Sometimes an animation can do more to help people understand a process than a drawing or a photograph.
The video explaining parturition in mares by Ghent University is a combination of live video that includes a mare in labor and giving birth, as well as animations. The animations show the foal inside the mare and it's rotation as it enters the birth canal. It also shows possible complications during birth and how they can be corrected during the birthing process.
After spending a semester studying equine reproduction I can recommend the quality of the animations along with the voice-over narration that make this video suitable for horse owners and students. Some of the illustrations we used in class were over-simplified such as showing the developing foal in a human-like uterus.
One thing that stands out immediately in this video is the foal's rear hooves being held by the gravid horn of the uterus. Unlike humans, horses and other animals have a main uterus and two uterine horns. While animals like cats and dogs that have litters where fetal development happens in the horns, the horse fetus uses one of the horns to hold the hind limbs with the head pointing towards the cervix. The second horn doesn't play a role while the foal is developing.
Horses are usually unable to carry twins due to the complex nature of the diffuse placenta and uterus being able to carry only one foal to term. When a horse does produce twins, one embryo is usually destroyed by membrane disruption since their is risk of death for the mare and one twin usually does not survive. However, live twins have been born in rare cases.
Another very specialized video on equine pregnancy diagnosis that students view as part of the course material is not available on YouTube. One of the most amazing pieces of that film included in-utero video of the developing fetus during the early part of the pregnancy. Unlike humans, the fertilized embryo does not implant on the uterine wall. This occurs later, around 40 days into the pregnancy. Until that time, the embryo bounces around the uterus and uterine horns and must come in contact with 80% of the uterine surface for maternal recognition to occur.
Today there are realistic animations available to help students and owners visualize intricate biological processes of horses. These run the gamete from reproduction to anatomy videos like "The Glass Horse" series. There are even applications available for tablets and cell phones like "Horse Anatomy 3-D." These tools help us understand the unique aspects of the horse and how we must tailor our medical treatment to suit them.
Membership renewal reminder calls can be a fun way to connect with people who share your interests and help an organization you believe in.
Colorado State University students who are members of the Collegiate Stockgrowers club are calling through lists provided by National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Passing the list to students to call helps the organization reach members who may have forgotten to renew or have moved and didn't get their renewal notice.
When members renew and list CSU Collegiate Stockgrowers as their recruiter, it helps the club raise funds to travel to NCBA's national convention that will be held in San Antonio, Texas this year. Students who attend the convention have an opportunity to attend the Cattlemen's College. These informative sessions cover topics that range from the proper use of antibiotics, water rights, genetics, and grazing management. It's an important learning and networking opportunity for students to meet other producers and explore the hot topics in the industry right now.
If you're a member of NCBA or Colorado Cattlemen's Association and you haven't renewed yet, please consider listing CSU Collegiate Stockgrowers as your recruiter to help the club raise funds to travel to San Antonio and attend the conference and Cattlemen's College.
Horses in Colorado State University's equine sciences program have many jobs that support the students in various classes. They are also used as therapy horses in equine assisted activities with students studying with Dr. Sharon Bulter, the instructor for therapeutic riding at CSU. Front Range Exceptional Equestrians also use CSU's facility, horses and student instructors to assist with their disabled clients. Only horses that have passed a physical exam, and have the temperament to handle riders with special needs can participate.
Equine assisted therapy programs have gained attention lately for their work with disabled veterans, but the disabled population they serve is very diverse.
Dr. Sharon Butler, an instructor at CSU, teaches students in the equine sciences program to become certified instructors in therapeutic riding.
“Equine assisted activities and therapies is a general term and covers everything,” Dr. Butler said. “Therapeutic riding is a type of equine assisted activity where the goal is to learn how to ride a horse, to learn riding skills and horse handling skills.”
Students, like Dana Ratcliffe, gain experience teaching disabled children and adults in the northern Colorado area at CSU’s equine campus. They also complete volunteer teaching hours with Front Range Exceptional Equestrians, a local non-profit.
“I was attracted to equine assisted therapy because I have always loved working with animals and helping people,” said Ratcliffe. “Growing up I volunteered at a camp for disabled children, and it sparked a passion in me to help those with disabilities. When I found out that we could use horses, in equine assisted therapy to help kids with disabilities, I became hooked.”
The series of classes that students can take from Dr. Butler focuses on assisted therapy riding. Hippotherapy, another type of equine assisted activity involves occupational, physical, and speech therapists using the movement of horses to help their patients improve in these areas. In therapeutic riding, the process of learning to ride helps improve motor skills and cognitive function.
“A lot of the riders are there to learn how to ride a horse,” said Emily Geeslin, a senior equine science major. “So we’re not looking for their benefits with their disability or their day to day functioning. That’s just an added bonus.”
Participant riders must meet specific medical perquisites before they can ride horses. They cannot be prone to seizures or be taking medication that can cause them. They also cannot have axial cranial disorders like Down syndrome, which could be negatively impacted by riding. The volunteer riders for Dr. Butler’s classes come from the local community.
“We have people with all types of disabilities,” said Butler. “We work on things like improving muscle tone and muscle strength, being able to use their hands and legs with motor skills. We also have riders with cognitive disabilities. So we work on more educational things.”
Geeslin said riders are grouped by age and type of disability and then the activities are tailored to them. The certification program starts with the classes at CSU, but also involves written exams, teaching hours, preparing and executing a riding lesson, as well as demonstrating their own riding ability to a set of examiners. Students can become certified under Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International while they are still in school.
“Dr. Butler's class has introduced me to more people who can benefit from therapeutic riding that I ever thought possible,” said Ratcliffe. “I have learned a lot from her and I am proud to have been taught by her. She has shown me that equine assisted therapy can help people in a variety of ways; whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally, or behaviorally.”
Watch a video of riders using CSU's equine facility as part of Front Range Exceptional Equestrians therapeutic riding program.
My enthusiasm for science is at the heart of all the multimedia materials I write and produce. As a graduate student at Colorado State University studying rangeland management, I focus on livestock health, nutrition, as well as rangeland ecology. I work part-time as a media coordinator and video editor for the CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory, and I blog about my livestock and range management experiences in Colorado.