Friday, November 27, 2009

Do Your Wormers Work? - Full Article

"Do your wormers work?" Professor Jacqui Matthews, Chair of Veterinary Immunobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Moredun Research Institute, posed the question at the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar at Cheltenham Racecourse.

The cyathostomins (small strongyles) are the most important group of intestinal parasites of the horse - both numerically, and through their ability to cause disease. Controlling these parasites is becoming increasingly difficult as they are developing resistance to the drugs used against them. Resistance has been reported to all three groups of dewormers that are currently available. And as no new anthelmintics are being developed it is important to retain the efficacy of those that we do have for as long as possible.

How does drug resistance develop within a worm population? Prof Matthews explained that worm populations are extremely large and genetically diverse, and able to adapt under pressure. Drug treatments provide a very potent trigger for adaptation.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Equine obesity at epidemic levels, says charity - Full Article

November 12, 2009

Fat and obese horses are now at epidemic levels in Britain, the charity World Horse Welfare has warned.

The charity today released findings of a major survey indicating the public has trouble recognising an obese horse and the health concerns that can generate.

More than half of 2150 members of the general public surveyed either did not correctly recognise an overweight horse or, if they did, indicated that it posed little or no welfare threat.

"We are a nation of animal lovers, but sometimes we can love our pets too much and with devastating consequences," said the charity's chief executive, Roly Owers.

Around half of all companion animals are now obese in Western civilization, the charity said.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New West Nile Virus Vaccines for Horses Approved - Full Article

by: Kimberly S. Brown, Editor
November 23 2009, Article # 15334

New equine West Nile virus vaccines have been approved by the USDA. The vaccine line, called Vetera, is manufactured by Boehringer-Ingelheim, a privately held pharmaceutical company.

The Vetera line of West Nile virus vaccines "is the first new approach to a killed West Nile virus vaccine since 2001," stated Bob Stenbom, DVM, associate director of Equine Professional Services for Boehringer-Ingelheim.

There are three new vaccines in the Vetera West Nile virus line. The first is a monovalent that contains only a vaccine against West Nile virus. The second combines West Nile virus vaccine with Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), Western equine encephalitis (WEE), and tetanus. The third vaccine combines all of the aforementioned plus Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE).


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bute and the Urinary Tract - Full Article

by: A.C. Asbury, DVM
April 01 2001, Article # 2947

Can you direct me to any information regarding the effect of phenylbutazone (Bute) on the urinary tract of a gelding, specifically symptoms and prognosis for full recovery?

Phenylbutazone works by inhibiting the formation of prostaglandins, the chemical byproducts of inflammation. Prostaglandins appear to have an influence on perfusion (blood flow) into the tissues of the kidney. In certain circumstances, especially when the animal is dehydrated, phenylbutazone might induce a serious disorder called papillary necrosis by inhibiting the formation of prostaglandins. To prevent this problem, caution should be taken not to administer the drug to horses with serious dehydration due to diarrhea, overexertion, or other water depletion situations. If the need is great to reduce inflammation, the treatment should be accompanied by fluid therapy.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bute Use: Causes more fractures?

Here is an excellent article on "Drugs and Racehorses," by Sid Gustafson, a novelist, social commentator, and former thoroughbred attending and examining veterinarian licensed in New York, Washington, and Montana, where he has had significant experience in the regulation of racehorses, especially as it pertains to soundness and breakdowns.

The article can be found here in the New York Times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Improving the Outcome after Tendon and Ligament Injuries

November 16, 2009

On behalf of the Equine Research Coordination Group

Tendon and ligament injury causes both economic and personal hardship for horse owners and industry professionals. A prolonged period of lay-up and rehabilitation is necessary, but whether the horse will be sound at the end of the rehabilitation period is uncertain. Lameness due to tendon and ligament injury is common in performance horses, affecting up to 25% of racehorses over a career and accounting for up to 43% of injuries in event horses, but it is also common to companion horses. Chronic lameness often follows the initial injury, with recurrence as high as 80% of racehorses with tendinitis.

Tendons connect muscle to bone, providing elasticity and increasing both gait efficiency and support to the lower limb alignment. Ligaments connect bone to bone, giving structural support for joints and maintaining suspension of the fetlock joint as part of the suspensory apparatus in the horse. Tendon and ligament injury can be classified into three categories: traumatic laceration or rupture; acute inflammation with swelling and pain (tendinitis); and a more subtle degenerative injury due to a failure to heal due to repetitive damage.

The connective tissues from which tendons and ligaments are made are closely related. The highly organized structure of tendon enables it to be both strong and elastic. The cells within tendon produce the extracellular matrix that is organized into the fibers responsible for tendon's unique mechanical properties. The tendon fibers are made of the protein collagen (predominately type I). The collagen forms long interlaced fibers in the same alignment with the tendon length, but the fibers also have a pleated pattern termed "crimp" that, like a spring, gives elasticity to the tendon.

When a tendon is injured, tendon fibers are ruptured or degraded by the inflammation. Attempts at healing frequently fall short of the exact structure of normal tendon. Abnormal orientation, size and organization of the collagen fibers that replace the original structure have less strength and elasticity. This is thought to increase the risk of re-injury once the healing process is over.

Because of the large amount of tissue matrix, tendons and ligaments have a relatively small number of blood vessels and cells that can make new normal tendon. When the tendon is damaged, the injured fibers and matrix need to be degraded and removed during the inflammatory process. It is thought that poor healing in tendons results from a prolonged and inefficient inflammation needed to remodel the tendon and prevent scarring. Therefore, tendon requires as long as nine to 12 month for complete healing. Even with a careful rehabilitation program, re-injury is common.

Both acute and chronic degenerative lesions in ligament occur in all equine endeavors, with suspensory ligament injury (desmitis) being the most common. Suspensory ligament desmitis can cause a chronic lameness and be resistant to currently available treatment modalities. Also, because current therapies have not been compared to each other or proven, it is often difficult to know which one gives the best chance for complete healing.

Our understanding of how some degenerative and acute injuries are related to each other is incomplete. The current thinking is that a low level of damage or degeneration occurs in the tendon or ligament over time. This damage is not completely repaired and can go unnoticed, because there may be no lameness, pain or swelling.

The failure to completely heal may be due to the inability of tendons to remodel or because of the repetitive forces these structures experienced regularly during exercise. Then, at a critical point during exercise or overexertion, the low-grade injury can no longer hold up to normal use or perhaps to an overload, creating an acute lesion with heat, swelling and lameness. This injury typically starts in the center or core of the tendon (called a core lesion), where blood and serum form a clot that replaces the tendon fibers and creates more inflammation that results in more damage over the following days or weeks.

While diagnosis of tendon and ligament injuries has improved dramatically in recent years and new treatment modalities are being used, a long lay-up period and the risk of recurrence are still factors for recovery. Newer treatments such as injection with stem cells or platelet-rich plasma are promising, but their benefit has not been fully characterized and they may not decrease the time required for healing and remodeling.

Further research into the detection, causes and best treatments for tendon and ligament injury are all needed. In a survey of American Association of Equine Practitioners members by the AAEP Foundation in 2009, musculoskeletal disease was ranked No. 1 as the equine body system that needs further research. Additionally, 75% of respondents believed more research is needed to specifically help treat tendon and ligament injury. Though there has been much attention given to arthritis research, relatively little research has been directed toward tendon and ligament injury.

The importance of tendon and ligament injury cannot be understated; it can be responsible for the development of joint disease and is frequently associated with navicular disease. Research on tendon and ligament injuries will to help prevent and treat this cause of lameness.

By Jennifer G. Barrett, DVM, Ph.D., DACVS
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center,
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Contact: Keith Kleine

Note: Photos are available at:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Endurance Horse Study Reveals Common Complaints, Resolutions
by: Marie Rosenthal, MS
November 15 2009, Article # 15287

A lot of things can happen over the many miles of an endurace event. California veterinarians recently tracked the incidence and resolution of equine medical issues encountered during endurance competition.

C. Langdon Fielding, DVM, Dipl. ACVECC, of the Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center in California, and colleagues, looked at the records of 30 horses that required emergency treatment after being removed from endurance competition.

Some of the issues the researchers encountered included colic, esophageal obstruction (choke), poor cardiovascular recovery, myopathy, and synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (thumps). They studied the horses' examination, lab work, age, breed, and other parameters to see if they could spot specific indicators that could help them catch the problem earlier.

They found specific equine health problems tended to occur at different times during the ride. For example, horses with rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage) usually had the problem in the first 30 miles of the competition.

"Hopefully this will help people watch for specific problems at certain times," Fielding said.

Although they were unable to identify risk factors that would identify horses likely to develop a problem during the competition, they found that horses that were eliminated had lower potassium and chloride levels during the ride.

"We will need more research though to determine whether supplementing these electrolytes would improve the problems," he said.

They also found immediate veterinary treatment helped eliminated horses to recover from their primary complaints more quickly.

"I don't think our study will change the veterinarian's evaluation, but one of the biggest messages that we wanted to convey is that early and appropriate treatment resolved the problems in all of these horses," Fielding noted.

full article

Friday, November 13, 2009

Neigh! Blueprint of horse genetic code reveals remarkable similarity to humans

MailOnline -

A complete blueprint of the domestic horse's genetic code has revealed remarkable similarities with humans, say scientists.

Researchers believe the new gene map could increase understanding of diseases in both humans and the animals.

Horses suffer from more than 90 hereditary diseases that are similar to human disorders.

An international team of scientists analysed DNA from an adult female thoroughbred horse named Twilight.

Her genetic code, or genome, was composed of around 2.7 billion 'letters' - slightly more than the domestic dog, but fewer than humans and cows, the team report.

But the Horse Genome Project scientists were surprised to find that horses and humans shared unusually similar chromosomal arrangements.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Phil Carroll: Horsing Around with a Six-Pac - Full Article

Angela White | Tuesday, 10 November, 2009

Phil Carroll tells us about towing a horse trailer and the many advantages of a truck camper for horseback riding enthusiasts. Saddle up. It's time to ride.

Sometimes people discover truck campers because they're the best solution for what they want to do. For example, many equestrians want to tow a horse trailer and then camp in comfort near their horses. Truck campers are particularly well suited to this purpose and offer horseback riding enthusiasts more off-road and boondocking opportunities than other horse towing solutions.

Phil Carroll is one such equestrian who really enjoys the capabilities of his Six-Pac truck camper and horse trailer. Phil also uses his camper without the horse trailer to go on vacations while visiting friends and family. This is one truck camper that's at home on the trails and on the road.

TCM: What are the advantages to having a truck camper when you are towing horses?

Phil: Basically, horse campers have three choices in rigs. First, you can get a horse trailer with living quarters. A horse trailer provides a big, expensive, horse camping only investment. Second, you can get a truck camper and a tag-a-long horse trailer. A truck camper lets you go to Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, or where ever without the horse in a nice compact arrangement. And third, you can get some kind of tent camper or sleep in the tack room type of arrangement. This would be less comfortable than the other two choices.


Monday, November 09, 2009

To Blanket or Not to Blanket? - Full Article

by: University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
November 18 2008, Article # 13124

The short answer might very well be "to blanket." However, for many horses blanketed during cooler months, that extra layer provides more comfort to their caregivers than to the animals themselves. Horses have evolved to have an excellent built-in temperature control: a very thick winter hair coat. Horses require between 10 and 21 days to acclimatize to colder temperatures. For instance, on the first day of 35ยบ F weather, the horse might feel cold, but over 10 to 21 days of similar cold weather, he will "get used to it" and be more comfortable.

If temperatures drop suddenly, you will notice behavior changes, including increased use of shelters if available, huddling together in groups with other horses, and turning their hindquarters into the prevailing wind. These are all activities that help conserve heat. The shivering response will also occur in very cold horses, which generates a pretty substantial amount of body heat, helping to warm internal organs.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Neigh-Lox: Saracen recalls supplement contaminated with ractopamine
Amy Mathieson, H&H news writer
4 November, 2009

Saracen Horse Feeds are recalling a batch of the feed supplement Neigh Lox as it has been found to be contaminated with ractopamine.

Neigh Lox can be used as supplement to help maintain gastric health in horses with high grain intake, or those experiencing high levels of stress.

It can also be used for horses entering stressful situations, travelling, those with poor appetites and for those that have already been treated for ulcers.

Horse owners using the product have been asked by the company to check their tubs for batch number 9B04-408.

Ractopamine is a feed supplement commonly given to pigs to promote muscle growth.

Saracen has sent a recall letter to its stockists and all unsold tubs have been recalled.

If you have any product from this batch please return it to stockists and ask for a refund or replacement tub.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cuisine For The Golden Years - Full Article
by: Karen Briggs
May 01 2000

Is your horse old enough to vote? Then he's an equine senior citizen by some standards. These days that's not so rare; more and more horses are living into their 20s and 30s, and even beyond. This is a direct result of the improved level of veterinary care we've been able to provide for the last 30 years or so. In particular, the availability of modern deworming medications, such as ivermectin, is widely considered the biggest single contributing factor to our horse's newfound longevity.

Nutrition plays a role as well. Horses which have been correctly fed all their lives are far more likely to live to a ripe old age than those which have been starved or those which have struggled with obesity and its frequent partner, laminitis. That, too, should come as no surprise; the same is true of humans. Diet affects the function of virtually every system in the horse's body -- from the firing of his muscles (fueled by dietary energy sources like carbohydrates and fats) to the formation of new tissues (facilitated by the "building blocks" in protein called amino acids) to the function of his every chemical system (which requires trace minerals such as magnesium, sulfur, and cobalt to help form enzymes, hormones, and other influential "messengers" for the cells).

As your horse ages, however, all of his systems slow down a little. He begins to need more fuel to do the same tasks. His eyesight and hearing might become a little less acute, his legs move a little less swiftly. His gastrointestinal tract can become less efficient at extracting the nutrients he needs from his food. At the same time, his body's ability to thermoregulate (maintain an even body temperature) gradually decreases, so he might need extra dietary energy to help him stay warm in winter, and assist him in coping with heat and humidity in summer.