Bulletin Board: 01/02

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H/J Juniors Must Use ASTM/SEI Helmets
All junior riders at USA Equestrian-recognized hunter/jumper shows are required to wear ASTM/SEI-approved headgear. The new rule, approved at the 2000 AHSA convention, went into effect December 1.

Riders violating this rule, which also specifies that the harness must secured and properly fitted, will be prohibited from riding until the headgear is properly in place.

The popular GPA helmet, with its distinctive wide band, has been added to the list of ASTM/SEI certified riding helmets. Only the GPA4 models manufactured and shipped after Nov. 7, 2001, will qualify. The distributor, Frantisi, Inc., said the approved GPA4 model, which has a Titanium strip within the shell, should be in stores now.

Other certified helmets include models made by Equine Science Marketing (Aussie Rider), Charles Owens, Del Mar Helmet Co., International, Lexington, Polybid, Troxel and Eurocasque. For a complete list of ASTM/SEI-certified helmets, visit www.seinet.org.

The new rule applies only to juniors. However, any exhibitor may wear ASTM/SEI headgear if they choose to do so.

USAEq published guidelines to distinguish approved helmets, besides checking for the label: Approved helmets, by their nature, have a thicker shell. Helmets with a completely clear harness aren’t approved, but one with a black nylon strap in the clear harness may an approved model. Some of the newer approved helmets have the SEI insignia on the harness buckle.

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Respiratory Disease Hits 17%
The incidence of Infectious Upper Respiratory Disease at U.S. horse operations is around 17% a year, according to a USDA report released this fall. An estimated 1.5% of all horses developed IURD per quarter.

The study was conducted in 1998 and 1999 using over a thousand horse operations around the country but excluding racetracks. Neither the percentage of horses nor the percentage of operations with IURD differed among U.S. regions, but they did vary with the season, from 2.6% of horses in the spring to less than one percent in the winter.

The younger the horse, the more likely it was to get IURD, from 3.7% of foals younger than six months, to 1 percent of those over five years old. Racehorses were much more likely to get a respiratory disease than show or pleasure horses. Horses at breeding establishments or boarding stables were more likely to get IURD than those on farms/ranches or at private residences.

IURD is generally contagious and can be caused by several viruses and bacteria. Usually, horses with IURD develop a fever, cough and nasal discharge. They may be lethargic, slow their eating and get enlarged lymph nodes of the head and neck. Strangles is a type of IURD.

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New FEI Dressage Tests
New FEI dressage tests for Grand Prix and Intermediaire I are scheduled to begin use January 1, 2002. The Grand Prix freestyle is being refined in the scoring and total points in order to make it more understandable for scorers and the public.The new tests should be available from USA Equestrian by the end of December, although a delay is possible since they hadn’t been received from the FEI by mid-November. The new Grand Prix tests will run 6 ?? minutes. The short Grand Prix has been discontinued, so there now will be only the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at that level.

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More EPM Hosts Identified
Researchers at Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have identified the raccoon as an intermediate host for Sarcocystis neurona, the parasite that causes equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, according to a recent issue of Veterinary Parasitology.

The raccoon is classified as a “natural” intermediate host, as is the armadillo. Cats and skunks are “experimental” intermediate hosts, meaning that they have only been pinpointed under lab conditions.

The only known “definitive” host is the opossum. An intermediate host doesn’t pass the parasite along to horses but just completes the life cycle. The opossum eats a dead infected raccoon or armadillo and can then pass the parasite to a horse through exposure to its feces.

Therefore, there is no EPM protection to be gained from limiting access to raccoons, armadillos, cats or skunks. Indeed, only a small percentage of exposed horses get the disease, and the most important protection at this time is to strengthen the horse’s immune system.