Arszman to Speak at AQHA Racing Summit

Award-winning freelance writer and social media marketer Megan Arszman travels to Los Alamitos, Calif., to speak about marketing for racetracks and racing groups at the 2018 American Quarter Horse Association Racing Summit on November 14-17. The Racing Summit is an educational event held in conjunction with the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos Race Course. This is the second year in a row AQHA Racing has invited Arszman to speak at the event.
Meganbrand2In her second year in charge of the marketing and communications for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and its breed development programs, Arszman’s position is a unique one—Indiana is the only state to have a dedicated marketing person for a commission. This was due to a change in a bylaw regarding the Commission, it was tasked with promoting the state’s horse racing industry.
“Having Megan on board with the Commission has been a wonderful addition,” says Jessica Barnes, Director of Racing and Breed Development for the IHRC. “She is so driven to promote our industry not just in Indiana, but across the country, and we’ve already seen growth because of that.”
In her short time with the Commission, Arszman grew their social media presence from non-existing to one that gets a lot of attention. She’s also pushed for better branding for the programs and increased awareness of marketing not only for the programs, but also for the horsemen that participate in the program. Arszman’s presentation at the Racing Summit focuses on the challenges most tracks and horsemen’s groups have with the image of horse racing and some ways to combat those challenges.
“I’m honored that Janet VanBebber and AQHA asked me to come back to the Summit this year,” says Arszman. “I had such a good response after last year, I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this year.”
Megan Arszman has been involved in the equine publishing and media industry for more than 12 years, with roles stemming from intern to Enewsletter Editor to Web Producer to Freelance Writer. She has earned accolades with the American Horse Publications group and the Livestock Publications Council. She is a member of AHP and the Turf Publicists Association. She works full-time doing the marketing and communications for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and its breed development programs, while running her communications company on the side. She is a mother of a horse crazy toddler, married to a patient man and fourth generation horsewoman and dog trainer.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission ensures that pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Indiana will be conducted with the highest of standards and the greatest level of integrity.

Grand Generations: Passing Down the Love of the Quarter Horse

I’ll the first to admit that if it weren’t for my mother, I probably wouldn’t be a horsewoman. I also wouldn’t be into dog agility if it weren’t for my father and mother, and my mother’s mother… So many things that we get into are because of the generations before us. Which is why it was fun highlighting three different families where the grandparents have passed on their love of the American Quarter Horse to their grandchildren.

Families like the Cochranes, where Ken and Sandy (who are active within the AQHA) enjoy watching their two granddaughters show, especially Victoria, who has thrived despite her neurologic disorder thanks to riding and showing. CeCe Campbell and her granddaughter, Tailyr, share a horse and take on the hunt seat world. And then Vern and Rita Habighorts and their granddaughters Monica and Kaylee Hamm take on the halter world as a team.


I invite you to learn more about how these families have worked to continue their love of horses, and the American Quarter Horse in the the August 2016 issue of the American Quarter Horse Journal.

Insurance for Your Horse’s Legs – Leg Wrapping

Think of it as insurance for your horse’s most valuable player when it comes to his performance. More than 1,000 pounds of pressure strain the delicate structures that make up the horse’s legs, whether it’s from landing from a three-foot jump, driving through a sliding stop or navigating around a difficult trail course. Proper leg wrapping can help protect his legs, thus protecting your investment.

Wrapping your horse’s legs provides support for tendons and ligaments during exercise, as well as protection from concussion and impact. You can wrap your horse’s legs after a strenuous training session to help prevent or reduce swelling. During transportation, it’s vital to provide extra cushioning and support by using shipping wraps or boots.

“You can wrap a horse’s leg any number of ways,” says Dr. Adam Cayot, a veterinarian with Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida.

But you have to make sure you are wrapping your horse’s legs the correct way with the right things…

Read more from my article in the June 2015 American Quarter Horse Journal:

Leg Wrapping 101

Leg Wrapping 101

Before They Were Legends–The Industry’s Top Horses

When you’re watching greatness like Peyton Manning last night (yes, I am a Colts fan, but also a Manning fan), or even some of the top horses competing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress this month, it’s hard to imagine that at one point, everyone had to start somewhere. Peyton had to start in the pee-wee football leagues. Harley D Zip had to start out with a trainer to figure out the right buttons.

Here are a few quotes and tidbits about some of the horse industry’s top performers and how they were before they were legends:

  • Harley D Zip “I hobbled him; I rode him in orchards and in cow pens, and I treated him like a horse and wore him down,” trainer Doug Pratt remembers. “Jason Martin still had his hands full when he got him, but as he got to be seven, eight, and nine, he got better. But even when he was six or seven, if you didn’t longe him just right, he’d have a hump in his back and you’d have to grit through it.”
  • RL Best Of Sudden “When we first saw him we knew he was special, truly, he just had such a presence he looked like a special one,” says Candy Parrish. “Then, when we saw him lope around under saddle with just a handful of rides, we had no doubt he was a great one. Bo was exceptionally easy to train. He was so naturally gifted that Bret just had to show him what to do and it was easy for him.”
  • Allocate Your Assets When Brian Isbell and partner Kevin Garcia first saw Allocate Your Assets as a long yearling in 2001, it was all they could do to keep calm—they knew he was going to be something. “I knew right then and there, he was going to be my once-in-a-lifetime horse,” recalls multiple World Champion trainer, Isbell.
  • RPL My Te Cheerful RPL My Te Cheerful’s first show wasn’t until late into his two year-old year with Monte Horn. His breeder, Bobbie and Henry Atkinson, felt that the late-blooming son of My Te Telusive needed some time to just grow and be a horse, so he spent many days out to pasture, with some light work here and there with the Atkinson’s farm manager, Michael Ochetto.
  • John Simon “There was never a question the second I saw him move that he would turn into something special,” says Tim Gillespie, who said he was the best minded stallion he has ever trained. “He was very easy to finish out and was a true gentleman. He never had any quirks or gave us any trouble.”
Harley D Zip, ridden by then-owner Brian Ale, and trainer Doug Pratt at the 1998 Tom Powers. Photo courtesy Doug Pratt

Harley D Zip, ridden by then-owner Brian Ale, and trainer Doug Pratt at the 1998 Tom Powers. Photo courtesy Doug Pratt


Read more about these legends and their younger years on Before They Were Legends: A Look Back at their Younger Years

#ThrowbackThursday: Through the Equine Looking Glass

**Originally published during my internship with the American Quarter Horse Journal in 2006.


Through the Equine Looking Glass

Corneal ulcers can do more damage than you think.

One fall morning, my American Quarter Horse mare, Skips Satin Lark (aka “Lark”), didn’t seem to have the same bright eyes that she normally had. I also noticed significant tearing from her left eye. Thinking she just had something in it, I flushed her eye with artificial tears and applied a warm compress. Later that day, it was still bothering her, so I took her to our veterinarian, who diagnosed her with a simple scratch in her eye and gave me some ointment to put in her eye three times a day.

A week later, her eye wasn’t healing, and it began to look cloudy, so once again I hauled her to the veterinarian.

The diagnosis was that she was suffering from a corneal ulcer and needed to be treated by a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. After a two-hour haul to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Veterinary Teaching Hospital, she underwent extensive examinations and stains. If we had waited until the next day, she might have lost her eye.

Before that night, I had never heard of a corneal ulcer, which is surprisingly common in horses.

What is a Corneal Ulcer?
Corneal ulcers stem from any trauma that occurs in the eye. In Lark’s case, a simple scratch became infected with a fungus. Trauma can be anything from scratches from hay or dust or running into a fence post. Other causes of corneal ulcers include parasites, viruses, eyelashes irritating the eye or lack of tear production.

The simplest signs of tearing, squinting and sensitivity to bright light are key to knowing something is wrong with your horse’s eye. When I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Erica Tolar was a second-year resident in ophthalmology there, and she saw many patients like Lark with eye problems, including corneal ulcers.

Dr. Tolar says a horse owner who sees any of those symptoms needs to contact his or her local veterinarian for a specific diagnosis immediately.

“Corneal ulcers can deteriorate quickly, even in a matter of hours,” Dr. Tolar said. “It is best not to delay or self-medicate.”

Key factors in diagnosing a corneal ulcer are time and the right medications. Steroids should never be used, because they prevent the body from mounting a good immune response and allow infectious organisms to multiply, which will hinder healing.

Dr. Tolar’s initial examination is a lengthy, meticulous procedure.

“The first step is to get a good history,” says Dr. Tolar, who used fourth-year veterinary students to assist with diagnosis and treatment. “We ask multiple questions to help walk us through what has happened and what the horse has been treated with. It is helpful for owners to bring all medications they use or a list of what they have done.”

To make the exam easier, Dr. Tolar injects a small amount of local anesthetic over a nerve that controls the function of the upper eyelid. Once that has taken effect, the entire eye is assessed with a diffuse light. If an ulcer is suspected, Dr. Tolar takes a culture to determine which bacteria or fungus might be causing the problem.

To get a better look at the ulcer, a fluorescein stain is applied, and a hand-held microscope is used to determine the depth of the ulcer.

“Determining if the horse has an ulcer is the easy part,” Dr. Tolar says. “The difficult part is determining the cause and the appropriate treatment. Depending on the depth, we may recommend medical therapy or surgical therapy.”

Dr. Tolar says that even if a horse is started on medical therapy, he might still need surgery, because the eye can still deteriorate while being treated.

Each treatment plan depends on the depth of the ulcer, amount of the cornea affected and how much the owner is able or willing to spend. On one extreme, the ulcer can be superficial and not complicated by any fungus or bacteria. This treatment plan can be just medical therapy and involve topical antibiotics three to four times daily.

The other extreme for medical therapy can involve hospitalization, a tube placed under the upper eyelid to facilitate frequent treatment (subpalpebral lavage tube), topical antibiotic therapy every one to two hours including one to two antibiotics, atropine, topical autogenous serum (which is made by drawing the patient’s blood and drawing off the serum that is used to coat the eye) and anti-fungal therapy.

“Even with doing everything possible and there being no limit on money supply, we may not be able to save the eye,” Dr. Tolar says. “Ulcers that are infected don’t go away on their own.”

With a quick diagnosis and intensive care, we were able to save Lark's eye, and her sight.

With a quick diagnosis and intensive care, we were able to save Lark’s eye, and her sight.

If the horse is being cared for at home, you can help make him comfortable by keeping him in a darkened stall and limiting exercise. Using a mask like a fly mask or one provided by your veterinarian should protect the eye. Also, it’s recommended that hay be fed from the ground to prevent further damage.

Full recovery may take weeks or months, depending on the severity of the ulcer. Owners will notice red blood vessels in the cornea surrounding a healing ulcer. This is a good sign that the cornea is starting to heal.

A big concern for all parties involved is how much vision is lost due to the ulcer.

“What is perfect eyesight in animals? Our patients can’t tell us how their vision is to start with,” Dr. Tolar says. “We have a difficult time determining if it is ‘perfect’ to begin with. If the cornea is affected by a large ulcer, or surgery is involved, we have to assume their vision is affected. Does that stop some horses from doing their job? No, not necessarily.”

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed way to prevent corneal ulcers from occurring in your horse.

“It is hard to prevent ulcers, since they are usually secondary to trauma, whether that is a piece of straw, a nail in the stall or a whip lash,” Dr. Tolar says. “Some people feel that trimming the long hairs around the eyes predisposes them to ulcers, but that is hard to prove.”


Battle of the Clones Versus AQHA

My first article for the Equine Chronicle was the cover the initial hearings for a cloning case that was brought again the American Quarter Horse Association last summer. The case, Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture vs. the American Quarter Horse Association, has not been put to bed, yet. On March 24, 2014, the AQHA filed its reply brief with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. You can see the entire timeline on AQHA’s site: Cloning Lawsuit Resources.

Instead of trying to cover an ongoing news story in a print publication, I chose a news feature type article and I was able to discuss a lot about cloning with industry professionals and members who maybe agreed or disagreed with the lawsuit itself.

Clone_Page_1 Clone_Page_2 Clone_Page_3

Battle of the Clones (Download the PDF)