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USDA Hosts Thermography Seminar



Dr. Rachel Cesar;Horse Protection Coordinator, Link Webb; WHTA Pres. and Dr. Chester Gipson;Deputy Admin. of Animal Welfare.

 

 

by Linda Scrivner

 

            SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The United States Department of Agriculture APHIS Horse Protection Program presented a seminar on equine thermography and radiology. These are technologies used by the USDA’s APHIS to enforce the Horse Protection Act. The seminar was held at the Calsonic Arena, Shelbyville, Tenn., with several trainers, veterinarians and USDA officials from all over the country present. Others were present from different HIOs and Keith Dane represented the humane society at the seminar.


Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator of Animal Welfare, welcomed the group and explained what would be happening during the day. He introduced Dr. Rachel Cesar, Horse Protection Coordinator who also spoke briefly.

           
Fifteen Tennessee Walking Horses provided by various trainers were used for fact finding by the USDA. Each horse was assigned a clipboard and the horses were sent to several stations for 10-minute intervals. At the first station, each horse was given a pre-performance thermal exam with a thermography camera that shows heat. The camera shows varying colors from white (hottest) to black. Red is shown for heated areas and blue and green are cooler areas. The coronary band is shown in white because it is usually the hottest place on the hoof and pastern area. The others colors are relative to the coronary band. The horse then moved with his clipboard to the second station where he was physically evaluated by both an equine veterinarian and a USDA VMO. Each wrote their findings on the sheet without comparing notes.

           
Both flat-shod and performance horses participated in the fact-finding. The third portion was a performance event with 10 minutes of vigorous exercise at the horse’s intended performance occupation. The horses then went for a post performance thermal exam and a post performance physical exam. They then underwent a two-hour cool out period and went to a station where they obtained digital radiographs of all four feet, both lateral (side) and dorsal (front) shots. They explained that when they were examining the findings the thermal photographs could be placed over the radiographs so that comparisons could be made.

           
Following the radiographs they were given a two-hour post performance thermal exam and physical evaluations. All 15 horses went through this rigorous fact-finding. Questions as to the findings were asked and they said they would not be available until the USDA had a chance to study the findings.

           
Following the examinations, at 3 p.m. the group moved upstairs into the Hall of Fame room for two special presentations. Dr. Jim Waldsmith of The Equine Center, San Luis Obispo, Calif., gave a presentation on thermographic imaging that also included a film using this technique to find problems on a horse before they were visibly lame. The horse was placed on a treadmill and colors developed which indicated the problem. He stated that the purpose of thermal imagining was three fold: 1) To separate the normal from the abnormal horse. 2) Quickly identify horses that need further information and 3) Protect the horse and insure fair competition.

           
Following his speech Dr. Tracy Turner of Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, Elk River, Minn., gave an excellent presentation on shoeing and gaited horses. Following these two presentations, the floor was opened to questions and excellent discussions pursued. At the close of the meeting Dr. Cezar passed out a copy of an article that showed they were already using thermographic exams in competition. It can be seen at www.thehorse.com. Click here for link.

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