Bowral Championships

The weekend of the 27th and 28th of April saw lovely weather for Bowral Dressage Club’s Championships. A number of Shoalhaven Dressage Club members participated.

In the Preliminary Sue Rayner and LP Vincent Van Gogh placed 5th in the 1C and 7th in the 1D.

In the Preliminary Pony Carolyn Heron and Puff N Stuff placed 3rd in the 1C and 1st in the 1D with a whopping 73.86%.  Caroline Morley and Cheeky Whisper placed 4th in the 1C and 7th in the 1D.

The Elementary saw Alycia Targa and CP Dresden continue their good form, placing 2nd in the 3C and winning the 3D with 70.71

Kim McDonald had a busy weekend, competing in the Medium with Warburton Regatta on the Saturday and the Advanced and Prix St George on Reveller on the Sunday. Regatta placed 6th in the 4B and 5th in the 4C. Reveller placed 3rd in the  5B and 4th in the 5C, then 6th in the Prix St George.

Congratulations to all who competed.

Magnetic Therapy, how effective is it?

Magnetic Therapy- It’s effective… isn’t it??

If you read the promotional material for Magnetic Therapy products they sound absolutely amazing. They are promoted as a drug free, non invasive and effective way of restoring your horse to peak performance, cutting down on recovery time, and relieving tired, aching joints and muscles. They allegedly increase muscle elasticity and return of normal range of motion and therefore result in less chance of injury.

Their persuasively presented claims are simply not supported by legitimate scientific evidence. The very few studies that do show a positive effect from wearing magnets admit that they can not hide from the participants whether they are wearing magnets or not. Thus the results can not be differentiated from placebo, or the benefit people get just because they believe in the treatment they are receiving. The majority of studies show absolutely no benefit from wearing any type of magnetic product.

Magnetic pads that radiate an unchanging magnetic field can be applied to horses via any number of boots, blankets or pads. Because the static magnetic fields don’t change, there can be no electrical effect. Thus proponents of magnetic products use another mechanism to explain the purported beneficial effects, an increase in local blood circulation.

Blood does contain electrically charged ions. A physics principle known as Faraday’s law states that a magnetic field will exert a force on a moving ionic current.  An extension of Faraday’s law called the Hall effect states that when a magnetic field is placed perpendicular to the direction of the flow of an electric current flow, it will tend to deflect and separate the charged ions. This separation of ionic charges produces an electromotive force, in theory a very small amount of heat.

The problem with using Faraday’s law and the Hall effect to explain the purported effects of static magnetic pads is that the magnitude of the force applied by the field is infinitesimally small. This is for two reasons, first the magnetic field that is being applied to the tissues is extremely weak and secondly the flow of the blood is extremely slow, especially when compared to the flow of electric current.

Magnetic field strength is measured by Gauss. Horse magnets are advertised as having a therapeutic strength of between 10 and 500 Gauss at the level of the magnet. However at a distance of 1cm this strength decreases to only 1 Gauss. 1 Gauss is approximately the magnetic field strength of the earth.  The velocity of the blood is approximately 0.5 to 1 cm per second.

If you generously consider a magnetic field of 250 Gauss and the velocity of blood at 1cm per second, the electric field seen by an ion in the blood flow will be about 2.5x  Volts/meter/sec. The thermal agitation imparted by the natural heat of the horse’s body will cause about 10 million times more movement of the ions in the blood than a 250 Gauss magnet.

Some manufacturers claim that they can increase the effects of charge separation by alternating north and south magnetic poles. This is commonly seen in fridge magnets. However this just decreases the magnetic field strength of the magnet because the magnetic fields tend to cancel each other out as they extend from the magnet. Try an experiment with a magnet on your fridge. Put one piece of paper between the magnet and the fridge, now, one by one, keep adding pieces of paper. How many can you put under the magnet until it stops working and the papers fall to the floor. My best was 5. If the magnetic field can not pass through more than 5 pieces of paper, how can it have any effect on the tissues under your horse’s hair? Especially after having to also pass through whatever pad or boot that is holding the magnet in place.

Some proponents of Magnetic Therapy try to give their products extra credence by associating their products with the accepted use of magnets in MRI machines used in scientific medicine. However MRI’s are just diagnostic machines, not therapeutic. They use an approximately 10,000 Gauss magnetic field, so if you want to believe that magnets have a serious effect on your blood flow, an MRI scan would probably blow you to bits. Whilst people come out of an MRI scan knowing what is wrong with them, none come out healed.

Now what about personal experience and anecdotal evidence? What about the person who states that using magnetic therapy boots on their horse has been very helpful for rehabbing after soft tissue injuries. Horses are not susceptible to the placebo effect!! But their owners are and for this reason anecdotal evidence can in no way be considered scientific proof. People who are gullible enough to try magnets will be easily persuaded to attribute any improvements in their horse solely to the magnets. But what other treatments did the horse receive, rest, anti-inflammatorys, bandaging. Would the horse have gotten better anyway? Most people try treatments when their horse has a problem. The most likely thing to happen after an injury is that the injury improves. Attributing the horse’s natural healing ability to magnets is the same as saying that my horse got better because every day I spent 10 minutes whispering healing mantras into his ear. You may well have done this but he was going to get better anyway.

Magnetic therapy is pseudoscience. Magnets have zero health benefits whatsoever. There is no conceivable mechanism under which they might act, and no reproducible studies have found that magnets provide health benefits. Save your money and if your horse has a real problem go and see a good vet, get the problem diagnosed and treated with scientifically tested, clinically proven treatments.

Hendra Information night

On Friday the 12th of April, Shoalhaven Dressage Club and Shoalhaven Pony Club combined to hold an information night on the Hendra virus presented by the Illawarra Equine Centre and Dr Dianne Ryan, the Chief Veterinary Officer for the DPI. The following is a summary of the evening, however if you want further information, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

Hendra virus is carried by Flying Foxes. They are not affected by the virus but shed it in their body fluids. These fluids are expelled as the enter or leave their roosting tree, so the zone of up to 1 metre around the canopy of a tree is the area most likely to be contaminated.

Bats all over Australia carry the Hendra virus, 2 bats in Adelaide were recently tested positive to it. It is currently unknown why bats further south than northern NSW have not transferred the virus to horses, but just because they haven’t so far, we can’t presume they won’t in the future.

Horses catch the virus by eating food or drinking water contaminated by the virus, so it is important to neither feed or water horses within 1 metre of a tree canopy. They can also catch it by eating food dropped by bats. 3/4s of all horses who catch the virus die, and the remainder are all euthanized, by order of the DPI.

Humans catch Hendra through horse excretions. Of the 7 people who have caught Hendra, 4 have died mainly due to the encephalitis it causes. The survivors have significant disabilities so the consequences of catching the disease are severe.

The Hendra vaccine has been proved safe for use in horses, however due to its rapid release to protect human life, not all trials on its use have been completed. The vaccine can only be administered by a vet and the horse must be microchipped. This is because the DPI must know which horses have been vaccinated. The vaccine is not a live virus, it is a part of the virus that just stimulates the development of Hendra antibodies. Because it develops these antibodies, the only way to distinguish between horses infected by Hendra and those vaccinated against it, is the vaccination certificate issued by the DPI. In the event of an outbreak of Hendra, all horses with Hendra antibodies must be euthanized, unless they have this certificate.

Because Veterinarians must administer the vaccine, it costs $120, plus $44 if your horse is not microchipped. This price is reduced for multiple horses. The vets are just covering their costs at this rate so don’t think the Hendra vaccine is a huge boost for them. Horses require a booster vaccine at 21 days (however this may be varied in the future) and single boosters at 6 months. The 6 months booster may be altered to yearly in September when further tests are completed.

Presently it is not know the effect of the vaccine on pregnant mares or mares intended for breeding so it is recommended you consult your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of vaccinating these horses.

Currently 4 countries are not accepting horses with Hendra antibodies for export. This is despite the studies that show all horses who have been vaccinated for Hendra and subsequently exposed to the virus, have shown no signs of the disease and have not shed the virus at all. It should only be a short time before these export restrictions are lifted, as more studies showing the efficacy of the vaccine are completed. These countries are Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Taiwan. As can be imagined, until the ban on exports to Hong Kong are lifted, the racing industry has not taken up the use of the Hendra vaccine.

For this reason it is important to vaccinate your horse if it is taken out to competitions and comes in contact with other horses which could be shedding the virus in the early stages of infection, without showing signs of the disease.

Kim McDonald at Goulburn Dressage Championships

Kim McDonald competed on Saturday the 13th of April at the Goulburn Dressage Championships with Reveller, winning reserve champion in the Advanced and also placing second in a strong field in the Prix St George.

Kim McDonald and Reveller

Kim McDonald and Reveller

Kim scored 63.882% in the 5C and 60.122 in the 5D. In the Prix St George she scored 62.434%. Good to see Kim and Rev back out competing.

Caroline Morley’s Mare is mother of Pony Champion of Champions



Caroline Morley riding Cheeky Whisper

Shoalhaven Dressage Club member Caroline Morley celebrated last month when her mare’s son was crowned the pony Champion of Champions at Dressage with the Stars Young Horse Championship in Melbourne.

Caroline purchased the morgan mare Cheeky Whisper last year. Her son, Double S Dark Sun, by Alessandro, owned and ridden by Helen Shanal won the 6 year old Young Horse Champion then went on to be named Champion of Champions. Dark Sun is a 14.1hh stallion born in 2007.

Double S Dark Sun

Double S Dark Sun

Well done Caroline!

Getting to know Gayle Loose


Here is the first of what I hope will be a series of blog posts on people in our club. Naturally the most obvious place to start is with our club president, Gayle Loose. Gayle runs our club, doing most of the behind the scenes organising and planning as well as being the “go to” person in the club house during competitions.

Here is her horsey story, in her own words.

Gayle Loose busy running the March 2013 competition

I was born in NSW, then grew up in Tasmania

(home town Dunalley, which was the town scorched by the Christmas fires).

I was lucky to have my first pony at the age of 10, and yes, you guessed it, a little grey welsh pony mare.  My first riding instructor was Capt. Harry Sanna (George Sanna’s dad).  Dressage wasn’t on the favourite list than, it was just an element you had to do for eventing which was my passion at that time. My next horse was a big chestnut T/bred/clydie x gelding who I evented quite successfully.  The Hunting bug had also bitten and I attended many hunts throughout Tasmania.

I joined the Air Force in 1976, so riding was on the backburner for a few years.  With a posting to Richmond RAAF, I was able to connect with the horse community again. I hunted for 2 seasons with Sydney Hunt Club, on a borrowed horse.  I was able to get a part-time job that fitted in with the RAAF work at a Thoroughbred Stud at Richmond and learnt a lot from the old hands there, preparing youngsters, spelling and mare management.

Married in 1982, to a non-horsey guy, soon to be converted, Dave, my rock.

Attended Hawkesbury Ag College and completed a course in Horse Health and Management.  Was involved with getting a RAAF Riding Club organised and started getting lessons with Jackie Barlow.  Jackie was the catalyst that gave me the Dressage addiction, Jackie was an A Level Judge and FEI competitor at the time and really gave me the insight into the beauty of training the Dressage Horse.  Have had a few horses during this time, but the one that really gave me a lot of joy was a big black T/bred gelding – Just Rumours (George).  He had been successfully campaigned by Roger Fitzharding to FEI before I was lucky enough to have him so the talent and movement were already established.  With Clarendon grounds just across the road from us, it was easy to go and compete.

Retired from the RAAF after 20yrs and moved to the South Coast and had intentions of competing here, but unfortunately George had a serious injury, not long after the move, and I had to make that dreaded decision we all have to make at sometime in our lives.  So still keen to be involved with dressage, Jane Stannard, invited me to attend a SDC committee meeting in 1999, and as you see I am still here.   Just have 2 horses now, Shaq, most of you would remember from when Graeme Swan competed him at the Club, he will be 21 this year and is thoroughly enjoying his retirement with just an occasional ride out and Hannah, a beautiful grey mare Barb Vial has let me have to continue to enjoy my riding, albeit just lovely bush and beach rides. I could not imagine life without an equine friend to share it with.

I love being involved with our Club and meeting new members. and I have made life long friends. I started with just doing the time draw, then got lured into being the Secretary and then railroaded into being the President in 2007, and yes I am still doing the time draw….



Favourite Band:           Dire Straits

Favourite Food:           Dark Chocolate

Favourite Movie:         Men in Black

Favourite Author:        Jeffery Deaver

Favourite Sporting Team:        Wallabies (Rugby Union)

Other Hobbies:            Dog Agility Training, Orchid growing/gardening

Other Pets:                  2 German Shorthaired Pointers, 3 mini goats and some chooks

Other Job:                    Managing a Farmstay guesthouse