- Clinical Specialties
Veterinarians are frequently called upon to help horse owners control the estrus behavior (“heat”) in mares used as performance horses or as show animals. When some mares come in heat, the hormonal and behavioral shifts that takes place distracts from their ability to perform their sport. Before deciding to manipulate your mare’s hormones, you should consult with your veterinarian. Sometimes a mare’s history can be suggestive of a hormonal problem. For example, a mare with a Granulosa thecal cell tumor of one of her ovaries often displays stallion like behavior.
As the breeding season gets under way, many stallion and mare owners are surprised to be asked about their horse’s EVA status. In the wake of an outbreak of Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), which occurred in Quarter Horses in 2006, many horse breeders and trainers are rethinking their approach to this disease. Testing and vaccination protocols are becoming stricter in all breeds of horses. The 2006 outbreak originating in New Mexico had a devastating impact on the Quarter Horse breeding industry.
The two main endocrinologic concerns in horses are equine Cushing’s disease and equine metabolic syndrome. These disorders are increasing in prevalence as our equine population is better cared for and living longer. These disorders can have two main similarities: 1) insulin resistance 2) the potentially devastating possibility of laminitis. It is important to understand the signs of insulin resistance and be able to effectively manage these horses to decrease the risk of laminitis.
Enteroliths are one of the leading causes of severe colic in the state of California. The word enterolith is derived from the Greek terms “entero” meaning intestinal and “lith” meaning stone (Figure 1). The high incidence of enterolith formation in California is presumably due to the mineral content of our hay and water. Commonly referred to as stones, enteroliths are composed of struvite crystals which coalesce around some central object like a pebble or a small piece of wire ingested by the horse.
Horses, as we all know, have many special abilities. Among the less dramatic, but no less important, of these abilities is their ability to sleep standing up. Horses have a complex system called the passive stay apparatus that allows them to do this while using minimal muscular effort. One of the keys to this system is the ability to lock the kneecap (patella) in place, which keeps the stifle extended. Normally, the horse can lock and unlock the patella with no resistance.
Colic. To some, it is a term that is unfortunately all together too familiar; to others, it is a word that causes fear with little understanding of what it is. While it is a situation we would all like to avoid, it is important to have a knowledge of what colic is, some of its causes and potential ways to minimize it’s occurrence, and how your veterinarian may deal with it.
The word “colic” comes from the Greeks and means “abdominal pain”. Horses are notorious for colic and are predisposed to it when compared to other species. Signs of colic include but are not limited to: being “off feed”, depressed, looking/biting at the flanks, stretching as if to urinate, kicking at the abdomen, and rolling in pain. There are many factors that predispose horses to colic.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about next year. Planning ahead can make breeding your mare less stressful and more fruitful. Many broodmare owners can run through breeding programs in their sleep, but for those new at the game the following may be helpful in demystifying the process of breeding your mare.
Biosecurity is the undertaking of management practices that can reduce the risk of outbreaks and minimize the spread of infectious disease. Until fairly recently this word was not often associated with the horse industry even though many horse operations maintain some general biosecurity practices. However, recent infectious disease outbreaks have brought to light the necessity for applying biosecurity practices, to some extent, at all horse facilities.