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NTRA, Horse Council Continue Disaster Relief Meetings With Federal Officials

American Horse Council president Jay Hickey and National Thoroughbred Racing Association deputy commissioner Greg Avioli are meeting in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon with Caroly Cooksie, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief loan programs. The meeting is a follow-up to talks held last week in Washington involving Hickey and NTRA commissioner Tim Smith and a number of federal legislators, including Rep. Larry Combest, an Amarillo, Texas, Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Many Kentucky Mares Now Holding Pregnancies at Normal Rate; Impact Seen at 21% of Crop

An informal survey of Central Kentucky farms on May 21 suggests the worst may be over as far as mare reproductive loss syndrome is concerned. While heavy losses already have been incurred, particularly involving maiden and barren mares bred in February, the good news is that mares bred from late March on appear to be holding their pregnancies at close to normal percentages. Based on the surveys and on the normal distribution of Kentucky foals born between January and June, The Blood-Horse estimates the 2002 Kentucky foal crop will decrease by no more than 21%.

The Blood-Horse to Support MRLS Research

In an effort to show support for industry horse owners and breeders, The Blood-Horse, Inc., announced yesterday it will contribute a portion of its advertising revenues for the remainder of 2001 to the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, to support further research into the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that is currently plaguing the Thoroughbred industry.

The Blood-Horse to Support MRLS Research

In an effort to show support for industry horse owners and breeders, The Blood-Horse, Inc., announced yesterday it will contribute a portion of its advertising revenues for the remainder of 2001 to the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, to support further research into the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that is currently plaguing the Thoroughbred industry.

European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Suggests Holding US Horses; No Ban

Charles Frank, the veterinary advisor to the United Kingdom Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that in a meeting earlier this week of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders that a statement was made to advise members not to re-import horses to Europe until a cause of the current health problems in Kentucky was identified. "The last thing we want is a ban," said Frank.

European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Suggests Holding US Horses; No Ban

Charles Frank, the veterinary advisor to the United Kingdom Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that in a meeting earlier this week of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders that a statement was made to advise members not to re-import horses to Europe until a cause of the current health problems in Kentucky was identified. "The last thing we want is a ban," said Frank.

Ohio Diagnostic Lab Requests Owners Submit Aborted Fetuses, Deceased Foals

As Ohio veterinarians try to understand and determine what might be affecting foals in the Ohio River Valley, the number of foals and fetuses available for testing by the diagnostic lab is no greater than normal. Sheila Grimes, DVM, PhD, Pathology Section Head for the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, recommends that horse owners submit aborted fetuses and deceased foals with the placenta for testing.

Explanation: Ergotism or Ergot Poisoning

At the industry-wide meeting on Thursday, May 10, Dr. Steve Jackson, an equine nutrition consultant and owner of Bluegrass Equine Nutrition, and Dr. Jimmy Henning, an extension forage specialist at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, both mentioned that ergot or alkaloid types of toxins were being sought in the testing of pastures. In discussing the situation further with Jackson on May 11, he said that Merck's Veterinary Manual had a good explanation of ergotism in other livestock.

Kentucky Veterinarian Seeing Increase in Laminitis Cases

Dr. Rhonda Rathgeber, a veterinarian with Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary firm in Lexington, Ky., specializes in performance horse problems. She said in the past 10 days, she has seen "a lot of riding horses lame with an associated colitis (inflammation of the large or small colon). I've talked to one other vet who has seen the same thing," she said. It is unknown whether this increase in laminitis is associated with the other problems currently running through the horse industry and thought to be caused by mycotoxins.

Kentucky Legislators Ask USDA for Help With Horse Industry 'Disaster'

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and two members of the House of Representatives from the Bluegrass State -- Ernie Fletcher of the 6th Congressional district and Ed Whitfield from the 1st district -- have written a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman alerting her of the foal/fetal loss syndrome in Kentucky and asking for assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Byars--Pericarditis Becoming More of a Problem

While the numbers are nowhere near those associated with early fetal loss and late gestation pregnancy loss, there is a pattern appearing with horses developing pericarditis (fluid in the sac around the heart), said Dr. Doug Byars, a specialist in internal medicine at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee's medicine unit in Lexington, Ky. At the industry meeting at Keeneland on Thursday, May 10, Byars reported that there had been 20 cases of pericarditis at Haygard's and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in the past week.

Dr. Byars--Pericarditis Becoming More of a Problem

While the numbers are nowhere near those associated with early fetal loss and late gestation pregnancy loss, there is a pattern appearing with horses developing pericarditis (fluid in the sac around the heart), said Dr. Doug Byars, a specialist in internal medicine at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee's medicine unit in Lexington, Ky. At the industry meeting at Keeneland on Thursday, May 10, Byars reported that there had been 20 cases of pericarditis at Haygard's and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in the past week.

Researchers Unite to Search for Cause of Crisis

Over and over the refrain has been heard for the past two weeks--the horse industry is lucky to have the equine expertise concentrated in Central Kentucky, especially during this time of all-out war against an unknown killer. Dr. Roger Murphy, president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, opened the informational meeting the evening of May 10 with the statement: "I'm proud to be a part of an industry that can unify in the face of adversity."

Evidence Presented at Keeneland Suggests All Horses May Be at Risk

The foal loss syndromes facing Kentucky's pregnant mares might be just the start of a host of problems that could affect horses of all ages, breeds, sexes, and uses in Kentucky and other states. Whether you have a gelding that is on turn-out, a yearling, suckling, stallion, or non-pregnant mare, there could be problems brewing. This information and much more was brought to light at an open meeting at the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington, Ky., on the evening of May 10.

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