Improved healthcare means our old campaigners will spend many more retirement years with us - what was once a fifteen year commitment may now span thirty years or more. Like their human counterparts, equine athletes jump higher, run faster and go longer than ever before, and the girls challenge the boys in the playing field and on the track.
There's a new breed of horse owner, many with minimal or no experience caring for horses, and often they are attracted to draft and baroque types - breeds which seem to display an increasing variety of metabolic irregularities. More and more horses are no longer considered as livestock but as part of the family. Suppliers of everything from feeds and supplements to tack and horse clothing and insurance are responding to these changes, vying for their share of our pocketbooks.
At the same time, the amount of land available for growing hay and to provide open spaces to enjoy our equines is diminishing at an alarming rate. Genetic modification of crops along with the increasing use of chemicals is thought by many to be necessary to provide food and fuel for an increasing world population, while experiments in small scale sustainable farming seeks to provide sustenance without further damaging our planet. There is an ever widening dichotomy between global philosophy and what actually goes on in our own backyards.
In the midst of all this change, one person has emerged as a guiding light to thousands of horse owners - a veterinarian dispensing common sense and rationality along with scientific inquiry and foundation. As a mentor, Eleanor Kellon, VMD has advised high profile trainers and back yard horse women. As a teacher, "Dr. K" continues to lead us into new realms of knowledge - whether you are new to horses or have been raised with decades of equine tradition.
As you read (and hopefully put to use) these pages, keep in mind that while what we know today may be surpassed by what we learn tomorrow, what is true will always remain so.
Patti Woodbury Kuvik
6 January, 2011