Recurrent Airway Obstruction (Heaves)

By: Katie Jones, CVT­

With pastures dwindling this time of year, the quality of grass has diminished significantly; therefore, many of our horses are turning to round bales to fulfill their forage needs. With their heads buried into these dusty bales several respiratory problems can arise. Horses can go years without any problems, while others tend to have repeated respiratory problems. One of the most common causes of respiratory distress in horses is Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO).

horseinroundbale_0Recurrent Airway Obstruction, better known as Heaves, is an allergic response associated with inflammation and obstructive airway disease. In humans, this condition is similar to asthma. RAO is initiated by the inhalation of organic dusts (hay and bedding) that contain allergens, endotoxins, molds, and other small particles and substances that trigger inflammation in the lungs. Not all horses respond the same way to the stimulants; the age of the horse and their genetic disposition both appear to trigger negative responses. Horses prone to “heave episodes” can even react to the dust commonly found in good quality hay; it is not just an indicator of bad hay.

A heaves episode is ultimately triggered by exposure to the allergens listed above. However, when a horse most consistently living on pasture is brought into a stable for feeding they can show symptoms as soon as 6-8 hours after being brought in. RAO results from the horse developing bronchospasm (narrowing of airway) and mucus accumulation which can lead to remodeling of the airway wall. Remodeling to the airway will cause a permanent increase in the thickness of the walls, which decreases the elasticity of the lungs therefore affecting the horse’s ability to breath.

Horses experiencing a mild episode of heaves usually exhibit coughing associated with fig3 tracheaexercise, feeding, or airborne dust when the barn is swept. Sever episodes of heaves will appear as respiratory distress; an increased intolerance to exercise, flared nostrils, labored breathing, and occasionally nasal discharge. In most cases, a consistent history and a basic physical exam will provide enough information for a ROA diagnosis. A branchoalveolar lavage (BAL) can also be performed for more specific, in-depth information. To preform a BAL the doctor will “flush” the lungs with saline using a long tube inserted through their nostril. This flush will pick up fungal elements, white blood cells, or pneumonitis indicators. If the BAL confirms the presence of neutrophilic inflammation, it not only confirms the horse has a lower airway inflammation but the test can differentiate the cause of the inflammation.IMG_20151116_130359344

Treatment for horses suffering from unresolved chronic RAO includes a handful of medication options.   The main drugs used are corticosteroids (dexamethasone, prednisolone, or fluticasone) which work to reduce the inflammation in the lower airways, and bronchodilators (clenbuterol or albuterol) which relieve airway obstruction by dilating the airways. To help manage mild RAO cases, Anoka Equine is offering a new product called Heave Relieve.

Recurrent Airway Obstruction is a manageable condition. For horses showing signs, it is best to have the horse seen by your local veterinarian to prevent chronic damage. Many horses will only require a change in environment to manage their episodes. Consult with your local veterinarian for a complete diagnosis and the best treatment plan for your horse.



Veterinary Technicians

By: Katie Jones, CVT

When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.

~ A.D. Williams

176_anoka-equine_2012Anoka Equine has always had the health and well-being of the horse at the center of what we do. This idea resides at the heart of our entire staff, including our veterinary technicians. Veterinary technicians are the nurses of the veterinary field. Their roles were first introduced in the United States by the United States Air Force in 1951. This role was then introduced as a civilian program in 1961 at the State University of New York. Currently there are approximately 85,000 veterinary technician positions in the United States.

Based on the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians, veterinary technicians “perform most duties related to animal care, including anesthesia, medical imaging, lab work, dentistry, surgical assisting, patient treatments, as well as client education; however [they] may not diagnose conditions, give a prognosis for conditions, perform surgery or prescribe medication.” At Anoka Equine, the role of the technician includes everything from handling the horse during a lameness exam to running anesthesia. During the day technicians can be seen taking radiographs (x-rays), scoping the upper airways or stomach, administering drugs, and assisting the doctor during appointments. Anoka Equine is a 24-hour referral clinic; therefore, when the client appointments are complete and the doors have been locked-up for the day, many times the duties of the doctors and technicians aren’t over.

191_anokaequine_May_2015Neonatal Care: During the foaling season (Feb-Aug) Anoka Equine assists with a large volume of neonatal cases; both in clinic and in the field. Care for these special foal cases can even begin before birth. For foals admitted to the clinic, the technicians are the first responders to make sure a catheter is placed, blood work is ran, and the treatment plan written up by the doctor is started and scheduled out for the day. Cases involving maladjusted foals require intenseive24 hour management, including: physical exams, feeding, fluids, oxygen, administering medications, and assisting the foal to stand or flipping them so they aren’t continuously lying on the same side. This specific type of care requires long hours and knowledge of what to look for if a foal is not improving. The biggest concern with neonatal care is they can change from improving/healthy looking to dramatically decreasing in health in a matter of hours. Due to this rapid change a physical exam is typically done every other hour to remark on any changes in attitude, manure, or vitals. Subtle changes can redirect the doctor’s treatment plans.

Emergency cases/Surgery: Colics situation rarely enter the clinic during business hours. Typically a doctor has been trying to manage their pain out in the field for an extended period of time, with no improvements before the decision is made to bring the horse into the clinic for close observation and fluids. If the horse’s pain has intensified throughout the day, most often there will be a technician at the clinic with the doctor to help admit the horse, start fluids, and run blood work. Once the horse is connected to fluids, the technician on-call will often stay with them to perform frequent physical exams to monitor any changes. If pain becomes unmanageable the conversation of surgery must be discussed. Colic surgery is a team operation; two doctors perform the surgery, a technician as the surgical nurse, and a technician managing anesthesia.

067_anokaequine_May_2015Anesthesia: At Anoka Equine, just like at many other clinics, technicians are the ones to perform anesthesia for surgical procedures. This is an area technicians are required to learn at school. Once our Anoka Equine technicians are comfortable with their duties at the clinic, anesthesia may become an interest for them and they will be taught by fellow technicians equine specific anesthesia. In addition, equine anesthesia is a common topic regularly covered at annual continuing education events, which broadens our knowledge base as well.

If the field of veterinary technology interests you, consider shadowing at local veterinary clinics to see exactly the job is like.  For more information regarding entering into the profession you can find school and certification information at the MAVT website (

Anoka Equine’s Technician Team

Shannon Gohr, CVT,  Anesthesia, Technician Manager
Shannon joined Anoka Equine in August of 2007. She graduated from Ridgewater College of Willmar in May 2007 with an Associate in Applied Science Degree / Veterinary Technician. Shannon grew up in a VERY small town west of St. Cloud which is where her family’s 10 horses are. She enjoys trail riding and doing parades with her horse Jet, spending time with her family and friends, and basically anything outdoors.


Kelsey Herrboldt, CVT
Kelsey jointed Anoka Equine in the spring of 2008 after graduating from the Minnesota School of Business with an A.A.S. in Veterinary Technology. Most of her time is spent at home with her wonderful family. Kelsey has two boys, Dallas and Tayden, with her boyfriend Todd.  They also have two cats, Ravy and Dooker, and a pug named E-gor. In her spare time you will find her and her boys at the barn with their Arabian gelding, Cisco.


Katie Jones, CVT, Anesthesia
Katie joined Anoka Equine in February 2011. She completed a Bachelors of Science in Animal  Science/ Pre-vet at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cites in May 2010. She went on to complete a A.A.S in Veterinary Technology at Argosy University and graduated in the fall 2011. In Katie’s free time she enjoys volleyball, photography, horse events, fishing, and traveling. She owns a husky, Luke, and horse, Turbo.

Brittany Aanerud, CVT
Brittany started at Anoka Equine in July of 2011 after graduating from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Veterinary Technology. She grew up on a beef ranch outside of Bismarck, ND and enjoyed every minute of it. Outside of work Brittany enjoys riding her Quarter Horse “Doc”, snowboarding, reading, shopping, and being outdoors.


Katie Jo Hollis, Anesthesia

Katie Jo joined Anoka Equine March of 2012.  She graduated from MN school of Business, Blaine in June 2011 with an AAS in veterinary technology.  Katie Jo’s favorite hobby is gaming her grey Quarter Horse “Banjo” and working with young horses.  She also enjoys hunting, fishing, softball, and spending time with her family.  She also loves her 2 cats and her Blue Heeler X “Dixie”.

Dani Wiederholt, Night Technician

I was given the opportunity to work for Anoka Equine in November of 2014. I am scheduled to graduate from Minnesota School of Business in spring of 2015 majoring in Veterinary Technology. I was given my first horse at 8 years old, and they have been my life ever since. I have 2 quarter horses of my own, Karma and Wilbur that I game and compete with during the summer.  I enjoy spending time outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. I also have 3 cats, and my Mini Australian Shepherd Riley that I love dearly.  ​


Thank you to our amazing team of technicians at Anoka Equine.


Healing Through Horses

By: Katie Jones, CVT

healing_horses1Every once in awhile, someone walks into your life who truly touches you; I had that honor when I met Jane Karpe from Healing Through Horses. After only a few minutes into our conversation, I could feel her deep passion for directly working with the kids who come to her farm and how she wants to make a positive impact in their life. Jane and her family own Roselawn Stables, the longest running horse camp in Minnesota. They opened their doors in 1989 to kids all over the metro area for summer camps offering opportunities to experience the joy of working with horses. From her deep seated passion for helping youth, Jane created the organization Healing Through Horses.

Healing Through Horses is a 501c3 charitable, non-profit organization that provides at-risk youth a place to gain life experiences through horses. Who are at-risk youth? The at-risk youth Jane meets are youth from broken homes or crime, are unguided, dealing with anger/aggression, poverty, bullying, eating disorders, or so much more. Roselawn offers them a safe haven through a program with a stable learning environment, all while providing adventures with horses.

Why horses? Horses are extremely responsive to human emotions while providing opportunities for people to grow. They can teach people self confidence, how to deal with disappointment, and to develop trust. They are living creatures who can be physically touched and will touch hearts back.

Healing Through Horses offers many different opportunities to create a bound with a healing_through_horseshorse. Their summer camps provide disadvantaged youth the opportunity to participate in a week long horseback riding program focused on learning safety, basic horse care needs, self discipline, and respect not only for the horse but for themselves. At the end of this week, they have the chance to show off their new riding skills to family and friends. Healing Through Horses also offers a one day camp or a longer Equestrian Team program. The Equestrian Team is a six month commitment with group lessons and a monthly Fun Show. In addition to their personal horse development, they also help mentor fellow youth and their horses when they assist with the different camps. Many times, the individuals involved in the Equestrian Team will remain in the program for several years, ultimately becoming family, not just students.

Through their 25 years of helping at-risk youth, Healing Through Horses has many success stories and have created many lasting bounds. In order to continue to create life-changing experiences, they need support from people like us. If you are interested in learning more about Healing Through Horses or how you can help support this amazing group, please visit their website.



Time to Ride

By: Katie Jones, CVT

“…horse people are really sick people”Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul

Time to Ride3For many of us, we have been horse-crazy from the moment we received our first stuffed animal horse in our crib. Many kids will fall in love with horses at an early stage but will eventually out grow it; however, others are plagued for life. In this day and age, life is planned out by phone schedules and free time is limited due to the demands of work, school, other commitments, and family time.   With all the new technology advancements, digital entertainment is far more convenient and cheaper then an active lifestyle. Sadly, this specifically holds true in the horse industry where there has been a general decline in the number of people owning and working with horses. Many equine businesses depend on the continued growth within the equine industry, so for all of us, maybe it is time to reconnect with horses.

Horses can bring the family together in an activity that is physical, therapeutic, and pure joyful. Time to Ride is a program whose main purpose is to help people get reconnected with horses through different avenues. It is coordinated by the American Horse Council in cooperation with other equine organizations and breed associations to provide opportunities to individuals and their families close to home. Time to Ride provides tons of information on barns and events hoping to influence individuals to add more horse experiences into life.  They offer a great way to quickly connect with businesses around specific areas.

Trail Riding

Time to RideTrail riding is not limited to family vacations in other parts of the country; it can be a great family outing even close to home. Trail riding provides a great way to experience the great outdoors and gain confidence through a guided ride with horse. Contact a local stable or ranch to find a trail riding opportunities near you.

Blog post on traveling with horses in Minnesota.

Lessons & Camps

Time to Ride2Lessons allow a consistent equine learning experience, occasionally with the same horse. Lessons are a terrific way to learn a particular riding discipline or to try several in order to find the right fit before committing to buying or leasing a horse. Those with busy lifestyles or numerous time demands in life will find lessons allow flexibility in enjoying horse time without the full commitment of owning a horse. To get the best learning experiences, there are many resources available to find a great trainer and barn just for you.

Horse Events

Time to Ride1Minnesota has many horse events; everything from rodeos to eventing. Running Aces is a Harness Racing track located near Forest Lake and Canterbury Park is a Thoroughbred and Quarter Racing track located in Shakopee. Both are open May to September with weekly live racing to enjoy and offer occasional family days, which have additional attractions geared towards the whole family.

The Minnesota Horse Expo is held each year at the end of April at the State Fair Grounds in St. Paul. The expo has breed demonstrations, shopping, tack swaps, informational speakers, and a large discipline variety of Shows. Many of the breed disciplines and individual businesses who participate in the Expo have Facebook pages where events are posted.

There are countless options to get involved with horses. If after looking at the Time to Ride 4_02site you have not found the right match for yourself or your family, ask around. The equine industry is still fairly large in Minnesota and is full of people willing to help you find the perfect nitch.

If you are a horse business that would like to be listed with Time to Ride website, you can register here. Registration verification may take up to 30 days. Watch for a confirmation email from Time to Ride. Once registered, please share with others your business and the Time to Ride website in order to help promote this community. In addition, if you would like to be kept up to date on events and grants from Time to Ride, make sure to sign-up for their newsletter to receive the latest information sent straight to your email.

Anoka Equine Veterinary Services does not endorse any of the facilities, businesses, organizations, activities or events mapped, listed on, or linked to the Time to Ride web site. Reference to such entities does not constitute or imply any endorsement or recommendation by Anoka Equine Veterinary Services.

Anoka Equine Veterinary Services is not responsible for any representation made by any such entities or the contents of other web pages referenced, the representations made thereon or any representations made by such entities. Anoka Equine Veterinary Services is not liable for the content of mapping information, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided by mapped entities, businesses or events.  Anoka Equine Veterinary Services has not inspected any of these entities or facilities.  The reader should not assume that the information is factual or reviewed by Anoka Equine Veterinary Services. Anoka Equine Veterinary Services makes no warranties or guarantees as to any equine facility or operation’s safety standards, animal husbandry practices, experience in providing whatever services it purports to provide, carriage of liability insurance, or suitability as a provider of horse riding or handling instruction. Anoka Equine Veterinary Services does not assume any responsibility for misinformation provided by any facilities mapped on the website, and all information is subject to change without notice. Links from the pages on this website send visitors to external Web sites as a service to visitors and do not constitute an endorsement by Anoka Equine Veterinary Services.

Anoka Equine Veterinary Services notes that all equine activities, including riding, are inherently risky. Any equine activity carries with it potential hazards which are beyond the control of Anoka Equine Veterinary Services.