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The Modern

Equine Veterinarian Practice Defensive Horsemanship Robert Miller tells you how Will new rules affect mosquito control? Compounding pergolide? Rules have changed Technician Update: Biosecurity 1

June 2012 |

June 2012

Vol1 No1

Table of Contents

Cover story

16 Practice Defensive Horsemanship: Dr. Robert Miller tells you how Practicing defensive horsemanship can make treatment easier and safer — for both of you. Equine Welfare

Stop soring ......................................................................................................12 Several veterinary groups have banned together to put an end to soring, the abusive act of intentionally inflicting pain on gaited horses.

New York moves to improve safety of horseracing in the state..........................................................................13 The New York State Racing and Wagering Board recently moved to increase the safety and integrity of horse racing in New York State.

Where did horses come from?.................................................................................................15 New research indicates that domestic horses originated in the modern-day Ukraine, southwestern Russia and western Kazakhstan.


Topical steroids can have systemic effects.........................................................................19 Topical glucocorticoids, which are frequently used to treat dermatologic inflammation, can have systemic effects.

Technician Update

Engineer biosecurity protocols in your hospital..............................................................20 Biosecurity is an important aspect of every veterinary hospital that often falls to the veterinary technician to help manage.

news notes

10 FDA warning: No more bulk compounding of pergolide

The Feed Bag

23 Not all hays are alike – some pack a whopping number of calories

11 Botulism causes 2 dozen deaths in Maine LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The content in the digital content is for general informational purposes only. PercyBo Publishing 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 reserves the right to alter or correct any content without any obligations. Further, 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 Publishing. The content is for veterinary professionals. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


June 2012 |


Life causes delay in launching The Modern Equine Veterinarian As we were working on this first issue of The Modern Equine Veterinarian, I had lunch with Dan Kramer, who used to be with Pfizer equine and is now a managing partner with Veterinary-Health Marketing in New Jersey, When I told him I was launching The Modern Equine Veterinarian, a new digital magazine for equine veterinarians and veterinary technicians, he asked me, “Why equine medicine?” It was a good question. There are many veterinary publications out there — really good ones. The best ones are general veterinary magazines that include equine medicine, but it is not their focus. Rather, their coverage is more concerned about small animal veterinarians, who primarily treat dogs and cats — not about equine veterinarians and specialists who deal only with horses. Most publications that cater toward equine medicine are either peer-reviewed journals (who has time to read them cover-to-cover) or publications whose audience are horse owners or cover a specific industry, like racing. In contrast, The Modern Equine Veterinarian is a news magazine that strictly covers equine medicine for veterinarians. It is a quick read that you can digest in 20 minutes. We will summarize what the experts are saying, new studies that are being published, new products that have been approved, and other breaking news of interest to you. And we will talk in your tongue — no cutesy stories; no lay terms. Just peer-to-peer communication. For instance, this issue has an article featuring Dr. Robert Miller, who has more horse sense than anyone I know. He gives practical advice for veterinarians so they do not let a skittish horse derail their careers. In his own remarkable career, Miller says, he was hospitalized only once (very early in his career), and he learned the hard way that defensive horsemanship is the best practice. There is also a warning from the FDA. Now that there is labeled medication for equine Cushing’s disease, the agency will be on the lookout for compounding pharmacies that produce the product in bulk. Labeled versus compounded is a thorny issue. No one wants to pay more for drugs, but is it not in the best of interest of veterinarians to support companies that spend time and money on research to make sure products are safe and effective in horses? I don’t own horses and I am not a veterinarian, but I have been writing about equine medicine for The Horse and Hoofbeats (the US Trotting Association magazine) since my lay-off in 2009. I also don’t have an MD, but I was a medical journalist who provided information to physicians and human medicine specialists, before I became executive editor of Veterinary Forum. What I bring to the table is curiosity and awe. I am fascinated by horses. They are magnificent, huge beasts; strong, powerful and beautiful. As Shakespeare said, “His neigh is like the


June 2012 |

bidding of a monarch, and his countenance enforces homage.” And yet, as I learn about all the health issues that horses can face, I realize these magnificent beings are trapped in bodies that seem as frail as ours are. One minute, I’ll Have Another is headed to glory as one of only 12 Triple Crown winners, and the next moment he is put out to stud. I’ll Have Another only had a tendon injury, but the owner would rather gamble on stud fees than take the chance that the horse could injure himself and lose at Belmont. Life is a lot like that. One minute everything is going along. We have careers, houses, cars, kids, dogs, cats and horses. Everyone is healthy and happy. And the next, life is putting us down. I took a hit while I was putting together this first issue. The plan was to post the first issue in May, but life took the wind right out of me. My father, who was 85, died the day before the anniversary of my mother’s death. We were very close, and despite his age, his death was a surprise. He had been independent, living on his own, taking care of his house and little dog, Buddy, and driving his brand new Cadillac. We were out to dinner one Thursday evening, making plans to get together for a neighbor’s party on Saturday, and he had a stroke Friday morning. He died a week later. I am the executrix of this working man’s estate. In some ways, dismantling his life is harder than letting him go. So, please forgive me for falling off the face of the earth. I have been here, but I have been stuck at the starting gate. I hope you enjoy reading The Modern Equine Veterinarian. Our goal is to post an issue once a month, but there is no big publishing company supporting this, so be patient. Our mantra is “paying gigs first.” It has to be — it is what pays for this labor of love. Eventually, we hope to publish an e-Newsletter and a magazine for equine technicians. If our website is not already launched, it will be within a few days, and of course, you can find us on Facebook. We are dedicated to the field of veterinary medicine and to addressing the need for information and education. We will do this by covering important presentations at major veterinary meetings, interviewing key opinion leaders and reporting on significant scientific research. I hope to see you at AVMA in San Diego. I need your support. If you like what you read, please tell your colleagues and go to our website and sign up, We won’t bother you with emails, I promise, but we will let you know when we post a new issue, and we will send you the e-newsletter once we’re up and running full throttle. Please let me know how we’re doing. We can only publish this magazine if we have your support.

The Modern Equine Veterinarian is a labor of love. There is no big publishing company behind it.

Marie Rosenthal, MS Editor The Modern Equine Veterinarian | June 2012


News notes

Horses serve as life coaches in WU program Horses in Washington State University’s PATH to Success program are helping to increase social competence in children … and their parents. PATH to Success is an equine-assisted learning program directed at healthy youth development. The program is the brainchild of Phyllis Erdman, PhD, an expert in family counseling and associate dean of the WSU College of Education, and Sue Jacobson, PATH Intl. Certified instructor and equine specialist in mental health and learning, who coordinates the College of Veterinary Medicine’s People-Pet Partnership. They designed PATH to Success to test their idea that

the program’s effects on both social interactions and stress levels among fifth- through eighth-grade children. The principal investigator on the study is WSU’s Patricia Pendry, PhD, assistant professor of human development, who presented preliminary findings at the Academic Showcase. Pendry and graduate student, Stephanie Roeter, gathered information on 64 children who participated in PATH to Success in fall 2010, as well as on children on a waiting list for the program. They compared how each group was faring at the beginning and the end of the 11-week session. “Parents reported significantly more social competence — self-awareness, social awareness, goal-directed behavior and the like — in kids who had completed the program,” said Pendry. Children’s social skills improved regardless of their gender, age, level of social competence when they were referred, or whether school counselors made the referral. PATH to Success, which started as a pilot program in 2008, is an extension of WSU’s Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship program (PATH) for people with disabilities.

Future directions

Parents reported significantly more social competence — self-awareness, social awareness, goal-directed behavior and the like — in kids who had completed

the program.

Patricia Pendry, PhD

working with horses would increase children’s social competence in a variety of ways, including by helping them communicate better. “It is harder to communicate with horses because they can’t understand you, so you have to rely on clear messages, good listening and body language,” Erdman said. “You also have to be assertive with horses, so they will acknowledge you as their leader, but not aggressive because that would scare them.” PATH to Success is the focus of a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to examine


June 2012 |

PATH to Success: A Shared Journey will be offered again this summer with parent/child teams focusing on more targeted skills, such as how to offer encouragement and make choices. Family members will lead the horses through obstacle courses, among other activities. “We’ll continue our program every spring and fall semester, working with area schools to get information to prospective children and parents,” Erdman said. “We hope to add a component that will focus on children with special needs. For example, we’re hoping we can determine what it is about the relationship with a horse that apparently benefits children on the autistic spectrum.” Jacobson said that she, Erdman and Pendry are pleased that the program builds on WSU’s reputation as the home of the human-animal bond, defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.” Study of the human-animal bond was pioneered by Leo Bustad, founder of the People-Pet Partnership. 

Harrison College veterinary assisting program receives accreditation through NAVTA Indianapolis, IN — The Veterinary Assisting program of Harrison College School of Veterinary Technology has received accreditation through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Harrison College’s Veterinary Assisting program is

Pfizer awards $827,500 in veterinary scholarships MADISON, N.J. — Pfizer Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) announced the recipients of this year’s student scholarship program. Pfizer awarded $2,500 each to 331 second- and third-year veterinary students at accredited universities throughout the United States and the Caribbean, for a total of $827,500. Students were chosen based on several criteria, including academic excellence, professional interests, financial need, diversity, leadership and potential for contribution to the veterinary profession. For a list of scholarship recipients, visit In response to the rising debt load and to help ensure there are enough qualified veterinarians in the years ahead, Pfizer has increased funding for the scholarship program by 49% since its inaugural year in 2010.

designed to prepare students to enter into a career as a veterinary assistant, a part of the veterinary team whose duties include basic animal husbandry, animal restraint, preparation of laboratory samples, oral and topical medicine administration, sterilization of surgical and laboratory equipment, sanitization of animal areas, and additional basic veterinary practices. Students are required to complete 36 credit hours to receive program certification. The curriculum covers all topics that an assistant would need in a veterinary facility, from behavior and restraint techniques to medical ethics and office assisting. Harrison College started its Veterinary Assisting program in April 2011, and applied for the NAVTA accreditation in July. The accreditation allows graduates to take a national certification exam to become approved veterinary assistants. Harrison College is one of only six programs nationally that have received NAVTA accredi tation.

For more information: program_detail/id/1060/mid/1083/Default.aspx

Pfizer named Dr. Christine Jenkins Group Director of U.S. Veterinary Medical Services. Jenkins will lead the U.S. group responsible for customer support and information on products, as well as, adverse event reporting and pharmacovigilance. She will be responsible for the company’s academic affairs team that supports strategic partnerships with U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine and other key industry stakeholders. Jenkins also will direct the U.S. philanthropy and corporate social responsibility strategy, which supports key outreach efforts including scholarship and internship programs. Jenkins has more than 15 years’ experience in the animal health industry. 

By Dr. Robert M. Miller

In other Pfizer news:

Dr. Miller’s cartoons and videos are available for sale at | June 2012


News notes

Clean water rules might change the game of mosquito control By Marie Rosenthal, MS Nearly 1,000 mosquito and vector control experts convened in Texas earlier this year because they were concerned that a recent court order changing the jurisdiction of mosquito control practices will have a “chilling effect on vector control operations nationwide.” A court order recently mandated that mosquito control practices be brought under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA), in addition to the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) historically governing these applications. Both acts are

Source the Public Health Image Library. Mosquito image by James Gathany


overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. The experts are backing a piece of Legislation, HR 872, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011,” which they say maintains the historic primacy of FIFRA jurisdiction and eliminates the duplicative regulation by CWA. They are concerned that the new requirements for vector control will increase costs that will strain state, county and municipal budgets, and will not result in cleaner water. “Significant amounts of state and local funds and manpower are being diverted

June 2012 |

from directly protecting public health to CWA permitting activities that do not provide any additional environmental or human protection already afforded by FIFRA,” said a spokesperson for the American Mosquito Control Association. The Ninth Circuit court decision reversed a lower court ruling and found that the Talent Irrigation District discharged a pollutant into navigable waters, violating the CWA. The court also held that a label approved under the FIFRA did not eliminate the need for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit when an herbicide is applied to navigable waters. Therefore, TID’s application of Magnacide H without a permit violated the CWA. Magnacide H is used to control submerged and floating weeds and algae and is not used for mosquito control. “Ironically, the pollution incident leading to the court ruling that CWA-based regulation should also be imposed did not involve mosquito control and was a blatant violation of FIFRA, subject to substantial penalties. It wouldn’t have been prevented by the CWA,” said Joe Conlon, technical advisor to the mosquito control group. “Passage of H.R. 872 will restore the reasonable and practicable regulatory roles played by both FIFRA and the CWA, making both statutes conform to the original intent of Congress that has served successfully in protecting both our citizens and the environment for over 40 years.” HR 872 was passed in the House by a two-thirds bipartisan vote and has a significant majority of the Senate poised to support its passage if brought to a floor vote. It is an issue that needs to be resolved quickly, because experts expect a bad mosquito season because of the early warm weather. “Mosquito breeding season typically begins with the onset of warmer temperatures,” said Jonathan Cohen, mosquito control expert and president of Summit Responsible Solutions (http://www., which makes Mosquito Dunks biological mosquito control product. “Because of this year’s early spring, mosquito populations will be increasing sooner and faster. This summer could become the worst mosquito sum-

mer ever in the United States and Canada.” Mosquitoes transmit equine diseases, such as West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as canine and feline heartworm disease. “Animal health is a top industry priority, and I encourage horse owners to speak to their veterinarians about protecting their animals against encephalitic diseases like West Nile Virus,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig. In addition, Greig recommended eliminating mosquito-breeding sites to control mosquitoes. Important steps to be taken include: • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, buckets, ceramic pots or other unwanted water-holding containers on the property. • Pay special attention to discarded tires, which are mosquito breeding sites. • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors. Containers with drainage holes located only on the sides collect enough water to act as mosquito breeding sites. • Clean clogged roof gutters every year. Millions of mosquitoes can breed in roof gutters each season. • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use. • Empty and refill outdoor water troughs, buckets and birdbaths every few days so water does not stagnate. • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools when not in use. Mosquitoes may breed in the water that collects on pool covers. • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property, especially near manure storage areas. Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days. • Reduce the number of birds in and around the stable. Eliminate roosting areas in the rafters of the stable. Certain species of wild birds are the main reservoir for WNV. • Check the property for dead birds, especially crows. Any suspicious birds should be reported online to the environmental protection agency in your state. Use gloves to handle dead birds and place the birds in plastic bags. If not submitting the bird for testing, the bagged bird can be placed in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after discarding the dead bird. Cohen said he has seen an increase in early sales of mosquito control products. His product, Mosquito Dunks, is an organic and biological mosquito control

product. The active ingredient is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae but is harmless to other living things. When placed in ponds, ditches, rain gutters, birdbaths and any area where water collects and mosquitoes can lay eggs, Mosquito Dunks will kill mosquito larvae for up to 30 days. Mosquito Dunks kill mosquito larvae before they become flying, biting adults. “It’s always more effective to control mosquito populations by killing the larvae,” said Cohen.

Remember the 3 D’s to Mosquito Prevention: DUMP and DRAIN: Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed DUSK and DAWN: Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active DEFEND: Prevent mosquito bites by wearing approved insect repellents To reduce mosquito-breeding areas, veterinarians should recommend vigilance in eliminating places where water can collect and stand on the farm. “Mosquitoes can breed in a coffee cup of standing water in less than a week,” says Cohen. People are also at risk for disease, so veterinarians should protect themselves as well as the horses. To reduce the chances of getting mosquito bites, limit outdoor activities during the times of day when mosquitoes are most active — an hour before and after dawn and an hour before and after dusk. Clothing is an excellent barrier between a person and a hungry mosquito. Wear clothing that will protect as much of the body as possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during the evening hours. Topical preparations containing mosquito repellents are available for horses. Read the product label  before using. | June 2012


News notes

FDA warns against bulk compounding of pergolide Now that there is an FDA-labeled treatment for equine Cushing’s disease, the agency recently warned veterinarians and compound pharmacies that it will enforce the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requirements regarding new animal drugs to those containing pergolide that are compounded from bulk active ingredients. Late last year, the agency approved a new animal drug application (NADA) for Prascend (pergolide mesylate, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica) to control the

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), also known as Equine Cushing’s disease. Notice the rough hair coat.

clinical signs associated with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), also known as Equine Cushing’s disease. Prascend is the first and only FDA-approved product for the management of PPID in horses. Pergolide mesylate is a dopamine agonist that is believed to work by stimulating dopamine receptors

in horses with PPID. It has been shown to decrease the plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), and other pro-opiomelanocortin peptides. Equine Cushing’s disease usually affects horses in their mid-to later years of life. Signs of the equine disease include a coat of long curly hair that does not shed properly, excessive water-drinking and urination, abnormal fat distribution, muscle loss, excessive sweating, general malaise, chronic laminitis, and a compromised immune system. The FDA approved the product based on safety and efficacy data after a 6-month-field study of 122 horses. Success was measured by improvements in both endocrinology testing (ACTH test) and clinical signs of PPID. Based on endocrine testing and investigators’ clinical assessment scores, 86 (76.1%) of the 113 evaluable cases were treatment successes. It is estimated that 1:7 horses older than 15 has PPID and horses as young as 7 years of age have been diagnosed with the disease. In addition, up to 70% of clinical laminitis cases also may be affected with underlying PPID. The most common clinical signs of advanced-stage PPID that occur in horses are hirsutism (hypertrichosis), abnormal sweating, weight loss, muscle wasting, abnormal fat distribution, lethargy, laminitis, polyuria/polydipsia and chronic/recurrent infections. “Prascend offers a safe and efficacious treatment option to veterinarians and horse owners that can help reduce the clinical signs of the disease and effectively improve the quality of life of infected horses,” said John Tuttle, DVM, BIVI equine technical services veterinarian. In the past, veterinarians prescribed compounded pergolide products to treat equine Cushing’s Disease under the “extra label” use provisions of the federal cosmetic act. However, the human pergolide products were removed from the market because of concerns  about cardiac toxicities.

For more information: PRASCEND® (pergolide mesylate) [Freedom of Information Summary]. St. Joseph, MO: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.; 2011. McGowan TW, Hodgson DR, McGowan CM. The prevalence of equine Cushing’s syndrome in aged horses. In: Proceedings from the 25th American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum; June 6–9, 2007; Seattle, WA. Abstract 603. Schott HC. Pars pituitary intermedia dysfunction: challenges of diagnosis and treatment. In: Proceedings from the 52nd American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention; December 2–6, 2006; San Antonio, TX. Donaldson MT. Evaluation of suspected pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in horses with laminitis. JAVMA. 2004;224(7):1123–1127. 10

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Botulism causes 2 dozen deaths in Maine Two dozen horses have died in Gorham, Maine, after a rare botulism outbreak occurred recently on one farm. The state veterinarian Donald E. Hoenig, VMD, said he probably will not know exactly what caused the outbreak because he was unable to obtain suitable samples for testing. However, he does have suspects, most notably the hay or haylage fed to the animals. “We were not able to obtain any suitable samples for testing because too much time had elapsed since the cases began so we have not and will not submit any samples to be tested,” he told The Modern Equine Veterinarian. “But I’m now inclined to include bad hay in my list of suspect sources.”

23 dead

• Young foals can be exposed after the bacterium grows in the foal’s intestines (Shaker foals). Since clinical signs are similar to other causes of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, veterinarians must include rabies, viral encephalitis diseases and equine viral rhinopheumonitis among the diagnostic differentials. Although rare, the botulinum neurotoxin can be detected in the serum of affected animals or in suspect feed. The mouse neurotoxin assay is the gold standard for detecting and typing the toxin. However, it may take up to four days to complete the test. Although a positive test confirms the presence of the toxin, a negative test does not mean the animal was not exposed.


The outbreak killed 23 Botulism is difficult to horses in about a twotreat. There are antitoxins week period. Other horses available, usually from a were made sick, but reteaching hospital, but they covered and at least 40 are expensive. Other plasanimals never became ma products (Veterinary sick. No other farm was afDynamics) contain type B fected. antitoxin. The antitoxins are Botulism occurs when toxmost beneficial if used when ins produced by Clostridium signs first occur. With supportClostridium botulinum botulinum block the connection ive care, horses can recover but between the nerves and the muscles, most will die despite treatment. resulting in signs from weakness to paralyHorses can be vaccinated with an inacsis. Horses typically suffer vision problems, difficulty tivated toxoid. Neogen Biologics, Michigan, USA, swallowing and progressive weakness. Death results manufactures Bot Tox-B. from respiratory or cardiac paralysis, according to the State inspectors believe the neurotoxin responMerck Veterinary Manual. sible for the outbreak developed in bales of silage, C. botulinum is a spore-forming, anaerobic bactewhich was packaged in plastic while the grass was rium commonly found in soil and decaying materistill moist, unlike hay, which is dried. als, such as animal carcasses, and sometimes plants. Because botulism is so rare, most horses in Maine Improperly prepared hay and haylage can be conare not vaccinated against it, but Hoenig recomtaminated with the bacterium. High moisture levels, mends against feeding silage to unvaccinated horses. anaerobic conditions and a pH above 4.5 in some State officials are working with the farm ownhaylage make it ideal for growing C. botulinum, ers to keep the carcasses of the animals, buried 8 according to the website of the Ontario Minister of feet deep on the farm, from contaminating the water Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Canada (see table. “We required the owners to make changes to the facts/info_botulism.htm.) burial site to protect the water table,” he said.  Clinical signs can occur within several hours or up to 10 days after ingesting contaminated feed. For more information: Horses can get botulism in any of three ways: • Ingestion of contaminated feed • Contaminated wounds | June 2012


equine welfare

Veterinary groups join together to stop soring to bring attention to this inSeveral veterinary groups humane practice and end it. have banned together to put “It’s time for this egrean end to soring. gious form of animal cruSoring, illegal for more elty to end,” said René than 40 years, is the abuCarlson, DVM, AVMA sive act of intentionally president. inflicting pain on gaited Although USDA inspechorses by using chemical tors try to detect evidence irritants, wedging broken of soring before horses are glass in between a horse’s allowed to compete, they shoe pads and sole, or cannot attend every show. overly tightening metal “Unfortunately, due to hoof bands. The extreme budget constraints, USDA pain caused by these abusinspectors are only able to es forces the horse to lift its attend a small number of legs faster and higher, perthe shows held every year. haps increasing its chance It will require a team effort of winning in show rings Thermographic image showing excessive warmth (seen as red and orange to put an end to the inhuacross the country. colors), which may be caused by inflammation from soring. The pattern seen is mane practice of soring The American Veteri- consistent with soring using a chemical agent. Courtesy of USDA horses, so America’s vetnary Medical Association erinarians stand in support (AVMA), the American of government regulators and the walking horse inAssociation of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and dustry in their horse protection efforts,” said Carlthe Department of Agriculture (USDA) are hoping son. In 2011, the USDA documented 587 violations For more information, visit of the Horse Protection Act while attending only 62 of the 650 or so gaited horse events held that year. The USDA cited participants in the 2011 National Trainers’ Show with 49 violations of the Horse Protection Act — the third highest number of violations for a single USDA-inspected show that year. Prosecution of violators has met strong political opposition, challenging USDA’s efforts at enforcement and creating an environment where recidivism is the norm. “For that reason, America’s veterinarians are standing right beside USDA inspectors in urging the strengthening of the Horse Protection Act. Everyone -- inspectors, judges, trainers, riders and even spectators at these shows must take responsibility for ending soring. A zero-tolerance policy being promoted by these shows would set a significant tenor for the entire show season,” Carlson added. To assist in the return of the walking horse gait back to its natural beauty, the AVMA, AAEP and USDA have created an education video to provide Watch the video on soring, which includes interviews with Elizabeth Graves, a an overview of the issue of soring and highlight the licensed Tennessee Walking Horse judge and gaited horse trainer and Nat Messer,  telltale signs of these abusive tactics. DVM, a member of both the AVMA’s and the AAEP’s Animal Welfare Committees. 12

June 2012 |

NYS Racing & Wagering Board moves to improve safety, integrity of horseracing The New York State Racing and Wagering Board recently moved to increase the safety and integrity of horse racing in New York State. The board issued an emergency rule that significantly reduces the incentive of owners and trainers to enter horses in claiming races where they could be outperformed to the point of serious injury or death to the horse or jockey. The rule requires a proportional economic relationship between the purse offered in a claiming race and the value of a claiming horse. Specifically, it requires that the minimum price of a horse entered into a claiming race be at least half the value of the purse of the race. “There are serious and valid concerns about the safety of racehorses and their riders. The emergency rule we are enacting creates a more equal and safer playing field in Thoroughbred racing in our state, eliminating the enticement for owners and trainers to put underperforming horses in races where they are pushed beyond their physical capacity,” said Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini. A claiming horse is offered for sale at a designated price within the range of the claiming race in which they are entered. Potential buyers of a horse in a claiming race must enter their claim before the race begins. The previous claiming rule, which had a flat threshold of $1,200, did consider the increase of purses due to the proliferation of video lottery terminals (VLTs). VLTs opened at Aqueduct in 2011, leading to substantially increased purses at tracks operated by The New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA). The new rule applies to racing at NYRA and Finger Lakes. The emergency rule is based on a recommendation from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), institutes a sliding scale to accommodate the potential rise or fall of future claiming purses. Since November 2011, 22 Thoroughbred horses at Aqueduct, which were entered in claiming races, were injured and subsequently died. Their deaths prompted a comprehensive review of the circumstances and possible causes. The board is also considering changing its rules

regarding the use of furosemide (also known as Salix or Lasix) in horseracing and opened a public comment period from the horse racing industry on the widely used diuretic. Furosemide is used prophylactically to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) and to optimize race performance by weight loss. Its use for horses on race day is banned everywhere but in North America. The use and regulation of furosemide for racehorses is a complex and controversial issue, according to the board. It affects industry participants

“The emergency rule we are enacting creates a more equal and safer playing field in Thoroughbred racing in our state.” Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini

including owners and trainers, track operators, breeders and fans. As part of its consideration, the board wants industry and public input concerning the use and regulation of furosemide. Safety is a key issue of the board this year, according to Sabini. Earlier, it released two comprehensive and searchable databases to the public: a detailed list of every horse that has broken down, died, sustained a serious injury or been involved in an incident at a track in New York State since 2009; and a list of every fine and suspension issued by the board to licensees for nearly three decades. | June 2012


equine welfare

The two databases bring an unparalleled transparency to New York’s racing industry and regulation. “The public has every right to know exactly what is happening at race tracks in New York State,” Sabini said. “The wealth of information in these two databases leaves no stone unturned regarding incidents at tracks in New York and who is being held accountable for rule infractions by the Board. As the adage says, ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant,’ especially for the state’s horseracing industry.” The equine compilation consists of reporting data from Racing and Wagering Board employees at every Thoroughbred and Standardbred track in New York. People may search the database through a variety of parameters, including by horse, trainer, jockey/driver’s name, year or a specific date, individual track and breed. Significantly, the database includes racing, training and nonracing fatalities and incidents. Each individual result includes: • Horse’s name • Incident type (equine death, accident, fall of horse or rider, injury, stewards/vet list, etc.) • Racing type (Thoroughbred or harness)

• Location/Type (e.g. “Belmont Park (NYRA), Training Track; Training”) • Date • Trainer • Jockey/Driver • Weather • Brief description of incident (e.g. “Jockey fell while breezing on training track”) The rulings database has been enhanced and reformatted with improved search parameters. Individuals may search for fines, suspensions and other actions against licensees by name, year or date, track, ruling number and racing type. Both databases will be updated promptly as data submitted by field staff at each track are logged in by the board’s investigative staff. The Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database can be found at breaksrch/searchbreakdown.php. The Racing and Wagering Board Rulings Database can be found at searchrulings.php. Both databases are also available through the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s Web  site,

AVMA announces Fellows for 2012-2013 The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced that Drs. Tristan Colonius, Donald Hoenig and Kaylee Myhre were the 2012-2013 AVMA Fellows. The AVMA fellows work with congressional staff members and provide science-based expertise on veterinary- and public health-related issues to members of Congress. The one-year fellowship program offers veterinarians the opportunity to see first-hand how federal public policy is made. “The fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity for veterinarians in all stages of their career to come to Washington, DC, and help shape public policy that impacts veterinary medicine,” 14

June 2012 |

said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA governmental relations division director. “The fellows share their scientific knowledge with staffs in congressional offices and all branches of the federal government, and ultimately increase the visibility of veterinarians and veterinary medicine in the public policy arena.” The 2012-2013 Fellowship Selection Committee was chaired by AVMA Immediate Past President Larry Kornegay and included Kristi Henderson, assistant director, AVMA Scientific Activities Division; and former AVMA fellow Raymond Stock, professional service veterinarian, Boehringer Ingel heim Vetmedica.

Research reconciles competing theories about the origin of the domestic horse New research indicates that domestic horses originated in the modern-day Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan, mixing with local wild stocks as they spread throughout Europe and Asia. The research was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). For several decades scientists puzzled over the origin of domesticated horses. Based on archaeological evidence, it had long been thought that horse domes-

tication originated in the western part of the Eurasian Steppe (Ukraine, southwestern Russia and western Kazakhstan); however, a single origin in a geographically restricted area appeared at odds with the large number of female lineages in the domestic horse gene pool, commonly thought to reflect multiple domestication “events” across a wide geographic area. To solve the perplexing history of the domestic horse, scientists from the University of Cambridge used a genetic database of more than 300 horses sampled from across the Eurasian Steppe to run a number of different modeling scenarios. Their research shows that the extinct wild ancestor of domestic horses, Equus ferus, expanded out

of East Asia approximately 160,000 years ago. They were also able to demonstrate that E. ferus was domesticated in the western Eurasian Steppe, and that herds were repeatedly restocked with wild horses as they spread across Eurasia. “Our research clearly shows that the original founder population of domestic horses was established in the western Eurasian Steppe, an area where the earliest archaeological evidence for domesticated horses has been found. The spread of horse domestication differed from that of many other domestic animal species, in that spreading herds were augmented with local wild horses on an unprecedented scale. If these restocking events involved mainly wild mares, we can explain the large number of female lineages in the domestic horse gene pool without having to invoke multiple domestication origins,” explained Dr. Vera Warmuth, of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology. The researchers provide the first genetic evidence for a geographically restricted domestication origin in the Eurasian Steppe, as suggested by archaeology, and show that the tremendous female diversity is the result of later introductions of local wild mares into domestic herds, thus reconciling evidence that had previously given rise to conflicting scenarios. The research was funded by the BBSRC, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the  Leverhulme Trust.

For more information: | June 2012


cover story

Up close and personal Practicing defensive horsemanship can make treatment easier and safer — for both of you By Marie Rosenthal, MS There are only two safe places to work around a horse: very far away or up close and personal, said Robert M. Miller, DVM, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Horses, donkeys and mules should be handled frequently and early to desensitize them.


June 2012 |

“We should always work around horses so that when the unexpected happens, we are much less likely to be injured,” he warned, adding that in his long career, he was only hospitalized once because of a horse. The reason: he practices defensive horsemanship. “When I was two years out of vet school, I worked on a 20-yearold horse with colic. I checked his pulse, timed his heart rate and then I stepped to his flank and stuck the stethoscope on that painful belly — and in a millisecond I was flat on the ground. Fortunately, he got me in the middle of the thigh; had he got the knee, he probably would have shattered it,” Miller said. A horse kick ended the career of one colleague, he added, whose experience showed just how vulnerable veterinarians are. She was taking a temperature, standing right behind the horse but at arm’s length with the thermometer in one hand and the horse’s tail in another. The horse kicked her in the knee and shattered it. “If you are at arm’s length of the horse, you are also at leg’s length of the horse, the most dangerous distance we can work around horses is the length of our arm,” he explained. Horses are powerful animals, but they are not predators so they

are always on alert. Their flight response is so highly tuned that they immediately kick out and run if they become frightened. “Most injuries to people occur on the ground, not the saddle, and most are caused by ordinary gentle horses that react suddenly to fear,” Miller told The Modern Equine Veterinarian. “Everything veterinarians do to horses is either frightening or painful, or both. Worse, we are always in a hurry due to the stressful nature of equine practice. However, if we slow down, we can actually save time and minimize damage to ourselves, assistants, bystanders and costly equipment caused by frightened horses,” Miller said. Begin with the approach. Don’t walk right up to the animal, swinging your arms and carrying your tools. Humans are predators, and that approach tells the horse you are foe, not friend. Instead, approach the horse calmly, give it time to smell your hand and be reassured before you start poking and probing it. “We are scary. We smell dangerous. We act dangerous. The horse’s first defense is flight, and if it cannot flee, it will fight and that decision is made in a millisecond. No matter how young or athletic we are, if that horse wants to get

you, it will.” Many people stand right in front of or right behind a horse, working at arm’s length to avoid being kicked, but Miller tends to work from the side of the horse and prefers to get close to touch the animal with his body, which reassures the animal, rather than threatens it. “If you cannot work far away from a horse, you should work very close. The more intimate contact you have with the horse’s body, the better,” he said.

Three points of contact

Miller accomplishes as much as possible by standing at the horse’s side near its shoulder. In this position, he touches the animal in at least three places. His side touches the horse’s side, his legs touch the horse’s legs, and his arms and hands touch the animal to treat it. In addition, he presents his side, not his front, to the animal. “I want the horse to feel me and focus on me. It only sees me through the peripheral vision of one eye. It is concerned and wondering what I am doing. If we have body contact, it is reassuring to the horse. Tactile stimulus shows the animal that nothing is going on. It is not being attacked, so it worries less. If we work at arm’s distance, it continues to worry,” he said. By contacting the animal at three points, the veterinarian creates a triangle, which any engineer will confirm is a stable structure. The triangle gives the person some stability. No matter what the task, Miller said it is important to: • Be calm around the animal. • Try to touch the animal in three places (three points of contact.) • Desensitize the animal before treatment. • Never become complacent when working with horses. Miller added that he does not like to tie the horse to a post or

fence. Instead, he prefers to have someone hold the lead rope while he works on the animal. The technician or someone else who is holding the horse and assisting the veterinarian or farrier should be on the same side as the veterinarian or farrier, not on the opposite. “If you are on the same side as the person working the horse and you step out, you lead the back side away from the person. If you are on the opposite side, you lead the horse right into that person,” he explained. If he is working alone, he drapes the lead rope over his arm — he does not wrap it. If the horse

ter toward him, resting his arm along the horse’s head while petting the horse’s nose. He sticks his finger up the nose and desensitizes the horse. “I wiggle my finger. Pulling with my right hand, pushing with my left elbow until the horse is calm, until it is habituated to that  sensation. When we insert a stomach tube, we are stimulating the  sneeze receptor, a delicate area. We are invading a body opening. It is frightening, but desensitizing the horse settles it down. It becomes habituated to the feeling. As soon as I feel the horse is tolerating it well enough, then we are ready

 

Dr. Miller accomplishes as much  as possible standing on the  horse’s side by its shoulder. In  this position, he touches the  animal in several places. His  side touches the horse’s side, his  legs touch the horse’s legs, and  his arms and hands touch the  animal  to treat it. In addition, he  presents his side to the animal,  protecting his front. suddenly bucks or bolts, it does not pull the veterinarian. Here are a few common activities every veterinarian performs and Miller’s method for doing them. When passing a stomach  tube, Miller stands at the shoulder. His entire side is up against  the  animal, touching it on the side and legs. In addition, his arms are  on the halter or draped around the  animals back, making three points  of contact. He pushes his elbow into the horse’s jaw area and pulls the hal-

to switch to the stomach tube and stick it up the nostril,” he said. Standing on the side and pulling on the halter to bring the horse’s face to him, rather than standing in front of the horse, provides a safe way to examine the teeth and ears, too, according to Miller. To give paste dewormer: Put a little honey on the end of a syringe, establish the three points of contact on the side of the horse, gently introduce the syringe in its mouth and when the horse starts licking on the honey, give the dewormer. While handling the feet: | June 2012


     stead of picking up a foot at arm’s  length from the horse, stand to the  side at the shoulder, face forward,  and lift the foot, bending it be tween your legs.  “If I want to clean a front foot,  I rub down the leg and pick up the foot, bring it up between my legs.  My elbow rests against the girth  area, the horse can feel my legs  against it and I am touching it with my hands. Then I can go ahead and work on that foot. “I have a mechanical advantage in that it is difficult for her to get her foot away from me,” Miller added. “She feels me in three different spots [side, legs, hands] and it reassures her as far as what I am doing.” In addition, he is stable enough to reach for his tools, while continuing to maintain three points of contact. If the horse is reluctant to pick up the front foot, squeeze the chestnut, he suggested. To take the horse’s temperature, get in the safety position at the shoulder. Make sure to When handling the touch the animal at three points, foot, stand to the side at the shoulder, slide back and lean over to test the face forward, and lift animal to see how well it tolerthe foot, bending it ates being touched in the rear area. between your legs. Stay to the side, presenting your side. Then move down toward the back of the animal but remain on its flank. Tickle the horse under the tail, and it will elevate the tail. “By doing this, you also desensitize them. I step back to the safety position at the shoulder to shake down the thermometer so my movements don’t frighten the horse. Then I move back to its flank. Now, I have a hand over the horse, my hip into her stifle, and I will press my knee into her leg. In addition, I often touch the top of her foot with my foot. She can feel me all

cover story


June 2012 |

the way down and I can feel her. If she kicks back, I’m not in the way. If she kicks forward, she will actually push me forward out of the way because horses cannot flex the hocks joint without also flexing the stifle joint,” he explained. Miller elevates the tail, lubricates the thermometer with “veterinary lubricant” (i.e., spit), then tickles her a little and places the thermometer. “I don’t push the thermometer in; instead I revolve it in a circular motion and the anal sphincter relaxes and draws the thermometer in.” He does not put the tail back down. Instead, he pets the horse for a minute until he can remove and read the thermometer. “It is important to use the shoulder as your base of opera-

tion because it is the least likely place to get kicked,” he said. Miller said his techniques take a few minutes more, but it is safer for the veterinarian and less stressful for the horse. “I’ll give 3 minutes, 5 minutes or even 10 to 15 minutes to desensitize any horse — rather than rushing a horse and making an enemy of that horse, which creates a relationship that is damaged forever. Take the 5 to 10 minutes to make a friend in the  long run,” he suggested.

For more information:

Dr. Miller’s new book “Handling the Equine Patient – a Manual For Veterinary Students & Technicians,” as well as his videos demonstrating good horsemanship, are available on his website

10 Qualities that Affect a Horse’s Behavior Because a horse is an animal of prey, it has developed many survival behaviors. 1. Flight 2. Perception 3. Fast reaction time 4. Rapidly desensitized – Horses quickly desensitize to frightening, but harmless stimuli or they would be running all the time. Veterinarians can use this trait to their advantage by desensitizing the animal before working on it. 5. Fast learner 6. Excellent memory – Don’t be fooled; horses remember the veterinarian! 7. Dominance hierarchy 8. Control of movement 9. Body language 10. Precocial species – Foals can ambulate soon after birth, can feed themselves, can flee danger and follow the mother or herd. All of the senses are functional and it is neurologically mature. The most powerful learning period in a horse’s life are the minutes, hours and days right after birth.


Systemic effects Topical glucocorticoids, which are frequently used to treat dermatologic inflammation, can have systemic effects. By Marie Rosenthal, MS “In normal horses, application of a skin cream containing dexamethasone caused systemic adverse reactions even when applied and rubbed on normal skin for a short time,” said Getu Abraham, DVM, PhD, from the Institute of Pharmacology, Pharmacy, and Toxicology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Leipzig University in Germany. Topical steroids affect various hormones that play an important role in metabolism and growth, such as insulin, thyroid hormones and cortisol. In a study done by Abraham and colleagues, insulin, glucose and triglyceride levels were

seen in topicals

increased after application of topical glucocorticoids. “This is an indication of energy delivery while the decrease in thyroid hormones means lower metabolic conversion,” Abraham said. Although short-term applications can be advantageous, longterm treatments can increase stress susceptibility of animals because the adrenal gland is suppressed, according to Abraham. The researchers treated 10 Thoroughbreds twice a day for 10 days with 50 g of dexamethasone ointment, then took blood and measured the levels of various hormones, including insulin, glucose, triglyceride and protein concentrations. They found that insulin, glucose and triglyceride levels were increased, while cortisol—a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress—was decreased. One reason Abraham performed the study is because a horse treated with topical dexamethasone may

test positive for doping, which could be a serious issue for performance horses. Abraham added that sports medicine specialists should make sure trainers are aware of the systemic effects of topical steroids before using them on performance horses, as a positive test could disqualify the horse. “During the Olympics in Athens, there was a doping case because a horse knowingly or unknowingly was treated with such preparations. This was the first initiating reason for our study. We wanted to figure out the effects of treatments, which may account for doping,” he said. This doesn’t mean the products shouldn’t be used if needed, but consider the timing of the next event before applying them. Fortunately, depending on drug potency, short-term treatments are quickly reversible, whereas, horses may need a longer recovery period if treated with longterm steroids 

For more information:

Margo Harrison /

Abraham G, Allersmeier M, Schusser GF, Ungemach FR. Serum thyroid hormone, insulin, glucose, triglycerides and protein concentrations in normal horses: Association with topical dexamethasone usage. Vet J 2011 Jun188(3):307-12. | June 2012


Technician Update


secure facility with biosecurity By Marie Rosenthal, MS Biosecurity is an important aspect of every veterinary hospital that often falls to the veterinary technician to help manage. Technicians can implement preventive measures designed to reduce the risk for transmission of infectious disease and assure that staff follow them. There are three goals to biosecurity: 1. To protect people from zoonotic diseases 2. To protect other animals and 3. To protect the patient. Therefore, physical barriers and good hygiene are key components of any biosecurity program, according to Jamie DeFazio, CVT, VTS-EVN, a veterinary technician at The New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania. “There should be protocols in place for movement and contact with the animals, as well as for decontamination and cleaning,” DeFazio told The Modern Equine Veterinarian. Everyone needs to be accountable for implementation of the plan every day with every animal to protect themselves and their patients, she added. Some hospitals are implementing surveillance 20

June 2012 |

cameras in high-risk isolation units to enforce accountability and compliance, she said.

Guilty until no longer a risk

Get a good history of the patient, including vaccination history and exposure to any potential pathogens. Neurologic signs, respiratory signs, diarrhea, fever and enlarged lymph nodes are all signs of potential contagious infections. A history of travel should also raise the alert level in anyone dealing with a sick animal. “When we talk about biosecurity, I immediately think of isolating an animal that is thought to be contagious or presenting with suspicious signs,” DeFazio explained. However, even horses without an apparent infection might be a candidate for isolation or at least might call for barrier precautions when being handled, she said. For instance, a horse with colic may be at greater risk for developing salmonellosis due to the compromised gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Staff should take some barrier precautions. Good biosecurity practices are imperative in veterinary hospitals that handle a large number of GI cases and abdominal surgeries because colic and diarrhea can be associated with infectious organ-

isms, she added. When the normal gut flora is disturbed, there is often overgrowth of pathogenic organisms. During the course of their GI disease, the normal flora of the gut is disturbed and pathogenic organisms, such as Clostridia and Salmonella, may flourish. Some clinics routinely screen fecal samples for Salmonella in high-risk patients and may even include all of their patients. Horses can also be asymptomatic shedders of Salmonella. National survey data indicate that at any given time about 1% to 2% of normal horses will be shedding Salmonella, according to DeFazio. Make sure there is a designated isolation area to quarantine animals. If the hospital is small, or the animal is housed on the farm during recovery and there is no room for a designated isolation room, make sure there is at least one barrier stall between healthy and sick animals. Put a barrier like a paint tarp, curtains or an old bedspread around the stall to keep secretions from becoming airborne and infecting other horses. A larger referral hospital or university practice will have a separate isolation unit where all the stalls are completely self–contained, which


means no overhead connections across walls, separate ventilation, no direct communication between stalls through a common central hallway central and open stall fronts. Many also have anterooms for a second level of protection. “If you don’t have a separate area, choose a place where you can isolate the horse, such as a location near the end of the barn, but it should have good ventilation and be away from the main entrance or have a secondary entrance near it,” she suggested. “Try not to have sick horses stalled next to healthy | June 2012


Technician Update

ones. At least put a barrier stall between the animals.” Take care of healthier animals first and then the isolated animals to prevent spreading disease among them, she added. Separate equipment and clothing should be designated for the isolated horse and should be worn

Healthcare staff might have to wear completely separate attire, including footwear, for each isolated animal. This can include gowns, coveralls, gloves, boots, hair caps, as well as face shields and face masks if applicable. Protective clothing should be changed between patients. All ma-

8 Points to Remember about Disinfection 1. Clean surfaces thoroughly before disinfecting to avoid wasting time and money. 2. Always follow the recommended formula for diluting the products. More is not always better. Conversely, over diluting is not effective. 3. Follow directions. Apply products in the order that they should be applied if using multiple disinfectants. Do not mix products because this can result in noxious fumes. 4. Allow adequate contact time. If the directions say leave on 30 minutes, leave on 30 minutes to give it time to kill the organisms. 5. Handle these materials properly and wear personal protective equipment if necessary. 6. Ventilate the area. 7. Rinse areas properly and allow them to dry before putting animals in the stall. 8. Don’t forget equipment – mucking tools and other barn equipment should be disinfected before anyone steps into the stall, DeFazio said. You should clean equipment such as stethoscopes between working with each animal; in some practices, disposable digital thermometers are provided for each animal to prevent disease transmission. Grooming supplies should also be kept separate and disinfected thoroughly if they are to be used for another animal.

terials should be disposed of in a biohazard trash bag or can. In addition to wearing protective gear, proper handling and hygiene of all equipment are imperative and there should be a stringent cleaning protocol for stalls and other physical spaces in the isolation area. Even if staff are wearing gloves, hand washing between patients is

important. If there is no wash station to use soap and water, then use hand sanitizer. “The key thing is to wash your hands between horses,” DeFazio emphasized. “It is one of the easiest things to do to prevent infection and it can be one of the most important. Hand sanitizer should be kept by every stall.” There should also be designated mucking supplies that are disinfected in-between use.

Cleaning and disinfecting

There are many good disinfectants on the market. One of the most common is bleach, but there are many more. Some disinfectants act as oxidizers and kill organisms faster than bleach in the face of certain organic debris. These include the peroxygen disinfectant Virkon (also known as Trifectant) and an accelerated hydrogen peroxide Accel TB. Other disinfectant classes include quaternary ammoniums such as Quatracide,TBQ and Roccal, phenolics such as One-Stroke Environ, Tek-Trol and Osyl, and biguanides like Nolvasan, etc. Although the clinic might have a protocol in place, occasional changes in disinfectant may be warranted in response to an identified or perceived problem. For example, if there is an outbreak, changing disinfectants may be an easy place to start in correcting the problem. 

These websites can provide more information: Aceto, Helen Contagious and Zoonotic Diseases Including Those of Noscomial Importance – Multi species and Equine, 2011


June 2012 |

the FEED bag

Watch those calories! Consider age and activity level when feeding hay By Marie Rosenthal, MS Because hays differ in their amount of calories, protein and fiber, veterinarians should consider the horse’s age and activity level before making a recommendation, according to Lori K. Warren, PhD, PAS, associate professor of animal science at the University of Florida. “When choosing any hay, people should take the time to select one that is suitable for the horse they are feeding. I would not select alfalfa or perennial peanut for an overweight pony because these legumes typically have more calories and protein than sedentary horses need; and if you reduce the quantity of legume hay fed, the horse spends much more time without food in front of him, leading to boredom or even digestive disorders. “In contrast, alfalfa and perennial peanut make terrific hays for growing horses and broodmares because of the additional calories, protein and calcium [they] provide,” she said. In a study published in the Journal of Animal Science [2010;88(6):2055-61], Warren and her colleagues assessed the nutritional value of perennial peanut and Bermuda grass hays. They also looked at the horse’s ability to process the hay. They found that perennial peanut produced a high-quality hay that was digested easily. The horses had more trouble processing Tifton-85 Bermuda grass than the Coastal Bermuda grass variety. She said the Tifton-85 hay that was tested was higher in fiber than the Coastal variety. “The results may be different if Coastal and Tifton-85 are harvested and made into hay at the same stage of maturity and, therefore, have the same fiber content,” she said.

Warm-season forages, such as Bermuda grass, bahiagrass, perennial peanut, and alfalfa, often have higher concentrations of lignin and fiber than coolseason forages, such as Timothy, orchard grass and fescue because warm-season forages mature faster in the field before they are cut for hay. Hay with smaller stems and fewer, smaller and softer seed heads (grasses) or flowers (legumes) typically has more calories and protein but less fiber. “If I have an overweight horse, I would likely pick a grass hay that is more mature (thicker stems, lots of seed heads) because I would have to feed more to meet their calorie needs,” she explained. The horse would likely need longer chew time, and experience  less boredom and digestive upset as a result.

Hays differ in the amount of calories, protein and fiber they contain.

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