Equine Biosecurity with Mark and Dan
By Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Communications, Equine Guelph
Spread the Word - Not the Germs
Equine infection control is easier to understand when illustrated by Mark and Dan. Through unique whiteboard videos, Equine Guelph would like you to meet Mark, a lifelong member of the horse racing industry. Mark takes you on a journey through a steep learning curve as he recognizes the threats viruses and bacteria pose for his herd. You will hear about how he experienced the need for good infection control practices firsthand. His story is all about the basics and answers: What are the differences between bacteria and viruses? How are they spread? What can you do to prevent them?
His brother Dan also has an important story to tell. Watch a second video where he tells his story about improving infection control practices to keep his horses happy, healthy, and at peak performance. This video answers: What should my goals for infection control be? How can I prevent illness at home? How can I prevent illness at the track?
Both whiteboard videos are part of a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program launched by Equine Guelph in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry. The program consists of training sessions, tools, resources, and videos available to all three horse racing disciplines - Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse. This three-stage program will help to protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease.
Photo courtesy of Equine Guelph
In the first stage, Equine Guelph tailored its successful two-week online biosecurity course to Ontario Racing Commission officials (ORC) in a half-day workshop and subsequent two-week online course. The course covered racing specific topics.
In the second stage, a Virtual Video Tour featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Scott Weese was developed. These informative five-minute videos offer assessments and practical solutions for racetrack paddocks and training centre barns. The videos are packed full of useful and practical information that make sense for every racing stable wanting to reduce the chances of illness. The videos can be viewed on the Equine Guelph website, under infection control resources.
“Biosecurity is trying to prevent things from coming on the property and infection control is trying to contain the risk we always have,” Weese explains. One practical example of infection control is using chain cross ties rather than rope because they can easily be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. They should also be adjusted short enough that horses cannot chew on them.
In stage three, racehorse owners, trainers, and groomers have been receiving material distributed by the ORC and racetrack officials. Printed resources are available at all ten Ontario racetracks, paddocks, and offices as well as approximately twenty major training centres. The print material includes posters outlining five key things horse caretakers need to know to protect horses from getting sick, and a handy checklist to use at home and the track. USB sticks containing the new video resources will also be distributed.
The key to prevention is focusing on what you can control. Using vaccines to lower the odds of sickness, not sharing equipment such as buckets and washing hands regularly, especially if you are handling more than one horse, are just a few of the practical steps. By spreading the word on biosecurity and infection control, Equine Guelph is helping facilities save money in veterinary bills and days off by lowering the odds of their horses getting sick in the first place.
In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Equine Guelph is developing a Full-Circle-Responsibility equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors.
This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Other partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Equine Canada, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Racing Commission, Ontario Veterinary College, Quarter Horse Racing Association, Standardbred Canada and Vétoquinol Canada Inc.
Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and caregivers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.EquineGuelph.ca.
Main Photo: ©iStockphoto/Somogyvari