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.

No more indiscriminate breeding

The British Horse Society has raised some stark points regarding equine welfare, with too many horses suffering in the UK, in-part due to over breeding. The BHS’s Director of Equine Policy, Lee Hackett, cites years of unchecked and indiscriminate breeding as co-factors in the current welfare crisis.
“The UK is saturated with thousands of horses with little or no value and a shortage of responsible and knowledgeable owners willing to care for them,” he explains. “Together with other charities we have been doing our best to resolve the situation, but sanctuaries are now beyond full and we are facing crisis point.”
The BHS advises:
• Don’t ‘rescue’ a horse or pony unless you have the knowledge and resources to care for them. Responsible re-homers should do so via a charity.
• Don’t bid for horses at sales that you feel sorry for.
• Horse owners must face up to responsibilities and, if necessary, consider euthanasia rather than passing on the care of old or injured horses to someone else.
• Don’t add to the problem – the indiscriminate breeding of poor quality horses and ponies has to stop.

Redworm risk

Vets are warning that our recent mild winter could lead to a higher risk of small redworm infestation in our equine population. There is an increased risk in spring from larval cyathostominosis, a potentially fatal syndrome caused by the mass emergence of small redworm from their encysted state. The syndrome causes diarrhoea and colic, with up to a fifty per cent equine mortality rate. During unusually mild, wet winters, worm eggs and larvae can develop on the pasture and grazing horses can become re-infected. Hence, Wendy Talbot, vet with Animal Health Company Zoetis, which has launched a new awareness campaign at HYPERLINK “”, says that if the preceding winter has been especially mild, it may be advisable to consider a second encysted small redworm dose in the spring, for horses most at risk [e.g. youngsters, old or immune-compromised horses or those with a sub-optimal worming history].”


Pole to pole

Researchers in America have found that trotting poles can be extremely valuable to a horse’s rehabilitation after lameness. The study, whose authors include eminent biomechanist Dr. Hilary Clayton, found that trotting over ground poles can therapeutically help to restore full ranges of equine limb and joint motion. The team set out to determine changes in joint angulations and hoof flight arcs by comparing limb kinematics. “Trotting over poles is effective for activating and strengthening the flexor musculature… and may be useful in the rehabilitation of neurological cases,” a study spokesperson stated.
(Reference: ‘Swing phase kinematics of horses trotting over poles’; S. Brown et al: DOI: 10.1111/evj.12253. Accepted: EVJ].


Fibre is best

American researchers have carried out a study, published on open-access journal PLoS ONE and conducted with the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, which researches the biology of plant systems, on equine faecal bacteria.
The researchers collected dung samples from 17 horses, each fed three different diets: a high fibre, forage only diet; a high fibre diet with a starch-rich supplement; and a high fibre diet with an oil-rich supplement.
They found a reduction in the core balance of bacteria in the gut when the horses were fed a diet OTHER than one that was forage only, e.g. very high in fibre. They also proposed that a high starch-supplemented diet could increase the risk for ‘metabolic dysfunction’. Ageing was also associated with a reduction in bacterial diversity. The results could undoubtedly help us understand more about the microbial community in the equine hindgut.

Author: Features Editor

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