Bulletin Board: 01/00

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Working Student Program Investigated
A model working student program in Delaware was charged this fall with violating the state’s Child Labor Act. Wellspring Farm in Wilmington, Del., run by K.C. Van Dyke faced $50,000 in fines and unpaid wages following investigation of an anonymous complaint.

Van Dyke, however, negotiated a deal that will drastically change the program so she’ll have to pay workmen’s compensation for students, and they must have working papers. She won’t have to pay the students, and she’s free of the fines and penalties, although she does have legal expenses. Students will have to be a minimum age of 14. She expects to raise board and lesson fees.

Wellspring is unique in that it is within city limits and accessible to kids by bicycle or on foot. It allowed kids to work off board and lessons and included many children who otherwise could not afford to ride. Van Dyke had a well-documented system of trading lessons for credits earned by doing barn chores so that there would be no abuse of the working-student situation often seen in other horse operations. Many of the parents of the 27 minors cited in the action against Wellspring have asked the state to remove their children from that list.

Van Dyke maintained that her operation was agricultural, educational and voluntary, and that she was not hiring minors to work. The state maintained that Wellspring was not a farm. Similar operations at other locations in the area are organized as clubs or non-profit organizations that allow minors to work as “volunteers.”

States vary as to how they view horse operations and child work situations. Some view them as agriculture, which exempts them from certain restrictions, and others don’t. Some states set different ages from 14 to 18 for requiring work permits and minimum wage payments.

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Riding For Your Health
A study published in November by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who exercise briskly for an hour four or more times a week are likely to reduce their breast cancer risk by 20 percent.

The study defined brisk exercise as fast walking, jogging, bicycling, tennis or aerobics or anything where you break a sweat for at least an hour. An hour of singles tennis for a 150-pound person burns 474 calories, while an hour of leisurely swimming uses 410 calories.

Depending on your activity level, riding can fit this category. General riding burns about 275-300 calories an hour for a 150-pound person, as does walking at 3.5 MPH (or the same rate you’d hand walk a horse). If you get up into two-point and gallop or if you do a lot of sit-trotting, you burn even more calories. But if you stand on the rail or trail ride at a walk, you burn less.

The study said the benefit of exercise is especially significant for postmenopausal women for whom “adipose (fatty) tissue becomes a more important source of circulating estrogens, so physical activity would be more likely to decrease average breast cancer risk.”

Regular vigorous exercise has also been found to reduce the risk of other diseases: coronary heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

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East And West
The National Horse Show, held the first week in November, is billed as “America’s Premiere Equestrian Event.” At 116 years old, it certainly is one of the oldest. New York traffic is jammed by 250 horses and 50,000 spectators converging on Madison Square Garden. There was $300,000 in prize money this year, capped by the $75,000 Budweiser Grand Prix.

Those numbers pale, however, when compared to the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship held for two weeks each November in Oklahoma City. In 1999, there were 2,472 horses competing for $1,679,000 in prize money.

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Equine Dentistry School
We know that a horse’s teeth can affect his health and performance, but finding a qualified dentist isn’t always easy. The American School of Equine Dentristry near Purcellville, Va., trains technicians to perform maintenance work and to work with vets to perform advanced work.

The school, run by veterinarian Raymond Hyde, teaches floating, bit seats, incisor reduction and realignment, wolf teeth removal and canine teeth reduction. Tuition is $3,500, and an apprenticeship with a certified technician is also recommended.

If your vet does not have a recommendation for a local equine dental technician, you may check the list of International Association of Equine Dental Technicians by calling 800/GET-ADVM.