Over a life­time, the wear and tear caused by car­ry­ing sev­eral hun­dred ex­tra pounds can in­crease a horse’s sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to arthri­tis and other chronic de­gen­er­a­tive bone diseases.

EQUUS - - Longevity -

de­scend and ro­tate within the hoof. “If there’s no ro­ta­tion of the bone there’s a chance the horse can fully re­cover,” says Judd. “But when the lam­i­nae de­tach and the bone ro­tates, those at­tach­ments never fully heal. The horse is then prone to re­peat episodes of founder for the rest of his life, oftentimes with less and less di­etary trig­gers.”

But, says Judd, the lin­ger­ing ef­fects of a sin­gle episode of founder can spell trou­ble down the road. “If a horse foundered when he was younger, he may al­ways have a cer­tain level of dis­com­fort. Then, as he gets older, that wors­ens. Throw arthri­tis on top of that and you’ve got an old horse who is in too much pain to move. It’s a com­mon rea­son we end up putting older horses down.”

Be­yond founder, ex­cess weight takes a toll on a horse’s bones and joints. Over a life­time, the wear and tear caused by car­ry­ing sev­eral hun­dred ex­tra pounds can in­crease a horse’s sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to arthri­tis and other chronic de­gen­er­a­tive bone diseases.

But you can head off th­ese prob­lems. Fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the body con­di­tion scor­ing (BCS) sys­tem and talk to your vet­eri­nar­ian about what your horse’s ideal weight would be. And if he starts pack­ing on the pounds, ad­just his diet---you’ll need to sup­ply him with fewer calo­ries than he is burn­ing. A hay­based diet and plenty of ex­er­cise---both as turnout as well as rid­den work--are the key to equine weight loss. This may mean out­fit­ting your horse with a graz­ing muz­zle dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months or ar­rang­ing to have some­one else ride him when your own sched­ule keeps you from the sad­dle.

A horse doesn’t have to be ob­vi­ously obese to be at a high risk of lamini­tis, how­ever. Those who have equine meta­bolic syn­drome or in­sulin re­sis­tance are al­ready at in­creased risk of lamini­tis be­cause their bod­ies do not re­spond to in­sulin ap­pro­pri­ately, lead­ing to spikes in blood in­sulin lev­els af­ter cer­tain meals. Ex­actly how th­ese spikes are re­lated to lamini­tis is the sub­ject of on­go­ing re­search.

Lab­o­ra­tory tests can iden­tify horses with meta­bolic con­di­tions defini­tively, but you may no­tice phys­i­cal clues on your own. “Th­ese horses have fat de­posits in very spe­cific places, on the crest and over the tail, for in­stance,” says Judd. “The horse may not be fat all

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.