Natural Equine Health Solutions
Optim Equine brings a unique approach to optimising horse health, wellbeing and performance.
Combining scientific evidence-based medicine with traditional naturopathic practices, Optim Equine delivers the most effective and beneficial health outcomes for your horse.
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2 days ago
SKELETAL INJURIES: CONSIDERING THE ROLE OF BONE DENSITY IN THE HORSE
One of the most significant injury concerns for all athletic horses is that involving the bones and joints. Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of poor performance and wastage (wastage refers to a loss of training days, either temporary or permanent) in the equine industry.
A vital consideration in bone and joint health is bone density. Bone density refers to the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue and plays a significant factor in bone strength and durability (and hence resistance to injury).
Many factors influence bone density- and many of these factors can be positively or negatively influenced by feeding, management practices and medication use. Put simply, owners and caretakers of horses have the ability to positively or negatively influence the bone density and hence resilience and strength of a horse’s bones….
Sufficient minerals and vitamins in a horse’s diet, in appropriate proportions are important. These include (but are not limited to): calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin D, copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin K. Appropriate energy availability is also crucial in helping ensure adequate bone development.
Many medications have the ability to negatively influence bone density through various mechanisms: increasing the excretion of key minerals needed for bone structure; altering the gastrointestinal microflora balance (in turn impairing the body’s ability to synthesise some key vitamins needed for bone health); and altering the absorption of essential minerals for bone health.
Keeping horses in stables/box stalls is an often overlooked consideration in regards to bone health. Several studies have documented a substantial decrease in bone mineral content in horses kept in stables/ box stalls.
Think about foals, weanlings and yearlings, confined to stables in order to ‘keep them out of the elements’ or for sales preparations. These horses are going through crucial stages of bone development and laying down bone mass. The practice of keeping them stabled may hamper their ability to be strong, resilient performance horses. ...
1 week ago
FIBRE, CHEWING & GASTROINTESTINAL HEALTH
Forages and fibre rich foods which require much chewing, comprise the base starting point for a diet which promotes health in the horse.
Chewing results in the production of saliva. Forages and fibrous feeds require more chewing than grains and processed feeds. On a dry matter basis, twice as much saliva is produced when horses eat grass or hay compared to grains and other concentrate feeds. This production of saliva plays an essential role in promoting a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) system: Saliva is rich in bicarbonate, which helps to buffer the acid secretions produced by the stomach. Diets high in grain and low in forage result in a lower saliva flow and thereby lower gastric pH values. This is one important risk factor for the development of gastric ulcers.
Before being quick to use omeprazole or ranitidine based ulcer medications (which come with their own health risks for the horse, not to mention the high $$$$$ on the hip-pocket), take a step back and evaluate the basics. Is your horse consuming a diet which promotes gastric health? Is the basis of your horse’s diet one which is built upon sufficient forages? ...
2 weeks ago
The stabled/stalled horse; the impact of ammonia and airway health
Ammonia- the colourless gas associated with the pungent, eye watering smell when you enter some barns and when you muck out stalls- comes with some profound health effects on the horse. These effects are even more significant given many horses which are stabled are performance horses, newborn foals and/or horses who are stabled to help recover from injury or illness….
In barn settings, ammonia is produced when the urea in urine hydrolyses (breaks down) through the action of the enzyme urease. Urease is a protein found in bacteria associated with faeces and stable flooring materials that have been fouled with faeces.
Ammonia can cause inflammation and irritation of both the upper and lower airways and can lead to the development of pulmonary oedema. Horses which are stabled have demonstrated more signs of respiratory inflammation than horses turned out at pasture.
Ammonia sets up an inflammatory cascade in the respiratory tract: increasing mucous production; interfering with the action of cilia (microscopic hairs which line the airways and help to prevent dust and debris from going further down the respiratory tract); and adversely affect immune function and health in the horse.
The negative effects of ammonia are further compounded by poor ventilation in the barn, dust and other particulates inhaled by the horse.
The good news is there are many practical strategies which can be employed to help reduce ammonia build-up in the stable:
-->Provide excellent barn ventilation and where possible, avoid closing up the barn.
-->Ensure stalls are cleaned once or twice daily to remove all urine-soaked bedding. Ensure stalls are stripped at least twice weekly.
-->Ensure horses are removed from stalls whilst mucking and cleaning to minimise exposure to ammonia gases that are stirred up with pitching the bedding and raking.
-->Use highly absorbent bedding materials.
-->Mix an ammonia-neutralising product with clean bedding.
-->Provide good drainage in stables and barn aisle ways to facilitate exit of urine. If matting is used in stalls, regularly clean under the mats when possible.
-->Open windows where possible.
-->As much as possible, keep horses outside or turn them out regularly to offer a clean air environment.
Treating horses with specific therapeutic herbs and nutrients can help to reduce inflammation and mucous production, in addition to supporting immune function. The most effective results are obtained however, when therapeutic intervention is used in conjunction with addressing the causative factors (such as ammonia and environments high in dust and other particulates). If the cause(s) is/are not addressed, then the initiating factor(s) of the irritation remain…. ...
3 weeks ago
Congenital Flexural Limb Deformities: Food For Thought…
There are thought to be many possible contributing factors leading to foals being born with contracted or lax tendons (congenital flexural limb deformities).These include intrauterine positioning, ingestion of certain toxins by the mare, hypothyroidism in the mare, collagen cross-linking defects, and unidentified predisposing genetic factors.
One important controllable factor is diet and nutrition in the mare. Current lines of thinking are that overly fat mares, and/or mares that are fed diets high in relative energy may have a greater risk of having foals with flexural limb deformities. Many mares are overfed late in pregnancy in attempts to supply adequate nutrition to the developing foal. This is compounded by the perception that fat mares are often mistakingly associated with looking ‘well’. ...
4 weeks ago