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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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