Horse information seminar well-received

The Nor-West Animal Clinic’s equine information seminar struck a serious chord with local horse enthusiasts last weekend.
Nearly 60 people from across the district—both breeders and private owners—packed the Emo Legion on Saturday to learn and share information on breeding and maintaining healthy horses.
Dr. Wayne Etherington, of the Nor-West Animal Clinic, and Dr. Bob Wright, from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, were the guest speakers and each brought a different perspective to the proceedings.
Dr. Etherington’s topic was the preparation of mares for breeding, which covered everything from ultrasound testing to uterine biopsies.
He stressed the importance of pre-examinations of mares that have been barren for two or more years—especially if there is a high stud fee involved.
He also came up with a simple but logical suggestion for those who choose to breed mares in mid-winter.
Because a mare’s natural cycle is geared to the diurnal light cycle, much like some plants and migratory birds, his suggestion was to place the mares in an artificial lighting environment that simulates the conditions of spring to bring about early ovulation.
Dr. Wright’s lecture, meanwhile, covered a broader range of topics, from safe watering practices to the latest on the West Nile virus and equine encephalitis.
He pushed prevention as the best means of protecting horses from accidental poisoning from indigenous and imported plants that commonly are found in pastures.
Dr. Wright also stressed the importance of vaccinations against West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as reported on the appearance of a form of equine herpes virus and its symptoms.
He then gave a report on progress being made at the University of Guelph in detecting the potential of several genetic diseases that now are detectable through DNA testing.
Dr. Wright also reported some rather startling news regarding mules.
Mules are the result of cross-breeding horses and donkeys, and for many years it was believed they are always sterile. It now seems that’s not necessarily the case.
Dr. Wright explained horses have 64 chromosomes and donkeys 62. As such, most mules have 63 chromosomes. But DNA testing has shown some have only 62 and therefore are able to breed successfully.
The seminar concluded with Nor-West Animal Clinic owner Dr. Dan Pierroz thanking Dr. Wright for his presentation. He was assured, in turn, that Dr. Wright is looking forward to returning next year.