Thursday, April 29, 2010

Isolated Yearlings Learn Better, Says French Study - Full Article

by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
April 26 2010, Article # 16234

When a yearling is separated for a few days from other horses for practical reasons, it's a great opportunity to get in some good quality training with that youngster, according to a new study by French equine behavior researchers.
yearling learning

A yearling explores a new object in the testing area.

Yearling colts and fillies housed in individual stalls over a period of 11 days were easier to train to walk and back up on command than their counterparts housed in group stalls, said Lea Lansade, PhD. A researcher at the laboratory of behavior, neurobiology, and adaptation of the INRA-CNRS (French national agricultural research institution) at Nouzilly, Lansade is the primary author of the study. The yearlings also responded more calmly to new sights and sounds as well as sudden surprises, and they showed fewer signs of separation anxiety (whinnies, trotting, and frequent defecation) during training sessions.

"A few days' separation at this age seems to make the yearlings less emotional, which makes them more attentive to the humans training them," Lansade said...

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Diet: When Horses Need Less Carbs - Full Article

by: Genie Stewart-Spears
April 01 2004, Article # 5113

Have you ever wondered why some horses are tractable part of the time, but hard to control or "hot" other times? Or why some foals have skeletal problems when everything possible was done to provide nothing but the best feed and care? Or why some performance horses tie up (azoturia) periodically? While still controversial in the world of equine nutrition, studies reveal that a high-carbohydrate diet, which produces a high glycemic response (the level of blood glucose that rises in response to a meal), might be the culprit in some of these problems.

According to Joe Pagan, PhD, president of Kentucky Equine Research (KER) in Versailles, Ky., "There is growing evidence that when certain horses eat feeds that produce large amounts of blood glucose, it may affect the horses' behavior or health."

Pagan, who founded KER in 1988, emphasizes that glucose is necessary for the life function of a horse. But, he says, "Consider the diet of horses in the wild. They eat high-forage diets which contain very little sugar. When horses eat forage, the bacteria in the large intestines break down the plant cell walls and produce volatile fatty acids as a by-product of this fermentation. It is these volatile fatty acids that can be used to produce glucose. Horses make glucose from fiber fermentation, but it is a more steady production of glucose that does not cause large fluctuations in blood glucose. However, today's domestic horses, due to smaller pastures and higher athletic expectations, are often fed concentrated feeds, many of which are high in starch and sugars.

"It is not the glucose, per se, that causes some potential problems," he clarifies. "It is the resulting insulin...


Endurance at the Olympic Games! - Felicity Foxhunter blog

April 29th, 2010 by Felicity Foxhunter

Yes, possums, you read the headline right! My endurance fans are abuzz at being in with a chance of racing at the Olympic Games in 2020.

But how could this be, you ask, with equestrian sport in the Olympic bad books?

Simple. Dubai's head honcho Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum came out this week and said that he was seriously considering a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. As we all know, he is horse-mad, and despite being in a bit of hot water last year, is very much endurance-mad, too.

Add to this the fact his wife (No.2) is the boss-lady of the FEI, Princess Haya, who also happens to be an Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

Do the math!

See why endurance riders around the globe are eyeing their four-legged prospects for 10 years' time?

A few tweaks might be needed for us "others" to keep up with the arabs ... a previous world record for 120km is 4 hours 32 minutes and 36 seconds … the same distance was covered here in New Zealand in 7:46:55 at the nationals earlier this year...


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Considerations for selecting an endurance horse

Global Endurance -

We want to share with you a couple of conformation observation in the lower leg of an endurance horse. This could make a difference in the soundness of an endurance horse in the long run.
As a general rule, the center of the canon bone should be supported by the heel of the horses hoof. If this is not the case, the load factor on the superficial and deep flexor tendon is greatly increased. Furthermore, the digital cushion inside the hoof is not supported anymore. Look at the different pictures below and see the difference in the alignment of the canon bone in relation to the heel of the hoof.
Let's call this horse A

image horse A

The plum line from the center of the canon bone falls behind the buttress of the heel,
Now, let's compare the this with the two following horses, B and C


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Healthy Hooves, Inside and Out -

Do your horse’s hooves have these healthy characteristics?

Much has been written about the equine foot, yet many of us know little about how it's really supposed to look and work. Sound horses don't all have the same size or shape feet (just like humans), and that fact often makes it more difficult to understand the healthy foot's form and function.
This means we can't use a one-size-fits-all approach to say what makes a healthy foot. We have to learn about how the horse's foot is built and how it works, and we must understand how individual variation changes the equation. With that understanding, we can look at our horses' feet and identify characteristics that are healthy, and those that hint at problems in the making.
Outside of the Healthy Foot
The healthy hoof wall is a semi-rigid, keratinized (nonsensitive) structure that protects underlying structures and supports weight along with the sole and frog. It has a hard, dense, naturally polished surface with distinct tubules that run straight (not flared) from the coronary band (at the hairline) to the ground. The wall should be intact, not cracked or chipped, and it should have a dense, tight tubular pattern. The toe is the thickest part of the wall and should be at least three-eighths of an inch thick in most mature breeds. It thins at the widest point of the foot and thickens again as it reaches the turning point at the heel.

Healthy adult hooves normally are wider at the ground than at the coronary band, but foals have feet that are narrower at the ground.
Growth rings, where they haven't been rasped off, provide valuable information on the health of the foot. They should be evenly spaced around the foot, indicating that toe and heel growth are equal (each ring shows about 30 days' growth). A narrow pattern in one area indicates slower growth due to reduced circulation; this could be from overloading as a result of poor conformation and/or balance, injury, or disease. (Note that slightly narrower growth rings on the medial or inner side of the foot are common due to asymmetrical loading from the horse's limbs being placed at the body's corners; this is not normally a cause for concern.)
Hoof angles are a function of conformation of external as well as internal structures, age, breed, load, growth rate, and environmental conditions. We'll get to the internal structures in a bit.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Equine Vision: Impact on Trail Behavior (Book Excerpt) - Full Article

by: Les Sellnow
April 02 2010, Article # 16100

It's all in the eye of the beholder. That cliché has been around for years, but when we consider it in light of the human eye compared to the equine eye, the saying takes on a whole different meaning.

Humans and horses literally see things differently, and this difference can sometimes lead to problems on the trail. No doubt you've ridden on windy days when suddenly your horse became agitated and excited. A piece of paper flew across the road or trail and your horse jumped or stopped dead in its tracks. This might well be the same horse you rode on this trail yesterday without a hint of skittishness.

Why the sudden change in behavior? Because of the way your horse sees. Once you learn how the equine eye functions, you'll better understand your horse's actions. And you'll have insight managing your trail horse when it becomes skittish for no apparent reason. Let's consider the windy day-flying paper scenario. You didn't give a second thought to that piece of paper skittering across the trail. Your horse, though, saw a strange, out-of-focus object moving across its path. The inability of your horse's eye to send a clear message to the brain brought on apprehension and fear.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Older Horses Doing Poorly Could Have Diabetes - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
April 19 2010, Article # 16202

Historically a rare disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus should be considered an important differential diagnosis in mature or elderly horses and ponies with weight loss and excessive drinking and urinating, advised a team of veterinarians led by Andy Durham, BSc, BVSc, CertEP, DEIM, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS. The team consisted of vets from England, Ireland, and the U.S.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic elevation of blood glucose (sugar) levels. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, usually maintains blood-sugar levels within very tight limits. Diabetes results due to defects in insulin secretion, action, or both.

According to Durham et al., type 2 DM (T2DM) results from a gradual onset of insulin resistance and pancreatic β cell failure (i.e., inability to produce insulin) that is only rarely diagnosed in equine practice.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cooling Overheated Horses - Full Article

by: Catherine Kohn, VMD
July 01 1998, Article # 596

Q: With summer upon us, I am concerned about exercising my horse in hot weather. What can I do to make sure my horse is properly cooled out? Are there steps I can take before, during, and after exercise?

A: There are many variables involved in this question. The answer depends on how much exercise your horse will undertake and how strenuous the exercise is. Also, it is necessary to consider how hot the external temperature is. Other considerations include how fit the horse is and how the horse is going to be used. Is he going to be asked to do work beyond what he normally does?

There are some basic things you can do to make sure that your horse does not overheat during the summer. Your horse should be fit. If your horse is in good condition and if you have been exercising him on a regular basis as spring has progressed into summer and the temperatures have steadily risen, then you probably have been preparing him for summer exercise. This type of regimen should have acclimated him to the heat and to the type of environment in which he must work.

The best way to make sure that your horse is not being placed under too much heat stress is to take his temperature. You should know what your horse's normal temperature is. By taking his temperature before and after exercising him, you will be able to discern how much "heat load" he has accumulated during exercise.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Feeding the Problem Horse (Book Excerpt) - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
March 08 2006, Article # 6678

Some horses present special challenges, such as being too thin, too fat, or sick. Some horses are finicky and are hard to keep weight on, especially when working. The first option is to increase the feed's energy density by adding grain or fat to the diet. Weight loss in spite of plentiful feed may be a sign the horse is being overconditioned.

Increasing good roughage or adding nutrient-rich legume hay can usually help the thin, idle horse or one doing moderate work. A hard-working horse, however, will not tolerate the extra protein some feeds (such as alfalfa) provide, with heat produced during digestion. A better choice might be rehydrated beet pulp, with its highly digestible fiber, low protein, low vitamin-mineral content (unlikely to upset the diet's mineral balance), and palatability. Unlike grain, it is safe to feed in relatively large quantities and can be added to a grain ration to give greater digestibility. For horses that just pick at hay, beet pulp often can be a good substitute for part of it.

The hard-working horse cannot eat enough roughage to supply his needs, particularly if he is finicky, tired, or dehydrated. If a horse won't eat enough hay, he can usually be tempted with something more lush and palatable, such as fresh green grass, or rehydrated beet pulp. A tired, dehydrated horse often will eat green grass when he won't touch anything else. You can also soak a flake of hay in water.

The fat horse needs less calories and/or more work. When cutting down his nutrients, however, don't cut down the total amount of feed or he will look for something else to chew on. Cut down the quality of his ration rather than the quantity. A mature thousand-pound horse still needs about twenty pounds of feed to meet his dry matter requirements, and if you cut him back to fifteen pounds he will start eating the fences or bedding. Feed him clean grass hay (no grain), cut mature enough to be low in nutrients.

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