Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Australia: Hendra Virus Quarantine Lifted in Queensland

by: Press Release
February 21 2012, Article # 19638

Two properties near Townsville, Queensland, that have been under quarantine for Hendra virus have been given the all clear, according to a press release by Biosecurity Queensland Feb. 16.

Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD, Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, said a series of negative test results on nine horses, seven dogs, and one cat at two properties in the Townsville region meant that the quarantines could be lifted and animals could again be moved on and off the properties.

"Since June 2011, there have been 14 horses confirmed with Hendra virus and, for the first time outside of a laboratory, a dog tested positive for Hendra virus antibodies," Symons said.

"Horse owners should remain vigilant against Hendra virus.

"It is possible for Hendra virus infections to occur at anytime throughout the year, so it is very important horse owners practice good biosecurity on their properties to protect themselves and their animals.

"If horse owners notice any signs of illness in their animals, they should contact their local veterinarian."

Symons reminded horse owners that they can also play their part in helping Biosecurity Queensland learn more about the virus by sharing their experiences in the ´Horse Owners Survey on Hendra virus'.

"The survey is already providing valuable information for both Biosecurity agencies in Queensland and New South Wales," Symons said.

"There has so far been a good response with more than 750 horse owners completing the survey across Queensland and New South Wales.

"But we need feedback from more horse owners. Understanding horse owners' husbandry, property management, and feeding practices provides valuable information in understanding the transmission of Hendra virus. Every horse owner's feedback is important.

"Biosecurity Queensland is focused on learning more about the virus to ensure a safer environment for animals, horse owners, vets, and the community."

The survey has been extended to March 31 to allow even more horse owners to have their say. The survey can be completed online at

Hendra virus information for horse owners packs are available from

Monday, February 27, 2012

Endurance Horse Basic Training: Hoof Boots

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Karen Chaton

If you choose to use ride in any type of hoof boots then you need to prepare your horse for the eventuality that one or more may come off during an endurance ride. Many horses will react adversely the first time that happens to them. Even more-so if it happens during an actual competition; your horse is excited, and there are other horses going by! It’s not fun to be stuck on the side of a narrow trail with a horse that is jumping about, bucking, or trying to out-run a boot that is still attached to his pastern.

For training purposes, I highly recommend exposing your horse having a boot come off of the front as well as a hind hoof in an arena or other controlled environment without a rider. Most horses will react the strongest the first time or two this happens. If you can get that behind you then when it happens while you are mounted it will usually be a non-event. Notice I said “most horses”. There will always be some horses that will never get over having a boot come off without having a fit over it.

Along with saying “my horse never kicks”, one should also consider never, ever saying “my hoof boots don’t come off”. Any horse can kick, and any brand or model of hoof boot can come off. It may not happen frequently, and for those that are fortunate enough to have a horse that happens to be easy on their boots as well as also having a great fit–may go years without having a boot come off...

Read more here:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Horses and Wildlife Blog - Full Article

by Ron Zaccagnini

It seems I am getting a lot of calls lately from folks who want to spend more time in the wilderness with their animals—horses and other pets—all with common questions regarding wildlife encounters. Predators are the most common source of concern.

“What do I do if I meet a lion or a bear?” “My horse spends most of his life in the arena, and he’s not use to seeing bears. What can I expect?” “We are planning a pack trip in the Rockies, and are concerned about bears and lions. What advice can you give?”

My first response is: “Your concerns are justified, and you are wise to ask in advance.”
Bears and lions are both plentiful, as are other wild animals, and the reality is, even for horses who have encountered wildlife before, it’s will probably be a frightening experience. A person is wise to be concerned, but there are some things that you can do to minimize your exposure to danger. As always, knowledge is power.

Toward that end, here are some things that you can do to minimize your exposure to danger with wildlife encounters...

Read more here:

Study: Zebra Stripes Deter Horseflies - Full Article

by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
February 22 2012, Article # 19643

Zebra stripes might soon be the new hot fashion in summer equine wear. Printed on rugs and sheets, ear covers, and leg wraps, it could be attractive to everyone.

Everyone, that is, except horseflies.

That's because, according to a recent study by Hungarian and Swedish researchers, horseflies--known to scientists as tabanids--find zebra stripes incredibly unappealing. And the thinner and more numerous the stripes, the more the flies are deterred from landing on the animal.

"We conclude that zebras have evolved a coat pattern in which the stripes are narrow enough to ensure a minimum attractiveness to tabanid flies," said Gabor Horvath, PhD, researcher at the Environmental Optics Laboratory in the Department of Biological Physics at Eotvos University, in Budapest, and chief author of the study.

This finding could be particularly beneficial for owners of black or brown horses...

Read more here:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quarter Horse Genome Sequenced - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
February 17 2012, Article # 19622

What is a fitting anniversary gift for an international team of geneticists and a Thoroughbred mare called Twilight, who sacrificed a small sample of DNA to have all of her chromosomes sequenced in their entirety five years ago? Why, a second fully sequenced equine genome, of course.

A Texas A&M University research team led by Scott Dindot, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, recently finished sequencing, or “mapping,” the genome of an 18-year-old Quarter Horse mare called Sugar.

Further, Dindot and colleagues compared Sugar’s genomic map to Twilight’s and found more than 3 million differences, called genetic variants. Many of these differences were present in genes involved in sensory perception, signal transduction (inside and between cells), and immunity.

“We also found that the mare had a different number of copies of some genes relative to Twilight, which has never been reported in horses before,” Dindot relayed. “We recently completed another study looking at these copy number variants (CNVs) to help determine what the differences in copy numbers between different horse breeds mean. For example, CNVs cause many diseases in humans, and we suspect that the same might be true in horses, but more research is needed.”

In addition, the team reported using updated “second generation” techniques to create the genomic map...

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Supplements in a Horse Diet: Too Much, Too Little or None at All? - Full Article

If the phrase “well-rounded equestrian” was in the dictionary, it would be accompanied by a photo of Dr. Clair Thunes.
Growing up in England, Clair competed in all disciplines, including eventing, show jumping, dressage, gymkhana, trail, fox hunting, hunters, and side saddle. She played polo in college and helped prepare FEI-level dressage horses with a local trainer. She also owned and trained a young BLM mustang and competed him in dressage and eventing before selling him on to a youth competition home.
And oh, Clair also has a master’s degree in animal science and a PhD in nutrition, both from the University of California at Davis. And since I’m always on the prowl for savvy horse folk, I asked her to explain the basics of the very confusing world of equine supplements, and she graciously complied. After reading this and talking with her, I’m convinced that I need to make a few changes, such as add more sodium to our horses’ diets.
The Equine Diet and Supplements: The Basics of What You Need to Know
By Dr. Clair Thunes
With the dizzying array of supplements available both in feed stores and online it can be a very complicated task to figure out what, if anything, your horse needs. You can easily find yourself administering multiple products a day, often with overlapping ingredients, or throwing your hands up in despair and avoiding them all together. One of the main things I do as an independent equine nutritionist is to evaluate the diets that owners are feeding their horses to see whether they are optimal.
Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions when it comes to horses), a large proportion of the horse’s daily nutrient requirement will be met by the forage in the diet. For those in little or no work, or who are easy keepers, no additional source of calories beyond forage may be necessary. However, forages are not necessarily the most balanced source of minerals, and some minerals like selenium may be lacking, depending on your geographic region and soil quality.
If you are feeding hay as your forage source, vitamin E may also be low. A vitamin mineral supplement to balance your hay and ensure adequate trace minerals and vitamins will be needed. There are lots on the market, but many of them do not provide enough of the necessary nutrients for a horse on an otherwise all-forage diet. For advice on which one would be best for your horse given the type of hay you are feeding, your location and your horse’s specific needs, contact a qualified equine nutritionist.
For those whose horses are working and/or cannot maintain their condition on forage alone, an additional source of calories will also be required. If calories are provided through the use of a fortified commercial feed and the feeding directions are followed, then the minerals and vitamins generally lacking in the forage should also be provided, and the ration should be fairly well balanced...

Read more here:

Manuka Honey for Healing Horse Wounds (AAEP 2011) - Full Article

by: Christy M. West
February 22 2012, Article # 19614

With the popularity of natural treatments on the rise, it’s no surprise that manuka honey—which is produced by bees—visiting the manuka bush found exclusively in New Zealand, has gained a good deal of attention. Vendors claim that it has antibacterial wound-healing properties in humans and in experimental animals.

But can it help wounds heal faster in horses than they would if left untreated? Researchers at the University of Sydney decided to find out, and they presented their findings at the 2011 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention held Nov. 18-22 in San Antonio, Texas.

Presenter Andrew Dart, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ECVS, director of the university’s Veterinary Science Research and Clinical Training Unit, described two controlled studies in which he and colleagues used manuka honey on horse wounds. One evaluated UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) 20 manuka honey to see if it helped heal wounds faster, while the second compared a 66% manuka honey and water gel to 100% manuka honey for wound healing...

Read more here:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Texans Ponder Drought's Long-term Equine Impact - Full Article

by: Pat Raia
January 30 2012, Article # 19518

Drought conditions have been bearing down on Texas for more than a year. Now with little relief in sight, some rescue operators wonder how the persistent lack of rain will affect their missions and the future of the horse industry in that state.

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions--an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that studies climate change and energy policy issues--Texas' 2011 drought represents the worst one-year dry spell since 1895. And though some rain has fallen in some parts of the state, Brian Fuchs, climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, believes dry conditions in Texas are probably not likely to significantly abate soon.

"In the past 60 to 90 days parts of Texas have had some pretty decent rains and top soil moisture levels are increasing," Fuchs said. "Most of this relief has happened in northern Texas, but central and southern Texas have not seen this type of relief."

Fuchs said that predictions indicate drought conditions will continue in Texas through 2012. Some Texas A&M University climatologists speculate the drought could persist until 2020.

Jennifer Williams, PhD, president and executive director of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, in College Station, said the dismal long-term outlook is bad news for rescue operators, law enforcement agencies, and horse owners already overburdened by drought-connected animal care costs.

Williams said rescuers are increasingly bearing the brunt of drought-related horse care issues: spikes in hay and grain costs are forcing increasing numbers of hard-pressed owners to surrender their animals to rescuers...

Read more here:

Training tips: distance versus time

Bootsandsaddles4mel Blog - Full Article


During conditioning rides, do you ride for time or distance?

When I was training for marathons (before I got smart and realized I could do this from the back of a horse....) I followed a program that believed that time spent hitting the road mattered more than the actual distance that you did. Galloway said that the mileage of 26.2 miles isn't hard - it's the 4 hours or so you spend on your feet moving. To condition for this, he suggested spending more effort getting the time in instead of focusing on the miles.

This worked well for me for several reasons. I was running without a GPS or mapped/measured course, and which wasn't a huge set back - I did enough miles on the track that I got a good sense of my pacing (even if I was run/walking). However, planning for time rather than distance was an advantage mentally. I planned my long runs for the time it should take to complete them - for example, 11 min/mile pace wasn't unreasonable for a 10-15 mile run. If I needed a 10 mile run, I would plan a 2 hour run - if I needed 15 miles, I knew I would be out there for 3 hours. In most cases, it didn't matter whether I was running for time or distance - both got accomplished. However, if something went terribly wrong I didn't worry that I was going too slow to get in the miles - I just knew I had to suck it up for "x" number of minutes. And somehow, it's easier to say "I can walk for another hour and be done", then to say "I have 5 more miles to go - and so that's 1-6 hours depending on whether I run it or crawl it...". It gave me the freedom to not push past that margin of safety that kept me from getting hurt, because I was running for time, not distance and could go as slow as I needed to get that time in without the pressure of getting the miles in.

Usually every 3rd long run or so, I would completely hit the wall and do significantly less miles than planned, but still got the time in. It never hurt me and my next long run always went well - but more importantly, my motivation remained high and I didn't get mentally burnt out.

The other training philosophy I followed once I had a few completions and I was interested in going faster, was: you train for speed, and you train for distance - but you don't combine the two until race day...

Read more here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Acidity of Water Affects Palatability for Horses - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 23, 2011

Horses are sometimes reluctant to drink water when they’re away from home. Owners suspect that the water may taste different enough to be uninviting, but it becomes a problem when horses refuse to drink, leading to possible dehydration and increasing the risk of colic and other health concerns.

How different does the strange taste, smell, or level of acidity have to be before horses will back off from a bucket of water? In a study conducted at the University of Guelph, twelve horses were offered control water with a pH of 7.5 as well as separate buckets of water that contained citric acid to change the pH to more acidic levels of 5.0, 3.6, or 2.9. Amount of water drunk from each bucket was monitored.

Consumption was highest from the control bucket. Less water was taken from the 5.0 bucket (moderately acidic). Horses did drink from the other two buckets (most acidic) at similar rates, but showed more aversion to these choices. This seems to indicate that horses avoid drinking strongly acidic water, though in this study it seems possible that either the smell or the taste produced the aversion...

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Diagnosing Respiratory Infection - Full Article

by: Kelleyerin Clabaugh, DVM
December 01 2011, Article # 19393

The scenario might sound familiar: You take a couple laps around the arena with your horse, and suddenly he starts coughing so hard he yanks the reins out of your hands. You let him rest but he doesn't seem to be able to catch his breath. Could he have picked up a respiratory infection at the last horse show?

This is a typical case an equine veterinarian would encounter. The owner brings a horse in to a referral clinic, reports a cough and exercise intolerance, and might immediately ask for him to be put on antibiotics. As veterinarians, our job is to decide if antibiotics are necessary and beneficial, particularly since we're seeing increasing resistance of bacteria to these drugs. So how do we decide? And if it's not a bacterial infection, what else could it be?

Your horse's recent history is incredibly relevant to the diagnosis. Be prepared to answer a barrage of questions about new hay or bedding, turnout changes, any new horses in the barn, recent travel, vaccination status, appetite, what triggers the cough, whether it's dry or wet, or if there is any discharge, among other inquiries...

Read more here:

Nowhere to Hide - Full Article

14 February 2012

A few clicks of the mouse pull up a map with my house designated by a push pin icon surrounded by a red circle, sitting dead center like a bull’s-eye. The map tells me that there are no registered sex offenders living within a mile of me. A few more clicks expand the radius of the circle to five miles, and this time the map identifies 23 registered sex offenders living in the vicinity. The offenders are identified by name, address, often a photograph, and a link to a site where I can find out the nature of the offenders’ crimes.

Every state has a sex offender registry. A National Sex Offender Public Website is maintained by the Department of Justice and links information from all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and a large number of Indian tribes. Aside from the voyeuristic appeal of knowing your neighbors’ secrets, there are some legitimate reasons for public disclosure of sex offender information.

It’s not so easy to identify convicted animal abusers, but that may be changing.

The country’s first mandatory registration program for convicted animal abusers was established in Suffolk County, New York, in October 2010. The rationale behind the registry was to identify animal abusers to shelters and rescues, pet stores and dealers, and individuals so that abusers would not be able to buy or adopt animals.

The idea seems to be catching on around the country, with legislation establishing animal abuse registries under consideration in several states...

Read more here:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Plants That Kill - Full Article

by: Pat Raia
October 01 2011, Article # 19321

Minimize your horse's risk of ingesting a deadly plant by identifying and removing harmful species from in and around barns and pastures

One spring a few years ago, four horses on a Colorado farm began losing weight and developed photosensitization (a condition characterized by sensitivity to sun exposure) and neurologic signs. A thorough physical exam and blood work helped veterinarians determine the horses had extensive chronic liver disease, and a liver biopsy confirmed typical signs of pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning. These alkaloids are typically found in groundsels such as tansy ragwort, fiddle neck, and rattle pod. However, none of these plants were present in the horses' pasture.

But when the horses' owner broke open a bale from the hay supply he had been feeding all winter, he noticed significant amounts of broad, hairy leaves that were eight to 12 inches long. These leaves were identified as hound's tongue, a noxious weed in many areas across the country that contains significant quantities of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Hound's tongue remains toxic even when dried in hay. These alkaloids have a cumulative effect on the liver, and after eating the contaminated hay over the winter, the horses developed chronic irreversible liver disease. Eventually, all four of the affected horses were euthanized because of liver failure.

Hound's tongue is one of myriad plants toxic enough to cause illness and even death in horses. So it's important that owners recognize poisonous plants growing in or near their horses' pastures and prevent their animals from ingesting them...

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Protect Your Horse from Back Pain - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · January 17, 2012

Back pain in horses can be subtle or obvious; can manifest as shifting lameness or just a generally sour attitude; and is sometimes tricky to diagnose and hard to relieve. Savvy owners put their efforts into preventing back pain in their horses rather than trying to eliminate it once the discomfort sets in. Here are a few things to think about:

•Be sure your saddle fits well and your pads are in good condition. Many excellent articles address how to check your saddle for the best fit. If you still have doubts, ask an instructor or more experienced rider to help you. Keep saddle pads clean, be sure they lie flat under the saddle without pushing down on the withers, and replace pads that become thin or worn.

•Maintain a regular schedule of hoof trimming and shoe resetting (about every 4 to 6 weeks for most horses). Slight changes in the length or angle of the hooves can make a horse move differently, possibly stressing his back and legs...

Read more here:

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Top 5 Mistakes Horse Owners Make When Responding to Emergencies - Full Article

27 January 2012

1. Assuming that they should be the animal handler
Many horse owners or horse-loving people who respond to a scene are far too emotional to be right up close and personal with the horse in these scenarios. That's why your veterinarian often has their trained technician handle the horse for exams and vaccinations, too.
The animal can read your panic, fears and frustrations, and this excites the animal even more. Then you become an obstacle to the professional emergency responders' efforts to save the animal.

When it's your horse, you may be much better off standing to the side with your veterinarian and friends for support while the professionals assist your animal. As an analogy, in the human medical world, just because you are the mom or dad does not mean you would be invited or allowed to help firefighters and paramedics working on your child.

A person that can remain calm, make rational decisions, and assist the emergency response professionals with making suggestions relevant to the scenario is to be cultivated. Focus on the problem at hand, prioritize, and coordinate with professionals such as your veterinarian to keep drama out of the scene.

2. Getting too close to the animal
Horse owners tend to overestimate how much their animal "loves them," and this anthropomorphism leads to dangerous body positioning and extrication approaches. Animals don't think in these situations; they react. Although the horse may not intend to injure you, it easily can in a struggle to save itself...

Read more here:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Equine Herpesvirus Study at Colorado State University Works to Unravel how Virus Unlocks Immune System "Gate"

For Immediate Release
February 1, 2012

Contact for Reporters:
Dell Rae Moellenberg

FORT COLLINS - A Colorado State University study will look at how equine herpesvirus type 1 may compromise the immune system immediately upon entering the “gate” of a horse’s respiratory system – the airway and throat – allowing it to spread through the body and potentially cause neurological damage, abortion and possibly death.

The study specifically concentrates on the lining of the respiratory systems, called the epithelium, which keeps the airway moist and is a barrier to pathogens. The epithelial cells also serve a critical function in shaping the immunological response, including secreting chemicals to attack pathogens and determining and initiating the cascade of immune responses in the rest of the body.

“We believe that the herpesvirus finds a way to ‘hide’ from the immune response, and we also know that if an immune system doesn’t trigger a good response at the first sign of infection, viruses like this one take off,” said Gabrielle Landolt, a CSU veterinarian and a co-lead researcher on the project. "That combination of events may take place in the horse’s respiratory system, and if we can crack the equine herpesevirus secret to getting through that gateway and compromising the immune system at that point of entry, we may be better able to find treatments and preventative measures to stop outbreaks of the virus.”

“The outcome of this research will also help scientists understand how herpes viruses in all species may impact immune systems,” said Gisela Hussey, also a veterinarian at CSU, who is leading the project. “This study is innovative because it is the first study to focus on defining the immune responses at the respiratory epithelium and how the virus controls the immune system.”

Equine herpesevirus-1 is spread through nose-to-nose contact and through close contact with contaminated equipment, clothing and water and feed. The pathogen also may spread for a limited distance through the air. There are several types of equine herpesevirus, and there also are herpes strains that impact virtually every species. However, the virus does not jump from species to species.

The researchers are conducting the study on actual equine epithelium cells from deceased horses whose owners have volunteered the tissue for the research. The use of these cells in a model that mimics the actual response in a living horse also is novel in this research area.