Equine Marketing

Hello one of the best sites on the internet today to help spread your own message, in terms of quality, practical actionable advice is at Neil Patel.

If you have a blog or any project you would like to put out to more people go to this site and learn. Most of the information is free and of the highest quality for novice or experienced blogger, artist, marketer, veterinary surgeon etc.

His 12 months case study showing how to grow a brand new  Health Industry Blog is a classic 😉

Paul

2 chesnut foals

Simply Horses spring newsletter

Castrations, foaling season and a surprise find during a recent radiograph session. It’s all here in the spring 2016 Simply Horses newsletter. To subscribe, send an email to alison.goulding@simply-horses.net

Our newsletters include all our latest offers, plus advice and information to help you care for your horse in every situation.

Come join us!

 

Horse in your hutch

The horse in your hutch

Did you know that the horse in your stable has a lot in common with the rabbit in your hutch? Our vets Clara Sechi and Edward Cook take a light-hearted look at the similarities.  

Teeth

Horses and rabbits have a similar diet, based mainly on forage such as grass and hay, that has to be ground down before swallowing. In order to do this they have adapted their back teeth (molars and premolars) to provide a platform on which to grind down this tough food. Their canines have either become small and vestigial or in the case of rabbits have lost them all together, afterall what good could could they be?

Digestion

Following on our theme of food, both rabbits and horses are what we call ‘hind gut fermenters’. This means that after the food has passed from the stomach and through the small intestine, it sits in an organ called the caecum. Here it is broken down further by bacteria. The reason this is a good idea is that most of the energy in plants is contained within a carbohydrate called cellulose and no animal on the plant has figured out how to break this down… but bacteria have! The rabbit or horse then absorbs the breakdown products and converts them into glucose for the body to use. Pretty clever!

Eye placement

Being a prey species isn’t easy as there’s always lots of other animals that think you look really tasty. Most prey species, including rabbits and horses have eyes that are positioned on the sides of their head to give them an almost 360 degree vision so they can spot approaching predators. They have also developed longer faces so that their eyes are further from the ground to give them a better view while they’re scoffing their faces.

Coprophagia

This is the fancy word for eating your own droppings… This may sound a bit unsavory but there’s a good reason for it! Horses and rabbits build up a very big bacterial population in their caecum as they essentially feed off the forage that is eaten. But then what happens? The digested food passes through the colon and to the outside world. Think about all the bacteria (and nitrogen products) that go with it. This is the reason we use horse droppings as fertiliser – they’re packed full of energy and goodness! Rabbits and (some) horses eat their droppings to get to all that bacterial protein and energy.

Cows, sheep and other ruminants have found a way around this. They do all of their fermenting before the food reaches their stomach. When the food (and the bacteria that have thrived) passes to the stomach the acid kills the bacteria. They’re broken down and then absorbed in the small intestine. Pretty raw deal for the bacteria if you ask me!

Not showing pain

In the wild it pays to look fit and strong, even if you’re not. Most predators will target animals showing signs of ill health as their chances of a successful hunt is greater. All prey species will only let it slip that they’re not well when they’re feeling really poorly. This means it is very important to watch out for subtle changes in your animal’s behaviour as it may suggest that something is not quite right.

 

Newsletter

Latest newsletter: passport law and a crusty Clydesdale

Are you interested in?

  • the facts around the Strangles blood test?
  • lymphedema
  • changes to passport law
  • our latest competition winner

Then check out our latest newsletter here!

SimplyHorses Christmas newsletter

Hi there! If you missed our Christmas newsletter, with our great competition and much more, click here

To subscribe, email alison.goulding@simply-horses.net and we’ll add you to our mailing list.

Mare foal

Maximize your mare’s chance of a healthy pregnancy

Want to breed from your mare? Struggling to get a pregnancy?

Our vet Clara Sechi offers simple but essential advice for helping your mare conceive.

Clara says: “There are 3 steps to starting out right.

  • A good stallion with quality semen
  • A mare with a healthy reproductive tract
  • Properly timed insemination

“Without these critical factors, success is unlikely.”

Clara recommends looking at your mare’s history if she has bred before.

Clara says: “Your mare’s response to prior inseminations may dictate whether or not she will better tolerate fresh, chilled semen; a different frozen semen protocol; or additional therapies at the time of insemination.

“The breeding records can demonstrate patterns in a mare’s cycle and may indicate areas that need to be handled more aggressively next season.

And if that’s not working, you may consider changing stallions to avoid possible genetic incompatibilities.”

Clara also recommends a vet check for mares before they are inseminated.

 

She says: “Hormone abnormalities like Cushing’s disease or an inappropriate body condition are two common reasons for a low fertility rate.“A breeding soundness evaluation can include looking at perineal conformation, rectal palpation, trans-rectal ultrasound, vaginal speculum exam and a manual vaginal exam. Abnormalities may contribute to poor fertility and can be identified during this exam.”

Perineal conformation defects  A defect in perineal conformation can lead to air inside the vagina and/or contamination from faeces and urine than can lead to infection that can be detrimental for the establishment and survival of pregnancies. Most of these conditions can be easily corrected with a simple, minimally invasive  surgery called Caslick’s vulvoplastic.

Uterine cysts are common in aged broodmares and can lead to problems with pregnancy recognition, embryo implantation and identification of twin pregnancies (reason why mapping cysts during first ultrasound examination is very important ).If necessary, cyst removal is a simple procedure which can be accomplished with standing sedation using a few different techniques and can improve the chance of success. 

Cervix evaluation is very important Cervical defects, although not very common, are another problem that the veterinary community has become more aware of in recent years. The cervix is a dynamic component of the reproductive tract which must relax during heat and tightly constrict when not in heat or during pregnancy. Veterinarians are often asked to come to the farm when a mare is in heat.

However, it is critical to evaluate the cervix while the mare is out of heat as well. Some cervical defects can only be appreciated when the cervix is tightly closed. Some cervical defects will require surgical repair.

Based on the exam findings and your mare’s history, your veterinarian may choose to recommend further diagnostics or procedures to compliment the breeding soundness evaluation.

A simple, helpful tool is performing a Uterine Culture and Cytology. It is a minimally invasive technique, ideally performed when the mare is in heat, that can determine the presence of infectious endometritis, a very common cause of poor fertility. When a pathogen grows from the culture, a sensitivity profile will determine the best course of antimicrobial therapy.

Most of the above items can be addressed in the autumn if your mare is still cycling. Pursuing any type of reproductive surgery is naturally appropriate for the autumn or winter as it leaves ample recovery time prior to the next breeding attempt.

And don’t forget. Timing is everything.

Insemination of your mare will require keen veterinary skills in order to be timed appropriately. The logistics of when to inseminate depend on a large number of factors: changes in your mare’s reproductive tract, whether you are using fresh chilled or frozen semen, how many insemination doses you have and sperm and egg lifespan.

You can facilitate the start of this process by giving your vet ample notice when you think your mare will be coming into heat. If you are unable to tell from observation when she is cycling at home, regular veterinary exams and or the use of hormonal therapy to control when she will come into heat will be useful.*

(*)Credits:

Dr. H.Mason – Unionville Equine associates – SBS notes

For advice about breeding and foaling, call Simply Horses on 0191 385 9696 and speak to Clara Sechi MRCVS.

 

Oscar and Harvey

Simply donkeys

This gorgeous pair had a busy day today. While our vets castrated them, farrier Ann Marie sorted out their feet. The two youngsters were just about feral 6 weeks ago, but their new owner has done a marvellous job of handling them so that today’s important tasks could be done ‪#‎teamwork‬

Oscar and Harvey 2

Oscar and Harvey 3

Edwards blog chestnut

Fight the Fat

Obesity can sometimes be a difficult area to discuss. No one likes to hear that the animal they care for is overweight or obese, and as I used to own a 43kg labrador I know how easy it is to not see! Part of the problem is that an overweight animal is not always easy to identify, horses and ponies especially are very good at storing their fat subtly, spreading it out across their ribs, crest, rump and shoulder. They don’t just end up with a ‘bread basket’.
A growing population?

So is the current situation something to be concerned about? Surely there can’t be that many horses falling into this category? Well recent studies have shown that almost half of all equines in the UK are overweight and around 33% are obese. These figures have been rising for some time and indeed correlate with the trend in human waistlines too! The groups most at risk come as little surprise; native breeds, cobs and ponies are overrepresented in these populations compared with breeds such as thoroughbreds. These ‘good doers’ generally need less energy dense feed, and any excess consumed will be deposited as fat stores.

 

But is it a problem if my pony is overweight?

In a word, yes. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of conditions and all of them can be very serious, compromising an animal’s well being and in some cases even resulting in euthanasia on welfare grounds.

The most widespread complication of being overweight is the development is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to stop glucose levels in the blood from rising too high, as this can have negative consequences. Horses with access to more simple sugars and starches in their diet need to produce more insulin as a response to this. High insulin levels are associated with laminitis, and in fact approximately 90% of cases of laminitis are due to endocrine diseases.Obesity also predisposes to developing hyperlipaema. This condition occurs when overweight animals go through a period of ‘negative energy balance’ i.e. they’re using more energy than they are consuming so must break down fat to meet the deficit. Examples of this are late pregnancy and anorexia due to unwellness. Increased body condition is associated with reduced fertility in mares and with dystocia at parturition which can have dire consequences for mare and foal. Also carrying all that excess weight puts greater forces through the joints and so contributes to the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and may exacerbate any existing OA.

 

So what can I do at home?

The best way to first identify whether your animal is overweight is to body condition score them. There are many different scales/methods for doing this, one of them is the Heneke scoring system. This method works for horses of any breed, sex or body type. It is based on a visual and hands-on assessment of various parts of your horse’s body. The table below contains detailed guidelines on how to interpret the findings:
hennekescale

Another less specific and more crude way of monitoring your horse’s weight is to use a weigh tape, or girth measurement. This is useful for monitoring any change in condition but it must be pointed out that here there is no distinction between fat and muscle.

 
thin but fat

Remember that it can be difficult to interpret the findings of a condition score and it is easy to be misled. The above horse has visible ribs so you may think it likely to have low body condition score. In fact it is clinically obese due to the fat pads above its tail head and shoulder and also its cresty neck. Horses with localised fat deposition such as this are likely to have an underlying endocrine issue.

In our next blog in this series we will post some videos on what to look out for when condition scoring your horse. If you feel your horse is either overweight or underweight, or would like any advice on their condition or nutrition then simply phone the practice on 01913859696.

Best Foot Forward

COMPETITION: Best Foot Forward

WIN with Simply Horses and The Feed Warehouse in our new competition Best Foot Forward!

Get a FREE veterinary assessment of your horse’s feet and the chance to win a bag of Spillers Happy Hoof Molasses Free and a gift voucher for The Feed Warehouse.

All you need is five minutes and a camera. Follow the instructions below, send us your photos and our vets will do a visual assessment of your horse’s feet and email you a report for your records.

  1. Take a photo of your horse from the side
  2. Take a photo of your horse’s feet from the front, at ground level.
  3. From the side, also at ground level.
  4. And of his sole and frog. To do this hold your horse’s foot up and ask a friend to take the photo.

The best photos will be taken in good light on a level surface, and the cleaner the foot, the more we can see! Tie your horse up somewhere quiet, wear a hat and use assistance where needed. Once you have your photos, post them on our Facebook page – Search for Simply Horses Veterinary Clinic or email them to sabine.ware@simply-horses.net and we will send you a veterinary analysis within the next 14 days.

Closing date: November 30, 2015.

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Equine Arthritis

Arthritis in the horse can take on many names and forms. It is most often referred to as Osteoarthritis (OA) or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). It is often a chronic disease, with has been present for substantial period of time, and often gets worse as time goes along.

Arthritis is not only painful for the horse, but it also affects the way the horse moves.

OA and DJD can affect the joint itself, or the surroundings of the joint. There is cartilage within joints that provides cushioning support and a smooth surface allowing the joint to move in a fluid motion. DJD and such conditions wear away this cartilage, making the movement of the joint less fluid and more painful for the horse. There are also situations where the bone on either side of the joint develops “spurs” or “sharp edges” – these can pinch on the joint space or even rub on soft tissue structures (such as tendons) causing a lot of pain to the horse.

Commonly, OA or DJD are seen by owners in variable ways. It may be that your horse is less reluctant to go forward, or downhill. Maybe his gait has changed and he can no longer canter smoothly on one leg, or bring his hind legs up under him. You may even notice swelling on certain joints, or pain when you pick up his feet. Horses show pain and discomfort in many ways, and often changes to their behaviour or gait are best discussed with your veterinarian.

…..“Fez seems a bit stiff all over – it’s really noticeable when I ride her. It’s like she can’t move her legs properly, and seems really reluctant to move. I know she’s an older lady, but she is in good health and I want to keep her going. She used to love going for rides so much!”….

Often, if OA/DJD are suspected your veterinarian will recommend x-rays of one or more joints. This helps us develop a plan of the best way to treat the individual horse.
Each horse develops OA/DJD in slightly different ways, and we as veterinarians like to tailor a treatment plan specific for your horse. X-rays allow us to know how each joint is affected, and how badly, so we can tell you all your options and discuss your horses’ prognosis.

….”We have done Fez’s x-rays and found she has some significant arthritis in one of her hock joints, however there are minor changes through a lot of her other joints as well”….

Once OA/DJD has been diagnosed, the next step is management.
There is no cure for these conditions – the best chance for your horse is successful management.
The management of your horses arthritis depends on several factors;

– the extent of the disease – “which joints, how many joints, how badly…”

– the workload of the horse – “hacking, eventing or paddock companion…”

– any other compounding problems – “conformation, hooves, injuries in other areas…”

– the financial budget of the client

Once we know all these factors we can tailor a plan to suit your horse.

What are my options?

Joint Injections

If only one joint is affected, often times your veterinarian will recommend an injection into the joint.
This injection is often a steroid or steroid-combination. A steroid is a very potent anti-inflammatory drug, which helps to alleviate the pain associated with the arthritis in the effected joint.

By alleviating the pain, you aim to get the horse to use the joint as per normal.

….”We recommend doing a steroid injection into the hock joint that is worse affected on Fez”….

A joint injection is known as an aspectic procedure – that is that your veterinarian will aim to be as sterile as possible when performing the injection. This means your horses joint will be clipped, scrubbed and prepared much like a surgical site. Your veterinarian will be wearing gloves and be as clean as possible when injecting into the required joints.
Joint injections are not without risk, but your veterinarian will discuss the procedure with you in more detail at the time.

Some horses only require a one-off joint injection, some require it to be repeated down the track. This is very horse dependent, but often times owners see great improvement with joint injections.

Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs (DMOADs)

An example of this type of medication is Cartrophen.

These medications target the disease of OA/DJD on several different levels, aiming to alleviate the pain from the disease and minimise its progression. These medications aim to rebuild the cartilage within the affected joints and increase the amount of joint fluid, trying to recreate the fluid, pain-free motion of the joint.

The advantage to these types of medications is that it treats all the joints with one injection. The injections are administered into the muscle of the horse, and the drug localises in all the affected joints.

…”…as Fez seems a little stiff all over we suspect she will have arthritic changes in a few other joints. The best way to target these following her joint injection would be with a Cartrophen course. That way, we can treat multiple joints, get her out of pain, and hope to get her loving her rides again…”

The medication itself is a very effective anti-inflammatory, so it provides pain relief as well as improving the health of the joint. This means we hope to have your pain free and continuing with work, without other medications.

These injections are given as short courses (4 weeks) and repeated based on your horses condition.

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

The most common of this type of medication is Phenylbutazone (Bute).

These are anti-inflammatory medications, often given in the form of a powder.
They act by trying to relieve the pain and swelling caused by OA/DJD. They are much like a human taking Ibuprofen and such medication.

….”For the time being we can give her a course of Danilon and see how her lameness and stiffness improves. If she improves a lot, as we suspect she will, then we can move onto better long term management of her through joint injections and cartrophen”…

These types of medication often work very well to keep your horse comfortable and as mobile as possible. Although they are known to affect some organs of yours horses body, such as stomach, kidneys and liver with long-term use. It is also a controlled medication, meaning your veterinarian needs to be aware of the usage. This is the reason why your veterinarian will be required to do regular check-ups to ensure your horse or pony is managing well on these medications, especially if they intend to be on it for months or years.

Oral Joint Supplements

There are many joint supplements on the market targeted to help with arthritis.

Unfortunately, it can all be a bit “hit and miss” with effectiveness and you can often spend lots of money on these products, and get substandard results. This is often due to the products bio-availability. This refers to the “amount” of usable product the horses body can actually absorb. What this means is, just because your horse is eating it, doesn’t mean his body can use it. So worst case scenario he is just pooing or peeing out the supplement.

For example – some studies have shown that a horse is only able to absorb around 6% of the glucosamine that an oral joint supplement can provide.
There are many clinical studies being done on the effectiveness of joint supplements, so the news is ever changing!

There are joint supplements that have been manufactured in a way to ensure their product is effective and available to the horse. Unfortunately, there are so many products available on the shelf these days that the topic can be a bit of a mine field. Our best suggestion is to make sure you do your homework on a product, and consider bioavailabilty and the production of the product to ensure you are not wasting your precious dollars.

The vets here at Simply Horses

Of course there are certainly other options and areas to consider when it comes to owning a horse with arthritis. We have only touched on a few of the biggest options available to you as a horse owner.

Any of our veterinarians would be happy to discuss your horses case, and discuss in further detail which options would be best for you and your equine.

Please visit our website Simply Horses Website and view our hoof care blog – Simply Healthy Hooves