Taking Your Horses Vital Signs

All horse owners should be able to take their horses vital signs in case of a emergency. These are great to know when we know there is something that just isn’t right with our horse. We all know our own horses well enough to know when there is something wrong. 

Knowing how to take these vital signs will help out your vet if they are on their way to your stable, This will save time in diagnosing your beloved friend and companion. These are also good to take to see if the vet is actually needed. Sometimes our horses just don’t feel good, or have a bad day, and who wants to waste money on calling out your vet if it isn’t necessary. 

Heart Rate

The normal resting heart rate for a horse is between 36-40 beats per minute. Just like humans, a horses heart rate will increase with exercise, excitement, stress and pain. Horses are individuals and sometimes their resting heart rate will vary a little from the average, so it is always recommended that you document your own horses heart rate on a regular basis so that you can know exactly when your horse isn’t feeling himself. 

How to measure the heart rate

A good stethoscope is a valuable tool as a horse owner, and will correctly measure your horses heart rate. You can find a good stethoscope for $15. To listen to the heart rate, you want to place the stethoscope right behind the horses front elbow, this is the best place to hear the heart. 

Taking Your Horses Temperature

The normal horses temperature should be between 99-101°F (37.2-38.3°C). Several climatic factors will influence your horses temperature. The warmer the weather the higher the temperature and the colder the weather the lower the temperature. As with the heart rate it is best to take the temperature several times to document the average normal temperature of your horse. 

How to Measure the Temperature

A digital thermometer is a critical part of you horses first aid kit, and is inexpensive.  The most effective way to take the temperature is rectally. We want to make this process as comfortable as we can, as it is a little awkward. You want to lubricate the thermometer with either Vaseline or KY Jelly. Be sure that the thermometer is on, and gently insert into the anus. Make sure to hold it at an angle to ensure it is lightly pressed against the anal wall. Leave the thermometer in until it beeps, signaling that it is ready. 

Readings that are above your horses average could possibly indicate several types of health problems, including infections, colds, fevers and many more. If the temperature is about normal, it is probably best to call the vet. 

Checking Your Horses Circulation

Your horses membrane color and be easily measured bu assessing the color of your horse’s gums, lining of his eyelids and inside his nostrils. 

A salmon color, or a shade that is a little lighter than a humans gum color will usually indicate healthy circulation in a horse. The membrane colors that indicate a problem will be yellow gums, which will indicate liver issues, bright brick red will indicate toxicity or shock, grey gums will indicate illness and pale pink will indicate anemia.

Capillary Refill Time

To measure your horse’s capillary refill time, simply lift up your horse’s lip and press your finger against your horse’s gum for about 5 seconds. After 5 seconds remove your finger and release the pressure. Your finger will leave a white mark where you were pressing on the gum. Healthy circulation will turn the white mark quickly to the horse’s normal gum color within 2 seconds.  If the refill time takes longer than 2 seconds this indicates a compromised circulation. 


Knowing these vital signs are crucial to any horse owner. These will help you better understand your horse’s normal signs, and you will be able to quickly assess if there is a problem. 


Safe Riding!


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“Sizing Up Cinches”

Hey everyone, I found a great article in the May issue of the Equus magazine. I read it and thought it I would share it with all my horse followers. It discusses how to make sure your cinch/girth is not pinching and fits your horse the way it should.  

You may think cinches are easy to measure and easy to fit to your horse, but it goes much deeper than that. Joyce Harmon, DVM, says “The girth’s job is to stabilize the saddle and hold it in place, but in doing that it puts a considerable amount of pressure on the girth area or sternum” If this pressure is put in the wrong place it can cause serious issues. Sometimes when a horse reacts negatively to a saddle, mounting or tightening the girth we jump to the conclusion that there must be a back problem. Sometimes the problem has nothing to do with the back, but instead is a girth placement issue. 

The positive side is that girths are fairly cheap, and if this is the issue it can be super easy to fix. But to fix this problem we need to understand the purpose of the girth, the way it functions and the different types of girths. 

All horse have a natural girth line, also known as the “heart girth”. Most horses will have a girth line that is 4″ behind the elbow. How the girth attaches to the saddle is also very important. For example, english saddles have a billet attachment with 3 straps and the english girth only have 2 straps. This allows for movement of the girth forward or backwards for adjusting the placement of the girth. On western saddles the attachment for the cinch is called the rigging and some saddles will have a rear rigging allowing for a rear cinch. Most riders have no use for the rear cinch, it only adds more weight and is an extra step when saddling up. Different types of western saddles will have different rigging positions that will cater that type of saddle.

In most of the fitting issues the girth will move forward towards the elbow. If that girth rubs against the elbow, this will lead to rubbing discomfort and can sometimes lead to lameness.


This is a good example of the girth rubbing too close to the elbow area.

If you notice that your girth is rubbing your horse, you can sometimes switch to a wool cinch that will eliminate the rubbing. The bad side to this fix is that over time the wool will get flat, and will cause rubbing again. The only good option is to purchase a new girth that fits properly.

There are several different shapes of girths. Contoured girths are cut back on the area right behind the elbow, these girths are an hourglass shape. This will easily fix a rubbing problem. You can also switch to a narrower girth. The problem to this girth is that it will put more pressure on a limited area. Another option is to switch to a string girth. This girth will adjust to your horses shape and also allows for air flow in the girth area. 

Another issue that may arise with girths is the length of the girth. Purchasing a girth based on the size of the horse is never a good idea. Here is how to correctly measure for a proper fitting girth:

  • With the horse standing on a level area, place your current saddle on his back just behind the shoulder blades. 
  • Look at the billets or the cinch plate on the western saddle. They should be hanging perpendicular to the ground. 
  • Measure your horses heart girth from the midpoint of the fender on a western saddle to the midpoint of the opposite fender. On english saddle measure from the middle of the billet to the middle of the billet on the opposite side. 

The correct way to make sure your girth is at the proper tightness is to gradually pull up and out on the cinch with your right hand while putting your left hand between the girth and the horses elbow. Keep is snug at first and as you ride slowly tighten it in small increments. 

I found this article very helpful in finding problems with my current cinches. Hopefully you all enjoyed this informative article as much as I did!


Happy Riding!



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Oh, all us cowgirls can relate to this!

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Bringing The Wild Wyoming Mustang Home

So many people want to know what it was like when I brought home my mustang, so I figured it would be cool to post my equine journey on here so you all can experience what we went through together.

When I bought Whiskey she was known as #9499. That’s all that I knew about her. She was a dark bay mustang filly, she was not halter broke and was about 8 months old. This beautiful young mustang was captured in October of 2011 and had been kept at the BLM’s corral facility in Green Mountain, Wyoming… and, yes, that’s where the name of our tack shop came from.  There aren’t too many green mountains in Ohio, but we wanted to honor our new addition to the family.  It seemed appropriate.

While I was looking through all the auctions there were some gorgeous horses available for adoption. I was in love with some of the Grulla’s and the Dun’s and even some of the Paints. But for some reason when i saw horse #9499 I knew she was special. Her face was kind and gentle. She was a nice size, and all I saw was potential. A lot of the other horses had several bids – some were even up to $2,000. But the little horse tagged #9499 had no bids and the auction was ending in 1 week. The starting bid was $125. I kept thinking that is pocket change… and who knows what kind of horse she could be?  I already knew Mustangs where smart. At this time I already had one mustang and she was a fast learner and wanted to please, so the thought of another ‘Stang was very exciting to me.

I convinced myself that she was worth $125.  I sent in my bid.  I was required to send the BLM pictures of my barn, pastures, stalls and arena. Fortunately, they quickly approved me.  Now it was just a waiting game until the auction ended.  Everyday I checked to see if anyone else bid on her.  Day after day I checked.  No one seemed interested in her – too much work to adopt a filly perhaps?  I won her at $12!  Then, having won her, it hit me… what did I just get myself into?

I had to wait about 3 months to pick her up at the closest drop-off point.  The BLM required that you use a open stock trailer, so I was in luck!  We had purchased a nice Corn Pro open trailer a few years ealier.

Once the auctions ended, the BLM traveled to certain states to drop off the Mustangs for their new owners to pick up.  Fortunately for me they were traveling to Franklin Furnace, Ohio (right on the boarder of Ohio and Kentucky), so it was only going to be about a 6 hour drive. My pick up date for horse #9499 was September 14, 2012.

My dad and I took off real early in the morning.  We had to pick her up before 2 pm.  My stomach had butterflies in it the whole drive.  I had broken a horse to ride before, but I had never tried to work a completely wild horse.  I knew it was going to be a new challenge and I was excited about it.  I knew the bond between us would be strong and unbreakable,… just as long as she wasn’t absolutely crazy.

We arrived just before 2 pm. We walked to the arena and the horses were all crowded together in a large corral.  I had to sign the papers and then it was time to load her into the trailer.  They herded her into a chute leading to the open back of the trailer and cut off her #9499 tag, handed it to me and then spent about 15 minutes persuading her into the trailer as she spun, reared and kicked, excited and frightened.  She was indeed, very wild.  I started to think that I got myself into something i couldn’t handle.


As we drove home with our new adoption, family and friends had set up a chute in my stable leading into the larger stall so we could just back up the trailer and open the door and push her into the stall.  I swung open the trailer door expecting the worst. She very calmly stepped off the trailer, looked around and calmly walked right into the stall. No problem. Now I felt like I could handle this.


I let her settle in for about a week. Then it was time to get a halter on her. I set up the corral in my indoor arena and got her into there, and brought my patience and a rope halter. We sat in the corral looking at each other, and I knew this horse was special. About 1 hour later I had the rope halter on her and was petting her head and neck. A week later I was brushing her and leading her around. This was the best experience ever. I was creating a bond with this filly, and it was so exciting!

ImageThis was whiskey in the round pen before trying to halter break her. ImageNow She had the halter on – note the BLM brand on her neck.

It has been about a year. The government still owns whiskey – they own all the mustangs for the first year after purchase.  After a year they come out to check to make sure they are in a good home and taken care of.  In September she will officially be mine. 🙂

Whiskey and I have had our bumps in the road.  Spray bottles were absolutely terrifying, but after a few days we conquered that.  Eventually it was time for her to go outside with the 5 other horses.  Before I sent her outside I introduced her to my other mustang Izzy.


They were buddies very quickly. I started turning her out. She fit into the herd right away. She has a wonderful life, and I love her so much. Next fall I will start putting her under saddle and start the new journey of breaking her.

This journey has been wonderful. I have learned so much from this little filly.  She is smart and strong.  I can’t wait for the future with her.

Happy Riding!

Rebecca – Green Mountain Horse and Tack




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Learn About Our Blogger!

Hey everyone! I thought all of you might like to know a little about the girl who keeps our blog up to date. 🙂

My name is Rebecca. I am a 24 year old girl from Medina, Ohio.  I am the owner/manager at Green Mountain Horse & Tack and I have been riding horses for about 16 years.  I started riding when I was about 8 and got my first horse when I was 12.  About 3 years after I got my first horse, I outgrew her and bought a new one – an 8 year old Paint mare named Fancy (Heavenly Surprise).  Once I got her I thought it would be a great idea to join 4-H and start showing.  I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, as I had always ridden western so I wanted to stick to that.  I tried a little western pleasure, I even did a little hunter jumper, but I hated the slow pace.  I started working with her on barrels and poles and that was when it clicked.  That was what I was going to do.  I loved it, and she loved it.  We continued to show and do our county fair.  We placed in the top five each time and even got 1st place overall in the youth division of  barrels and poles one year.  We barrel raced for about 4 years but then she got very lame. She had Navicular (it most commonly describes an inflammation or degeneration of the navicular bone and its surrounding tissues, usually on the front feet and can lead to significant and even disabling lameness). It was heart breaking for me. I grew up with Fancy, and she was my best friend.  I started looking for a new horse to ride, a new barrel horse.

That’s when I found Julie (Julie’s Bustin Times), a 6 year old buckskin quarter horse mare.  After 6 months we took off.  We were traveling all over Ohio racing with NBHA, IBRA and even a little AQHA. We were 2D youth champions 2 years in a row (2008-2009).  While racing, we realized we needed another horse to keep Fancy company while we were out racing.  Then we stumbled across Patches (HTS Fleeten Patches) a 9 year old paint gelding.  He was a challenge and I liked that.  I worked with him off and on for  about a year and, since it was my last year in 4-H, I entered him in our county fair.  He was a very nice all around horse. We did western pleasure, horsemanship, hunter under saddle and showmanship.  We did very well, and it was my last year so we ended 4-H in a great way!

So by now I am 18 and I am doing local shows with patches and still racing Julie with IBRA and some NBHA. Fancy is still alive and kicking, and I started giving beginner western horse back riding lessons.  As my mom and I are looking through the news paper one day we see a small ad from the Medina ASPCA for a 3 year old grulla mustang filly. We thought, “well lets just go look at her and see what she looks like”. I fell in love with her. I put the whole payment down on her that day – a whopping $250.00 and I took her home that week. Her original name was Desi, and I thought that name didn’t fit her well.  She was young, strong and fierce and she needed a powerful name to fit that stubborn personality.  I came up with Isabella, or Izzy for short.

She was a whole new project for me. I had never broke a horse or started from the very beginning, and I was learning so much. About 6 months later I had her broke to ride and in training.  Time flies and now I am about 21. I am working with Julie, and Izzy and still giving riding lessons on Fancy.  During this busy time, I decided I want to go to Equine Dentistry School.  I drove out to Alma, Michigan and attended the Midwest Equine Dental Academy and got certified as an Equine Dental Technician in 2010.

I came home from school and continued to work with my horses and give lessons.  By now Fancy is about 17 years old and the arthritis and navicular are really starting to affect her, so I decide I need to get a new lesson horse.  I was looking for a nice, slow western pleasure mare who I can give lessons and take my students to horse shows.  I found a nice little 6 year old paint mare Haley (Just Full O’ Pep).  I took her home and soon my lessons grew.  Around this time, my dad and I began our tack store, selling horse tack and saddles online.   So between the lessons, showing, dentistry and tack store I was very busy!

In the summer of 2012 I stumbled across the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustang adoptions. I was just scrolling through the online auctions of mustangs that had captured, just looking, not intending at all to buy another horse (mistake!).  I already had 5 and that was plenty enough horse poop for one girl!  But, I met fate head on and I stumbled across a dark bay 8 month-old filly Mustang.  I don’t know if it was the look in her eyes or just a gut feeling, but I just had to have her.  I put in a bid of $125 ($125 was the starting bid for all of the mustangs).  No one else placed a bid – I won her!  She was mine.

In September I brought her home. She was completely wild. It took me about 2 hours to get a halter on her and teach her to lead. I have had her for almost a year now, and she is filled with potential.  She is smart and a fast learner.  I see a barrel horse in her. I decided to name her Loretta’s Finest Whiskey, or Whiskey for short.

So now I am 24, racing Julie and about to start racing Izzy with her.  I am continually working with Whiskey, and will start to break her next fall.  I am doing equine dentistry and giving lots of western lessons.  We take Haley to shows about every other weekend, and barrel race all the other weekends.  Fancy and Patches are happy pasture buddies, patches gets ridden every now and then.

We expanded part of our barn and opened our store to the local public in April 2013.  My life is surrounded by horses, I help folks with their horses, educate them on tack and gear, and get to immerse myself in the world I love – horses… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Happy Riding!





HTS Fleeten Patches
HTS Fleeten Patches





Julie's Bustin Times

Julie’s Bustin Times

Me & Whiskey

Me & Whiskey
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Does an Audience Have an Effect on Stress Levels?

Most of us have been in the show ring before, and if you haven’t you have seen the show jumpers or watched the Kentucky Derby. They all involve a large audience watching both horse and rider. We all know we get stressed when being the center of  attention in a show ring, but how do our horses react?

Horse scientists recently completed some research showing that we may be a nervous wreck while in the ring, but audiences have little to no effect on our horses stress level. Mareike Becker-Brick, PhD is a researcher at Graff Lehnforff Institute For Equine Science in Neustadt Germany, who presented this study at the 8th International Society of Equitation Science conference.

Becker-Bick used 8 geldings who were trained in classical dressage and their male riders during a rehearsal and a public performance that would be in front of thousands of spectators. The science team measured both horse and human salivary cortisol (known as the “Stress Hormone”), heart rate and heart rate variability (heart rate variability seems to be a better indicator of stress level than the heart rate).

Both the horses and the humans cortisol levels and heart rates rose during both the rehearsal and the performance. The male riders heart rates rose considerably more during the show performance. Thus making the humans much more stressed than the horses. The horses treated the show performance as the same as a practice or training. Becker-Bick stated “so the spectators induced an acute stress response in the riders, but at the same time (caused) no additional stress on the horse.”

So just because your stressed out in the show ring, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will make your horse nervous. We might be shaking when we enter the ring, but our horses are treating the show like any other practice or training session!


A large audience has little to no effect on our horses, but stresses us out more than a training or practice run.

Full Article at http://www.Thehorse.com

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Decoding Blanket Terminology

You are shopping for a nice new blanket for your favorite four legged friend when you come across several different types. What is the difference between these blankets that all look the same? Equine terminology can be tough to understand, especially when it is 32 degrees outside and your horse is a little chilly.

Even after being a horse owner for 13 years, I find that there is always something new to learn. Blankets can be a tough thing to shop for. You want to make sure you find the perfect fit and the right style for what your horse needs. We will start with the blanket terms.

Denier – This refers to the fabric in the blanket, and it’s thickness. A higher denier blanket will typically mean it is made of a much heavier fabric. So this means that the higher the denier, the blanket will be stronger in protecting from snow, wind and water. The fabric will also be more water resistant than a lower denier count. A higher denier blanket will be the best blanket for horses who are turned out frequently during snow, sleet, wind and rain. This will provide the best protection from the winter weather outside.

Waterproof & Water Resistant – Waterproofed blankets are made to protect from rain and snow. The material is made to protect and keep your horse dry during wet weather. A water resistant blanket means that the material will repel water, but not for long periods of time, meaning eventually the water will soak through the blanket to your horse.

Ripstop – This refers to the nylon that the blanket is made of. If you look closely, the blanket will have a criss cross pattern that is made to prevent a small rip from turning into a major hole.

Now, lets move on to the types of blankets that are available…

Turnout Blankets – This type of blanket is used for horses that are turned out daily. They are made to withstand the winter weather, and are also made to help against playful horses in the pasture. This blanket is the tougher of all the blankets. It will be waterproof and strong, protecting it from wear and tear. Most blankets will have 3 different types of weights.

Light – estimated to keep warm in 45-60 degrees.

Medium – estimated to keep warm in 30 degrees and above.

Heavy – estimated to keep warm in 30 degrees and below.

These blankets are wonderful for those horses who are turned out on a daily basis. The only issue that an owner will run into is that during the spring time and late winter the temperatures change drastically. This means that you as a owner have to pay attention to the changes in temperature to remove the blanket when it gets warmer and place the blanket back on during those chilly nights.

Stable Blanket – These blankets are often filled with a fiber type of filling. This blankets are not waterproof or tear resistant. They are to be used inside a stable and are not recommended to those horses who get turned out.

Sheets – Sheets are often made of a simple cotton material and are fairly light. They are not typically waterproof. They have many uses, some of which include protection from the sun or flies, keeping a horse clean, and keeping a horse warm in slightly chilly weather.

At GreenMountainHorse.com we have a wide variety of horse sheets and turnout blankets for any type of weather and we carry the top brands in the industry like Tough 1 and Showman.  We’d be honored to help you select the perfect protection against weather for your horse at http://www.greenmountainhorse.com.

Happy Riding!

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When Is It Too Cold To Ride?


 It has been debated for a long time: how cold does it need to be before you stop riding?  Since winter is upon us I figured this would be a great topic to bring up. Although some states don’t get nearly as cold as us here in Ohio, this is still an interesting topic with good information to know for any horse owner.

Since I began riding about 16 years ago, I was always told not to ride if the temperature gets below 22 degrees Fahrenheit.  So I began wondering, is this true? And why is it bad for the horses, or yourself? Here is what I learned:

Most articles and forums that I went to said that the temperature would need to be around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered “too cold” to ride. Have you ever gone running outside in the middle of winter? I jog occasionally, and I always avoid running outside in the winter. Mainly because after about 15 minutes the cold air starts burning my nostrils and my lungs feel like they are on fire. Breathing in all that chilly air doesn’t feel good and horses will experience that same feeling when being worked really hard in the middle of winter.  This is why even when it is only 25 degrees outside you should never work an unconditioned horse really hard. The workouts should be simple and you should never work the horse hard enough to cause excessive sweating.  Just like any athlete you want to make sure to do a nice simple warm up and a long cool down.  These can be simple patterns or alternating jogging and walking. After a nice workout, you always want to make sure that the horse doesn’t have access to cold water for a while.  This could trigger a colicy horse, and if your horse is already prone to colic it could be very dangerous.

Another big problem can be where you are riding.  Most people will have access to a nice dirt or sand indoor arena, which is perfect for winter riding.  Other equestrians, however, do not have the luxury of an indoor arena.  When riding outside there are a few things to remember. First, you need to be cautious of ice, especially if you have a horse with shoes on. Ice is slippery in the first place and when you add some aluminum horseshoes to the mix this only adds to the chance of a fall.  Second, you want to make sure that the snow doesn’t get too packed up in the hoof. This can cause pain in the hoof, and if your horse already has hoof issues occasionally, this will only add to the pain.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, is that if the ground is frozen, working your horse on hard frozen terrain can cause injury to the tendons and ligaments.  Imagine yourself running on the concrete with just your socks on, I don’t think that would be real comfortable, and that’s what your horse would be feeling.

 In conclusion, you need to think about yourself too. Don’t ride if you are not comfortable in weather this cold.  You always come first, and being outside in the middle of winter can cause illness. If you feel that it is just too cold but you really need to work your horse, do some lunging. This is simple, and will still condition your horse and keep them in tip-top shape! Always do things as safely as you can, and remember to wear a helmet when riding. It has been proven that during the cold season you are not as alert. A helmet could save your life.

I hope this insight into the coldest season of the year helps all you horse lovers more aware of the dangers of riding in severe weather. Feel free to comment and leave your feedback! It is always nice to hear from other equestrians.


Rebecca, Green Mountain Horse and Tack





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The Bond Between A Horse & Rider…

By Greenmountainhorse.com

Creating the unbreakable bond with your horse is critical. We have all had a horse at sometime that we feel that strong connection. You can read each others minds, and know exactly what the other one is asking for.


Here are a few tips on keeping that bond strong:

  • To familiarize another horse with your scent, breathe into his nostrils. He will then breathe on you, as this is one way horses tell each other apart. (wikihow.com)
  • Express your feelings for your horse in a way that he will understand. He may become confused if you show happiness by hugging or kissing him, but if you rub his shoulder or pinch the crest of his mane (this imitates the way horses groom each other), he will understand what you are trying to say, and will return your affection. (wikihow.com)
  • Horses respond to tones of voice. Always use a soft, soothing tone when you are near your horse. It will relax him. Be careful as not to shout or scream when you are around your horse, this can make him stressed and he may panic and lash out. (wikihow.com)
  • When  you have a riding session, always end on a good note. Don’t push him to hard, but when you are nearing the end of the session and you ask him to preform a task and he responds well, end on that note. He will realized he’s done exactly what you want and he will be rewarded by being unsaddled.
  • I always recommend grooming your horse after a nice long ride. This again will give him a nice little reward after a riding session, plus its relaxing for him and keeps him clean!


Here are some things to be careful about:

  • Even if you are completely sure that you know your horse 100% still wear a helmet when riding and be aware that accidents still can happen even when there is an amazing bond between horse and rider. (wikihow.com)
  • Horses can sense our fear, even if you feel a little scared pretend that you know exactly what you are doing. He will then sense your confidence and note react so negatively.
  • Always be cautious when around any horse. Like stated before horses have a mind of their own and can spook at the most random times, and this can put you and the horse in danger.
  • And remember…its always better to be safe than sorry!


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