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New Coalition to Reform Racing Receives Chilly Reception

by Amy Worden - August 2016

One of the nation’s leading animal welfare organizations has teamed up with top leaders in the U.S. horse racing industry to find common ground to improve the treatment of race horses during and after their careers.

In June – less than month after two horses were destroyed after breakdowns in Preakness day races at Pimlico Race Course -  Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States and Joe DeFrancis former chief executive officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, announced the formation of the HSUS Horse Racing Advisory Council.

The focus of the council is passage of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. The federal legislation would give authority to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for equine medication policy and drug testing.  Similar versions have failed to gain traction in Congress but animal welfare advocates are more hopeful with a broader coalition of supporters.

“We have a movement in Congress to get something done on horse racing reform,” said Pacelle in an interview. “The industry has repelled efforts for decades to have any regulatory responsibility over the treatment of horses.”

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Unbeaten Songbird Soars Into Saratoga
by Terry Conway - August 2016
Unbeaten Songbird Soars Into Saratoga

Race after race she is marching her way into the ranks of female racing royalty. Zenyatta.  Rachel Alexandra. Royal Delta. Rags to Riches. All thoroughbred magnets that have connected so passionately with racing fans. Now it's Songbird's time.

She kept her perfect record by winning an eighth straight race with yet another dominating performance, taking the $200,000 Summertime Oaks (Grade-2) by 6 ½ lengths under Mike Smith at mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita on June 18. Songbird rated kindly early in the race then went by Bellamy headed into the far turn and looked like she was cantering all the way home. Typical of her recent races, Smith geared her down for the final furlong.

“Her cruising speed is just amazing,” Smith noted. “She started lengthening her stride on the backstretch.  I knew she was fine, I just had to stay out of her way. She did it with ease. She's got things figured out at a young age. It scares me to think how good she can be."

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Humane Organizations Still Fighting to Stop Horse Slaughter in Canada
by Suzanne Bush - August 2016

In 2014, after years of pressure from Europe’s Humane Society International (HSI), the European Union banned the import of horse meat shipped from Mexican abattoirs. Dr. Joanna Swabe, the HSI/Europe Executive Director, says that her organization finally convinced European Commissioners that conditions in the Mexican abattoirs were problematic at best. Augmenting the HSI’s case were numerous traceability and food safety concerns uncovered in an audit conducted by the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO).

Her organization has made the same arguments about the Canadian abattoirs, another destination for horses sold at auction in the United States. But the Canadian horse meat pipeline to the EU remains open. Despite Canada’s seeming immunity to the strictures placed on Mexico, Swabe and others remain convinced that it’s only a matter of time until horse meat exports from Canada will also be banned.

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Ten Hot-Weather Tips for Horses from New Bolton Center
August 2016

Summer is a great time to ride, but summer heat can be dangerous for horses, resulting in dehydration, lethargy, and general malaise. Severe heat stress may cause diarrhea, or even colic. Following these 10 tips and using common sense will help keep you and your horse safe and comfortable during the hot days ahead.

Dr. Janet Johnston, an Emergency and Critical Care veterinarian at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center, offers the following tips as we approach the first day of summer:

  1. Choose cooler turnout times. If your horse has a stall, but is turned out for part of the day, provide turnout during the cooler hours. Overnight is ideal, but if that’s not possible, then have the horse go outside as early as possible during the day. Remember the summer heat can also take a toll on the quality of your pasture. You may need to provide additional feed as the grass becomes sparse to maintain proper body condition and energy.
  2. Provide shade. If your horse lives outdoors, or if it must be outside during the day, provide relief from the sun. A run-in shed is best. Trees are a source of shade, but as the sun moves, so will the shade. Make sure that, regardless of the time of day, available trees are offering shade.

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Advertise in the October 2016 issue of Pennsylvania Equestrian
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