Straight from the horse’s mouth

By Kathy Carter

We scour the equestrian world for news and views on nutrition and veterinary matters, to give you the latest information.

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Rusty’s clone is under saddle

Scientists have been cloning vegetables for years to create the strongest, most aesthetically attractive specimens – so it was only a matter of time before it became commonplace in the animal kingdom.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body for horse sports, allows cloned horses and their progenies to compete internationally. This was initially a complete turnaround for the industry, as it was previously thought by many people that cloning, and the finances required to own a cloned horse, gave rise to an unfair competitive field.

France’s Cryozootech is a pioneer of equine cloning techniques, in 2008 and 2011 cloning the late Gem Twist, one of the most successful show jumping horses of all time. As the cloned competitive horses are still young, none are competing; however, it has recently been announced that a clone of dressage rider Ulla Salzgeber’s champion dressage horse, Rusty, is now under saddle at the age of two and a half. Clumsily-named “Rusty Clone 1″, who was raised at Cryozootech’s facilities, is said to have taken to being started very well, and is now in light work.

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Opium poppies cause racing controversy

In July, seven British racehorses tested race-day positive for morphine. The British Horseracing Authority said it will not make public any information regarding the identity of the horses, trainers or owners until a full investigation is completed. However, it was disclosed by Buckingham Palace that one of the horses was the Queen’s racing mare, Estimate. However, it is alleged that a leading British feed company is inadvertently behind the scandal, due to contamination by a naturally occurring prohibited substance that comes from the seeds of opium poppies in some of the company’s own supplier’s feed ingredients. Potentially affected stocks from the feed company were quarantined, and experts agree that while the ingredient is a prohibited substance, there is no health risk to horses. However, the racehorses in question could be disqualified, pending a disciplinary panel.

Fly grazing bill launched

In welfare news, a private members bill has been launched in the House of Commons that should tackle equine fly grazing in England, according to welfare proponents, World Horse Welfare. In England alone, it is estimated that at least 3,000 horses are being illegally grazed on public and private land without the landowner’s permission.

The practice of illegal grazing, known as fly grazing, causes welfare problems for horses in addition to loss of use of land, and also risks to the public. A powerful coalition of equine welfare charities and countryside organisations has welcomed the Bill, which was introduced by Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer

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Could natural substances be used instead of Bute?

American nutritional research has indicated that certain, natural nutritional compounds can reduce inflammation in horses and may even out-perform ‘Bute’. According to a report in ‘Equine Disease Quarterly’, based on research from the University of Kentucky, the research could lead to improved immune function in ageing horses.

It was found that natural dietary compounds found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, including flavonoids and polyphenols, could help combat the effects of equine ageing. Flavonoids are involved in UV filtration in plants, and act as chemical messengers and physiological regulators, while the roles of polyphenols include the prevention of microbial infections. All of the natural compounds outperformed Phenylbutazone (Bute) in the study, by being effective at lower doses. More research is ongoing in this field.

Author: Features Editor

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