Resources - USA - Equine

  • June 22, 2017

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    Molds are single-celled fungi that are found everywhere in nature.  They grow on plants among other substrates in nature and play a role in the natural process of plant decay. …

  • May 4, 2017

    By Matt McMillan, PhD and Chris Morrow, DVM

    It’s the goal of every horse owner who intends to breed a mare to produce a good, strong, healthy colt.  To accomplish this goal, there are many considerations to be taken into account from …

  • April 13, 2017

    By Chris Morrow, DVM and Matt McMillan, PhD

    Tying-up in horses is a ‘catch-all’ term used by many horse men and women who are referring to a muscle cramping, soreness, or unwillingness to move in horses that is generally brought …

  • March 2, 2017

    By Dr. Chris Morrow, DVM

    As equine practitioners, we use the word choke to describe an esophageal obstruction. This condition will present itself as a horse begins to exhibit signs of distress including the expelling of feed from …

  • January 17, 2017

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    As winter weather approaches, temperatures will begin to fall with the possibilities of rain, snow, ice, and wind. Because of these environmental changes, increased …

  • November 17, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    Nutrient requirements of the horse can change depending upon several factors related to the type, and weight of the horse, stage of life and level of activity. When …

  • October 10, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    The senior horse has become more prevalent in modern times due to the change in workload, and activity of horses in general compared to what was required of the horse many …

  • September 12, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    At one time, it was generally thought by the equine scientific community that horses could not digest and utilize fat at a rate that would be sufficient to contribute to …

  • August 8, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) are the by-products produced from the manufacturing process of ethanol. These products have been readily available in …

  • July 18, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    As breeding season for mares comes to a close, many considerations should be taken into account so that a live, healthy foal can be produced in the springtime next year.  …

  • December 22, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph.D., Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    While some equine enthusiasts haul their horses throughout the year, many more begin to look towards taking their horses down the road to their favorite equine event as …

  • April 14, 2016

    By Dr. Chris Morrow, DVM

    As a student of the horse it is evident that the species was evolved on varied grass diets.  They are designed to walk around foraging ready to run away from anything that would eat them.  The health of the …

  • March 17, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph. D, Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    For many years, feeding oats and alfalfa hay has been a very common diet for the working and performance horse.  However, with more and more research being conducted in the …

  • January 29, 2016

    By Matt McMillan, Ph. D, Equine Nutritionist, Hi-Pro Feeds

    As any good scientist would say, the answer to this question is “It depends…”.  So what about starch?  It seems that starch is, and has been the hot topic of discussion …

Kentucky Equine Research

  • Nutrient Digestibility in Horses: Does It Change with Age?

    old horses in field

    The population of horses over the age of 20 has increased in recent history, thanks to better healthcare and increased scientific knowledge of the ageing process. Many horsemen believe that diets should be more heavily fortified as horses age in order to make up for losses in digestive efficiency. New research is challenging this notion, though.

    A study conducted at Michigan State University tested the digestibility of three different diets in both senior (aged 19-28 years) and young adult (aged 5-12 years) horses*, all of whom were healthy. Energy sources of the diets came from fiber, carbohydrate, or fat. Feed, fecal, and urine samples were analyzed and measured for crude protein, energy, fat, and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, and selenium. Interestingly, total digestibility of macronutrients appeared to be similar in both adult and senior horses.

    Healthy horses may not experience declines in digestibility as years pass, but some horses, especially seniors, with medical or physical conditions are at risk for impaired nutrient absorption. Case in point, dental problems can lead to improper chewing, making it harder for digestive enzymes to break down food for absorption. A soft, soaked diet that meets all nutritional requirements without having to chew is helpful in this situation.

    In addition, horses with chronic parasite problems could have scarred tissue along the digestive tract, reducing function. A horse recovering from heavy parasite loads may need smaller, more frequent meals with extra nutrient fortification to ensure needs are met. A Kentucky Equine Research nutrition consultant can help provide solutions for overcoming these and other nutritional challenges.

    Healthy, aged horses may not have different nutritional requirements than their younger counter parts.  However, horses of any age with specific concerns may in fact need special dietary modifications. Be sure to always provide fresh water and good-quality forage as the foundation of a healthy diet. Work with a veterinarian and nutritionist to provide the best healthcare and ration for your horse, based on individual needs over a lifetime.

    *Elzinga, S., B.D. Nielsen, H.C. Schott, J. Rapson, C.I. Robison, J. McCutcheon, R. Geor, and P.A. Harris. 2017. Comparison of nutrient digestibility between three diets for aged and adult horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 52:89.

    Category Headline Image: 
    senior horse
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Healthy horses may not experience declines in digestibility as years pass, but some horses, especially seniors, with medical or physical conditions are at risk for impaired nutrient absorption.
    Overview: 
    Many horsemen believe that diets should be more heavily fortified as horses age in order to make up for losses in digestive efficiency, but new research is challenging this notion.
  • Traveling Affects the Equine Microbiome

    horse transport

    Summer is a time for travel—horse shows, trail rides, and horseback vacations. New evidence shows that travel can have an impact on the equine microbiome, the microbial population of the hindgut critical for proper digestion, immune function, and nutrient and energy production. Microbes are sensitive to the environment, and even small changes in diet, exercise, stress level, or health can affect the delicate balance in the gut.

    Recent studies suggest that the stress of travel alters the population of microbes in the hindgut. A research trial conducted at the University of Illinois compared cecal fluid samples in horses that traveled and were stalled in an unfamiliar location for 48 hours to control horses that stayed home with no change in routine*.

    Horses that traveled experienced changes in the diversity of species of the microbiome. Interestingly, horses that did not travel also experienced some change in bacterial diversity only after the traveling horses returned home, possibly due the disruption associated with the traveling group rejoining the herd.

    Another study sampled fecal microbiota and found a notable drop in the presence of bacteria belonging to the order Clostridiales after transport**. Clostridiales appears to be more abundant in healthy horses, suggesting that transport stress may have a negative impact on a balanced microbiome.

    This does not mean that horses should never be transported. But it does mean that transport is likely causing some kind of change in the microbiome. Be extra careful to minimize stress, take travel breaks, and monitor changes, however slight, in behavior or health before, during, and after a trip.

    To help ensure a healthy microbiome, start with a forage-based diet. Good-quality hay or pasture is the fundamental basis for an equine diet. Fiber provides a food source for all of the beneficial bacteria in the hindgut. Make any dietary change slowly, and try not to make changes immediately before or after a trip. When it comes to travel, bring your own hay and feed in sufficient supply to last the duration of the trip in order to minimize digestive upset.

    For horses that are sensitive to environmental changes, including those brought on by travel, a nutritional buffer might be beneficial. EquiShure is a time-released hindgut buffer that helps minimize pH changes caused by a shifting, on-the-road diet.

    Increasing emphasis has been placed on the importance of the equine microbiome as a major factor in overall health. Scientific research has only begun to understand the microbiome. A balanced, consistent diet that includes quality forage along with an environment that minimizes unnecessary stress will provide the foundation for overall wellness.

    *Venable, E.B., Liu, T.W., Bland, S.D., Holscher, H.H. and Swanson, K.S. 2017. Effects of travel on the equine cecal microbiota. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 52:55.

    **Schoster, A., Mosing, M., Jalali, M., Staempfli, H.R. and Weese, J.S. 2016. Effects of transport, fasting and anaesthesia on the faecal microbiota of healthy adult horses. Equine Veterinary Journal. 48(5):595-602.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse travel
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Be extra careful to minimize stress, take travel breaks, and monitor changes, however slight, in behavior or health before, during, and after a trip.
    Overview: 
    New evidence shows that travel can have an impact on the equine microbiome, the microbial population of the hindgut critical for proper digestion, immune function, and nutrient and energy production.
  • Which Regenerative Therapy Is Best for Equine Injuries?

    horse jumping

    Not that long ago, treatment strategies for soft tissue injuries, like those affecting the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), relied heavily on extensive rest. Following a carefully designed exercise protocol, many horses returned to work only to reinjure themselves. Despite the widespread availability of various regenerative therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of soft-tissue injuries, owners find themselves faced with a new dilemma: choosing the therapy that best fits their horse.

    Some of the most popular regenerative therapies currently used for the management of various equine soft tissue injuries include stem cell therapy, both adipose- and bone-marrow-derived, and platelet-rich plasma or PRP.

    In all three cases, the samples are collected from the injured horse (e.g., adipose-derived stem cells from fat cells collected from the tail head; bone-marrow collected from the sternum, and platelets harvested from a blood sample). They are processed either using a commercial kit at the veterinarian’s in-house laboratory or sent to a laboratory for processing. The resultant product is subsequently injected directly into the tendon injury.

    Each regenerative therapy has benefits in terms of ease of use and expense. Many studies have been conducted to help guide owners in choosing an appropriate regenerative therapy, but no clear-cut answer has yet presented itself.

    In the most recent effort to shed light on alternative therapies, one group of researchers* tested the three types of therapies. To do so, injuries of the SDFT were noted in 12 horses. Those lesions were treated with adipose-derived stem cells, bone marrow-derived stem cells, PRP, or saline as a control. Ultrasound examinations to assess healing were performed routinely for 45 weeks. Key findings included:

    • Horses treated with bone-marrow-derived stem cells had ultrasonographic evidence of early healing compared to the other groups;
    • All horses treated with a regenerative therapy achieved the same level of exercise by 10 weeks, which was significantly earlier than the horses in the saline control group; and
    • Tissue healing was superior in all three treatment groups compared to the saline control group, and bone-marrow-derived stem cells appeared to have improved treatment over the other regenerative therapies.

    The researchers concluded that “a clear beneficial effect was elicited by all treatments compared with the control group.” Although differences between treatments were relatively small, therapy with bone-marrow-derived stem cells resulted in a better outcome than PRP and adipose-derived stem cells.

    According to Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutrition advisor for Kentucky Equine Research (KER), nutritional supplements can also help keep tendons healthy or support healing following injury. “Quality products containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids all support the well-being of the musculoskeletal system, including the tendons and ligaments.”

    Look for KER’s KER•Flex, Synovate HA, and EO•3. Australian horse owners should also look for Glucos-A-Flex.

    *Romero, A., L. Barrachina, B. Ranera, et al. 2017. Comparison of autologous bone marrow and adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells, and platelet rich plasma, for treating surgically induced lesions of the equine superficial digital flexor tendon. Veterinary Journal. 224:76-84.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse going over jump
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    Despite the widespread availability of various regenerative therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of soft-tissue injuries, owners find themselves faced with a new dilemma: choosing the therapy that best fits their horse.
  • Poor Appetite: Look Closer at Your Horse's Digestive Tract

    horse and feed bucket

    Has your horse decided that gobbling his grain is no longer as fun as it once was? Has he slowed his eating so much that he requires hours to finish a meal he once would devour in mere minutes?

    Horses lose their appetite for a variety of reasons. One lesser-known cause is gastrointestinal discomfort emanating from gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis.

    Researchers have documented the pervasiveness of gastric ulcers among horses. Because of this, many horses, especially those in performance careers, are monitored closely for gastric discomfort, which typically manifests as loss of appetite, teeth-grinding, dull coat, and changes in disposition. Similarly, more and more horses are being diagnosed with hindgut acidosis, a pH imbalance that specifically affects the cecum and colon. These horses tend to have loose or inconsistent manure, occasional colic, and stereotypic behaviors such as wood-chewing and stall-walking.

    Diagnosing gastric ulcers can be achieved through endoscopic evaluation of the stomach. If found, ulcers can be treated with prescription-strength omeprazole, which must be purchased through a veterinarian. Once a follow-up endoscopy reveals an ulcer-free stomach, a research-proven supplement can be used to keep ulcers from reforming.

    Definitively diagnosing hindgut acidosis is more complex, as an endoscope cannot be threaded into the cecum or colon. Diagnosis is usually based on the aforementioned clinical signs, and clearing of acidosis depends on moderating the pH with a nutritional buffer.

    Can horses be affected by both gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis at the same time? Yes, many horses have both problems simultaneously.

    Because of this, a product that addresses both gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis is the best choice. RiteTrac, developed by the scientists at Kentucky Equine Research (KER), contains ingredients that keep ulcers from forming through stabilization of pH and through protectively coating the stomach wall, and keep hindgut acidosis at bay through time-released buffering. Twice-a-day feeding of RiteTrac will help maintain the health of the gastrointestinal tract, and once the discomfort subsides, appetite will likely return to normal. In Australia, look for EquiShure or Neigh-Lox.

    Horses involved in heavy exercise may also benefit from Triacton, another product formulated by KER. Triacton provides three research-proven benefits to horses: increased bone density, improved gastric health, and enhanced hindgut stability. Triacton can be fed with RiteTrac to provide horses with ultimate gastrointestinal and skeletal support.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse with poor appetite
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Once a follow-up endoscopy reveals an ulcer-free stomach, a research-proven supplement can be used to keep ulcers from reforming.
    Overview: 
    Horses lose their appetite for a variety of reasons. One lesser-known cause is gastrointestinal discomfort emanating from gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis.
  • Protein in Horse Diets: Aim for "Required" Levels

    horses eating alfalfa hay

    Horses need protein to grow and maintain health, but excess nitrogen from too much dietary protein may affect the environment adversely. Because of this, environmental advocates suggest feeding only “required” levels of protein to domesticated animals, including horses. Will deviating from tried-and-true approaches to feeding horses, particularly growing foals, negatively impact their behavior and health?

    Excess nitrogen contributes to eutrophication, the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients, including nitrogen, that stimulate the growth of plants and algae.

    Excessive growth of plants and algae produce foul-smelling water with reduced clarity. In turn, the ability of predatory species to find their prey is reduced, causing overpopulation of prey species and plant life. Excessive prey and plants deplete oxygen and create “dead zones” in affected bodies of water.

    To determine if decreased protein intake (decreased nitrogen excretion) negatively impacts equine welfare in the form of behavioral changes, one research group from Italy fed two different diets to growing foals. Both diets provided the same level of energy, or calories, but one had 13.2% protein while the second was restricted to only 10.6% protein—the minimum daily total dietary protein level recommended by the National Research Council. The researchers subsequently evaluated foal behavior to determine if any welfare issues, manifested in the form of behavior changes, in response to the decreased dietary protein occurred.

    “Behavior is a strong indicator of equine health and welfare,” noted Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER). “In this study, providing adequate, but not excessive, protein to growing foals did not culminate in any negative behavior changes, such as less or more time in movement, resting, ingestion activities, social interaction, and development of stereotypies.”

    In light of these findings, the researchers concluded that “reduction of crude protein in foal diets is reconcilable with the maintenance of performance and welfare.”

    *Sartoris, C., N. Guzzo, S. Normando, et al. Evaluation of behaviour in stabled draught horse foals fed diets with two protein levels. Animal. In press.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse eating hay in stall
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    In light of these findings, the researchers concluded that 'reduction of crude protein in foal diets is reconcilable with the maintenance of performance and welfare.'
    Overview: 
    Horses need protein to grow and maintain health, but excess nitrogen from too much dietary protein may affect the environment adversely.
  • Controlling Lice in Horses

    horse biting an itch

    The infestation of a horse with lice, called pediculosis, need not cause panic or alarm. However, treating affected horses and avoiding future infestations can be frustrating. Here are five fast facts about lice and how to handle an infestation.

    1. Two types of lice infest horses, biting (Haematopinus asini) and sucking (Damalinia equi). Each type typically infests different parts of the horse with biting lice more commonly found on the forehead, neck, and lateral thorax, and sucking lice preferring the mane, dock of the tail, fetlocks, and inner gaskins.

    2. Lice spread easily between horses in close contact. Although horses have some natural immunity against lice, just like they have some natural immunity against internal parasites, some risk factors exist, including:

    • High stocking density;
    • Sharing blankets, brushes, and other equipment between horses;
    • Poor feed quality;
    • Gestational status;
    • Underlying health issues;
    • Longer body hair (e.g., winter coat, feathering); and
    • Season (infestations are more common in winter and early spring).

    3. Unlike ticks, no known diseases are transmitted between lice and horses. Further, most types of lice are species-specific, meaning that horse lice do not typically infest humans. One exception to this “rule” is the poultry-chewing louse. When horses and poultry are housed in close contact, horses can become infested.

    4. Even though no specific diseases are transmitted between louse and horse, lice infestations can be itchy! Horses can cause skin trauma and hair loss by rubbing and biting. Further, extremely heavy infestations with sucking lice can cause anemia, a decrease in circulating red blood cells.

    5. Treatment options include various medications (imidacloprid, phoxim, selenium sulfide, triflumuron, permethrin combined with dimilin or pyriproxyfen, fipronil) as well as neem seed extract. Recently, one research group* reported that “a single application of the 10 mg/mL deltamethrin preparation was effective and safe in the treatment and in the prevention of lice infestation in these horses. It was also effective in preventing new infestations for one month.”

    “As listed above, nutrition plays an important role in minimizing the chances of lice infestation. In addition to a nutritional consultation, consider supplementing your horses with Bio-Bloom PS (in Australia, look for Bio-Bloom). This product provides lecithin and essential fatty acids that help maintain healthy skin and a shiny hair coat,” advised Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    *Castilla-Castaño, E., A. Vischi, C. Navarro, et al. 2017. Control of lice infestation in horses using a 10 mg/mL deltamethrin topical application. Irish Veterinary Journal. Jun 19;70:22.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse itching
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    The infestation of a horse with lice, called pediculosis, need not cause panic or alarm. However, treating affected horses and avoiding future infestations can be frustrating. Here are five fast facts about lice and how to handle an infestation.
  • Horsekeeping Tips: Keep Waterers Clean for Horse Health

    horse drinking from water tank

    In the perfect world, every horse owner would keep his water tanks sparkling clean. In the hustle and bustle world of horse ownership, though, waterers often get short shrift.

    Horses drink significant quantities of water. If water is too dirty, unpalatable, or foul-smelling, horses will not drink it, leading to dehydration and other health concerns, including colic.

    In general, an idle horse will drink nearly one gallon (3.8 liters) per 100 lb (45 kg) body weight, about 10 gallons (38 liters) for a 1,000-lb (450-kg) horse. Significant variation occurs in how much a horse will drink in a day, and this is due largely to diet. In general, high-fiber diets, such as those composed almost entirely of hay, increase water consumption, while intake of green pasture, which is rich in water, decreases water consumption.

    Activity will increase the water requirement, so working horses may easily double their water requirement if they are sweating a lot. Lactating mares have elevated water requirements because milk production requires significant water. Other factors that affect water requirement are an increase in temperature, high humidity, and the intensity and duration of work or competition. Certain diseases, such as Cushing’s, will increase thirst. In a nutshell, supply horses with plenty of clean water at all times, except when they are extremely hot after exertion, during which occasional sips are more appropriate.

    When using water tanks that must be filled periodically, opposed to automatic waterers, one of the most prominent problems is algae growth. “A little algae, while unsightly, isn’t a real problem,” according to Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER). “However, it becomes a problem if it makes the water unpalatable and the horse stops drinking.”

    During farm visits and consultations, well-read horse owners often ask Crandell about blue-green algae poisoning. “Unchecked algae growth is not beneficial for the ecosystem if it occurs in a pond, as stagnant water and manure are the perfect ingredients for growing blue-green algae. A few species of blue-green algae can produce toxins known to poison livestock,” explained Crandell. “The problem lies in not being able to visually distinguish the algae species in a pond that produce toxins from those that don't. The best method of prevention is to keep the algae growth from getting out of hand.”

    Some horse owners will add a drop or two of bleach to a waterer to keep drinking water free of algae.  “Because bleach contains chlorine, it can help sanitize the water. The chlorine in bleach is the same additive used in public water systems. The bleach might help with algae growth for a day but, if the water trough is exposed to sunlight, the chlorine will evaporate in about 24 hours and will no longer be a deterrent for algae growth,” said Crandell. “For horses that are not accustomed, the taste can affect intake although, like city water, they can adapt.”

    From time to time, Crandell is also asked about the use of fish in water tanks. “Fish are helpful in the spring, summer, and fall in most areas of the U.S., but it is too cold in the winter for them to survive,” said Crandell, “so they have to be moved to a more temperate environment for a few months of the year.” Fish are particularly helpful if it is a big water trough that is difficult or impossible to clean. The fish, typically goldfish or koi, help control algae growth and mosquito larvae.

    A cautionary note: bleach and fish don’t mix, so choose one of these methods to control algae growth but not both.

    Some properties have natural water sources available to horses, such as streams and ponds. “If the water is fresh and not too stagnant, streams can be a great source of water for horses. Some streams can be sandy, depending on the geographic region, and these may contribute to sand colic if they are the only water source, especially if coupled with grazing sandy pastures,” said Crandell.

    “A pond will work if it isn't too stagnant or has an excessive buildup of algae. A pond might not be appropriate if it is marshy or shared with wildlife or livestock, as there is a chance it can be contaminated with Leptospira, bacteria that can cause disease,” advised Crandell. “There seems to be a direct relationship with the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in water and intake.  The higher the TDS, the lower the intake. Murky, muddy ponds are generally higher in TDS.”

    Key points:

    • Horses will generally consume one gallon (3.8 liters) of water for every 100 lb (45 kg) of body weight. For most average-size horses, this comes to 10-15 gallons (38-57 liters) of water each day.
    • Keep water tanks as clean as possible. Weekly scrubbing will usually do the trick. Don’t overlook automatic waterers, as they too can become green and slimy with algae growth.
    • A couple drops of bleach or a few fish can help minimize algae growth and are especially useful for tanks that cannot be emptied and scrubbed easily, such as cement structures.
    • Streams and ponds can provide horses with suitable drinking water, but make sure the water looks appealing and isn’t too sandy or muddy.
    Category Headline Image: 
    horses drinking from water tank
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    When using water tanks that must be filled periodically, opposed to automatic waterers, one of the most prominent problems is algae growth.
    Overview: 
    Horses drink significant quantities of water. If water is too dirty, unpalatable, or foul-smelling, horses will not drink it, leading to dehydration and other health concerns, including colic.
  • Monitoring Horse Health in Hot Weather

    sweaty horse

    Body temperature continues to serve as an important sentinel for health and welfare in horses competing in warm environments. During competition, a horse’s body temperature is usually only measured intermittently and only while at rest, frequently a few minutes after cessation of exercise. Experts attest, however, that knowing the horse’s body temperature during exercise would provide much more valuable data that could ultimately improve the performance and welfare of equine athletes.

    According to a recent study*, additional benefits of real-time body temperature measurements in exercising horses include “determining and monitoring temperature patterns and maximum temperature limits for individual exercising horses, allowing early intervention during competition, and evaluating temperature patterns and effectiveness of post-exercise cooling.”

    Rectal thermometers remain the go-to tool for measuring body temperature, but alternates exist, including skin, eye, and even intrauterine devices. Each of these has its flaws, prompting the research team to explore the use of a nondigestible temperature-sensitive pill that passes through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This device provides a means of noninvasively and continuously monitoring body temperature in real-time via Bluetooth technology.

    In their preliminary study involving in vitro (laboratory) comparisons and live measurements in eight exercising horses, the study authors concluded that “the telemetric GI pill was a reliable and practical method for real-time monitoring of GI temperature in horses.”

    “During exercise, horses mainly regulate their body temperature by losing heat through the respiratory tract and skin. They can also lose remarkable amounts of electrolytes, such as sodium and chloride,” reminded Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    She added, “In addition to temperature regulation, replenishing valuable electrolytes is also an essential component of maximizing equine health and welfare in athletic horses.”

    Electrolyte supplements, including Restore SRRestore Paste (Restore and Restore Paste in Australia), and Race Recovery, are research-proven products ideal for performance horses. Other KER-formulated electrolytes designed for endurance horses are available in Australia.

    Not exactly sure what the best product is for your horse or how to use it? Contact a KER nutrition advisor today for a nutritional consultation.

    *Verdegaal, E.J.M.M., C. Delesalle, C.G.B. Caraguel, et al. 2017. Evaluation of a telemetric gastrointestinal pill for continuous monitoring of gastrointestinal temperature in horses at rest and during exercise. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 78(7):778-784.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse in summer
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    In addition to temperature regulation, replenishing valuable electrolytes is also an essential component of maximizing equine health and welfare in athletic horses.
    Overview: 
    A recent study examined additional benefits of real-time body temperature measurements in exercising horses.
  • Researchers Investigate Curcumin for Diarrheic Horses

    curcumin for horses

    An alteration in the delicate balance of the equine intestinal microbiome, a condition called dysbiosis, often leads to diarrhea. In turn, diarrhea can cause life-threatening bouts of laminitis. Regardless of the original cause of dysbiosis, be it an alteration in diet, administration of a new drug or supplement, or even infection with pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, or Streptococcus bovis/equinus complex (SBEC), the first step is to restore the microbiome…and fast!

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, prebiotics and probiotics, and supportive care remain mainstays in managing diarrhea in horses. NSAIDs, however, come with some risk so finding alternate anti-inflammatory agents with fewer side effects would certainly benefit sick horses.

    With the ever-increasing use of nutraceuticals in equine medicine, one research team* explored the use of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, for its antimicrobial properties. They wondered if curcumin possesses sufficient antimicrobial properties to “help minimize the proliferation of opportunistic bacteria.” Ultimately, the hope was that using curcumin to prevent dysbiosis would negate the need for NSAIDs.

    To test the hypothesis, the research team conducted a series of in vitro (laboratory) and in vivo experiments using four horses. Researchers found that curcumin (at above-recommended doses) actually has “the potential to increase the concentration of opportunistic bacteria, which would contribute to microbial dysbiosis rather than mitigate it.”

    The study also reported decreased production of butyrate, an important volatile fatty acid produced through fermentation of fiber in the hindgut that provides energy and helps maintain a healthy lining of the digestive tract.

    “One way to prevent dysbiosis is to avoid abrupt diet changes. Any alteration in diet can alter the intestinal microbiome and decrease the pH of the contents of the hindgut, contributing to hindgut acidosis,” advised Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    To help prevent drastic changes in pH that lead to hindgut acidosis and ulceration, offer your horse EquiShure, a time-released hindgut buffer.

    *Bland, S.D., E.B. Venable, J.L. McPherson, et al. 2017. Effects of liposomal-curcumin on five opportunistic bacterial strains found in the equine hindgut - Preliminary study. Journal of Animal Science and Technology. Jun 12;59:15.

    Category Headline Image: 
    equine curcumin supplement
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    To help prevent drastic changes in pH that lead to hindgut acidosis and ulceration, offer your horse EquiShure, a time-released hindgut buffer.
    Overview: 
    With the ever-increasing use of nutraceuticals in equine medicine, one research team explored the use of curcumin to help minimize the proliferation of opportunistic bateria that may cause diarrhea-causing alterations in the intestinal microbiome.
  • Chewing Problems in Horses: Consider TMJ Issues

    temporomandibular joint in horses

    When faced with chewing problems in horses, what do owners do? More likely than not, they will scroll through their contacts in search of the equine dentist or veterinarian. Are there sharp hooks and points? Loose or missing teeth? An abscess? Few horse owners would consider irregularities of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

    Abnormalities within the oral cavity, such as dental malocclusions characterized by misaligned teeth, may cause abnormal forces to be placed on the TMJ, triggering inflammation and degeneration. In addition to the potential discomfort caused by the primary abnormality, the problem could be compounded by TMJ pain.

    “This scenario is similar to a horse with poor limb conformation. With increased training and increased abnormal forces on certain joints, lameness can occur,” explained Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., an advisor for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    “Clearly, both oral care provided by an appropriately trained professional in equine dentistry and joint care provided by your primary equine practitioner should to considered when horses appear to be having difficulty chewing,” noted Whitehouse.

    General signs of dental problems include dropping feed while chewing, which should be differentiated from bolting or feed-slinging; a gradual slowing of feed consumption in which meals take longer than normal to finish; and head-tilting or other unusual head positioning during chewing. “An annual dental checkup with necessary attention to problems will help keep the entire mouth and jaw in working order,” said Whitehouse.

    KER offers several joint supplements that could help protect your horse’s TMJ. Consider KER•Flex with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, Synovate HA with high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, and EO•3 containing marine-derived fish oils. Australian horse owners should also look for Glucos-A-Flex.

    “While these products will support joint health at any point in a horse’s life, using joint supplements early in life helps ensure lasting skeletal health,” Whitehouse advised.

    *Carmalt, J.L., H. Simhofer, A. Bienert-Zeit, et al. The association between oral examination findings and computed tomographic appearance of the equine temporomandibular joint. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.

    Category Headline Image: 
    temporomandibular joint in horses
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    Abnormalities within the oral cavity, such as dental malocclusions characterized by misaligned teeth, may cause abnormal forces to be placed on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), triggering inflammation and degeneration.