Wednesday, December 29, 2010
By Kentucky Equine Research · October 21, 2008
Even the cleanest, best-quality hay is likely to contain a moderate amount of fine material. When a horse plunges its head into a pile of hay or pulls mouthfuls out of a hay net, it inhales countless small particles of dust, mold spores, and fibrous plant material. Collectively known as the respirable dust concentration, or RDC, these fine particles can cause severe airway irritation in sensitive horses. Heaves, broken wind, and recurrent airway obstruction are terms for the condition that can manifest as mild coughing or severe bronchial spasms that preclude any sort of training or exercise. Management steps—wetting or soaking hay, selecting alternative bedding materials, and removing horses from stalls during periods of peak activity—have been used to minimize RDC impact. The goals of this study were to establish the result of soaking hay on RDC in the horse’s breathing zone; to find out the usefulness of short immersion as opposed to longer soaking periods; and to investigate how management of one stall influences the RDC in a neighboring stall...
Read more here:
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
December 24 2010, Article # 17439
Researchers suspect tying-up in horses is a heritable condition; however, they have yet to determine the gene--or genes--responsible. But a team of Japanese researchers recently moved the investigation forward with a groundbreaking study of affected Thoroughbred racehorses' DNA.
Muscle disorders such as polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM, recognized mainly in Quarter Horses) and recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER, found primarily in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses) can lead to tying-up. A horse that's tying-up typically displays stiffness, sweating, muscle tremors, and a reluctance to move, among other clinical signs.
"Tying-up in racehorses is important because it affects approximately 5% of Thoroughbred racehorses," explained Teruaki Tozaki, PhD, from the Department of Molecular Genetics, Laboratory of Racing Chemistry, Tochigi, Japan, author of the recent study. "Although the condition is influenced by sex (of the affected horse), temperament, and diet, the current body of evidence suggests that tying-up is a heritable trait that is affected by one or several genetic factors..."
Read more here:
Sunday, December 19, 2010
by: Kentucky Equine Research Inc.
December 19 2010, Article # 17418
Oxidation is a normal metabolic process that allows horses to transform the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins they devour in meals into energy. An unavoidable side effect of oxidation is the creation of free radicals--compounds that have the potential to irreparably damage cells. Free radicals are particularly harmful to the 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. The end result of unchecked oxidation in the bodies of equine athletes could be muscular fatigue severe enough to compromise performance.
In instances of strenuous exercise, natural stores of antioxidants have difficulty providing sufficient protection against the cascade of free radicals generated from aerobic metabolism. Thus, supplementation of antioxidants is particularly helpful in warding off the ill effects of mass-produced free radicals associated with intense exercise...
Read more here:
Friday, December 17, 2010
AERC, like every other National Endurance organization in the world, defines Endurance as ‘an event of 50 miles (80 km) or more’. Riders who participate in shorter rides may feel that this definition is an affront to them, since it differentiates the events they participate in from “Endurance”. They belong to Endurance organizations, and attend Endurance rides, and yet their sport has a different name. They believe that this definition is arbitrary and artificial, and exists only to enable a bunch of elitist snobs to feel superior. When riders in the 50 or 100 mile events refer to this definition, Limited Distance riders feel insulted. This misunderstanding has led to the single biggest source of disharmony in AERC.
Huge bodies of research have been done on the physiology of horses participating in Endurance rides; all of them agree on one essential point: the overwhelming bulk of water and electrolyte loss occurs during the first 25 miles (40 km) of work*. How the horse and rider manage the next 25 to 75 miles in the face of these losses is, in fact, the definition of “Endurance”. When the horse stops working at 25 miles, it never faces this challenge; what it has done is a valid sport, and a useful sport, but not the same sport as those horses that do longer distance.
It is important to recognize and understand this difference, and not just for intra-organization harmony. Riders wishing to ‘move up’ from Limited Distance to Endurance must understand that it is not just “more of the same”—their horses (and themselves) are actually taking on a whole new challenge. To illustrate by analogy…many of us occasionally undertake “Runs” of 5 miles or so, often for charity. If you are one of these people, picture yourself suddenly entering a Marathon—with no change of training, equipment, or strategy! How do you think you would make out?
Perhaps ironically, the more “successful” a Limited Distance rider may be (in terms of speed), the less likely they are to succeed at the Endurance distances, at least initially. Often, the horse has learned to make time at the expense of grazing and drinking on the trail; it may be difficult to change this acquired behaviour. These horses are often difficult to rate. The riders keep finding their horse hitting a ‘wall’ at about 35 miles—usually poor guts sounds and/or recovery. They resist the advice to return to doing shorter rides because they feel they can’t learn anything new at this distance; they are already succeeding there. What they fail to realise is that the problems they are experiencing are not developing between miles 25 and 35, they occurred between miles 1 and 25. It is only the effect of these problems that occur later—an effect that doesn’t occur if the horse stops working before they become apparent.
Horses that have done the shorter distances at a steadier pace will actually find the transition easier; they are more used to being ‘out on the trail’ for prolonged periods. Keeping “the fuel tanks”—water, guts, electrolytes—topped up on these horses is generally easier, since the horses cooperate!
A factor that unnecessarily discourages some Limited Distance riders from attempting longer distances is the issue of “fitness”. It is not uncommon to hear them state that ‘’they don’t have enough time to train sufficiently to do 50s”. I believe many people have an exaggerated idea of how much training Endurance riders do; if you look around at a typical ride you will note that the majority of riders in the 50 and even 100 mile rides are also ‘ordinary people with jobs, family, etc’. Most mature horses with a good base that have successfully completed several Limited Distance rides in a season are—by the very fact of having done that mileage—fit enough to attempt a 50. Fitness is far more important with regard to speed than to distance; ability and willingness to eat and drink are generally enough to allow most horses to walk and trot for many hours.
Many Limited Distance riders have, of course, absolutely no interest in riding Endurance distances. There is certainly nothing wrong with that! Having made that choice, they need to make peace with the concept that the sport they have decided to participate in is not the same sport as their friends who ride the longer distance. Many riders participating in the longer distances choose not to ride fast. Many riders at all distances choose not to ride under certain weather or trail conditions. Some riders may choose to ride only multidays, or only 100s, or only rides within a few hours of home. All riders make choices which define which of the different challenges of our sport they wish to address. “Different” doesn’t have to mean “disrespected”—everybody has somebody, somewhere, who is doing more or better than they are. Maria Alvarez Ponton, two time World Champion, has only a fraction of the lifetime mileage of many Endurance riders. We must learn to embrace our differences if we are to maintain harmony; and that spirit of acceptance perhaps begins with understanding those differences.
* LINDINGER, M. I. and ECKER, G. L. (1995), Ion and water losses from body fluids during a 163 km endurance ride. Equine Veterinary Journal, 27: 314–322.May 1995
* Michael I Lindinger* , Gloria McKeen and Gayle L Ecker Effects of terrain, speed, temperature and distance on water and ion losses Volume 27, Issue S18, pages 298–305, May 1995
* Dane L. Frazier, DVM 81st Western Veterinary Conference V414The Distance Horse: Dragon Makers
Thursday, December 16, 2010
by: Christy West, Digital Editor/Producer
June 01 2004, Article # 5202
Just about every horse out there has what we might call a hoof problem on at least one of his four feet. It might be a simple mismatch that might not really be a problem, or it might be much more serious. In any case, hoof problems, regardless of scope, need to be managed properly to maximize the horse's soundness, comfort, and usefulness to you.
The challenge is five-fold, according to Bruce Lyle, DVM, who focuses primarily on foot care in his practice in Aubrey, Texas. "My approach to any case is to begin with problem identification, identify contributing factors, change what I can, and then observe the response, followed by re-evaluation," he says. "Identifying the problem can be challenging because of the lack of valid research on causes of pain in the foot. Sound horses performing at a high level may have abnormal-appearing bones on radiographs, whereas other lame horses may have an apparently beautiful foot with no radiographic abnormalities. In many cases, ultrasound and nuclear scintigraphy may be negative also, frustrating owner, farrier, and veterinarian.
"Because of these negative experiences and the lack of consistent, practical research, farrier John Arkley (more on him shortly) and I have joined with a growing faction of veterinarians and farriers handling foot problems and lameness from a fundamental form-to-function approach," Lyle says...
Read more here:
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Story by Tracey Emslie, John Lyons
Sacking out is a vital training tool. Done well, it creates perfect horses. Done poorly, it causes lifelong problems. Learn the difference here.
Your new horse seems a real charmer-until your saddle blanket slips off and he throws a classic tizzy fit. Or maybe a neighbor has put up a flagpole and your otherwise fine trail horse doesn't respond in a patriotic manner on windy days. Or maybe he strongly objects to swinging ropes, flapping towels, your taking off your jacket, or any of a hundred other distractions.
"Ah," will say a friend, trainer, or absolute stranger. "You need to sack him out!"
"Sacking out" is a vital training tool that's widely misunderstood. Done well, it produces a safe, confident, and responsive partner. Done poorly, it can cause problems that haunt the horse and his subsequent owners/riders for the rest of his life.
What Is Sacking Out?
An unusual object that disturbs your horse is like a pop quiz at school. Sacking out is a way to respond to the pop quiz. We talked about this in "Meet the Monsters." (To review this article from the October 2007 issue, go to www.myhorse.com/perfect horse, and search for "meet the monsters.")
Sacking out gives us a way to control the pop quiz with a training exercise in which we actually plan disturbances for the horse. They help teach your horse to respond to "go right," "go left," "stop," "go forward," "back up," "speed up," or "slow down" cues even if there's something that might startle him, such as a waving towel or a crackling tarp...
Read more here:
Monday, December 13, 2010
Salt is vital for for the survival of all mammals, without it muscles do not function and life will cease to exist. Salt regulates the water content inside cells and it detoxifies the body. Salt is essential for nerve impulse transmissions and proper heart function.
Salt is mainly composed of Sodium and Chloride. Both play a major part in proper blood ph level, balanced stomach acids to digest food and also bone density. Half of the sodium in the body is stored within the bones.
Salt is found in the sea, in the ground and in mines. As soon as it is extracted, it is chemically cleaned and often exposed to temperatures of 1200 F and more, a process that destroys just about all trace minerals and nutrients. Industrially treated table salt is reduced to just Sodium and Chloride, while natural Salt found in the ground and the sea contains up to 90 additional crucial nutrients and chemical elements, which make a huge difference in all our lives.
Horses consume about 1 to 2 oz of Salt a day, in hotter climates and/or while exercising, the demand goes up to 6 or 7 oz of Salt. While sweating, horses do not only loose sodium and chloride, but also a large amount of minerals. Without all the important trace minerals, their bodies are lacking substantial chemical elements and mineral nutrients. Our horses are thus being compromised in their health and their performance...
Read more here:
by: Christy West, Digital Editor/Producer
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...
Read more here:
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
All my life my mom has had one major lament: “I just wish you had something to show for all that money you’ve spent on horses.” My mom on the other hand has lots of stuff to show for her money …I’m talking mountains of stuff. She has so much stuff to show for her money that she’s looking for a larger house at age 75.
I guess we all want a little “something to show” for our time on this earth. After all, that’s how we keep score isn’t it? When you play Monopoly the one with the most houses and money at the end of the game is declared the winner. Nobody cared that my personal game goal was just to get to be the Scotty dog and buy all the Railroads. They still told me that I had to put away the game because I “lost”. Fortunately for me, I kind of liked putting away the game and I really hated buying those houses, so who’s to say I “lost”? This sort of logic was probably an accurate predictor of what sort of endurance competitor I would later become.
The problem with counting the money (and stuff) at the end of your life to see who wins is that you’re never around to enjoy the victory. You may know you’re ahead, but third quarter leads aren’t that satisfying, because we all know “It ain’t over till the buzzer blows”. It’s also a difficult job for the scorekeepers. Do you only count resale value or original purchase price? If one person keeps an elderly uncle’s oil painting which seemed ugly and worthless at the time, but turns out to be worth millions (though still ugly), do they beat the person with a 3,500 square foot house that was filled with top of the line (at the time they bought them) furniture and appliances…even if most of it is on its way to the landfill soon after the counting?
I’ve helped “count the points” at the end of a few people’s games and decided that no matter how great the stuff seemed to you at the time you bought it, it’s a rare item that is worth having when you’re ready to pass it on. Since my instinctive urge is to enjoy things today, use them up and wear them out; I hadn’t given much thought to what sort of things were permanent. However, my mom’s comments got me thinking about it. This inspired me to set out on a quest to find what would really last; something that would remind others that I had existed, because I’d like to leave something behind that my descendents could remember me by.
My mom is very practical; she thinks I should invest in real estate. “You could have paid for a rental house by now” she says. So, is a house something that will “last”? Not really. I see what’s left of houses all the time when I’m riding through the woods. One leak in the roof and the rot sets in. A beam rots through, the roof collapses and in what seems like no time at all the vines have pulled down the walls and only the stone chimney remains. Houses don’t last as long as I want my memory to last. On the other hand, daffodils do. I’ve ridden by spots in the woods where daffodils that look as new as the year they were planted come up with the first hint of spring and surround what used to be someone’s yard. All that’s left of the house is the outline of the foundation, but the daffodils are in excellent condition. I contemplate these things as I ride and figure it’s got to mean something…probably something about the futility of hard work.
What about wealth? Should we attempt to build a fortune to pass on so our kids will never know what it feels like to do an honest day’s work? I think the Paris Hiltons of the world have answered that question. So how do we avoid accidentally making too much money and ruining our offspring’s lives? We must know how to recognize when we have made “enough” money, then have the self control to stop and go riding.
My brother is wealthy. He is a very hard worker and loves every minute of it. Even his recreational activities make money. Making more money is his profession and his hobby. If you asked him how much money he wants to make the answer would be “more”. One day he commented to me, “Do you ever think about how much money you could have made if you’d been doing something where you got paid instead of riding?” This seemed like a ridiculous question. I hadn’t missed any meals and always paid my bills, so I obviously hadn’t needed any more money. Personally, I never understood why he continued to work after he had covered all his financial commitments. To me that was like continuing to drink when you weren’t thirsty any more. I simply answered his question with a question. “Have you ever considered how many interesting things you could have seen and done if you had been riding with me instead of making more money?”
I wonder how my brother and I will be remembered by later generations. I know from quizzing my grandmother about my ancestors that most people do well to get a one word summary of their life. “He was a”: “teacher”, “fiddler”, “cripple”, or “tough” was about all she bothered to tell me when I asked about a person on the family tree. But there were a few she’d elaborate on simply because there was a good story attached. Her favorite was my great-great-grandfather who was murdered. The story went that he was bragging and flashing a big wad of money and the preacher’s son murdered him for it. The money turned out to be Confederate and worthless. So I suppose: “Be stupid and die”. That’s one way to leave a legacy. There were others my folks told me about; “Aunt Bird” who was born premature and slept in a shoebox for a crib; my grandmother who was so strong she could hold a chair at arm’s length longer than any of the teenaged boys; the second cousin who bought a mountain and mounted huge theater speakers on the roof of his cabin so he could listen to the “Sons of the Pioneers” while he rode his horse through the woods… all these people are referred to often in family conversations. What I gather from this is, “be dumber, tougher, or stronger than people expect, or do what makes you happy whether it’s normal or not and there will be something to show for your life…a good story. At least in my family, the farther you distanced yourself from normal the more likely you were to be remembered.
So, what do I have to show for my life? What have I done with the money I made with the job that I got with the education I’ve been given? I got to thinking about it and realized that most of it bought me nothing but memories… and maybe some character. I guess most of the memories are about getting my character. As a matter of fact, looking back at my riding career I realize I have acquired so much character that if there was a character bank my balance would be staggering. I would love to be able to leave some of it to others who haven’t had the opportunity to go through some of the things I’ve survived.
I think I’ve spent my money well. The lack of tangible possessions is a blessing. My mom and dad raised 6 children on my dad’s one paycheck. Still, the stuff that she’s got left to show for it is crowding them out of their house. Considering we have only two children and we have two paychecks, it’s terribly lucky for me that I have my horses to protect me from a much worse fate. They take money that would clutter up my life with possessions, and through shoeing, hay, grain, vet bills, entry fees and fuel spent going to rides manage to make it disappear into thin air. No need for storage or maintenance, it’s gone for good!
What else should I have done with that money? Buy 277 toaster ovens, 22 microwaves, 17 refrigerators and dozens of washer & dryer combinations? How many bedroom suits and matching color coordinated comforters can one person handle? I’ve already got stereos, and computers everywhere, should I have bought even more? There would be so much stuff we’d have to add more rooms onto the house and those would be full too. I can just see me now, I’d be one of those old women whose house has a tiny little path winding between her mounds of possessions. It gives me chills thinking about it. Thank goodness for the horses!
So, instead of lots of material junk to sort out when I go, I’m leaving my grandchildren an eccentric grandma to reminisce about. They can look up my AERC record if they need to prove the stories are true. I can write down enough interesting anecdotes from those miles to let each descendent pick a favorite for their own. As for my other possessions, if I time things just right, the money should be spent, the hay should all be eaten, the horse should die, the saddle should wear out and I should expire pretty much simultaneously. If handled properly we should all compost very well taking up precious little landfill space. If someone has to sum up my life very briefly I have no doubt they’ll say, “She rode horses…a lot”. I leave that along with a very large mountain of rich manure behind the barn, which I hope my family will scatter around some daffodils.
Owners need to consider how they will meet their older horses' (or their younger, hard-keeping horses') nutrient requirements during the winter. Providing adequate energy is the prime concern, and how you will provide those extra calories depends on available feed and each horse's individual needs.
A good place to start is assessing your horse's body condition score (BCS). Horses with a BCS of greater than 5 will have some extra fat stores that can provide insulation and serve as a readily available source of energy when the daily ration falls short as the temperature drops.
In developing your feeding strategy, consider increasing your horse's hay intake to meet his energy needs. Hay is digested in the gastrointestinal tract by fermentation, which produces heat that the horse can use to maintain core body temperature. There is a limit as to how much hay he can consume daily. In most cases, he will consume 2.0-2.5% of his body weight per day. If he can't consume enough hay, then adding grain to the diet will also provide calories.
Temperatures well below freezing, or wet snow or freezing rain conditions, greatly increase a horse's energy requirements, especially if he's maintained outside. Rain and wind can cause the horse to lose the insulating capacity of his hair coat, and he'll use body reserves to maintain core body temperature, often resulting in weight loss...
Read more here:
Saturday, December 04, 2010
A timed event over a marked trail
By Wayne Tolbert
The sport of Competitive Trail Riding (CTR) has been around for at least 50 years. It occupies a niche between pleasure riding, typically casual in nature, and endurance riding, which is a long-distance equine sport. There are several CTR organizations with various histories, rules, and philosophies. I have been an active competitor for the past 13 years in events sanctioned by the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC), so this article is based on that experience.
Competitive trail riding as practiced by NATRC is a timed event over a marked trail with competitors in each class having the same time to complete the course. Typically events are one or two days duration with distances ranging from 20 miles for one-day novice classes to 60 miles for two-day advanced classes. A very important characteristic of CTR is the use of two judges per event: a veterinarian judge, who evaluates the horse’s soundness, condition, and trail worthiness (manners) and a horsemanship judge. The horsemanship judge evaluates the rider on trail equitation, trail safety and courtesy, and how well the rider cares for the horse including grooming, proper use of tack and equipment, stabling, and trail care (water stops, pacing, timing, cooling out, etc.). The overall goal is to ride the horse is such a manner so that he finishes the ride as strong as when he started. Thus, CTR has been compared to the cavalry remount program in which horses were selected, trained, and ridden daily over long distances.
The emphasis that NATRC places on judging the riders as well as the horses encourages riders to become better horsemen and horsewomen. It fosters teamwork and a lasting partnership between the horse and rider. Some evidence in support of this is the fact that currently there are approximately 700 horses that have completed over 1,000 miles each in NATRC-sanctioned competitive trail rides. Two of these horses have over 20,000 miles each, one has almost 12,000 miles, one over 10,000, one over 9,000 and five horses have over 8,000 miles. Another 50+ horses have between 4,000 and 7,000 miles. These are official miles ridden exclusively in NATRC-sanctioned rides. These do not count miles ridden in other competitions, such as endurance rides, Nor the many miles ridden to condition/train the horses, nor miles ridden with friends as pleasure riding.
How is it possible that so many horses have such long and productive lives as competitive mounts? How is it possible that CTR successfully promotes horses well into their 20’s, which is a time that many horses have long retired or owners have gotten rid of their “old” horses?
The primary reasons for the success of our horses stems from the founding philosophies and practices of NATRC. Ride participants tend to select horses with stamina and hardiness, who are qualified to make good trail mounts. These horses are, or become with proper conditioning, superior athletes; bloodlines and color, while nice, are secondary to athleticism.
Riders receive guidance from veterinary judges, horsemanship judges, NATRC clinic leaders and more experienced riders. There is a long tradition of fellow competitors assisting newer participants. In my experience, this “unwritten rule” compels more experienced competitors to help and, at times, they may be assigned by ride managers as mentors to new riders. This willingness to share knowledge and experience makes NATRC an excellent starting point for many horse lovers and contributes to the family-oriented nature of competitive trail riding.
Riders also learn from their own experience at NATRC rides the proper methods of training and conditioning of horses. Riders learn good horsemanship skills that contribute to successful partnering with their horses. Riders also learn the best methods for caring for their horses during and after long rides without the aid of artificial methods or stimulants.
NATRC will celebrate its Golden Anniversary, 50 years of competitive trail riding since its founding in 1961, at the 2011 NATRC National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, February 10-13. The public is cordially invited to attend this special event, a two-day program of educational speakers, 17 vendors (to satisfy all your horse shopping needs), and a Walk of Fame to honor many of the riders and horses that have contributed CTR and to NATRC. Honorees include Past NATRC Presidents, winners of the President’s Cup, Bev Tibbitts, Jim Menefee, and Polly Bridges awards. Horses with 5 or more National Championships, horses with 5,000+ miles, and riders with 7,000+ miles will be recognized, and especially this year’s national winners. A silent auction will be held and a Specialized Saddle raffled. Attendees can also visit the country music capital, hear live entertainment, and get a chance to learn how to line dance.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Body condition scoring is a visual assessment of your horse’s level of body fat. You get a body condition score by rating the amount of fat covering various anatomical landmarks against a linear scale. Usually six areas are rated: crest, wither, loin, tailhead, behind elbow, and ribs. Two scales are commonly in use; the US scale runs with values from one (emaciated) to nine (obese), whereas the Australian scale runs with values from zero (emaciated) to five (obese) – they are close but dont directly correspond. Each anatomical area is rated a value from the scale and these are averaged to give your horse’s overall body condition score.
As your horse’s fitness level increases two important things happen to his body fat stores. First, he is able to store more of those very important Intramuscular Triclycerides (IMTGs) between his muscles – refer to Fat: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for a recap on IMTGs. Remember, the most important role that body fat plays for your athletic horse is as the fat source to replenish IMTGs after work. Second, he can more easily liberate and use energy directly from body fat stores for increasingly strenuous levels of exercise. So as your horse increases fitness you should expect to see an increase in lean muscle bulk and a decrease in body fat stores. Interestingly, fat from body stores is not lost equally: It seems likely that fat along the top of the back and the hindquarter is recruited more quickly than from other fat storage areas, leading to less fat storage along the posterior topline.