Riyadh-based horse specialist steps in to fill ‘knowledge void’ on animal welfare

Kirsten Hanin Johnston says that horses kept in poorly managed stables tend to suffer mental and physical illness. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
Kirsten Hanin Johnston says that horses kept in poorly managed stables tend to suffer mental and physical illness. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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Updated 11 January 2022

Riyadh-based horse specialist steps in to fill ‘knowledge void’ on animal welfare

Kirsten Hanin Johnston says that horses kept in poorly managed stables tend to suffer mental and physical illness. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
  • Inferior stable design can also threaten horses’ safety and health

RIYADH: Horse racing and equestrian pursuits are often described as the “sport of kings,” so it comes as a surprise to learn that the health and comfort of the animals at the center of this multibillion-dollar global industry are sometimes misunderstood or even ignored.

Kirsten Hanin Johnston, a US stable management and equine specialist, has highlighted the issue of biosecurity around horse breeding and warned against what she describes as a “knowledge void” in a number of issues in the field.
Good stable management is the main factor in safeguarding horses’ health and preventing the introduction or spread of harmful organisms, she said.
Johnston, who is currently based in Riyadh, said that horses differ from other animals in the sense that their digestive system is extremely sensitive and “can be distressed by slight changes in diet, scheduling of food, exercise, water and many other factors that are managed in the stable.”
Sudden or inappropriate changes can cause disease or colic, she said.

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Kirsten Hanin Johnston, who is currently based in Riyadh, said that horses differ from other animals in the sense that their digestive system is extremely sensitive and ‘can be distressed by slight changes in diet, scheduling of food, exercise, water and many other factors that are managed in the stable.’

“Best practice suggests that a stable should have frequent educational programs for employees to elevate the overall function of the stable and build more reliable services for the horses,” Johnston said.




Kirsten Hanin Johnston, an American Stable management specialist based in Riyadh. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dosari)

“Many managers assign certain roles for each groom, and it is also wise to assign one groom to about six to eight horses,” she added.
Johnston’s interest in horses began at a young age in Germany, where she attended horse competitions with her grandmother. However, her formal education in stable management began in 2018 at the University of Guelph in Canada.
After being asked to support the management of several small stables in Riyadh, she began to offer advice on horse healthcare and management through channels such as WhatsApp groups, on-site lectures, private consultations and Instagram.
“I am not seeking a full-time stable management position that would require a full-time commitment,” she told Arab News. “I may seek that once I have completed my degree and become certified.”
Johnston focuses on nutritional imbalances in horses, as well as hoof injuries and maintenance.




Kirsten Hanin Johnston, an American Stable management specialist based in Riyadh. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dosari)

She also offers advice on stable management, and warns that poor biosecurity measures can lead to outbreaks of illness and even the death of horses.
With horses frequently transported across the globe for sports or shows, protective controls are critical to controlling the spread of disease from one continent to another.
Poor stable management, such as dirty stalls with strong ammonia fumes, can cause respiratory issues or hoof disease, she said.
Inferior stable design can also threaten horses’ safety and health. If flooring is slippery, for example, falls can result in serious injury to both horses and riders. Small stall sizes can cause emotional distress in horses, which need to move throughout the day.
In a recent case, Johnston visited a stable where the stalls were less than 3 square meters in size. One horse had rolled over and was unable to stand because its legs were trapped against a wall. The same horse was coughing due to the lack of fresh air in the stall and the overwhelming smell of ammonia.
Horses kept in poorly managed stables tend to suffer mental and physical illness, she said.
Johnston said that owners should assume responsibility for how their stables function, and educate themselves on appropriate biosecurity and health guidelines to maintain or improve their horses’ health.
Stable owners should understand the behavior and needs of the horse, and work closely with the administrative team, which relies on the grooms for information on the animals’ welfare.
The main challenge for stable owners in Saudi Arabia is the availability of trained grooms to oversee the daily care, Johnston said.
Other issues include the availability and rising costs of supplies, such as grain, hay and wood shavings.
Medical supplies are often unavailable, and there is a lack of qualified veterinarians and clinics that can treat difficult cases at reasonable prices.
“We are limited to three or four hospitals nationwide, and areas such as Jazan have no medical services. In most cases, owners have limited resources, and the horses die. This can be a crisis for any horse owner, and some of these horses are valued at more than SR1 million ($266,370). Such a loss is tough.”
Johnston warns that there is “a knowledge vacuum when it comes to feeding schedules, types of food, use of medications, especially antibiotics, dewormers, imidocarb for parasites and hormones to speed up the bulking of muscles or growth of foals.”
Additionally, poor riding skills and the absence of safety protocols can result in severe injury or death to both horses and riders.
“Some of our more pressing concerns as owners and managers are the control of illness, especially colic during summer months when the heat, and in some locations the added humidity, coupled with overloading of grains, can cause death,” she said.
“It all comes down to the education of owners, riders, managers and grooms to promote horse welfare and safety.”


Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s relief work for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan continues with the launch of a food security project for the displaced living outside camps

The Kingdom’s latest project, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), aims to help refugee families and the neediest people in the host community, and contributing to improving their living conditions, according to a report from state news agency SPA.

Among KSRelief’s efforts for refugees in Jordan includes a $1.33 million agreement with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation to treat Syrians diagnosed with cancer; a $2 million accord with the National Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition to boost food security for poor families as well as a pact with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization to provide housing and utilities support for 22 Syrian families involving 109 individuals.


Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thanked Uzbekistan for supporting Riyadh’s bid to host the World Expo 2030, during a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported citing a joint statement. 

The meeting between the two leaders, held in Jeddah on Wednesday, reviewed the countries’ relations and ways to enhance bilateral ties, a joint statement between the two countries said. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Mirziyoyev also emphasized the importance of exploring investment opportunities between their two countries, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals and Uzbekistan’s development goals.


Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 August 2022

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH: The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev performed the Umrah pilgrimage on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The president was received by several officials from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and from the Special Force for the Security of the Grand Mosque upon his arrival. 

Mirziyoyev’s official press service shared photos from the president’s pilgrimage on Twitter. 

 

The Uzbek president had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The pair held a meeting and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, in addition to reviewing a number of issues of common interest. 


Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
  • The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received in Jeddah Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement leader Ammar Al-Hakim, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Friday.

The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest.

Al-Hakim arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday and was received by deputy minister of foreign affairs Waleed Al-Khuraiji.

Saudi and Iraqi senior officials attended the meeting. 


Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  
Updated 18 August 2022

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

Deputy environment minister stresses importance of developing geospatial infrastructure  

RIYADH: Mansour Al-Mushaiti, deputy minister of environment, water and agriculture, stressed the importance of developing geospatial infrastructure during a meeting organized by the ministry at its headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday. 

Al-Mushaiti commended the ministry’s work on geospatial infrastructure and remote sensing over the past years and emphasized the need to develop leadership in this area. 

Bandar Al-Muslmani, general supervisor of the geospatial information and remote sensing department at the ministry, spoke about the significance of developing training programs in the field in order to bolster digital sectors through geospatial data, applications and spatial analytics.

Such training programs would lead to increased efficiency, improved services and location-based decisions.

According to the Unified National Platform, the availability of geospatial information is required to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.