Monthly Archives: March 2015

It Just Keeps Getting Better & Better

Two days ago Chance’s vet came out to do a follow up and to give him and Luck their Spring shots.

Chance got some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture as well. The vet stated that Chance was showing improvements in his Cervical (neck) flexibility and still had some tightness on his hind-end. She did one new stretch with him which entailed her lifting his front leg while her assistant had him bend his neck to the opposite side. He was able to do it on both sides while remaining balanced!!!! Where as before he could barely do cervical stretch with all four legs on the ground!

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The vet said that Chance has gained weight and could use another 50-75lbs. She asked if he is finishing his dinner (4q twice a day) to which I answered yes. She suggested upping his feed to another quart twice a day totaling 5 quarts twice a day.

Chance’s feed schedule now includes the following:

AM: 5 q of Safe Choice Senior Feed by Nutrina, Transfer Factor (immune system booster), MicroLactin (for pain and inflammation). Hay Alfalfa mix, and 2q of Hay Stretcher

PM: 5 q of SCSF, SmartPak (Senior Flex supplement, immune system enhancer),  Hay/alfalfa mix, and 2 q of Hay Stretcher.

Lucky got his first round of shots today and he was so well behaved! He stood there calmly and put his head under my arm while he got his shots.

The vet also took a look at Luck’s teeth.

There are four ways to age an equine by his teeth:

  • Occurrence of permanent teeth
  • Disappearance of cups
  • Angle of incidence
  • Shape of the surface of the teeth

Well, Luck still has two baby teeth which do not seem to have adult teeth behind them that would ordinarily push out the baby teeth. So there goes option 1. 

His teeth no longer have cups on them and are completely smooth which indicates he is around age 10/11. 

I, along with Luck’s most recent owner, thought he was about 5 years old. However, his teeth seem to tell a different story. I’m wondering if the fact that Luck still has two of his baby teeth could be the reason for the cups prematurely disappearing? Or if he really is 10/11 years old….guess it’s time for a dental appointment. 

Two Minis Looking For Their Forever Home in Virginia 

These two beautiful stallions are looking for a home. They have a wonderfully sweet disposition and are 5 years old, turning 6 in August. They’re half brothers, with papers, and will need to find a home that will take them together. Please text or call for more information at (703) 728-7473.

    

Progress

Chance BEFORE tendon injury diagnosis (I need to find the video where he was at his worse)

Chance AFTER Stem Cell Treatments

After 1 round of EPM Treatment

 Chance AFTER 2 rounds of EPM Treatments (Need to get a better video) Before there was no way he would have been able to get up that hill.

Spring Cleaning

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Today the the blankets came off and the brushes came out! Chance was none too thrilled about being inside but as soon as the brush sailed across his back he was in heaven.

Chance stood there with heavy eyes while I curried, brushed, picked, sprayed, clipped, and so on. An hour later he was free to enjoy the sunshine & instead stood there with his head in the stall watching  😊

Next up was Lucky. This would be his first ever head to toe grooming and I had no idea what to expect.

He stood there, connected to one crosstie, as I went through the motions and talked to him, trying to reassure the little guy that there was nothing to be scared of. An hour later and he was ready to also enjoy the sunshine.

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Hannibal. 

Today Chance got his teeth floated by his very first dentist from 2000!  Due to his cribbing history his front teeth were significantly worn down.  His molars were not in bad shape but were a bit jagged.  The dentist noticed that Chance’s left side was more sensitive to the filing and put a jaw opening device in C’s mouth to keep it open (see below right photo). The molars all looked like they were holding strong and there was no smell that would be indicative of an infection or decay. The dentist indicated that Chance was missing three back molars and that he felt that he was about 24 years old.

The dentist asked me about the nutritional care Chance was receiving due to his age, and I gave him the run down- 2 quarts twice a day of hay stretcher, hay/alfalfa mix throughout the day, 4 quarts of Nutrina Smart Feed Senior twice a day, 2 cups of Rice Bran twice a day in feed, SmartPak Senior Flex and Immune Boost, DuraLactin once a day for arthritic pain and inflammation, Vitamin E once a day, and Transfer Factor for an immune system booster. He continued to explain that when he asks the owners of most of the older horses he goes to sees, they do not have them on the proper diet. I explained that we are still trying to get more weight on Chance but that he has put on a good amount of weight since last summer. He suggested that our next appointment be this December before Chance has the opportunity to go into the winter and lose any weight, which is common in older horses, especially cribbers and thoroughbreds, in the winter months.

Later that day, Chance seemed to have some difficulty eating his hay; wads of hay were scattered around his stall. This is something that I have seen intermittently, maybe once or twice, but not to this extreme.  I decided to give him alfalfa cubes to substitute the hay until the next day when, hopefully, he would be able to eat more easily.  Sure enough the next morning there were no wads of hay!

Therapeutic Shoeing 

By: Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM

Any discussion of therapeutic shoeing in the horse must begin with a discussion of what therapeutic shoeing is–and what it is not. According to Stephen O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, professional farrier and owner of Northern Virginia Equine, in Marshall, therapeutic shoeing (or therapeutic farriery) is “the science and art of affecting/influencing the structures of the foot.” It is not a cookie-cutter, “apply shoe A to foot B” magic bullet in the war on equine lameness. To understand how the foot structures can be influenced, we should first have a clear picture of those structures and the forces that act on them.

“In an ideal world, you would begin from a diagnosis,” says Andrew Parks, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, professor of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “From that diagnosis you would get your treatment goals. By goals I mean the big picture concepts for treatment. You need to have principles (a range of techniques) that allow you to implement your goals.”

O’Grady concurs: “In order to be proficient at therapeutic farriery you must understand the forces that affect the foot. Excess forces or stresses on the hoof capsule lead to deformation, and excess forces or stresses on the internal structures of the foot lead to disease. Everything we are trying to do with therapeutic farriery is to change the forces on the foot.”

For Want of a Foot …

“There is no definition of a perfect foot,” says Parks. What’s considered a “normal” equine foot differs among breeds and disciplines. Thus, when evaluating trimming and shoeing options for a horse, owners and farriers must first consider foot conformation–what you see when you look at a horse standing at rest. Also evaluate limb conformation, which can affect how the horse’s foot bears weight and the way a horse wears a hoof or a shoe. Both limb and hoof conformation might alter the horse’s stride and landing, affecting the forces upon the foot structures. For instance, a club-footed horse’s high-set heels will alter weight distribution, placing more pressure on the toe and heel. While farriery might alter the distribution of the load on the foot, one misconception that O’Grady would like to correct is the idea that you can “change limb conformation by trimming. After 6-8 months (of age), conformation is conformation,” he says. Rather than attempting to make an atypically conformed foot or leg appear “normal,” O’Grady stresses the importance of trimming “for the cards the horse has been dealt.”

Forces affecting the horse hoof

Figure 1: This illustration shows the forces around the center of rotation (the black dot) in a horse at rest. The ground reaction force is transmitted upward through the lamellae to the bony column. The extending force of the coffin joint is balanced by an equal flexing force generated by the deep digital flexor tendon. 

The Foundation: An Appropriate Trim

According to O’Grady, therapeutic shoeing must begin with an appropriately trimmed foot. While much is made of hoof “balance,” O’Grady dislikes the term as he feels it is not clearly defined among practitioners and farriers. He prefers to work from a set of landmarks as clear guidelines to trim each individual foot appropriately:

1) Pick up the foot, and draw a line across the widest part of it. This line will fall just in front of the center of rotation (at the coffin joint). A well-trimmed foot should have approximately even proportions of hoof on either side of that line.
2) Look at the frog. The heels should lie approximately on the same line as the widest part of the frog.
3) Stand the horse on a hard, flat surface so his cannon bone on the leg you’re addressing is perpendicular to the ground. A line drawn down the front of the pastern should be parallel to a line drawn along the dorsal (toe) surface of the hoof wall. This is the hoof-pastern-axis (HPA). A broken-back HPA, in which the front of the foot is angled less steeply than the pastern, shows up in low heels; a broken-forward axis manifests in high heels (club foot).

According to O’Grady, anyone can use these three parameters to assess a horse’s trim. “Trimming is the mainstay of therapeutic shoeing,” he states. Thus, any benefit to be derived from therapeutic shoeing must have a basis in an appropriately trimmed foot. “The first function of a shoe is to protect that which is trimmed and also to complement it,” he says. “Then you can add mechanics … to that trim.”

Physics and the Equine Foot

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, the support and movement of the equine foot depends upon a system of opposing forces. Understanding these forces is key to understanding the principles of farriery.

In the standing horse:

1) The ground reaction force (GRF, as pictured in Figure 1) is the force transmitted from the ground to the ground surface of the foot, into the hoof wall, and from the wall through the lamellae (interlocking leaflike tissues attaching the hoof to the coffin bone) to the bony column.1 Think of the GRF as the ground pushing up as the foot lands. The GRF extends (i.e., an extensor motion rather than flexor) the coffin and pastern joints and is centered at the center of rotation.2 The GRF is counteracted by two forces.
2) The first of these forces, the weight of the horse, is transmitted down the cannon bone through the fetlock. Since the GRF and the weight of the horse through the cannon bone are both vertical but not aligned, they cause the pastern to rotate so the fetlock becomes closer to the ground.
3) At rest, the horse’s anatomy counters this effect by the upward and backward force of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT)–the flexing force illustrated in Figure 1. Picture a string attached to the back of the coffin bone and pulled upward over the navicular bone, over the fetlock, and along the back of the cannon toward the knee.

 

Update!

After two rounds of EPM treatments, stem cell injections, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, testing, antibiotics, ultrasounds, blood work, adding DuraLactin….Here is a video of Chance yesterday!  He has gained a lot of weight back and hopefully, with the addition of the Rice Bran in his feed, he will continue to gain weight!

Let Cribbers Crib?!

Study: Cortisol and Noncribbing Cribbers

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Oct 14, 2014

Study: Cortisol and Noncribbing CribbersHorses that crib have higher stress levels when they’re not cribbing, Briefer Freymond said.

Photo: Photos.com

Back in 2011 an equine ethicist suggested thatcribbers should be allowed to crib. That it could actually do them some good (provided it’s not causing colic or severe dental damage, of course). That cribbing might be a coping mechanism for these horses, faced with stress, and that stopping horses from doing it might even be cruel.

Now, at the 2014 International Society for Equitation Science conference, held Aug. 6-9 in Bredsten, Denmark, a Swiss research team has brought science-based evidence to support that claim: In a study evaluating the stress parameters in cribbers versus noncribbers, the scientists found significant differences in stress responses. Most of all, they found that the cribbers that did not crib during their test had the highest stress levels.

“Crib-biting might be a successful coping strategy that helps horses gain control over situations and reduces cortisol levels,” said Sabrina Briefer Freymond, MSc, of the Agroscope Swiss National Stud Farm in Avenches. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that researchers use to analyze stress levels.

“Preventing crib-biters from crib-biting could be counterproductive because this behavior seems to have some beneficial feedback for horses,” Briefer Freymond said.

In their study the researchers investigated 22 cribbers and 21 noncribbers of varying breeds, sexes, and ages. Horses stayed in their home stalls for the full study period (less than four hours). The researchers measured cortisol levels, evaluated horse behavior, and recorded heart rates for 15 minutes before starting an “ACTH challenge test.”

An ACTH challenge test is a relatively new scientific method for studying stress levels in animals. In the test, the researchers inject the horses with a small dose of synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The brain’s pituitary gland produces ACTH naturally, which stimulates the release of several hormones, including cortisol. For years veterinarians have used ACTH challenges to test for Cushing’s disease, as indicated by a low cortisol response. Recently, researchers have discovered that the challenge can also reveal high stress response when high amounts of cortisol are released.

Once the team injected the study horses with ACTH, they observed the animals for three hours. They recorded behaviors and heart rates and measured cortisol levels by saliva sample every 30 minutes.

The team found no significant differences in heart rate, heart rate variability, or behavior (except cribbing, of course) between the cribbers and noncribbers, Briefer Freymond said. However, they noted a significant difference in cortisol levels between the groups: Overall, cribbers had 25% more cortisol in their saliva than noncribbers.

Some of the cribbers did not crib at all during the three hours after the ACTH challenge, she added. And these horses actually had the highest cortisol levels of all—38% higher than the noncribbers. In fact, when these horses were taken out of the calculation, the cortisol levels between cribbers that cribbed and noncribbers were fairly similar.

It seems that the horses that crib have higher stress levels when they’re not cribbing, Briefer Freymond said. Many of the cribbers have low cribbing frequencies, sometimes only one hour a day, and it’s possible that in between cribbing episodes their stress levels increase, she said. Why the horses were not cribbing during the study period to release their stress is not clear, she added, as they were not prevented from cribbing.

Further research will aim towards a better understanding of the relationship between cribbing and stress release.

Transfer Factor: An Answer To Treatment and Prevention of Equine Disease?

by Heather Smith Thomas

For many decades, the typical way veterinarians and horse owners have dealt with disease is by vaccination and by treating sick animals with anti-microbial drugs when signs of illness appear.

By the time the animal shows symptoms, however, damage has already occurred and it can be more difficult to treat the disease. In some instances, irreversible damage has already been done. The use of pathogen-killing drugs is not always as effective as we’d like, and today this use is also being questioned due to the increasing development of drug-resistant pathogens. This microbial resistance diminishes the effectiveness and benefit of some of the drugs we’ve come to rely on.

Horse owners are beginning to look at alternatives to antimicrobial use in dealing with disease. A bright spot in this quest is the use of immune system enhancement and the role of transfer factors. If the immune status of our animals could be enhanced, disease would be less likely to occur, and even if the animals do get sick, the severity and duration of disease could be reduced and they would recover quicker without the need for as much antimicrobial treatment.

Dr. Steve Slagle, a veterinarian in Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento, has been working with a fascinating product that is now available for humans and animals. “The product that I’m using in my practice is a natural immune enhancer and modulator. It derives its efficacy from a protein produced by the immune system’s master immune cells called T lymphocytes. The protein is called transfer factor, and it is also found in cow colostrum. If you buy a bag of dried colostrum (a substitute colostrum product for newborn calves) at the feed store or veterinary supply, about 1% of that product is this protein. We extract that 1% from cow colostrum which enables us to deliver very high levels of transfer factor in our products,” he explains.

“The transfer factors were originally marketed as a human product. I started using them in my veterinary practice in February 1999. So many veterinarians were using the human product that 4Life Research decided to create a veterinary product line for dogs, cats, horses and newborn livestock. Dr. Joe Ramaekers, a colleague of mine, was asked to formulate the product line. Dr. Ramaekers then went on to develop a cancer product for dogs and cats, and a formulation for ruminating livestock,” says Slagle.

“I have been practicing veterinary medicine since 1968 and I have never seen anything that is as exciting as this. I must admit that when I was first informed about transfer factor by a longtime friend, a small animal veterinarian, I was skeptical. He claimed success on so many different types of cases. This didn’t really make sense or seem feasible until I realized some time later that the transfer factors were not treating the particular condition. They were simply enabling the immune system to do its job,” says Slagle

“During the first month I tried it, I used transfer factor on three foals. All three cases were critical and I felt their chances for recovery were slim. The first one was a severe pneumonia. The second was a joint ill infection involving the hock. The third was a terminal septicemia. All three made dramatic recoveries, so I was more than impressed. I was amazed,” he says.

EQUINE PRODUCTS

“The two products from 4Life Research that I use most often in my equine practice are Equine Performance & Show (patented for tumors, EPM, Cushing’s and several other diseases) and Animal Stress Pack (for treating acute conditions). Equine Performance & Show is used primarily as a complete high-end daily supplement with maintenance levels of transfer factor and other immune-enhancing ingredients. I also use it on my chronic cases like tumors, Cushing’s, allergies, and autoimmune diseases like pemphigus (a chronic skin disease). Animal Stress Pack is my emergency treatment, with high levels of transfer factor and other immune enhancers, probiotics, electrolytes and stress vitamins,” says Slagle.

“One of our first studies in horses was done at a major Quarter Horse ranch in Texas that was fighting a losing battle against strangles and a rhodococcus outbreak in which they had already lost several very valuable foals. We put the remaining affected foals on Animal Stress Pack and turned the tide on this very serious situation. All of my infectious disease cases receive the Stress Pack. Even though it is not treating any particular disease, we are dramatically improving the immune response, giving the immune system—which is the ultimate disease fighter—the tools it needs to finish the job,” he explains.

This product is patented for use in horses with EPM. At the latest AAEP Convention in Anaheim, California, Slagle met with Dr. Thomas Bello (a research veterinarian with a private practice, Sandhill Equine Center, in North Carolina). Bello had earlier done the clinical trials for a major drug company on their product for treating EPM.

“The literature on EPM treatments had shown that only between 10% to 20% of horses experience full recovery, returning to their original performance levels. Dr. Bello then became interested in our product and began using it for treating horses with EPM, and getting great results,” says Slagle.

“Dr. Bello then presented a paper at the AVMA convention, which was later published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in 2008—showing that 28 performance horses with EPM were treated with the new EPM product along with the two transfer factor products. At the time of publishing, 82% of those horses were in full recovery. In our recent conversation at the AAEP convention, Dr. Bello told me he now has more than 50 cases in the study, and a recovery rate of over 90%. Apparently the additional immune support was what was needed to bring full recovery. It is also very common to see a relapse in horses that are only being treated with antimicrobials, but Dr. Bello indicated that with his regimen he has not experienced this problem,” says Slagle.

“Since transfer factors are true modulators, my allergic and autoimmune patients go on a daily regimen of transfer factor. Somehow this protein is able to re-educate a confused immune system and bring relief to a large percentage of my equine patients. I generally start them on Performance & Show, along with a week or two of the Stress Pack to front-load the system with high levels of transfer factor. Then when symptoms are under control, we continue with only the Performance & Show,” he explains.

The immune system provides the body with the ability to recognize and remember harmful invaders (pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi). Suppressed or damaged immune systems can have disastrous results. One of the most devastating examples is SCID (a genetic defect that occurs in some Arabian foals). They are born without a functioning immune system. After the temporary immunity from the dam’s colostrum is gone, these foals always die of disease.

A healthy immune system has the ability to remember and recognize pathogens, mounting a defense against them. Disease occurs in humans and animals when the immune system is overwhelmed by the pathogen.

HOW IT WORKS

The body’s immune system produces memory molecules whenever it is exposed to disease or receives a vaccination. These memory molecules are bioactive peptides. An example is the “immune” factor passed from a mare to her foal or a cow to her calf via colostrum. This transfer is critical in helping the immune response cells (antibodies) with identification and activation. They are what we might call super boosters in immunity.

Transfer factors were discovered in 1949. Earlier, it had been noticed that immunities could be transferred from one person to another by blood transfusions. In 1949, Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence, a researcher working on the problem of tuberculosis in humans, found that he could transfer immunity to his patients by using dialyzed leukocytes. When this extract was taken from a blood donor who was resistant to the pathogen and injected into a patient that had no immunity, the immunity of the donor was transferred to the naïve patient. A portion of the lymphocyte (white blood cell) contained what Lawrence dubbed “transfer factor”.

Research was conducted in more than 60 countries (and more than 3500 studies were done) during the 1950s through 1970s and then practically halted. At that point in time, the world’s blood supply was becoming contaminated by HIV and hepatitis C virus and the only known source of transfer factor was blood. Research on this phenomenon was also put on hold because more exciting discoveries revolved around antimicrobial drugs. These were the promising wave of the future that could halt diseases in their tracks. Use of transfer factor was very limited for awhile—especially in veterinary medicine—because it was more expensive to produce than antibiotics. Research did continue, but slowly.

The phenomenon of transfer factor was not actively pursued until the late 1980s when it was discovered that bovine colostrum contains significant amounts of this ingredient that stimulates both aspects of the immune system (humoral and cellular immunity). Veterinary researchers observed a large number of lymphocytic cells in the normal mammary gland secretions of cows, and wondered what role they might play in the health of the newborn calf, realizing that colostrum does more than merely provide passive immune protection. We now know that transfer factor is a lymphokine—one of the protein messengers released by antigen-sensitized lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Chicken eggs also contain transfer factors, and the combination derived from eggs and colostrum increases the effectiveness by 185%. Transfer factors from cow colostrum and eggs are superior to and more functional than transfer factors from humans because animals are exposed to many more species and types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

As stated by Dr. Richard H. Bennett (Infectious Disease Microbiologist and Immunologist, and former consultant to the National Research Council), transfer factor is one of the most potent messengers in the body and has three effects on the immune system. These are called inducer fractions, antigen specific fractions, and suppressor fractions.

Inducer fractions – One of the functions of transfer factor molecules is to selectively enhance immune surveillance by helping the body recognize various antigens. This selective immune surveillance is made possible by the inducer fractions. One of the veterinarians who consulted with the company that has the patent for extracting transfer factor from colostrum stated that one capsule (200 mg) of transfer factor has the capability of recognizing more than 100,000 different pathogens. Not only can transfer factor be specific for an individual antigen that a lymphocyte might be exposed to, but it can also stimulate a multiple response and provide protection against several strains of that organism.

This enhancement is made possible by the inducer fraction that acts on what are called the Natural Killer (NK) Cells, according to Bennett. The NK cell’s job is to seek out any cells that have been altered by microbes and destroy them. They have a similar protective role in preventing the formation of malignant tumors. The inducer fractions also influence the body’s overall response by increasing the function of the T helper lymphocytes which play a critical role in a balanced immune response to resolve most infections, says Bennett.

The researchers found that they could expose the cow to various bacteria and viruses, and the cow would then produce transfer factor that could stimulate immunity not only to those pathogens but also to other related strains that are much more pathogenic to other species. This is of benefit when using transfer factor to aid disease resistance in horses, for instance. Cows can produce large quantities of colostrum that can then be used for extracting transfer factor that can benefit other species—since transfer factor in horses, cats, dogs, humans and cows has similar structure and identical function.

Another exciting aspect of transfer factor is how quickly the protection is mounted. Immunity from vaccination generally takes 10 to 14 days to develop, whereas transfer factor activates immunity in less than 24 hours.

Antigen specific fractions – Transfer factors act in two ways to “educate” the immune system to respond quickly when confronted by disease threat. One is a response to a specific pathogen such as a cryptosporidium protozoan that might be common to several species, and the other response is to similar pathogens—such as herpes virus infections that differ from one host species to another. Thus transfer factors can “educate” the immune system to recognize and fight a wide array of related, but not identical, infectious agents, according to Bennett.

Suppressor fractions – In every physiological system in the body there are checks and balances, so transfer factor can also act to suppress immune function when necessary. The process of achieving balance is called homeostasis. Once a disease threat has been confronted, and a sufficient response has occurred to thwart it, the body must down-regulate the battle so the immune system can return to a resting state and conserve its resources for the next challenge.

The suppressor fractions signal the T helper lymphocytes and the cytotoxic T cells to slow down their activity and return to a quieter state. This “quieting down” the immune response is important because some pathogenic microbes can hide in certain body tissues and the immune response becomes directed toward those tissues, leading to autoimmune diseases. The suppressor fractions of transfer factor appear to be the way the body limits overzealous immune responses, according to Bennett, and becomes the body’s means to protect itself from an inappropriate immune response.

It seems paradoxical that the transfer factor can both stimulate and suppress immune function, but this is part of its important role. Thus it can prevent autoimmune diseases, and other situations where the body’s own immune response has over-responded to antigens, such as allergic reactions and COPD.

HEALTHIER HORSES

Stressed animals generally become more vulnerable to disease because stress (and the resultant rise in cortisol levels) hinders the immune system. Slagle and Ramaekers tested the transfer factor product on stressed calves to see if it controlled cortisol levels. “We have done two controlled studies on stress and cortisol levels of stressed calves entering the feedlot. One was in Tiffin, Ohio at a private, veterinary-owned and operated feedlot. We repeated that study at Texas A&M. Our results were basically the same. We took blood samples twice daily for 12 days and saw a 46% reduction in cortisol levels in the calves that received transfer factor, with a large decrease in treatments, along with better weight gains,” says Slagle.

“We have not repeated that kind of study in horses, but with the responses (reduced incidence of disease in stress situations) we see in horses, I feel the results would be similar,” he says.

The use of transfer factor to stimulate the body to mount a better immune response to pathogens can reduce the need for antimicrobial drugs. This can help retain their effectiveness longer, since over-use of these drugs has led to increasing numbers of resistant pathogens. We need to find ways to maintain their effectiveness as long as possible.

Transfer factor can boost immunity within a few hours. This makes it very beneficial for use in newborn foals, horses that will be transported, or even as a post-exposure treatment when you know a horse has come into contact with disease agents. Veterinarians have also been using transfer factor to help horses deal with frustrating problems like Cushing’s, laminitis, colitis, cancers, allergies, chronic metritis, EPM, pigeon fever, scours, strangles, and many viral diseases. Helping the immune system help itself is the promising wave of the future.

For more information, Dr. Steve Slagle can be reached in Granite Bay, California at 916-791-2911 or Dr. Joe Ramaekers at 831-476-5050 or check his website: www.ramaekersnutrition.com

“I think I’ll go for a walk outside now- the summer sun is calling my name…”

Sunshine, melting ice and snow, AND 50 degree weather at last! Chance was able to finally enjoy an entire day outside walking around without slipping and sliding ( and without me holding my breath for fear he would fall.)

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Usually, when I arrive at the barn, I will go and see Chance before Lucky to keep him from getting upset.  But today when I got there I didn’t see Chance right away so I decided to bring Lucky in from the paddock.  The next thing I know Chance is standing at the top of the hill staring at me.  I tried to play it cool 🙂 by talking to Chance and continuing to walk Lucky up towards the barn.  That did not work.  Chance freaked out!  He began huffing, Lucky bolted, and Chance refused to walk forward because that would mean Lucky would be out of his range of vision (apparently he thinks this donkey who is maybe up to Chance’s knees in height will attack him).

I finally got Chance to the barn when ice fell off the roof right next to him.  He jolted forward into his stall and all I heard was a bang- Chance hit some part of his body against the stall entrance. I didn’t see any evidence of an injury so I let him calm down for a bit before I began to groom him.  Well, that did not happen….he was pacing and huffing…so I decided to give him some Quietex to help him to calm down and prevent him from hurting himself.  20 minutes later Chance was much calmer.  Although, if you look at the photo, he looks a little drugged.:)

Chance has put on a bit of weight and even though he still needs to gain more, I think he is looking much better.  I began 1 cup of Rice Bran on his food once a day for a week and will up it to 2 cups after.  I am hoping that plus the alfalfa and hay mix, Chance will get some meat on his bones in no time!

The next task, aside from putting on weight and engaging in rehabilitation exercises, is to enhance Chance’s immune system.  Due to his age, medical history, the rehabilitation to help rebuild his neck and hind muscles, and the medications that he has been receiving for EPM, I was advised to add a probiotic to his diet.  The stomach accounts for 60% of a horse’s immune system.  Basically, if the gut is off the chances of a horse contracting a virus, disease, or even injuring himself are much higher.  Not only does the immune system help to fight off illnesses, cancers, etc, it also helps with weight, stress responses, and the effectiveness of treatments.

So, I began to do some research and found some really incredible information which I will talk about in the next post!

Creaking Bones: Information on Equine Arthritis & Prevention

STUdy: Start Measures to Prevent Equine Arthritis Early

“Arthritis is one of the most common reasons we retire horses, and this study shows that prevention of joint damage in early training may be possible through diet,” Coverdale said.

A series of studies by researchers in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University suggest prevention is the best solution to prevent arthritis in young horses.

Josie Coverdale, MS, PhD, associate professor in equine science, and Jessica Lucia, MS, PhD, a former graduate student under Coverdale and now a professor at Sam Houston State University, found that using anti-inflammatory aids mixed with daily feed rations can help decrease joint inflammation in young horses.

“Arthritis is one of the most common reasons we retire horses, and this study shows that prevention of joint damage in early training may be possible through diet,” Coverdale said. “It’s pretty clear the damage comes during early training and that damage often leads to arthritis later in life. A lot of pharmaceuticals are given to treat pain, but few actually help repair the cartilage. We went with the premise that prevention is the best approach rather than trying to treat an existing condition.”

Coverdale said they used the horse production herd at Texas A&M to develop the model and test several diet additives. Lucia read through numerous journals and read a study that used LPS (lipopolysaccharide) injected into the joint for induction of localized inflammation in horses.

“We came across LPS, which has been used in older horses, but not younger horses,” she said. “LPS is the inflammatory part of E. coli, which can be injected using a sterile solution. The beauty of that method is you inject it in the knee and in 24 hours you get pretty quick swelling that is associated with cartilage turnover and related pain.”

This allowed researchers to study the inflammation and breakdown of cartilage over time and mimic the progression of inflammation and cartilage changes associated with intense exercise.

“This initial model study showed us the pattern of inflammation and isolated appropriate markers to measure cartilage breakdown using joint fluid removed from the knee at various time points,” Coverdale said.

Once the LPS model was established to predictably cause joint inflammation, Coverdale said, different dietary strategies were used to try to decrease the amount of inflammation, which included anti-inflammatory dietary supplements such as glucosamine—commonly used by humans to aid in building back damaged cartilage in arthritic joints.

Coverdale said previous data with glucosamine supplementation was “hit or miss with adult horses,” but they wanted to see for themselves and test the theory that prevention in young horses was easier than treating arthritis in the adult.

“We found that it tended to increase new cartilage production and decrease the breakdown of existing cartilage, which was good,” she said.

Study horses received 30 milligrams of glucosamine per kilogram of body weight, Coverdale said.

“We certainly got a positive response, which was what we wanted,” she said.

Another component of Coverdale’s research has been studying conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which “is fairly similar to glucosamine in that there are documented anti-inflammatory effects, which may be used to remediate and repair cartilage in joints.”

“Horses receiving supplemental CLA tended to exhibit greater repair of their cartilage when injected with LPS rather than break it down,” she said. “Two percent of the diet was given in the CLA and that can be economically feasible for horse owners.”

The research group has also evaluated horses at varying ages to determine the response to LPS based on age. They concluded that young horses were more likely to synthesize new cartilage in response to inflammation while older horses were more likely to experience cartilage degradation or damage.

“This further illustrates that dietary intervention provided to young horses in training to prevent joint damage may yield the best results,” she said. “With all four of these projects it confirmed that intervening during times of early growth and training with some of these dietary additives is worth it.

“Waiting on down the line as the horse ages is probably too late,” she continued. “Most people are waiting until they see symptoms in these adult horses and by then it is too late. It’s more cost effective and beneficial to do this early. Using it as a prevention method is much better.”

“The initial project to develop the LPS model was funded by the H. Patricia Link Quasi-Endowment funds in the department of animal science,” she said. “This funding was pivotal in furthering the research efforts and helped generate interest from other funding sources such as Cargill Animal Nutrition and the American Quarter Horse Association. The whole premise of the Link funds is to help researchers develop a model or provide preliminary research data to support further funding efforts. This was a perfect example of how this can work.”

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Equine Arthritis Information

Vets Urge Horse Owners to Vaccinate Against West Nile Virus

Veterinarians Urge Vaccination against West Nile Virus

By Erica Larson, News Editor

Aug 31, 2012

As of Aug. 21, more than 110 cases of equine West Nile virus (WNV) have been reported this year in the United States, according to the United States Geological Survey. The majority of these affected horses were either not vaccinated against the disease, or not up-to-date on their WNV vaccination.

Since the mosquito season is far from over in some areas of the country, some horse owners might be wondering if a vaccine booster might benefit their animals, or if it’s too late to inoculate a currently unvaccinated horse. To get the answers to these questions, TheHorse.com caught up with Rocky Mason, DVM, an ambulatory equine practitioner from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky.

“Given the recent rise of clinical cases associated with the West Nile virus, I would recommend to owners of unvaccinated horses to consider vaccinating their horses now with a current West Nile vaccine product,” Mason said. “That initial shot needs to be boostered in three to six weeks depending on which commercial product was used. Following that initial two shot series, horses should be vaccinated annually.

“It takes roughly 10 to 14 days for a horse to mount and generate protective antibodies,” he continued. “If the horse is previously unvaccinated it may take two weeks past the second shot to mount protection so the recommendation is to get started now.”

Like with previously unvaccinated horses, Mason recommends starting a new vaccination series in horses with an out-of-date or incomplete vaccination status.

“Horse owners of previously vaccinated horses that have lapsed on their annual vaccine booster will need to go through the initial two-shot series similar to that of unvaccinated horses in order to be in compliance with the commercial product claims,” he explained. “Despite the lapse these horses typically mount an immune response to the first vaccination, but it may not be at a high enough level to prevent viremia, disease and encephalitis. To be safe, the two shot series is recommended in this group as well.”

Mason explained that all commercially available WNV vaccines “have claims for protection of up to a year as determined by challenge models.” That said, even some well vaccinated horses might benefit from a booster this fall, he said.

“More susceptible individuals (young, old, or the immunosuppressed) may require more frequent boostering especially during times of increased exposure like now,” he explained. “It is important to consult with your veterinarian to best determine the needs of your individual horse and its risk assessment. It is very likely given the increased exposure and challenge that the recommendation to booster your horse will be made.”

Finally, Mason stressed that it’s not too late in the year to vaccinate against WNV, even if horses are unvaccinated at present.

“West Nile virus is dependent on mosquitoes for transmission, there are many areas in the country that have insects well into the fall and even winter, necessitating year around immunity. It is important to consult with your veterinarian as only he or she will know when best to time annual boosters in your area.”