By Kathy Carter – We scour the equestrian world for news and views on nutrition and veterinary matters, to give you the latest information.
Worm counts advised
According to a survey by British Riding Clubs, a third of British horse owners never conduct faecal worm egg counts (FWECs). The British Riding Clubs Horse Health Survey, commissioned by animal health company Zoetis, revealed that 36 percent of the 559 horse owners surveyed never conduct egg count tests. In mature horses, a faecal worm egg count should ideally be carried out every six to eight weeks during May to September in Britain, to identify those that need dosing for redworm and those that don’t.
As we reported in Equiads’ May issue, vets are warning that our recent mild winter could lead to a higher risk of small redworm infestation in our equine population.
Regular FWEC tests during the summer, together with good pasture management, e.g. ideally picking up manure on a daily basis, will help to keep grazing as clean and worm-free as possible.
Magnesium: multi-tasking mineral
Magnesium is fast becoming one of our most useful equine feed supplements; for example, it is said to improve poor hoof quality and also help promote calm behaviour in horses. However, a new study has also found that feeding a magnesium supplement to foals reduces the incidence of the bone disease osteochondrosis in their leg joints, Dutch research has shown.
The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science reported a drop of 14.3 per cent in the incidences of osteochondrosis in the horses given magnesium supplements. At the start and end of the study, blood samples were taken and analysed, and x-ray examinations were carried out. The researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation reduces the prevalence of osteochondrosis in foals, so this news will undoubtedly prove useful for the many supplement manufacturers that provide additives to improve mobility in horses.
Small-holed haynets extend eating time
The Waltham Equine Studies Group, the science behind the Spillers feed brand, has conducted studies showing that using hay nets with small holes extends eating time in horses.
Waltham states that restricting access to pasture and forage is often necessary for our horses, but concedes that this reduces the time naturally spent foraging. Their research has shown that the use of small-holed haynets may be one method to help extend eating time.
“Any method of extending eating and foraging time may help reduce the risk of equine gastric problems that can be contributed to by long periods without food, and may also help to alleviate boredom,” Spillers’ registered nutritionist, Clare Barfoot, said. The full results of this study should be published later this year.
Are half of all sports horses lame?
A new study on the relationship between lameness, saddle slip and equine back shape has found that hind limb lameness is the biggest cause of saddle slip in horses.
Dr Sue Dyson, head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the UK’s Animal Health Trust, and doctoral student Line Greve, assessed 506 normal, working sport horses, and also found that just under fifty per cent of equines in the study were lame.
Of the 506 horses studied, 46 per cent were classified as lame or having a stiff, stilted canter. Saddle slip occurred in 12 per cent of cases, predominantly in those with hind limb lameness.
“Horses with hind limb lameness and gait abnormalities are more than 50 times more likely to have saddle slip than other horses,” Greve said. “Many horses with lameness are clearly going unrecognised. Further education of riders and trainers is needed, to help them identify saddle slip as an indicator of lameness.”
The full results of the study will be presented at the second Saddle Research Trust International Conference at Anglia Ruskin University later this year.