Downeast Medal Finals

November 2020
Downeast Medal Finals
September 16-19, 2021
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Introduction to Equine Pain Management
Introduction to Equine Pain Management
Christina Cassano, DVM, cVMA
New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center

The perception of pain is one of the most important sensory experiences. When you were a child and touched a hot plate, the pain receptors in your fingertips sent sensory information to your spinal cord where a reflex was triggered to pull your hand away from the plate. At the same time, the sensory information traveled up your spinal cord to your brain where the pain sensation was perceived so that you could make a mind/body connection between touching the hot plate and the sensation that you experienced from doing so. After perceiving this information, your brain formed memories of the experience so that you began to associate touching a hot plate with pain. This in turn would hopefully prevent you from touching a hot plate again and causing tissue damage to your fingertips. Although pain is unpleasant, it is necessary for survival as it allows the body to protect itself against tissue damage in the present and in the future. On the contrary, even though pain is necessary, it can become harmful to the body when it is left untreated and consequently, there is never an appropriate excuse to leave pain untreated.
Horses are a challenge when it comes to pain detection and management. As many of you know, horses are very stoic animals and do not often show outward signs of pain unless their pain is very severe. Because of this, equine pain is often overlooked and consequently not being treated. A second challenge that arises in equine pain management is that due to equine physiology, there are not a huge variety of options to choose from when treating equine pain. In this article, I am going to review common drugs used to treat equine pain and describe complementary therapies that can be used to treat pain in a multi-modal approach.

Banamine (Flunixin Meglumine): This a drug that most horse owners have at least heard of and many have used. Banamine is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that works to decrease inflammation and prevents the release of pain-inducing substances, and in doing so, provides an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect. Banamine is most often used for visceral pain associated with colic as well as pain that originates in soft tissue. Banamine can be given orally and intravenously. It is labeled for intramuscular use, but this route should be avoided as it can lead to infection and other complications.
Bute (Phenylbutazone): Like banamine, bute is also an NSAID drug and works to provide analgesia by reducing inflammation and preventing the release of pain-inducing substances in the body. Bute is recommended over banamine when pain is originating from the musculoskeletal system. Bute can be given orally and IV but caution should be taken when administering IV as bute is very irritating to tissue if it gets outside of the vein.

True Blue Thrush Solution
Not ready to go out to pasture just yet, Rosemary Smithyman and her husband Dennis retired in body to Kennebunk, Maine, but their entrepreneurial spirit is in full swing with their business True Blue Thrush Solution, aptly named for its color and its purpose.
Rosemary has a background in science and Dennis is a chemical engineer. What better pair than these two to create an organic product for horses to combat that pesky problem of thrush and help keep it away with regular use?
After spending years traversing the U.S. working with dairy farmers, Rosemary and Dennis decided to put down their hooves in the cold haven of Maine and settle into a life of relaxation; however, still active in the equine arena, Rosemary decided to create what she said is a safer, organic product to help horse owners, like herself, treat thrush more naturally.
“True Blue doesn’t stain, stink, or sting,” said Rosemary.
These three very important attributes are its crowning accomplishments.
After working with bovine foot bath products for years, Rosemary turned her astute science eye to horse hooves and began to formulate True Blue, which unlike other thrush products, does not contain formaldehyde and is antimicrobial.
“Our product comes at thrush from a different, organic angel,” explained Rosemary. “We use citric acid and copper sulfate as our two main ingredients so it is safe to use and work with.”
She added, “It works very well and very quickly.”
The product has gone through an independent lab study in Oregon and Rosemary said that farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners in her region have been using it for a while and they all love it.
“We have gotten no complaints,” she said. “We created this product to help people and horses. The old saying, ‘No foot no horse,’ holds true, and thrush is a nasty problem that is very painful. We are very proud to have created something that is safe and works very well,” said Rosemary with pride.
The business is growing and expanding beyond the Northeast as more riders and horse lovers hear more about it. As it grows, the Smithymans are happily enjoying their Maine retreat, and Rosemary is content riding her 23-year-old Paint horse, Nelson, through all four of the beautiful seasons of New England, like the ones she remembered from her youth growing up in Connecticut.
For more information, go to

By Karena Garrity
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Thank you to Spotted Vision Photography and Riitta Fortier for providing us with many wonderful photographs from the Downeast Medal Finals.
Bernard Klingenstein/Euclide Albert Memorial
The Cash Family
Lucky Clover Stables (207-651-1881)
Maggie Mae Memorial
My Horse Heroes Memorial
Peter N. Thompson Memorial
SeaHorse Stables
Seery Hill