Equine Teaching

Horse Racing Industry In Iowa Is Stronger Than Ever Before

The horse industry in Iowa is growing faster than ever before. From activities surrounding horse breeding, showing, racing, housing, training, riding and care, it employs more than 2,100 people and accounts for millions in revenue each year. The economic impact from horse breeding and owning is doing much to support our state’s ag-centric economy, and we need you to play an important part in making this message heard.

ISU Equine Students travel to Lexington, Kentucky to Fasig Tipton Sale

Nikki FerwerdaLecturer, Nikki Ferwerda, teaches Animal Science 317B, Equine Behavior and Training - Yearlings. Part of the class includes a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to observe the November  Fasig-Tipton sale. Fasig Tipton is an auction house for Thoroughbred horses founded in 1898. It is the oldest auction company of its kind in North America and the November sale is the world's premier breeding stock event.

The class also had an opportunity to see the opening day/book one of the Keeneland  sale, another American thoroughbred auction house in Lexington, founded in 1935 as a nonprofit racing/auction entity on 147 acres of farmland west of Lexington. The November sale focuses on Breeding stock and features broodmares and weanlings with some stallions.

Students were able to explore career opportunities, visit the Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, New Vocations and connect with some ISU alums in the industry. They also had the opportunity to go to several stallion farms to evaluate stallions for future breedings that will be sires of some future Iowa-breds that will touch the lives of more students through ISU’s equine classes.

Equine Reproduction… We’re Not Horsing Around!

Most studeThoroughbred foal born Jannts at Iowa State walk by the beautiful horse barns to admire the animals. Only few get to experience a part of what it takes to run an equine facility. One of the many equine specific courses students are able to take in conjecture with our Domestic Animal Reproduction Course (An S 331) is an Equine Reproduction Lab, 332E, taught by the Horse Barn Manager, Nikki Ferwerda. This course provides incredible hands on experience unlike any other university. Topics discussed and demonstrated include every aspect of reproduction from breeding both thoroughbreds and quarter horses to foaling. In an average class, we might watch a few palpations, assist in a live cover, and collect a quarter horse stud to ship semen.

Castration Lab

Each semester one colt per ANS 216 lab or 3 colts are used in a castration demonstration. The colts are brought to the Iowa State University Veterinary Medical Center and Dr. Stephanie Caston discusses and demonstrates colt castration. The lab is one of the favorite ANS 216 Equine Science students lab.

Castration lab

ANS216 Castration

ISU Equine Farm Stands Excellent Stallions

StrollThe thoroughbred stallion, Stroll, was purchased by a partnership in Iowa and ISU was honored as the stallion owners felt our central location and facilities would be ideal for mare owners. Stroll is a multiple graded stakes winner of $795,000 and is the sire of 24 stakes horses including 5 in 2017! He has sired progeny with earnings of over $10 million with nearly $1.5 million in 2017 alone, making him Iowa’s top stallion in a runaway! He stands for $2000 Live Foal Stands and Nurses.

Formidable, a graded stakes placed earner of over $200,000 was purchased by ISU and his first small crop of foals who were 3 year olds of 2017 are 100% winners. He is available for $1500 Live Foal Stands and Nurses.

The freshman Quarter Horse racing stallion, Racy Casanova, also found ISU as an ideal location to begin his stallion career. This promising young gray stallion is a three----quarters sibling to leading sire Big Daddy Cartel. He hails from one of the most successful female families of Quarter Horse racing. His pedigree and a 101-speed index suggest he will be a successful sire and his much-anticipated foals will begin arriving in 2018.

The ISU Horse Farm is looking forward to 2018 – the excitement of new students, new foals, and new opportunities is just around the corner.

How to Train a Horse for a Steer Wrestling Event

Steer wrestling is a very intense equine sport for both the horse and the rider. Steer wrestling is an event performed at the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) rodeo competition as a timed event. In this event the horse and the rider are put in a small pen with a break away rope in the front called the box. The horse and rider must not break through this rope called the barrier until the steer has released the barrier with the rope that is positioned around its neck. Allowing this to happen gives the steer a fair chance by giving it a head start. Once the steer has broken the barrier the horse and rider can leave the box and catch up to the steer.


Setting our Sights on Equine Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Horses eye

Glaucoma in the most general sense refers to a group of eye conditions that can result in blindness (1). Medically speaking, it results from intraocular inflammation due to equine recurrent uveitis (eye inflammation). What happens is that the aqueous humor inside the eye becomes obstructed causing pressure within the eye to increase. The increased pressure leads to reduced blood flow from the retina to the optic nerve. Ultimately, the reduction in blood flow leads to cell death, compression of the optic nerve, and complete blindness (4)

How do I know if my horse has glaucoma?

Common symptoms of glaucoma include painful, red, or cloudy eyes. Horses commonly squint the eye closed (blepharospasm) or produce excess tears (epiphora). However, there is only so much that the eye itself can do to alert veterinarians about what is happening. Some horses don’t display any symptoms at all. This is why testing the intraocular pressure (IOP) is so critical to accurate diagnosis. Veterinarians use a special tool called an applanation tonometer which is a handheld device that measures IOP. If you’re curious if you can measure IOP yourself, the answer is probably not. In order to utilize the tonometer, the eye needs to first be anesthetized. This is probably for the best considering your horse is not likely to take well to you touching its eyeball (2).

What can be done to treat glaucoma?

Fortunately, glaucoma is a treatable disease, especially in its early stages. One such treatment includes using a drug called timolol. Timolol can lower IOP and delay eye deterioration for as long as three years (3). A more aggressive approach is laser surgery. Laser ciliary body ablation decreases the fluid produced by the eyes. This treatment requires sedation or anesthesia but can manage eye health for two to three years. While there are a variety of treatment options, none can prevent the inevitable, blindness. As glaucoma is a progressive disease it can only be managed, not treated (4). 

Horse corneal ulcer
A corneal ulcer stained green with florescence stain


Given the brevity of this post, there is still more to learn about glaucoma. Check out the websites below to get a more detailed analysis of the issue at hand

Works Cited

  1. “Glaucoma.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Nov. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/symptoms-causes/syc-2037....
  2. Kane, Ed. “Treating Glaucoma in Your Equine Veterinary Patients.” dvm360, 30 June 2014, veterinarynews.dvm360.com/veterinary-treatment-glaucoma-your-equine-patients?id=&sk=&date=&pageID=2.
  3. “Timolol Eye Drops 0.5%.” Timolol Eye Drops 0.5% - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) - (Emc), 24 Dec. 2015, www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4053/smpc.
  4. Tolar, Erica L, and Amber L Labelle. “American Association of Equine Practitioners.” How to Session: Ophthalmology , 2013, aaep.org/sites/default/files/issues/OphthalTolar.pdf.

This blog post was written by Caroline Treadwell, a senior in Animal Science and Biology.

Superficial Digital Flexor Tendinitis

After creating a training regimen that provides support for the racehorse's cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, energetics, biomechanics, thermoregulation, and nutrition the speed and endurance required to compete in a racing can still result in unplanned and unforeseen injuries. Twelve hundred pounds of racehorse impacts the ground with tremendous concussive forces during the gallop where one leg at a time hits the ground. The joints of the lower limb, particularly the fetlock joints, hyperextend on impact to the point where the distal ankle can touch the ground (Berkland, 2020).