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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Page 9 of 51

10 THE HORSE October 2017 NEWSFRONT Inquiries to: 859/276-6726 E-Mail: ERICA LARSON, News Editor @TH_EricaLarson As part of its Clean Sport initiative, the Fédération Equestre Internationale uses regular anti- doping testing to detect small quantities of prohibited and controlled substances, whether administered intentionally or not. In a recent study Swiss researchers found that at least some of those substances could be getting into horses' bodies in packaged feed—not necessarily through accidental environmental contamination that sometimes happens with drug positives. "The results show that feed can contain doping-relevant sub- stances," said Conny Herholz, PD, DrMedVet, FTA, Dipl. ECEIM, ATA, of the Bern University of Applied Sciences, in Zollikofen. In their study Herholz et al. tested 28 samples of commercial horse feed, packaged primarily in Switzerland and Germany, for the presence of nine naturally oc- curring doping substances: four banned substances (noscapine, papaverine, colchicine, and thebaine) and five controlled substances (morphine, codeine, atropine, theobromine, and theophylline). Herholz said they found that 18 (64%) tested feeds were contaminated by one or more substances. For instance, wheat bran contained noscapine, theobromine, atropine, and colchicine. A red soybean sample contained noscapine, theobro- mine, and atropine. Even hay had positive results for noscapine, papaverine, and atropine. Herholz doesn't know yet if these concentrations are high enough to be detected in equine urine or blood. From a health perspective, there's likely little to fear about the contamination, however. "Considering the amount of morphine we detected in one oat sample, in order for the horse to have a visible reaction, he would need to consume 2,083 kilograms (more than 4,500 pounds) of oat grains," Herholz said. The Swiss feed industry supported this research, said Herholz. Charles F. Trolliet, DVM, president of the Swiss Equestrian Federation, participated in the study. Learn more at TheHorse. com/39549. —Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA or grass has enough high-energy nutri- ent value to cover the horse's needs, said Sara Ringmark, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala. In a recent study, she and colleagues followed 2- and 3-year-old Standardbred racehorses over a two-year period of intense training and racing. Through- out the study the horses consumed a concentrate-free diet that included high- quality haylage (grass cuttings wrapped in plastic soon after harvesting to maintain nutrients); a pelleted lucerne (alfalfa) product, as needed, to meet government-stated nutrient require- ments; and a mineral supplement, along with access to a salt block and water. The team found that the forage-only diet seemed to promote good digestive health, she said. The horses maintained an average body condition score (BCS) of about 5 (on a 1-9 scale). She also found no changes in muscle glycogen content (a measure of muscle energy storage) on biopsies, and none of the horses developed nutrition-related disorders or stereotypies (such as crib- bing). And, contrary to popular belief, a forage-only diet did not make horses appear "big-bellied" or heavier than concentrate-fed racehorses, Ringmark said. This diet also did not appear to affect performance, she said, but analyses of that aspect are still underway. While Ringmark doesn't expect to find any negative effects, it's too soon to draw a definite conclusion. A forage-only diet should be con- ceivable for Thoroughbred racehorses, as well, she told The Horse, although researchers need to confirm that theory. Ringmark cautioned that individual horses might respond differently to such diets, so maintaining horses on forage-only diets requires a "thorough control of the nutrient content of the forage" and regular BCS monitoring. "But that, of course, is also true in horses fed concentrates," she said. Learn more at —Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Forage-Only Diet a 'Win' for Standardbred Racehorses I n an ideal world, horses— even racehorses—would thrive on forage alone. But, given these athletes' intense training regimens and high energy requirements, is it really feasible? Researchers say that beyond being possible, it ap- pears to be beneficial. The key is to ensure the hay, haylage, Banned, Controlled Substances Detected in Horse Feed A forage-only diet did not appear to negatively impact racehorses' BCS or performance. COURTESY DR. SARA RINGMARK ISTOCK.COM

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