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January 2015

As I write this, the ground has been frozen solid for several days – not even thawing out when the sun shines. If the ground is warm at root-level then the grass will continue to grow (a little bit) even if the air temperature is cold, but if the below-ground temperature is also cold then grass doesn’t grow at all; so it is important to allow for this when working out your horse’s winter rations (assuming it has time outside). Remember to also check that water hasn’t frozen in water buckets, troughs, or automatic waterers; often a film of ice will need breaking on the top, and adding warm water will increase the amount your horse drinks.

If you haven’t read it already then check out the article on rugging and remember that your horse is usually nowhere near as cold as you are, but that both over and under-rugging can cause health problems.

I know some people have been asking about the courses on the website that will be running this winter – yes they are still happening, they have just been delayed a bit because of colds/flu’s/xmas etc., but we will be getting stuck into them after the New Year. Don’t worry, they will be inside in the warm! Following on from our last dressage show there has also been some interest in a ‘dressage test masterclass’, where you can learn the little tricks of the trade that help you get better marks in dressage tests; this will be in the form of a demo/talk, so again no need to get wet and cold. If there’s any interest, then further masterclasses on dressage, showjumping and cross-country will follow (do you know what to look for when walking a course?).

New material on the article page this month focuses on continuing our rider series, but let us know if there is anything in particular you would like to read about. Watch out for our upcoming article on Botulism too; many people know that horses can get it from silage, but did you know that it can also occur in haylage (even when it looks perfectly okay)?

As usual, Professor Pony has new letters in his advice column, and hopes that everyone remembered to celebrate Epona’s festival day on the 18th December, as well as having a great Christmas and New Year. Although equines follow a different religion, he would like to point out that Mary did choose to ride on a donkey and so he would like everyone to check that their nativity scenes have the donkey represented.

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015
From Carol and Wendy

TRAVELLING WITH PETS IN EUROPE – new regulations took effect on December 29th !!!
Do you take your dog (or cat or ferret) into Europe on holiday, or for any other reason? If you haven’t already got one, then you need a passport for each pet. One of the main reasons for this is to control RABIES (kills pets, humans, horses, and other mammals!), and travelling pets need vaccinations and blood tests as part of this disease’s control. This has been the case for some years now, but it seems that unscrupulous people have been forging passports and vaccination certificates meaning that unvaccinated pets (especially puppies) are coming into the UK!

Did I mention you can die of this disease? As does your dog and anything else it bites (yes, including your horse). If rabies gets into foxes then there is a risk of it spreading through the UK. Have you ever watched the programme Heartbeat? There is one episode where someone dies an agonising death from rabies (nowadays, if caught in time, you can have a preventative vaccine but many people still die of rabies each year and animals are euthanized).

The new regulations include – new passports (though you don’t need a new one if your pet already has one); a minimum vaccination age of 12 weeks (make sure you do NOT buy illegal puppies that have been smuggled into the UK); more checks on pet passports at borders; and new regulations for pets travelling for sale or rehoming.

So, if you are going to travel abroad with your pet then make sure you check out the government website and plan well in advance (there must be a minimum of 21 days between the rabies vaccination and travel). Pets that travel without following the regulations may be quarantined for up to six months before being allowed back into Britain or, worse, may just be destroyed. Don’t lose your dog, or your life, for the sake of taking simple precautions. www.gov.uk/pet-travel-information-for-pet-owners

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