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The Modern

Equine Vet

Vol 8 Issue 1 2018

Give Your Practice Some Teeth Furosomide Dosing Times and EIPH Reading Our Body Language Technician Update: Nasty Toothache News from the AAEP Meeting



Give Your Practice

4 Some Teeth

Cover photo: Shutterstock/Studio 37


Horses Can Read Your Body Language................................................................................... 8 TECHNICIAN UPDATE

A Nasty Toothache: Treating EOTRH......................................................................................12 NEWS

IVC as Good as Jugular Venepuncture for Blood Draw...............10 Bats Are Major Reservoirs of Coronaviruses...................................10 Furosemide Effective in Attenuating EIPH Four Hours Before Exercise.....................................................................11 Zoetis Announces Recipient of Equine Charity Sweepstakes Donation.............................................11 A Horse is a Horse, Unless It’s Not .......................................................15 ADVERTISERS CMI.................................................................................. 3 Merck Animal Health.................................................. 5


The Modern

Equine Vet SALES: Matthew Todd • Lillie Collett • EDITOR: Marie Rosenthal • ART DIRECTOR: Jennifer Barlow • CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Paul Basillo • Carol Jean Ellis Jason Mazda COPY EDITOR: Patty Wall Published by PO Box 935 • Morrisville, PA 19067 Marie Rosenthal and Jennifer Barlow, Publishers PERCYBO media  publishing


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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The content in this digital issue is for general informational purposes only. PercyBo Publishing Media LLC makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, reliability or suitability of any of the information, including content or advertisements, contained in any of its digital content and expressly disclaims liability of any errors or omissions that may be presented within its content. PercyBo Publishing Media LLC reserves the right to alter or correct any content without any obligations. Furthermore, PercyBo disclaims any and all liability for any direct, indirect, or other damages arising from the use or misuse of the information presented in its digital content. The views expressed in its digital content are those of sources and authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of PercyBo. The content is for veterinary professionals. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.



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Give Your Practice Some Teeth

Dental services can help patients and your bottom line

Shutterstock/Konstantin Tronin

Equine veterinarians who are

not offering dental services are missing a huge opportunity—an opportunity to serve their patients better and to boost their bottom line. That was the message from Jack Easley, DVM, MS, DAVDC, DABVP, and Leah Limone, DVM, at the American Association of

B 4

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Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Convention 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. “Oral health tends to be an overlooked aspect of equine health care,” Dr. Limone told the Modern Equine Vet. Horses can require various treatments beyond basic floating








of teeth. For example, up to 34% of horses experience some level of periodontal disease, and up to 60% of those 13 or older suffer from severe periodontal disease. A 2000 study of 400 horses referred because of equine dental disease found that 162 suffered from primary apical infections of their cheek teeth.




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Photos courtesy of Dr. Leah Limone

Image shows a common equine problem: incisor disease with a fractured corner incisor and a draining abscess. More common problems are shown below.

Pulp horn defects indicate a diseased molar.

“Horses have much more dental disease than sharp enamel points,” said Dr. Easley, owner of Equine Veterinary Practice LLC in Shelbyville, Ky. “If all you have is a float, then all you’ll ever diagnose for dental pathology are sharp enamel points and dental elongations.” He added that there were many other issues that need to be handled to keep a horse’s mouth healthy. 6

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Ulcerated tongue due to sharp dental fragments.

Good Business

While the practitioner’s primary obligation is to provide optimal care to the patient, Dr. Easley made the case that dentistry presents an excellent business opportunity for veterinarians. “There is a tremendous amount of work available,” he said. “Every client of yours that has a horse needs to have at least its mouth examined once a year ... somebody is

probably providing dental services for your clients’ horses.” The work itself may not be enticing to some, but it has significant benefits. Dental equipment requires a relatively small investment compared with the potential revenue from offering these services, Dr. Easley said. Horses experience few dental emergencies, making the services easy to schedule and allowing more flexibility, he said. For example, a veterinarian specializing in reproduction can schedule dental examinations and procedures during the slow winter months, while a horse-show practice can schedule dentistry for times when there is less activity. After-hours and weekend dental work are rarely necessary. A typical oral examination should take about 20 minutes to an hour, Dr. Easley said, with geriatric horses requiring slightly more time. Charging appropriately for time spent is important, as is ensuring that other staff members and associates are well informed about the services. “You need to spell out in your wellness program that it includes a biannual oral exam and a yearly dental float. Additional diagnostics and/or therapeutic procedures are not included in routine dental care.” Dr. Easley said. Satisfied clients are the best referral, he added, but it is also important to actively market your services among both clients and other veterinarians in the area who may refer clients to you. “You need to inform people in general—pony clubs, 4H groups, different horse groups,” Dr. Easley said, adding that continuing education programs are a good way to educate them about dental care, its overall contribution to a horse’s wellness and quality of life, and the need for a veterinarian to provide this service.

Word of mouth based on a strong reputation is most important, and that requires a commitment to continuing education and the best tools for optimal treatment.

The Right Way

A thorough oral examination requires sedation, a full-mouth speculum, rinsing feed from the mouth, a headstand or head support, a good light source, a dental mirror, a dental periodontal depth probe and a dental explorer, according to Dr. Limone, of Northeast Equine Veterinary Dental Services LLC, Topsfield, Mass. Without the proper tools and education, she added, “we really are missing a lot of pathology that is very treatable and very manageable.” Dr. Limone recommended starting by asking the client about the horse’s history and eating habits, and then breaking the examination down into five parts: external oral exam; occlusion (orthodontic considerations); oral soft tissue exam; endodontic status; and periodontal status. The external examination entails looking for any external signs indicating oral or dental problems. This can include bony or soft tissue swelling, draining tracts, possible fractures and nostril odor or discharge. When evaluating the occlusion of the incisors, Dr. Limone recommended looking with the horse’s head aimed downward. “If you extend the head and neck out straight,” she said, “everybody is going to look like they have an overjet.” If malocclusion is found, it is important to determine whether it is skeletal or dental before deciding how to treat it.

A Practical Oral Examination • General physical exam and history—watch them eat • Sedate horse, rinse mouth, set up headstand, put on headlight • External exam • Swellings, symmetry, nasal odor/discharge, wounds • Examine incisors and canines • Occlusion, soft tissue, periodontal, endodontic • Place speculum—examine oral cavity • Occlusion, soft tissue—overall view of the mouth • Examine each arcade—100, 200, 300, 400 - Count teeth, use mirror to examine occlusal surface of each tooth - Periodontal status—mirror and periodontal probe - Endodontic status—mirror and pulp explorer • Chart findings—take photos, or record endoscopy • Treatment plan—or additional diagnostic plan (radiographs) • Follow-up recommendations, plan for recheck examinations Source: Slides from Leah Limone, DVM, during “Developing Dentistry as a Core Client Service” at the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Convention 2017

For the soft tissue portion of the examination, Dr. Limone said to consider that clients often understand floating more than anything. “What the owners tend to appreciate the most is just looking for buccal mucosal ulcers and abrasions, secondary to sharp enamel points,” she said. The endodontic portion of the examination involves looking at pulp horns and infundibulae of each tooth and evaluating fractures, which can cause apical disease. Dr. Limone recommended using a dental explorer. “You really need a mirror or endoscopy unit to be able to see these things,” she said. “These are things that you’re going to miss if you’re just trying to feel.” Prior to evaluation of the horse’s periodontal status, feed should be rinsed from the mouth.

If feed still can be seen in certain areas after that, Dr. Limone explained, a probe or picks should be used to clean out those spaces for closer examination. Gingival recession, gingival hyperplasia, draining tracts and subgingival swelling are all symptoms that warrant a radiograph, she said. If an oral examination or a subsequent radiograph reveals problems, then treatment is an opportunity to both boost business and improve the patient’s health. Even if it is necessary to refer to another veterinarian for the procedure, the client likely will appreciate it. Whether problems are found or not, oral examinations should be a staple for every veterinarian, both veterinarians agreed. “A dental record is absolutely the best thing that you can leave a client that will stimulate more dental work for you,” Dr. Easley said. MeV

For more information: Dixon PM, Tremaine WH, Pickles K, et al. Equine dental disease Part 4: a long-term study of 400 cases: apical infections of cheek teeth. Equine Vet. J. 2000;32(3):182-194. | Issue 1/2018



Horses Can Read Your Body Language

Even When They Don't Know You Horses can tell the difference between dominant and submissive body postures in humans, even when the humans are not familiar to them, according to researchers from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. The findings enhance the understanding of how animals can communicate using body posture across the species barrier, and are specifically helpful for informing horse handlers and trainers about the ways horses perceive human body language.

A) All of the handlers were similar in appearance and dress. B) Horses were more likely to approach the trainer displaying a submissive body posture (right) than a dominant body posture (left), in a University of Sussexled study looking at how different species communicate through body language.


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The researchers wanted to know whether dominant and submissive postures affected horses specifically because little research has been done in this area. Many trainers use posture as a training cue without knowing if the horses are sensitive to these cues, according to the researchers. Psychology researchers worked with 30 domestic horses to see whether they were more likely to approach a person displaying a dominant body posture (involving the person standing straight, with

arms and legs apart and chest expanded), or a submissive posture (slouching, keeping arms and legs close to the body, relaxed knees). They found that even though the horses had been given food rewards previously by each person when in a neutral body posture, they were significantly more likely to approach the individual displaying a submissive rather than a dominant posture in follow-up trials. “Horses are often thought to be good at reading human body language based on anecdotal evi-

Many trainers use posture as a training cue without knowing if horses are sensitive to these cues. ticular side. “Evolutionarily speaking, animals—including humans—tend to use larger postures to indicate dominance, or threat, and smaller postures to indicate submissiveness. Horses may therefore have an instinctual understanding of larger vs. smaller postures,” Leanne Proops, PhD, University of Ports-

mouth and co-author of the study. “Results like these encourage us to be more conscious of the signals we exhibit when interacting with horses and other animals to facilitate a smooth animal-human relationship,” said Clara Wilson, who coauthored the paper while an undergraduate at the University of Sussex. Previously, Ms. Smith, who is part of the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, co-led a study that found horses were able to distinguish between angry and happy human facial expressions. MeV

For more information: Smith AV, Wilson C, McComb K, Proops L. Domestic horses (Equus caballus) prefer to approach humans displaying a submissive body posture rather than a dominant body posture. Animal Cognition, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s10071-017-1140-4

Photo courtesy of University of Sussex

dence such as the ‘Clever Hans effect.’ However, little research has tested this empirically. These results raise interesting questions about the flexibility of cross-species communication,” said Amy Smith, co-lead author of the study, psychology doctoral student. The researchers recruited horses at three equestrian centers in Suffolk and East Sussex. All of the handlers were women, dressed in similar clothing and of similar size. A dark neck warmer covered their faces to eye level to minimize facial expression cues. The horses that had previously been fed by two women, were given a free choice to approach either of the people displaying the dominant or the submissive body posture. Over the course of four trials, they found that horses showed a preference for the person displaying the submissive body posture, rather than showing a preference for an individual handler or a par- | Issue 1/2018



IVC as Good as Jugular Venepuncture for Blood Draw Blood sampling through an indwelling intravenous catheter (IVC) is an acceptable technique when assessing most coagulation parameters in a horse, according to a recent study out of the United Kingdom. However, the researchers found that if veterinarians want to know antithrombin and D-dimer measurements, they should use jugular venepuncture. Most often, these blood tests are taken using serial jugular venipuncture because of concerns IVC collection would alter results. However, ongoing monitoring of coagulation status in hospitalized horses through serial venipuncture increases patient anxiety and trauma. Researchers from the University of Liverpool compared coagulation parameters of blood collected by direct jugular venipuncture and through an IVC to see if IVC could be used instead. They included 55 horses admitted to a referral hospital over a five-month period in 2015—all of which had a 14-gauge polyurethane IVC placed in their jugular vein. They underwent paired blood sampling using

both techniques, with 10 mL of blood being drawn and discarded from the IVC prior to sample collection. They measured whole blood prothrombin time, fresh plasma prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, stored plasma antithrombin activity, fibrinogen concentration and D-dimer concentration. The analysis showed that all parameters, excluding antithrombin and D dimer, had good agreement between the two sampling techniques. The sensitivity and specificity of IVC sampling when compared with direct venepuncture was high. But there was poor agreement between direct venepuncture and IVC sampling for antithrombin and D-dimer measurement, which supports the use of venepuncture when these particular parameters are being measured. The study did have limitations, the researchers said. Each coagulation parameter was tested using only one assay and the timing of sample collection was not standardized in relation to when the catheter was flushed with heparinized saline. MeV

For more information: Mackenzie CJ, McGowan CM, Carslake HB, et al. Comparison of two blood sampling techniques for the determination of coagulation parameters in the horse: Jugular venipuncture and indwelling intravenous catheter. Equine Vet J. 2017 (Epub Nov. 2).

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Gilardi, UC Davis

Bats Are a Major Reservoir of Coronaviruses Worldwide Bats harbor a large diversity of coronaviruses (CoV), which cause diseases in humans and animals, including the newly discovered enteric diseases in horses. Researchers in the USAID-funded PREDICT proA researcher examines a Pipistrellus ject at the Center for Infechesperidus, or Dusky Pipistrelle bat, collected tion and Immunity (CII) at in Uganda. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, and the University of California Davis One Health Institute in the School of Veterinary Medicine, sampled and tested 19,192 bats, rodents, non-human primates and humans in 20 counties. More than 98% of the animals harboring the 100 different CoVs they found were bats, representing 282 bat species. Extrapolating to all 1,200 bat species, they estimate a total of 3,204 CoV are carried by bats worldwide. They also found that CoV diversity correlated with bat diversity with high numbers of CoVs concen10

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trated in areas where there are the most bat species, suggesting CoVs coevolved with or adapted to preferred families of bats. “This study fills in a huge gap in what we know about the diversity of coronaviruses in animal hosts,” explained Simon Anthony, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology in CII. The researchers used consensus PCR, a cost-effective technique that targets a small section of the viral genome, sufficient to locate the position of each virus in the family tree of all CoVs, which is a more powerful genome-wide sequencing to take a detailed look at viruses that could be more virulent. Preliminary evidence shows that CoVs in bats in Latin America were less likely than CoVs in Africa and Asia to “jump” outside of their genus. They cautioned that their findings not be interpreted as a call to cull bats because they play an important role in the ecosystem, and most of the CoVs they carry are harmless. MeV

For more information: Goldstein T, et al. Global patterns in coronavirus diversity. Virus Evolution, June 2017 DOI: 10.1093/ve/vex012

Administering furosemide four hours before racing appears to be more effective at attenuating exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) severity than when administered 24 hours prior to racing, according to a new study out of the University of California Davis. “While none of the treatments prevented EIPH, endoscopic scores and RBC [red blood cell] counts in BAL [bronchoalveolar lavage] fluid support the efficacy of furosemide in reducing the severity of EIPH,” the researchers wrote. Because the prevalence of EIPH in racehorses is high, most North American racing jurisdictions allow furosemide to be given up to four hours before a race, the researchers wrote, and there are anecdotal reports that giving it 24 hours before strenuous exercise may also be effective in decreasing EIPH severity. The researchers wanted to investigate the efficacy of the two furosemide dosing regimens in the reduction of EIPH severity in racehorses, as well as characterize electrolyte and blood parameters. Fifteen Thoroughbreds in training with an unknown EIPH history were recruited into the three-way crossover study and randomly assigned to one of the three following treatment protocols, which were to be administered prior to a mock five-furlong race: 1. 5 mL of 0.9% NaCl IV four hours prior to racing, 2. 250 mg of furosemide IV four hours prior to racing or 3. 250 mg furosemide IV 24 hours prior to racing. Each group received all treatment protocols with a two-week minimum wash-out period between them. One hour after racing, horses underwent airway endos-

Courtesy of The Equine Veterinary Journal

Furosemide Effective in Attenuating EIPH Before Exercise

copy and were assigned an EIPH grade (0–4) by a clinician blinded to the treatment protocol. Video footage of the endoscopic examinations were later viewed and graded by three more clinicians. A blind BAL was performed on each horse immediately after endoscopic examination. EIPH grades were significantly lower in the four-hour furosemide group compared with the 24-hour furosemide group (P=0.03). BAL RBC counts were significantly higher in the saline-treated group when compared with the four-hour furosemide group (P=0.01). There were no significant difference between RBC counts of the saline and 24-hour furosemide groups, nor between the four-hour furosemide and 24hour furosemide treatment groups (P=0.5). The researchers cited two limitations to the study. The sample size was small and there was a large rage of running times for the five-furlong work. MeV

For more information: Knych HK, Wilson WD, Vale A, et al. Effectiveness of furosemide in attenuating exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in horses when administered at 4- and 24-h prior to high-speed training. Equine Vet J. 2017 Nov. 3 (Epub ahead of print).

Zoetis Announces Recipient of Equine Charity Sweepstakes Donation The American Standardbred Adoption Program (ASAP), was named grand-prize winner in the Zoetis Equine Charity Sweepstakes during the AAEP 63rd Annual Convention. The equine charity in De Soto, Wis., received a $5,000 donation from Zoetis on behalf of Taylor Rietveld, a third-year veterinary medical student at Purdue University. Mr. Rietveld nominated ASAP while attending the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Convention. Founded in 1994, the ASAP finds new beginnings for approximately 100 former Standardbred racehorses per year. The program matches horses with adoptive homes and provides horses with health and nutritional support until adoption. Once placed, the ASAP continues to track the horse’s health and wellbeing for the duration of its life. In addition, the ASAP works to expose and connect youth to horses by working with local schools and youth organizations, focusing on youths at risk and with disabilities. To the right, Taylor Kleba, Zoetis equine specialist in Wisconsin, presents Susan Wellman, the American Standardbred Adoption Program director, with the $5,000 donation from Zoetis. The equine charity was nominated by Taylor Rietveld. MeV | Issue 1/2018



A Nasty Toothache: Treating EOTRH By Andrea Shepley, RVT, and M. Kelleher, DVM, DACVS

Courtesy of Ms. Shepley

A 14-year-old Warmblood gelding was presented in the field for routine dental maintenance. The initial visit in the field found that the gelding was elusive when attempting to approach him in the stall, was head-shy and anxious. Upon initial oral examination it was found that the horse had halitosis with advanced stage periodontal disease of the incisor teeth involving redness, severe inflammation, bleeding and recession of the gingiva, fistulous tracts, tooth mobility, as well as rostral displacement of the teeth in relation to the incisive and mandibular bones. The horse was observed eating and was found to be quidding hay and dropping a beet pulp/hay pellet ration from his mouth. They observed excessive salivation and discomfort. There was also an audible ‘clicking’ sound during the power stroke of the mastication cycle, which was evidence of possible cheek tooth mobility. Video footage of his masticatory behavior was recorded. The gelding had a body condition score of 6 and his temperature, pulse and respiration were within normal limits. The horse was sedated and a full oral exam performed. A dental speculum was not used due to the condition of the incisor teeth and the suspicion of incisive and mandibular bone infection. It was noted on exam that the incisors were not in occlusion and the cheek teeth were in full occlusion at resting position. The 307, 406 and 407 premolars were slight-


ly mobile with redness and recession of the gingiva. The 306 lacked any periodontal ligament attachment and this premolar was removed by hand. Numerous cheek teeth malocclusions were present including hyper-eruption of the 106/107, 206/207 (moderate ramps), and 311/411 (moderate ramps with severe hooks) as well as a moderate bilateral wave. Radiographs of all dental arcades were obtained on a follow-up examination, which revealed resorptive lesions, an abnormal increase in the size of the periodontal space and the apical blunting of most incisors. Hypercementosis was evident on the central upper incisors only. The affected premolars showed the blunting of the roots as well as an abnormal increase in the periodontal spaces. The horse was diagnosed with equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis (EOTRH).


A full complete blood count and chemistry panel were run to ensure there were no other underlying health issues. The horse was prescribed sulfamethoxazole (SMZ) antibiotics twice a day to start three days before surgery. The gelding was admitted to the clinic for routine dental maintenance and extraction of all incisor teeth, canine teeth and the 307, 406 and 407 premolars. This procedure was performed over three days. A routine dental float and equilibration was performed on Day 1 to ensure that the horse could masticate comfortably post surgery and to allow the cheek teeth to wear evenly thereby aiding in the prevention of the further develop-


FIG 1. The horse had halitosis with advanced stage periodontal disease of the incisor teeth involving redness, severe inflammation, bleeding and recession of the gingiva, fistulous tracts, tooth mobility, as well as rostral displacement of the teeth in relation to the incisive and mandibular bones. FIG 2. Radiographs revealed resorptive lesions, an abnormal increase in the size of the periodontal space and the apical blunting of most incisors. Hypercementosis was evident on the central upper incisors only and the affected premolars showed the blunting of the roots and abnormal periodontal spaces.


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EOTRH: A Rising Problem The frequency of the detection of equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis (EOTRH) in horses has been on the rise over the past decade. EOTRH is a condition known to commonly affect the incisor and canine teeth, as well as their periodontal tissues. Although it can also affect the premolars and molars, these cases are less prevalent. Clinical signs involve varying degrees of gingivitis, gingival recession, fistulous tracts, periodontal pockets, loosening of the teeth, a bulbous appearance to the gingiva and the production of tartar. Resorptive lesions can be seen on radiographs as regions of lucency within the body of the tooth. Radiographs also show hypercementosis, which is defined as the increase in deposition of dental cementum, which involve the roots and reserve crowns of teeth. There is no clearly defined etiology, but plenty of theories, including necrosis caused by ischemia, the result of periodontal disease with bacterial infection, genetics, mechanical stress of the periodontal ligaments, and a possible metabolic relation. In addition, two common strains of bacteria have been found after culturing affected tissues and those are anaerobic, gram-negative Treponema and Tannerella. This disease is painful; in its early stages it causes horses to not want to use their incisors to break off foods such as carrots or used to tear up grass while grazing. They might become head-shy to avoid human contact around the oral region and tend to be difficult to handle during dental maintenance procedures. In more advanced cases it will further alter a horse’s masticatory behavior by causing excessive salivation and the quidding of feed, holding their tongue between their incisors to relieve contact pressure, and excessive licking of the lips. ment of periodontal disease. This was performed using special padded dental plates that rest along the bars of the mouth, behind the incisors. Due to the horse’s anxiety and level of discomfort he was sedated for each surgery with an initial dose of bu-

torphanol IM and detomidine IV followed by a constant rate infusion drip of detomidine and ketamine to create a consistent and even level of sedation. Mandibular, mental foramen and infraorbital nerve blocks were performed for each of the respective extractions. Flunixin meglumine was administered daily for pain relief and due to the severity of infection, gentamicin and ceftiofur sodium (Naxcel, Zoetis) were administered in addition to the already daily SMZ prescription. During his stay at the clinic the horse was introduced to a diet of equine senior, soaked timothy pellets and softer stemmed alfalfa hay. Upon discharge from the clinic, the horse remained on a tapered dose of flunixin meglumine for one week and SMZ antibiotics for two weeks. The mouth was flushed with dilute chlorhexidine solution twice daily for one week and only hand walking and turn-outs recommended for two weeks. It was advised that the horse return to its diet of timothy hay and soaked beet pulp with timothy pellets. It was also recommended that the horse be revisited in three months for dental maintenance of the cheek teeth and to evaluate the balance and wear of the cheek teeth arcades, then remain on a six-month maintenance schedule thereafter until the cheek teeth malocclusions reach a manageable state. The horse in this case study, although diagnosed with advanced EOTRH and faced with extensive extractions, recovered extremely well post surgery. On examination one week post surgery the incisive tissue was healing well with the development of healthy granulation tissue and there were no signs of active infection. The gelding was observed to be masticating normally and exhibited a more relaxed demeanor. The owner commented that within a few days of returning home, the gelding started to approach her when she entered his stall and had become generally more engaged and less anxious. MeV

About the authors

Andrea Shepley, BA, RVT, IAED/C, San Dieguito Equine Group, San Marcos, Calif., has completed studies in dental prophylaxis and equilibration at the Academy of Equine Dentistry in Idaho and returns every two years to remain current. She is also certified in equine dentistry through the International Association of Equine Dentistry. M. Kelleher, DVM, DACVS, is clinical assistant professor of sports medicine at Virginia Tech Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Leesburg, Va.

For more information: Klugh DO. Principles of Equine Dentistry. Manson Veterinary Press. London, UK 2010. Moore NT, Schroeder W, Staszyk C. Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis affecting all cheek teeth in two horses: Clinical and histopathological findings. Equine Vet Educ. 2016;28:123–130. doi:10.1111/eve.12387 Staszyk C, Bienert A, Kreutzer R, et al. (2008) Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis. Vet J. 2008;178(3):372-379 14

Issue 1/2018 |


An international team of researchers has discovered a previously unrecognized genus of extinct horses that roamed North America during the last ice age. The new findings are based on an analysis of ancient DNA from fossils of the enigmatic “New World stilt-legged horse” excavated from sites such as Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming, Gypsum Cave in Nevada, and the Klondike goldfields of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Prior to this study, these thin-limbed, lightly built horses were thought to be related to the Asiatic wild ass or onager, or simply a separate species within the genus Equus, which includes today’s horses, asses and zebras. The new results, however, reveal that these horses were not closely related to any living population of horses. Now named Haringtonhippus francisci, this extinct species of North American horse appears to have diverged from the main trunk of the family tree leading to Equus some 4 million to 6 million years ago. “The horse family, thanks to its rich and deep fossil record, has been a model system for understanding and teaching evolution. Now ancient DNA has rewritten the evolutionary history of this iconic group,” said first author Peter Heintzman, PhD, a postdoctorial researcher, who led the study as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California Santa Cruz. “The evolutionary distance between the extinct stilt-legged horses and all living horses took us by surprise, but it presented us with an exciting opportunity to name a new genus of horse,” said senior author Beth Shapiro, MS, DPhil, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz. The new findings show that H. francisci was a widespread and successful species throughout much of North America, living alongside populations of Equus but not interbreeding with them. In Canada’s North, Haringtonhippus survived until roughly 17,000 years ago, more than 19,000 years later than previously known from this region. At the end of the last ice age, both horse groups became extinct in North America, along with other large animals like woolly mammoths and sabertoothed cats. Although Equus survived in Eurasia after the last ice age—eventually leading to domestic

Photos by Dr. Eric Scott

A Horse is a Horse, Unless It’s Not

Two skulls of the new genus Haringtonhippus from Nevada (upper) and Texas (lower).

horses—the stilt-legged Haringtonhippus was an evolutionary dead end. Coauthor Eric Scott, PhD, a paleontologist at California State University San Bernardino, said that morphologically, the fossils of Haringtonhippus are not all that different from those of Equus. “But the DNA tells a fascinatingly different story altogether,” he said. “That’s what is so impressive about these findings. It took getting down to the molecular level to discern this new genus.” The team named the new horse after Richard Harington, MSc, PhD, emeritus curator of Quaternary Paleontology at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Dr. Harington, who was not involved in the study, spent his career studying the ice age fossils of Canada’s North and first described the stiltlegged horses in the early 1970s. “I had been curious for many years concerning the identity of two horse metatarsal bones I collected, one from Klondike, Yukon, and the other from Lost Chicken Creek, Alaska. They looked like those of modern Asiatic kiangs, but thanks to the research of my esteemed colleagues, they are now known to belong to a new genus,” said Dr. Harington. MeV

For more information: Heintzman Peter D, Zazula GD, MacPhee RDE, et al. A new genus of horse from Pleistocene North America. eLife, 2017; 6 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.29944 | Issue 1/2018


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