This Week in Horse Health News Presented by MediVet Equine

Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Sometimes research seems so distant. While still fascinating and important, it can be difficult to take a concept from the lab and apply it to the arena. Not so with this week’s Horse Health News, presented by Medivet Equine! This week we’re lucky enough to find three real-world studies that are making progress towards discovering ways to make our sport safer and keep horses healthier through science. Plus: if you work or volunteer with a therapeutic riding program we’ve linked to a survey you may wish to participate in.

This Week in Horse Health News …

A catalog of behaviors (ethogram) for ridden horse is being developed and was tested out at a four-star event. Researchers observed horses competing on the second day of dressage while they warmed up and scored them based on behaviors including gait abnormalities, mouth open for over 10 seconds, and head behind the vertical for over 10 seconds. They then compared their observations with the results of the cross country phase. Researchers found that horses who scored higher in the ethogram (displayed more noted behaviors) were statistically more likely to be eliminated or retired during cross country. The study also showed that non-lame horses can still display gait abnormalities when ridden, even though they can pass the trot-up, though it couldn’t establish a relationship between gait abnormalities and likelihood of completing cross country. [Equine Veterinary Journal]

5‐point breastplates might cause restriction during the take-off phase of jumping. Researchers from the Animal Health Trust compared the kinematics of four elite event horses in active training as they jumped a 1.2-meter oxer while wearing either a 5-point breastplate, a breastplate attached only to girth straps on either side, or no breastplate. They also measured pressure distribution of the breastplates and found that maximum peak pressure occurred consistently with the 5-point breastplate over the middle of the chest at hind limb lift-off. Horses wearing 5‐point breastplates flexed their knees and stifles more and tended to land more steeply, suggesting that the breastplate could be restricting at takeoff. Further investigation is needed to see if this jumping style could influence fatigue of the horse, falls, and how they handle combinations. [Equine Veterinary Journal]

A 3D scanner mounted to a tablet can be used to detect swelling in the lower leg. Now that’s some sweet Star Trek-style tech! Researchers from the University of Portland determined that the commercially available 3D scanner, which retails for $399 and was attached to an iPad, was useful in detecting swelling in a horse’s lower leg after jumping.  The technology could potentially be used by rehabilitation programs or to guide training programs. [HorseTalk]

Researchers are seeking equine-assisted therapy staff and volunteers to complete a survey about environmental exposures. Poor air quality in horse barns and equestrian facilities can affect the respiratory health of horses and humans alike. One of the largest populations of people that could be affected by environmental contaminants in equestrian facilities are the staff and volunteers essential to operate equine-assisted therapy programs. Participant responses to this survey will help researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health develop best practice recommendations for creating healthy environments. [The Horse]

As horse owners and competitors, we want to give our equine athletes every opportunity to feel and perform their best. Keeping up to date with the latest news in horse health and medicine is an important part of that, and it’s why Medivet Equine is bringing you the latest in horse health news each week.

Following the medical model of “do no harm”, MediVet Equine develops scientifically based therapeutics enabling the horse to call on its own healing ability, thus achieving its full performance potential. MediVet Equine provides effective, all natural, drug free products and lab services designed to optimize the overall health of performance horses. They specialize in regenerative treatments that help the body heal itself to get stronger naturally. Boyd Martin has several of his top competitive mounts on MediVet ACS, and has had terrific results!