News, Education, Events & Interest
Having Trouble With Head-Shaking In Your Horse? May 26 2015
Electrical nerve stimulation shows promise in treating head-shaking
British researchers have reported some success in treating headshaking in horses through electrical nerve stimulation using a probe beneath the skin.
Veronica Roberts and her colleagues carried out their study on seven horses diagnosed with trigeminal-mediated headshaking.
There are currently no consistently safe and effective methods for treatment of the problem. In the condition, the trigeminal nerve is sensitised, appearing to result in neuropathic pain. This can result in headshaking.
The researchers employed what is known as Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) therapy, a minimally invasive treatment used in people to manage neuropathic pain.
The seven horses were sedated before undergoing treatment. A tiny area of skin was desensitised with local anaesthetic to facilitate probe insertion.
A disposable PENS probe was advanced beneath the skin under ultrasonographic guidance to sit next to the nerve.
The nerve was stimulated for 25 minutes following a protocol of alternating frequencies and a perception threshold based on human clinical data.
The probe was then removed and the procedure repeated on the other side.
Each horse underwent a series of three or four treatments, with treatments being repeated when signs of headshaking recurred.
All horses tolerated the procedure well, the researchers reported in their findings, which have been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Equine Veterinary Journal.
Three horses developed a haematoma at the site on one occasion and two had increased clinical signs of headshaking for up to three days after their first treatment.
Six horses showed a positive response to their first treatment, returning to ridden work at the same level as before the onset of headshaking, with five continuing to respond.
The median remission time for the first treatment was 3.8 days, with the horses ranging from 0 to 7 days.
The median remission time increased with each treatment. It was was 2.5 weeks after the second treatment and 15.5 weeks after the third treatment, with some of the horses enjoying relief of up to 24 weeks.
The fourth and final treatment provided a median remission time of 20 weeks. The return of headshaking for five of the horses ranged from 12-28 weeks, with two of the animals getting ongoing relief.
The researchers concluded that PENS therapy was a safe, well-tolerated, minimally invasive, repeatable management option for trigeminal-mediated headshaking. It proved effective at easing clinical signs in the short to medium term, which was encouraging, they said.
Roberts, from the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol, was joined in the research by W.H. Tremaine, who is also from the university; and N.K. Patel, from the Institute of Neurosciences at Southmead Hospital Bristol.
By V.L.H. Roberts, N. K. Patel and H. Tremaine
Neuromodulation using percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for the management of trigeminal-mediated headshaking; a safe procedure resulting in medium term remission in five of seven horses.
Educational Resource October 06 2013Equus Easy To Follow Charts To Help You To Help Your Horse
Body Language Chart
Bone & Joint Problem Chart
Tack Safety Follow Guide
If you'd like us to send you the original PDF version as high resolution to keep in a file, please email and we'd be delighted to email you back....firstname.lastname@example.org
Deworming Your Horse The Correct Way by Midge Leitch VMD October 06 2013
Good Timing = Fewer Problems
The best time to deworm is after breakfast or lunch (unless you’re mixing the medication with food). The taste of deworming medicine can put horses off their feed, so if you don’t want to risk the chance of your horse skipping a meal, feed him first. Some horses experience colicky, uncomfortable signs in reaction to the medicine, so giving it earlier in the day allows you more time to look for these signs and monitor any problems that might arise. There is no contraindication to exercise, however, so it’s fine to deworm before you ride—just give your horse time to swallow the medication before tacking up.
Also avoid deworming immediately after bringing your horse in from turnout. If he comes in thirsty and doesn’t have a chance to drink before you administer the medication, the taste may make him hold off from drinking even longer, increasing the risk of dehydration.
Deworming medications are not effective when given in an inadequate dose, so always err on the side of giving more rather than less of the recommendation for your horse’s weight. One easy way to estimate your horse’s weight is with a weight tape, available through feed and tack stores. Also be aware that the average syringe contains enough medicine for a 1,200-pound horse, which is less than many of today’s warmbloods weigh. So, if your horse is on the larger side, part of an additional syringe may be in order. Consult your veterinarian, who may suggest that, because deworming medications are very safe, even at higher-than-recommended doses, you should administer the dose for an additional 250 pounds (usually one mark on the syringe) more than you think your horse weighs.
When it comes to foals, smaller ponies or miniature horses, overdosing can become a problem, so you should always consult your vet before determining the appropriate dose, and be sure during the actual administering that an overdose does not occur.
Parasite control is a critical component of your horse’s overall health-care plan. You probably have a system for what type of deworming products to give your horse and when, but it won’t be effective if you can’t get the correct dosage into him. With all but the most saintly of horses, administering paste dewormers without getting yourself and the stall splattered with paper-mâché-like goo takes a little strategizing.
MIx It Up
If your horse is uncooperative about swallowing the paste from a syringe, try mixing it in a bucket with yogurt or applesauce, and offer it to him when he’s hungry and no other food is available in the stall. If he doesn’t eat all of it immediately, mix something else tempting—an apple, carrot pieces, molasses or a little sweet feed—with the remaining portion. To be properly protected, he needs to clean most of the mixture up within a day. If he doesn’t, wait a few days and then start over with a new full dose.
How Much Is Enough?
1. Deworming medications are not effective when given in an inadequate dose, so always err on the side of giving more rather than less of the recommendation for your horse’s weight. One easy way to estimate your horse’s weight is with a weight tape, available through feed and tack stores. Also be aware that the average syringe contains enough medicine for a 1,200-pound horse, which is less than many of today’s warmbloods weigh. So, if your horse is on the larger side, part of an additional syringe may be in order. Consult your veterinarian, who may suggest that, because deworming medications are very safe, even at higher-than-recommended doses, you should administer the dose for an additional 250 pounds (usually one mark on the syringe) more than you think your horse weighs.
When it comes to foals, smaller ponies or miniature horses, overdosing can become a problem, so you should always consult your vet before determining the appropriate dose, and be sure during the actual administering that an overdose does not occur.
2. It’s also a good idea to have a little extra medication on hand, in case more ends up on the outsides of your horse’s lips or on the ground than you expected. These drugs are not effective when given in small amounts over a period of time. The whole dose must be administered in one sitting. So if he doesn’t swallow his full share within one day, wait a few days and start over with a new plan—and another full dose.
3. It’s much easier for your horse to spit out the paste when he can combine it with a wad of food. So before administering the medication, check to be sure that he has no hay, grass or grain in his mouth. Holding the side of his halter with one hand, gently pull his lips back on the opposite side with a finger (being careful to keep it clear of his teeth) to check for food. Repeat on the other side of his mouth.
4. If you feel comfortable, encourage him to open his mouth by pressing a finger in the gap between his incisors and molar teeth, where the bit goes. On the opposite side and with your other hand, reach through the gap in the teeth to grasp his tongue. Gently pull it to the side and look into his mouth for food. Never apply excessive tension to the tongue, as it can result in permanent damage to the tongue’s nerves. If your horse resents your pulling on his tongue, LET GO!
If you spot any food, this manipulation probably will compel him to finish chewing and swallowing it—or spit it out—in the next moment or two. Make sure there’s no food available for him to grab. If he doesn’t appear to be swallowing the food, carefully try to grasp the hay and remove it, steering clear of his teeth.
At this point, you should have a good idea of how your horse feels about having things put into his mouth. Most horses are fairly comfortable with the idea and, consequently, relatively easy to deworm. However, the occasional horse will take great exception to this process. Some hate it so much they’re downright dangerous. Life’s too short to risk your life for this simple purpose. If your horse throws his head violently or refuses to stand quietly, consider mixing his dose with food instead (see “Mix It Up” at left).
Down the Hatch
Where exactly you inject the medication depends on your horse. Some swallow it wherever you squirt it. Some do better if you put it on their tongues; others do better if you squirt it back between the cheek and molars. A few are so adept they spit it out regardless of where you put it. (For those types, consider mixing the dose with food.)
It may take some experimentation to find out which place works best for your horse. In any case, when you put the syringe in his mouth, be careful not to poke his lips or bump his teeth or gums, which can make the experience less pleasant for him—and harder to tackle the next time you deworm. Below are two techniques for administering the paste.
5. Begin by holding his halter with one hand and sliding the tip of the syringe gently into the corner of his lips, between his molars and incisors. Inject the paste directly onto the tongue, squeezing a small amount out at a time (leaving the syringe in his mouth as you pause), allowing your horse to swallow between—or …
6. Slide the syringe back between the molars and cheek and squirt it toward the back corner of his mouth. Again, squeeze out only a small amount at a time. If you use this method, be especially careful to avoid bumping his teeth, which can be very annoying to most horses.
After completing her large-animal surgery residency and serving as a staff surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in 1980, Midge Leitch, VMD, DACVS (Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons) opened a referral practice in which she developed a specialty in performance-limiting problems in racehorses and sporthorses. In the following decades, she traveled extensively with the US Equestrian Team, including trips to three Olympics and multiple World Championships. She returned to New Bolton Center in 2005 as a radiology clinician, assuming responsibility for equine diagnostic imaging, including digital radiography, MRI and CT.
Horse: Embryonic & Post-natal Development October 03 2013
The Amazing Creation Of Life
Average gestation period is 11 months (320-365 days). Fertilisation rates during natural mating are high - up to 90%. However, an estimated 30-40% of pregnancies are lost within 2 weeks.
Fertilized egg; one-cell embryo. At ovulation mature oocytes enter oviduct where one or two of them become fertilized. After ovulation, equine embryo spends first 6 days in the oviduct, near the ampullary-ischmic junction of that organ. The early embryo is surrounded by tough transparent acellular membrane called Zona pellucida. One unusual feature of early equine embryogenesis is the polarity and opacity of the oocyte and zygote. Fertilized egg starts its journey toward uterus, while unfertilized eggs are left behind.
By day 2, the embryo reaches 4-cell stage.
By day 4, the embryo reaches the morula stage, a compact mass of 16-32-cells (called blastomeres); it resembles a cluster of mulberries with two types of cells, outer cells and inner cells. At this stage the embryo is elongated (in contrast with cow and pig embryos, which are spherical).
• Early Blastocyst
6-7 day post-ovulation. Embryo is about 0.14 mm in diameter. The horse embryo reaches the uterus as an early spherical blastocyst, which represents a hollow ball, which has two distinctive tissues: the outer layer of trophoblasts (trophectoderm) that gives rise to extra-embryonic tissues, and the inner cell mass (ICM), which gives rise to the embryonic disc and eventual embryo proper. In horses, the ICM remain much more dispersed than in ruminants and pigs and fill much more of the space within the distinct palisade of trophoblast cells. This makes it more difficult to distinguish between morulae and early blastocysts in horses. At this stage one of the most prominent features of equine embryonic development becomes noticeable: an unusual acellular glycoprotein capsule that forms between trophectoderm and Zona pellucida. The function of the capsule is not well understood, however, the position of the capsule at the maternal-fetal interface suggests that it is likely to play role in the maternal-fetal signaling to establish and maintain pregnancy (maternal recognition of pregnancy).
The capsule is essential to embryonic survival. The development of the capsule is of practical significance: it makes cryopreservation and micromanipulation of the embryo very difficult.
• Expanded Blastocyst
• 7-8 days post-ovulation. At this stage, the embryo shed its Zona pellucida (hatches) and is enveloped only by the capsule. The capsule maintains the spherical shape of the conceptus throughout the first 6-8 weeks (in contrast with cow and pigs, whose embryos elongate dramatically at this stage) and is essential for continuation of early equine embryogenesis until at least day 21st. Until implantation, the encapsulated conceptus exchanges essential signals with the mare by moving throughout the uterus in response to myometrial contractions.
• Yolk Sac
The yolk sac is formed by endodermal tissue which emanates from the inner cell mass and expands spherically, lying just under the outer trophectoderm layer. The resultant two-layered structure can be first observed by day 10 to 11 and persists, in ever diminishing size throughoutpregnancy. Thus, during the first 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy, equine placentation can be described as choriovitteline. Growth of the embryo is especially rapid between days 11 and 16 (from about 4 mm in diameter at day 11 to about 20-30 mm at day 16).
• Mesoderm Formation
Mesoderm begins its development from embryonic disc between the endodermal and ectodermal layers at about day 14. The resultant three-layered structure develops spherically from the region of the inner cell mass toward the embryonic pole. The process is accompanied by vascular development. At this period, fully distended equine conceptus differs from the somewhat flaccid, wrinkled elongating conceptuses of pigs and ruminants.
The conceptus is about 20-30 mm in diameter. At about 16 to 17 day post-ovulation, the mobility of the conseptus is brought to an end, and the conceptus becomes "fixed" at the site of eventual placentation. The glycoprotein capsule becomes flaccid, which reflects the loss of sialic acid. At around day 18 the capsule ceases to grow and begins to attenuate, raptures at about day 21 and completely disappears by day 23. The fixation coincides with the proper orientation of the embryo. It is still relatively easy to recover the intact conceptus transcervically from the standing mare at least until about day 35 (in no other domestic species can entire conceptuses be obtained from the uterus so easily and non-traumatically).
• Choriollantoic Placenta
Developing embryo is surrounded and protected by 2 membranous sacs: innermost is calledamnion, and outermost is called chorion. The chorion evolves into the fetal contribution of the placenta. Allantois, an extra-embryonic membranous sac, derived from the yolk sac, arises from the hindgut of the embryo and expands toward abembryonic pole (opposite to the embryonic pole where the primordial embryo is located). An exocoelom develops at the area of advancing allantois and the retreating yolk sac.
By about day 30, the area of this exocoelom, which encircles the embryo, takes on a characteristic appearance. This area is very avascular and varies in width from one to several millimeters. It is known as the chorionic girdle. The cell of the girdle are highly proliferative and begin to invade the maternal endometrium between days 36 and 38 where they phagocytize maternal epithelial cells and continue to migrate, penetrating the basement membrane of the maternal epithelial cells to the stroma, where they locate between the uterine glands.
Here they differentiate and hypertrophy to become matureendometrial cups, large raised structures that protrude above the uterine endometrial surface. At about this time the heart beat is detectable by ultrasound.
Organogenesis - Development Of The Horse
• Day 40
The 3/4 inch embryo within embryonic vesicle has 4 legs, head, eyelids, rudimentary ears, ridges where the nostrils will be, and functional elbows an stifle joints.
• Days 50-55
The embryo is now slightly over an inch long, nesting within the 3-inch vesicle. Tiny ribs under skin are recognizable; domed head has developed a distinct skull; ears are visible; the hock and fetlock joints have developed. Umbilical cord is developing. At this stage, the embryo becomes a fetus.
• Day 60
The fetus is about 2 1/2 inches long (the size of a hamster). Because of the development of hooves it starts to resemble a horse. Its head is still tucked, but less so than before. The fetus is hairless.
• Day 100
7-inch fetus is about the size of a 6-week old kitten. It has a little hair on its lips; its now 1/2 inch ears are unfurling from its head.
• Days 120-150
Gaining more than a pound every 10 days, the fetus now is about the size of a rabbit. It has hair on the chin, muzzle, and eyelids with eyelashes. Umbilical cord is fully developed.
• Day 180
The fetus has quadrupled its weight in just 30 days. Mane and tail hairs have appeared; it's about the size of a Beagle. Hair grows over the body. External sex organs form.
• Day 240
Now about the size of a small lamb, the fetus has whisker-like hairs on its chin, throat and muzzle. Mane grows; hair grows along the spine.
• Day 270
Fetus now looks like a foal: fine haircovers its body, and it now has a swatch of hair on its tail. It's about the size of aGerman Shepherd. It lies on back, ready to turn over into position for birth.
• Day 320
In the last week or so, the fetus's lungs have developed to the point that they can function; its legs have strengthened so that they can support is weight; and its hair has coarsened. Teeth show through gums. Head rests between forelegs. The fetus is in final position and is ready to be born. Forelegs and head of foal emerge first.
First 1-2 weeks. Foal is born with its eyes open. The newborn is characterized by large head, short face, small mouth, short body, soft wooly coat (milk hair); long legs with soft hooves are wide apart for stability. Foals are precocious developers and, unlike calves or fawns, which tend to lie in undergrowth, can gallop with their dams within a few hours of birth. Foals begin to engage in exploratory trips away from the dam with other foals between one and two months of age.
Under 1 years old. By 4 months of age smooth adult coat replaces milk hair. Hooves grow and harden. Cannon bone is longer. Juveniles are weaned at about 7 months. Body develops adult proportion and withers become higher than croup.
Less than 4 years old. A female horse is called filly and ungelded male horse is called colt. Sexual maturity is attained at about 1-2 years; successful breeding usually does not occur until 2-3 years of age.
The horse older than 4 years old. A female horse is calledmare and ungelded male horse is called stallion. Castrated male horse is called gelding. The domestic horse today has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
*A fetus, also spelled foetus, fœtus, faetus, or fætus, is a developing mammal or other viviparous vertebrate after the embryonic stage and before birth.
Pregnancy in Horses: Helping Horses Come To Term September 09 2013
A Particular Class of Blood Cells May Be Involved
Research conducted by Christine Aurich at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
It is not only humans that sometimes experience difficulty having children. Horses too have a low birth rate, with many pregnancies failing within the first few weeks after conception.
As any nervous first-time mother will confirm, the initial three months of pregnancy are the most risky time: many expectant women are reluctant to inform their friends or colleagues that they are pregnant until after this period is past. It is less well known that horses suffer from similar problems, with a considerable number of pregnancies failing to progress beyond the first five weeks. The explanation is still unclear but may relate to a problem with the mare's immune system, as the latest work in the group of Christine Aurich in the Vetmeduni's Centre for Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer strongly suggests.
The fertilised egg, or conceptus, obviously contains contributions from the stallion as well as the mare, which means it somehow has to avoid being recognised and attacked by the mare's immune system. Horse breeders talk about maternal tolerance of the conceptus and horses -- as other animals -- have a variety of mechanisms to enable fertilisation and a successful pregnancy. Maternal tolerance probably depends on wide-ranging changes to the maternal immune response. But what makes some mares better than others at adapting their immune systems?
There are indications from work in humans and mice that a particular class of immune cell, the so-called regulatory T cells or Tregs (pronounced "tea regs"), might somehow be important in maternal tolerance. Aurich and her colleagues have now developed a highly sensitive assay to measure the proportion of Tregs in the blood of horses. They used their new technique to investigate over 100 mares that were presented for artificial insemination, correlating the results with the outcome of the resulting pregnancies.
Of course, not all of the animals conceived. The scientists could find no association between the level of Tregs in the mares' blood with the success of the insemination procedure. However, they did observe clearly lower numbers of Tregs in the blood of horses that suffered an early loss of pregnancy compared with those that either aborted much later (for whatever reason) or gave birth to live foals. The results suggest that high numbers of Tregs might somehow be required to suppress the mare's natural immune reaction against the conceptus. In other words, low levels of Treg cells in mares might cause pregnancy loss in the five weeks after fertilisation.
The differences in the levels of Tregs between horses in the "successful pregnancy" and the "unsuccessful" groups were too small to be useful to predict whether an individual mare is likely to suffer early pregnancy failure. Nevertheless, the results may help breeders solve the problem. There is evidence from human medicine that oestradiol may enhance the function of Tregs during pregnancy and treatment with this hormone could possibly benefit mares prone to losing the conceptus. Another possible course would be to expose mares to the stallion's semen before implantation, which might increase the number of Tregs in the blood and the animal's tolerance to the conceptus, thereby helping avoid early pregnancy losses.
Aurich is optimistic: "A number of reasons have been proposed to account for early pregnancy failure in the horse but our work suggests that a low level of Tregs may actually be among the most important factors. It can only be a matter of time before we find out how to solve the problem."
Transporting Horses By Road And Air September 09 2013
Recommendations For Reducing The Stress - Reprinted from The Horse Report
By Carolyn Stull at UC Davis Centre from Centre For Equine Health
Quick Tips to Reduce Transport Stress Before Travel
• Train the horse to load, unload, and haul quietly. This will drastically reduce the stress levels right from the start of travel. Loading is by far the most stressful single aspect of transport (other than ultra-long duration hauling).
• Make sure your preventive health program, particularly vaccinations, is up to date. Vaccinations take two to three weeks to provide protection.
• Make sure you have the proper health records for any regulatory requirements, especially if crossing state lines or country borders.
• Select a van or trailer that suits your horse’s size and temperament, preferably one that allows the horse to lower its head as this can make a significant difference. Make a safety check of the trailer.
• Inspect the transport vehicle for cleanliness and sanitize, if necessary.
• If hiring a commercial transport company, make sure the grooms and other caretakers are experienced in handling horses and their care.
• Plan the route to minimize duration, along with any extremes in weather or environmental temperatures.
• Ensure that the flooring remains nonslip for the entire trip. Provide absorbent bedding to help soak up any urine and manure excreted.
• Ensure adequate ventilation in the transport vehicle.
• Avoid prolonged stationary periods in traffic or at refueling stops. A trailer in the sun can be more than 20 degrees warmer inside than outside. Traffic delays during the summer, with associated fumes, can be disastrous to the horse. Unload, if safe to do so, if a prolonged delay is apparent.
• Provide a well-fitting halter; leather is ideal.
• Bring sufficient feed and water.
• Have an effective means of restraint.
• Plan for rest or recovery periods. Offer water every four to six hours, or every three to four hours in hot weather. If possible, pick up manure and urine at the same time intervals.
• Check that veterinary help is available, if required.
• Notify the point of arrival of the journey plan and any special requirements.
Tranquillisation and Familiarisation
Many horses have been familiarised with transport from a young age. Even many that have never been transported before will often readily allow themselves to be loaded and confined in a transport vehicle. A small minority of horses could be difficult to handle during transport. Tranquillisation by a veterinarian might facilitate loading and assist with the safe handling of the horse during transport. However, the medication can interfere with temperature regulation so should be done with caution.
Water and Electrolytes
Unless a horse has a history of dehydration, excessive or uncontrolled administration of electrolytes could actually have adverse effects on water and electrolyte balance in the horse. Check that a horse that is to be transported has been drinking normally in the days leading up to transport, and especially immediately before transport. The pre-travel administration of oral or intravenous fluids is not usually recommended unless the horse has a history of developing dehydration during travel.
It is normal for a horse to lose weight during transport. The amount of weight lost can range from 0.45 to 0.55% of total body weight (about five to six pounds in a normal mature Thoroughbred) per hour of transport. This weight loss might reflect reduced dietary intake during travel, dehydration, manure and urine excretion, and sweating. Horses can lose 45 pounds (20 kilograms) on international flights, and horses with shipping fever could lose 75 pounds or more en route. Horses traveling more than 12 hours have been found to lose up to 5% of their body weight. Weight loss in transit tends to be regained over the following three to seven days in healthy horses, and possibly over longer periods in horses with shipping fever.
It is recommended that horses be weighed before travel to establish a baseline for comparison with weight status on arrival and in the recovery period. Since scales are likely to vary, weigh two large sacks of feed and record their weights. Keep the sacks intact to weigh on the scale at your destination. You will then be able to compare departure with arrival weights, compensating for differences in scale accuracy. Weight tapes, when applied correctly, tend to be accurate within 40 pounds.
Respiratory Health and Disease
One of the fundamental rules of transport is "sick horse on, sicker horse when getting off." The importance of avoiding the shipment of horses that are even slightly sick (other than for transport to a hospital or clinic) cannot be over-emphasised. This is especially true for horses with respiratory illness. Horses with fever or nasal discharge and those with a history of exposure to other horses with infectious respiratory disease (such as strangles or viral respiratory infections) should not be transported.
Unnecessary medication should be avoided, especially before travel. Adverse reactions are always a possibility with any therapeutic substance. Tranquillisers should be administered only by a veterinarian and are not recommended unless necessary.
Transport Vehicle (Trailer/Van) Inspection
Prior to departure, the transport vehicle should be carefully inspected to be sure that it is safe and road-worthy. Special attention to competency of flooring should be paid in all trailers. Ensure that:
• All lights are in working order.
• Brakes are fully operational.
• Doors fully open and close and can be locked properly.
• Vents fully open and close.
• The trailer floor and any loading ramps have been thoroughly checked.
• If rubber mats are used, make sure these are flush with floor to avoid any tripping during loading and traveling.
• The trailer's emergency brake box has been tested and is in working order.
• Tire pressure is adjusted according to the manufacturer’s suggested levels.
• The spare tire is accessible and properly inflated.
• The vehicle is stocked with an appropriate trailer and truck jack as well as tire chocks (a wedge placed behind a vehicle’s wheels to prevent accidental movement).
• The hitch is functional for the trailer and the vehicle.
The route for road transport should be carefully considered. Plan the time of day for transport to avoid extremes of heat or cold. Night travel can be advantageous because ambient temperatures will be lower during hot weather, traffic is likely to be lighter so as to avoid stops and starts, refuelling might be faster, and horses could be more relaxed during the evening. Plan the route so that it is possible to stop regularly to check horses and offer them water every four to six hours. Locate veterinarians along the way in case of a medical emergency during transit.
Flight Plan for Air Transport
The duration of confinement to the air should be minimised as much as possible. Loading and unloading of planes should be facilitated in every way possible. The shortest route to reach a distant destination is always preferred. The duration of ground stops should be minimised and auxiliary ventilation systems should be used to maintain excellent air quality. Typically, the worst air quality occurs during ground times. Planes are much better ventilated when aloft. Relative humidity and temperature rise quickly in a stationary closed vehicle, especially in warm climates and sunny conditions.
Consult your veterinarian for his or her recommendation for what to include in a first aid kit prior to travel. Some essential items should include sterile bandage material, adhesive wrap and tape, leg wraps, scissors, rectal thermometer, antiseptic solution, latex gloves, and PVC tubing cut into lengths of eighteen inches to two feed (for emergency splinting).
Blankets and Bandages
Bandages and bell boots for leg and coronary band protection can be useful if horses are accustomed to wearing them. If not (i.e., foals or yearlings), shipping boots or bandages could be a liability instead of an asset. Train the horse to wear protective bandages if you plan to use them. If the horse is blanketed (not advised unless it is cold), select a blanket that will not overheat the horse and cause sweating. Remember the horse will be using his muscles to balance and there could be limited ventilation once the vehicle is fully loaded with horses.
Despite every effort at preventing shipping fever or other transport-related disease, some horses will become ill during or within the first three days following transport. It is advisable to plan for a convalescent period of at least three days after shipping to allow for treatment of horses that could be ill. Contact a veterinarian if the horse exhibits nasal discharge, refuses feed, or has an elevated rectal temperature.
Duration of Journey
Journeys of three hours or less than 500 miles are unlikely to be associated with transport-related diseases, dehydration, or fatigue due to energy expenditure and reduced feed intake. Road transport time per day should not exceed 12 hours from the time the first horse is loaded on the vehicle. After 12 hours of transport, horses should be removed from the vehicle and comfortably stabled for at least eight hours. This time period is necessary for tracheal clearance and rehydration.
Behaviour and Injury
Horse behaviour should be monitored regularly throughout any transport. Additional skillful help might be required if a horse becomes extremely agitated. Any depression or injury in horses should be noted and appropriate first-aid action taken wherever possible.
Feed and Water
Clean water should be offered regularly—approximately every three to six hours—during prolonged ground or air transport. If possible, it is advisable to bring water from home as some horses are reluctant to drink water that is not from the home sources. In warmer conditions, high humidity, or when horses are sweating, water should be offered more frequently.
It is important that horses eat during long journeys. However, it is also imperative that the environment on the transport vehicle have as little contamination of the air with respirable particles as possible. In particular, the breathing zone around the horse’s muzzle should not be heavily contaminated with particulate matter. Because hay nets must be placed very close to (or within) the breathing zone, it is essential that hay be as dust-free as possible. It is therefore recommended that hay be thoroughly soaked in water before being loaded on the vehicle or fed in a net to horses.
Horses should be given as much freedom of movement of their heads as is safe. Restraint in the head up posture for prolonged intervals can severely compromise lung clearance mechanisms and predispose a horse to shipping fever. Hay nets should be placed as low as possible while still assuring that horses cannot entangle their feet in the nets. Alternatively, horses travel well in small box stalls in which they can extend their heads to the floor to consume hay.
Orientation During Transport
Orientation of the horse within a transport vehicle has been identified as a potential source of stress. Several studies have examined horses facing toward or away from the direction of road travel. With some variation, the studies suggest that horses facing away from travel experience less stress and better ability to clear their airways and adjust posture. While most horses seem to prefer this, there is evidence that some individuals prefer head forward and might show greater signs of stress if forced to ride backward. It is not known whether the horses respond this way because they have become accustomed to it or for other reasons. Decisions regarding restraint and orientation during travel should be made on a case-by-case basis. Greater caution is required when opening the doors of a trailer with an unrestrained horse inside.
Ventilation and the Environment
There are a number of factors about air quality that impact the respiratory system. The properly designed trailer or van will allow for adequate ventilation without a gale force draft directly on the horse or a total drenching if it rains. That said, it is almost impossible not to have the airflow in a trailer recirculate rear to front along the floor, bringing noxious fumes up for the horses to breathe. The pressure profiles along a moving trailer largely dictate that there will be lots of rebreathing. More open-stock trailers potentially offer significant advantages for ventilation and reduced heat load during the summer.
Ensure that potential factors that can negatively impact air quality within the trailer/van are minimised. The exhaust system of the vehicle should be inspected yearly. If the truck has a vertical exhaust similar to that on a tractor-trailer, it should be taller than the ceiling of the van or trailer and not be flowing in the immediate vicinity of an intake vent. Note that diesel exhaust can be more harmful than gasoline exhaust, and keeping either engine in proper maintenance can decrease its emissions. (Health concerns about diesel exhaust relate not only to cancer, but also to other health problems such as lung and heart diseases.) Breathing of exhaust fumes can be an irritant to the respiratory system and excessive fumes in an enclosed compartment can cause death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Deaths of horses in trailers have been reported when the wind currents during transit directed the exhaust directly into closed trailers.
Urine-soaked bedding or poor drainage from the trailer can also have a negative impact on air quality. When urine breaks down, a substantial amount of ammonia fumes can be generated. Excessive inhalation of ammonia fumes can cause respiratory irritation that predisposes the horse to respiratory problems. Recent research suggests that in the case of long road journeys there is benefit in removing faeces and urine-soaked material during periodic stops.
Horses that travel well will be bright and alert with a normal rectal temperature upon arrival at their destination. Unload horses as soon as possible to avoid additional confinement and other stress factors. They should voluntarily drink and be keenly interested in eating within one to two hours of arrival. Hand walking or turnout in a small paddock for an hour or so upon arrival after a long journey is recommended.
Ideally, dietary adjustments are made over seven to 10 days to decrease the likelihood of digestive upsets. A normal horse passes approximately one pile of manure every three to four hours. Any decrease in manure output should be reported to a veterinarian.
Rectal temperature should be recorded morning and evening. When possible, weigh horses upon arrival and then daily at the same time for the next three to seven days. Comparison with a pre-transport weight is useful to quantify actual weight losses and to assess the effects of shipping. Horses with signs of shipping fever (see section above) will be readily identified by this monitoring system. Some horses will not show signs of shipping fever until two to three days after transport. Occasionally, horses might have colic or diarrhoea after shipping. Seek veterinary assistance immediately if transport-associated disease is suspected.
A specified recovery interval should be part of the pre-shipment plan for horses making long journeys. For road journeys of six to 12 hours, a one-day rest period is likely to be sufficient. When horses travel longer than 12 hours by road or are transported by plane, a recovery period of 2 to 3 days should be planned. Research at UC Davis in horses transported 24 hours by road in a commercial van has shown that physiological parameters, especially white blood cells, take 24 hours to return to normal levels for horses transported in box stalls and an additional day for horses cross-tied during the trip.
Horses traveling long distances for performance events should arrive five to six days prior to the competition date to comply with medication withdrawal rules in the event of travel-associated illness. Horses with shipping fever might need three to four weeks to resume athletic activity.
Efficient Solution to Maintaining Paddocks June 14 2013
Wessex Dung Beetle paddock cleaner is a dung deal!
Broadwood International has unveiled a new self-powered paddock cleaner that sweeps up droppings as it is towed around the field.
The Wessex Dung Beetle runs on four wheels for maximum stability, and is designed to follow the ground contours with a brush rotor. The sweeper has four banks of polypropylene brushes that propel debris into the hopper, while the bristles on the brush clears dead grass, encouraging fresh growth, and tines loosen stubborn muck.
The Dung Beetle is powered either by a 5½hp Honda petrol engine or a PTO version, which drives a rotor via twin belts with a centrifrugal clutch.
The manufacturers say that it has already proved popular with equestrian centres, stud farms, zoos and wildlife parks.
Foal News June 08 2013
A selection of foal-related articles from the Equine Science Update archives
Interesting articles include: -
- Early handling influences foal behaviour
- Foal behaviour in winter
- Conformation and breeding
- Acetylcysteine enemas for meconium impaction
- Blood tests for gastric ulcers
- New formula for measuring foals' weight
- Probiotics and foal diarrhoea
In addition, you may be interested in a study by Dr C E Foote from Equine Consulting Services who created a research paper focusing on 'Does the age of the broodmare affect the birth weight and growth rate of foals'
Preparing and Breeding Your Mare Training Program June 06 2013
My Horse University Sponsoring Body
Preparing and Breeding Your Mare is one of four online short-courses in the Horse Breeding and Selection Series presented by Michigan State University’s My Horse University and Horse and Rider magazine. Each of the four short courses will take approximately 1-2 hours to complete. As an added bonus, participants will have access to an informative online presentation given by a top equine expert!
This course will cover some of the important factors a breeder should know about when breeding a mare. The course begins with basic information about the mare’s reproductive anatomy. The course then explores the mare’s reproductive cycle, appropriate times to breed, and the breeding process. The broodmare’s nutritional requirements are also detailed. Read more...https://noncredit.msu.edu/listSections.action?catalogid=3&offeringid=191
A Clear Solution June 05 2013Respiratory problems in heat and dust - finding a way forward
Dust is a concern—a potential health hazard—for both horse and human, as it makes both more prone to respiratory issues. That makes dust control a priority for stable owners.
There is no one solution for dust control that fits all equine arenas and barns. Watering the arena is one step, whether with a handy garden hose or a sophisticated sprinkler system. Proper preparation of the footing is another step. That can take the form of adding rubber footing materials or coatings or utilizing rubber bricks or mats. Read more...http://stablemanagement.com/article-archive/barns-grounds/a-clear-solution/