Resources - USA - Equine

  • A cowboy loops his lasso while a herd of cattle look on.

    July 27, 2017

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

    On a weight basis, the horse’s body consists of approximately 60 to 65% water, 30 to 35% of protein, fat, and stored energy sources, and 4% in minerals.  While minerals only …

  • A blonde woman feeds a brown and black horse from a bucket.

    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. …

  • A group of colts on a green field look over a fence toward camera.

    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 …

  • Hunter Meinzer hand feeds a horse

    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 …

  • Dr. Chris Morrow examines a brown horse.

    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 …

  • A horse walks across a lot with a purple blanket on.

    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 …

  • Black and white photo of horse with his mane braided at a rodeo

    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 …

  • Brown horse grazes green grass with a sunset backdrop.

    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 …

  • A bowl of soybeans sits next to a bottle of vegetable oil on its side.

    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 …

  • Two horses eating oats.

    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 …

  • A mare grazes green grass while her colt looks ahead.

    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.  …

  • A horse pokes it's head out of a trailer window.

    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 …

  • Two horses graze on green grass with a sunset in the background.

    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 …

  • A brown horse eats Alfalfa hay from a trough.

    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 …

  • A brown quarter horse with black halter stands in profile.

    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

  • New Advice for Treating Navicular Infections in Horses

    horse walking

    Taking a bad step can cause a horse to stumble, possibly resulting in soft-tissue trauma. If that misstep involves puncturing the bottom of the foot near the heel, a life-threatening infection could ensue. Recent research suggests that immediate surgery plus aggressive use of antibiotics may be the best treatment for a solar puncture.

    “Not far below the solar surface of the hoof lies the navicular bursa. This small, cushiony sac is filled with synovial fluid and houses the navicular bone and the deep digital flexor tendon. The synovial fluid helps the deep digital flexor tendon glide over the navicular bone during locomotion,” described Laura Petroski, D.V.M., staff veterinarian for Kentucky Equine Research (KER), based in Versailles.

    Like any synovial structure, such as joints, infections must be treated swiftly and aggressively to minimize damage to the structures and to give your horse the best chance of returning to athletic function.

    “New data show that performing a navicular bursotomy while simultaneously administering antibiotics can successfully manage these challenging cases,” shared Petroski.

    According to the group of surgeons, creating “windows” into the navicular bursa through the frog removes damaged, infected tissue and allows surgeons to wash the area with saline. In addition, antibiotics administered locally deliver a high concentration of antibiotic directly to the bursa. Systemic antibiotics deliver via the usual routes of administration (intravenous, intramuscular, and orally) also play a key role in successful treatment.

    Researchers reviewed the medical records from horses undergoing navicular bursotomy between 2002 and 2016 at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Overall, owners were pleased with the outcome of the surgeries, and 84% of horses returned to their previous level of athletic function.

    “While accidental penetrating wounds cannot always be avoided, owners are encouraged to perform routine ‘ground checks’ to remove dangerous debris,” Petroski advised.

    She added, “To maximize hoof health in noninjured horses and help horses heal following navicular bursotomy, consider offering Bio•Bloom PS.”

    Bio•Bloom PS contains a synergistic blend of biotin, zinc, lysine, methionine, iodine, lecithin, as well as a full-fat soybean meal to provide essential fatty acids.

    In Australia, look for Bio-Bloom.

    *Suarez-Fuentes, D.G., S.S. Caston, D.M. Tatarniuk, et al. Outcome of horses undergoing navicular bursotomy for the treatment of contaminated or septic navicular bursitis: 19 cases (2002-2016). Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse stepping
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Like any synovial structure, such as joints, infections must be treated swiftly and aggressively to minimize damage to the structures and to give your horse the best chance of returning to athletic function.
    Overview: 
    Taking a bad step can cause a horse to stumble, possibly resulting in soft-tissue trauma. If that misstep involves puncturing the bottom of the foot near the heel, a life-threatening infection could ensue. Recent research suggests that immediate surgery plus aggressive use of antibiotics may be the best treatment for a solar puncture.
  • Stress of Weaning Impacts Digestive Health of Foals

    weanling horse in field

    Had a stressful day? As taxing as it was, your anxiety was probably nothing compared to the stress foals experience during the weaning process. According to new research*, weaning is one of the most stressful events in a horse’s life.

    Weaning affects physiological, nutritional, and cognitive-behavioral responses. Regardless of technique, weaning commonly results in:

    • Increased frequency of vocalizations;
    • Increased general motor activity during the first few days;
    • Altered feeding and sleeping patterns;
    • Irritability, anxiousness, and aggressiveness;
    • Suspension of normal play behavior;
    • Elevated glucocorticoid (stress hormone) levels; and
    • Weight loss, performance decline after weaning, and higher risk of infectious diseases.

    “Based on the study by Mach and colleagues, increased circulating stress hormones can negatively impact the gastrointestinal tract of foals during weaning. Specifically, those hormones could alter the intestinal microbiome, potentially allowing for overgrowth of harmful organisms such as Escherichia coli,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., nutritionist at Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    To increase our understanding of stress, weaning, and the intestinal microbiome, 34 foals were divided into two groups: those abruptly weaned from their mares and those progressively weaned over four weeks by spending increasing periods of time separated from their dams. Both of these weaning methods are common in the breeding industry.

    After analyzing the intestinal microbiomes of all foals before and during the weaning process, the researchers found that before complete separation from their dams beneficial species of microorganisms were more abundant in the group of abruptly weaned foals.

    “This finding suggests that progressive weaning of foals was causing stress changes throughout the pre-weaning period, and that the foals weaned abruptly have intestinal microbiomes that are better adapted for weaning,” Crandell explained. “However, the researchers also noted higher salivary cortisol levels in the abruptly weaned foals than the progressive group at separation, indicating that the animals were more stressed.”

    On the flip side, fungal loads, which are thought to foster fermentation, were higher in the foals progressively weaned.

    Regardless of weaning method, foals with so-called “community type 2” microbiomes (containing higher amounts of Eubacterium, Coprococcus, Clostridium XI, and Blautia spp.) had lower salivary cortisol levels and a higher average daily weight gain.

    Unsure of when or how to proceed with weaning or what type of feed you should be offering to a weanling? Consult with a KER equine nutrition advisor. In the meantime, consider these nutritional strategies for weanlings.

    *Mach, N, A. Foury, S. Kittelmann, et al. 2017. The effects of weaning methods on gut microbiota composition and horse physiology. Frontiers in Physiology. 8:535.

    Category Headline Image: 
    weanling horse in pasture
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    According to new research, weaning is one of the most stressful events in a horse’s life.
  • Acupuncture, Biotin for Laminitic Horses

    horse with laminitis

    In recent years, the Western world appears to be increasingly interested in revisiting Eastern or traditional medicine, embracing such therapies as nutritional and herbal supplementation and acupuncture, among others. Several studies support acupuncture for various equine ailments, including:

    • Musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and circulatory disorders;
    • Skin diseases;
    • Endocrine or hormonal irregularities;
    • Respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
    • Digestive disorders, like colic; and
    • Maximizing reproductive efficiency.

    Acupuncture was studied previously in horses with laminitis and showed promising results. One recent study* further explored the benefits of acupuncture for this leading cause of pain and loss of life in horses. The researchers recruited 12 adult horses diagnosed with chronic laminitis. Each horse underwent two acupuncture treatments spaced one week apart. Horses were reassessed for lameness using a commercial lameness evaluation system (Lameness Locator) and routine examinations following American Association of Equine Practitioners scoring guidelines.

    Following acupuncture, a significant reduction in lameness severity was identified using both lameness evaluation techniques. As a result, the researchers concluded, “Our results support using acupuncture, along with other treatment options, in treating chronic equine laminitis.”

    “Other treatment options alluded to by the researchers include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and nutritional supplements that contain biotin and other nutrients to support hoof growth and strength,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    According to Crandell, “In addition to biotin, Bio•Bloom PS also contains methionine, iodine, chelated zinc, lecithin, and essential fatty acids from full-fat soybean, ingredients that are necessary for production of resilient hoof horn and shiny coats.”

    Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven products.

    *Faramarzi, B., D. Lee, K. May, et al. 2017. Response to acupuncture treatment in horses with chronic laminitis. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 58(8):823-827.

    Category Headline Image: 
    laminitis in horses
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    One recent study further explored the benefits of acupuncture for this leading cause of pain and loss of life in horses.
  • A New Way to Diagnose Joint Infection in Horses

    joint problems in horses

    Heat, swelling, and profound lameness stemming from a joint should always raise alarm bells in a horse owner’s mind, prompting a call to the veterinarian. With any luck, it is not a joint infection, but how can you find out for certain? According to a recent study by British researchers*, measuring serum amyloid A (SAA) values in blood can help diagnose joint infections so early treatment may improve outcomes.

    “SAA is classified as an acute-phase protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Within a mere six hours of an inflammatory insult, SAA levels increase dramatically, helping veterinarians diagnose a variety of conditions, including joint infections,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    Because joint infections, also known as synovial sepsis, can be life threatening, achieving an accurate diagnosis early in the course of disease is needed. In some cases, distinguishing a joint infection from other joint issues, such as osteoarthritis, intra-articular fracture and nonseptic tenosynovitis, can be tricky.

    Traditional methods of diagnosing joint infections include culturing synovial fluid to identify bacteria; directly visualizing bacteria in synovial fluid when smeared on a microscope slide; and measuring nucleated cell counts, infection-fighting neutrophils, and protein in synovial fluid (increases in each of these suggests infection). Unfortunately, none of these tests are perfect and better strategies are needed.

    To determine if SAA could help differentiate infection from noninfectious joint diseases, SAA was measured in blood and synovial fluid samples collected from 112 horses—38 with synovial infection, 66 with nonseptic intrasynovial pathology [NSISP], and 8 healthy controls. Key findings of the study were:

    • Blood and synovial fluid SAA were significantly higher in horses with joint infections than in NSISP and control horses;
    • SAA values were similar in NSISP and control horses; and
    • Both blood and synovial fluid SAA had good sensitivity and specificity, meaning that they were sufficiently able to diagnose horses with joint infections when present and rule out joint infections when they were not.

    “This study shows that blood and synovial fluid SAA concentrations can help distinguish joint infections from nonseptic synovial pathology,” concluded the researchers.

    “From a nutritional perspective, joint supplements not only help horses already diagnosed with joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, but they also protect joints before an infection or injury occurs,” reminded Crandell.

    She added, “KER offers several joint supplements that support joints when offered prophylactically, prior to the onset of trauma or injury. Look for KER•Flex, which contains high-quality glucosamine HCl and chondroitin sulfate; Synovate HA, a high molecular weight sodium hyaluronate liquid that helps maintain proper joint health and lubricates joints for frictionless motion, especially in high-motion joints; and the omega-3 fatty acid supplement, EO•3.”

    Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven products.

    *Robinson, C.S., E.R. Singer, M. Piviani, et al. Are serum amyloid A or D-lactate useful to diagnose synovial contamination or sepsis in horses? Veterinary Record. In press.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse joint pain
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Because joint infections, also known as synovial sepsis, can be life threatening, achieving an accurate diagnosis early in the course of disease is needed.
    Overview: 
    According to a recent study, measuring serum amyloid A values in blood can help diagnose joint infections so early treatment may improve outcomes.
  • Unshod Horses Inflict Less Damage When Kicking Horses, Humans

    horse hooves with shoes

    If there was actually a way to make being kicked by a horse a more pleasant experience, then recent research* suggests that leaving horses unshod causes less damage than horses with aluminum or steel shoes. No surprise, right?

    “Kicks by other horses remain the leading cause of fractures to long bones, such as the tibia and radius,” shared Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., of Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Kicks are also to blame for orbital fractures, coronary band wounds, and hematomas.

    “Contributing factors to horse kicks include aggression between horses in a herd situation to maintain or improve pecking order and overstocking,” shared Whitehouse.

    For example, in regions of the world where land for livestock is at a premium, horses are maintained in group-housing situations, and active programs to minimize injuries due to kicks must be implemented. One such strategy involves avoiding steel and aluminum shoes and leaving horses unshod or protecting the hoof with softer materials, such as polyurethane.

    To determine whether this strategy was effective, researchers created a kick simulator and tested steel, aluminum, and polyurethane shoes as well as unshod hooves on fracture rates of radial and tibial bones. As expected, they found that steel and aluminum both caused more fractures at lower kick rates—how fast the horse kicks—compared to both polyurethane and unshod hooves.

    “The basis of farriery revolves around hoof health. A farrier can tell horse owners what is best for their horses in terms of shoes and other appliances based on a horse’s conformation, workload, and other factors. Aside from regular, competent farriery, nutrition also plays a vital part in the maintenance of high-quality hooves,” Whitehouse said.

    “To maximize your horse’s hoof health, supplement with nutrients that promote the production and growth of hoof tissue,” she continued. “Look for high-quality products like Bio•Bloom PS containing biotin, methionine, iodine, and chelated zinc. Bio•Bloom PS also includes lecithin and essential fatty acids from full-fat soybean, ingredients that are necessary for production of resilient hoof horn and shiny coats.”

    Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven products.

    *Sprick, M., A. Fürst, F. Baschnagel, et al. 2017. The influence of aluminium, steel and polyurethane shoeing systems and of the unshod hoof on the injury risk of a horse kick. An ex vivo experimental study. Veterinary and Comparative Orthopedics and Traumatology. 30(5).

    Category Headline Image: 
    unshod horse hoof
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    As expected, they found that steel and aluminum both caused more fractures at lower kick rates—how fast the horse kicks—compared to both polyurethane and unshod hooves.
    Overview: 
    If there was actually a way to make being kicked by a horse a more pleasant experience, then recent research suggests that leaving horses unshod causes less damage than horses with aluminum or steel shoes.
  • Vaccinating Horses Against Leptospirosis

    equine vaccination

    While not considered a core vaccine by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, vaccination against leptospirosis could benefit many horses, and omega-3 fatty acids can help a horse’s immune system respond maximally to such a vaccine.

    “Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease capable of causing multiple problems, including kidney damage, reproductive losses such as early embryonic death and stillbirths, as well as equine recurrent uveitis or moon blindness,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., of Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    In 2015, the first equine-specific vaccine for leptospirosis was introduced to the market. According to a recent study on leptospirosis in horses*, owners continue to doubt the safety and efficacy of certain equine vaccines for various reasons, including presumed lack of efficacy and safety.

    In terms of efficacy, one group of equine researchers* recently demonstrated that a commercially available vaccine for leptospirosis does indeed protect horses against infection. To do so, 54 mares, aged 2 to 6 years and of various breeds were included. Of these, 36 had previously been vaccinated and 18 were unvaccinated.

    Two doses of a commercial equine leptospirosis vaccine were administered on day 0 of the study and again on day 40 according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Blood samples were collected from all horses on days 0, 30, and 90, and a “growth inhibition test” was performed to assess response to vaccination (i.e., the inhibitory effect of the anti-leptospira antibodies presumably induced by vaccination).

    Vaccination resulted in the production of antibodies against leptospira bacteria in horses, regardless of whether they had or had not been previously vaccinated.

    “As mentioned above, administration of omega-3 fatty acids, especially those derived from fish oil that contain DHA and EPA, like, EO•3. Recall that one study demonstrated that horses supplemented diets supplemented with fatty acids had an elevated response to vaccination than horses fed diets only meeting basic nutrition recommendations,” added Crandell.

    *Correia, L., G. Martins, W. Lilenbaum. 2017. Detection of anti-Leptospira inhibitory antibodies in horses after vaccination. Microbial Pathogenesis. 110:494-496.

    Category Headline Image: 
    vaccinating horses
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Vaccination resulted in the production of antibodies against leptospira bacteria in horses, regardless of whether they had or had not been previously vaccinated.
    Overview: 
    While not considered a core vaccine by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, vaccination against leptospirosis could benefit many horses, and omega-3 fatty acids can help a horse’s immune system respond maximally to such a vaccine.
  • When It's Time to Change a Horse's Feed

    horse at fence

    Feed manufacturers provide horse owners with an assortment of products to choose from, most of which are formulated to support a certain life stage or activity. When a horse’s life changes, so too should its diet.

    Imagine these scenarios: a high-level Hanoverian mare sustains an injury requiring rest and the owner decides instead to put her in foal; a pasture-puff Quarter Horse comes out of retirement to serve as a youngster’s backup polo pony; a Standardbred pacer departs from the track to become an occasional driving companion; a roly-poly Arabian mare leaves the broodmare band to begin training for endurance competitions.

    The horse in each scenario is transitioning from one job to another, and with each switchover energy requirements should change. The Hanoverian mare and Standardbred pacer will likely require less energy and therefore less concentrate, whereas the Quarter Horse and Arabian will, in time, require more concentrate to fuel the demands of work.

    “When any significant change in workload occurs—either an acceleration or a deceleration in energy output—horse owners should closely examine the diet to make sure dietary demands mesh with nutrient delivery,” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutrition advisor with Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    Whitehouse does not advocate rash dietary changes, as these serve only to disturb the gastrointestinal tract. All feed changes should be made little by little over the course of 10-14 days.  

    The Quarter Horse and the Arabian, for instance, might require no significant change in their diets for the first couple weeks of work since both will be conditioning slowly for demanding sports. While energy output will elevate during these initial conditioning periods, both horses are holding sufficient weight to fuel the minimal effort asked of them. As weeks pass and riders ask more of their mounts, they will require an upgrade in protein, vitamins, and minerals, in addition to energy, to support performance goals. At this juncture, a concentrate tailored to performance horses should be chosen.

    “Owners should also take into consideration feeding strategies that have been fine-tuned for certain sports. Researchers at KER, for example, have spent considerable time studying the specialized nutritional needs of endurance horses, so this knowledge can be used to hit specific training and competition targets,” said Whitehouse.

    On the flip side, the Hanoverian mare and Standardbred pacer will be coming off performance peaks, segueing into lifestyles that are more sedentary. In these instances, owners will gradually wean the horses off high-energy diets, changing instead to diets that fulfill basic nutrient requirements without all of the calories required for top performance.

    “For these two horses, instead of a high-test performance feed, they will probably do well on feeds designed especially for idle horses, as both Hanoverians and Standardbreds are notoriously easy keepers,” Whitehouse advised.

    Managing every horse as an individual is key, said Whitehouse, though a close look at any horse’s diet is necessary when a change in employment occurs.

    Does equine nutrition have you befuddled? Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry. Get advice from the nutrition advisors at KER today.

    Category Headline Image: 
    eating grain in stall
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    All feed changes should be made little by little over the course of 10-14 days.
    Overview: 
    Feed manufacturers provide horse owners with an assortment of products to choose from, most of which are formulated to support a certain life stage or activity. When a horse’s life changes, so too should its diet.
  • Blindfolding Horses: Help for Neurologic Diagnosis

    vet examining horse

    Equine researchers* recently suggested that blindfolding horses can be a powerful tool for veterinarians when differentiating between lameness and neurological diseases resulting in abnormal gaits.

    According to the group of European researchers, “The ataxic horse remains a challenge, especially when the clinical signs are mild to moderate. Even experienced clinicians disagree on the subjective assessment of gait and assignment of ataxia severity grades, as well as whether the gait of a horse is normal or ataxic.”

    Clearly, distinguishing between a lame horse and one suffering from a neurological condition must be made in order to institute appropriate treatment strategies, and assess disease progression and response to treatments.

    Based on research in human patients, walking while blindfolded exacerbates clinical neurological signs and helps localize the location of the lesion within the nervous system. To determine if blindfolding helps discriminate between lameness and ataxia in horses, the research team recruited 21 ataxic and nonataxic horses. All horses were fitted with reflective markers on the head, fetlock, hoof, fourth lumbar vertebra, point of hip, and dock of the tail. Horses were walked across a runway with and without a blindfold, and a 12-camera motion capture system was used to assess the horses’ gaits.

    After analyzing the data, the study authors found that blindfolding caused a measurable exacerbation of gait abnormalities in ataxic horses.

    They wrote, “If implemented into current motion capture or inertial sensor systems for routine gait analysis outside the gait laboratory, this could have a significant impact on the objective assessment of ataxia in horses and knowledge of disease progression change over time and effects of treatment, as well as in the training of veterinary practitioners and students.”

    “Horses ultimately diagnosed as being lame could benefit from oral joint health supplements. Products containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid help protect joints and other musculoskeletal tissues,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., longtime nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    These KER-formulated products help protect your horse’s musculoskeletal health. Don’t forget that using these products can also help horses prior to any trauma or damage.

    • KER•Flex, with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride;
    • Synovate HA with high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid; and
    • EO•3, a marine-derived source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA; and
    • Nano•E, liquid, natural-source vitamin E.

    Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven products.

    *Olsen, E., N. Fouche, H. Jordan, et al. Kinematic discrimination of ataxia in horses is facilitated by blindfolding. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.

    Category Headline Image: 
    equine lameness check
    Article Type: 
    Pull Quote: 
    Researchers found that blindfolding caused a measurable exacerbation of gait abnormalities in ataxic horses.
    Overview: 
    Equine researchers recently suggested that blindfolding horses can be an equally powerful tool for veterinarians when differentiating between lameness and neurological diseases resulting in abnormal gaits.
  • How Stressful Are Competitions for Horses?

    stress in horses

    How do horses handle stressful situations, such as traveling long distances, mixing with strange horses, and competing at unfamiliar venues?

    One group of researchers recently asked this exact question and conducted a study to measure cortisol levels in saliva in horses during competitions away from home.

    “Cortisol levels are widely used as indicators of stress. In horses, cortisol levels increase following both physical and psychological stressors such as transport, exercise, and competition,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

    Using saliva as a humane and noninvasive source of cortisol, the researchers collected samples from 126 dressage horses and showjumpers both at home and at three separate competitions. The relationship between the horses’ scores at the competitions and cortisol concentrations measured at each event was measured.

    Key findings of the study were:

    • Salivary cortisol concentrations followed a diurnal rhythm with the highest concentrations measured in the morning and the lowest in the evening, both at home and in the competition environment. This is the normal cyclical rhythmic change in cortisol levels previously reported for horses.
    • Cortisol levels were higher at competitions than at home.
    • Exercise caused cortisol concentrations to increase in both showjumpers and dressage horses.
    • Dressage horses had higher baseline cortisol concentrations at competitions than showjumpers, suggesting that dressage horses may perceive a novel environment as more stressful.
    • No consistent relationship between baseline salivary cortisol concentrations and competition scores in either dressage horses or showjumpers was noted.

    “In addition to fitness and stress, another factor to consider when managing athletic horses following competition is replenishing valuable electrolytes lost by sweating during competition,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for KER.

    She added, “Electrolyte supplements such as KER’s Restore SRRestore Paste, and Race Recovery deliver key electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium to horses following exercise.”

    Restore SR contains a proprietary slow-release mechanism that allows sodium to be released gradually into the gastrointestinal tract for sustained absorption. When sodium is delivered slowly over a period of time, more is retained and utilized by the body.

    Australian horse owners should look for Restore and Restore Paste.

    *Munk R1, Jensen RB2, Palme R3, et al. 2017. An exploratory study of competition scores and salivary cortisol concentrations in Warmblood horses. Domestic Animal Endocrinology. 61:108-116.

    Category Headline Image: 
    horse stressed at show
    Article Type: 
    Overview: 
    How do horses handle stressful situations, such as traveling long distances, mixing with strange horses, and competing at unfamiliar venues? One group of researchers recently asked this exact question and conducted a study to measure cortisol levels in saliva in horses during competitions away from home.
  • Weight Changes in Racehorses: Season and Sex Differences

    racehorses on turf

    Trainers expect body weight changes in Thoroughbreds as fitness ebbs and flows through conditioning and racing cycles, but few would anticipate fluctuations in weight based on season or sex. A recent study suggests that body weights of racehorses vary from season to season, and differences in energy metabolism might exist between sexes*.

    Seasonal weight changes have been investigated in some equine populations. Because of forage availability, wild horses experience seasonal weight fluctuations, gaining weight as grass greens in the spring and grows through fall, and losing weight as grass dies off. Further, Kentucky Equine Research recorded body weight and condition changes in mares and foals based on foaling month, season, and gender**.  While this knowledge is well documented, few studies have explored seasonal weight fluctuations of stabled performance horses with consistent access to energy sources, like racehorses.

    The researchers used over 630,000 body weights collected at Japanese racecourses from 2002 to 2014. Of these weights, 63% were taken from males, either intact or gelded, and 37% from females. Weights were recorded within 80 minutes of each race start using electronic scales.

    Researchers found that the body weight of stallions and geldings peaked in autumn and winter and dipped to their lowest in summer. The body weight of mares, on the other hand, crested in autumn and plunged to their lowest point in spring. Seasonal fluctuations in weight loss amounted to 15.4 lb (7 kg), 17.6 lb (8 kg), and 13.2 lb (6 kg) for stallions, geldings, and mares, respectively.

    Many of the horses were tracked from year to year, so weight changes over the course of a racing career could be calculated. Differences in body weight included stallions from 461 kg to 493 kg (1,016 lb to 1,089 lb), geldings from 458 kg to 484 kg (1,010 lb to 1,067 lb), and mares from 442 kg  to 472 kg (974 lb to 1,041 lb).

    Potential explanations for seasonal weight changes include environmental factors such as temperature and photoperiod. Regardless of their causes, weight changes may affect performance, soundness, and longevity. By understanding natural variances in weight, racehorse trainers can manipulate diets to increase or decrease body weight at certain times of the year. For example, a heavy-boned, four-year-old stallion with a robust appetite may need to have dietary energy reduced slightly in autumn or winter to offset the natural tendency for stallions to be heavy in these seasons.

    *Takahashi, Y., and T. Takahashi. 2017. Seasonal fluctuations in body weight during growth of Thoroughbred racehorses during their athletic career. BMC Veterinary Research, 13:257.

    **Pagan, J.D., C.G. Brown-Douglas, and S. Caddel. 2006. Body weight and condition of Kentucky Thoroughbred mares and their foals as influenced by month of foaling, season, and gender. In: Advances in Equine Nutrition, Vol. IV, p. 137-145. Nottingham University Press, Nottingham, U.K.

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    racehorse nutrition
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    Regardless of their causes, weight changes may affect performance, soundness, and longevity.
    Overview: 
    A recent study suggests that body weights of racehorses vary from season to season, and differences in energy metabolism might exist between sexes.