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Posts from the ‘Care & Health’ Category

30
May

Timing Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses

As a biomedical engineer by education, I make it a habit to understand the physiology of my favorite sport, horseback riding.

 

I was able to identify an outstanding article:

Timing Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses

By: Deb Benette, PhD

 

http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf

The article has a range of excellent information, including tables of maturation points of major bones.

Below are a number of quotes from the article portraying the main points sought by the author, but I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

“Believe it or not many vets are totally unaware, as many members of the general public are also unaware, that horses have more than one “growth plate”, that there are multiple ossification centers pertaining to every bone of the body outside of the skull, and that the schedule of growth-plate closure (which begins around the time of birth and extends until the sixth year, and is coordinated with the eruption schedule of the teeth) has been well known to veterinarians, paleontologists, zooarchaeologists, and mammalogists since the early 19th century.”

“There is no such thing [as a] slow-maturing breed. The Quarter Horse is not an ‘early maturing’ breed – and neither is the Arabian a ‘slow maturing’ breed. As far as their skeletons go, they are the same. This information comes, I know, as a shock to many people who think starting their colt or filly under saddle at age two is what they ought to be doing. “

“While growth in cannon bone length stops with the fusion of both growth plates at around 1 ½ years of age, increase in cannon bone girth does not taper off until close to 5 years of age, and essentially the same can be said for the girth of any other limb element, with those bones located higher up in the body maturing later.”

“Most of the growth plates above the distal radius in a three year old horse are unfused, including, most importantly, those of the animal’s spine. It is the spine of the horse that governs the overall coordination of the limbs and the animal’s running “style”. It is the spine, not the limbs, that the animal primarily uses to compensate for potholes, slick spots, and other irregularities in the race track [or any track]. The higher the speed and the greater the physical effort, the more important it is that the animal have all of its joints mature and in good working order. While catastrophic failures are uncommon, more subtle distal limb disease and chronic pain and dysfunction in two and three year old racehorses are commonly diagnosed and are major causes for the “wastage” of young Thoroughbreds.”

“What people often don’t realize is that there is a “growth plate” on either end of every bone behind the skull, and in the case of some bones (like the pelvis or vertebrae, which have many “corners”) there are multiple growth plates.”

The lateness of vertebral “closure” is most significant for two reasons. One: in no limb are there 32 growth plates! Two: the growth plates in the limbs are (more or less) oriented perpendicular to the stress of the load passing through them, while those of the vertebral chain are oriented parallel to weight placed upon the horse’s back. Bottom line: you can sprain a horse’s back (i.e. displace the vertebral physes – see Figs. 5 and 8) a lot more easily than you can displace those located in the limbs.”

20
Aug

Stifle Lock: Identification and Alternative Therapies

While not always the cause of lameness, a performance horse’s stifle is often suspect when he comes up lame. Several different types of stifle lamess exist, but the purpose of this article is to discuss upward patellar fixation (UPF), otherwise known as stifle lock. More

4
Aug
Looking through my horse's ears.

Ear tick Removal

I approached my horse one evening to find her acting as though she was going crazy. She was shaking her head, raising it very high and not letting anyone near her head to figure out what was going wrong. We figured out quickly, something was in her ear.  Usually quite gentle, when we would go near her ear, she would raise he head so high and powerfully, that she would shift the hitching post that was cemented into the ground.

 

Little did I know, the ear is a common attachment point for the tick, and once attached, they can travel far into the canal. If left untreated, the irritation caused by the tick, can cause the horse to damage it’s own ear through near-continuous shaking and rubbing. How can the tick be removed from the horse?

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21
Nov

How to Avoid Laminitis and Founder

By: Dr. Douglas Stewart

Laminitis is a common illness of the hoof and is the second most frequent cause of premature death in horses. Although it is very rare for laminitis to kill a horse directly, it often results in euthanasia for humane reasons (the horse is crippled or in permanent pain) or practical reasons (e.g. the horse is unable to continue its normal activities). In addition to the horses which are put down, many others survive but are left permanently disabled or in pain.
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19
Nov

Choosing a Vet for Your Horse

Choosing the right vet for your horse can be a big decision. It is important to make sure you are completely happy with them and their methods. Like doctors, equestrian vets will differ in methodology and manner and you need to be able trust them and the recommendations they make.

Word of mouth is a great way to find a reputable vet in your area. Ask around at your local stables and speak to other horse owners. You may find in quite easy to put together a short list of potential vets for your horse based on the experience of others. If possible, research these veterinarians, it is likely that they will have a web site you can refer to. Call them for a chat or visit to discuss your horse’s possible registration to see what their premises are like and if you like the feel of the place.

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8
Oct

Equine Body Condition Score

The body condition score was developed in 1983 by Texas A&M University. The Henneke System offers a subjective way to evaluate the condition of the horse. The body condition refers to the amount of fat that is distributed on the horse’s body. The main areas that are examined in the body condition score include the neck, withers, shoulder, ribs, loins and the tailhead.

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5
Oct
hoofprints

Finding a Lost Horse

Has your horse gone missing?  While I recommend using all of the conventional search methods, it is possible that your horse could be found by someone that won’t have access to your local newspaper or notice the sign posted in your feedstore.  Your horse could end up being quickly sold and be shipped across the country or even the world.

That is where www.netpossee.com comes in.  They post lost as well as found adds and are totally devoted to their cause.  If you sign up for their mailing list, you will recieve missing horse notifications, which may enable you to be a part of the solution.  In addition, you can register your horse’s information with them, including microchip ID number and markings.  That way, should your horse go missing, you will have all of the necessary information to begin the search.
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5
Oct
IMG_0848 - Copy

Horse Care and Stabling

There are a lot of considerations in your goal of safe surroundings and room to roam in the company and security of other horses. By its nature a horse is most relaxed while grazing leisurely. So a fenced in paddock without grass is not ideal in the horse’s terms, although he may tend to move about more playing with a mate in the paddock. A pasture suited to a horse will fend off many injuries and health problems.

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