Botflies (Gasterophilus spp) are parasitic flies that affect the horse's digestive tract and can cause negative health consequences. Botflies lay eggs on the horse's coat in the summer. Some of these eggs, known as horse bots, are ingested as the horse licks and grooms itself. The bot eggs hatch and the larvae develop in the horse's mouth before migrating to the stomach where they attach to the gastric mucosa. Once mature, they detach and are passed through the manure. They pupate into flies, and the cycle repeats with new botflies seeking out horses to host their eggs.
Coconut oil is a popular fat supplement for horses used to promote weight gain, skin health and a shiny coat. It is also used as a cool energy source for exercising horses to add calories to the diet without relying on sugars and starches. Coconut oil is derived from the kernel of mature coconuts that are harvested from the coconut palm tree. The two main types of oil obtained from coconuts are copra oil and virgin coconut oil. High-fat equine feeds are typically made with vegetable fats derived from canola, rice bran, soybean, and flax, but a growing number of products are now using coconut oil as an ingredient.
Fructans are non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) found in cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. Fructans are indigestible by horses, passing through the foregut to the hindgut where they are rapidly fermented by bacteria to supply energy to the horse. There is an ongoing debate about the effects of fructans on equine health. Some researchers suggest that diets high in fructans predispose horses to health conditions such as insulin resistance, laminitis, or leaky gut syndrome. Other researchers argue that fructans do not cause laminitis because they do not trigger insulin secretion. Some studies showing a negative effect have used artificially high dietary levels of fructans.
Is hair analysis a reliable way to evaluate your horse's mineral status? Mineral testing is an important aspect of monitoring your horse's health, especially if forages in your area are known to be deficient or excessive in a given nutrient. Horses with certain medical conditions may also need frequent monitoring of mineral levels. In horses, mineral status is most commonly assessed through blood testing, hair samples or by evaluating intake with a forage analysis. These methods each have advantages and disadvantages that impact their usefulness. Hair sample analysis is convenient, but few reference ranges have been established for mineral levels in equine hair, making interpretation of results difficult.
Straw or chaff is a high-fibre low-sugar forage that is ideal for horses that are overweight or insulin-resistant. Straw adds bulk to your horse's diet without contributing significant calories or protein. Research shows that adding straw to a forage ration can increase time spent grazing and the expression of natural foraging behaviours. This can improve wellness and prevent boredom without adding excess energy to the diet. While straw is not widely used as horse feed in North America, chaff or chopped straw is commonly fed in the United Kingdom. Mixing straw with other forages is recommended to avoid health concerns that are associated with feeding a straw-only ration.
Equine COPD - or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - is a now-obsolete term for a common condition in horses that causes coughing and poor performance. This condition is now referred to as equine asthma and is one of the most common non-infectious lung diseases. Severe equine asthma affects 14–17% of horses in some populations, but up to 70% of pleasure horses have indicators of mild to moderate asthma. Horses affected by equine asthma typically have increased mucus production, difficulty breathing during exercise and sometimes at rest, cough, and nasal discharge. More severe cases may result in acute respiratory distress.
Also known as linseed, flaxseed is produced from the flax plant and can be used to provide fat, protein, and fibre in the equine diet. Flax products are cost-effective, calorie-dense and commonly fed to horses for weight gain or to support the energy requirements of high-performance exercise. Flax seeds and flax oil are also sources of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid can be used to balance omega-6 intake and helps maintain skin and coat quality. While consuming omega-3s is generally associated with health benefits, not all omega-3 fatty acids have the same effects on the horse's body. Flax oil does not contain DHA or EPA, the two fatty acids associated with healthy inflammatory regulation and improved joint health.
An increasingly popular equine forage, teff grass is grown in warm geographic regions and is commonly cultivated in the Southern USA. Native to Africa, teff is a warm-season grass that is high in fibre and low in sugars and starch. The digestible energy content of teff hay varies from high to low, depending on growing conditions and crop management strategies. Because teff does not store fructans, a form of non-structural carbohydrate (NSC), it typically contains less energy than cool-season grasses. Due to the variable NSC content, obtaining a forage analysis is recommended before feeding teff hay to horses. Low-NSC teff provides a safe forage option for metabolic horses.
You bring your horses in from turnout only to find their legs and hooves coated in mud. You know that mud is bad for your horse, but why and what can you do about it? Hosing down a muddy horse may be an all-too-common experience for equestrians that live in rainy climates, low-lying regions or areas with clay soils. Not only is mud a nuisance to clean, but muddy conditions also increase the risk of injuries, infections and health conditions such as cellulitis or lymphangitis. Tack shops are stocked with products promising to prevent mud-related diseases in horses and there is ample discussions online about whether these products work.
Lymphangitis, also known as big leg disease or stovepipe leg, is a condition in horses involving inflammation of the lymph vessels, most often in the lower limb. Lymphangitis presents as extreme swelling with rapid onset, resulting in pain in the lower leg, reluctance to bear weight, lethargy, lack of appetite, and sometimes fever. This condition is caused by bacterial or fungal infection, usually following a wound to the leg. The infection can also result in very painful sores or lumps on the leg and cracking of high-motion skin areas (such as the fetlock). Seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your horse has lymphangitis. If left unaddressed, the infection can spread to other organs and cause internal abscesses or sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Equine asthma (EA) is a relatively new collective term for chronic respiratory signs in horses that range in severity from mild to severe. These conditions were previously known as inflammatory airway disease (IAD) or recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), respectively. Equine asthma is characterized by inflammation and mucous production in the lungs, which leads to lower airway obstruction. The horse may cough, and breathing may or may not be laboured. Asthma is most commonly observed in horses stabled over winter months that have become hypersensitive to dust, airborne allergens, mold spores, or mites in stable bedding or stored hay.
Chronic kidney disease (or chronic renal failure) in horses is a rare but serious disorder that interferes with normal kidney function. Your horse's kidneys perform many important processes in the body including managing blood pressure, excreting waste products, and regulating electrolyte balance. When kidney function is impaired, waste products begin to build up in the blood and affect the function of other organ systems. Horses with reduced renal function often experience weight loss and have difficulty maintaining body condition. They may also show signs of poor coat quality, excessive thirst and increased urination.
Obesity in Horses Risk Factors Effects Insulin inflammation Health Conditions EMS Laminitis PPID Weight Loss Obesity is a health concern in horses worldwide, with a prevalence estimated between 31 - [...]
Stagnation edema, also known as stocking up, is a common cause of leg swelling in stabled horses. It occurs due to impaired circulation from periods of reduced activity. This short-lasting form of edema typically affects both hind limbs and causes swelling from the coronary band up to the hock. Occasionally, it occurs in the forelegs as well. Stocking up is also called distal limb edema because it affects to lower portion of the limbs. Another term for stocking up is pitting edema. This is because when pressure is applied to the area, a pit or indentation will remain temporarily. Stocking up results from the pooling of lymph, a clear fluid that circulates in the lymphatic vessels. Sometimes this circulation is compromised allowing fluid to accumulate. This typically occurs if blood flow and lymphatic drainage are impaired.
Box walking, stall circling and weaving are examples of locomotor stereotypic behaviours in horses. They are believed to be caused by a lack of freedom to express natural equine behaviours. Over time, stall walking and weaving can have negative physical consequences such as hoof problems, joint wear and tear, weight loss, ulcers, and uneven muscle development. Stereotypic behaviours are repetitive, habitual movement patterns with no obvious function or benefit to the animal. These behaviours are often seen in confined or domesticated horses that do not have access to the same lifestyle as their wild counterparts. Stall walking, circling and weaving are common and difficult to stop completely. However, changes in management and routine can reduce a horse’s compulsion to perform these actions.
Proper vitamin and mineral nutrition is critical to maintaining your horse's health and well-being. But how do you ensure that your horse gets everything they need to balance their diet? Horses on a forage-only diet universally have deficiencies in key minerals, including sodium, copper, and zinc. Even if you provide your horse with a salt or mineral lick, the chances are that their diets will under-supply nutrients required for optimal health. This is why a vitamin and mineral balancer is necessary for almost all horses. Feeding a concentrated mineral supplement can benefit your horse through improved coat condition, stronger hooves, improved stamina, mood regulation, and better performance.
Weaving is a locomotive stereotypic behaviour typically seen in stabled horses. It is estimated that between 3 to 10% of horses kept in stables weave. The expression of this behaviour involves repetitive shifting of body weight from one front leg to the other, combined with a sideways swaying of the head. Occasionally, this repetitive swaying motion involves the hindquarters. Stall weaving serves no function or purpose. This stereotypy may develop when a horse is prevented from walking toward a desired goal, such as a feed or other horses. Horses may begin weaving as a result of stress, frustration, their environment, or an inability to express natural equine behaviours. Over time, weaving can cause hoof and joint problems or lead to weight loss if it interferes with eating behaviour.
Horses can experience a number of different dental issues over their lifetime, impacting their ability to chew and digest their feed. Unaddressed dental issues can affect your horse's health, condition, behaviour and performance. This is why it’s important to have your horse's teeth checked by an experienced veterinarian or equine dentist on a regular basis. Dental problems are the third most common medical problem seen in large animal practices in the U.S.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two of the most common ingredients found in equine joint products. These natural supplements are purported to promote mobility and joint comfort in hard-working performance horses and aging seniors. But despite their commercial success, there is limited research to support the efficacy of glucosamine or chondroitin in horses. Although studies in humans, other animals and cell cultures suggest potential benefits, the results are not as promising when these supplements are fed to horses. The poor results in horses are likely because these compounds are not well absorbed from the gut and are typically used at much lower doses than the amounts used in cell culture studies.
Whether you are a horse owner, handler or the manager of an equine facility, biosecurity plays an important role in keeping horses under your care safe and healthy. Horses can be affected by many different transmissible diseases, including equine infectious anemia, strangles, and equine influenza. Any time a horse comes into contact with new animals, people or environments, they may be exposed to novel pathogens. Biosecurity measures involve actions and protocols to protect livestock health by reducing disease transmission. Examples of biosecurity guidelines include controlling access at equine facilities, designating quarantine areas for newly arriving or ill horses, practicing good hygiene, and using pest control.
Hay dunking describes an abnormal equine feeding behaviour in which horses dunk their hay in water before chewing and swallowing it. This can be a messy habit and many horse owners want to know why it happens and how to stop it. While there is little research into why horses dunk their hay, several theories attempt to explain the behaviour. Anecdotal reports suggest some horses dunk their hay before eating it simply because they prefer it when it is dampened or because it helps them chew. It is also thought that underlying health issues can promote the behaviour, including gastrointestinal discomfort, allergies to dust, and dental issues.