The Horse Podcast™ show

The Horse Podcast™

Summary: The Horse Podcast is a weekly podcast providing information from the leaders in the field of equine care.


 Overweight and Under-concerned? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Shari Zachrich of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. There are several causes of obesity in horses; too much energy (or too many calories) consumed, too little exercise, and other medical conditions such as insulin resistance or laminitis.nbsp; Just like in humans, a healthy diet and exercise go hand in hand when it comes to shedding the pounds.nbsp; It is unlikely that you will have the results you desire without one or the other.nbsp; There are many concerns involved with an overweight or obese animal in which owners should take notice.nbsp; Overweight horses are subject to many additional stresses due to their overall health including decreased time to fatigue, increased sweating and heat stress, increased respiratory difficulties, leg or joint trauma, and overall decreased performance.nbsp; Overweight horses are at high risk for metabolic disorders such as Insulin Resistance or laminitis. Assessing your horsersquo;s overall condition is an important first step in changing the weight and lifestyle of your horse.nbsp; Attaining a Body Condition Score and using a weight scale are some easy methods to determine a starting point for the new diet.nbsp; Please refer to the April 2, 2008 edition of The Horse-Podcast for more information on Body Condition Scores.nbsp;nbsp; If your horse has no pending medical conditions, then decreased caloric intake and increased exercise is the preferred method to decrease your horsersquo;s weight.nbsp; After considering just how obese or overweight your horse is, you should then evaluate his current diet.nbsp; Your assessment should include everything your horse consumes on a daily basis; hay, grain, pasture, supplements, etc.nbsp; Many owners decide their horse is overweight and decrease the entire intake that horse has in order to lose weight.nbsp; Typically, the average horse owner believes grain and concentrate to be the culprit and limits the intake of these feedstuffs.nbsp; It is important, however, to consider exactly what portion of the diet you are limiting.nbsp; Your goal is to meet the horsersquo;s total daily requirements for protein, mineral, vitamin, and fiber to maintain healthy gut function, while reducing the amount of energy, or calories to lose weight.nbsp; By decreasing the amount of grain or concentrate, you are usually decreasing the amount of vitamins and minerals your horse requires to function properly.nbsp; Instead of limiting the concentrate and starving your horse of important essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other imperative nutrients, it is better to change the forage regimen first. If your horse is on pasture, that is a major component to limit.nbsp; Horses that are prone to being overweight or with little exercise are not a good combination with free choice pasture.nbsp; Pasture has higher energy than hay because the plant in pasture is less mature.nbsp; For a weight loss program, hay is recommended.nbsp; There are two types of hay to choose from, grass and legume.nbsp; Grass hays are timothy, orchard grass, fescue, coastal Bermuda, brome, etc.nbsp; Legumes include alfalfa and clover.nbsp; Because grass hays are typically lower in energy or calories than legume hays, they are also preferred for decreasing the weight of your horse.nbsp; Grass hays are also an excellent source of fiber for the horse and essential for normal hindgut motility and function.nbsp; By decreasing the amount of hay and fiber your horse consumes, you risk digestive upsets and even colic.nbsp; Unhealthy vices can also occur in a horse lacking proper fiber intake such as eating bedding, cribbing, and other indigestible fiber sources.nbsp; Typical grass forages do not meet daily requirements for mature horses in terms of protein, vitamins and minerals.nbsp; These nutrients must be added to the diet by other means. There are a few options when it comes to deciding your horsersquo;s feed sources.nbsp; Option 1 is to feed a reduced calorie feed, such as a low calorie, low sta...

 Understanding Mycotoxins | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Vicki Hershey of Mars Horsecare US Mycotoxins are toxin compounds produced by fungi such as molds.nbsp; Very often molds are visible, however, the visual absence of mold, does not mean Mycotoxins are not present.nbsp; Many are microscopic.nbsp; The right conditions for growth include temperature, oxygen and moisture.nbsp; These conditions increase the likelihood that fungi will be present in small grains. High moisture levels in grain encourage fungal growth, while the cool temperatures increase the production of Mycotoxins.nbsp; Temperature treatments, such as cooking and freezing, do not destroy these mycotoxins.nbsp; Secondly, grains are often stored in grain bins where little or no aeration or re-circulation occurs.nbsp; The three most common Mycotoxins that could be present in grains received are, aflatoxin, deoxynivaleno or DON, and fumonison.nbsp; However, these Mycotoxins are not limited to grain, and can also be present in hay, grass or silage. Aflatoxins (Aspergillus flavus) affect a number of crops predominately corn. It can also be present in: wheat, midds, barley and rice.nbsp; Typically, it has a yellow green appearance when growing on kernels.nbsp; Chances of growth increase during hot dry weather.nbsp;nbsp; Its presence is greater in grain that is produced under stress conditions such as drought, heat, insect infestation, and fertilizer stress. Management practices such as irrigation, good insect control and timely fertilization may reduce stress and reduce chances of aflatoxin levels.nbsp; Aflatoxin levels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Levels must not exceed 20 ppb (parts per billion) Fumonison Fusarium moniliforme (Fusarium verticillioides) is a group of Mycotoxins that are common pathogens of corn and possibly rice.nbsp; It is so common in fact, that it is found wherever corn is grown. It can appear white to salmon colored.nbsp; Fumonison have been implicated as a possible cause of equine leukoencephalomalacia (ELEM), a serious disease in horses, and porcine edema ndash; a disease in swine. Poultry and cattle are not especially susceptible to fumonison.nbsp; Fumonison levels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must not exceed 5 ppm (parts per million) Vomitoxin or DON are Mycotoxins produced by certain species of Fusarium, the most important of which is F. graminearum (Gibberella zeae). This fungus causes Gibberella ear (also known as red ear rot) or stalk rot on corn and head scab in wheat, possibly found in midds, barley and oats.nbsp; The fungus itself appears reddish to pinkish. The fungus may cause a reddish discoloration of the cob and kernels.nbsp; Disease tends to be worse when corn is grown without crop rotation or after wheat as this pathogen also infects wheat. It may be worse when corn is grown in no till situations.nbsp; FDA has recommended that total feed levels of DON not exceed 5 ppm (parts per million). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have provided education on Mycotoxins management in the field with better farming practices and improved crop plants with greater resistance to insect damage and fungal infection that leads to Mycotoxins production.nbsp; Mycotoxins management and education continues with improved harvesting practices, and better storage conditions. Using both science and common sense as guidelines, feed-producing facilities can develop and implement strict quality control programs and good manufacturing practices (GMPrsquo;s) to reduce and eliminate the risk if Mycotoxins being introduced into their facilities.nbsp; However, they must be committed to making sure these programs and GMPrsquo;s are followed by; educating associates, monitoring processes and providing documentation to ensure traceability in case of accidental or intentional contamination to the feed chain.nbsp; By following these guidelines, and implementing these programs, ...

 The Facts On Ulcers | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Beth Stelzleni of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. Ulcers are a major problem in the horse industry today, and it has been reported that 60-95% of all mature working horses have ulcer problems. Horses most at risk for ulcers include performance horses - especially race horses, but leisure horses can be at risk for ulcers as well. Any horse, regardless of being a high level race horse or a weekend pleasure pony can develop ulcers if exposed to some of the risk factors we will discuss here. To understand why the horse is so at risk for ulcers, itrsquo;s important that we understand the horsersquo;s stomach anatomy. The horsersquo;s stomach has two main regions. The first region is the non-glandular region, which takes up the top part of the horsersquo;s stomach. This region is made up of very sensitive tissue, similar to the type of tissue that makes up our esophagus. This region does not produce any acid and also does not have any protective factors against it. The lower region in the horsersquo;s stomach is the glandular region, which has tissue that is much tougher than the non-glandular region. The glandular region does produce acid and has protective factors lining the tissue, such as mucus. Itrsquo;s important to note that the horsersquo;s stomach produces acid at all times, even if there is not food in the stomach. This means that if the horsersquo;s stomach is empty at any time, some of this unused stomach acid will start to eat away at the sensitive non-glandular tissue. Because the non-glandular region is the more sensitive of the two regions, the majority of stomach ulcers in horses occur in this upper region. Hard physical work also contributes to ulcer formation in horses. As a horse works, the muscles in the horsersquo;s body put pressure on the stomach. This pressure pushes the acid that normally stays in the glandular portion of the stomach into the non-glandular portion, so it exposes that sensitive non-glandular tissue to acid. The harder a horse works, or the faster he goes, the more pressure is put on the stomach, so more acid is pushed into the sensitive non-glandular region. Diets that are high in NSC (or sugar and starch) contribute another factor that increase the risk for ulcers. The bacteria in the stomach ferment the NSC when it enters the stomach in high amounts. When this fermentation occurs, acid byproducts called volatile fatty acids are produced which increase the acidity of the stomach. So on top of the normal stomach acid thatrsquo;s already in the stomach, diets high in NSC contribute to the acidic environment by producing high quantities of VFArsquo;s. One of the major management factors we see today that may increase the risk of ulcers is a horsersquo;s change from their natural setting to a very unnatural one. In its natural setting, a horse is on pasture all the time and can eat 24 hours/day if they wish. This continuous eating means that there is always something in the stomach for the acid to work on, and this food thatrsquo;s always in the stomach serves as a protective factor for the sensitive non-glandular portion. Also, the constant chewing that comes with grazing means that there is constant saliva production. Saliva is a very important buffer for the horse and plays a big part in protecting against ulcers. In todayrsquo;s setting however, most horses are stalled for all or at least part of the day. The problem with stalling horses isnrsquo;t necessarily the actual containment; itrsquo;s the meal-feeding that goes along with stalling a horse. Meals create periods where the stomach is empty, so the acid thatrsquo;s always in the stomach has nothing to work on. Periods of time without food also mean the horse isnrsquo;t chewing, so therersquo;s no saliva production as well. If you have a horse who is at risk for ulcers or has had ulcers in the past, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the ulcer problem. The first rule of thumb is ...

 Feeding Myths | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Beth Stelzleni of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. Nutrition may be one of the most misunderstood facets of daily horse care, and there are many myths and misconceptions about feeding horses that still exist today. These wivesrsquo; tales are often passed down as tradition from one generation to another. However, as we gain scientific knowledge about horses and how to feed them, we are finding that most of these traditional beliefs are actually false. In this talk wersquo;ll discuss the three most common myths about feeding horses we see today. The first myth, and probably the most common one circulating the horse industry, is that excess protein will make your horse over excitable or hot. Protein, however, has never been scientifically linked to mental attitude. In fact, it is the energy in the horsersquo;s diet that leads to high-spirited behavior. Simply put, the more energy in the diet, the more energy in the horse. A good example of this would be a hyper horse that is fed high amounts of alfalfa. While alfalfa is higher in protein than grass hays, it is also higher in energy. If the horse is being fed enough alfalfa that it is supplying more calories than the horse needs, it is the excess energy in the alfalfa causing the over excitability, not the protein. The second myth in feeding horses is that a weekly bran mash will act as a laxative. The principle ingredient to bran mashes is wheat bran, but this ingredient is not actually high in fiber. In fact, wheat bran has approximately the same amount of fiber as oats. Studies have shown that adding wheat bran to a horsersquo;s diet does not induce a laxative effect and does not soften the stools. In fact, regular bran mashes can be harmful to your horse. Wheat bran is very high in phosphorus; so repeated use of this ingredient can unbalance the calcium to phosphorus ratio, as well as reduce the absorption of other minerals. Weekly bran mashes may disrupt the normal microorganisms in the horsersquo;s digestive tract as well, as any rapid change in a horsersquo;s diet can cause digestive upset. Another common myth in the equine industry is that you should never allow a hot horse to drink because it will cause colic or founder. Numerous scientific studies have shown that allowing horses to drink immediately after work will not cause harm, and that withholding water from these horses is actually the worst thing we can do. The horsersquo;s greatest thirst and need for water is immediately after exercise, and if we withhold water we prolong dehydration. Once a horse has cooled down, he loses his interest in drinking and may not drink the amount of water he needs to prevent a dehydrated state.

 Forage With the Right Storage | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

By Charlie Poling of Mars Horsecare US As a source of nutrition for livestock, hay offers numerous advantages. It can be made from many different crops and when protected from the weather it can be stored and preserved with little nutrient loss; package sizes and shapes can vary greatly, and harvesting, storage, and feeding can vary from being baled by hand or completely mechanized. When supplemented, hay can often meet the nutrient needs of many classes of livestock. But how should you select the best forage for your horses? Depending on your horsersquo;s job, his requirements for forage will be different. For instance, how do you decide whether to feed a grass or a legume? Lets weigh the benefits of both. Grasses commonly fed to horses include timothy, orchardgrass, bromegrass, tall fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. In general, grass hays are lower in protein compared to legume hays. They also can be low in calcium and phosphorus. Grass hays are usually easier to harvest than legume hays without them becoming dusty, and they are nutritionally sound for most mature horses. Legumes that are commonly used for horses are alfalfa, red clover, ladino clover, and birdsfoot treefoil. Legume hays on the other hand are generally higher in protein compared to the grass hays. They are also higher in minerals, but have an incorrect ratio of calcium to phosphorus. As a result of the high protein, they are very desirable in the ration of growing animals, but the calcium-phosphorus ratio must be balanced to prevent bone abnormalities. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when selecting types of hay and their quality. Lets start with simple visuals to score your hay. Does it look soft? Does it smell fresh? Is it leafy? Is it green or brownish? All of these clues are going to help you find the best hay possible for your animals. Hay should be sampled at the time of purchase for a better indication of the quantity of dry matter as well as the quality oif the hay in general. By considering the stage of maturity of the crop when it was harvested, you will be able to indicate quality. If the hay has large coarse stems and seed heads along with blooms present than you know that the plant was not cut at the right stage. This is going to mean fewer nutrients available to your animal and may not be as palatable. A lot of leaves and few to no seed heads will be the ticket. The leaves contain more digestible energy and protein than a bale full of stems would provide. The leafiness is going to decrease as the plant matures, leaving a visual for you to buy by. Texture is going to be the next biggest thing, and finding the right size stem could be an indication of how palatable the hay is going to be for your horses. Look for a smaller more flexible stem to please your horses diet. Check the hay out with all your senses, think touch, sight, and smell. Look for insects, weeds, trash, and mixtures of grass/ legume so you know exactly what your horse is ingesting. Next get your nose up to the bale and smell, if it is musty or has a moldy odor just walk away, no matter what the price. This means that the hay was not cured or stored in the right conditions and there is mold present. The smell of new mown hay is the standard by which hay odor is going to be judged. Mildew, and mustiness usually are the result from weather damage or insufficient drying before baling - indicating a lower quality of hay. And remember -- it may be more than just you turning up your nose at these bales; your animals will do the same and may not even eat it. A bright colored hay generally indicates that the vitamin and protein levels are going to be higher than a dark brown color. That dark brown color may indicate that the sun has caused heat damage and may not be able to provide vital nutrients. Color is not necessarily the best quality indicator when choosing hay but is one of the many tests that your hay needs to pass before purchasing. Now lets...

 Laminitis & Founder | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Dr. John Sylvester of Mars Horsecare, US. Laminitis and Founder are two words that are often used interchangeably, but do not actually mean the same thing. Laminitis refers to an inflammation of the laminar tissue in the hoof and tissue that hold the coffin bone in place. Founder refers to an actual rotation of the coffin bone within the hoof. Laminitis does not necessarily lead to founder, but it can if itrsquo;s not treated quickly. There are several situations that can lead to laminitis or founder, including trauma, concussion, drugs, toxemia, and a diet high in soluble carbohydrates (starches and sugars). Most of these can be managed with some forethought and attention to detail. Nutritional laminitis is linked to the amount of soluble carbohydrates in a horsersquo;s feed. Bouts can be caused by an over consumption of grain, either in one sitting, or by feeding large grain meals. A rule of thumb for an average 1000-pound horse is to feed no more than (4) pounds of a standard mixed grain or pellet at one time. Straight corn should be fed in even smaller amounts. Laminitis can also be caused by an over consumption of rich spring pasture. Grasses or legumes, such as clover or alfalfa, are growing rapidly in the springtime. These plants can be very high in starches and sugars. If the horsersquo;s digestive system is not accustomed to a high level of starch it can cause digestive problems that can lead to laminitis. Therefore, it is recommended that the horse be introduced to young pastures slowly. They should only be turned out for one to two hours per day to begin and the gradually the amount of grazing time can be extended. This may mean that the horse may need to be taken off of the pasture used in winter and kept in a stall, or a dry lot until adapted to the new grass in the pasture. Fructans are a type of soluble carbohydrate that is not digested in the small intestine. Fructan sugar accumulation can reach high levels in cool-season grasses such as: orchard grass, timothy, and fescue. Research suggests that when fructans are consumed they reach the bacteria in the cecum and are fermented into lactic acid, which can lead to laminitis and founder. Fructan levels tend to rise during the spring and fall, which are times when the nights are cool, the days are warm, and the grasses are growing rapidly. Horses prone to laminitis should be kept off such pastures from mid-morning until late afternoon. If fructan levels are too high, you may need to restrict your horsersquo;s access to pasture ndash; but it may be difficult to take a horse off of a pasture entirely. If you can at least limit the horse to a smaller section, particularly one with little grass, it is better then doing nothing. Another alternative is to use a grazing muzzle to limit the amount of pasture the horse can consume in one day, which may keep the horse from becoming laminitic. It is also helpful to keep hay where the horse has access to it, particularly if the pasture is lush. When should you be concerned about Laminitis? Obese horses and ponies, horses that have foundered before, and horses with Cushingrsquo;s, are more prone to laminitis. You should especially be concerned about the possibility of laminitis if your horse is overweight or obese. If his body condition score is 6 or higher, limit the amount of pasture using the methods discussed earlier. Another condition that must be strictly managed involves the Cushingrsquo;s horse. Horses with Cushingrsquo;s syndrome are very susceptible to Laminitis when the starches in their diets change rapidly, or are very high. While a horse may be very thin, this is not a reason to give them a lot of high-starch grains. Minimizing starch intake is vital for health and soundness. Be sure to avoid exposure to rapidly growing pasture during the early spring and fall seasons. Feed a low-starch/high-fat grain mix or pellet. Once your pasture is out of the rapi...

 Feeding the Senior Horse | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

By Beth Stelzleni of Mars Horsecare US Horses today are living much longer than they did in previous years ndash; in fact it is not unusual to have a horse live into his thirties. As our equine partners live longer lives, it is our responsibility to support them nutritionally in their later years. One question people often have is how to determine if a horse is ldquo;old.rdquo; At what point does a horse move from being ldquo;maturerdquo; to being a ldquo;seniorrdquo;? The answer to this question really depends on the individual horse. While most people consider 20 to be the start of old age in horses, there is no real age when a horse can automatically be considered chronologically old. The most effective way of establishing old age in horses is to watch for certain physical signs. Chronically low body condition, loss of muscle over the topline leading to a sway-backed appearance, graying of the coat, and hollowing out of the grooves above the eyes are all symptoms of old age. There are four primary characteristics of senior horses that can affect their overall nutritional outlook. The first is deteriorating dental health. This is very common in the senior horse and effects their consumption of hay ndash; the most important part of any horsersquo;s diet. Senior horses with bad teeth will simply not be able to chew and process long-stem forage, so alternative fiber sources must be provided in their diets. The second characteristic of senior horses is decreased digestive efficiency. Older horses have nutritional requirements similar to those of a long yearling because they simply cannot metabolize nutrients as easily as they did when they were younger. The third characteristic is a changing metabolism. This means that some older horses may develop problems in maintaining weight and become ldquo;easy keepersrdquo;, while some may develop problems in holding their weight and become ldquo;hard keepers.rdquo; The final characteristic we see in older horses today is arthritis. Arthritis actually has a huge impact on nutrition, as it causes both pain and stress, which can cause an older horse to begin losing weight or go off of feed completely. Also, in group-feeding situations, older, arthritic horses may not be able to fend off other horses to eat their feed. When feeding senior horses, it is a good idea to use a commercial grain mix specially formulated for these older horses. These types of grain mixes are designed specifically for the needs of senior horses, so the protein, and vitamins and minerals in the mix are adequate for a senior horsersquo;s higher needs, and are correctly balanced to fit his nutrient requirements. When shopping for a senior feed, look for a high amount of fiber in the grain to compensate for any loss in ability to process hay. Some senior feeds can even be fed as complete feeds ndash; replacing hay altogether. Also, be sure to look for form in your senior feed. Pelleted feeds are best for those senior horses that have poor teeth, as pellets are easy to process and digest. And finally, be sure to look for a low starch and sugar level. Senior horses can become susceptible to many metabolic disorders due to high starch and sugar levels, including Cushingrsquo;s disease and insulin resistance. By choosing a senior feed that is low in starch and sugar, you can reduce the risk that your senior horse will develop one of these diseases.

 Feeding the Equine Athlete | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Beth Stelzleni of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. Horses that are in training or showing have vastly different nutritional needs than horses that are inactive. But itrsquo;s the level of activity is what determines how to feed our performance horses. The NRC categorizes the different activity levels into four categories: light, moderate, heavy, and very heavy. Horses in light activity are those used for events such as trail and pleasure, where the work is mainly done at the walk level ndash; and generally working 1-3 hours per week. Those in moderate work include school horses in a lesson program and those used for frequent showing -- but in disciplines that are less strenuous, and these horses usually work for 3-5 hours per week. When we get into the heavy work category, we start to see horses that work for 4-5 hours per week but undergo strenuous speed or jumping work during their training -- polo horses and those in low to medium level event training for example. Horses in very heavy work spend the bulk of their training doing strenuous activities including speed and jumping work and may work anywhere from 6-12 hours per week. These include elite racehorses and elite event horses. The higher the intensity of the work, the greater the energy requirement will be. Energy is the first nutrient that is required in higher amounts in the working horse, but the source of that energy is just as important as the amount. The first source of energy we see in equine nutrition products is soluble carbohydrates, or sugars and starch -- found mainly in grains, like corn, and sweetening agents like molasses. When a horse digests soluble carbohydrates, they are absorbed in the small intestine. The problem with soluble carbohydrates is that when they are digested they cause an increase in blood glucose and insulin that can lead to metabolic disturbances and increase the risk for tying up and ulcers, so itrsquo;s critical that we donrsquo;t overload the small intestine with them. If this happens, the starch that doesnrsquo;t get digested in the small intestine goes to the hindgut where it is fermented, which can cause acidosis, diarrhea, and even laminitis. If starches and sugars can be dangerous when fed in high amounts, what can we substitute as a safer energy source? And the answer is Fats - and these are actually the preferred energy source of the horse. As we train our horses and they increase in physical fitness, their bodies actually shift naturally from using carbohydrates for energy to using fats. Fats are also more energy-dense, meaning that a small amount of fat can actually hold a much larger amount of energy. Like sugar and starch, fats are absorbed in the small intestine but they do not cause a large metabolic disturbance, so they are safer than sugars and starches. Some sources of fats common in horse diets are vegetable oils (such as corn or soybean oil), flaxseed and rice bran. Fats also provide some additional benefits to performance horses. They improve the skin and haircoat, which is important in the show ring, for example. Fats can also calm behavior and make a horse more manageable. They reduce the heat load and delay lactate build up, both of which help to delay fatigue so the horse can go for longer periods. And since fats are power packed, we can feed less -- and the horse has a lower intake so carries around less gut fill. By lessening the gut fill, we can reduce the amount of weight the horse carries and therefore help him to jump higher or run faster. In addition to energy, water is a nutrient that is greatly affected as the horse starts to work. Performing horses lose massive amounts of water as they sweat, and this water needs to be replenished to keep the horse healthy. In moderate climates, horses can lose 6-8 L of sweat per hour, and this loss can increase to 15 L per hour in hot and humid climates. One L of sweat weighs about 2 pounds, so in a hot climate a horse can lose...

 What Exactly is a Body Condition Score, Anyway? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Shari Zachrich of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. Many of our horses today are overweight. As in humans, obesity can cause health problems, especially in older horses. Reasons for obesity can be a result of excessive caloric intake, not enough exercise, or certain medical conditions. Problems associated with obesity may include laminitis, founder, insulin resistance and possibly heart disease. Obese horses also have higher occurrence of joint and ligament disease, tendon strains, and birthing problems. In many cases, more than one problem can result. Insulin resistance, also known as Equine Metabolic Syndrome, interferes with the way insulin breaks down glucose and other sugar molecules, thus elevating blood sugar levels. Research has proven that increased blood sugar levels can interfere with the circulation around the lamina of the hoof causing laminitis. Todayrsquo;s most well-known body condition score method was developed by Dr. Don Henneke from Texas A #38; M in the early 1980rsquo;s. It is utilized to estimate body fat in relation to muscle using a numerical ranking between 1 and 9. Excess energy in your horsersquo;s diet can turn into fat deposits, which serve as a ldquo;back-uprdquo; for later energy deficits. Once energy reservoirs are depleted, your horse will lose those fat deposits and begin to extract energy containing compounds from muscle, making your horse appear weak and thin. Body condition score is a useful tool in tailoring your horsersquo;s diet to their individual needs. Proper technique for this method includes visual evaluation and physical palpation of fat and muscle. The score itself can be affected by a variety of factors such as food availability, reproductive activity, weather, performance, parasites, and even dental problems. There are six main areas of interest when it comes to evaluating your horsersquo;s condition; the loin or top line, ribs, tail head, withers, neck, and shoulders. The top line is a good starting point in assessing fat and muscle. If the top line is weak and spinous processes are visible then your horse is probably too thin. If there is a noticeable crease down your horses back with deposits of fat around the backbone, the body condition score will increase significantly. The loin area is one of the first places to accumulate fat on the body. The ribs are the next area to observe. As a rule of thumb, ribs should be easily felt but not seen. The tail head area in extreme conditions can either be prominent and distinct or rounded and bulging. Your horsersquo;s withers can be a tricky area to assess body condition score. You must take into account your horses breed standard, size, and age. For example, a thoroughbred has prominent withers as norm whereas quarter horses are a little more concealed. Neck and shoulders should be a point of reference in fine tweaking your final score. Places to look for fat deposits in these areas are on the crest of the horsersquo;s neck and directly behind the shoulders. A few examples of extreme body condition scores are as follows: A score of ldquo;1rdquo; is considered extremely emaciated with spinous processes, ribs, tail head, hooks and pins projecting. Bone structures of withers, shoulders, and neck area easily noticeable with no fatty tissue to be palpated. A score of ldquo;5rdquo; is moderate. The back is level and ribs cannot easily be distinguished but easily palpated. Fat around the tail head begins to feel spongy, withers appear rounded over the spinous processes, and the neck and shoulders blend seamlessly into the body. A score of ldquo;9rdquo; is extremely fat. There is an obvious crease down the backbone with patchy fat surrounding the rib area. There is bulging fat around the tail head, along the withers, behind the shoulders, and along the neck. Fat along the inner buttock may rub together and the flank is filled in flush with the rest of the body. There is no standard in what ...

 The History of the Horse | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:01:01

by Dr. John Sylvester of Mars Horsecare US, Inc. As horse owners, we know that our horses are different from production animals such as pigs and cows; however, most of us rarely stop and take the time to understand why. Modern horses come from the genus Equus that branched off a common ancestor about 5 million years ago. And about 5 thousand years ago, horses and humans met for the first time. Humans fell in love with horses and we decided that horses would be a part of our lives from that point forward. During the past five thousand years, we have selected characteristics from many different horses that have developed into breeds of all different shapes and sizes. Although five thousand years is a long time, from a genetic standpoint is a matter of only a few seconds. So, even though many horses may look different, their physiology (i.e., the structure of their gastrointestinal tract) has not changed much and we must understand that in order to keep our horses healthy. The GI tract of a horse is divided into 3 major compartments, the stomach, the small intestine and the hind-gut which contains the cecum and large intestine. Feedstuffs are digested and absorbed in the stomach and small intestine, while fiber is fermented in the hindgut. The hindgut makes up for approximately 70% of the horsersquo;s gastrointestinal tract and is designed to ferment forage (and specifically fiber). Forage can be from pasture, hay, silage, or any other plant material. Fiber is absolutely necessary to maintain horse health. Through a complex partnership between horse and microorganisms; fiber is fermented by microbes, which produce beneficial end-products that the horse can use for energy. Fiber is also needed to maintain gut health. Horses are unique animals with specialized digestion to allow them to eat forage. We must not forget that modern day horses do more work in recent times than in years past and are eating more feed to get the calories needed for optimal performance. The horsersquo;s requirement for forage, however, has not changed -- so whatever your horse does for a living, feed at least 1% of the horsersquo;s bodyweight from forage. For example, an 1100 lb quarter horse should get at least 11 lbs of hay per day minimum.


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