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...

Read more here:

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...

Read more here:

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...

Read more here:

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...

Read more here: