The Horse

SEP 2018

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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12 THE HORSE September 2018 Inquiries to: 859/276-6726 E-Mail: ERICA LARSON, News Editor @TH_EricaLarson Hilary Clayton BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, of Sport Horse Sci- ence, in Mason, Michigan, and Mette Uldahl, DVM, Cert. Equine Diseases, of Vejle Hestepraksis, in Den- mark, recently studied how common lesions caused by bits, nosebands, whips, and spurs are in sport horses. "This study is important because it looked at a large number of horses during competition without giving the competitors prior notice … so they did not have an opportunity to change their tack," Clayton said. The pair trained technical delegates to gather data from horses participating in dressage, jumping, eventing, and endurance in Dan- ish Equestrian Federation competitions. They collected data on 3,314 horses. The inspectors used a tool designed for the study to measure spur length and noseband tightness, but competition regulations limited the extent of the oral exams they could carry out to externally visible lesions, she said. Therefore, it was not possible to "determine the presence of lesions on the bars of the mouth, the tongue, and inside the cheeks." Overall, 9% of horses had lesions or blood at the corners of the lips, and lip lesions were more prevalent at higher levels of competi- tion, Clayton said. They found lip lesions in: ■ 10% of dressage horses; ■ 8% of jumping horses; ■ 7% of eventing horses; and ■ 5% of endurance horses. Surprisingly, Clayton said, they found no difference in lesion incidence when comparing bitted and bitless bridles, and bit type did not affect lip lesion prevalence. With nosebands, "tight- ness of the upper (cavesson) noseband strap was more important than tightness of the lower noseband strap (drop, flash, lower strap of a figure-eight, or Micklem)," Clayton said. "Tight upper nosebands were associated with more lesions at the cor- ners of the lips than looser nosebands." Forgoing nose- bands also created unexpected results, she said: Horses that did not wear a noseband had significantly more lesions at the corners of the lips than those that wore a loosely adjusted one. Regarding whip and spur- related lesions: ■ Overall, 77% of riders used spurs, 3% of horses had worn hair on the rib- cage, and <1% had blood on the ribcage; ■ There was no difference in spur lesion prevalence among clipped and un- clipped horses; ■ There was no difference in spur lesion presence among disciplines; ■ Roller-ball wheel and hammer-knob spurs were significantly more likely to have hair on them; ■ Spur length and competi- tion level were associated with the likelihood of find- ing hair loss or blood as- sociated with spur use. A 1-centimeter prolongation of the spur length doubled the likelihood of finding worn hair on the horse's ribcage. Additionally, the likelihood of finding hair on the spurs decreased 20% with each increase in competition level; and ■ Seven horses (two jump- ers and five dressage horses) had skin lesions apparently related to whip use. "Based on the findings of the study, I would recom- mend that spurs should only be used by experienced rid- ers who have good control of their leg position and use of the leg aids," Clayton said. "It gives some guidance regarding types of equip- ment that are more likely to be detrimental to the health and comfort of the horse and offers guidance as to adjustments that may be beneficial or detrimental to the horse," she added. "How- ever, the fact that the study was performed during com- petition limited the scope of the examination. Differ- ent methodologies will be needed to explore further the direct associations between equipment and lesions." Read more at TheHorse. com/158723. —Natalie DeFee Mendik, MA ISTOCK.COM Equipment Lesions Studied in Sport Horses I n the industry's first large-scale study documenting equipment and associated visible lesions in competition horses, researchers have confirmed that the gear we use—from spurs to nosebands— could be causing them harm. NEWSFRONT

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