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 & 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 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

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 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

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. …

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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

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?

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 …

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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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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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Regumate / Altrenogest and Difficult Mares & Fillies: What Are The Alternatives?

With the rulings of Regumate/Altrenogest use in racing coming under the spotlight around the globe, now is an opportune time to address nutritional and management factors which can contribute to undesirable behaviour in mares and fillies. Whilst no nutritional supplement will prevent estrus in the mare/filly: signs, symptoms and behaviour may be able to be …

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When-Supplements-actually-make-the-problem-worse

When Supplements actually make the problem worse

Something I see commonly in practice is well meaning owners prescribing supplements to help with a particular health or performance issue in their horse. One of the most commonly misused classes of supplements in the horse are ‘blood builders’. Whilst iron deficiency in humans is an all too common problem, in our horses it is …

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Foal Heat Scours and Diarrhoea

‘Foaling Heat Scours’ is one of the most common types of scours to affect foals. Yet the name is a bit of a misnomer, and often leads to confusion as to the actual cause of this form of diarrhoea. This yellowish, greenish, watery scour generally occurs in foals around 7-14 days of age, hence often …

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Horse Dental Health and Systemic Inflammation-Optim-Equine

Horse Dental Health and Systemic Inflammation

Periodontal disease (inflammation of the structures that support the tooth -including the gum, periodontal ligaments and the bone within which the tooth sits), is believed to effect at least one third of all horses, with statistics much higher in older horses. Human research has clearly linked periodontal disease with systemic inflammatory conditions and illnesses such …

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Why Can such an ‘Average’ Horse Achieve at the ‘Highest” Level?

Good horse people know that in many equestrian disciplines, success depends on an optimal partnership between horse and rider, rather than excellent individuals (either horse or rider alone).There is a small amount of research which demonstrates that a rider’s emotional state can directly influence that of the horse. Horses are known to react differently when …

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Bacterial Endometritis: Bacteria and Biofilms

Bacteria in biofilms can readily become resistant to both pharmaceuticals and the host immune system, developing a tolerance to antimicrobial agents, biocides and antiseptics. In fact, research has demonstrated that bacteria residing in a biofilm can be up to 1,000 times more refractive to treatment with antibiotics as compared to free-living (planktonic) bacteria. Administering more …

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Vitamin K: The role of Gut Health and the Effect on Bone Health and Insulin Resistance

Vitamin K is a most important nutrient, which is derived from bacterial synthesis in the horse’s large intestine. For optimal levels of vitamin K to be produced, the horse must have sufficient fibre/roughage in the diet and a healthy microbial population and composition in their GIT. Keep in mind that many of the most frequently …

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Salt-An-Essential-Component-of-the-Horse's-Diet-Optim-Equine

Salt: An Essential Component of the Horse’s Diet

Salt is made up of the minerals sodium and chloride and is an essential yet often overlooked/forgotten component of the horse’s diet. If you aren’t providing supplemental salt to your horse or pony’s diet, they are most likely falling short of their needs. Although many processed feeds and balancers contain sodium and chloride, they are …

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Osteochondrosis and Osteochondritis Dissecans: Reducing the Risk

Osteochondrosis (OC) and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) are two of the most common juvenile osteochondral conditions (JOCC). OC is a disease that causes lesions in the cartilage and bone of growing horses’ joints. It is a result of cartilage failing to properly turn into bone. OCD occurs as a progression of the OC: resulting in the …

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What-Supplements-are-best-for-building-Topline-Optim-Equine

What Supplements are best for building Topline?

Topline describes the muscle coverage over the top of the horse’s neck, back and hindquarters. The strength of topline muscles can influence soundness and athletic ability of the horse.Now let’s briefly think of human athletes looking to increase muscle mass, strength and definition. To do this effectively they must work and utilise the correct muscle …

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Fillies, Mares, Hormones and Performance

Do you train, own or ride fillies or mares? Have you previously, or do you use altrenogest/Regumate or other synthetic progestin products to ‘control’ their cycles or regulate their behaviour? Would you still give them such substances if you knew that it significantly decreased muscle mass, strength and performance, and impaired recovery? Animal research has …

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Hoof-care-Hoof-Rings-and-Ridges-Optim-Equine

Hoof Rings and Ridges

When observing a horse’s hoof it is common to see minor lines or ridges on the hoof wall. Hoof rings, also called growth rings, occur in healthy hooves and are typically the result of variations in diet and environmental factors from season to season and sometimes changes in work/exercise levels. More obvious ridges, grooves, or …

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