Horse Industry

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Demand for donkey hides, used to make ejiao, has built a lucrative trade industry, endangering the livelihoods of those who rely on them - Half the world’s donkey population could be wiped out in the next five years, as millions are slaughtered to meet the rising demand for “ejiao,” a gelatin-based traditional Chinese medicine derived from boiling the hides of donkeys. Believed to improve blood circulation and treat conditions like anemia, infertility, and impotence, ejiao is found in powders, tonics, cosmetics, and even food products.

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Major news outlets are squirming with reports of people buying an equine anti-parasite medication, Ivermectin, to treat COVID-19. Farm and livestock supply retailers are seeing a surge of demand for the product for human use, despite Health Canada warnings that there could be serious health risks from consuming the medicine intended for deworming animals.

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When it comes to purchasing hay this year, John Bland says, “[Horse owners] are between a rock and a hard place. This year, there’s typically nothing to cut.” Bland is a member of the Alberta Forage Information Network and has been producing and selling hay in Alberta for over 40 years. He says this year’s drought covers the majority of North America’s Great Plains region, so is different from other dry years such as 2001, 2009, and 2019 when droughts were more regional.

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Whether you run a large horse business or a small private barn, finding good employees to help with the daily duties of horse care, training, and lessons is usually a difficult task. Some horse owners freely admit that their “horse resources” acumen is better than their “human resources” insight. In reality, good management of both takes similar talent and is easier to achieve than you might think. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

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Why do we have them? What keeps us practicing them? As I write this article, I find it ironic that I am laid up on the couch with a lower back injury, brought on by the age-old tradition of lifting, hauling, and generally doing way too much when my body wasn’t up to the task. From my recovery position, it seems fitting to attempt to grapple with the rather sticky topic of traditions, and why we often feel so compelled to stick to them. I’ve touched on this a little in my past articles, but today I want to really dig in and unpack why and how traditions become traditions and what keeps us practicing them, sometimes long past their best before date.

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Horses and their people can be found almost everywhere in Canada from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and every region offers unique opportunities for riding, driving, and horse ownership. So, when adventurous equine enthusiasts move across Canada for work, lifestyle, or adventure, they will undoubtedly need to navigate a new horse fraternity. Planning a new life on distant shores can be a massive undertaking, but no amount of planning will answer every question, and sometimes just going for it — enthusiastically gambling that moving across the country will work out — pays off.

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Many horse people yearn to leave the city behind, believing that the country provides opportunities for a more natural lifestyle, a slower pace, and a chance to fulfill lifelong dreams such as keeping their horses at home, growing a big garden, and enjoying a healthier way of life.

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