Equine Insurance: Who needs it

 By: Katie Jones, CVT

We receive frequent calls regarding information on equine insurance. We do not represent or work for insurance companies. We also do not refer or suggest one over another. It is up to the individual horse owner to research and choose a company to best determine the type of coverage that fits their needs.

TurboI, myself, own a horse (Turbo) who is more of a weekend warrior out on the trail or at the occasional weekend show.   I went through most of my younger years dreaming and wishing for my own horse; however, I knew they were an investment difficult to have during college. The year I graduated from college I finally bought my horse and the investment into what I love began. Last year when I was faced with the question of, “would I take Turbo to colic surgery, if Banamine didn’t resolve his pain”, I didn’t know how to answer. Luckily for me he resolved his colic episode with a little amount of Banamine and time. As an Equine Technician, I see many situations not as simply resolved and surgical decisions become real. Sometimes the only thing separating a horse from euthanasia and a life-saving surgery is economics. A colic surgery base price starts around $3,500; however, overall medical care pre- and post-surgery can quickly reach $10,000. Would you be ready to front this cost in an emergency situation? If you have never had to answer this question, here are a few options to consider to help prepare you if the question ever arises.


InsuranceWhen faced with a major medical expense, insurance is used to help soften the financial blow; so why couldn’t this work for your horse? Just like with human insurance, equine insurance has different types and levels of coverage. The two most frequently chosen insurance types are major medical and surgical. Major medical covers veterinary treatment, medications, and surgery due to an accident, injury, or illness on horses valued at a minimum of $7500. Surgical insurance only covers emergency or necessary surgeries performed under general anesthesia in a veterinary clinic, for any value horse.   To acquire either type of coverage, additional yearly mortality insurance is also required. Mortality insurance covers the horse’s value due to death from an accident, illness, or disease, and will typically cover loss due to theft. In the chance of an unexpected death, a mortality claim would require a necropsy report to determine the exact cause of death. (There are additional coverage options for individuals with equine businesses, such as loss of use or breeding coverages.)

The cost of equine insurance is based on the age, value, and use of the horse. Here is an example of what a quote would look like for an average trail horse (my horse, Turbo) from Blue Bridle Insurance.

sick horse

Great American Ins. Co.: (Turbo is categorized as a 7 yr. old Pleasure/Show Horse)
Plan 1: Only mortality: $2,000 (Value of Turbo) @ 3.6% = $200 Minimum/yr.
Plan 2: Surgical (ONLY surgical expenses included): $10,000 = $150/yr.

Total Annual Premium for Surgical Coverage: $350.00

+ An additional $10,000 limit can be added to the Surgical Coverage Plan to cover colic medical and/or surgical expenses for an additional $150/yr.


When considering purchasing equine insurance make sure to do plenty of research. It can become overwhelming when first looking into insurance due to the number of providing companies and the levels of coverage available. A company that specializes in equine insurance, or at least livestock, is highly recommended. By doing this, their overall understanding of the possible claims will heighten the ease of filling a claim. This will in turn result in less run around and a quicker response from a company with more equine claim experience compared to a typical Home-owners Insurance Company.

Finally, insurance coverage does have limitations. Limitations will be specific to the insuring company and are details to look into when considering equine insurance. Most insurance companies have an age limit on coverage, as well as restrictions regarding horses with preexisting conditions, specific to their policies. Make sure to compare coverage limitations, exclusions, and deductibles when considering different policies.

ColiCare – SmartPak

colic_care-379x121ColiCare is a wellness program supported by SmartPak. This program allows a small peace of mind by providing up to $7500 towards colic surgery (reimbursement will only cover the cost of the surgery not any medical treatment of the colic). To qualify for this wellness program, administration of an eligible ColiCare product daily to your horse is required. These supplements are designed to provide comprehensive hindgut support to lower the risk of digestive upset that can lead to colicky episodes with ingredients like prebiotics, yeast, and enzymes. An annual wellness exam with a veterinarian is also required. The veterinarian will verify vaccination history, perform a dental exam with recommendations, and perform a fecal test to set-up a deworming schedule. ColiCare is a wonderful compliment to any insurance policy. ColiCare will reimburse independently; therefore, additional financial coverage will be seen in addition to any initial insurance reimbursement.

Program Requirements

Annual Wellness Requirements, which include:

  • Physical exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Dental exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Vaccinations administered by a veterinarian
  • Deworming program developed with your veterinarian that includes at least one fecal test and two deworming administrations per year

For more information on the products or to get signed up for the ColiCare program, please visit the SmartPak website: https://www.smartpakequine.com/colicare. Anoka Equine Veterinary serves does currently have clients that are on this program.


EQCO Coverage – Platinum Performance

eqco-program-slidePlatinum Performance has its own wellness program similar to the one offered by SmartPak. The coverage that Platinum Performance offers is up to $8,000-$10,000 towards colic surgery. To qualify for this coverage you have to administer eligible supplements to your horse on a daily bases, as well as complete an annual wellness exam with your local veterinarian. Platinum Performance supplements are formulated to provide omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals to support total body heath.

For more information and for a detailed list of available supplements, please visit Platinum Performance’s website http://www.platinumperformance.com/EQCO/.

**Please note: any previous colic/abdominal surgery, history of chronic colic, or an incidence of colic in the past twelve months will mark the horse unqualified for the both programs.

Who needs equine insurance? No one. Is this for everyone? No. Ultimately these questions come down to anyone who can not easily afford the unexpected cost of extensive treatments or surgery can benefit from having it. However, there is still an expense associated with either the ColiCare Program or insurance and it is a cost to be economically comfortable with. If this annual expense is something you may be willing to invest into, then these two program options provide a peace of mind if an emergency situation were to occur and life-saving-options will be more easily funded.


Equitarian Initiative

This week in honor of annual Anoka Equine Open House on Saturday, we are introducing the organization our silent auction will be benefiting, the Equitarian Initiative.

398953_10151501267669228_858607070_nEquitarian Initiative is a non-profit organization created by veterinarians to improve the heath of the working horse in low income and developing areas. Collaborating with local veterinarians, other organizations, and veterinary colleges, the Equitarian Initiative works to improve learning opportunities which therefore improves the basic health care found in both the United States and internationally.

Mission Statement:
Equitarian Initiative prepares volunteer veterinarians worldwide to deliver health care and education to improve the health, nutrition, productivity, and welfare of horses, donkeys, and mules, and to empower their care providers for sustainable change.

What They Do:
– Direct aid –
Through hands-on learning and discussion at the Equitarian Workshops 69115_10151216253734228_1562934646_nand Equitarian projects throughout many parts of the world, veterinarians are empowered and mentored to join and start health care delivery and education projects.

Collaboration – Equitarian Initiative and volunteer veterinarians maintain project success by partnering with local veterinarians, veterinary colleges, and charities which share their vision.

Education – An emphasis on community partnership creates a two-way educational discussion between working equid caretakers discussing the value of their animals and volunteers sharing the best methods to provide animal care.

10704239_515898818513342_8800910844890847822_oInspiration – They increase public awareness of the vital role working equids play in developing economies and the critical support they provide for the livelihood of the families which depend on them.

If you are interested in reading more information on the Equitarian Initiative, the link below will direct you to an EQUUS article written by Dr. Julie Wilson; whom is the co-founder of the Equitarian Initiative.

In addition, the following link provides a video documenting the Equitarian Initiative work completed during a workshop in these areas.

Equitarian Initiative Website: http://www.equitarianinitiative.org/

Equitarian Initiative Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EquitarianInitiative

Upcoming Events:

6th Equitarian Workshop Nicaragua, November 2015208586_10151501266119228_1853540683_n

This is the third year Anoka Equine Veterinary Services is hosting a silent auction during our Open House benefiting the Equitarian Initiative’s work. Items are donated to the auction from local businesses; such as, Stone Ridge Equestrian and Cowgirl Tough. For a complete list of donating businesses, please visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/anokaequine).

If you are unable to attend the event and would like to help support this cause, personal donations can be made here: (https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=AaIAe1-iDHQlGfzu6qkE0otFuM6VNbth79W7PkSQIyYgntnuhmRIHcKh-Du&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8dae318ac9ffd6aa6b72a490566890f82e).

Equine Pastern Dermatitis

By: Chelsea Farnsworth, D.V.M.

Equine pastern dermatitis (EPD) is one of the very frustrating syndromes that plagues many horses and their owners. Going by many names such as scratches, mud fever, dew poisoning, greasy heel or canker, equine Scratches1pastern dermatitis often affects the back of white pasterns on hind feet, but can be found on front pasterns as well. While often called a disease, EPD is truly a syndrome with many causes, predisposing factors, and just as many treatment options.

Seen in any season and on any breed, an affected pastern can have a range of signs including redness, matted hair, thick crusts, scales, thickened skin, and discharge. Pain is variable. Mild cases are often limited to redness and some scales with little to none discharge, but severe cases can lead to lameness, swelling of the hind feet, scaring, and proliferation of granulation tissue.

Causes of EPD are varied and are often linked to environmental issues. Horses kept in wet or muddy environments, Draft horses or breeds with feathers, and horses frequently bathed are predisposed. Contact irritation, (ie. from a chemical or new bedding), a weak immune system, or infection from parasites or fungus can start the disease process. Secondary bacterial infection and environmental exposure then perpetuate the problem and makes a definite diagnosis difficult.

Diagnosis of EPD is largely based on the clinical appearance of the affected pasterns. Definitive diagnosis of the primary factor separate from the secondary causes can be difficult. Skin scrapings, which sample the top layer of skin; fungal testing, cytologies, and even a skin biopsy, may be necessary to determine the cause.

While there are many anecdotal and alternative therapies for EPD, the most important part Scratchesof treating is removing the crusts and scabs. To get these off, washing with a mild soap such as Ivory may be necessary, as well as, clipping feathers or thicker hair. This step is often painful but necessary in order to get to the underlying skin.

Once the scabs are washed off, which may take several washings, various topical medications can be applied to combat the primary cause. Removing the scabs can be painful to the horse and a sweat wrap applied after application of a topical ointment may help in softening the crusts, making them easier to remove. Various antifungals, antimicrobials, and anti-inflammatories many be prescribed by your veterinarian and applied topically. Systemic medications, such as antibiotics, may be used if the EPD is severe.

Long term management relies heavily on environmental management; including: keeping the horse in a clean, dry stall during very wet weather, managing mud during the spring, and keeping feathers clipped short on draft-type breeds.

EPD, while frustrating, can be managed and working closely with your veterinarian will help in resolving this irritating syndrome.

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.