Now that Cold Weather is upon us… Be Prepared!

Cold Weather and Winter Tips for your Horse in Colorado

The cold and snow have arrived here in Colorado. And if you are like the rest of us, you were scrambling yesterday to make sure your horse (and barn) were ready for the weather change.

Here are just a few tips to try to make the temperature (and weather) transition easier on all of us:

  • Feed extra hay: the digestive process helps keep your horse warm, so extra hay will keep them warmer. Another benefit is the more constant food supply will help avoid colic.
  • Heated waterers: use some form of water heater to avoid frozen water sources. This will keep your horse hydrated during cold snaps as well as make less work for you. No one likes breaking up ice! Plus, who likes drinking ice cold drinks during a snowstorm anyways?
  • Blankets: if your horse has not grown a substantial winter coat yet, you might want to consider a blanket for added warmth and protection from the snow and dampness.
  • Salt/Minerals: be sure to provide your horse with quality salt/minerals all year, but especially during the cold. Inadequate salt in the diet can result in abnormal eating behavior such as licking or chewing objects which have salt on them or licking/eating dirt. Water intake may also decrease without proper salt/mineral intake, increasing the risk of impaction colic.
  • Shelter: good shelter is important all year in Colorado, but during the cold and winter it is even more important. Horses need a way to get out of the wind and inclement weather in an effort to stay warm (and for their forage to not blow away). This can come in the form of a shelter in a pasture, a stall in a barn, or other methods depending on your property’s setup.
  • Bedding: you may want to add extra bedding for your horse’s comfort. It will give them a soft/warm place to lay down. It will also help soak up any urine before it can turn to ice and become dangerous.
  • Footing Needs: Pay attention to the footing in your horse’s area. Most horses can cope with deep snow, but ice can be dangerous. Where needed, apply snowmelt to help icy conditions. If your horse is shod, you might also need pads to help prevent snow and ice balling up in the foot and causing a slippery situation for your horse.

And remember, our first hard freeze kills off many of our annoying (and disease-carrying pests), so it is not all bad!

VSV (Vesicular Stomatitis) Confirmed in Colorado

VSV Updates for Colorado

Colorado has become the third state in the country to have a confirmed case of vesicular stomatitis (VSV).  Follow the Colorado State Department of Agriculture for updates. We will also be updating this page regularly.

If you suspect your horse has VS or shows any sores similar to VS, call your vet and do not transport your horse anywhere.

For any questions and for full information, you can visit the State Vet Website:

On July 3rd, the National Veterinary Services Laboratory reported positive test results on samples submitted from two horses in Weld County. 

VSV **as of 9/24/2019 per the state vet** is active in 22 counties and only 44 facilities. 622 facilities quarantine have been lifted as well.

Colorado CountyTotal Current Quarantines Released Quarantines
El Paso1
La Plata165
Las Animas1
Rio Blanco1
San Miguel12

What Veterinarians Need to Know

Report any cases that have clinical signs suggestive of VSV to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130.  Reporting cases as quickly as possible will benefit your client and is the best way to reduce the negative implications to other owners. 

NON-EQUINE CASES:  All suspected VSV in non-equine cases (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, camelids) must be investigated by state or federal animal health officials


  1. Hold Order:  If you suspect VSV, in addition to reporting the case to the State Veterinarian’s Office, inform the owners that they are under a Hold Order which means that livestock cannot leave the premises until testing is done or the State Veterinarian releases the Hold Order.  Once the state vet receives the report, they will mail a hold order to the owner.  Call the state vet’s office if you have any questions on the restriction of livestock movement into and out of that facility. The Hold Order will remain in effect until the results of laboratory testing are reported which takes approximately 3-7 days.
  2. Lab Submission: Now that the index case has been confirmed in Colorado, the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (CSU VDL) in Fort Collins has been activated to receive and test samples for equine species only with VSV compatible clinical signs from accredited veterinarians.
    1. When you call to report the case to the State Veterinarian’s Office, you will be given an investigation number that must be included on the lab submission form.
    2. Read the Submission Information Details page on the state vet’s site for more detailed information about submitting samples and the Sample Shipping Information page for specifics on shipping substances.
  3. Sampling: When sampling a horse for vesicular stomatitis, you must obtain a minimum of two samples:
    1. Serum (for complement fixation) – at least 2mL, separated from the clot and submitted in a red-top or other sterile tube
      1. Note: CF test can be negatively impacted if serum is not separated from the clot
    2. Sterile swab (for PCR) – (Dacron/polyester with a plastic shaft) of lesions placed in a screw-cap or other sterile tube with a maximum of 3mL TBTB media. Make sure tube lid is secured so fluid does not leak out of the tube. Do not use wooden shafted swabs as they contain PCR inhibitors and cannot be accepted.
    3. Additional samples to the swab may include:
      1. Vesicular tissue (epithelium) placed in a screw-cap tube with TBTB media
      2. Vesicular fluid (from unruptured vesicles) placed in a screw-cap tube.
  4. Supplies:  TBTB media will be made available to accredited veterinarians for sample collection for VSV cases.  Please contact one of the following:
    1. CDA Animal Health Laboratory
      300 S Technology Ct, Broomfield, CO  80021
    2. Colorado State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
      Fort Collins:  2450 Gillette Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80526  Ph. (970)297-1281
      Rocky Ford:  27847 Road 21, Rocky Ford, CO 81067
      Grand Junction  425 29 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81504
    3. The State or Federal field veterinarian in your area
  5. Results:
    1. If the laboratory results are NEGATIVE: The Hold Order will be removed unless VSV is still highly suspected, in which case additional samples may be collected and tested before the Hold Order is removed.
    2. If the laboratory results are SUSPECT: Suspect results might be reported for the blood tests. The Hold Order will remain in place until further virus isolation test results are completed and reported. Additional blood samples may need to be collected.
    3. If the laboratory results are POSITIVE: A quarantine, a formal written no movement requirement, will be placed on the movement of horses and other susceptible animals from your premises in order to control the disease. The quarantine will remain in effect for 14 days after the start of VSV lesions in the last affected animal.

Health Certificates

Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met.  States may impose certain restrictions for horses and livestock coming from VSV affected states. Visit this website for a list of contact information for all state veterinarians’ offices. 

If the destination state requires you to certify that the livestock do not originate within a specified distance of a VSV-quarantined premises (for example a 10 mile circle), call the state vet’s office at 303-869-9130.  One of our staff can map the location of your client and the location of the nearest quarantine so you can ensure they meet the destination state requirements. 

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Background

Vesicular Stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle and occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas.  The transmission of VSV is not completely understood, but includes insect vectors such as black flies, sand flies, and biting midges as well as through horse to horse by contact with saliva or fluid from ruptured blisters.  The incubation period ranges from 2-8 days.  Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats, and coronary bands.  Often excessive salivation is the first sign of disease, along with a reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and weight loss may follow. 

Humans may become infected when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event.  To avoid human exposure, individuals should use personal protective measures when handling affected animals.

More information on VSV can be found through these links:

International Helmet Awareness Day 2019

International Helmet Awareness Day 2019

In 2010, Riders4Helmets hosted the first national event designed to educate equestrians on the benefits of wearing a properly fitting, secured and certified helmet. The event brought over 300 U.S.-based retailers and eight helmet manufacturers together, to help educate their customers on topics such as correct helmet fit and why wearing a helmet is important.

Since that day, Riders4Helmets expanded the event globally. Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day 2018 received support from 19 helmet manufacturers and hundreds of equestrian retailers in twenty six countries.

International Helmet Awareness Day 2019 will be held Saturday September 14th and Sunday September 15th, 2019.

For all participating retailers, visit here:

If your club or organization is interested in hosting their own event to celebrate the day, they may email They can send interested parties safety brochures at a small charge (to cover costs).

They will also be happy to help promote any event by posting details of it on and also on their FacebookInstagram, and Twitter pages. Equestrians are encouraged to take lots of photos of their event and write up a short description of what they did, and who participated. This will then be included as a feature article on the Riders4Helmets campaign website.

Riders4Helmets was founded in early 2010 after Olympic dressage rider Courtney King-Dye was seriously injured in a riding accident. King-Dye, who remained in a coma for a month following her accident, was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and continues to undergo rehabilitation. The goal of the Riders4Helmets Campaign is to educate equestrians on the benefits of wearing a properly fitted and secured, certified helmet.

Trail etiquette tips every hiker, biker and equestrian needs to know

Douglas County Open Space Rangers, Amy and Tyler, share real-life examples of trail etiquette, including yielding to other trail users, announcing yourself before passing and keeping your dog leashed. Help ensure everyone has a friendly, fun and safe experience by following accepted trail etiquette at all times, even when you think no one is watching.

Learn more at:

USEF Office Closed and All USEF Resources Unavailable August 30 to September 3

US Equestrian (USEF) is moving! From Friday, August 30, to Tuesday, September 3, the USEF office will be closed while we move to our new building within the Kentucky Horse Park. During this time, USEF’s online tools and services, including the website, Customer Care Center, horse and member records, fax, and email, will be unavailable. We recommend avoiding any digital communication with USEF (phone calls, email, faxing, etc.) throughout the duration of the move.

If you are competing at a horse show between August 30 and September 3, please ensure that you print and bring hard copies of the following documents with you to the show grounds, as applicable:

  • Membership card
  • SafeSport training certificates
  • Horse recording
  • Measurement forms
  • Farm/business recording
  • Horse passport
  • FEI registration

The decision to build a new USEF headquarters was made after extensive analysis and review by the leadership and Board. The benefits of a new building include a financial savings of several hundred thousand dollars annually versus our current headquarters, and a new building will provide a more collaborative work environment that will support our efforts to provide exemplary member services.

Additional information can be found in the Building Move FAQ.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Fort Collins installs a Horseback Rider Height Crosswalk Button

Crosswalk Button for Horseback Riders

Fort Collins city staff partnered with Larimer County Government to install a City & County first at the Poudre Trail crossing at Taft Hill: an equestrian button! Horseback riders can now activate the flashing beacons for crossing without dismounting.

See the post here:

Plants that Repel Flies and Insects

Are you looking for ways your landscaping can help with your fly or insect problem? Just plant these annuals and perennials to tell those flies they are no longer welcome at your property!

Sweet Basil

Basil is officially considered an annual plant, although it can reseed itself in warmer climates if allowed to bloom. It loves hot weather, so always wait until all danger of frost is past before planting in the garden in the spring. Since this is a plant that thrives in patio pots, adding some to your summer flower arrangements near areas of home or barn entry can help keep the worst of your flies away. Make sure to keep the plant from flowering otherwise it will not be as effective! Simply snip off leaves and branches when it starts to send out flowering stalks to allow for new growth. (It is also great for culinary dishes and beverages as an added bonus!)


Not only is lavender GORGEOUS (and one of our favorite plants), it aids in fly repellant! Both the leaves and flowers are fragrant and ward off many types of insects, flies included. Lavender comes in quite a few different varieties to fit your climate needs and growing spaces. But keep in mind if the roots freeze, the plant will lively not come back the following year.


If you are looking for a plant that takes up a lot of space, Rosemary might be what you are looking for. It grows in heights of 3-4 feet and up to 5 feet wide. Because of it’s heady scent, rosemary is a popular flavor and aromatic herb to use in many culinary dishes and beverages. These properties are also the same that keeps away many flies as it is the leaves that put forth the most scent. Plants can be grown in containers on a patio and shaped into ornamental pyramids, grown in herb gardens or planted in landscaped beds.

Lemon Grass

Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass, an ornamental that can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season. (It’s worth noting that lemongrass isn’t just the name of one plant; it’s the umbrella name for plants in the Cymbopogon family, which also includes citronella grass.) Lemongrass is especially effective at warding away mosquitos.


Mints are hardy, rapid growers and self-pollinate through runners. For this reason we recommend planting them in pots, otherwise they can take over your yard before you know it. The mint family includes peppermint, spearmint, sweet mints, citrus mints, and even chocolate mints! But what they all have in common is the ingredient mentha, which is what makes it so potent against many insects, flies included.


Sweet woodruff spreads by runners. In moist soil, it can spread very quickly and can become invasive in the right conditions. It is often recommended that you plant sweet woodruff ground cover in an area that you would not mind seeing naturalized by sweet woodruff. This plant will only grow to 10 or 12” in height, but it’s umbrella-like leaves, and white delicate flowers are a favorite in shade gardens because of its sweet, fresh scent.


Eucalyptus is a genus of over seven hundred species of flowering trees, shrubs or mallees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. It can produce a strong scent that can deter flies and other insects and interestingly enough it was registered in the U.S as an insecticide and miticide in 1948, which is why it can be so handy to have around.


This one might be surprising. Catnip is a favorite of cats, but the smell that draws cats in, also repels insects! Catnip contains citronella oil as well as other insect deterrents so it will repel insects and mice when planted in conjunction with areas that open into your house. Keep in mind Catnip is a fast grower and can take over areas if you don’t manage it well.

Homemade Fly Spray

Homemade Flyspray Recipe

Are you looking for a good DIY flyspray that you can make at home? One that actually works? Look no further. This is made with mostly natural ingredients and is much less harsh on your skin/lungs/everything else it gets on.

Homemade Fly Spray Recipe:

4 cups apple cider vinegar (raw with the mother works best)
20 drops rosemary oil 
20 drops basil oil
20 drops peppermint oil
2 tablespoons liquid oil (olive oil, canola oil, or mineral oil will work)
1 tablespoon dawn dish soap

Mix all of these ingredients in a spray bottle. And be sure to shake it well before each application to ensure the ingredients are fully mixed to be most effective.

There are lots of other essential oils that help ward away flies, so feel free to add those in and play around with the recipe to your liking. (lavender, tea tree, pine, citronella, lemon grass, etc.)

Something to keep in mind, is since this doesn’t contain all of those harsh ingredients, you will need to apply it more frequently. But it does work well if applied regularly.

Evacuation Training for Colorado Horse Owners & Volunteers

On Tuesday, April 23rd, Douglas Elbert County Horse Council will be hosting a Barn Manager and Volunteer refresher training for all who have volunteered to help during an evacuation.  In order to have things run smoothly during a very high-stress situation, it is important to attend.  This meeting should not take very long.

Date:  Tuesday April 23rd

Place:  Franktown Fire Protection District          
1959 N State HWY 83          
Franktown, CO 80116

Time:  7:00 P.M.

For more information or contact details go here:

Are You Ready for Tomorrow’s Snow Storm?

March Snowstorm in Colorado

In case you haven’t heard yet, there is a big snow storm coming tomorrow. All the news channels are covering it. If you want to see your weather forecast, check it out here. In many areas, the rain will start tonight and will slowly turn into snow with snow continuing into Thursday. This storm will also be accompanied by very strong winds.

For more storm details, click here.

Now, what we care about? How to take care of our horse and livestock!

  • Be sure to provide clean, unfrozen water. Many animals prefer water that has a tank heater because the slightly warmer temperature goes down easier for them.
  • If you can, provide 3 sided shelter with a roof. This way the animals can get out of the elements if they choose to. If you cannot provide that sort of shelter, provide as much shelter as you can; ESPECIALLY a windbreak since these could be up to Category 2 hurricane winds alongside the snow.
  • The more hay, the better. Much of the horse’s body heat is produced by the fermentation of fiber in the hindgut.
  • If your horses (or livestock) do not have an adequate winter coat, be sure to provide them with an insulated blanket.
  • Extremely young and older animals have a harder time with extreme weather, so be sure to provide them with extra support in this weather.

Good luck and stay safe in this storm (and be sure to tag us in fun snowy animal pictures on social media!).