Monday, April 25, 2011

Psyllium for Glucose and Insulin Control - Full Article

by: Erica Larson, News Editor
April 23 2011, Article # 18144

Veterinarians often recommend psyllium for use as a laxative, specifically for clearing sand out of horses' intestines to minimize the chances of sand colic. But new research indicates there might be another use for the phytogenic (plant-based) supplement: the control of blood glucose and insulin concentrations.

Research performed in humans indicated that oral psyllium supplementation reduced blood sugar and insulin response after eating, but psyllium's effects on horses' blood glucose and insulin levels had not previously been examined. Shannon John J. Moreaux, DVM, assistant professor of equine science at Montana State University, and a team of researchers set out to determine whether psyllium would have the same effect on horses.

Both insulin and glucose play a role in equine insulin resistance (IR), a hormonal disorder that most commonly occurs in horses with equine metabolic syndrome and in those with equine Cushing's disease (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, PPID). Insulin's main function is to control blood sugar (glucose) levels by signaling fat, muscle, and liver cells to take up glucose (a simple sugar resulting from the digestion of food) from the blood and store it as glycogen (stored complex carbohydrates--essentially, a main source of fuel for the horse). Insulin resistance is a reduction in a horse's sensitivity to insulin that makes it harder for the fat, muscle, and liver cells to transport the glucose out of the bloodstream and store it as glycogen...

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Forage for Endurance Horses - Full Article

By Dr. Kathleen Crandell · April 5, 2011

Forage is perhaps the single most important ingredient in an endurance horse’s diet. Not only is it a major source of energy and essential nutrients, but also the presence of fiber in the digestive tract provides bulk to keep the tract functioning properly, keeps blood flowing to the tract even during exercise, stimulates thirst, and holds water and electrolytes in a reservoir.

Without the marvelous milieu of innumerable microbes populating the cecum and colon of the horse, forage would be indigestible. These microbes are not only responsible for breaking down the fiber in the forage but the end products of their fiber digestion are VFAs, which are sources of energy for the horse. The reason why the endurance horse is able to keep going for hours upon end has to do with the ability of these microbes to keep making VFAs that are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed either to the liver (for conversion to glucose) or directly to the muscle cells to be used for aerobic energy formation. This, combined with the breaking down of glycogen stores in the muscle cells and the triglycerides from muscle and adipose tissue, makes for steady energy generation in the endurance horse...

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Teaching a Horse Ground Manners - Full Article

by Randy Byers
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I was asked by an owner training a 2-year old mare ... 'What do I do and how do I teach her good ground manners?' There are two reasons why you want ground manners:

1. You want to be an effective leader and gain respect from your horse.

2. You want to use this stage to develop transitional cues to help with your introduction to saddle work in the near future.

In order to gain respect, you need to gain control of your horse's feet. That is the short answer to the 'what do I do?' question. If you get control of her feet, you automatically establish yourself as the leader and achieve respect from your horse.

In answer to 'how do I teach her good ground manners?' you will need to learn and execute techniques on how to gain control of your horse's feet. There are a variety of detailed exercises and maneuvers you can use to achieve this. You also will need to know how she thinks and you will need to think like her.

It is critical that you define your view of what acceptable ground manners are ...

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Equine Navicular Disease - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
January 01 2011, Article # 17730

The navicular bone is small in stature but continues to be a big pain in the foot.

The navicular bone is a small, boat-shaped bone nestled deep in the protective womb of the hoof, cushioned by the digital bursa (a small, fluid-filled sac), shrouded by the deep digital flexor tendon, and bathed in synovial fluid. It only measures approximately 6 cm wide and 2 cm deep (top to bottom) in an average 1,200-pound horse, so how can such a small bone be such a nuisance?

Part of the problem is that, despite its cushy abode and small stature, the navicular bone has a big job.

"The function of the navicular bone is to act as a fulcrum around which passes the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) before it inserts on the distal phalanx (pedal bone)," explains Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS, head of clinical orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust's Centre for Equine Studies in Newmarket, U.K. "The navicular bone is also an integral part of the distal interphalangeal (coffin) joint, which is one of the major shock absorbing joints in the lower part of the limb. The orientation of the DDFT depends on the position of the coffin joint (flexed or extended), and the position of the coffin joint also influences the size of the forces applied to the navicular bone by the DDFT, which are maximum in the propulsion phase of the stride just before liftoff."

Navicular disease is a common cause of equine lameness, primarily in the forelimb...

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

From Garrett's Desk: Hi-Tech Natural Horse Care

by Garrett Ford, Easycare Inc

Like it or not, humans changed the lives of horses when we domesticated them and fenced them in. As the fences and enclosures get smaller, horses have a tougher time and live further from the ideal life nature intended for them. They are intended to work for forage and nibble all day as they search for food. Horses are intended to live with others, socialize and covering long distances for food and water.

I recently visited a horse boarding facility in Switzerland that uses technology to combat some of the challenges horses have with domestication. The facility addresses several challenges that face most domesticated horses.

1. Lack of movement.
2. Adjusting nutrition and calories for horses of different breeds, weights and activity levels.
3. Boredom and the loss of a herd structure.
4. Spreading meals thought the day rather than two big meals.
5. Poor footing and lack of hoof function.

The boarding facility was 15 minutes outside Zurich, Switzerland, and was situated on roughly four acres of land. The 20 horses were housed on roughly two acres. All 20 horses lived together as a herd. All horses were barefoot. Most all used hoof boots for riding.

The facility revolved around the Schauer Feeding and access control system and is designed to combat many of the challenges mentioned above. Each horse is fitted with a microchip collar that monitors movement and gives the horse access to grain, supplements or forage based on activity level, weight or breed.

full article at

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pasure Sugars - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
April 01 2010, Article # 17618

Understanding how grass grows and how horses use sugars in grass and hay can help you better manage your equine charges.

Grass is grass, right? Wrong! That lovely green pasture you’ve diligently watered and kept weed-free can be like Jekyll and Hyde. If your horse is at risk for grass founder or has a low tolerance for high levels of sugar, a pasture that might be perfect feed in the morning can be his biggest enemy in the afternoon.

Sugars are building blocks for plant growth. Grasses create sugar during daylight hours by using carbon dioxide, water, and energy from the sun via photosynthesis. The sugar made by day is then turned into fiber for cell walls and energy for other necessary life processes. During the night sugar sources are generally depleted. Thus, the safest time of day for horses at risk for grass founder to graze is early in the morning.

Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, associate professor of Animal Science at Rutgers University, says 15 years ago very few people—not even equine nutritionists—paid much attention to the sugar content in pasture grasses and hay. “In the past 10 years, however, thanks in large measure to the efforts of Katy Watts (whose studies/articles are found at, people have become more aware of the need to pay attention to the cycle of sugar production in grass, for horses that are extremely prone to laminitis,” says Ralston...

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Teaching tailing

Global Endurance Blog

Mountain rides are mostly fun rides for horse and rider. Horses can use their muscles in various ways and perform therefore overall better than on rides that are only over flat ground. Riding steep uphills certainly require a higher energy output and horses tire faster on sustained uphills. The rider can help his horse a lot by dismounting and walking or running with the horse.

At the Global Endurance Training Center we teach tailing in our endurance clinics. Tailing helps horses to conserve energy and helps the rider to stay in shape. So everybody wins!

When you tail, you are pulling on a horse with about 10 to 15 lbs. That small amount of pull allows the runner to double the cadence of the footfall. You will run twice as fast compared to running next to your horse without tailing. For the horse, the difference between carrying the weight of the rider and a little pull on the tail is huge in energy conservation.

Now, where do you start?...

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