Optim Equine

Camilla Whishaw is a highly regarded, experienced horsewoman and naturopath, helping to holistically treat and manage a broad range of equine health conditions and injuries, with a passion for mare and stallion fertility. As a world-renowned practitioner, presenter, author, and consultant in the field of Equine Naturopathy, Camilla shares her knowledge through keynote presentations, interviews, lectures, panel sessions, and workshop training.

Optim-Equine-Equine-Protein-Intake

The Importance of Protein

Protein- it’s a most crucial component of a horse’s diet, yet is commonly blamed for causing a whole host of problems in horses: Everything from ‘hot behaviour’, to joint problems, swollen legs, liver and kidney issues. Yet are these issues actually caused by protein? And what happens when we don’t feed our horses enough quality …

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Optim Equine Horse Physical Activity

Horses are meant to MOVE. A LOT…

One of the most significant impacts of modern domestication of horses is the profound reduction in daily physical activity. Even horses who are worked regularly and are in peak fitness are likely to do far less exercise than their wild counterparts. Many horses spend the majority of their days in small paddocks, yards and stables. …

Horses are meant to MOVE. A LOT… Read More »

Optim equine poor behaviour in horses

Is it Poor Behaviour or is it Pain?

Poor behaviour in horses is a complex topic to say the least. Whenever a horse is acting up- many things should be taken into account before blaming the horse for being naughty or difficult. Some of the important factors to consider include learned behaviour; imbalances in neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers that influence mood, behaviour and …

Is it Poor Behaviour or is it Pain? Read More »

Optim-Equine-Heat-Humidity-Horses

Heat, Humidity and Horses

Hot, humid weather brings with it some important health considerations in relation to our horses. Heat stress is one of the most commonly recognised conditions associated with heat and humidity. Heat and humidity can also play a part in some cases of colic, respiratory challenges, exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying up), poor performance and weight loss as …

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Inflammation & Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories in Horses

Inflammation & Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories in Horses

Inflammation. It’s a word commonly associated with poor health outcomes. Yet a certain amount of inflammation is absolutely crucial to health and wellbeing in our horses. Some inflammation is essential to promote normal immune function; repair muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments after exercise; and even facilitate healthy digestive function. Problems start to occur when levels …

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Overweight horses and ponies: there’s more to the equation than just feed…

Overweight horses and ponies can pose a real challenge for owners to manage. Particularly at times of the year where there is an abundance of lush feed. It is well known that higher levels of body fat in horses and ponies is associated with fertility complications, insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome and increased risk and …

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Stress in Horses: Why it isn’t always obvious

When we think of the term ‘stress’, we often think of horses that pace the fence line, shy at non-existent monsters (!), call out incessantly when their paddock mate leaves and seem to poo cow pat like manure as soon as we saddle them. Whilst all these behaviours are clear outward signs of stress, it …

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Joint-Injections-in-the-Horse--Important-Considerations

Joint Injections in the Horse- Important Considerations

Injecting joints in horses is a common practice. The term ‘joint injection’ can mean different things to different people. In essence, there are three common types of injectable joint therapies in horses: intra-articular (IA), intravenous (IV), and intramuscular (IM). For the purpose of this article, we will focus on IA: where the solution is injected …

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Soy-The-Good-The-Bad-The-Confusing-Optim-Equine

Soy: The Good, Bad and Confusing!

If there’s any horse feed that can cause heated debate about whether or not it is suitable and even valuable for horses- then soy may well take the cake. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on soy bean meal and feeds containing processed soy- not soy oil or soy bean hulls- as …

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Feeding-the-injured-horse-optim-equine

Feeding The Injured Horse

Injuries in our horses can be frustrating and upsetting occurrences- and more often than not, they tend to occur when our horses are coming along really well. Ironically, although we may seem to have more time with missing planned races, events and competitions, rehabilitating a horse properly often takes more time and effort than riding …

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Laminitis

Laminitis

Spring is here in the Southern Hemisphere! Which means crisp nights with longer daylight hours and warmer weather. After a long, cold winter-this weather is a welcome relief. But it also makes for ideal growing conditions for grass high in sugars and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) . This puts susceptible horses at increased risk of laminitis. …

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Horses: Rethinking The Use of Corticosteroids

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Horses: Rethinking The Use of Corticosteroids

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in horses refers to a group of intestinal diseases that are caused by the infiltration of different types of inflammatory cells into the mucosal and submucosal walls of the intestine, resulting in intestinal dysfunction. Each disease in the IBD group involves a different combination of white cells or involves a different …

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Optim-Equne-Iodine-and-Horses

Iodine & Horses

Iodine. It’s an essential trace mineral in our horse’s diets which plays many crucial roles. It is vital as a constituent of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism, hence its crucial role in not only metabolic rate and body …

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Ulcers in Horses: The importance of understanding how medications work

Ulcers in Horses: The importance of understanding how medications work

There’s much interest in ulcers in horses and for very good reason. Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) affects 60-90% of adult horses and 25-50% of foals and weanlings. The condition collectively refers to sores or erosions that develop in portions of the horse’s sensitive stomach lining. EGUS is largely a man-made disease: common feeding practices,  …

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Foals-And-Colostrum-Optim-Equine

Foals & Colostrum

With foaling season now upon us in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the importance of good quality colostrum. Colostrum provides antibodies (immunoglobulins), which are concentrated in a mare’s milk during the 10-14 days prior to foaling. These immunoglobulins are essential in helping to provide immunity against common diseases in a …

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Why-Do-Horses-Wind-Suck-And-Cribb-Bite-Optim-Equine

Why do horses wind suck and crib bite?

Wind sucking or crib biting in horses is most likely to first occur in association with boredom and lack of forage/grazing. Most people are well aware that a diet high in long-stem fibre plays an essential role from a physiological and digestive standpoint in the horse. However, what is often overlooked is the crucial role constantly …

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The Overweight Horse: An Holistic Approach

Body weight, body condition and adiposity (levels of body fat) are factors which contribute to equine health in many different ways. Similar to the human population, the percentage of equines which are now overweight and/or obese continues to rise significantly. It is estimated in North America that more than 51% of horses and ponies are …

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An-Holistic-Approach-to-Mare-Behaviour--Optim-Equine

An Holistic Approach to Mare Behaviour

For those of you who ride mares and/or fillies you may have noticed somewhat erratic changes in her mood and behaviour during spring. The mare who was steadfast and easy going over the winter months may have at times started to become irritable, anxious, ‘girthy’, aggressive and painful or sensitive around her flanks. Gait abnormalities …

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An-Holistic-Approach-to-Joint-Health-Optim-Equine

An Holistic Approach to Horse Joint Health

Lameness is one of the most common complaints in the working horse, with joint damage accounting for around 60% of these cases. Progressive damage and changes to soft tissue, cartilage and underlying bone in the joint results in joint deterioration, leading to the development of osteoarthritis. This process is generally initiated by joint overload, concussion …

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Supplements-An-Holistic-Approach-Optim-Equine

Supplements: An Holistic Approach

Do our horses really need them? Supplements. They can be a contentious topic. Yet nearly all horse owners, trainers and riders use them at some stage in one form or another on their equines. As a naturopath, I am sometimes asked that if a horse is fed ‘properly’ then does it really need supplements? The …

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Tying-up-Optim-Equine

Tying Up

Tying up is a broad term used to classify a wide variety of muscle disorders which result in the dissolution of muscle cells during exercise. Technically known as ‘exertional rhabdomylosis’ (ER), this syndrome is the most common muscle disorder which affects exercising horses. Clinical signs of ER vary, depending on the severity of the condition. …

Tying Up Read More »

Ulcer-Medications-What-Nobody-Tells-You-And-What-You-Need-To-Know-Optim-Equine

Ulcer Medications: What Nobody Tells You and What You Need To Know

The most commonly used equine ulcer medications on the market generally come under names containing Gastro/Ulcer/Guard and contain the active ingredient omeprazole, which belongs to the class of drugs known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)[i] [ii]. These drugs work by reducing (normal, healthy) gastric acid production by blocking the enzymes located in the parietal cells …

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Laminitis How Naturopathy Can Help-Optim-Equine

Laminitis: How Naturopathy Can Help

What is laminitis? Laminitis is a painful, often devastating inflammatory condition affecting the lamellar tissue of the foot.  Each hoof contains 550-600 primary laminae, and each of those consists of 150-200 secondary laminae. The laminae connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone and function to provide shock absorption during locomotion, holding the coffin bone …

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Bisphosphonates-(Tildren-&-Osphos)-Time-to-talk-about-the-Skeleton-in-the-Closet-Optim-Equine

Bisphosphonates (Tildren & Osphos): Time to talk about the Skeleton in the closet

A question regarding the use of one of the above mentioned drugs circulated in my Facebook feed recently. It sparked much interest, confusion and curiosity by different readers…prompting me to write this post. Bisphosphonates are a class of drug which includes both tildronate and clodronate. They were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration …

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Are-we-creating-resilient-racehorses-or-superficial-sales-horses-Optim-Equine

Are we creating resilient racehorses or superficial sales horses?

It’s now that time of year in the Southern Hemisphere where the yearling sales season is gearing up. Understandably, much emphasis is placed on the vendor’s side in realising maximal monetary value for their yearlings. From a purchaser’s point of view, finding a top class racehorse is prime priority. This poses the question…are we creating …

Are we creating resilient racehorses or superficial sales horses? Read More »

An-Holistic-Approach-to-Mare-Behaviour-Optim-Equine

Placentitis: Think about it

Placentitis. It is the most common cause of late pregnancy loss in mares. It causes many a stud manager and breeder a lot of grief. It costs a lot of money and time. And it goes without saying that it has non-favourable effects on both mare and foal. Yet current routine approaches aren’t necessarily addressing all contributing …

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Fibre,-Chewing-and-Gastrointestinal-Health-Optim-Equine

Fibre, Chewing and Gastrointestinal Health

Forages and fibre rich foods which require much chewing, comprise the base starting point for a diet which promotes health in the horse. Chewing results in the production of saliva. Forages and fibrous feeds require more chewing than grains and processed feeds. On a dry matter basis, twice as much saliva is produced when horses …

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The Stabled/Stalled Horse: The Impact of Ammonia and Airway Health-Optim-Equine

The Stabled/Stalled Horse: The Impact of Ammonia and Airway Health

Ammonia- the colourless gas associated with the pungent, eye watering smell when you enter some barns and when you muck out stalls- comes with some profound health effects on the horse. These effects are even more significant given many horses which are stabled are performance horses, newborn foals and/or horses who are stabled to help …

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Mare-Body-Condition-Osteochondrosis-Risk-in-Offspring-Optim-Equine

Mare Body Condition: Osteochondrosis Risk in Offspring

Recent research has clearly demonstrated that foals born from obese mares are at much greater risk of developing osteochondrotic lesions. This is a very important consideration, given that many people like their mares in ‘very good’ condition leading into breeding season, and that horses can often be more overweight than we perceive them to be. …

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Calming Supplements: Use in the Horse-Optim-Equine

Calming Supplements: Use in the Horse

One of the most often talked about and popular types of supplements on the market are those used with the intention of helping to ‘calm’ the horse. The quality of these supplements and ingredients contained within them vary greatly. Many contain nutritional and/or herbal constituents such as: magnesium, tryptophan, B group vitamins, chamomile and valerian. …

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Skeletal-Injuries-Considering-the-Role-of-Bone-Density-in-the-Horse-Optim-Equine

Skeletal Injuries: Considering the Role of Bone Density in the Horse

One of the most significant injury concerns for all athletic horses is that involving the bones and joints. Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of poor performance and wastage (wastage refers to a loss of training days, either temporary or permanent) in the equine industry. A vital consideration in bone and joint health is …

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Wind-sucking,-Crib-biting,-Cribbing-The-role-of-Antioxidants,-including-Selenium

Wind-sucking, Crib-biting, Cribbing: The role of Antioxidants, including Selenium

Wind-sucking/ crib-biting/ cribbing is a compulsive, repetitive behaviour in horses. It is the most prevalent stereotypy in the equine and is characterised by grasping a fixed object with the incisor teeth and aspirating air with an audible grunt. The habit can negatively effect a wide range of horse health parameters, resulting in conditions such as …

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Ulcer-Medications-The-Potential-Impact-on-Stallion-Fertility-Optim-Equine

Ulcer Medications: The Potential Impact on Stallion Fertility

With stud season rapidly approaching in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to evaluate factors that influence stallion fertility. Many people are unaware of the potential effects routinely used medications may have on semen and stallion fertility. One such class of drugs is histamine‐2 receptor antagonists, which includes ranitidine. Ranitidine is one of the two …

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Selenium-Deficiency-(&-Toxicity)-in-the-Equine

Selenium: Deficiency (& Toxicity) in the Equine

An adequate intake (and absorption and metabolism) of selenium is essential for maintaining the overall health of your horse. This mineral plays many essential roles: it acts as an antioxidant; reduces inflammation; has critical implications in the fertility of both mares and stallions; is needed for proper cartilage and hoof formation; and promotes skin health. …

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Devil's-Claw-and-Ulcers-Optim-Equine

Devil’s Claw and Ulcers

Many people are familiar with the terrific anti-inflammatory herb Devil’s Claw. This herb is predominantly used in cases of osteoarthritis and to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Research has demonstrated that root extract of the herb inhibits inflammatory cytokine production through multiple pathways. One major concern for horse …

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Vitamin-D-and-Rugging-An-Important-Consideration-Optim-Equine

Vitamin D and Rugging: An Important Consideration

Blanketing/rugging horses is a topic which sparks much debate, primarily due to its influence on weight regulation, metabolic function and thermoregulation in the horse. Yet an often forgotten consideration is its effect on vitamin D synthesis and hence levels of this important vitamin/hormone in the horse. Vitamin D is produced by the horse when their …

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Garlic-The-Suitability-and-Use-in-Horses-Optim-Equine

Garlic: The Suitability and Use in Horses

Many equine owners/managers/riders add garlic to their horse’s ration. This herb has a wide range of potential therapeutic properties, including its actions as a: hypotensive (ability to lower blood pressure); antioxidant; anti-parasitic; anti-fungal; and antibacterial. Additionally, it is thought to deter biting insects. Garlic is a good dietary source of sulphur and selenium. However, just …

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Clenbuterol-More-Than-a-Bronchodilator-Optim-Equine

Clenbuterol: More Than a Bronchodilator

Clenbuterol is a beta-2-adrenoceptor agonist, therapeutically prescribed to horses with inflammatory airway disease (IAD) and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO, commonly known as heaves). It is widely known that the use of this drug has been exploited due to its ability to burn fat whilst preserving lean muscle tissue. Sadly, this practice can severely compromise the …

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Equine-Hospital-Nutritional-Practices-Optim-Equine

Equine Hospital Nutritional Practices

Nutrition plays a paramount role in keeping horses healthy, with the ability to help prevent or manage specific health conditions. The need for appropriate feeding and nutrition practices becomes even more critical in cases of compromised health, such as during serious illness or post surgery. The equine patient has increased requirements of specific nutrients to …

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Beyond-Biotin-Optimising-Horse-Hoof-Health-Optim-Equine

Beyond Biotin: Optimising Horse Hoof Health

Every horse person knows the saying ‘no hoof, no horse’, yet so many horse owners, riders and managers struggle with achieving healthy hoof growth and hoof integrity in their equines. The equine hoof constitutes a complex arrangement of connective tissues, nerves, cartilage, bone, and blood supply. It relies on important nutritional building blocks for strength …

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Nutrient Requirements for Horses: Fortified Feeds and the need for Supplementation-Optim-Equine

Nutrient Requirements for Horses: Fortified Feeds and the need for Supplementation

The vast majority of racehorses, performance horses and breeding stock are fed fortified feeds or balancer rations, which are designed to meet the daily nutrient requirements of horses. These nutrient requirements were established by the National Research Council (NRC) and last updated in 2007. The NRC provides the known nutrient requirements for horses by weight, …

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Nutrient-Synergy-Magnesium-and-Vitamin-D-Optim-Equine

Nutrient Synergy: Magnesium and Vitamin D

Magnesium is one of the most commonly self-prescribed nutrients by many horse owners, breeders and riders. This mineral plays an essential role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions within the body. When prescribing magnesium, to derive optimal therapeutic benefit, it is essential to know the bioavailability of different forms of magnesium and its interactions (both …

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Lignophagia-Why-Do-Some-Horses-Chew-Wood-Optim-Equine

Lignophagia: Why Do Some Horses Chew Wood?

Lignophagia (or chewing wood) is an all-too common behaviour observed in horses. Whilst it can be both practical and tempting to lather stable boards and fence posts with products to discourage this, it is wise to also consider and address the possible reason(s) for this undesirable chewing in the first place… From a dietary perspective, …

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Naturopathic-Principles-Treat-the-Individual-and-not-the-Disease-Optim-Equine

Naturopathic Principles: Treat the Individual and not the Disease

As an Equine Naturopath, one of the questions I am most commonly asked is ‘what herb is good for X condition’ or what nutrient should I give my horse with Y condition? One of the key guiding principles of naturopathy is treating each patient as an individual. In developing effective treatment plans for the horse, …

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