Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Diagnosing Equine Ataxia: Go Back to Basics - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
December 24 2011, Article # 19308

Your horse's gait doesn't look right. It's not something you can really put your finger on, but he looks off. Is he lame, or is there something else going on? And how serious is it?

"Most clinicians can intuitively recognize an ataxic gait, but for owners or in subtle cases it can be challenging to distinguish an ataxic horse from a lame horse," explained Caroline Hahn, DVM, MSc, PhD, Dip. ECEIM, ECVN, MRCVS, from the Neuromuscular Disease Laboratory, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, at the 12th Congress of The World Equine Veterinary Association, held Nov. 2-6 in Hyderabad, India.

That being said, Hahn recommends going back to the basics to truly understand what ataxia is and how to diagnose the cause for ataxia in affected horses.

"Ataxia is a Greek term that means inconsistent," said Hahn. "Ataxic horses are those that are unable to control the rate, range, or force of their movements resulting in an inconsistent gait."

A normally functioning body is able to "sense" how its joints, muscles, and tendons are moving, and where all of the components of the body are in relation to each other. This is called proprioception, and two regions of the brain are responsible for proper proprioception: the forebrain and the cerebellum (at the base of the brain)...

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Winter Feed Changes: Use Caution when Adjusting Rations - Full Article

by: Oklahoma State University
December 22 2011, Article # 19329

Horses need more feed to replace energy loss brought about by harsher weather conditions as the temperature turns colder, and that means equine owners need to take steps to ensure colic does not become a problem.

Equine owners must practice sound management in altering their animals' rations if problems with colic or founder are to be avoided, said Dave Freeman, PhD, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist.

"Concentrate composition and amounts should be increased gradually over a period of several days, especially if the horses are already consuming large quantities of grain," Freeman said.

Many concentrates will have significant levels of soluble carbohydrates, which are efficient providers of energy.

"However, eating too much of these compounds in one meal is a significant contributor to the frequency of colic and founder in horses," he said.

One general guideline is to limit grain feedings to maximum single meal intakes of around 5 pounds per 1,000 pounds of body weight.

"Of course, some concentrates are less energy dense than others, so following recommended intake levels on feed bags is a good practice," Freeman said.

Gradually increase portions of grain mixes over several days when conditions require horses to need significant increases in energy intake is an added precaution against colic...

Read more here:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fighting equine respiratory and skin problems in winter - full article

By the Editors of EQUUS magazine
Sound equine management will keep your horse free from respiratory difficulties and irritating skin conditions this winter.

With all your winter-wear, your lotions, vitamins, flu shots, your heated gym, office and home, you're living in the lap of luxury compared to your horses in the winter. Even in regions where temperatures remain moderate throughout the winter, horses suffer from ailments similar to those that plague their owners, including runny noses, chapped skin, the flu and even cabin fever.

The irony is that many of the horses' winter-related problems are initiated or exacerbated by their owners' good intentions: In trying to keep their horses as warm and dry as the hairless human deems comfortable, they drape naturally insulated animals in blankets, seal them up in airtight barns and stuff them with scoop after scoop of grain. Indeed, most of the wintertime woes that plague horses could be prevented with some simple management changes. Consider these seasonal troublemakers and some winterizing tactics that work with horse nature, not against it.

Respiratory Difficulties
Good air quality is essential to the health of a stabled horse no matter what the season of year. But in winter, when your inclination is to cover windows and vents, disconnect fans and shut barn doors, inadequate ventilation can cause serious respiratory problems...

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Challenges in Hydrating and Balancing Equine Electrolytes - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
December 21 2011, Article # 19307

Like the old saying goes (or similar to it), you can lead a horse to an electrolyte replacement fluid but you can't make him drink. As most equestrians know, balancing a horse's electrolyte and fluid intake with the sweat they produce during exercise is an ongoing challenge.

"When horses sweat they lose more electrolytes per liter of sweat than humans do, which means that horses do not develop as strong of a 'thirst stimulus' as human athletes do," explained Hal Schott II, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, during his presentation at the 12th Congress of the World Equine Veterinary Association held Nov. 2-6, 2011, in Hyderabad, India. "They simply do not have the same drive to drink while competing as humans."

Another reason that sweating competitive horses don't drink when their riders and veterinarians think they should is because of the fluid reserves in their gastrointestinal systems.

"Approximately 5% of their body weight is extra fluid--called a fluid reserve--in their intestines that can be used to replace fluid during endurance exercise," relayed Schott.

But what happens when this fluid reserve is drained and excessive electrolytes are lost during competition?...

Read more here:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Australia: Brumby trainers tame wild horses - Full Article

By Keva Gocher
Sunday, 18 December 2011

Katherin Guderian from Montana in the United States loves the Australian wild horse so much that she moved from America to make her home with horse 'whisperer' and wild brumby trainer Barry Paton.

"Ten years ago I came over and really enjoyed this area, (now) Barry and I have a 3,000 acre place over by Tooma (on the south-western side of the Snowy Mountains) in New South Wales and that is where we go involved with the brumbies."

The American born veterinarian knows wild horse issues from the United States where there is a large community movement to keep the mustang running free and wild on the grasslands.

Barry Paton tames wild horses, but is also a champion horse rider and winner of endurance horse events like the prestigious 'Man from Snowy River' challenges.

"I caught up with her on the Heritage Horse ride in 2000 as they came around Australia and I met her in Wagga where I had my trick brumby show."

He is also an enthusiastic supporter of Australia's wild horses in the high country.

"I've lived in the mountains all my life and I have had a fair bit to do with brumbies, so I like to save them and keep them going, as I think it is terrible that the National Park are trying to get rid of them, because they have been here as long as white man has been here and they are our heritage."

Both Barry Paton and Katherin Guderian are supporters of the rights of the Australia brumby to run free, however there are many individuals, and government agencies that are involved in removing the horse from the wild, where it is blamed for causing damage to a fragile environment...

Read more here:

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Treating Laminitis with Acupuncture - Full Article

by: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Feature Editor
December 05 2011, Article # 19228

Acupuncture is a relatively simple treatment option veterinarians and horse owners consider for a variety of equine ailments, but little scientific evidence of its efficacy exists--particularly in regards to treating laminitis. Lisa Lancaster, MSc, PhD, DVM, of Lancaster Veterinary Services, in Denver, Colo., explored how this complementary therapy can be used as part of a multimodal approach to treating laminitis at the 6th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held Oct. 28-31 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

When treating laminitis, veterinarians' goals include reducing the horse's pain and inflammation, unloading the most compromised structures in the foot, and treating the underlying cause of the disease. Acupuncture can be useful and help boost efficacy of traditional treatments, according to Lancaster, with its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects and with its homeostatic (regulating) influences. The biggest asset this therapy offers for laminitis patients, however, is pain modulation.

"The needles send a message to the nervous system that can interrupt or reduce pain," Lancaster explained...

Read more here:

Soaking Hay: How Much Sugar is Actually Removed? - Full Article

by: Casie Bazay, BS, NBCAAM
November 30 2011, Article # 19217

Grasses and hays high in water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) can spell disaster for horses with laminitis or insulin resistance (IR). Some veterinarians and nutritionists suggest soaking hay to reduce the amount of WSC in the hay (because water-soluble means these simple sugars dissolve in water), but how much WSC content does soaking actually reduce? According to one team of researchers, it varies depending on how long the hay is submerged.

High WSC levels markedly affect blood-insulin responses in horses and often cause an exaggerated response in laminitic or IR horses. Exaggerated insulin responses can lead to potentially life-threatening bouts of laminitis.

Led by Annette Longland, BSc, PhD, DIC, of Equine and Livestock Nutrition Services in Wales, U.K., a group of researchers recently set out to test the effects of soaking on the WSC and crude protein (CP, to see how much protein was leached during hay soaking) of nine different hays from England and Wales.

The research team completely submerged two kilograms of the mixed species meadow or ryegrass hays either compacted in the flakes or shaken loose of the flake in large plastic tubs filled with 24 liters of 8°C (46°F) tap water. Hays were soaked for 20-minute, 40-minute, three-hour, and 16-hour periods. The researchers then dried the hays in an oven before analyzing them chemically...

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Outbreak Alert Gives Veterinarians and
Horse Owners the Edge in Fighting Disease

Colleen Scott

Public Relations Manager

Sullivan Higdon & Sink

(816) 283-4724

When it comes to equine health care, a partnership between horse owners and veterinarians is a must. Equally important is staying informed about potential disease threats that may put a horse’s health at risk. That’s the reason Merial launched, a free program used to notify horse owners and veterinarians about reports of equine disease throughout the country.

Since June 2011, the program has provided notification of more than 500 disease reports threatening the overall health and well being of horses. As of late October 2011, those notifications included 52 cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in seven states1 and 69 cases of equine West Nile virus (WNV)1 in 20 states. Notifications of other preventable diseases such as rabies, Potomac horse fever (PHF) and equine influenza have also been shared with concerned horse owners. Cases of Equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), which is highly contagious, have also been reported through the program.

“I think the Outbreak Alert program is an excellent way for my clients to stay informed about diseases that might threaten the health of their horses,” says Kerby Weaver, DVM, Wilhite & Frees Equine Hospital, Peculiar, Mo. “It is an especially valuable tool for horse owners who travel with their horses because they may not otherwise be aware of potential disease threats in the areas they are traveling to.”

In addition to the cases reported on the website, which are visually displayed on a map of the United States, the Outbreak Alert program also offers a notification system. Those who sign up for the free service receive an e-mail or text message when a disease is reported in a specific geographic area. Horse owners who travel may enter multiple zip codes so they can stay abreast of disease threats throughout the country.

Recently, printable reference materials and articles about the most common equine diseases, their transmission and potential impact on a horse’s health were added to the site. “Horse owners want to provide the best care possible for their horses,” says April Knudson, DVM, equine specialist for Merial’s Large Animal Veterinary Services. “Veterinarians can use these tools to help educate their clients, strengthening the veterinarian-client relationship. Ultimately, as horse owners become even more educated about the importance of preventive care, the horses will benefit.”

When considering vaccinations, horse owners should be aware of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) guidelines which include recommendations for vaccinating against core diseases, including WNV, EEE, Western equine encephalitis, tetanus and rabies.2 All of these diseases can have devastating effects on the short- and long-term health of horses. Of the horses diagnosed with WNV, one in three dies or must be euthanized.3 Horses diagnosed with EEE face as high as a 90 percent mortality rate.4,5 Rabies is always a death sentence to a horse.6

Veterinarians and horse owners can sign up for the service by visiting and clicking the “register” button in the top right corner. As soon as people register, they will begin receiving information about potential threats in their geographic areas as they occur.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company.

1 United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Available at: Accessed October 24, 2011.

2 Guidelines for Vaccination of Horses. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Available at: Accessed September 29, 2011.

3 Guidelines for the vaccination of horses: West Nile virus. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Available at Accessed September 28, 2011.

4 Mosquito Borne Diseases: Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis and West Nile Virus—Prevention is Just a Vaccine Away. Department of Animal Science. University of Connecticut. Available at: Accessed February 28, 2011.

5 Eastern/Western equine encephalomyelitis. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Available at: Accessed September 28, 2011.

6 Marteniuk J. Rabies in horses. Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Available at: Accessed October 24, 2011.

©Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIBGN1140 (10/11)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Slowing Feed Intake Might Reduce Insulin Spikes - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 3, 2011

The method by which you deliver your horse’s meals could affect insulin concentrations, and this could be valuable for horses with insulin resistance.

Research completed at North Carolina State University investigated the possibility of changing feed consumption rate through alternate delivery systems, thereby affecting insulin concentrations. Slowing consumption could be advantageous for horses with insulin resistance.

Using eight mature horses of mixed breeding and average body condition (score of 5 or 6), researchers used four feed delivery methods. The control consisted of a typical bucket with a diameter of 17 inches (43 centimeters) and a depth of 10 inches (20 centimeters). The three other methods included a typical bucket with four 4-inch (10-centimeter) diameter bocce balls as obstacles, a bucket with a waffle-like insert that rested at the bottom and created wells in which the feed settled, and a bucket in which an equal weight of water and feed were mixed and allowed to settle for 15 minutes prior to feeding...

Read more here:

Cryotherapy Methods to Treat Laminitis - Full Article

by: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Feature Editor
November 22 2011, Article # 19147

Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, has been shown to prevent laminitis in the at-risk equine patient and is often recommended for relieving pain and inflammation in the acutely laminitic horse. In a workshop at the 6th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held Oct. 28-31 in West Palm Beach, Fla., three laminitis researchers discussed commonly used cryotherapy methods.

Presenters included Christopher Pollitt, BVSc, PhD, director of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit and honorary professor of equine medicine at the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science; Andrew van Eps, BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, and Dipl. ACVIM, senior lecturer in equine medicine at the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science; and James Orsini, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, all of whom have studied and practiced cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, along with analgesia (pain relief), vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels), and hypometabolism (which reduces the metabolic demands of the foot or, as Orsini explained it, "puts the foot into a temporary state of hibernation"). The therapy's key mechanism is that it reduces enzymatic activity in the lamellar tissue by about 50% for every 10°C drop in tissue temperature. Benefits of this include:

Read more here:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Endurance Horse Training Basics Part 2: Tying examples

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Full Article

by Karen Chaton

Another very important lesson for an endurance horse is tying. They really need to be able to be tied to a variety of different things. Why? Well, let me tell you a story.

Many years ago on an endurance ride I heard a couple of horses galloping by my rig. It was about…oh, 4 a.m. I got up quickly and put shoes and a raincoat on. Of course it was raining!

My horses were both tied safely on their trailer ties. The loose horses came galloping past me again. They didn’t have halters on them. I was able to grab a couple of halters, ropes, and a bucket with some grain in it. Woke up a friend next to me and we went in pursuit of these loose horses. We were eventually able to catch them with the bucket of feed, and we got halters on them easily enough. Then we went to tie them up to a trailer so that we could go in search of who they belonged to.

Endurance Horse Training Basics Part 2: Tying examplesThe horses didn’t tie. They panicked, freaking out, slipping and falling all over the place...

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Combat Hock Problems in Horses - Full Article

By Elaine Pascoe with Gary Baxter, VMD

Wear and tear can break down these critical joints. Here are the latest targeted treatment options to avoid hock problems in horses.

Your horse is leaning on the bit, unwilling to bring his hind end up under himself or really use his hindquarters as he moves. When he takes a fence, he doesn’t push off with the power you know he has. Is he getting lazy? Regressing in his training? Or is it hock problems?

The hocks are a key part of your horse’s hind-end driving mechanism. Actions such as jumping and work at collected gaits, which call for extra hind-end effort, are especially tough on these hard-working joints. So are tight turns and small circles, which load the hocks unevenly and apply twisting force. With time and miles, the joints can start to break down and cause hock problems in horses.

That’s the bad news—but there’s good news, too. You can take steps to keep your horse working comfortably and extend his career, even when hock problems start to develop. In this article, we’ll explain what goes wrong and what you can do...

Read more here:

Study: Dental Work Improves Feed Digestibility in Horses - Full Article

by: Kelleyerin Clabaugh, DVM
November 18 2011, Article # 19148

Many horse owners do not recognize signs of dental disease until a horse has obvious difficulty chewing, reduced appetite, feed dropping, and weight loss. Thus, even horses with mild dental disease benefit significantly from corrective dental work, according to recent research by a team from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in Germany.

In the study, researchers evaluated voluntary hay intake, fecal particle size, and nutrient digestibility of nine adult Warmbloods--that all chewed normally, but had mild to moderate enamel points of the molars and premolars--before and after dental correction.

Because the horses selected for the study were not having any apparent difficulty chewing, the researchers were not surprised to learn that voluntary feed consumption did not change after floating the horses' teeth. The horses continued to ingest the same amount of food as before the procedure, indicating they were not any more or any less comfortable.

On the contrary, the team was surprised to find that fecal particle length did not change after treatment. Previous studies involving horses with more significant dental disease revealed that fiber length was shorter after flotation. Thus, fecal fiber length could be a good predictor of severe, but not subtle, dental disease.

In the current study chemical analysis of the fecal material indicated increased nutrient digestibility of dry matter, energy, and crude fiber. "Even the correction of moderate dental findings may increase apparent digestibility significantly," the authors noted...

Read more here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Benefits of basic training: an example! (or two)

Karen Chaton's Enduranceridestuff Blog - Full Article

Thought I’d show a perfect example of a time when having a horse trained to not panic when he gets caught in something can be a lifesaver.

A couple of years ago I was riding Chief at the Grand Canyon XP. We had just come up a steep climb and were starting to level out. I was riding behind a small group of horses ahead of me.

That’s when I realized all of a sudden that Chief was dragging something! We had been in heavy tree cover and no one saw the wire. All it took was one strand of it to get caught, dragging the roll with it. Here is what I wrote about it at the time:

On one of the days of the ride I was riding up a new trail when Chief suddenly became entangled in barbed wire. Rusty old, nasty stuff. Chief wasn’t the first horse to get caught in it–Cheryl Johnson’s horse ahead of us got caught and got a puncture. Fortunately Chief stopped and stood perfectly still as soon as he realized he was caught and dragging a whole roll of the stuff. I quickly hopped off, told him to stay (which he did) and went to his hind legs to get it off of him. He was perfectly behaved about it and didn’t even lift a leg up until I picked it up. Good boy!

The best part was that Chief stood perfectly still – I flipped his reins over his head so that he was ground tied...

Read more here:

Trail Survival Guide - Full Article

Trail riders’ famous last words and other dos, don’ts and dilemmas.

By Jennifer Nice

The trail is washed out and impassable. Your friend’s horse is showing signs of heat stress. You have a sneaking suspicion that you are lost. It’s getting dark and your feet are killing you. These are some of the many predicaments that trail riders seem to get themselves into.

It’s not that trail riders are more accident-prone than other riders, but their sense of adventure does occasionally lead to perils and pitfalls. Here is some advice so you don’t find yourself uttering every trail rider’s famous last words: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Wardrobe Malfunctions
You’re several hours into a ride and your feet are throbbing. You realize that it was a mistake to ride in a brand-new pair of boots. Your new jeans are making you wish you’d bought a roomier pair. What’s worse is you still have two hours of riding left. You’re so desperately uncomfortable that you would do almost anything to get out of the offending articles of clothing. What are your options?

Dismount and walk for a little while. You can also adjust the length of your stirrups to relieve the pressure on your feet, and some of the restriction of your tight new jeans.

You want to be adequately protected in both hot and cold weather, so choose your clothing carefully. Dress in layers that you can shed if necessary. Wear comfortable shoes that you have already broken in, with heels that are designed for riding so your feet won’t slip through the stirrups. Stories of riders who are critically—even fatally—injured as a result of getting a foot caught in a stirrup are all too common. You certainly don’t want to be one of the statistics. The same goes for riding helmets. The body heals; the brain doesn’t...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Feeding Endurance Horses Day to Day - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 10, 2011

Endurance horses are arguably the most complicated equine athletes to feed correctly. Although research on feeding for long-distance, low-intensity work is still ongoing, equine nutritionists have devised a general nutritional strategy based on current knowledge to give you and your horse the best chance of success, whether you want to be first over the line, or you just want to complete the ride with a happy, healthy horse.

At the Kentucky Equine Research (KER) facility in the United States, five Arabian horses were used specifically for endurance research. The results of feed trials with these horses, along with international consultation to a huge number of clients, led to a better understanding of how nutrition affects performance, and how critical correct nutrition is for the endurance horse. The following recommendations for day to day training are based on KER’s research and experience with endurance horses.

Feed diets high in good-quality forage such as pasture, grass hay, or mixed grass/legume hay. These forage sources can be fed free choice to endurance horses...

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Endurance horse training basics

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Karen Chaton

I’m going to do a series of blog posts about basic training for an endurance horse. I will include things that are often lacking in the education of many horses that travel and that are taken on trips overnight. After riding this season, especially on the long XP ride I am left feeling that there are just too many riders out there who seriously lack some of the basics, or perhaps the knowledge required to teach their horses some of the basics.

I hope that this series will help out new riders who may not realize how serious a wreck or accident can occur from a hole in their horse’s basic training.

These are the topics I’m going to cover. If anybody has any suggestions for something else that they would like to see covered, let me know.

1. Hobble training. Very basic. Have posted numerous times on this before.
2. Tying: Does your horse panic if he gets tangled up or wrapped around a bucket, or the end of a hitching post?...

Read more here:

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Barefoot Life
If you are considering pulling your horse's shoes, or have already gone the barefoot route, three hoof care experts offer their advice.
By Marcia King

You’ve decided to let your horse go barefoot but are receiving conflicting advice on how to best manage him. You thought you could just have the shoes pulled and let your horse go, save for the occasional trimming.

Before you decide to pull your horse's shoes for good, consider his living and working conditions.

But some friends have given you a big, fairly complicated Must-Do list, culled from various sources, and now you’re not sure what to do—which is no surprise to Walt Taylor, certified farrier, Albuquerque, N.M. Taylor knows a thing or two about hoof care: He’s been a farrier since 1948, is the founder, former president and current secretary of the American Farrier’s Association (AFA), and creator of the World Farriers Association. He says, “I am a bit nonplussed by all the fuss over this subject. It seems that we are making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, in the worst possible way. When we intellectualize and extrapolate some of the most simple subjects, they become much more than they actually are.”
To help you skirt those unnecessary mountains, Taylor, along with Lisa Simons Lancaster, who is a DVM and farrier, and Jeff Ridley, a certified journeyman farrier, give you practical advice you can use. Dr. Lancaster, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is the author of The Sound Hoof: Horse Health From the Ground Up. She has also collaborated with Robert M. Bowker, VMD, director of Michigan State University’s famed Equine Foot Laboratory. Ridley, of Leighton, Iowa, has earned the AFA’s Therapeutic Endorsement, a program that addresses strategies for horses with specific lameness problems.

Barefoot or Not

The most important issue is, can your horse go unshod? If health and conditions are such that hoof wear does not exceed hoof growth, the answer is yes. If the hoof wears down faster than it grows, then you’re either going to have to shoe your horse or alter the conditions that lead to excess hoof wear.

Good candidates for going barefoot are horses that:

have sound, healthy, normal hooves
have reasonably good conformation
live and work on the same surfaces: If a barefoot horse lives on soft bedding 23 hours a day and is then expected to work one hour a day on hard terrain, he’s probably not going to do well. But he might be fine if he works only in soft, even footing.

Dr. Lancaster explains the benefits of working and living on the same surfaces: “In the dry rocky terrain of Colorado, I had many clients whose barefoot horses were living in hard-packed dirt paddocks, and they were sound on the most rugged terrain.”

In general, unlikely barefoot candidates are horses that:

have poor conformation: Taylor cites conformation examples including severe to extreme anterior or posterior and/or medial or lateral imbalance, angular limb deformities affecting fetlocks, knees or hocks, et cetera.
work extensively and/or primarily on hard, abrasive surfaces
work on a surface that’s different than their housing surface

There are exceptions to these rules, of course. Due to genetics or other unknown factors, some horses just cannot seem to tolerate going barefoot, even under ideal circumstances. And then there is the opposite: A few years ago, the late Emil Carre, former AFA president and certified journeymen farrier, recalled a Quarter Horse endurance mount he once owned. “By the time [the horse] was 23, he’d gone on eight 100-mile rides, and over 3,000 miles in National Trail Ride Association competitions, and that horse practically lived barefoot. We trained him four to six months a year barefoot. He had thick walls and thick soles. It was through genetics and breeding.”

“There is no sure way to know ahead of time if the horse will do well barefoot,” Dr. Lancaster explains. “Generally, owners curious about barefoot just go ahead and try it!” That said, prior to pulling the shoes, have your farrier or veterinarian examine your horse, as they might notice something questionable that you were unaware of.

If you can, wait until the off-season before removing your horse’s shoes, Dr. Lancaster advises. “That way the horse has some time to adjust before being asked to perform,” she says. “For horses that perform year-round give it a try any time, but be prepared to reduce the workload for a while.”

Note that while some horses have no problem adjusting to being unshod (usually those that work only on soft ground), other newly barefoot horses can become lame. “Sometimes a perfectly sound horse becomes quite lame when the shoes first come off if the owner rides on hard-packed terrain; these horses will need a period of adjustment with a slow-riding, easy workload before the feet toughen up,” Dr. Lancaster says. “How long that adjustment takes is difficult to predict and depends on many factors—how much work they are getting, how different the terrain is from their living surface, in what condition their feet are in to start off with, whether the owner wants to do light pleasure riding or compete in a hard-terrain 100-mile endurance race. But keep in mind that some horses never adapt to hard surfaces. The feet look good, the horse is sound on soft surfaces, but [the hooves] just never get tough on the dirt roads or rocks.”

Maintaining the Unshod Horse
Numerous variables dictate how you will manage your barefoot horse, but here’s what you can expect:

Altered farrier schedule. “Frequency of farrier appointments for the barefoot horse depends on how the foot wears,” Dr. Lancaster says. “Some horses need to be trimmed more often (as frequently as every three to five weeks) because you can’t take as much hoof off; they become sore post-trim if more than 1/8 inch is removed.”

On the other hand, some barefoot horses do best with a longer interval of eight to 10 weeks between trimmings, according to Ridley. “Many barefoot horses can go a little longer because they are wearing off foot daily.”

“I have not found any need for different angles or other trim parameters in horses to be shod compared to those left barefoot,” Dr. Lancaster says.

Taylor agrees, as does Ridley. “Angles will remain the same, but the foot should be left a little a longer as it must maintain concavity, and vertical depth will be more conducive to staying barefoot,” Ridley says.

“Trimming the foot that is to be left without shoes should be more conservative than if the horse will be shod,” Taylor adds. “Extra length of wall, less frog paring and removal of less dead sole are all indicated. The hoof-pastern axis must be kept straight or slightly broken forward.”

Seasonal adaptation. Your horse’s trimming schedule—and even his ability to go barefoot—could change with the seasons. For starters, hoof growth varies under different weather conditions. Seasonal changes can also alter the terrain, thus affecting the feet.

This can be challenging if the horse has a tendency to be sore on variable terrain,” Dr. Lancaster states. “Many horses have trouble in the winter on uneven frozen ground, and may need shoes if they are expected to work on such ground. The wet spring and dry summers can also cause horses some foot pain if they work on ground much different than what they live on.”

Then, too, Ridley points out, a change in season sometimes brings a change in the work schedule, which, in turn, could affect hoof wear, trimming schedule, or the need for shoes. If hoof wear exceeds growth, it’s clear that the horse needs hoof protection and that may mean shoes.

A different work schedule. “Sessions may need to be altered when you first start a horse barefoot,” Lancaster says. “You have to give the feet a chance to adjust and to get used to the new demands. Keep in mind that it is not practical to remove shoes during the middle of competition season and expect the horse to continue the same level of performance.”

Even after a horse adjusts, you may sometimes have to back off your schedule if hoof wear exceeds growth; reducing the horse’s work or training allows the hoof capsule to regrow to a comfortable length, important for protecting interior sensitive structures, Taylor says.

Monitoring your horse’s hooves. “Wear on the hoof wall is the critical factor, in my opinion,” Taylor says. Watch for signs that your horse is beginning to react to too much wear or ground injury; signs include an unwillingness to move out, tender-footed or lameness, changes in his way of going, et cetera.

“Bare feet should be examined or trimmed by a competent farrier to determine if the hoof capsule is withstanding the wear that it is being subjected to,” Taylor suggests. “Look for collapsed or underrun heels, a broken wall that threatens sensitive structures, corns or sole bruises, or a torn or injured frog.”

Good Advice
So can your horse go barefoot? Perhaps the only way you’ll know for sure is to give it a try. “Put the horse in the best conditions that you can provide, and evaluate whether or not he can be maintained barefoot,” Ridley says. “It is great if your horse can stay barefoot—some can, some cannot.”

Read more expert opinions on care of the barefoot horse.

Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio.
read full article here

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spring Training - Full Article

Starting a conditioning program.
By Nancy S. Loving, DVM

In the wild, a band of horses will travel far distances each day in search of forage and water. It is not uncommon for wild horse herds to range 10 to 20 miles in a day. But what happens when we take our normally sedentary, domesticated horses out of a small pasture or paddock confinement and attempt to put them to work in athletic sports? The situation becomes more complex. For one, a horse in athletic pursuits is usually asked to move out at a faster and more consistent pace than what he might select given his own options, and he must carry your weight on his back during these exertions.

To make the journey as safe as possible for your horse, you’ll want to commit to a conditioning program. The goal of conditioning is to develop the horse’s structural and metabolic foundation to withstand the stress of exercise with minimal injury. A horse that is brought along too quickly is destined to fail structurally. An athletic horse doesn’t just pop out of the pasture ready to compete. You should outline your personal goals, then plan a conditioning strategy that considers your horse’s starting point and the demands of your desired equine discipline. Taking the time to build a structural foundation will pay dividends in your horse’s future performance...

Read more here:

Leg Weights Help Rehabilitate Hind Limb Gait Issues - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
November 04 2011, Article # 19064

Unlike in human medicine, where physical therapy (PT) is widely embraced and an abundance of science supports the use of various PT techniques and tools, the science supporting PT in horses is lacking. This leaves veterinarians and horse owners alike wondering what works and what doesn't.

"In an attempt to provide a scientific basis for the use of PT and rehabilitation in the equine industry, I focused my research efforts on evidence-based research studies in this area," said Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Vice President of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Clayton, together with equine physical therapist Narelle Stubbs, BAppSc (Phty), MAnimST (Animal Physiotherapy) of the Animal Rehabilitation Institute, in Loxahatchee, Fla., has published several studies assessing how PT might improve toe dragging and short striding in horses. In these studies researchers attached bracelets or light leg weights around horses' pasterns to stimulate receptors in the skin...

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Easycare blog - Full Article

Monday, November 7, 2011 by EasyCare Customer Service Team
A few weeks ago, I gave an overview of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC), the largest competitive trail riding organization. I have received some questions regarding the differences between NATRC and the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC). In the following posts, I will do my best to shed some light on these differences.

Hoof boots are used in both disciplines but prior to the 2011 ride season, the only Easyboot that NATRC allowed was the Original Easyboot. Thankfully, there was a rule change and now boots with gaiters can be used in competition. The Easyboot Glove is currently the most popular boot among NATRC riders but Easyboot Epics also have a strong following. AERC has never had restrictions on hoof boots and while Gloves and Epics are still popular boots with endurance riders, the Easyboot Glue-On is the way to go for 100 mile or multiday rides. This year at Tevis, 8 of the top 20 horses wore Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Having been involved with NATRC for several years, I have noticed that many members have misconceptions about endurance. The most common one that comes to mind is endurance riders are crazy and so are their horses. Now I haven’t spent too much time around endurance riders, but so far the ones I’ve met seem more or less sane...

Read more here:

Pre-Purchase Exam: Better Quality Assurance - Full Article

Learn about how a pre-purchase exam can help determine if the horse you're interested in buying is sound and healthy.
By Cynthia McFarland

Before buying your horse, an exam should be set up with a seperate veterinarian to ensure the horse is in good shape. If you can't judge a book by its cover, you certainly can't rely on casual observation when it comes to buying a horse. Once you've narrowed the field and found a horse that is a good match for you, it's time to schedule a pre-purchase exam. It may be tempting to skip the exam if you are considering a fairly inexpensive horse, or think you already know the animal, but the fact is you can never go wrong with a thorough exam before buying the horse. If everything is fine, the exam is added assurance that you are making the right decision. Should the veterinarian uncover a problem or health issue, the pre-purchase exam can save you untold grief, frustration and money down the road.

Setting Up the Exam
A pre-purchase exam should be conducted by a licensed equine veterinarian who has no connection to the seller. If you don't have an equine veterinarian who you work with already, ask your horse friends to recommend someone they trust. You can also contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners ( and inquire about veterinarians in your area...

Read more here:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Laminitis due to endocrine disorders - Full Article

Hormonal disturbance (endocrinopathy) appears to be a common underlying cause of laminitis according to research from Finland.

The study, conducted between April 2007 and August 2008 at Helsinki University Equine Teaching Hospital, looked for signs of endocrinopathy in all cases of laminitis presented for examination. Almost 90% of horses with laminitis had endocrine abnormalities.

Hyperinsulinaemia, associated with obesity was the most common cause, accounting for two thirds of all cases of endocrinopathic laminitis. Cushing’s disease (or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction: PPID) was responsible for a third of the endocrine-associated laminitis cases.

Dr Ninja Karikoski and colleagues examined 36 horses and ponies with laminitis. Thirty-two of them (89%) had signs of endocrinopathy.

A full report of the research has been published in the journal Domestic Animal Endocrinopathy.

Eleven horses had signs of PPID - hirsutism (long curly coat) and increased basal ACTH concentration or typical response to a dexamethasone suppression test.

Twenty-one horses had raised basal levels of insulin in the blood without signs of hirsutism. All but one of these hyperinsulinaemic horses were overweight. Twelve had a body condition score (BCS) of four, (on a scale from zero to five, where five is obese) and eight had BCS of five...

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feeding Endurance Horses: Competition Day

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 20, 2011

You and your horse will put in weeks or months of training to get ready for a race. Here’s how to plan your competition day so that your horse has the best chance, from a nutritional management standpoint, of giving you his maximal performance when the time comes.

Arrival. Try to arrive at the competition at least four hours prior to the start time. This allows the horse to recover from the journey and become settled in the new environment, reducing stress and putting him in the best frame of mind for competition. It also allows you to settle and prepare for the task. Feed a small grain meal (about 1 kg or 2.2 lb) on arrival to top up glycogen stores, and allow access to a small amount of hay and/or grazing. After this meal, feed no more grain and only small amounts of hay for the four hours prior to start time.

Feeding hay. Feeding small amounts of hay regularly up to start time will stimulate water intake and maintain gut health and natural gut function. Lucerne (alfalfa) hay can be beneficial at this time to boost calcium levels. Horses lose calcium in sweat, so it is a good idea to top up reserves with some lucerne just prior to competition.

Electrolyte loading. Loading the horse with electrolytes is commonly practiced amongst endurance riders. Many riders start their horses on electrolytes 24 hours prior to the competition. Giving the horse large doses of electrolytes prior to competition is not recommended. Overloading electrolytes can cause shifts in fluid balance, which could be detrimental to performance. Furthermore, evidence shows that the horse stores only what it requires at the time. Since the horse has not yet lost electrolytes through sweat, the majority of the preloaded salts are lost in urine before competition begins. It may be beneficial to give an electrolyte supplement within the last hour before competition to stimulate thirst, but the major benefit of electrolyte administration is at rest stops and post race.
Choose an electrolyte supplement containing high concentrations of sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

The most important ingredient in your electrolyte is salt. Choose an electrolyte supplement containing high concentrations of sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Beware of products containing high levels of dextrose. You can provide sugars simply by giving a small grain meal. Avoid alkaline electrolytes containing bicarbonate or citrate as these can contribute to making the horse alkalotic during and after the ride.

Feeding at rest stops. Prepare the horse’s grain for the day by splitting the ration into four equal parts to be fed throughout the day. Try not to feed more than 1 kg (2.2 lb) of grain or other high-starch/sugar feed in any one meal. Feeding large grain meals causes spikes in blood glucose. In this situation, the horse metabolises glucose rather than mobilising fat as an energy source, and in endurance horses this can contribute to premature fatigue.

It is best to wait until the horse’s heart rate has returned to its resting level before feeding grain. Coming into rest stops, ensure that the heart rate is on its way down so that you will have enough time to feed and allow digestion to begin before you have to be off again. Many successful endurance riders feed a slurry-type feed during rest stops based on sugar beet or bran with added carrots, apples, and electrolytes. Often endurance horses will not eat a regular grain meal at rest stops, but will readily eat the slurry feed. This is a great way of getting electrolytes and water into the horse. A small amount of grain (1/2 to 1 kg, or 1 to 2 lb) can be added to the feeds for a quick carbohydrate boost. Feeding good- quality lucerne hay or mixed grass/lucerne hay and allowing grazing at rest stops is also beneficial for energy, gut fill, stimulating water intake, and increasing calcium levels as well as settling your horse with a familiar behaviour pattern.

Water. Obviously, the horse should be allowed access to water at every opportunity along the ride and at each rest stop. Giving electrolytes during the ride as well as at rest stops and allowing grazing and access to hay will all stimulate thirst and help to ensure correct hydration.

Post-race feeding. When the race is over, you need to replenish the horse’s lost energy. After the horse’s heart rate has returned to a normal resting level, feed the final grain meal of the day. This can be slightly larger than the other meals given (around 2 kg or 4.4 lb, plus chaff). Access to grazing and hay can return to free choice. For the next 48 hours, split feeds into four each day. The horse may need to be fed more than usual to replace lost glycogen or body weight. This is best fed in the form of highly digestible fibre, fat, and processed grains. The 48-hour period right after the race is when endurance horses lose most of their weight. The horse has expended a lot of energy and needs to replenish his reserves. Free-choice good-quality hay and water are vital at this time. It is a good idea to supplement both electrolytes and B-vitamins to stimulate appetite, replenish reserves, and speed up recovery. Supplementation with vitamin E and selenium for two to three days after the race can help to ease stiff or sore muscles. Feeding levels can be reduced back to normal after the critical 48-hour period.

Recovery. Following a race, turnout over the first 48 hours is best, allowing free-choice exercise. Where this is not possible or pasture is restricted, regular hand-walking is recommended to stretch the muscles and ease stiffness. After two to three days, the horse can be lightly ridden. Ridden work can be gradually increased over the next seven days to get the horse back into training for the next ride.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Manage a Quarter Crack in Equine Hooves - Full Article

by: Nancy S. Loving, DVM
March 17 2011, Article # 17941

Lameness caused by quarter cracks is a nemesis of horses and owners, and treatment is often a complex and time-consuming process. At the 2010 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 4-8 in Baltimore, Md., Steve O'Grady, BVSc, MRCVS, of Northern Virginia Equine, in Marshall, discussed the importance of these injuries and how, with exception of traumatic injury cases, it's rare to see a quarter crack without a concurrent sheared heel.

O'Grady described sheared heels as a common hoof capsule deformation caused by disproportionate loading on one side of the foot. This results in one heel bulb displacing upward relative to the adjacent heel bulb. Tissue on the displaced side between the hoof wall and surface of the short pastern bone changes shape, resulting in constant foot pain in the back of the hoof. Over time, uneven loading leads to hoof capsule distortion, subsolar bruising, corns, hoof wall separation, and quarter cracks.

According to O'Grady, veterinarians and farriers should target and correct sheared heel conformation by stabilizing the heels and repairing the crack. He explained that the hoof capsule's viscoelastic nature normally allows it to deform when stress is applied; yet, hoof capsule distortion occurs when compressive and shear forces exceed its capacity to deform.

This overload of the heel creates structural changes that make the hoof more upright, he explained. This decreases the foot's ground surface contact, the hoof wall straightens, heels contract, and the foot narrows. The overloaded heel rolls under with a hoof wall flare developing on the opposite side of the foot. The ungual (collateral) cartilage (on either side of the coffin bone, thought to function in hoof expansion/shock absorption) becomes trapped on the displaced side, restricting hoof expansion...

Read more here:

Fish Oil Reduces Inflammatory Joint Compounds in Horses - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 14, 2011

Elevating omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in mammalian diets has been shown to decrease inflammatory processes in the joint. Researchers from Colorado State University investigated the intra-articular production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a potent inflammatory compound, following 90 days of oral supplementation with two different types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Twenty-one mature mares with no history of joint disease or recent lameness were separated into three groups. One group was fed the basal diet and a commercial fish oil rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at a rate of 69 mg/kg body weight, a second group was fed alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) via a flaxseed supplement at a rate of 68.6 mg/kg body weight, and a third group served as the control. Following 90 days of supplementation, synovial fluid was removed from a carpal joint of each horse, and PGE2 levels were measured. There was a trend for fish oil-supplemented horses to have lower PGE2 in their joints compared to control horses...

Read more here:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Isn’t My Horse Gaining Weight? - Full Article

By Dr. Clarissa Brown-Douglas · August 25, 2011

It seems like your thin horse is constantly eating, but he just doesn’t seem to hold any weight. What might be going on?

There are several major issues to consider when trying to put weight on a thin horse.

Health issues

The first step in trying to change a horse’s body condition is to get a full medical workup to see if there’s a health reason as to why he’s not picking up condition as he should.

Dental problems are commonly cited as a reason for inability to gain or maintain weight. Horses must chew their food thoroughly in order to digest it completely; if their teeth are in poor or neglected shape, they might not be able to chew. A sharp or infected tooth can also cause oral discomfort, making the horse hesitant to eat.

Gastric ulcers can also result in inappetence. A recent study revealed that over 58% of horses across various disciplines had gastric ulcers. Some horses that are ill for other reasons or stressed will eat better when treated with drugs that reduce stomach acid, even though they do not actually have ulcers.

When high concentrations of fructans are found in pasture grasses or when large grain meals are fed, horses digest these highly fermentable sugars in the hindgut. A condition known as subclinical acidosis can result in decreased feed intake, mild to moderate colic of unknown origin, poor feed efficiency with weight loss, poor attitude, loss of performance, and development of vices such as cribbing and wood-chewing. A hindgut buffer, such as EquiShure, helps neutralize gut conditions by preventing the drastic drop in pH associated with high lactate production...

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shedding Light on Strangles in Horses - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
October 01 2010, Article # 17697

Researchers are working to develop a safe and effective vaccine for this highly contagious disease.

One morning you find your horse with his head in a stall corner, feed still in his bucket and discharge coming from his nose. You check his temperature and find it's elevated. When your veterinarian examines him, she says he might have strangles.

This highly contagious equine disease is caused by a bacterium (Streptococcus equi) that gains access to the body through the nose or throat. Some affected horses suffer breathing obstruction due to enlarged lymph nodes that narrow the air passages--hence, the name strangles.

For these reasons strangles causes considerable concern to horse owners and veterinarians, especially given the difficulty in developing an effective and safe vaccine. Containing the disease requires diligent biosecurity measures.

"Although horses can recover from and then have immunity to this disease, some horses do not respond to typical treatments or have a more serious infection and complications," says Josie Traub-Dargatz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Colorado State University.

The Disease

Clinical signs of strangles include abrupt onset of fever, upper respiratory tract discharges, and acute swelling and abscess formation in lymph nodes in the head and throat/neck areas. The bacteria target the tonsillar regions (located in the back of the throat and on the tongue) if the horse lacks adequate immunity. If a horse is very susceptible or exposed to large doses of bacteria, the infection might attack the lymph nodes--and other parts of the body...

Read more here:

Autumn is Time to Prepare Horses for Cold, Wet Winters - Full Article

by: Edited Press Release
October 01 2011, Article # 18899

It's autumn and this means it's time to start preparing for winter--and that includes getting your horses prepared for the colder weather, too. The American Youth Horse Council reminds every horse owner or caretaker that cold, wet weather brings additional considerations for the well-being of our equines.

Food and Water:

* Forage for Heat and Health: Digesting food is the horse's most effective source of heat. Cold weather increases the horse's calorie requirements; make sure to adjust quantity accordingly. And, as pasture quality declines or you transition your horse to hay, consider supplementing with concentrates containing minerals and vitamins. (Read more about feeding horses in winter in Equine Winter Nutrition.)
* Water: Horses need water year-round for healthy digestion. Horses can't get the necessary amounts of water solely from eating snow, so ensure your horse has ready access to nonfrozen water at all times.
* Teeth: Teeth in poor condition will prevent the horse from getting adequate calories and nutrition to keep his weight stable during the cold winter months. Have teeth attended to now so the horse doesn't have to play nutritional catch-up during or immediately after the winter.

Bodily Comfort:

* Wooly Coat: The horse's coat is designed to keep him warm. Let it grow and thicken naturally to provide your horse with nature's intended insulation.
* Shelter: Even a luxurious natural coat will lose insulating loft if it gets wet, and wind can strip a horse's body heat. Provide shelter at all times that allows for reprieve from the rain, snow, and wind.
* Extra Insulation: In cold climates, a clipped horse will probably need a blanket, as might older horses or those in poor health. But a wet blanket (from weather or the horse's own sweat) can be just as useless as a wet hair coat. Provide a blanket that is waterproof and breathable, and remove the blanket often to check that the horse is maintaining proper body weight and his coat for skin and hair condition.

Health Matters:

* Vaccinations: Check with your veterinarian about fall vaccinations, especially for the horse still exposed to others outside his regular herd. Keeping your horse properly vaccinated will help keep him healthy through the cold winter.
* Parasite Control: Maintain a regular deworming plan. After the first heavy frost, use a product that kills bot larvae.
* Hooves: Keep up with hoof care. Hooves continue to growth throughout the winter. If possible, let the horse go barefoot for the winter for safer traction and to avoid snow build-up that can cause sole bruising. If barefoot is not an option, discuss options for providing your horse with better traction with your farrier

Learn more about the importance of nutrition, vaccinations, and deworming programs designed to keep your horse healthy in Understanding Equine Preventive Medicine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Carbohydrates 101 for Horses - Full Article

by: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, MSc, PhD
March 01 2011, Article # 18816

These sugars, starches, and fibers are important energy sources for the horse and crucial to equine digestive health.

From glucose to frustose to lactose--not to mention a laundry list of other "oses"--carbohydrates can be incredibly confusing. But this group of sugar-based compounds, also called saccharides, comprises important energy sources for the horse. Therefore, understanding them and utilizing them in your horse's diet are crucial. They also are a major component of forages, a staple of the horse's diet, and are required for digestive health.

The simplest carbohydrates are monosaccharides (made up of one unit and also called simple sugars), such as glucose, fructose, xylose, and galactose. Another type of carbohydrate is a disaccharide (two sugars bonded together), which includes lactose (found commonly in milk, made from a unit of glucose and galactose) and sucrose (table sugar, made from glucose and fructose). Then there are oligosaccharides (three to 200 units each) and polysaccharides, or "complex carbohydrates" (each made up of multiple units, typically 200-2,000, which include compounds such as starch and cellulose). Cellulose is considered a type of dietary fiber, along with hemicellulose, lignin, pectins, and fructans.

How Carbs Work

After a horse consumes the carbohydrates found in forages and grains, the actions of enzymes found primarily in the small intestine break disaccharides and starch into monosaccharides that are then absorbed into the bloodstream, where they are converted for energy or energy storage (more on this in a moment). Dietary fibers, on the other hand, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins, are not digested by enzymes, but instead undergo fermentation...

Read more here:

Understanding Feeds for the Busy Owner - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
May 01 2008, Article # 11957

Providing a complete and balanced diet does not need to be complicated or a drain on time, energy, or finances.

Feeding horses can be a daunting and time-consuming task, particularly if owners attempt to optimize and maximize their horse's diet by unnecessarily introducing concentrates, vitamins, or other supplements. But providing a complete diet does not have to be time-consuming or expensive.

Step 1: Stop!

Horses require six nutrients in their diet: water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Except for most of the water requirements, almost all of a horse's remaining dietary requirements can be obtained from a single source: forage.

"Adult horses that are not involved in moderate to heavy work do not generally require grain," advises Eleanor Kellon, VMD, proprietor of Equine Nutrition Solutions in Pennsylvania.

In fact, Kellon suggests that many horses will maintain an appropriate body weight and obtain all necessary nutrients on pasture and free-choice hay alone.

The only exception to this rule is sodium. According to Equine Extension Specialist Carey Williams, PhD, from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, all horses require plain white salt, regardless of their feeding regime. The salt can be offered either free-choice as a salt block or as 1-2 tablespoons top-dressed if the horse does not care for the licks.

A mineral block (widely known as the "red block") is not essential, required, or recommended for the majority of horses because the levels of minerals (other than sodium) in the block are not at the level required by horses.

"In addition, some horses may consume a 50-pound block in a matter of days, which could cause problems with the mineral balance of their system," explains Williams.

Step 2: Weigh your Hay

If owners wish to feed hay in a daily ration instead of free-choice, each horse requires approximately 1.5 to 2.5% of their body weight in hay per day. Therefore, an average 1,000-pound horse will eat approximately 20 pounds of hay on a daily basis. Since counting flakes or "eyeballing" hay is an unreliable estimate at best, the only way to know how much hay you are feeding is to weigh it...

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Easyboot Gluing Tips and Tricks for Wet and Cold Weather Conditions Blog - Full Article

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 by Garrett Ford

The 2011 Tevis Cup 100 Mile Horse Race is days away. The EasyCare staff will be helping many of the horses competing in the event with Easyboot Glue-On boot installation during the week of October 3rd. This is the third consecutive year that Easyboots have been the leading alternative choice of hoof protection choices for Tevis Cup riders. The lightweight race boots are perfect for the rocky, technical conditions.

The weather forecast for California and the Sierra Mountains calls for rain, snow and wind for Tuesday October 3rd, Wednesday October 4th and Thursday October 5th. The weather looks like it will clear for the event but will present difficult conditions for our gluing teams. Wet and cold conditions present challenges but should not influence glue-on success.

Here is my shortlist of tips and tricks that make hoof boot gluing more successful in wet or cold weather conditions.

1. Start with a well trimmed horse before the event. The last thing needed to complicate wet and cold conditions is a poorly trimmed hoof.
2. Glues don't do well with oil, moisture and cold. Make sure no oils or hoof conditioners get onto the hoof. Refrain from washing the horse before the event with shampoo: the oils run down the legs and coat the feet. No fly spray on the feet and hoof walls before the event.
3. If it’s raining, keep your horse in a trailer or stall with shavings. Although it may be cramped in there, it's a perfect place to glue because it's warm and dry...

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Risk Factors for Elimination During Endurance Rides Examined - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
September 21 2011, Article # 18857

Endurance rides covering distances from 40 to 160 kilometers in a 24-hour period are grueling tasks for both horse and rider. So it's not surprising to learn that up to 60% of horses can be eliminated for health reasons during the competition. A team of U.S. researchers recently set out to determine which factors, at the start and in the first or second half of rides, contribute to endurance horses' elimination from competition.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to look at a number of risk factors in a large group of horses over multiple rides to identify reasons that horses fail during competition," relayed lead author Langdon Fielding, DVM, Dipl. ACVECC, of Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center, in Loomis, Calif. "This data can help riders and veterinarians improve the completion rate and perhaps even prevent illness and injuries."

Fielding and colleagues collected rider cards (which contain detailed information about the animal) from 3,493 horses and collaborating veterinary information regarding the physical examinations during 2007 American Endurance Ride Conference sanctioned rides.

The researchers found that:

* The overall elimination rate was 18.9% (660 of 3,493 horses);
* The most common reasons for elimination were lameness (312/660) and metabolic problems (147/660); metabolic causes include poor heart rate recovery, colic, exhaustion, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (thumps), and exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying-up);
* Appaloosas, Quarter Horses, and other breeds with higher body mass index (compared to Arabians, one of the most common breeds in endurance competition) appeared to have an increased risk of elimination;
* Not surprisingly, higher elimination rates were noted in longer rides; and
* Abnormalities in gait at the start of the competition were not associated with elimination; however, gait abnormalities noted in the first and second halves of the competition were important and often led to elimination...

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Horse physio looks to mend it like Beckham - Full Article

20th September 2011
By Owen McAteer

A BRIGHTLY coloured muscle tape taken-up by some of the world's top sports stars is being used by a specialist clinic to treat horses.

Darlington based Lee Clark, whose clients include equestrian teams, show jumpers and race horse trainers, is one of only two qualified Kinesio instructors in the country to use Kinesio tape on animals.

The tape, which is produced in Newcastle, has seen its profile soar after being sported by stars including footballer David Beckham, cyclist Lance Armstrong, and tennis star Novak Djokovic.

The tape, which is designed to move and behave like skin when applied, is used by athletes to enable them to keep competing while overcoming injuries.

And Mr Clark, who runs the Equine Physiotherpay Clinic at his yard in Sadberge, said it was showing the same healing properties on horses as it does on people.

The specialist in horse tendon and ligament injuries said: "People around horses can be quite sceptical to start off with when you say you are going to put this sticky tape on the horse and it will heal quicker.

"But those we have managed to persuade have been very impressed by it.

"The younger trainers are more open minded and if they think there is something that's legal and will give their horse an advantage they will give it a go."

Mr Clark, the official Physiotherapist to the British Endurance Equestrian Team, carried out tests at the Hartpury Equestrian Centre in Gloucester, one of the country's leading equine educational establishments with an international reputation for excellence...

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recuperating Back Muscles - full article

by: Kevin K. Haussler, DVM, DC, PhD
July 01 2007, Article # 9904

Question: I have a 17-year-old Half-Arabian gelding that underwent colic surgery in August 2005. He had a totally uneventful recovery, and within six months he was back to his usual job of pleasure and trail riding. My only remaining concern is that he lost tone in his belly muscle and his back dropped somewhat, and I haven't been able to get it to return to normal. Although I was aware of the change, I didn't realize the degree of it until I tried an English saddle on him that we hadn't used since before the surgery.

The saddle was reflocked and fitted to him two years ago, and it was a good fit. Now the fit is so poor it's unusable (it's bridging, meaning the panels are not contoured to fit the shape of his back). I thought his everyday saddle was okay, but I have had some issues with his back getting sore, and on closer inspection, it's not a great fit, either. I am now using a small pad under his regular pad.

The bigger problem is why haven't I been able to get the belly and back muscles in shape? I've read several articles about bringing a horse back from injury/illness and went through the proper reconditioning initially, and he's really quite fit as far as stamina, recovery time for pulse/respiration, etc. That part is well behind us. I've been told lots of long trotting sessions and transitions will help to strengthen the back. I also do "carrot stretches" and belly lifts, but I'm not really seeing progress. Do you think he is too old to fully recuperate these large muscles or do you have other suggestions? Alice Crooks, Michigan

See the Answer here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reconditioning After Layup - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
August 01 2008, Article # 12787

Whether your horse has downtime for an injury or just a much-needed vacation, how you bring him back can dictate his eventual competitive success.

After any layup an athletic horse needs to be brought back to peak condition gradually. If time off was simply a vacation over winter, you can start the horse back into work at a lower level and increase the length and intensity of workouts. At the same time you must adjust the horse's feed as needed to address present body condition (too thin or too fat) as well as nutrient requirements for the increased work. If, however, the layoff was due to illness or injury, the horse might need a more careful return to fitness.

In this article we'll address a variety of reasons your horse might have been away from activity, whether for a short time or longer period. We'll also offer you advice from experts on steps to take that will allow you to safely bring your horse back to peak condition.

Simple Layoff

A horse that's been in shape before can be brought back to fitness more quickly/easily than a green horse can be conditioned for the first time, but the process still requires a fine-tuned feel for each horse's abilities and how much and how soon to increase his work.

Barney Fleming, DVM, of Custer, S.D., has been involved with endurance horses for many years, and he says some of the important considerations when reconditioning a horse are proper warm-up and cool-down, gradual increase in work (which includes climbing hills for developing peak cardiovascular fitness and wind), and making sure the horse always has enough water during long workouts to prevent dehydration.

"Warm-up can be brisk walking, alternating with a trot, or moving in circles to limber muscles and tendons," he says. Five to 10 minutes of warm-up gets the heart rate elevated a little, increases circulation to muscles, and increases respiration rate in preparation for faster work. A warm-up increases oxygen intake for muscles, stretches the tendons, and stimulates natural lubrication of joints to prevent injuries...

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Dutch Girl Contracts MRSA from Friesian Foal, Recovers - Full Article

by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
September 12 2011, Article # 18811

A 16-year-old Dutch girl has recovered after having supposedly acquired an antibiotic-resistant staph wound infection from her Friesian foal, according to a Dutch researcher. This is only the third report of horse-to-human transmission of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection reported; multiple cases were included in one of the two reports, according to said Engeline van Duijkeren, DVM, PhD, assistant professor in the department of infectious diseases and immunology at the faculty of veterinary medicine at Utrecht University. The other horse-to-human MRSA transmissions occurred in Canada.

Although rare, horse-to-human MRSA transmission does occur, van Duijkeren added.

"Horses can be carriers of MRSA, and this horse carried MRSA without any (clinical signs) of disease," van Duijkeren said. The foal had been hospitalized in a veterinary clinic two months before the girl's infection began, and it's likely where he picked up the bacteria, she added. The foal was being treated for a wound infection, which healed with antibiotics. Although no sample from the wound infection was tested for MRSA, the equine hospital regularly sees MRSA cases, which can be passed to other horses.

In the most recent case, the bacteria--which laboratory testing found to be resistant to the drugs clindamycin, erythromycin, gentamicin, kanamycin, tetracycline, and trimethoprim/sulfonamide--is believed to have entered the girl's body through an open wound (an insect bite) on her leg and colonized, van Duijkeren said. The infection resolved three months later after treatment with mupirocin, fusidic acid, and rifampin, as well as chlorhexidine shampoo baths three times daily...

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Researchers Take a Closer Look at Teff - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · January 21, 2010

Teff hay is a warm-season grass that thrives in a variety of climates and soil types. Despite low resistance to frost and pests, researchers have recently tested teff to see how the grass stacks up against cool-season standbys, timothy and orchardgrass.

Using mature Quarter Horse mares, researchers at Pennsylvania State University evaluated the nutrient composition, voluntary dry matter intake (DMI), and apparent digestibility of teff hay cut at three different stages of maturity to determine its usefulness as hay. The hay was harvested at the boot, early-head, and late-head stages of maturity throughout the summer.

Nutrient composition revealed nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) increased from 5.4% in the boot stage to 8.4% in the late-head stage, while concentrations of crude protein, potassium, iron, and manganese decreased. The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio was approximately 2:1 for all maturities. According to the researchers, the nutrient content of the boot and early-head maturities was sufficient to nearly meet (90-95%) average energy requirements...

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Friday, September 02, 2011

Antioxidants for Tip Top Performance - Full Article

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. Supplementation of antioxidants is therefore necessary to help ward off the ill effects of mass-produced free radicals associated with intense exercise. Horses with an inadequate reserve of antioxidants may experience muscle soreness or stiffness during an exercise bout and prolonged recovery following hard work.

The All-Star Antioxidants
Vitamin E contributes most generously to the natural antioxidant defenses of the horse. The term vitamin E is actually a collective one that encompasses eight distinctive compounds of plant origin.

These eight are divided into four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Of these only two--alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol--have antioxidant properties, and alpha-tocopherol is the most biologically active. On the cellular level, alpha-tocopherol embeds in cell membranes and protects cells from the ravages of free radicals. Alpha-tocopherol has an affinity for fat and is therefore attracted to cell membranes, which are composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Feeds typically fed to horses have variable vitamin E concentrations. Cereal grains such as corn, oats, and barley contain minimal vitamin E, and processing may further decrease vitamin activity. Drying corn artificially, for example, reduces the alpha-tocopherol level by as much as 50%. And while vegetable and soybean oils possess substantially more vitamin E than grains, refining can diminish content. Even if they undergo only minimal refining, these oils have such low inclusion rates in diets that their contribution to total vitamin E intake is miniscule...

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Horses Domesticated 9000 Years Ago in Saudi Arabia - Full Article

Thu Aug 25, 2011 01:43 PM ET
Content provided by AFP

Previous estimates had dated horse domestication back only 5,000 years.
Saudi Arabia has found traces of a civilization that was domesticating horses about 9,000 years ago, 4,000 years earlier than previously thought, the kingdom said.

"This discovery shows that horses were domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula for the first time more than 9,000 years ago, whereas previous studies estimated the domestication of horses in Central Asia dating back 5,000 years, Ali al-Ghabban, vice-chairman of the Department of Museums and Antiquities, said at a news conference late Wednesday.

The remains of the civilization were found close to Abha, in southwestern Asir province, an area known to antiquity as Arabia Felix.

The civilization, given the name al-Maqari, used "methods of embalming that are totally different to known processes," Ghabban said...

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Supporting Limb Laminitis: Prevention is the Best Treatment - Full Article

by: Marie Rosenthal, MS
August 15 2011, Article # 18678

When your horse suffers a major injury, such as a severely broken bone in a leg, the last thing you might be thinking about is laminitis. But laminitis should certainly be on your radar, as many horses that suffer serious limb or hoof injuries develop supporting limb laminitis, a condition that can prove fatal even if the original injury is well on its way to healing.

During a presentation at the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, held July 16-19 in St. Louis, Mo., Joanne Kramer, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia, discussed why supporting limb laminitis prevention is so important to keeping injured horses on the road to recovery.

Kramer noted that according to a previous study, about half of all horses that develop supporting limb laminitis are euthanized for various reasons, including the cost of care and prognosis. Despite the preventive and treatment efforts of his veterinarians, supporting limb laminitis was the ultimate reason for the euthanasia of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who shattered his right hind leg in the 2006 Preakness Stakes.

"Problems occur with the opposite limb, because the injured limb cannot be repaired fast enough to get the weight off the uninjured limb so it can share the load," said Kramer...

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The Impact of Navicular Bone Shape and Fragments in Horses - Full Article

by: Casie Bazay, BS, NBCAAM
August 11 2011, Article # 18665

Navicular disease is not always straightforward for veterinarians to diagnose and treat, but new study findings that focus on the shape of the navicular bone (NB) and fragments found near it could help veterinarians better understand this disease in horses.

"The significance of distal border fragments of the navicular bone is not well understood," the researchers noted in the study. "There are also no objective data about changes in thickness and proximal (upper) and distal (lower) extension of the palmar cortex (rear-facing outer layer) of the navicular bone."

A recent retrospective study performed by Marianna Biggi, DVM, PhD, and Sue Dyson VetMB, PhD, at the Centre for Equine Studies at The Animal Health Trust, in Suffolk, England, examined the significance of fragments along the lower border of the NB, as well as the differences in thickness of the palmar cortex of the NB in 55 sound horses and 377 lame horses. The team hoped to better understand the distribution of distal border fragments and their association with radiological abnormalities of the NB, and to evaluate differences in the shape of the navicular bone in sound and lame horses and horses...

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Corn Oil in Equine Diets - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 21, 2011

Corn oil has been a staple in the diets of many horses for years, but has this much-loved additive fallen out of favor? Supplementing a horse's diet with corn oil has its advantages and disadvantages, but scientific headway might be making this pour-on less appealing to horse owners.

Because it is completely fat, corn oil was originally added to diets to increase the energy density without increasing bulk. Studies have shown that that regular supplementation of fat as an energy source has a glycogen-sparing effect and has been found to be beneficial in long-distance exercise. With regard to intense exercise, however, corn oil resulted in increased lactic acid production and higher heart rates in comparison to horses supplemented with rice bran (approximately 20% fat).

The use of corn oil as an energy source is particularly valuable in the hot months of the year because its digestion produces less heat than any other energy constituent in a horse's diet.

Corn oil cannot be used as the only energy source. It should never be fed at more than 15% of the total diet, but 1 to 16 ounces per day is safe. Too much oil will decrease feed consumption and may cause loose manure...

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Weight Gain for Older Horses - Full Article

by: Michelle D. Harris, VMD
August 01 2011, Article # 18615

Q: I have a 25-year-old Thoroughbred gelding that had a stroke in March 2008. Following a year of rehabilitation after losing the use of his left side, he is living a normal life again and is able to walk, trot, canter, and play in the pasture with the other horses. He did lose his sight in his left eye, though, and the left side of his mouth droops. He has always been a "hard keeper."

Currently I have him eating 4 3/4 pounds of senior feed morning and night (with about 10-12 hours between the feedings), a scoop of comprehensive wellness supplement twice a day in his feed, and all the timothy hay he wants to eat. When he is out in the pasture he has timothy hay available and some grass in the pasture, though when it's wintertime and the grass is not great, we do put out fresh hay every day for him. His teeth are checked at least twice a year and he is up-to-date with deworming and his dental work. Ideally, he still needs to gain another 50-100 pounds. Do you have any recommendations?...

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Treating Equine Orthopedic Injuries with Stem Cells - full article

by: Erica Larson, News Editor
July 17 2011, Article # 18536

When it comes to treatment options for orthopedic injuries, some horse owners jump at the chance to give a new one a try. One such treatment option that has many owners excited is stem cell therapy. At the at the 2011 North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Conference held June 2-4 in Lexington, Ky., Larry Galuppo, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, professor and chief of equine surgery at the University of California (UC), Davis, William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, explained to horse owners how stem cells are currently being used to treat orthopedic injuries in horses, and how the cells might be used in the future.

The Basics

Galuppo began his presentation with a brief overview of how stem cells are collected and where they're harvested from:

* Bone marrow-derived stem cells (collected from the sternum or the hip);
* Adipose-derived stem cells (collected via an incision near the horse's tailhead); and
* Maternally-derived stem cells (collected from the umbilical cord blood and tissue).

Once the stem cells have been harvested, the aspirate (stem cells that have been collected) is proliferated until there are enough cells for a treatment (although there is not yet a hard and fast rule as to how many cells to use per treatment, many veterinarians use upwards of 10 million cells per injection), and the cells are either frozen and stored for future use or injected directly into the injured horse...

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