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Articles

All (21)
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Competition (1)
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Equinews (5)
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Health (5)
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Nutrition (10)

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalopathy and Vitamin E


Equine protozoal myeloencephalopathy (EPM) is a progressive and degenerative protozoal disease most commonly caused by Sarcocystis neurona, though Neospora hughesi has also been implicated. Opossums contract the protozoa from other species, including raccoons and cats, and as a definitive host, opossums carry the organism through a final developmental stage before transmitting it to the horse via contaminated water or feedstuffs.

After a horse ingests the protozoa, it travels throughout the body via the bloodstream. In most cases, the horse’s immune system will combat the organism, and the horse will remain healthy. However, if the protozoa crosses the blood-brain barrier, it attacks the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord and controls the body and mind. Infection may result in a number of symptoms depending on which areas of the nervous system it attacks...
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Molds: Possible Cause of Positive Equine Drug Tests


Molds get a bad rap in the equine industry and justifiably so. Inhalation of molds contribute to equine asthma syndrome, which includes inflammatory airway disease and heaves, and ingestion of molds can result in poisoning. Now, researchers believe* that some molds can also produce testosterone-like substances from plant-based steroids. The result? Potentially a positive drug test for competitive horses.

“Some molds and bacteria are capable of a process called ‘biotransformation’ that results in the production of steroids or steroid precursors from plant products,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER)...
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Molds: Possible Cause of Positive Equine Drug Tests


Molds get a bad rap in the equine industry and justifiably so. Inhalation of molds contribute to equine asthma syndrome, which includes inflammatory airway disease and heaves, and ingestion of molds can result in poisoning. Now, researchers believe* that some molds can also produce testosterone-like substances from plant-based steroids. The result? Potentially a positive drug test for competitive horses.

“Some molds and bacteria are capable of a process called ‘biotransformation’ that results in the production of steroids or steroid precursors from plant products,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER)...
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Testing Ponies for Insulin Resistance: Fasted or Fed?


Because ponies tend to be easy keepers and overweight, they are usually among the most commonly affected by insulin resistance (IR). Experts recommend testing horses and ponies suspected of being resistant to the effects of insulin to avoid or minimize the occurrence of laminitis, a painful, life-threatening condition.

Several tests for IR exist, including the intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT) and the oral sugar test. While the IVGTT is touted as being superior, the oral sugar test is more practical and economical. Briefly, the oral sugar test involves administering corn syrup orally and taking one or two blood samples within 90 minute of corn syrup consumption to measure insulin levels...
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Osteochondrosis in Young Horses: Genetics or Nutrition?


For decades, researchers have tried to pinpoint the cause of osteochondrosis (OC) in horses. Why the concern? OC remains an important cause of joint swelling, lameness, poor performance, wastage, and economical losses throughout the equine industry, including young Thoroughbred populations.

“OC occurs when the articular cartilage that lines the ends of long bones fails to mature into sound bone early in a horse’s life, a process referred to as endochondral ossification,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a Kentucky Equine Research (KER) nutritionist...
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Open Wide: Keeping Your Horse's Mouth Healthy


Most horse owners recognize the signs associated with severe dental problems: feed dropping from the mouth, quidding, and loss of condition. Abnormalities may include loose, abscessed, fractured, or painful teeth, and these conditions might stem from a simple dental cavity.

“Unidentified and untreated dental cavities may negatively affect a horse’s quality of life, welfare, and overall health,” shared Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER)...
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Equine Metabolic Syndrome: More on Horse Diets


Obesity among horses certainly has its drawbacks, including decreased exercise tolerance and the development of insulin resistance and laminitis. Researchers now know that simply being obese does not automatically mean a horse has or will develop insulin resistance. So, what exactly does determine whether or not an overweight horse will become insulin resistant?

To answer this question, one group of equine researchers recruited 33 horses (Standardbreds and Andalusians) and ponies, and offered either a cereal-rich supplemental feed (micronized corn) or a fat-rich supplemental feed on top of their regular diet. The amount of supplemental feed was increased over the study period to induce weight gain...
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Equine Metabolism and Thyroid Hormone


Horses use a variety of body processes to maintain internal body temperature as ambient temperatures plunge. Those include morphological, physiological, biochemical, metabolic, and behavioral adaptations.

For example, many animals stay warm in the winter by decreasing their metabolic rate significantly, leading to a state of hypometabolism, which is more widely referred to as hibernation or torpor...
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Heartburn in Horses: A Performance Problem?


Young, athletic horses, such as Thoroughbred yearlings and racehorses, frequently suffer a disorder of the larynx called arytenoid chondritis or inflammation of the arytenoid cartilages. Veterinarians once thought that bacterial infection due to inhaled particles was the cause of the inflammation, but a new study* suggests otherwise.

The arytenoid cartilages make up an important part of the larynx, which is located at the end of the nasal passages near the trachea. Most horsemen recognize that dysfunction of the left arytenoid cartilage is the culprit in roaring. Any condition that affects the horse’s respiratory tract negatively impacts performance, including arytenoid chondritis. Rather than focusing on an external cause of arytenoid chondritis, such as bacterial infiltration, an Australian research team put forward an alternate explanation: gastroesophageal reflux, known commonly as heartburn...
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Laminitis, Insulin Resistance, Equine Metabolic Syndrome: Fast Facts


Understanding insulin resistance, what role it plays in equine metabolic syndrome and the development of laminitis, and how these conditions impact the overall health of your horse can be confusing. To help owners and equine veterinarians alike better understand these conditions, a group of researchers reviewed the available literature, and summarized their findings...
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Feeding the Lean Lactating Mare at Weaning


Sooner or later, every horse breeder encounters a lactating mare that pours every bit of energy to milk production, regardless of her diet, leaving her ribby at the time of weaning. The period just after weaning offers a great time to recalibrate body condition and prepare her for the upcoming challenge of another pregnancy and lactation.

“Broodmare owners will sometimes change a mare’s diet at the time of weaning to help slow milk production, but no studies support the notion that dietary restriction will hasten the end of milk production,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER). When energy reduction is done gradually, however, such as slowly decreasing concentrates a week or two prior to weaning, no ill effects are usually noted among mares in moderate or above-moderate body condition. The foal should have continued access to concentrates, even if the mare’s supply is reduced, Crandell advised...
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Are Genetically Modified Feeds Safe for Horses?


The safety of genetically modified (GM) foods for human consumption is a contentious and controversial subject. Much of the information fueling this debate is based on little or no scientifically sound evidence. This has spilled over into the horse industry with many feed manufacturers capitalizing on this angst by offering “GM-free” horse feeds. What are genetically modified feed ingredients, and are they really safe to feed to horses?

Genetically Modified Traits..
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Horse-Feeding Problems: Managing Easy and Hard Keepers Together


Managing a mixed bag of horses frequently puts horse owners in a conundrum, especially when it comes to feeding. With limited land and the desire to maintain horses in a social setting, how do you keep an easy keeper from gaining excess weight while bolstering condition of a hard keeper? Consider these tips to ensure all members of the herd are optimally managed...
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Equine Metabolic Syndrome and the Intestinal Microbiome


Horses and humans have a lot in common, including a propensity for developing metabolic syndrome. Recent research in humans suggests that alterations in the intestinal microbiome—the community of microorganisms that exist in the large intestine—could contribute to endocrine upheaval. In horses, equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is characterized by insulin resistance, regional adiposity, and laminitis.

“Investigation into the mechanisms and factors contributing to EMS is becoming increasingly important considering its negative health consequences in these horses, in particular, the increased risk of laminitis,” wrote a group of Canadian researchers in a recent study*...
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Anhidrosis in Horses May Have Genetic Component


Many genetic problems have been identified in horses in last few decades. One of the greatest examples is HYPP, hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, traced back to a single Quarter Horse sire, Impressive. Back in 1992, researchers developed a DNA test capable of identifying horses carrying the gene for HYPP and have attempted to eliminate the disorder through responsible breeding. Now researchers are investigating  to see if a similar approach could be utilized to reduce or eliminate other diseases of horses, such as metabolic syndrome, OCD (osteochondrosis dissecans), heaves, or even anhidrosis.

Experts at the Brooks Equine Genetics Lab at the University of Florida are currently looking for a genetic link in horses affected by anhidrosis...
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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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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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