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Articles

All (20)
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Competition (4)
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Equinews (2)
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Health (8)
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Nutrition (6)

Grazing Muzzles on Pastured Horses Help Control Weight Gain


Equine experts widely advocate pasture access for maximizing the health of horses with heaves, osteoarthritis, or simply to match their “evolutionary upbringing,” so to speak. Although beneficial in many ways, putting horses on 24-hour turnout, which occurs in many parts of the world, is a double-edged sword, according to one research group*.

“Such management may be perceived as being ideal, enabling the animal to graze freely, exercise, and engage in social behavior on the one hand, and requires relatively little labor input from the owner, on the other. However, for animals in receipt of minimal structured exercise, constant access to pasture can lead to weight gain and obesity. Indeed, at certain times of year, such improved pastures contain herbage with an energy value that is equal to or exceeds that of a high-energy compound feed.”..
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Garlic Supplementation for Gastric Ulcers in Horses


Herbal supplements designed to boost your horse’s health abound,, often containing ingredients such as ginger, garlic, yucca, devil’s claw, and more. Recently, Egyptian researchers reported* that garlic—an herb with a long and illustrious history in non-Western medicine—has gastroprotective effects and could potentially be used to help manage horses with gastric ulcers.

“Gastric ulcers in horses are common, affecting a substantial proportion of weanlings and athletic horses, including those treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a Kentucky Equine Research (KER) nutritionist...
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Feeding Overweight Horses: Drylot Management


Full-out access to good-quality pasture sets the stage for obesity in many horse and ponies, especially easy keepers, and can spell serious trouble for those predisposed to laminitis. A drylot is one management tool that helps keep weight in check. Like all enclosures designed for horses, drylots should, first and foremost, provide a safe environment for horses, but also foster a healthier diet.

Weed control. By its definition, drylots have little or no nutritious vegetation, but weeds tend to sprout and spread in these barren zones, sometimes with alarming zeal. When horses are hungry, they will munch on plants that are otherwise unappetizing to them, and some weeds could be troublesome for horses. To keep a drylot weed-free, consider consultation with a pasture specialist. Larger feed stores might have an expert on hand, and this individual will likely be well versed on local weeds and how best to eradicate them. A university or extension service may offer similar services, sometimes free of charge...
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Testing Horses for Tapeworms: New Research


Saliva serves many important functions, including moistening and softening food in the horse’s mouth; facilitating transport of food down the esophagus; and buffering the stomach, protecting it against gastric ulcers. Saliva can even be used to measure stress. A recent study* conducted by researchers from the U.K. suggests that saliva can also help detect tapeworm burden in horses.

“Tapeworm infections can cause colic, and large burdens may also result in damage to the wall of the intestine where they attach,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research...
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Jaw Swelling in Horses: Strangles or Grass Mumps?


Finding unusual swellings in the neck or throat area of a horse often causes an immediate sense of dread and stress in horse owners, as the thought of strangles flit through their minds. As hard as it may be, the most important thing to do is take a deep breath and a closer look.

“There are many causes of distinct, focal swellings in the head and neck of horses that aren’t caused by strangles,” reminded Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research...
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Colic in Horses: Preventing Enteroliths


Horses have over 100 feet of tissue making up the equine gastrointestinal tract—much of it coiled rather precariously in the abdomen—explaining why colic in horses is so common. From impactions and displacements to torsions and foreign material, nutrition plays an important role in both preventing and managing painful abdomens.

Sand accumulation causes colic in many areas of the world as most owners are all too aware, but did you know stones can also form in the large intestine?..
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Not All Obese Horses Have Insulin Resistance


Insulin resistance affects many overweight horses and ponies, potentially resulting in life-threatening bouts of laminitis. Certain breeds seem to be more prone to the condition than others, including easy keepers such as Andalusians. But, according to a Spanish research team, simply being overweight does not necessarily mean horses are resistant to the effects of insulin, the key hormone involved in controlling blood sugar levels.

Based on their research involving 164 Andalusians presented at the latest British Equine Veterinary Congress*, Martin Gimenez and coworkers reported the following:..
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Understanding Fructan's Role in Horse Laminitis


Most horse owners likely already know that consumption of lush pastures puts some horses at risk of developing pasture-associated laminitis (PAL), a potentially life-threatening condition. Is it merely the ingestion of high concentration of water-soluble carbohydrates, like simple sugars? Does a horse’s reduced sensitivity to insulin also impact PAL? Is it a combination of these factors or even something completely different? Without an improved understanding of the underlying events leading up to PAL, controlling this condition remains challenging.

One theory is that a specific type of water-soluble carbohydrate, called fructan, can lead to PAL. Fructans are chains of fructose sugar molecules; they are configured much like starch, which is made glucose molecules linked together. Unlike starch, ingested fructans are minimally digested in the small intestine before entering the large intestine. Once in the hindgut, fructans are fermented by bacteria, primarily Streptococcus spp., to produce lactic acid. While the horse may eventually use lactic acid for energy, this is much different than the fermentation of fiber, which produces short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for the horse without affecting the pH...
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Preventing Respiratory Infections in Young Horses: Supplements


Anyone spending time in the breeding sector of the equine industry quickly appreciates the importance of colostrum for neonates. Foals deprived of their dam’s first milk, or a suitable alternative, quickly develop life-threatening infections and all too frequently succumb to illness.

Supplementation with the antioxidant vitamin E will help support the immune system and guard against oxidative damage. Kentucky Equine Research (KER) offers two vitamin E products, Nano•E and Preserve PS (Preserve in Australia), that support immune function in young horses...
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Gastrointestinal Motility Key to Horse Digestive Health


A finely honed nervous system helps direct gastrointestinal function in horses. Referred to as the “brain of the gut,” the enteric nervous system monitors the goings-on of the entire tract, from beginning to end. One feature of the enteric nervous system is its ability to precisely coordinate the passage of ingesta from one digestive organ to the next. As horse owners, we can do little to alter or outsmart this innate wiring, but management approaches are available that maximize gastrointestinal motility.

Gastrointestinal motility refers to the passage of ingesta through the digestive tract by normal nervous and muscular functions. How to maximize gastrointestinal motility in horses rests largely with understanding how horses should be fed...
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Grass Sickness in Horses: Degree of Weight Loss and Survival


Horses suffering from equine grass sickness (EGS) present with colic, constipation, and swift, severe weight loss. The underlying cause is damage to the nervous system, especially nerves supplying the gastrointestinal tract. Most rapid-onset, severe cases are fatal, frequently resulting in loss of life within two or three days, but some horses manage to bounce back after a bout of EGS.

There are currently no objective criteria available to help predict survival of horses with EGS, reported a group of veterinarians from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute in the United Kingdom.*..
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Vitamin K Absorption in Horses


Vitamin K not only plays an important role in blood-clotting but also in a number of other physiological processes such as bone metabolism, immune function, programmed cell death, energy production, and the development of spermatozoa. In fact, 14 different proteins dependent on vitamin K to function properly have been identified so far. Considering there are three different forms of vitamin K, where do horses get the most vitamin K?

During a recent Australasian Equine Science Symposium, vitamin K absorption was a well-reviewed topic. Two separate studies were presented, each highlighting basic information about this fat-soluble vitamin.*,**..
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Competition Horses: Dietary Nickel Requirements and Testing


Recent studies report high levels of nickel in legal performance and recovery products for horses, potentially identifying a new performance-enhancing issue for those involved in equine sports.

“Nickel has similar chemical and biological properties as cobalt, leaving some in the industry wondering if nickel is currently being used as a substitute for cobalt,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research...
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Managing Equine Gastric Ulcers Through Nutrition


Scientists know that diet contributes to the formation of gastric ulcers in horses, but what can horse owners do about established ulcers? Can diet adjustments help heal painful divots in the stomach lining? According to a recent study*, medication is still necessary for most horses, but diet and nutritional supplements can also play important roles in successfully managing ulcers.

“All ages and breeds of horses are susceptible to equine gastric ulcer syndrome, or EGUS, with ulcers forming not only in the squamous portion of the stomach but also the distal esophagus, glandular portion of the stomach, and the proximal aspect of the duodenum,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a Kentucky Equine Research (KER) nutritionist...
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Condition Scoring Horses: Focus on the Ribs


The ribs of mammals, including the horse, serve one primary purpose: to protect the vital organs of the thoracic cavity, most notably the heart and lungs. Each rib is attached to a thoracic vertebrae, so horses generally have 18 pairs of ribs, corresponding to their 18 thoracic vertebrae. Occasionally, a 19th rib may be present on one or both sides of the vertebral column, but these ribs are usually partially formed or misshapen. The interval between any two ribs is called the intercostal space.

Ribs are not all the same length, width, or shape—some are short, others are long; some wide, others narrow; some have greater curvature to their shafts. Rib length increases from the first rib, which lies just behind the point of the shoulder, to the eighth or ninth, and then diminishes again. The last rib is the shortest and most slender, usually...
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Parrot Mouth in Foals: Solutions


Foals with an overbite, commonly called a parrot mouth, have upper incisors that protrude past the lower incisors. While some breeders droop their shoulders and shake their heads when faced with affected foals, floundering in their misfortune, others pick up the phone and call the equine orthodontist.

Parrot mouth, long believed to be an inherited condition, reportedly affects 2-5% of the equine population to some degree. Although common in other species, like humans, any degree of overbite is considered abnormal in horses...
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Feeding Horses Whey Protein


When searching for a source of high-quality protein for horse feeds, formulation experts invariably reach for soybean meal. Though soybean meal is ubiquitous in feeds, other protein sources, including whey protein, are suitable for consumption by horses and offer a beneficial range of amino acids.

Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheesemaking industry. Rennet, a complex of enzymes used in cheese manufacture, is added to milk to curdle the casein proteins. These curds are removed to make cheese. The liquid left after the curds are removed is whey, and the proteins that remain in that liquid are called whey proteins. The whey is carefully dried to preserve amino acids, thus becoming a concentrated source of protein...
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Calcium Deficiency Suspected in a Young Horse


The nutritionists at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) work with horse owners worldwide, offering advice on every level of feeding management. A horseman from Puerto Rico recently contacted KER regarding his two-year-old Paso Fino colt. An overview of the colt’s situation follows:

Weight: 800 lb (365 kg)..
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Preparing for an Orphan Foal


Foaling season leaves many mare owners worried about what will happen if a foal arrives to a mare with poor-quality or insufficient colostrum. As breeders know, this first meal is undoubtedly the most important for priming a foal’s immune system and providing infection-fighting antibodies. Subsequent meals occurring over the next few months are still high priority because a foal relies on milk to survive. What do you have planned if your mare cannot support her foal?

“Newborn foals nurse about seven times every hour and remain reliant on milk for the first three to four months of their lives,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a Kentucky Equine Research (KER) nutritionist...
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Cool-Season Grasses and Fructans in Horse Diets


Many species of grasses have proven suitable for grazing by horses. Cool-season grasses seem especially appropriate for pastures, and because they do best in temperatures between 65 and 80o F (18 and 270 C), these grasses grow most abundantly in spring and fall. Growth slows in the warmer summer months in some years, and this is often referred to as the “summer slump,” though reduction in growth seems dependent on other factors, such as rainfall.

Five common species of cool-season grasses used in horse operations include timothy, orchardgrass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass...
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