Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics, Horse Colic & Digestive Upsets

Sinatra's Summer :)
Just like we promised, we are covering prebiotics, probiotics, colic and various digestive upsets in horses. Here at Adirondack Equine Center, the horses that we do rescue come from unknown backgrounds, and many have illnesses or syndromes that become discovered throughout their stay at the farm. These conditions vary from parasite infestations to more serious illnesses such as colitis.

We have been asked what the differences between probiotics and prebiotics are - probiotics are live bacteria or microorganisms usually from the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium family.  The Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) is a branch of gram-positive rod (cocci) usually found in decomposing plants and milk products.  Lactobacillus, Streptococcus Bovi and Streptococcus Equi are the most typical LAB species of bacteria present in the equine gastrointestinal tract.

What is Colitis ?

(the following has been copied from "Thal Equine, LLC"  written by Doughlas O. Thal, DVM, to describe the condition medically - Thal Equine Hospital)
Colitis is inflammation of the colon.  When the colon wall is irritated it loses function, thereby losing its ability to internally uptake water, and may actually dump fluid from the blood stream into the manure.  Colitis can be caused by a variety of problems, but often results from a disruption of the normal bacterial flora due to a rapid feed change.  A classic example of this is grain overload, which can cause entire populations of normally occuring microbes to die off and others to flourish.  This imbalance and direct damage to the colon from the acid products from the grain can lead to colitis, which results in diarrhea.

Bacterial colitis is caused by overgrowth of undesirable organisms in the colon.  Overgrowth of organisms that normally live in the colon can take place, or a new organism may be introduced.  Often we do not know why these bacterial populations shift, but when they do, life threatening colitis and diarrhea can result.  Bacterial colitis is often caused by types of Salmonella and Clostridial organisms.  Understanding where these organisms come from or what causes them to multiply suddenly has proven to be difficult and is still not completely understood.  Researchers have learned that some types of bacteria can be transmitted through contact with horses that are shedding the organism in their manure.  Some have been isolated from environmental sources like contaminated drinking water.  An important point is that these organisms appear when the normal flora of the gut is disrupted, especially by the use of certain antibiotics.

Whether or not a horse becomes infected with these diseases depends their immunity, as related to their general health and the specific balance of microbes in their intestine.  Acute colitis is rare but occur more often under more crowded and stressful conditions.  There have been serious outbreaks of bacterial colitis in equine hospitals and breeding farms.   An important factor in these outbreaks is that most of the horses infected are sick or stressed and usually have been on antibiotics.  Antibiotics alter the normal bacterial populations and make horses more susceptible to overgrowth of these bacteria.   A rarer cause of colitis in the Southwest (more common in the Northeast) is Potomac Horse Fever, caused by an organism that relies on a parasite in freshwater snails for its life cycle and transmission to horses.

What's in a "Healthy GI Tract" ?

A horse's healthy GI tract will process and ferment feed so that its organism can get the most nutrients out of the substrate consumed. Having a volatile microflora prevents equines from developing diarrhea, pyrexia (fever), an elevated heart rate, loss of bicarbonate (electrolyte responsible for the ph of blood and other fluids in the body), and laminitis. Alterations in the microbial population can result in the decrease of the tract's ph levels which promote an over-populating environment for both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, potentially harmful to horses.

A visit from the Veterinarian...

Sinatra's Predicament
The other day we had Dr. Bill Valentino for a visit, 
to do a check-up and a tooth float of Sinatra, one 
of our older trail horses. He seemed to have 
seasonal "upsets" that would produce watery diarrhea, 
black in color, and odorless. Thinking that he was 
regularly dewormed, including Quest Plus'sed at 
least once a year, we never thought that he would have 
parasites - encysted strongyles. Dr. Bill collected 
his manure, tested it and called us with the 
results. Guess what ? His encysted strongyle count 
was off the chart. The horse is a TB 
(small QH-like TB), weighing at a healthy 
1250 lbs. Originally a New Holland 
(New Holland Auction Stables) horse, with an unknown
 past and a questionable worming schedule, 
Sinatra had to go through a strong fenbendazole 
(safeguard double strength, panacur power pack) 
regimen for five consecutive days.

Enysted Strongyle Eggs
Under Microscope
Differences between moxidectin and fenbendazole regimens ? 

Moxidectin remains in the system, killing and preventing further infestation of strongyles and any most parasites. It is a rather dangerous drug, that can cause detrimental colic within 14 days of use. The average horse owner needs to exercise caution when using any moxidectin product, and it is usually suggested to use these products on younger horses. 

How does moxidectin kill these parasites?

Moxidectin is a semisynthetic derivative of Nemadectin (Asato & France 1990) which is produced by the fermentation of a type of Actinobacteria (Streptomyces gram-positive bacteria found in the soil, which can also be a source of antibiotics). Moxidectin is effective as a parasiticide because it disrupts neurotransmission, which results in the paralysis & death of the parasite. Can it cause colic by compaction ? Yes, if horse is heavily infested, and if the lining of the intestines are damaged to to the overload of encysted strongyles (tumors, growths, "callouses").

Panacur & Safe-Guard

Fenbendazole (Market names are Safe-Guard and Panacur) is a five day regimen, usually set at a double dose, to periodically kill the parasite infestation within the horse. Benzimidazoles remove 90-100% of mature strongyles, but single doses will not eliminate 3rd and 4th stage larvae. The lethal effect of benzimidazoles is a slow process, thus it is recommended to use double doses for problem horses, at least once or twice a year. It is also recommended that the horse that will be wormed with a benzimidazole (most commonly fenbendazole) should have a reduced feed intake, which reduces the flow rate of digesta (something undergoing digestion) which increases the availability of benzimidazoles. 

Benzimidazoles have difficulty being easily absorbed by the GI tract, so what we do is place the priority horses in the barn with limited feed (such as grain, no hay) for the night. The next morning we worm them before anything will obstruct their mouths, and then they become released into the paddock.

How do Benzimidazoles kill these parasites?

Benzimidazoles stimulate ganglion-like (ganglion - a mass of nerve cell bodies) structures in the muscle cells of nematodes (roundworms). This stimulation results in muscle contractions, followed by neuromuscular damage resulting in paralysis.

Different parasiticides target different parts of the worm's body - from the paralysis of uterine muscles that results in the disruption of reproduction to the paralysis of the pharynx (the part of the throat situated immediately behind the mouth and nasal cavity) resulting in the inhibition of feeding.

 Remember not to worm your horses every 2 months, it promotes resistance and parasiticides will become ineffective on your farm !

The end result...

Instead of keeping Sinatra on a 14 day regimen of antibiotics (metronidazole), Sinatra, a senior citizen, will be given prebiotics, probiotics, safe-guard, moxidectin (for maintenance), Senior Nutrena feed (crumbles in your mouth) and hay stretcher pellets. His teeth float revealed that he is missing one tooth, and during the procedure, needed at least three tranq shots to stabilize his fear of the whole concept.

Yea-Sacc Prebiotics


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References: The Merck Veterinary Manual*

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Adirondack Equine Center
Summer Horse Camp for Girls
Lake Placid Sleigh Rides

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Horse Rescue additions !

Ferdinand, Orlando, Miami & Midnight, are some of our newest members of our equine family ! All four horses were destined to go to Canada for the purposes of being processed for meat overseas. Thanks to the AC4H Broker Program, we could offer these horses another life, a better home and a better future.

Many horses that go through the auction, are often very thin, malnourished, and sick. However, we were lucky, as it was winter, and the spread of contagious disease was more difficult. Aside from malnourished and lack of proper parasite control and maintenance, the horses recovered quickly without any major complications.

So now, March 2013, we are doing try-outs ! Try-outs involve ground training, saddle fitting, nd finally mounting, and if we are lucky - riding ! Most of the horses just need a tune up, while others need more training and are only suitable for experts and intermediates.

For more before and after photos please go to New additions to our Horse Rescue !

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stabling your Horse: Good or Bad ?

Here at the Adirondack Equine Center, we've been asked this multiple times before. It is always difficult to explain the reason why horses should not be stabled under normal weather conditions. Common fears for  stabling horses are to avoid injury (scrapes, cuts and various other abrasions) Our guests and riders, (most of the time) are laymen in regards to proper horsemanship. We take the time and effort to explain the differences between horses stabled for long periods of time and horses that roam free on pasture.

There are many reasons as to why stabling is not natural for the horse. We will attempt to name a few below:

Natalia shows "Windsucking" damage to teeth
Cribbing or scientifically "aerophagia" is a psychological "vice" or habit that originates from boredom and quite often, from stomach ulcers in stabled horses. Many show horses, race horses are kept in stalls, and allowed only one to three hours of turnout daily. The process of cribbing is when the horse gnaws on the interior wood of the stall, rail or tree stump and inhales air into the stomach. This action promotes the release of endorphins, which promotes the continual recurrence of episodes.This can be compared to the nail biting habits that children and adults develop over years from a variety of psychological factors.  In our case, nail biting results in a mild infliction of pain, resulting in an endorphin release.

Colic is another condition that increased mortality in horses. With the right management practices, colic is a preventable condition that affects a large percentage of horses, and when not treated, it poses a high mortality risk.  To avoid colic, it is best to have clean water available to the horse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is also recommended to feed your horse a soft pelleted feed, which can also be in the extruded form, to ease digestibility. When we feed our horses pelleted feed, we ensure to add a little water to it to soften it and to avoid the incident of choke. The logic is that if the pellet can crumble in your mouth without consistently chewing it, the easier it will be for your horse to digest it. We do not feed whole oats, chaffed feeds, and other substrates such as sugar beet to our horses. We will discuss the to do's and dont's during a colic emergency, in a separate post.

Another rule to follow is "Keep it Simple Stupid". The more you add to your horse's feed the more difficult it will be for the horse to digest it, as the body process compares to that of a human's - for example - if you have saturated fats in your diet, or the absence of milk fats, your body will be unable to recognize how to process what you just ate. We have seen certain horse owners feed Omega 6's in the form of a black sunflower seed - which - from looking at it - looks very indigestible and is an unnecessary "matter" in the digestive tract. It is not found in the horses' nature, so why even attempt to feed it ? Your veterinarian will also put it simply "No, don't spoil the broth". If you need to peel it, crack it or crush it, don't feed it whole to your horse ! That brings up another good point - Flax-seed. If you buy it in bulk as a whole seed, mill it as you need it, otherwise as it "stales" it will release a harmful toxin. This applies to both you and your horse :)

Prebiotics AND Probiotics are beneficial if not indispensable to your horse's health as they build the digestive flora thus one's immune system, block by block. We will cover the Prebiotics vs. Probiotics segment in another post :)

"The study shows that allowing or not allowing (turnout) and the particular time of turnout affects the behavior of horses in the sable as well as those in training," Werhahn explained. All in all, she noted, horses' stall and training behavior was more relaxed when turnout was allowed.

"We conclude that owners should try to allow free exercise," she added. "The best particular time of turnout is very individual for each horse and rider combination. Very 'active' horses might be more concentrated in TBT. More phlegmatic horses might be easier to ride in TAT. But this is very individual."

A very insightful read - Are Stabled Horses at Increased Risk for Developing Colic ?  and
                                   Turnout Effects on Stall-Kept Equine Athletes (German Study)

"No Hoof, No Horse" - The lack of movement reduces the blood circulation thus less nutrients will be supplied to the hoof. The stall must be kept well ventilated, dry and have some type of support such as mats or sand/gravel mix under shavings to stimulate the hoof wall from becoming too thin or brittle. Many stabled horses suffer from thrush and other fungal/bacterial infections that take treatment and time to cure. Have a central sulcus infection ? Try the penicillin based treatment for mastitis in cows.

We have horses at the farm that can only be stabled in a group of two to three together. Otherwise one or the other will damage the stall by kicking at it, turn up the dirt or mats and continuously display some type of psychological trauma throughout the time that the horse is stalled. It is very stressful for many horses to be confined as they are claustrophobic by nature.
Well, I think this is it for this blog post, hopefully it answered a few questions :) If there is anything else that we will earn or stumble upon, we will renew this post to include it ! For more updates, as always, join us on Facebook for more photos and updates, and most importantly subscribe to our blog for updates ! ~ Natalia

Friday, September 30, 2011

To Wear or Not to Wear .... ?

Jeff and Grant in their winter wonder wear at the Adirondack Equine Center :)

There is a debate on whether healthy horses should be wearing blankets. To be honest, there is nothing nice about having a wet back, during a wet winter storm - so this is one of the reasons for which horses should be wearing "weather protection". Many horses also lack the common sense to realize that they may always come into a run in shed or an outside stall, and keep themselves dry and warm - so what do we do ? Make them wear blankets ! The coats usually have between 400g and 500g of polyfil and an outer shell of 1200 to 2000 denier (same denier as used by the military in 1940's)breathable and virtually waterproof. I personally had never seen nor heard of a horse blanket harming a horse (tying of blood flow, etc), if a horse rips it, it usually falls off without major consequences. It is suggested that blanket wearing horses should not be turnout out into large paddocks or pastures where they cannot be checked on several times a day.

PRIOR to winter... once horses transfer from Summer to Fall, their digestive systems change  as well. Horses usually pass on in the spring or late fall seasons. Why ? They are more susceptible to the changing seasons, as most grazing mammals are, as their digestion changes

Horses are not susceptible to cold temperatures, even in the  -30's, as long as their backs are dry, the coat is long, they have protection from the wind and elements, and most importantly, they are well fed. Hay, as opposed to grain and oats, provides the most long-term energy burn to keep the body warm. 

With the added insulation of a winter blanket, the horse will preserve its energy longer, thus saving the horse owner $ on hay,(in which this economy demands) and the horse will be more comfortable during the drastic temperature drops. The following Purina Mills Horse Newsletter will explain how a warm-blooded animals' critical temperature will change from season to season and how we, horse owners, need to assist our equines to weather the winter days ahead - Winter Care for Horses    For even more physiological reference you can read The Horse Magazine article: Formidable Frostbite.

When the -30's and -40's finally DO come along, we double blanket and we place heat lamps in the stalls to increase the temperature of the stable. Now.. you definitely do not want to allow to keep your indoor arena or your equine facility at a much higher temperature than the outside (unless you have show horses, and you turn them out only an hour or two a day, with having the additional in stall, uva/uvb lighting available), due to the fact that horses will become susceptible to the winter high's and low's. The ultraviolet light dictates the growth of a horses' hair coat. If your horse does not shed easily in the spring/summer, there may be another reason for it, such as Cushing's Disease

When feeding horses in the winter, you want to ensure to increase their caloric intake. This can be done by adding additional fat as a supplement to the feed, or look for pellet that already includes a higher percentage of fat - usually between 8%-20%. 
Horses have also been known to prefer warm water during winter months, there has been a study done by the Michigan State University that horses should drink equally as much in the winter as in the summer - Winter Dehydration in Horses
Think: Would I drink a cold beverage in the middle of winter, provided I am outside and not inside my 75-80 degree home? No, I would not. Cold drinks cool you down in the summer, for am moment, that is why when we sweat or feel hot, we drink more cool water = hydration. When we go through winter, we drink more if the beverage is warm or hot, as it warms us up for a little while. Granted, this is not the same as caloric intake and keeping your body functioning during winter months, it is simply a way to remain hydrated and thus, have heat delivered to your extremities.

How many people do you know, who enjoy cold drinks in the winter? Good article about the effects of warm water on the body as it dilates your blood vessels - Hot and Cold Myths

As always, stay in touch and watch our Facebook for updates !

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How young is too young ?

Here, at the Adirondack Equine Center, we hear this question very often. So how young is too young? This all depends on the development of the child, not necessarily the age. Many horse owners find that the younger the children get acquainted with equines, the better riders they will become later in life.

Horseback riding develops many crucial skills such as balance, coordination, and most importantly, the ability to concentrate on one thing for longer than five minutes ! Riding horses also prepares children for doing other, attention based activities, such as driving an ATV, dirt bike, and later, a car. The younger they are, the quicker they learn, and are less exposed to any biased information, as one would, later in life. The trick is not to "over think" anything that you are attempting to accomplish, if you over think a simple activity such as riding, or driving, the more likely you will fail at what you'd like to achieve.

Children, as a general rule, are less nervous, perhaps due to their inability to differentiate between risk and danger. I believe that this ends somewhere around 8 years of age :) Once they realize that they can fall off and potentially hurt themselves, the imagination runs wild.
We take kids as young as four years old, sometimes younger, depending on how well they can demonstrate balance and coordination. What we do is we attach shorter stirrups (amusingly named "little dudes") to the horn of the saddle, place the child into the saddle, and secure him or her properly. When ready, we attach a lead rope to the horses' halter and off we go, walking by the young one's side to ensure they will have a good and safe ride.

Do you have a child's rate for horseback riding?

Unlike restaurants, where children eat free or at a reduced rate, our liability rate increases when kids are involved with horseback riding. We take the extra time and effort to make sure that your child has the best possible experience on horseback. Children also cannot ride tandem with their parents due to liability reasons - such as - if something were to go wrong, you either have control of the horse or the child, which makes for a very unpleasant experience.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Clean paddocks, happy horses, tiling, drainage...

So there, we decided to clean up our paddocks and corrals from the rich, tomato growing top soil, rendered over the past thirty (or more) years. As any blogging, eccentric horse owner knows, this type of soil turns to knee deep sludge, depending on the amount of rainfall in the season. Nevermind the fact that an average horse produces 50 lbs of manure a day. 

We, the Adirondack Equine Center began this blog to have our readers and guests visualize some of the daily responsibilities a horse rescue farm of 36 horses and limited staff, endures. We will try our best not to sound overwhelmingly boring :) Keep in mind, whether the horses work or not, they are all on our rather small budget.

The Adirondacks are particularly an "inhabitable"environment for the horse's hoof, inducing rot, white line, central sulcus  and other,both fungal/bacterial infections. The space is limited, and many of us, local horse owners are forced to house horses on small acreage or have limited access to acreage due to the topography. The lack of drying, sunny weather, among many other factors, is the least appealing to the horses' health.

So.. where is the best place to keep and raise horses ?                                                                                                                                                                                               The answer is: The South, the Midwest. Once you are lucky enoughto be in a "horse state",keep costs low, especially when it comes to forage, find the best hay for the lowest price (unless you own only about one to two horses - then you can splurge !). The drier the State the less likely it will have the most reasonably priced forage.
In New York, especially up North, in the Adirondacks, the climate changes drastically, and winters are often long and frigid, reaching -36 to -40 below - and that translates into a 
whole different book of horse care tips (Look for To Wear or Not to Wear in our blog) 
                                                                                      Hay is moderately low in price, but that changes with the increase in fuel prices. More horses = more money spent on forage purchased from other sources than your farm.  
The best solution for rescue or large equine farms is to produce your own hay, lease a field or buy a field, purchase new or used equipment (used in our case) and instead of paying anywhere from $20,000 to $38,000 in hay costs, you can cut that right in half. Sounds simple ? Takes Planning. :-/ 

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Casper's foot when he arrived in Spring of 2010 and his foot progressing throughout summer of 2010.