Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Antioxidants for Tip-Top Performance

Kentucky Equine Research

The formation of ordinary rust is not a chemical enigma and is perhaps the most familiar example of oxidation. A mixture of moisture and oxygen chemically attacks metal and in time corrosion creates a reddish-brown, brittle coating that weakens and ultimately destroys the metal. Just as destructive, though invisible to the eye, is the oxidation that occurs at the cellular level in horses and other mammals. The end result of unchecked oxidation in the bodies of equine athletes may be muscular fatigue severe enough to compromise performance.

Oxidation is a normal metabolic process that allows horses to transform the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins they devour in meals to energy-- energy to grow, perform, and reproduce. One unfortunate, although completely unavoidable, spin-off of oxidation is the creation of free radicals, compounds that have the potential to irreparably damage cells. Free radicals are particularly harmful to cell membranes, structures responsible for keeping destructive entities away from delicate inner organelles.

Under normal circumstances, substances called antioxidants thwart much of the wreckage caused by free radicals. However, oxidation speeds up during athletic effort due to increased oxygen consumption and accelerated aerobic metabolism.

In instances of strenuous exercise, natural stores of antioxidants have difficulty providing sufficient protection against the cascade of free radicals generated from aerobic metabolism...

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Navicular Disease - Full Article

Story by Frank Santos, DVM

"Navicular disease" is a very common and dreaded syndrome in the horse. It may be the most commonly diagnosed lameness in Western performance horses. The diagnosis and treatment of this problem has been controversial historically.

The diagnosis of navicular disease has traditionally been based on clinical observation, localizing the source of pain with diagnostic nerve blocks, and radiograph (X-ray) interpretation of the navicular bone. Through advanced imaging techniques, mainly MRI, the soft tissue structures in the navicular area have been shown to play a significant role in this syndrome.

There often are other sources of pain causing lameness in this area than just an affected navicular bone. In a recent column, I said colic was not a specific diagnosis, but just a term describing abdominal pain. I think we (veterinarians and horse owners) often use the singular term "navicular disease" for what is really a complex problem. The realization of the complexity of the problem seems to me to explain the differences we often encounter in the response to treatment. If there can be multiple causes for the symptoms, how can there be any one way to treat it?...

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Fats: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dunc's Diatribe: Fats - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Monday, October 25, 2010 by Duncan McLaughlin

Any discussion about your endurance horse’s diet must include discussion on fat : fat is so important in the energetics of sustained exercise. But before we begin, lets cover some terms:

Adipose fat is what we commonly think of as ‘fat’; fat storage depots around the body. Think ‘love handles’ and you get the idea.

Intramuscular Triglycerides (IMTGs) are specialised fats stored in-between muscle fibers and are an important source of fuel for sustained exercise.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are fats that must be supplied in the diet. These include your Omega3s and Omega6s. Simply put, Omega3s are involved in anti-inflammatory responses and Omega6s are involved in inflammatory responses but both are required by your horse’s body for many metabolic processes.

Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs) result when microbes in the hindgut breakdown fiber. The VFAs are then absorbed by your horse’s digestive system for use. The most important VFAs are acetate, butyrate and propionate.
1. Acetate is easily converted to acetyl-CoA and used directly as an energy source by muscle for aerobic exercise. Excess is converted by the liver to fat.
2. Butyrate is mostly used as energy source by the cells lining the digestive tract but excess can also be converted by the liver to fat.
3. Propionate is either converted by the liver to glucose and then transported to muscle for use or storage as glycogen or it is converted by the liver to amino-acids and/or fat. Estimates suggest as much as 50% of blood glucose is derived from propionate.
So you can see, we need to take VFAs seriously.

Free Fatty Acids (FFAs) come from the breakdown of fat, either long-chain dietary fat in the digestive system or adipose fat from body stores, and are moved by the circulatory system to muscle, where they can be used as fuel for aerobic exercise.

The Good
Horses don’t eat, or need, much fat. The evolved diet (grasses, forbes, shrubs) was low in fat, no more than 5% of total calories. This explains why horses don’t have gall bladders: instead a continuous but very small amount of bile, important for fat digestion, trickles in to the small intestine. more

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gastric Ulcer Syndrome Common Cause of Poor Performance - Full Article

By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Originally published on

Appropriate preventive and therapeutic measures to avoid and/or treat gastric ulcers in endurance horses might improve performance.

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is extremely common in competitive horses involved in show jumping, dressage, and Western disciplines. One recent study reported that more than 90% of racehorses had EGUS.

"Unlike these other types of athletic horses, the prevalence of gastric ulcers in endurance horses is less well-studied. One group found that two-thirds of horses examined after a 50 or 80 km endurance ride had gastric ulcers, but no data on horses competing at higher levels (i.e., 90-160 km) are currently available," said Youssef Tamzali, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, of the Ecole Veterinaire de Toulouse (National Veterinary School) in France.

Tamzali and his research team, therefore, performed two separate gastroscopes in 30 high-level endurance horses: one during the off-season period and the second during the competition season within 2-3 days of competing in a 90-160 km ride...

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Clinton Anderson: Simple Sidepass - Full Article

By Clinton Anderson with Jennifer Forsberg Meyer
Photos by John Brasseaux

Sidepassing is our goal in this exercise. I’ll show you how to train your horse to step laterally to the side with his whole body when you cue him with your leg directly behind the cinch.

The lateral movement of sidepassing helps to free up your horse’s ribcage, shoulders, and hindquarters. It teaches him to move his feet in a rhythmic, even way, without using his hindquarters for forward impulsion. It helps him learn to keep his shoulders, ribcage, and hindquarters aligned. Teaching your horse to sidepass will help you make the most of his natural athletic ability.

In addition, using your legs to direct your horse’s ribcage in a sidepass helps you upgrade to "power steering."It makes your horse more easily maneuverable on the trail, around cattle, in traffic, or when negotiating tight turns--including those needed when going through a gate.

We’ll begin with yielding your horse’s hindquarters along the fence. Then, with your horse facing the fence (that is, perpendicular to it, so that it’s blocking his forward movement), you’ll ask him to step directly sideways down the fence. The momentum he’s built from yielding his hindquarters off the fence will help to carry him on in the sidepass. (It’s easier to redirect movement in this way than to ask your horse to begin the sidepass from a standstill.)

More article and photos here:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Understanding Beet Pulp as an Equine Feed - Full Article

by: Eric Haydt
September 07 2009, Article # 14812

Beet pulp has been a popular feed for horses for years without many people really knowing why.

Beet pulp is a byproduct of the sugar beet industry and is predominant in the upper Midwest, Michigan, and California. Sugar beets look a lot like turnips that have been taking growth hormones--they are very large. The beets are grown and processed not so we have something to feed to our horses, but for the sugar content. After the sugar is processed and removed, the pulp is left over. Recently, the use of shredded beet pulp has become increasingly popular as a feed ingredient; first in the pet food industry followed by the horse feed market.

Today, about 90% of the beet pulp produced is sold to the export market in the pelleted form. The shredded beet pulp market is primarily domestic. Up until the last couple of years, shredded beet pulp was only available in bags, but now feed mills using it as an ingredient can buy it in bulk form.

Initially, consistency of particle size and stem and root contamination were a concern. Stems and roots look like small pieces of balsa wood and are typically about 1 to 2 inches in length and about a 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch in diameter. Utilizing improved screening systems the industry is continuing to do a better job of making the product cleaner and more consistent.

Beet pulp is often referred to as a "super fiber" due to its high digestibility and ease of fermentation...

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Commentary: Give Bute the Boot - Full Article

by: Eric Mitchell
October 06 2010, Article # 17064

Few issues in horse racing fire up people's emotions like medication. A couple of years ago the target was anabolic steroids, and the industry reacted quickly. By Jan. 1, 2009, most U.S. racing jurisdictions had adopted rules banning the use of anabolic steroids.

Today the target is phenylbutazone, an analgesic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory more commonly known as Bute. Think Advil for horses.

The Model Rules Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International voted 12-0 (with one abstention) to lower the level of race-day Bute from 5 micrograms per milliliter to 2 micrograms. What is driving the proposed change is a concern that horses unfit to race are slipping past the pre-race veterinary exam because Bute is masking various problems. Rick Arthur, DVM, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, noted in a speech at The Jockey Club Round Table in August that 90% of all horses that suffer fatal musculoskeletal injuries have some pre-existing injury at the site of the fatal injury.

Lowering the threshold to 2 μ/ml (micrograms/milliliter) may allow the veterinarians conducting pre-race inspections to do their jobs better and avoid catastrophic breakdowns. That's the goal...

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Sport Horse Health - Full Article

by: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Feature Editor
October 01 2010, Article # 17034

There is much debate surrounding the use of supplements in equine diets, but adding fish oil to a horse's feed to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake can have a positive effect on exercising horses' health and endurance, according to Kyle Newman, PhD, of Venture Laboratories. Newman presented a study on the subject at the Veterinary Sport Horse Symposium for horse owners, held Sept. 22-24 in Lexington, Ky.

According to Newman, omega-3 fatty acids' effects on equine health include "increased vascular compliance, anti-hypertensive properties (lower blood pressure), inhibited production of cytokines (immunoregulatory proteins) involved in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, positive effects on fetal development, and improved semen quality."

During his presentation, Newman focused specifically on how the fatty acid fish oil might benefit sport horses...

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Improve Digestion to Prevent Intestinal Upset in Sport Horses - Full Article

by: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Feature Editor
October 03 2010, Article # 17037

One of the many factors that can affect a competition horse's focus is intestinal upset--specifically impaction and spasmodic colic. Kyle Newman, PhD, of Venture Laboratories, explored how sport horse owners can help prevent these colic episodes in their equine athletes at the Veterinary Sport Horse Symposium, held Sept. 22-24 in Lexington, Ky.

According to Newman, an increased risk of impaction or spasmodic colic can be attributed to changes in diet (for example, if you change your horse's hay, the fiber content increases and digestibility decreases), changes in grains or concentrates (i.e., greater than 2.7 kg oats/day), and a decrease in pasture availability.

He said horse owners can help prevent colic by "examining simple sugar and fiber of forages, avoiding (dietary) changes that increase gas production, stabilizing fermentation, and improving digestibility."

To improve a horse's digestion, Newman suggests...

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