Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Conditioning Endurance Horses at Altitude

Karen Chaton's Enduranceridestuff.com blog

Many of the rides I go to are at a lower elevation than where I live. I’m at around 5,000′ and when I ride from home I am always going up higher in elevation. The mountains around here all around us go up to higher than 9,000′ so if I want to I can get in a good deal of high altitude training with my horses.

There has been a fair amount of research done on this topic. Below are a couple of studies that are very educational. I find this topic fascinating because I am always interested in learning what else can I do with my horses to help them do better when competing in endurance rides. In addition to improving their performance I am always interested in learning how I can help them speed up their recovery post-ride.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Weed Free?


According to the National Forest Service thousands of acres of public lands nationwide are being lost each day to invasive non-native weeds. Although California does not have a severe weed problem in its National Forests as compared to the Rocky Mountains or Pacific Northwest Region, the steady march and invasion of Yellow Starthistle is a good example of why a weed free program is being undertaken in California. By establishing a weed free program plus other recommendations and required policy for all public land users -- not just horsemen but hikers, bikers, off-road-vehicles, backpackers and more -- what's happened in other states and already on some California public lands can be avoided and eliminated.

What began as part of the Sierra Nevada Framework for Conservation & Collaboration for only Sierra Nevada and Modoc Plateau forests has taken on its own life and is now a stand alone program pertaining to ALL California National Forests. Weed free is an Executive Order that applies to all federal lands -- nationwide. And beginning April 2004, all National Forest Service (NFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service (NPS) lands in California will require the use of certified Weed Free Feed (Forage) when horsecamping, packing or staying on federal lands for periods of time.

Weed free feed (or forage as agencies refer to it) is baled hays, grasses, alfalfa or any baled combination plus straw and mulch. Cubes are not considered weed free unless they are processed from fields which have been certified as weed free. In other words, baled feed and cubes used not just in National Forest Wilderness Areas but on ALL National Forest, BLM and Park Service lands has to be certified weed free by a California County Agricultural Commissioner. When trail riding on NFS, BLM or NPS lands for any length of time -- half an hour, two hours or all day -- these three agencies are suggesting that horses be "purged for 12 hours by the feeding of California certified weed free feed". Exempt from the Certification requirements are sacked pellets (which are felt to be weed free because of the heat process they go through) and grains (although there is still concern about weed contents on some sack labels).


Training Horse to Accept Syringe

Written by Shari Hack Jones

When it’s time to administer medication, de-worming paste or electrolytes, if your horse avoids the syringe, what can you do?

For the last two years I’ve studied various disciplines of natural horsemanship. There are several flavors of natural horsemanship, but the basic principle is to use positive reinforcement to train a horse rather than punishment or coercion.

One of the horses I spend time with on the weekends is an older Quarter Horse mare. The first time I met her owner, when it came time to worm her, he tied her with two ropes to the rail because she was known to pull back and break a rope to get away from the worm paste. He said that was the only way he could worm her. I asked him if he would allow me to work with his horse to get her to accept being wormed more easily. He said yes.

One of the main methods espoused by natural horsemanship to desensitize a horse to something they fear is called “approach and retreat.” The horse is systematically exposed to the stimuli and the instant he relaxes around it, the stimuli is removed. This release teaches the horse that when he’s calm he’s rewarded by the retreat of what he doesn’t like, until eventually he is no longer afraid of it.

photo by Rebecca Tarr
For the syringe-phobic mare, I bought a plain syringe that resembled the worm paster. I held it in my hand and began to rub the mare’s body with it, staying away from her head where she was the most defensive. Eventually, I was able to move it over her head until it was just her mouth that was off limits. Gradually, I was able to touch the outside of her mouth with my hands not yet holding the syringe. My touch was gentle and the second she stopped pulling away I would remove my hands. This taught her that pulling away wouldn’t get the desired response, but when she relaxed and trusted me, then I would remove my hands as her reward. It’s the release that teaches.

Next, I filled the syringe with unsweetened applesauce. I put a halter and lead rope on the horse and led her around a large pen with the syringe out in front of her so she could follow it. Horses are much braver when they can follow a scary object rather than having it come at them.

Training Follow Syringe
She followed the syringe until she eventually touched it with her nose. Then I squeezed some of the applesauce into the palm of my hand as I backed away from her. She followed me and eventually she licked the applesauce out of my palm right next to the syringe.


Patience, Long Slow Distance Important for Conditioning Horses for Competition

Thehorse.com - Full Article

by: Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
March 21 2009, Article # 13821

Horses on vacation since October or November, when the owner stopped riding, can't be expected to perform the way they did in the fall. It's important to get their cardiovascular systems as well as their bones, muscles and tendons back in shape before pushing them to their maximums.

Vacations are great for relaxing and recharging, but in just a little more than three weeks at rest, a horse can start to get out of shape. "You have to realize that your horse is not in the shape that he was in when he went on vacation," said Steve Jones, M.S., associate professor and equine specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. "There's not going to be much change in three weeks, but after that you'll start having a fairly rapid decline if they're not doing anything."

Jones would prefer to ride his horses just about every day, and because of the year-round clinics Jones handles through his job, he does ride more often than many horse owners. But with daylight savings time and winter weather, he finds that it's usually dark in the morning when he feeds them before work and then it's dark in the afternoon when he gets home to feed them again--and that makes it hard to hit the trail.

"You'll be surprised how life can interfere," he said. "I haven't been on a horse in about three weeks now and I'm having withdrawal. Mine have been on vacation--which every once in a while they need--but I do I ride year-round and I keep them in pretty good shape. Still, I'd hate to know that I had to ride one all day right now because I don't think they're in that kind of shape."


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Understanding Horse Personalities

Knowing more about your horse’s personality type can help you ride and train better.
By Yvonne Barteau

For many years I have been interested in the personalities of horses, and I know that every equine enthusiast is interested in the temperament of horses to a certain extent. People describe their horses' personalities to me all the time without even realizing it. They say things like, "My horse is very bossy with other horses" or "My horse is afraid of anything new" or "My horse doesn't pay attention to me at all." These kinds of comments and observations are key in defining and understanding the behavior of any horse. Upon further examination, these same observations will lead you toward the most effective way to handle, ride and train your equine partner based on his basic temperament.

My goal in this series of articles is to share insights that may help you better understand your horse, yourself and the other horse people that you interact with regularly. In part two, I'll give you examples of mixed personality types and how to train them. In part three, you'll learn about human personality types from a colleague of mine who specializes in such things. Knowing our own preferences helps us have better relationships with both humans and equines. In part four, I'll give more examples of how to find the best match for your type and how this also works for choosing the right instructor.

Understanding the personality of your horse, coupled with knowledge about your own temperament and skill level, gives us the best chance for success in our daily rides. We want to be paired with a horse whose natural behavior patterns allow us to stay within our own natural comfort zones as much as possible.


Friday, March 20, 2009

AAEP 2008: Testing an Anti-Inflammatory Dietary Nutraceutical

by: Nancy S. Loving, DVM
March 19 2009

Horse owners commonly add nutraceuticals to their horses' diets to treat or prevent joint disease, but most products have no research data supporting their effectiveness. At the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., Wendy Pearson, PhD, of CANTOX Health Sciences International in Ontario, discussed the pathophysiology of joint inflammation and roles of specific chemical mediators in developing arthritis. She described a study in which she and colleagues evaluated the use of dietary nutraceuticals to modulate interleukin-1-induced inflammation. Interleukin-1 is one major regulator on the progression of osteoarthritis, as it sends signals related to joint inflammation that step up production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2).

PGE2 plays an important role in stimulating cartilage cells to divide and in maintaining cartilage health and stability. However, PGE2 also increases production of enzymes that contribute to cartilage degeneration, just as it increases production of nitrous oxide, which promotes cell death and pain. IL-1 increases GAG (glycosaminoglycans) levels in the synovial fluid--these are the building blocks of cartilage. So, IL-1 and PGE2 exert both positive and negative effects on joint cartilage. Within the inflammatory cycle of arthritis, there is a net decline in the structural integrity of cartilage and an increase in pain, inflammation, and cell death.

While non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications block production of PGE2 to effectively obsruct pain, cartilage breakdown continues. Corticosteroids prevent production of PGE2 to block inflammation and pain, but they also inhibit synthesis of the cartilage matrix and increase risk of infection. So, the goal is to find another treatment that might address clinical signs of osteoarthritis while improving cartilage health.

Pearson described the evaluation of a dietary nutraceutical (Sasha's EQ by Interpath Pty Ltd, based in Australia) as a tool to alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis. The 28-day study involved feeding this nutraceutical that is made up of shark cartilage, New Zealand mussels, abalone, and herbs. For 14 days pre-treatment, five of the 10 horses were fed a diet with the supplement while the other half were not. On Day 0, an intercarpal (inside the knee) joint on each horse was injected with a small amount of IL-1, while saline was injected into the same joint on the opposite leg. A second injection was given 24 hours later to induce inflammation. Veterinarians checked the synovial fluid in all joints 14 days prior to treatment and again on Day 0, Day 1, eight hours later, the next day, and again two days later. No horses developed lameness in this study.

The results showed significant inhibition of IL-1-induced PGE2 production and release of GAGs in the limbs of horses that were treated with the dietary nutraceutical. The dietary nutraceutical potentially attenuated IL-1-induced PGE2 to provide relief from arthritic pain and inflammation, and the inhibition of IL-1-induced GAG release provides evidence for protection of cartilage structure by the nutraceutical. Pearson noted some literature supports evidence of an increasing amount of GAGs in synovial fluid through dietary provision. More research is needed to evaluate these findings and further investigate nutraceutical effects on nitrous oxide production on the living horse.


Hoof care: Pete and Ivy Ramey join forces with Auburn University


photo: Pete and Ivy Ramey team up with Debra R. Taylor DVM, MS, DACVIM (Auburn University College of Veterinarian Medicine) to study the results of natural hoof care on chronic laminitis cases. (Dr. Taylor pictured at left)

Ivy and Pete Ramey are currently traveling to Auburn every 3 weeks to expand the preliminary study- hopefully to include 50 horses. The study has consistently shown rotation reversal, increased sole thickness and profound improvement in levels of soundness. Several case horses have also demonstrated reversal of distal descent of P3. The goal is to publish this data as a scientific paper; it would be the first time a successful method of reversing chronic laminitis has been published. If you have a laminitic horse you would like to add to the study (and can haul to the University) please contact Dr. Taylor at the vet school. Boarding is available at nearby farms.

photo: Pete and Ivy applying the Easyboot Glue-On.

EasyCare has been given the opportunity to help fund Dr. Taylor's study and benefit horses with chronic laminitis years into the future. EasyCare's contribution is small when compared to the time and man hours provided by Pete and Ivy. In addition to EasyCare's donation and the time invested by Pete and Ivy, both EasyCare and the Ramey's intend to put in a call to action to the natural hoof care world when the time is right. The initial study is underway and results are looking very positive but in order for the study to continue and benefit horses around the world more money will need to be raised. We will post more about how you can get involved in the near future.

...more on Easycare's involvement

...more on the hoof rehab project

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Joint Disease

by: Les Sellnow

Among the most highly engineered, finely tuned machines built by man are race cars that zip around the Indianapolis 500 track at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. However, even the most perfectly constructed car will develop problems from continued competition. It is much the same with the performance horse and his joints. Even with perfect construction or conformation (which is rare), there still is daily wear and tear that destroys parts or joints. The horse's joints are designed to effectively absorb shock, allow for frictionless movement, and effectively bear the weight of a body that often weighs 1,200-1,500 pounds or more.

When equine joint injury occurs, you can turn to sophisticated specialists who have devoted their careers to repairing the damage, just as race car drivers can turn to top mechanics. Unfortunately, the equine specialists do not have the luxury of spare parts.

Veterinary science has provided medical and surgical tools for helping repair equine joints, but there will always be the limitation of having to work with what's there.

In this article about joints and the forces that damage and destroy them, we will examine the types of joints so that we understand the terminology and anatomy. Next we will look at the forces generated by various forms of competition and diagnostics. Finally, we'll look at treatment.

A Look Inside

We begin our discussion with a description of joints. There are three different types or classifications of joints--fibrous, cartilaginous, and synovial.

Fibrous joints are the least likely to be afflicted with disease because they are pretty much immobile. They include joints in the skull and those between the shafts of some long bones.

Cartilaginous joints don't have a high propensity for disease because they, too, have limited movement. These are the joints of the pelvis and vertebrae as well as growth plates, which extend a bone's length during the horse's growing years.

That brings us to synovial joints, the ones most likely to suffer disease and injury because they are the most active joints in the horse's body. They consist of two bone ends covered by articular cartilage. It is this cartilage within the joint that is so smooth and resilient that, when properly lubricated, it allows for frictionless movement of the joint.

Of course, you can't just have two bones covered with smooth, resilient material. You need something to hold the whole thing together and lubricate it. The joint's stability is maintained by a fibrous joint capsule--which attaches to both bones--and collateral ligaments. The collateral ligaments are located on either side of most joints. They are key components of the fetlock, knee, elbow, hock, and stifle joints.

Other ligaments within joints--such as the cruciate ligaments in the stifle--help stabilize some joints.

Ligaments outside the joint capsule also lend support. A prime example is the distal sesamoidean ligaments and suspensory ligaments that, together with the sesamoid bones, make up the suspensory apparatus and hold the fetlock in its correct position.

An enemy of joint health is friction. What is needed to prevent friction? Lubrication. And where does this lubrication within a joint come from? The joint capsule contains an inner lining called the synovial membrane. This lining secretes the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. A key ingredient in this fluid is hyaluronic acid, also known as sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronan, which lubricates the synovial membrane. Another substance in synovial fluid, a protein called lubricin, is the primary lubricant of the cartilage. In some cases of joint disease there is a depletion of this necessary fluid.


One Step at a Time: Hoof Trimming and Leg Stress

by: Chad Mendell, TheHorse.com Managing Editor

Have you ever walked in shoes that you've had forever that are just a little worn to one side of the heel or the other? Did you notice that after awhile your knees would start to hurt, or maybe your ankles? Now think about wearing those shoes 24 hours a day, every day, for an entire month without ever taking them off. Image how miserable you'd feel.

Now, apply that to the horse whose owner says he can go a few more weeks before he needs a trim or even worse, to a horse whose owner thinks the animal can go all winter without any hoof care. Now, take a step back and imagine wearing those ill- fitting shoes for the entire winter. You should cringe at the thought.

The reality is that horses' feet are often neglected, especially during the winter months. Shoes are usually pulled, farrier visits become less frequent, and the horses are left to suffer.

As a rule of thumb, we know that our horses should be trimmed (and shod if necessary) at least every six to eight weeks. But where did those numbers come from? Sure, after eight weeks, hooves will start to appear long, they might crack or chip and look unsightly, or on a horse with poor conformation, the feet might show uneven wear. All of these observations might seem benign on the surface, but they're important, according to Meike van Heel, MSc, BSc, PhD, a researcher at Utrecht University's Equine Performance Laboratory in the Netherlands. Van Heel recently studied how a hoof changes between trims, and she found that neglecting your horse's feet could be setting him up for serious injury.

Van Heel says most early retirements in equestrian sports are the result of lameness problems caused by overloading injuries. Such injuries occur when the amount of force placed on a soft tissue structure (such as the tendon) exceeds its loading capacity. Severe overloading can cause an immediate effect resulting in acute damage. However, most overloading is chronic and repetitive, and it results in the injury of lesion-prone tissues of the limb, primarily tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage.

In a series of recent studies, van Heel and a group of Utrecht researchers closely observed and measured the changes that occurred in horses' hooves during an eight-week shoeing interval. With the help of radiographs, motion sensors, video recordings, and pressure plate systems designed by van Heel, researchers were able to observe two major changes in the hooves that occurred during those eight weeks: The breakover point (the phase of stride between the time the horse's heel lifts off the ground and the time the toe is lifted) moved back toward the heel, and the hoof angle (the angle of the front of the hoof wall with the ground, as viewed from the side) significantly decreased, both of which, van Heel says, can place added stress to lesion-prone tissues in the leg.


Stable Scoop Episode 30 - Extreme Horse Women with Liz Halliday

Stablescoop.horseradionetwork.com - Listen

Tuesday, March 13th, 2009

Three Extreme Horse Women join us for a fascinating look at what it is like to have an extreme job in addition their riding. With us today we have eventer and race car driver Liz Halliday, California Highway Patrol Officer and endurance rider Kassandra DiMaggio and Apache Helicopter Pilot Colonel Lorelei Wilson Coplen. Don’t miss this episode, listen in...

We would like to thank all of our guests today. The first to join us was California Highway Patrol Officer and Endurance Rider Kassandra DiMaggio. Kassandra is an avid endurance rider and is doing very well as proven by her second place showing at Tevis. She also is the organizer of the Patriots Day Ride in Northern California


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AAEP 2008: Tooth Characteristics and Feed Digestibility

by: Christy West, TheHorse.com Webmaster
March 16 2009, Article # 13787

Think floating a horse's teeth improves his feed digestion? Think again. At the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., a study showing that floating doesn't improve feed digestion was presented by James Carmalt, MA, VetMB, MVetSc, Dipl. ABVP, ACVS, associate professor of large animal surgery at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada. However,an exam should be done to look for areas of dental pain.

The study of 17 Quarter Horse and Draft horses found no apparent correlation between oral pathology score (a measure of mouth abnormalities) and any measure of feed digestibility, including nutrient analysis and feed particle size in the stomach and feces. However, that doesn't mean that floating is a waste of time and money, said Carmalt; it is valuable for fixing painful dental problems.

"Digestibility is a software (soft tissue) problem, not a hardware (tooth) problem," he commented. "We're getting away from routinely floating teeth and looking at soft tissue problems such as cheek ulceration, endodontic (inner tooth/root) problems, etc."

This shift to an increased focus on soft tissues is supported by others in the dentistry field. Jack Easley, DVM, MS, Dipl. ABVP, a dental practitioner in Shelbyville, Ky., made the following comments during the question/answer session: "Years ago we would look at hooks, waves, ramps, and step mouth (various tooth wear patterns) and call it pathology. Now we think they're the result of pathology somewhere else, such as ulcers/oral pain causing changed mastication (chewing motion) and abnormal tooth wear. For example, weight loss in older horses isn't so much from tooth wear characteristics as from pain, which makes them take all day to eat (slow, reduced feed intake is the problem, rather than ineffective chewing). That's what we need to deal with--the cause of the pain, rather than the resulting abnormal tooth wear."


Interview with a Barefoot Trimmer - AHA and PHCP member Sossity Garguilo

Natural Horse Resource Blog

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sossity got into natural hoof care thanks to Faith, her Arab/Trakehner mare. When she went lame as a four year old, Sossity started to question everything and natural hoof care came to the forefront of her attention. She asked herself how she had gone through many years of horse ownership without really knowing anything about their feet.

A friend recommended Pete Ramey's book and things happened quickly after that. She read the book cover to cover in one day and in her own words “became obsessed”. Within a few short years she entered the AANHCP training program, helped found the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners training program and was accepted by the American Hoof Association. Now on the board for both PHCP and AHA, she says, “I feel like the learning has just begun!”

Why is it critical for a horse's hooves to land heels first?

Horses come with a complex shock absorbing system in the back of their feet. The digital cushion and lateral cartilages under and behind the frog, when fully developed, are designed to absorb the impact of a horse’s weight as it lands. When a horse moves comfortably in a smooth heel-first landing, the entire hoof acts as a hydraulic shock absorber. The tissues are fully perfused with blood and normal expansion and contraction take place, which in turn further develops the internal hoof. It becomes a positive cycle of physical therapy.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Equine 'Thumps' Are More than Mere Hiccups

by: University of Illinois

One of the best known cures for relieving someone of the hiccups is a good, old-fashioned scare. However, what do you do when it seems that your horse has a case of the hiccups? Sneaking up behind a 1,000 pound Thoroughbred and yelling "Boo!," is not advisable for several reasons. For one, you might get a surprise of your own.

The medical term for the noise we commonly refer to as hiccups is synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus. But in horses it has been specifically called thumps since 1831 when a veterinarian first reported a thumping noise coming from the abdomen of a horse that just ran 13 miles.

"Thumps in and of itself is not a problem," said Cristobal Navas de Solís, LV, an equine internal medicine resident at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "But if a horse does have thumps, there is usually an underlying cause that needs to be treated."

Many horses that present with the anomaly are endurance athletes that have an electrolyte imbalance and significant fluid loss after an exhaustive workout. For example, thumps is common in Arabian horses competing in long distance races that last 25, 50, or even 100 miles.

"Typically these patients are dehydrated and have low blood calcium levels," mentioned Navas de Solís, "but once you treat the underlying problem the thumps usually disappear on their own."

Thumps in horses, and hiccups in humans, although both referred to as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter to the medical experts in each field, are slightly different variations upon the same theme. For one, hiccups in humans are not commonly associated with electrolyte imbalances.

Secondly, the location from which we hear the characteristic noise coming also differs in horse and man. The "hic" we hear in humans is caused by the closure of the vocal chords after the diaphragm spasmodically contracts, quickly inflating the lungs. In horses, however, veterinarians and owners that have witnessed the ailment can attest that the abnormal noise comes from the animal's side.

Low blood calcium levels are the classic abnormality associated with thumps. This may make the phrenic nerve, which runs along both sides of the heart and controls diaphragm movements, more easily excitable. But it is also a good idea to check all electrolyte levels, especially magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chlorine.

In a typical scenario with a dehydrated horse and abnormal electrolyte levels, the phrenic nerve might begin to fire at the rate at which the atria of the heart contract. In short, the nerve is inappropriately obeying firing instructions from the heart, instead of the brain, to control diaphragm movements.

"Usually we see the horse's abdomen contract 40-50 times per minute," said Navas de Solís. Typically, each contraction occurs at the same time the heart beats, but in rare cases that does not always happen, nor do the thumps have to occur on both sides of the horse.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

AAEP 2008: Emergency Care at Endurance Events

by: Nancy S. Loving, DVM

Endurance horses perform protracted exercise of up to 12 hours for a 50-mile event, and up to 24 hours for a 100-mile competition. Besides metabolic issues created by fluid depletion and electrolyte imbalances due to sweating during sustained performance, immune and respiratory challenges stemming from transport to the event are added concerns. At the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., this author (Nancy Loving, DVM) presented on unique conditions associated with offering emergency care at endurance events.

Endurance rides are often held in wilderness areas without good road access, posing a challenge when trying to reach a horse in distress. A Treatment Veterinarian should be equipped with sufficient horsepower (vehicle, ATV, or horse) to reach a horse if it cannot be reached with a horse trailer and transported. Organizers should provide all veterinarians with a deployment schedule that identifies where each veterinarian is stationed throughout the event. They should also arrange transport trailers with competent drivers equipped with maps in advance, and people familiar with the area should accompany them.

Endurance horses are affected by the excitement created by numbers of horses moving down the trail. Upon entering the vet checks, horses are bombarded with stimulation from crew activities: continual heart rate checks, sponging, and removing tack. It is not always possible to identify a horse with problems until it is separated from the "herd" and offered time to eat, drink, and relax.

At national (American Endurance Ride Conference, AERC) and international (Fédération Equestre Internationale, FEI) endurance rides, a hierarchy of people must be in steady communication throughout the event--Ride Management (Organizing Committee), the Veterinary Judge (members of the Veterinary Commission), the Treatment Veterinarian, and at FEI rides the Veterinary Delegate and Ground Jury. Communication among these individuals is critical and can be accomplished by using cell phones or enlisting help from ham radio operators.

Besides addressing those horses needing acute treatment, the treatment veterinarian will examine every horse eliminated from the ride within the hour following elimination to ensure that a concern that seems to be musculoskeletal in nature is not a metabolic-related myositis (muscle inflammation--in most cases, tying-up). This exam also ensures that every horse is making progressive recovery and identifies those needing treatment.

Designated treatment area(s) should be located away from foot traffic or casual onlookers who could interfere with safe treatment. A well-equipped horse trailer makes a useful triage shelter when it is stocked with pharmaceuticals, diagnostic equipment, chemistry machines, etc. There should be access to fresh water, ice, and quality hay in treatment areas. A generator can provide light for working through the night if electricity is not available. Competent personnel should be available to assist with running fluids and continuous monitoring of sick horses.

Routine paperwork to have available includes consent forms to authorize treatment, medical records, and specialized treatment forms required by AERC or FEI. Should a horse require shipment to a referral hospital, make arrangements in advance so a referring veterinarian and hospital are aware of the case and available to accept it.

Besides a variety of musculoskeletal injuries and lameness issues that occur with athletic pursuits, veterinarians might see metabolic problems. These are typical of endurance exercise and relate to the complex of exhausted horse syndrome: myositis, thumps (synchronous diaphragmatic flutter), heat stress, colic, and the potential of laminitis. Fatigue, energy depletion, electrolyte imbalances, and dehydration must be addressed. Goals are to maintain circulatory health, intestinal motility, and kidney perfusion, to minimize pain and discomfort, and thwart development of laminitis or gastric ulcers. Endurance ride treatment often involves creative thinking and the use of every conceivable resource to make a workable treatment area, often in the middle of the wilderness.


Gait Analysis

by: Les Sellnow

There has been a long journey over a relatively short span of time in the world of equine gait analysis. The first studies utilized high-speed cameras and a treadmill and took place at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences some 35 years ago, with Sune Persson, DVM, PhD, as one of the guiding lights. Today, that rudimentary science has evolved at an ever-increasing rate to the point where miniature computerized sensors are capable of recording and analyzing equine movement.

The various applications of this technology also have grown. One of the prime functions continues to be evaluation of lameness, but it also has been highly important in the field of research; recording, for example, just how the hock joint functions in the working horse.

A leading researcher during this technology growth spurt has been Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University.

Another researcher who has helped take the technology to a new level is Kevin Keegan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor of veterinary medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri. He has pioneered development of a wireless method for recording and analyzing equine movement with the use of inertial sensors.

We'll hear from both of them as they describe progress in the gait analysis field and report on the ways veterinary medicine is using the latest technological advances. Before we do that, however, it would be well to allow Clayton to take us on a little journey through time to chronicle just how these many advances have come about.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Lame or Ataxic? Kinetic Gait Analysis Can Tell

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
March 12 2009, Article # 13769

Being able to tell the difference between a mild lameness and subtle spinal ataxia is an important, yet challenging, endeavor in equine practice. Ohio State researchers recently reported that kinetic gait analysis--the computer analysis of a horse's gait--can help veterinarians distinguish between the two conditions with "excellent accuracy."

"Until now, attempting to establish whether a horse's gait abnormality was due to a musculoskeletal versus neurological issue has been time consuming, frustrating, and, oftentimes, inconclusive," reported Alicia L. Bertone, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, from the Comparative Orthopedic Research Laboratory at The Ohio State University. "In addition, diagnostic delays further delay the institution or application of appropriate treatments and potentially worsen the horse's prognosis."

To evaluate the efficacy of kinetic gait analysis for the detection, quantification, and differentiation of hind limb lameness and spinal ataxia, Bertone and colleagues analyzed the gaits of 36 horses. This included 12 normal horses, 12 horses with a hind limb lameness, and 12 horses with neurologic problems.

"We observed characteristic changes in specific kinetic variables between the lame and neurologic horses," Bertone said.

Specifically, lateral force peak and the variation in vertical force were best able to differentiate between ataxia and lameness.

According to Bertone, "These results also suggest that kinetic gait analysis can also be used to confirm the absence of both lameness and ataxia during routine pre-purchase examinations."

Bertone and colleagues are setting the equipment up for use by referring veterinarians and clients. They anticipate the charges will be similar to those in place for a performance test on the equine treadmill.

The study, "Use of kinetic gait analysis for detection, quantification, and differentiation of hind limb lameness and spinal ataxia in horses," was published in the March 1, 2009, edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Joints: Part I

by: Les Sellnow

The mechanical engineering involved in the structuring of equine joints is both complex and masterful. Not only do healthy joints allow the horse to move freely, but they also help to effectively absorb concussion, especially when the horse is traveling at speed. In this article and one to follow next month, we want to take an in-depth look at joints and some of the problems that afflict them. Before we can discuss joint diseases, fractures, and other problems, we first must understand how joints are constructed and how they function. That will be the thrust of this article.

The information that follows has been gleaned from experts in the field, such as C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVS, of Colorado State University; the late and legendary O. R. Adams, DVM, MS, also of Colorado State, who authored the book, Lameness In Horses; as well as Robert A. Kainer, DVM, MSD, and Thomas O. McCracken, MS, both of Colorado State.

To begin, there are three different types or classifications of joints--fibrous, cartilaginous, and synovial. Simply put, the purpose of a joint is to allow the back to flex and the limbs to bend.

Fibrous joints are basically immovable and united by fibrous tissue that ossifies with age. Included in this category are most joints of the skull (suture) and those between the shafts of some long bones (syndesmosis).

Cartilaginous joints have limited movement, such as the pelvis and vertebrae, and the growth plates, which extend a bone's length (physis) during the animal's early years.

The most active joints and the ones most apt to sustain injury or be attacked by disease are the synovial joints. Synovial joints, which are the horse's ball bearings, consist of two bone ends covered by articular cartilage. The cartilage within the joint is smooth and resilient, which allows for frictionless movement. Joint stability is maintained by a fibrous joint capsule, which attaches to both bones and collateral ligaments. The collateral ligaments are located on either side of most joints. They are important in maintaining stability in joints such as the fetlock, knee, elbow, hock, and stifle.

There are other ligaments within the joint itself, such as the cruciate ligaments, that also help to stabilize some joints, such as the stifle joint.

Other ligaments outside the joint cavity also lend support. A prime example involves the distal sesamoidean ligaments and suspensory ligaments that, together with the sesamoid bones, make up the suspensory apparatus and hold the fetlock in its correct position.

In addition to the fibrous joint capsule, the joint capsule itself also contains an inner lining layer called the synovial membrane. It secretes the synovial fluid that provides lubrication within the joint.

As we will see later, there are various disease processes that affect the nature of the synovial fluid and which can produce a number of soundness problems for the horse. While there is much that can go wrong within the joint, nature's overall plan for their development is masterful.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Building better hooves

by: Christy West, TheHorse.com Webmaster
February 01 2007, Article # 8819

At some point, probably all of us have used some type of product to improve our horses' feet. And many of us haven't seen the results we wanted, so perhaps we tried another. And another. Despite our best efforts, some of us despair of ever having horses with those tough feet that don't crack and hold all the shoes until the farrier's next visit. One of our online readers put it best: "I need a miracle!"

We don't have to despair, but we do have to be smart about how we take care of our horses' feet. Not all products are good for all horses, just as all face creams aren't good for all women. To wade through the hoof product jungle, we first asked our online readers at TheHorse.com to tell us what products they used. Then, we asked the nation's leading hoof experts about how to get the most out of various products.

Careful With Those Feet

Home remedies are commonly used for many things, including hoof care. Our readers have used everything from Clorox to formaldehyde to WD-40 lubricant to commercial deck preservatives to improve their horses' hooves. But trying just anything might not be in your horse's best interest.

"The number one thing is that you should use something that is at least marketed for the horse," recommends Richard Mansmann, VMD, PhD, director of the Equine Health Program at North Carolina State University. "At least with those products, someone's thought about the health of the horse, rather than the health of your carpet, deck, or whatever.

"Anything that you're putting on the hoof has a pretty good chance to get on the skin," Mansmann cautions. "You want to be careful about what you're using, that it has some kind of approval for horses and you follow the label instructions. Using common sense with hoof products is really important. With a lot of these things, if we just become aware of the underlying problem, we can take care of it so it goes away. If the feet are too wet, don't turn him out into a wet pasture. If they're too dry, wet the shavings, trough area, etc."

In other words, fixing feet takes proper management, not just a magic dressing. But hoof products can be a part of the plan that strengthens your horse's hooves.


Investors sought for Endurance movie

Investors sought for endurance race film

March 12, 2009

Inverstors are being sought for a movie about the equestrian sport of endurance riding to be filmed later this year in the US.

The script by US writer Dennis Goldberg is about endurance racing and the people and the horses who make the sport happen.

Director Bodo Holst will also produce the film, named Figure of Eight, and intends filming in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA.

"It will be shot on location with the most spectacular views in mind. A $US2 million budget and A-list actors will provide for a theatrical release quality film," Holst said.

"My goal is to bring international riders and horses to the screen, in order to make it a more colourful film, responding to the international audience of movie watchers and of course horse lovers."

Bodo Holst, ph 323.259-9597 1dingo@sbcglobal.net

Rehydrating your horses skin and coat

from K. Chaton:

Have you checked your horses armpits lately? How about the condition of his/her skin and coat, especially in the areas where the tack goes? It’s pretty common for horses to get dandruff or scurfing of the skin during different times of year or when they are being worked regularly and are sweating.

If you’re like me, you probably want to keep your horse as comfortable as possible. I have found that it is relatively easy to avoid having this issue crop up in the first place. Some horses can be extremely sensitive to having their skin get dry and rough especially in the girth and armpit area.

As a multiday rider I have more than one method to avoid dandruff and scurfing of the skin with my endurance horses. It’s a condition that I liken to scratches - much easier to prevent in the first place, than it is to clear up once it occurs.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Horses were tamed a millennium earlier than previously thought

LA Times

OF COURSE, OF COURSE: "To me, the domestication of the horse was a seminal event in human history," said one archaeologist. "All the major empire builders, like Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, would have been nothing without horses."

New evidence, including mares milk residue in pottery, shows that horses were domesticated 5,500 years ago in Central Asia.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
March 6, 2009
The horse, its four slender legs accomplishing astonishing feats of strength and endurance, has provided humans with far more than transportation from point A to point B.

It has allowed us to travel long distances for trade, carry heavy loads, move our societies around more freely and, inevitably, conduct more efficient warfare. Arguably the most important domesticated animal, the horse also has provided humans with meat and milk.

Now we have a better idea of when this complex and vital human-horse relationship began.

New evidence, including more slender leg bones, bit-pitted teeth and mares milk residue in pottery, indicate that the horse was domesticated on the steppes of Central Asia at least 5,500 years ago, more than 1,000 years earlier than previously believed and 2,000 years before it appeared in Europe.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lameness Diagnosis via Head and Pelvis Movement

Christy West, TheHorse.com Webmaster
February 14 2005, Article # 5394

"I used to think I knew how to evaluate a horse's movement for lameness, until I started to look more carefully. Two different highly experienced practitioners can evaluate a lame horse, and come up with different [lame] legs," said Kevin Keegan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor of veterinary medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri, in his presentation on lameness evaluation. He discussed the conclusions he and his co-authors have drawn about interpreting lameness via head and pelvic movement, using their observations of more than 100 horses evaluated on a treadmill with video and computer-assisted gait analysis.

Keegan noted that most equine practitioners use head movement to determine forelimb lameness, and pelvis movement to clarify hindlimb lameness. "However, the specific components of the head or pelvic motion that are important for the evaluation of equine lameness have not been clearly described or agreed on by veterinarians," he commented. Furthermore, multiple lamenesses can certainly complicate the issue.

Conventional veterinary wisdom makes two statements regarding head nod and forelimb lameness, he said: With forelimb lameness, the head nods up when the lame limb is on the ground, and the head goes down when the sound limb lands (the "down when sound" maxim). "The first statement is true sometimes, and the second one false sometimes," he stated.

To illustrate the variability of horses' carriage changing with different lamenesses, Keegan first showed a video of a normal horse trotting on a treadmill with a graphic evaluation of his head position (seen head-on). His perfectly consistent wave pattern of head up and down movement contrasted notably with the next video, that of a lame horse (one forelimb) that showed less downward movement of the head only and no change in upward movement. Another lame horse (one forelimb) only had more upward head movement when pushing off of the lame limb. Graphs showing the movement of markers on their heads very clearly showed the differences in the movement patterns between all three horses.

Similar principles apply when evaluating hindlimb lameness, Keegan said. Traditionally, veterinarians have watched horses move away from them to look for a "hip hike," in which the sore limb is carried higher to identify the lame leg. Rather, he prefers to look at the entire vertical movement of the pelvis when left and right hind limbs land and push off. "To me, this is a lot easier than looking at rotation of the pelvis (evaluating the hips separately, or rotation of the pelvis)," he commented. "Look at the pelvis like it's a big head."

Also, he said evaluating pelvic rotation is not always accurate. To illustrate this point, he showed a video of a sound horse that looked slightly lame from behind while trotting because of pelvic rotation; however, this horse had the same pelvic rotation when standing still--a conformational abnormality rather than a lameness.

Again, he showed several videos of hindlimb-lame and sound horses to illustrate his points, along with graphs of the movement of hip markers to further clarify the movement abnormalities.

"We've had hundreds of horses on the treadmill; all [hindlimb] lame horses had asymmetrical movement of the pelvis (comparing vertical movement during right and left hind limb landings), regardless of pelvic tilt," he explained. "You see symmetrical movement of the pelvis in a sound horse, even if the pelvis is rotated to one side, because the vertical movement of the pelvis is symmetrical. The most sensitive measurement of lameness is the vertical movement of the head and of the pelvis. Stride length and other characteristics are much more variable and can give you false negatives."

To summarize the presenting characteristics of lame horses, Keegan offered the following observations of head carriage changes with forelimb lameness:

* The head moves down less during the stance phase of the lame limb and up less after the stance phase of the lame limb when the pain occurs maximally at hoof impact or within the first half of the stance phase of the stride.
* The head moves down less during the stance phase of the lame limb when the pain occurs maximally at full weight-bearing.
* The head moves up more after the stance phase of the lame limb when the pain occurs maximally during the second half of the stance phase of the stride.
* The head does not move up appreciably during the stance phase of the lame limb until the lameness is severe.

The following observations pertain to hindlimb lameness:

* The pelvis moves down less during the stance phase of the lame limb and up less after the stance phase of the lame limb when the pain occurs maximally within the first half of the stance phase of the stride.
* The pelvis moves up less after the stance phase of the lame limb when the pain occurs maximally within the second half of the stance phase of the limb.
* The pelvis does not move up appreciably during the stance phase of the lame limb until the lameness is severe.

Compensatory lameness appears as follows:

* During primary hindlimb lameness, the head moves down less during the stance phase of the ipsilateral forelimb, mimicking a forelimb lameness. The false, compensatory forelimb lameness can be "severe" enough to overshadow the primary hindlimb lameness.
* During primary forelimb lameness, the pelvis moves up less after the stance phase of the contralateral hindlimb, mimicking a hindlimb lameness. The false, compensatory hindlimb lameness is usually much milder than the primary forelimb lameness.

"A more objective and specific description of the various head and pelvic movements seen during lameness will assist equine practitioners in their clinical lameness evaluations," he said.

[...full article]

K. Chaton: Post ride recovery for 100 mile horse

Karen's Blog entry

I’m sure that Bo was happy to get back home after completing the 100 at 20 Mule Team. He sure appeared to come through the ride in really good shape. I think he had fun and I know he learned a lot! I was really pleased with his performance. I know that I rode him well within his limitations and could have asked for a lot more but I still feel as if he is just a baby starting out in this sport. He doesn’t even have a thousand miles yet. I want to use this time to build him up and keep him strong, sound and healthy.

I always take extra care post ride to make sure my horses have everything they need to recover well. I put a little more effort into it when they are doing rides like 100’s and multidays though it is mostly the same. The main thing is to keep the horse eating, drinking and moving around. As soon as I finished the 100 I got a nice wet beet pulp mash with Omolene 200 and electrolytes in front of Bo so he could eat while I got all of his tack off and got him cleaned up and blanketed.

I also offered Bo water with salt in it. There have been studies that show that a horse will recover faster when given salt water to drink post ride. Of course, I made sure that he had a choice of both kinds of water. You know how horses are always going for the salty sponge water at vet checks? They know!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

AAEP 2008: Deworming--To Rotate or Not to Rotate?

(free membership with registration)
by: Christy West, TheHorse.com Webmaster
March 01 2009, Article # 13695

Rotational deworming--dosing horses with different classes of dewormers in rotation--is often recommended for controlling equine internal parasites. The theory is that by using all of the available effective deworming drug classes, we combine their benefits into a maximally effective program. However, some researchers say rotation isn't a good idea because it contributes to parasite resistance and will reduce the effectiveness of available deworming drugs.

At the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., two different viewpoints on rotational deworming were presented. We've included both here so you can see the evidence for both sides and make your own choices.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Pregnant Mares and Supplements

by: Christina Cable, DVM, Dipl. ACVS
April 01 2003, Article # 4265

Eleven months is a very long time to wait for a foal. I know from personal experience that the further along the mare is, the more your hopes and dreams for your "perfect foal" grow. It doesn't matter if the foal is bred to gallop to the wire or jump to the moon, or whether you are dreaming about lots of markings or a perfect blanket, everyone wants one thing--a healthy foal. So, it's no wonder that breeders want to do everything possible to ensure the good health and well-being of the pregnant mare, maximizing the chances for a healthy newborn. One of the most frequently asked questions in our practice is: What supplement(s) should I give my mare to keep her healthy and pregnant? I wish there was a magic pill to ensure that every mare would deliver a perfectly healthy, full-term foal, but there isn't. This article will discuss the actual, basic nutritional requirements for a mare during her pregnancy and early lactation to help ensure a healthy mare and foal.

What a Girl Needs

It's no wonder I get asked about supplements so frequently. All you have to do is open any horse-oriented magazine to be bombarded with glossy advertisements for a vast array of supplements, not to mention new medications. So, what is a concerned horse breeder to do? You can't afford to buy all the supplements that are advertised. And even if you could, are they all necessary to ensure a healthy foal?

The bottom line for pregnant mares is good, basic nutrition. The majority of pregnant mares do not need any supplements when they have access to good-quality hay, grass, and a mineral block. Good nutrition (not over-nutrition) is the key for allowing pregnant mares to provide the essential nutrients to their unborn foals. This is true with two exceptions--vitamin E and selenium. These two nutrients are very important to the mare and the unborn foal, and they are in scarce supply in some parts of our world. So how do you know when to supplement? Read on.


Horsekeeping On Small Acreage

by: Marcia King
October 01 2000, Article # 112

When it comes to small horse pastures, pasturettes, or ranchettes, less equals more. More stress on pasture grasses, more likelihood of overgrazing, more pressure on fencing, more routine maintenance. But with proper management, pasturettes can be healthy and productive acres.

A healthy pasture begins with realistic expectations. "Many new horse owners believe that because the pasture is green, it's going to provide adequate nutrition for the horse. That might or might not be true, depending on the condition of the pasture," says Jerry Black, DVM, owner of Pioneer Equine Hospital (an equine referral practice) and vice president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Residing on an 80-acre ranch in Oakdale, Calif., Black is familiar with the management practices of smaller acreage; his own ranch is divided into many small pastures to accommodate a large breeding operation, and the region in general consists of many ranchettes.

Depending on climatic and geographic conditions, stocking rate, management practices, and hardiness of the forage, pasturettes vary in what they can offer a horse. Some function best as a limited daily turn-out/exercise area in which some grazing supplements the horse's daily ration. The horse spends most of its day in a barn, holding corral, or paddock. Properly managed small pastures in optimal regions can provide significant, nutritious forage. Explains Ann Swinker, PhD (physiology), state cooperative extension specialist, Colorado State University, "On our 40-acre ranch, we have a five-acre pasture that produces so much grass that during the growing season, we have to turn a few cattle out on it for a week or two to graze it down. Some folks here in Colorado (where it is semi-arid) irrigate, fertilize, and rotate their pastures and get a phenomenal amount of production off those pastures. Other folks with the same kind of property, mismanaged, have pastures that are eaten down to nothing. It all depends on how much effort you can put into it."