serious side effects, and in some cases, life-threatening events, can occur, including:2

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse
  • Colic
  • Swelling at the injection site several days post vaccination.

“These more serious side effects are rare, but do require immediate consultation, and, in some cases, medical intervention.”

Working with your veterinarian is the best way to ensure your horse is being evaluated based upon its particular needs. Many veterinarians follow the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ recommended guidelines for core vaccinations.  Veterinarians can also be helpful in determining the need for other risk-based vaccinations based on an assessment of your geographic threats and travel plans. They are also familiar with the proper handling and administering of vaccines, which is important because those handled improperly can actually become ineffective or may increase the risk of side effects.1,4

“With many vaccines available online or through farm supply stores, some horse owners are purchasing and administering their own vaccines to try to save money,” Dr. Green says. “Because horse owners are not familiar with vaccine handling protocols, and how to handle adverse reactions should one occur, it’s best to partner with a veterinarian to ensure the horse is receiving the necessary vaccinations and the best overall health care.”

Staying Informed with Outbreak Alertmerial

Besides working with a veterinarian to establish and implement an effective and appropriate vaccination schedule, you can also help protect your horse’s health by staying informed. Through Merial’s free Outbreak Alert program, reported cases of West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Equine Herpesvirus, rabies, equine influenza and Potomac Horse Fever are tracked throughout the country and noted on the Outbreak Alert maps at

The program also includes a free text and/or email notification system when threats are identified in the area surrounding entered ZIP codes. If you travel with your horse, you can enter multiple ZIP codes to help stay abreast of disease threats throughout the country. There are also veterinarian-exclusive features available through Outbreak Alert, including communication tools veterinarians can use in their practices.

For more information, go to

©2013 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIBGN1305 (04/13)

1Merck Veterinary Manual. Ninth edition. 2005:2181.

2Adverse reactions. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Available at: Accessed March 26, 2013.

3Povey RC, Carman PS (Martinrod S).  Technical basics of vaccination. In: Pastoret PP, Blancou J, Vannier P, Verschueren C, eds Veterinary Vaccinology, New York:Elsevier; 1997;15:574-578.

4Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health. Home edition. 2007:561.

Equine Imaging – Dr. Tabby Moore

On April 24 at our Client Education seminar at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Dr. Tabby Moore educated us about Equine Imaging Technology, its uses, advantages and limitations.  She covered radiography, ultrasonography, scintigraphy (bone scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), explaining the various modalities that can be confusing for horse owners.

Equine Radiography – An x-ray beam is passed images DRthrough the body part and a portion of the x-rays are absorbed or scattered by the internal structure and the remaining x-ray pattern is transmitted to a detector so that an image may be recorded.

Advantages of this modality:  performed in the field, high detail, economical ($46/view).

Limitations:  designed to image bone and is not as useful with other tissues such as cartilage, ligament,  tendon, muscle, etc., not very  good on large body parts like the thorax and abdomen,  involves radiation.

Sometimes dye or probes are added to help highlight things, and it is often used for guided treatments and injections.

images US equipEquine Ultrasound – Ultrasound machines transmit high-frequency sound pulses into tissue using a probe.  Sound waves travel into a body part and hit a boundary between tissues (e.g. between fluid and soft tissue, soft tissue and bone) and some of the sound waves get reflected back to the probe, while some travel on further until they reach another boundary and get reflected.  The ultrasound machine consists of a large laptop, a probe and a coupling agent (gel or alcohol).

Advantages – Performed in the field, used primarily for non-bony tissues, it’s safe and economical ($75 – 250/study).

Limitations – Operator dependant on training, skill and equipment, angle of the beam relative to the structures, especially smaller finer structures.

Ultrasound is used to provide critical information in cardiology, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and reproduction issues.

Nuclear Scintigraphy (Nuclear Medicine or Bone Scan) is a chemical target tissue tracer, bone = (calcium and phosphorus), is chemically tagged to a radioactive isotope (technetium 99), Radiopharmaceutical (tech 99  + phosphorus) and is injected intravenously.

The injected material circulates through the entire body, going to areas where bone is remodeling.  A gamma camera captures gamma radiation and the computer creates an image (scinitgram) with different color palettes.images bone scan horse

 Bone Scans may be warranted for diagnosis of occult or intermittent lameness, bone survey for multiple limb lameness, early detection of skeletal injury – fracture or for determining extent and severity of skeletal lesion – activity of radiographic lesions, old vs. new. It is useful to help when other modalities do not pinpoint a problem, but a horse exhibits poor performance, change in capabilities; very helpful with back pain cases.

Advantageous when there is localization of pain but inability to identify cause using radiography and ultrasonography, poor performance of ill-defined cause, suspected thoracolumbar or pelvic region pain and for evaluation of healing response and blood flow to bone.

Limitations – scintigraphy should not be a substitute for a comprehensive exam, as it has generally poor specificity, and usually follow-up radiographs and/or ultrasound are necessary. Osteochondrosis often do not produce a detectable change in the scan and regional anesthesia may cause a false positive on the soft tissue phase.

Disadvantages – must be done in hospital setting (NRC license), patient (horse) will be radioactive and must be isolated from the general public for 24-36 hours, expensive ($1000-1800/study).

Useful for evaluating stress fractures (cannon bone, radius, humerus, coffin bone), fractures of the hip/pelvis (done standing, no risk of anesthesia or recovery), back pain, sesamoiditis and degenerative joint disease.

MRI – produces very detailed images of the region of interest by generating “slices”images mri machine of tissue in various geometric planes with different sequences that highlight various structures and tissues. Regions of interest are sliced into many parts and digitally regenerated.  MRI can be performed with horse standing or recumbent, depending on the machine.

Advantages – MRI produces high quality images in any plane through the ROI.  The images generated show the anatomy of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons at a level unsurpassed by any other modality.

Limitations – Must be done in hospital, limited to lower extremities and head (carpus/tarsus down), need to scan defined body part (6″ window), cost ($1800-2600/study)

Thank you for Dr. Moore for educating us on these imaging modalities, and to Augusta Cooperative Farm Bureau and the Virginia Horse Center for partnering with us on this event!

Dr. Steven Trostle Receives Diplomate Designation From The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Steve TrostleBlue Ridge Equine Clinic congratulates Dr. Steve Trostle, DVM, ACVS for passing both the general and equine sections of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR) exam.  Dr. Trostle is a board-certified equine surgeon at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, and is now board-certified in Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation as well.

The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation advances the art and science of veterinary medicine by promoting expertise in the structural, physiological, medical and surgical needs of athletic animals and the restoration of normal form and function after injury or illness.

Congratulations, Dr. Trostle!

Equine Hay Analysis – Critical For Equine Nutrition

We were fortunate to have Krishona Martinson, PhD from the University of Minnesota speak at our Client Education Meeting on April 24, 2013 at the Virginia Horse Center, courtesy of our meeting sponsor, Nutrena FeedsVHCF in bonne blue

Krishona covered:

* Forage analysis            * Moisture content       * What’s in the hay (species)

* Hay maturity                * Touch and smell         * Mold and weeds

* Hay nets                        * Using a feeder – ALWAYS for round bales.

Many of us found the results of her research on soaking hay surprising and enlightening.  Welcome news for those of us who have soaked hay overnight for years:  short durations of 15-30 minutes are acceptable when managing most equine conditions.  In fact, her research indicates hay should never be soaked for more than one hour to avoid the loss of critical nutrients.  Krishona stressed that owners and barn managers should rely on hay analysis to determine exactly what their forage may be lacking that needs to be made up in other ways.

Her research on hay feeders and hay nets was equally useful.  In a box stall, waste from feeding small square bales from the ground was 7.3% versus only 1.3% when it was fed from a feeder.  The difference was even more pronounced when considering feeding round bales in a feeder compared to loose on the ground.  Regarding hay nets, she suggested it may take horses some time to acclimate to them and the nets with small/medium openings resulted in less hay waste than traditional nets with larger openings. As hay prices seem to rise each year, she questioned who could afford not to use a feeder.

Participants had their hay samples analyzed free of charge and learned to CE meeting sponsorsread and interpret the results.  Many thanks to Krishona for sharing her knowledge, to Nutrena Feeds for sponsoring her presentation, our partners Augusta Cooperative Farm Bureau and the Virginia Horse Center and our co-sponsors Zoetis, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Farnam, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and Foxden Equine.

Equine Parasite Resistance

Gastrointestinal parasite resistance is an emerging problem in horses. For decades we have seen the development of resistance to dewormers in small strongyles (cyanthostomes). Results of a multistate study showed 97.7% of farms had small strongyles with resistance to fenbendazole and 40.5% had resistance to pyrantel (Kaplan 2004). Resistance to other types of dewormers has also been documented. This has forced veterinarians to critically evaluate the use of dewormers currently available to horse owners, with no new products available in the near future!

Not every horse needs to be dewormed every two months. This approach has been the reason why we have seen resistance to the common dewormers. Resistance is a farm situation, not an individual horse situation. The goal of new parasite control programs are to maintain a population of susceptible parasites called “refugia” on the farm. These parasites can breed with resistant parasites and produce more susceptible parasites that can be killed with dewormers. If a farm develops a large number of resistant parasites, the horses that live there risk serious health problems such as colic!

Resistance is identified by evaluating the number of eggs a horse sheds in his feces, called fecal egg count (FEC) both before and after deworming. In order to start this program, a fecal sample should be collected at least 10 weeks after horses have been dewormed. The horses are then dewormed and a second fecal sample is collected two weeks later. The difference (ideally a decrease in FEC) is a means of quantifying the effectiveness of the dewormer. This is termed fecal egg count reduction (FECR). If the post-deworming (fecal performed 2 weeks after deworming) FECR is <90-95%, this indicates resistance of the parasite to that dewormer. FECR enables identification of horses that carry a higher worm burden (>400 egg/gram of feces [EPG]) versus those that carry a low worm burden (<400 EPG). While it is not possible or necessary to eliminate all worm burden, animals with low FECR do not need to be dewormed, while those with high FECR should be targeted. By not deworming those horses that have a low load, we can preserve the effectiveness of our dewormers by minimizing overuse.

Fecal samples should be obtained periodically from your horses to determine which horses have high parasite burdens and need to be dewormed. If your horse consistently has a FEC >400 EPG, it is considered a “high shedder” and will need to be dewormed at least four times per year. If your horse has a FEC <400 EPG, then it is considered a low shedder and may only need to be dewormed twice each year. Tapeworms are a medical threat to all horses, but there is no reliable fecal diagnostic test for them. All horses should be dewormed for tapeworms in the fall, regardless of their fecal egg count (praziquantel or triple dose of pyrantel). Weigh your horse or use a weight tape to ensure accurate dosage. Under-dosing also promotes parasite resistance!

While this may seem labor intensive and costly, by identifying some horses that actually do not need to be dewormed, the horse owner will actually save money over time. Futhermore, by minimizing the overuse of dewormers we aim to preserve their effectiveness.

In addition, environmental contamination with feces can serve as an important reservoir for parasite re-introduction. It is prudent to minimize pasture contamination. This includes removing feces before eggs become infective and avoiding spreading manure on pastures which will be grazed. Environmental management will become increasingly important as anthelmintics are less capable of eradicating the gastrointestinal parasites from our horse population.

Kaplan RM, et al. Prevalence of anthelmintic-resistant cyathostomes on horse farms. JAVMA 2004;225(6):903-910.

Equine Imaging & Hay Analysis – Client Education Seminar

Join us on April 24 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington for a free Client Education Dinner & Seminar on Equine Imaging and Hay Analysis.  Doors open at 5:30 pm in the Coliseum Mezzanine, dinner begins at 6:00 pm, and speakers will present at 6:45 pm.  Sponsored by Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, Augusta Cooperative Farm Bureau and the Virginia Horse Center, this meeting will be your chance to hear experts in the fields of cutting edge equine health care and nutrition.

Accurate, thorough diagnosis is the one of the keys to effective, efficient treatment ofBREC BlueWhite Logo 2 equine ailments.  Blue Ridge Equine Clinic’s Dr. Tabby Moore will walk you through the cutting edge equine imaging technologies available, and discuss the abilities, best uses, advantages and limitations of each.  She will compare uses of equine ultrasound, radiology, nuclear scintigrahy (bone scan) and MRI, and answer your questions about them.

Augusta logo 8x10Are you confident about your hay’s nutritional value?  Hay is the foundation of a good equine nutrition program, provides 50-90% of the horse’s total nutrients, but its protein and fiber values can vary widely by location, even by field and by cutting.  Don’t guess about your hay’s quality.  Krishona Martinson, PhD and Equine Extension Specialist from the University of Minnesota will discuss the importance of testing your hay, and even analyze a sample of your hay at the meetingVHCF in bonne blue (please ask how to collect the best sample of your hay when you call to register).

Don’t miss this free opportunity to learn about equine health and nutrition from topic experts.  Call today to register:  (540)460-5702 and please share the meeting flyer with your friends.  We hope to see you there!






Thank You For An Informative Podiatry Seminar!

Thank you to Dr. Vernon Dryden, from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, and to our corporate sponsors for a very informative and interesting Podiatry seminar last weekend at the Boars Head Inn.  Seventy equine veterinarians and farriers attended our 2013 Practitioners Seminar to learn about the latest advances in Managing Foot Infections, Therapeutic Shoeing for the Performance Horse and Managing Equine Laminitis.  Please call us if you would like to be on our mailing list to receive information about our next Practitioners Seminar.