Our Mission

Alberta Horse Industry MissionTo provide a unified voice for the Alberta horse industry and strengthen it through advocacy, education and research.

Our Vision

Alberta Horse IndustryA growing, profitable, united Alberta horse industry, recognized nationally and internationally.

Equine Welfare

Alberta Horse IndustryHave a concern about an issue of equine welfare?
Call the
Livestock Care ALERT Line
at 1-800-506-2273

Alberta Horses

Click Here To View Our Featured Horses
Click here to view our  featured Alberta-bred horses

Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses


Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), and their partners the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF), have produced an updated version of the Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses. This in depth booklet is available by contacting either AFAC, AEF, or by coming to our HIAA office at the Airdrie Agriculture Building.

HHG Horses 2

A Brief History of Bits


luristan1By Carolyn Willekes, Ph.D.


The bit is an essential part of our equine equipment.  No matter what discipline you ride, chances are you have at least one bit tucked away in your tack room.  Most of us bridle our horses without entirely understanding the purpose of the bit, let alone why we are using a specific style of bit, or even how the bit came to be in the first place.  When you stop to think about it equines are the only animals we control by placing something in the mouth.  All other pack/draft/riding animals are controlled by forms of nose pressure, nose rings/pegs (oxen, water buffalo and camels), or canes/staffs (elephants).  So then, where on earth did the bit come from?

When humans domesticated the horse around 5,500-6,000 years ago they were already familiar with the concept of riding and driving animals, thanks to the earlier domestication of donkeys and bovines.  It makes sense that these early riders and drivers transferred familiar ideas of control to the horse.  In the ancient Near East this took the form of the nose ring, but this did not work due to the shape, placement and delicacy of equine nostrils.  In Central Asia and Eastern Europe early horsemen played around with a different control mechanism, one that took the shape of the equine jaw into consideration.  They discovered a fleshy gap between the molars and incisors on the lower jaw (the bars) and realized they could place something directly in the mouth to control the horse by means of pressure on this area.  These prototype bits were not made of metal, instead they were leather thongs, bone or wood tied to cheek pieces made of antler.  Early evidence for the use of bits comes from the site of Dereivka in the Ukraine where archaeologists have found 5,000 year old equine remains with evidence of bit wear on the second pre molar teeth.  The wear patterns on these prehistoric teeth have been tested against wear patterns crated by both metal and organic bits on modern horses and the results are remarkably similar.  The first metal bits appeared around 1300 BCE and were made of bronze, and later this changed to iron.  


Equine Infectious Anemia


By Kathleen WinfieldEIA

You might have noticed that equine competitions and events are now beginning to request a negative result Coggins test as part of their requirements for entry in to the competition or event.  If you frequently travel across international borders with equines, you already know that a negative Coggins is required: but do you know why? So – what is a Coggins test and what is it testing for?

A Coggins test is a blood test designed to determine if antibodies are present for the viral disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).  A negative result means no antibodies are detected. Blood samples are taken by an accredited veterinarian and the test performed in an accredited laboratory (accreditation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)).

EIA is a persistent and incurable viral disease that attacks the equine immune system, including donkeys and mules. Symptoms of infected equines are highly variable and can resemble other diseases so diagnosis can be difficult without doing the blood test.  Symptoms may include anorexia, fever, depression, small hemorrhages in mucous membranes, swelling of legs, lower chest and abdomen, fatigue, reduced stamina or weakness, rapid breathing and rapid weight loss, jaundice. An infected equine might only exhibit a loss of coordination.  It is also possible that an equine may be a carrier of the disease but not show any symptoms. All horse owners should be aware of EIA, but not alarmed, as the prevalence has remained relatively low in western Canada.

This disease is transmitted by contaminated blood or blood products.  Biting insects such as deer and horse flies are known transmitters of the disease.  This transfer is strictly “mechanical” which means the virus does not replicate itself in the insect – it is contained in the blood from the infected equine that the insect carries on its mouthparts then deposits into the bloodstream of the next equine during the next bite.   The virus only survives a short time on the insects so the disease is generally spread between horses in close proximity.  As these insects thrive in wet areas, outbreaks of EIA have often been linked to horses pastured in swampy areas (thus the nickname of Swamp Fever for this disease).


Important Note from the Office

Horse Industry Association of Alberta has had some staff changes. Due to this, office hours will be limited over the summer months.  All emails will be answered and phone calls returned but response times may be slower than normal. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience

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June 5-7





Industry Directory


Please Click Here to view our Industry Directory with links to equine sport groups, breed groups, facilities, calendars and publications in Alberta.


Contact Us
Office Address:

97 East Lake Ramp NE
Airdrie, AB
T4A 0C3
Phone: 403-420-5949
Fax: 403-948-2069