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...

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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?...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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:

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