The Horse

OCT 2017

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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34 THE HORSE October 2017 Other findings included: ■ Laminitis incidence was higher in ponies, while horses were more likely to develop obesity-related arthritis. In- sulin resistance was similarly prevalent among the the two populations. ■ Laminitis concerned managers most. ■ Overweight ponies were more inten- sively managed than overweight horses. ■ Managers found exercise the most satisfactory weight-control method and grazing muzzles and medication the least satisfactory methods. ■ Managers fed grain or concentrates to 27.8% of obese ponies and 11.5% of obese horses; they reported feeding a ration balancer to only 12.4% and 4.1% of overconditioned ponies and horses, respectively. Grain and concentrates typically are high-calorie while ration balancers are low-calorie, so Jaqueth called this finding "scary." ■ It costs managers time and money—an average of $434.18 more annually—to care for overconditioned equids. This is largely due to the increased labor required to help horses lose weight, said Jaqueth. She estimated it's costing U.S. horse and pony owners more than $1 billion extra to manage these animals. "This study highlights the importance of prevention," she said. "Preventing obesity can provide the welfare benefit of preventing the development of weight- related disorders … (and) of not monopo- lizing resources such as time and money that could be used for other purposes." Jaqueth wrapped up her talk by offer- ing ways to cut management costs and help equids lose weight: ■ Feed forage at 1% of body weight daily; ■ Limit concentrates to 0.5% of body weight; ■ Make changes slowly (a recommended rate is a 10% change in diet per seven to 10 days, she said); ■ Measure feed by weight, not by volume; ■ Feed a lower-quality, less-digestible hay to help reduce calorie intake; ■ If you're concerned about nonstructur- al carbohydrates (NSC), select hay and grain containing less than 12% NSC on a dry matter basis, and avoid products with added molasses; ■ Reduce pasture time so you can moni- tor calorie intake more closely; ■ Use grazing muzzles and slow-feed haynets and feeders; ■ Consider switching your horse to a ra- tion balancer product; and ■ Make sure your horse is not consuming his pasturemates' meals, too. "Last, make sure to include your vet- erinarian in this process," Jaqueth said. "They can provide a great deal of insight and spot early signs of metabolic disor- ders that can slow down the weight-loss process. Supplements and medications marketed toward weight loss are avail- able, but should be only be added as a last resort and under guidance of your veteri- narian or a trained equine nutritionist." Does Water Bucket Location Matter? Researchers recently tested whether bucket location in a stall impacts how much horses drink. As it turns out, it might. Brianna Akam, an undergraduate stu- dent working under Bethany Siehr, MA, assistant professor of equine business management at Wilmington College, in Ohio, shared the study results. Water is the most important part of a horse's diet. Without it horses can develop a number of life-threatening issues. So many horse owners will try just about anything to ensure their charges stay well-hydrated. In their study Siehr and colleagues hung two water buckets in each of 12 test horses' stalls between the door and a corner hay and grain feeding unit. They hoped to determine if mature stock hors- es in light exercise drank more from the bucket closest to the door or the feeder. For six days the team dumped, rinsed, and refilled the water buckets at regular increments and measured water intake. Horses drank about twice as much water from the bucket by the door. Siehr offered two hypotheses for this: ■ Because horses weren't in strenuous work, they might have been more ac- tive in their stalls and chose the bucket farthest away from the feeder so they could move; or ■ The horses could see their stablemates better when they were farther from the feeder. Siehr said past management techniques might also impact bucket preference. All things considered, "The horses displayed a strong preference of which bucket location they preferred; however, all horses drank out of both buckets each day," she said. "If feasible, we believe supplying a stalled horse with two water buckets may increase water intake." How Does Transport Impact Senior Horse Immune Function? Veterinarians know transport stresses equine immune systems, but little is known about its specific impact on senior horses' immune function. So Alessandra Campana-Emard, a Practical Science COURTESY BRIANNA AKAM Horses in the study preferred to drink out of the water bucket farthest from their food source. It is important to ensure recovery time for horses after being transported and to watch for any signs of illness." DR. AMANDA ADAMS

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