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Winbak Farm Receives Touch of Class

  The Maryland Horse Industry Board presented its August Touch of Class award to Joe Thomson and Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City on August 15 during live racing at Ocean Downs in Berlin. Four of Winbak’s Standardbred horses were honored with the award. “Winbak continues to produce Standardbreds of the highest quality, which they race and sell all over the country and around the world,” said MHIB chair Jim Steele. The broodmare Lady Ashlee Ann and stallion Bettor’s Delight were recently inducted into the Living Harness Horse Hall of Fame on July 7. Betterthancheddar, a son of Lady Ashlee Ann owned by Winbak Farm, was named the Canadian Champion Pacer for this year. The late Classic Wish, who was the dam of Bettor’s Delight, is also in the Hall of Fame and was honored with a Touch of Class award. In addition, harness racing drivers Corey Callahan and Frank Milby received Secretary Citations for their 3,000th and 1,500th career wins, respectively. Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance presented the...

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis Confirmed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Horse Owners Encouraged to Vaccinate According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, a Worcerster County horse has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). EEE is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause a swelling of the brain (encephalitis). The disease is rare in humans, but can occur when an infected mosquito bites a person. EEE disease occurs primarily in areas close to swamps and marshes with high mosquito populations. The last confirmed human case in Maryland was in 1989, and prior to that there were two cases in 1982. The last confirmed case in a horse in Maryland was in 2009 in Wicomico County. In horses, EEE is a serious disease that can be fatal – however, well-vaccinated horses are generally safe from the disease. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) encourages all horse owners to consult with their veterinarian to discuss the best vaccination program for their horse and its circumstances.  The horse in Worcester County had not been vaccinated. Infected horses show a range of clinical signs that often progress over two to three days, including depression, altered mental status, circling, problems with balance, weakness, aimless wandering, impaired vision, walking (gait) abnormalities, head pressing, paralysis, convulsions and death. Horses that survive serious disease often have permanent nervous system deficits. The Maryland Department of Agriculture, working with Worcester County officials,...

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$30k for Grants & Great Ideas

The Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) will accept grant applications for research, educational and promotional projects that support horses or the equestrian community, or develop new opportunities for the Maryland horse industry. Nearly $30,000 is available for grants – a 15 percent increase in funding from the previous year. Grant applications may be submitted until Sept. 30. Individual requests should not exceed $3,000. Organizations eligible for MHIB grants include (but are not limited to) non-profit organizations, clubs and associations, businesses, farms and licensed stables, government entities, schools and educational institutions. Projects of interest to the Board include (but are not limited to) those that develop new opportunities and coincide with the board’s mission to increase awareness and growth of the Maryland horse industry. Projects are evaluated for their value to the industry, degree of industry promotion, size and scope of activity, financial need, potential for matching funds, benefits, and quality of the written presentation. Funding for these grants and for the MHIB is provided by “The Maryland Feed Fund,” which was established by the General Assembly in 2002. The refundable $6 per ton assessment on equine feed costs about $3 per horse to the horse owner and supports this grant program as well as other promotional, research and outreach activities undertaken by the MHIB. Since the grants program started, the board has awarded 211 grants totaling more than $233,000. Grant...

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Soggy Summer and Potomac Horse Fever

The Maryland Department of Agriculture would like for Maryland horse owners to be aware of the recent alert issued by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the Marion DuPont Equine Medical Center have been contacted about several confirmed cases of Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) in central Virginia.  Notes Maryland State Vet Guy Hohenhaus:  “This is typical of what we see in wet summers, and equine vets in the region are very familiar with the disease. They are very capable and well positioned to provide good care for their clients’ horses.” According to information provided by the vet school, PHF is a disease caused by multiple strains of the organism Neorickettsia risticii.  The organism lives in a developmental stage of a freshwater fluke. The fluke infects aquatic snails and aquatic insects, such as dragon flies, damsel flies, caddis flies, stone flies and mayflies. Horses become infected by inadvertently ingesting infected snails, snail slime, and/or aquatic insects through grazing and drinking. The most likely route of infection is thought to be through the ingestion of infected adult flies, as they may travel some distance from the water source where they originated and then contaminate water or food sources on the farm. Due to the abnormally rainy weather, there may be an increased number of aquatic insects and snails exposing horses to this disease. PHF is not infectious to humans...

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Maryland Rabies Update

As of July 8, Maryland had 189 confirmed cases of rabies, including one horse, for 2013. In a recent incident in Thurmont, according to the Frederick County Health Department, a man was bitten by a rabid fox on July 4, and a few days later a rabid fox had an altercation with domestic dogs. Rabies is a viral disease that is spread by the saliva of the infected animal during bite contact. Human cases of rabies are usually fatal if untreated. Symptoms of rabies in any animal can include fear of water, limping, salivating, unusually friendly or aggressive, or other atypical behaviors such as seeing nocturnal animals during the daytime. If you see the stray or wild animals acting abnormally, avoid contact and do not attempt to handle it, and call your county’s animal control division. According to data released by Merial (makers of a rabies vaccine), there are 12 confirmed equine rabies cases for 2013 (so far). From Merial: “In 2011, which is the last year for which we have complete data, there were 44 confirmed cases of rabies in horses.2 But what really should be a concern for horse owners is the number of cases in wildlife as most horses are kept in areas near wildlife habitats,” says Megan Green, DVM, equine specialist, Merial’s Large Animal Veterinary Services. “I’m sure every barn owner has seen skunks, foxes,...

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Heat Wave Induces Transportation Waiver

From the American Horse Council: On July 11, 2013, The United States Department of Transportation—Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted the request of the livestock industry to waive the mandatory 30-minute break provision in the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations for the transportation of livestock, including horses, for 90 days until October 9, 2013.  In 2011, the FMCSA published its final rule concerning HOS for drivers of commercial vehicles transporting livestock. The final rule provides that a driver may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. This mandatory 30-minute break caused concern for the industry because of potential rising temperatures inside livestock trailers that could harm the health and welfare of the animals. Long-range weather forecasts for the remainder of summer and early fall call for temperatures for the greater part of theUnited Statesto be higher than usual. The FMCSA took these long range forecasts into account when making the decision to grant the extension. The HOS exemption is specifically for drivers transporting livestock as defined in the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988, which includes horses. It is important to note, that under current regulations, this will only affect drivers moving horses commercially. HOS exemptions already exist for those occasionally transporting their own horses within 150 miles of home and not crossing...

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