Residents learn how to raise healthy horses

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- There was no time for horseplay Friday. Horse owners from all over North Central Florida gathered in Gainesville for the 11th annual Healthy Horses Conference.

Helen Tolmach has attended the Healthy Horses Conference of the past 11 years.

"There's a lot of things that you learn from these conferences that you can use to help and treat your own horses,” she said.

The main focus of Friday's conference was dedicated to equine nutrition.

"Horses like humans, many have different nutritional needs depending on their age, their level of athleticism, whether they're breeding animals,” said Assistant Clinical Professor of Large Animal Medicine, Sally DeNotta.

In addition to learning about how to create a successful nutrition program, participants also had the opportunity to gain an understanding of the rescue efforts of large animals.

"As hurricane season is becoming more of a concern us here as we approach August and September, we definitely want to make sure that horse owners are aware of some of the risks that may be posed as hazards to their horses,” said Animal Technical Rescue Ranch Director of UF's Veterinary Emergency Treatment Services Brandi Phillips.

If a horse is found in floodwaters after a hurricane, the Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service team is ready to help.

"So there's a lot of different techniques that can be used that are dictated by the situation, so occasionally we have high angle rescues, meaning we have to place a harness around the animal and hoist them. Sometimes it takes less complicated techniques and a low angle environment, meaning we may put the horse on a rescue glide, which is similar to a human backboard and relocate them that way,” Phillips added.

And while there weren't any horse demonstrations this year, participants can look forward to some in the future.

"Next year we're going to have them do a live demo,” DeNotta said.

and for participants like Tolmach, it's exciting to learn how to keep your horses healthy and safe.

"I've been coming every year and I would recommend it to anybody who has horses,” Tolmach said.

The event happens every July and is open to the public. Registration is 49 dollars---- but if you're a UF student, it'll only cost you 19 dollars.