Feeding a balanced diet then taking care of nutrient replacement after exercise is imperative to keep horses performing well at an upper level of performance. Don Kapper, shared his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada. His talk at the University of Guelph discussed the importance of understanding gut function and nutrient absorption in order to understand the importance of nutrient replacement. Assessing body condition and topline evaluation scores were addressed as was the importance of providing good quality protein as a source of amino acids to avoid deficiencies that can negatively affect topline muscles, tendons, hooves and overall health. Last but not least, the role of electrolytes were discussed to avoid dehydration and keep athletes bouncing back into top form for the next day of competition. GUT FUNCTION "Horses are designed to be continuous grazers," explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming 2.0% to 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage (22 to 28 lbs). While doing this, they will produce between 25 to 30 gallons of saliva, significantly reducing the chances of acid gut syndrome and improving nutrient absorption and over-all gut health. Horses only produce saliva when they chew, therefore, feeding forage ad-lib will increase the production of saliva - one of the best buffers for the horses' digestive system and the most effective way to reduce the chance of ulcers and impaction colic. Kapper brought home another benefit of continuous grazing by comparing the small intestine to sausage casing, "When it is full it is almost impossible to twist." Going without eating for several hours at a time can be a factor in colic resulting from a twisted intestine. The stomach of the horse is relatively small and food only stays there for around 15 minutes, where acids begin to break it down. Moving through the next 90 foot of small intestine, it takes between 30 - 90 minutes, therefore, it moves at a rate of one to three feet per minute. Now you can understand why horses seem to be hungry all the time. The small intestine is the primary absorption sight of amino acids, fatty acids, major and trace minerals and vitamins. Therefore, the quality of the forage and feeds fed to a horse is more important than the quality of the forage and feeds fed to ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep, etc.). Ruminants will break down the crude proteins and form needed amino acids in their rumen, then it travels into the small intestine for absorption to occur. In horses, all food goes into their stomach, then small intestine, and then into their fermentation vat (cecum) to be broken down. Unfortunately, their fermentation vat is AFTER it passes through the small intestine, the primary absorption sight for many nutrients. That is why ruminants will get more nutrients out of the same forage than a horse. The quality of ingredients, or the availability of the nutrients fed to horses, are far more important than the quality fed to all ruminants. The hind gut of the horse makes up 62% of their digestive system, which functions with a microbial population breaking down the fibre in forages by fermentation. Forage should make up 50% to 90% of a mature horses total diet. Therefore, knowledge of the nutrients in your forage is important so you can factor in what your horse may need in the way of concentrates and/or supplements to meet their needs every day. Kapper says, "If you don't know what nutrients are in your forage, you are guessing at what needs to be added. If you don't know what nutrients your horse needs every day - you are guessing at everything." He stressed, be an educated consumer, because economics come into play when you feed more than you need, but even more so, if your horse breaks down or becomes ill due to deficiencies in their diet. Kapper also reminded us that concentrates are never to exceed 50%, by weight, of the mature horse's total diet/day or exceed five pounds in one feeding/1,000 lbs of body weight. This is to avoid digestive upsets. Emphasis was put on good forage to meet the nutritional needs, optimize digestive health and improve the overall well-being of your horse. Ad-lib forage will also facilitate the best mental state. VISUAL ASSESSMENT Performance loss will occur before you see visual changes in your horse that may indicate an unbalanced diet. Visual changes that put up red flags include: loss of muscle over the topline, then a decline in hoof and hair quality and finally a loss of appetite and general unthrifty condition. Checking the horses Body Condition Score on a monthly basis provides a good visual indicator for achieving optimal calorie intake with the ideal being between five and six on a scale of one to nine (Body Condition Scoring link http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=408). However, it is possible to have a horse in ideal body weight and still be deficient in nutrients required to build and support the muscles necessary to perform athletic tasks. Muscle soreness and changes in saddle fit are early indicators of a diminishing topline. Topline Evaluation Scoring (TES) is graded from A to D, looking at the muscles on the horses back, loin and croup areas. Loss of muscle (muscle atrophy) is a solid indicator of an amino acid deficiency. Amino Acids are the building blocks that make up crude protein. Muscles contain 73% protein and the first limiting amino acid will determine how much 'all' of the other amino acids in their diet can be utilized. The easiest and first place to visualize a horse losing muscle mass, when a deficient amino acid diet is fed, is in their back area; the second is their loin; and third is their croup area. TOPLINE GRADES with DEFINITIONS: Grade A- The horse has 'ideal muscle development''. The back, loin and croup are full and well rounded. The topline muscles are well developed and blend smoothly into his ribs. The horse should be able to perform work requiring the use of all of these muscles. Grade B- The 'back area is concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the top of the ribs: 1. You may have trouble fitting this horse with a saddle. 2. The muscle atrophy in this area may cause back soreness when worked. 3. Soreness can negatively impact their attitude and performance. 4. The loin muscles are well developed and are the same height as the spinal processes, i.e. you cannot see or palpate the spinal processes. Grade C-The 'back and loin areas are both concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the ribs: 1. The 'spinal processes' in the loin area are higher than the muscles beside them and can easily be seen and palpated. 2. The atrophied muscles in the back and loin areas weaken the horse. 3. The length of time they are able to work and perform will be compromised, causing them to tire easily. 4. Muscling over the croup and hindquarters are well developed and rounded. Grade D- All three areas of the topline, including the back, loin and croup areas are concave (sunken): 1. The croup appears pointed at the top since the vertebrae and hip bones are higher than the muscles in-between them. 2. In severely affected horses, the width of their stifle is narrower than the width of their point of hip. 3. This horse will lack the strength and stamina to perform and the muscle atrophy will cause discomfort when worked. ROLE OF PROTEIN/AMINO ACIDS All 10 essential amino acids need to be provided to horses on a daily basis: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine (involved in growth and development), methionine (for hoof and hair quality), phenylalanine, threonine (involved in tissue repair), tryptophan, and valine. There are also 12 non-essential amino acids that horses can create themselves in adequate amounts. In order for crude protein to be synthesized, all the 'essential' amino acids must be present in adequate amounts. If one amino acid runs out, it 'limits' protein synthesis for the rest of the amino acids. If you are feeding a grass hay, your first limiting amino acid is going to be Lysine. For alfalfa, the first limiting amino acid could be threonine or tryptophan. Knowing what 'type of forage' you are feeding is key to knowing what supplements you need to choose to complement your horse's diet. During the process of conditioning horses, muscles are torn down during exercise and need additional branch-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) replenished to repair and rebuild those muscles faster. Kapper draws the parallel of weight trainers reaching for their whey protein shake after a work-out. A horse can benefit greatly from having 4 - 10 ounces of branch-chain amino acids replaced within 45 minutes of a workout. Whey is the best quality protein (amino acid) source, followed by soybean. Research has also shown that a lack of amino acids in the diet can affect the utilization of minerals in the diet, potentially causing skeletal and soft tissue problems. To get an idea of their importance - take a look at the amino acid content in the following structures: Hair and hoof = 95% Muscle = 73% Tendon = 93% Bone = 30% Skin = 90% A shortage of 'one' essential amino acid will affect the quality and strength of all of the above. The first one you will 'see' is the one with the fastest turn-over. What the Hooves Can Tell You about the Diet THE ORDER OF NUTRIENTS FOUND INSIDE THE HORSES HOOF: 1. Protein/Amino Acids = 95 % 2. Fat/Oils = 3 % 3. Sulfur 4. Calcium 5. Zinc 6. Copper 7. Selenium 8. Carotene (Vitamin A) 9. Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) 10. Biotin (Recommend 15 mg/day/1,000 lb of body weight, for "sand" cracks in hooves) When 98% of the hoof is made up of the top two nutrients, begin working with those and work your way down the list for a systematic way to address hoof quality problems that may be nutrition related. Too many times we hear about individuals beginning with Number 10 and work their way up the list. Here are a few examples to help you begin 'problem solving': Slow growth can result from inadequate amino acids, while poor expansion and contraction, with cracking of the hoof wall, can result from inadequate oils in the hoof. A poor quality lamina (white line) can result from a low 'sulfur' containing amino acid diet, i.e. Methionine & Cysteine. In a calcium deficient diet the middle of the hoof wall can break down and crumble. Sand cracks in the outer service of the hoof wall can be an indicator of a lack of biotin. CALORIE SOURCES TO FUEL MUSCLE FUNCTION Choosing the right horse for the work you want to do is important right off the bat (genetics). Then you need to choose the right fuel for your horse's muscles to perform up to their genetic potential. Carbohydrates and Fats and Oils Soluble carbohydrates are the starches and sugars needed to provide the 'glycogen' for intense work. Kapper uses a quarter horse sprinter fueling its bulky 'fast twitch' muscles as an example. Glycogen produced from these carbohydrates are utilized when their heart rate exceeds 170 beats/minute, in anaerobic work. "The heart rate is the key to knowing what kind of fuel you should be using," says Kapper. Soluble carbohydrates are highest in cereal grain: oats, corn, barley, wheat... Fats and Oils - Kapper says the Arabian is a good example of a breed using long, lean 'slow twitch' muscles that burn fat rather than glycogen for fuel. Soybean, flax and fish oils are high in Omega 3's which have anti-inflammatory responses, as opposed to corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega 6's which have pro-inflammatory responses. Vegetable oils can provide slow, long term energy needed for low to moderate intensity, aerobic work. Oils containing higher levels of Omega 3s' are recommended for this kind of work. Kapper then went on to explain that a portion of the muscles of the Thoroughbred and Warmblood can be trained to be 'fast or slow-twitch', depending on what 'fuel' you are feeding. Forage Digestibility Of course, it is important that your horse is able to get the most out of the bulk of its diet. Soft hay is more desirable for the performance horse because its nutrients will be higher and is easier to digest. Over mature hay is cut later, will have grown taller and have larger, courser stems. This hay will be higher in lignin, which makes it less palatable and lower in digestibility, i.e. quality. ROLE OF ELECTROLYTES Given correctly, the use of performance electrolytes can delay the onset of fatigue by over 22%. They can also reduce muscle cramping and improve the horse's ability to bounce back and perform at the same high level the next day. The amount of sweat produced in a workout will determine the amount of electrolytes which require replacing. The demands are highest during hot and humid weather. The heat stress index chart is an important calculation when determining the risk of dehydration. (link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) When correctly formulated, electrolytes will replace the ions lost in sweat. For performance purposes - the electrolyte should specify it is a "performance" electrolyte on the label. The ingredient dextrose should be present because it is essential to improve the absorption rate of all the ions. The amounts of sodium, potassium and chloride levels are usually provided in the labels ingredient list. Adding the amount of sodium and potassium together should come close to equaling the amount of chloride in the formula. When you compare the amount of these three ions, you will see that not all electrolytes on the market today are created equal! The higher quality electrolytes are palatable, while lower quality ones are bitter, salty and discourage consumption when top-dressed on feed or mixed in water. Before electrolytes can be absorbed they need to be broken down with water. Delivery of a powdered electrolyte in feed or water is acceptable as long as they can continue to drink water. If water is not available or the horse does not drink after administering dry electrolytes, the horse will take water from its body and put it into their digestive system to break the powder down. Mixing electrolytes in water will reduce the absorption time in the small intestine. All electrolytes are hydroscopic, which means if fed in powdered form and the horse does not drink water, they will dehydrate the horse. Paste electrolytes are to be avoided due to their 'short term affects'. They will lay in the gut and actually pull water from the horse's body, increasing dehydration, at the most critical time after exercise! This was proven and published by Equine Research Centre team of researchers, led by Dr. Mike Lindinger, a few years ago. Depending on how hard the horses are working, a 'performance electrolyte solution' can be made by mixing one ounce of powder per litre of water. Increase the number of litre's of this 'electrolyte solution' as the horses training intensifies and/or the 'Heat Stress Index' (HSI) increases. HSI is determined by adding the temperature (F or C) and the percent Humidity, together. 'Mild' HSI begins when the combination is <140 when using Humidity plus Temperature (F); or <90 when using Humidity plus Temperature (C); 'Moderate' HSI is between 140 - 160 (F) or 90 - 105 (C); 'Severe' HSI >160 (F) or >105 (C). (See chart provided on the link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) This 'electrolyte solution' should be given with-in 45 minutes after the horse's workout. When the humidity and temperature increase, causing the 'heat stress index' to climb to 'Moderate' to 'Severe', the number of litre's offered should increase according to their training level. One ounce/litre of water will provide the correct osmolarity for the fastest absorption and utilization by the horse. For example: for 'Moderate' Heat Stress Index: provide two litres for training level, four litres for moderate and six litres for intense training. In the cases of 'moderate' to 'intense' training levels, providing the 'electrolyte solution' will work much better than top dressing it on feed. More factors effecting dehydration can include: the trailer ride to the venue if it is a hot day, a decrease in water and food intake from the stresses of being in a new location or from the water tasting different. Add the workload of the day on top of that and you can have a severely dehydrated horse on your hands. Checking for dehydration can include the skin pinch test where the handler pinches the skin on the horses shoulder then checks that it flattens back down in one to one and a half seconds. The capillary refill test is another method, pressing on the horse's gums and seeing the colour return to pink in under one and a half seconds. (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crY8_dBzimw) SUMMARY Kapper encourages horse owners to be pro-active in their feeding programs. Know the 'ideal' body weight of your horse and what nutrients are in your forage. These nutrients will vary with the 'type' of forage (grass vs. legume) and its level of maturity (when it was cut). Knowledge of this will allow you to make informed decisions when choosing feed and/or balancers to make up the difference between what your horse is getting from its forage and what it needs. Be sure to read the 'purpose statement' on every feed tag and feed according to their 'Feeding Directions' in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual needs of the horse (size, breed, age, workload...) and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, "Feeding less than recommended amounts/day, means you have chosen the wrong feed and it could result in nutritional deficiencies". Stay observant if performance declines and be quick to pick up on the visual clues that the diet may need balancing, i.e. loss of muscle over the topline, decline in hoof and hair quality, loss of appetite and loss of condition could all be indicators of amino acid deficiency and/or an unbalanced diet. For horses in moderate to intense training, giving amino acids and electrolytes with-in 45 minutes after workouts can replenish body reserves the fastest. Nutrition is the science of prevention. Understanding the role of nutrition and working with an equine nutritionist will put you on the road to optimal health and performance for your horse. To learn more about nutrition sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week online course: Equine Nutrition http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the "Performance Electrolyte Research" team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on "Applied Nutrition" for the authoritative veterinary textbook: "Equine Internal Medicine", 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the "Equine Nutrition" course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Hiding pain is one of the top survival skills of the horse. An important part of horse ownership is learning to recognize the signs a horse may be in discomfort rather than dismissing certain subtle cues as just bad behaviour. Dr. Brianne Henderson recently gave a well-received lecture to a room full of horse owners in Hillsburgh, ON. The attendees were interested in ensuring the welfare of their equine companions by honing their skills for detecting pain. There has been increased awareness of pain recognition and management in small animals and this science is also gaining more acknowledgement in the world of horses as well. The Facial Grimaces Score used originally to identify pain in rodents and rabbits has been incorporated into a “grimace scale” for equines as well. It uses ear position and tightening of the muscles around the eyes and mouth to come up with a score (0 – no pain, 1 – moderate, 2 – obvious). Everyone wants to be greeted by a bright-eyed, soft and relaxed face. The horse is telling you something hurts when they avoid looking at you, appear despondent, clench their jaw, flatten ears back and/or squint their eyes. Dr. Henderson went on to briefly explain pain scales used by veterinarians that focus on physiological parameters and behavior patterns. One included the Composite Pain Scale (CPS) which looks at the change in frequency of normal behavior patterns such as eating, the presence of pain-related behaviours such as kicking at the abdomen and physiological parameters such as elevated vitals. There is a long list of signs that are scored from 0 – 3. Some of these indicators, including vitals, can also be assessed using a quick 16-point health check poster developed by Equine Guelph. The poster or handy new Horse Health Tracker app are invaluable tools for horse owners to provide important health data to their veterinarian. The choir was obviously present and little preaching was required as Henderson rolled through a barrage of images asking the audience to denote which ones depicted animals in pain. By stance, facial cues and action the savvy auditors were hitting the mark and also picked up on the fact that circumstance plays a role. How many people have had the phone call of alarm when a passerby sees a horse flat out in the field when it was actually just napping in the sun? Flehmen is another response that can be circumstantial. It can occur due to an interesting smell or taste sensation but it can also be a moderate pain response displaying nostril and mouth tension. The stallion curling his upper lip testing for pheromones when a mare passes by is a different context than the horse who didn’t finish his feed, is stretched out with his poll low and is showing the flehmen response. Subtle changes require your attention such as a horse at the back of its stall with a half-eaten breakfast when it is normally standing at the door waiting to go out after licking the feed tub clean. Catching a potential colic at this early stage could result in a huge cost savings as well as avoid what could turn into a very painful experience for the horse. The performance horse who suddenly starts refusing to accomplish tasks that it used to find easy requires a careful evaluation as early signs of lameness rather than misbehaving could be the culprit. As the owner of a stoic animal, accustomed to hiding pain, horse people need to be on the lookout for atypical behavior such as a horse who begins to segregate itself from the herd or suddenly displays a less tolerant behavior with its paddock mates. When variations in behavior occur, a step back may be required to figure out if it is you or the horse that has changed. “If I have had a bad day at the office and not taken the time to decompress – my horse will not come to the gate for me,”Henderson explains. “Similarly, I know if he doesn’t come to the gate under normal circumstances, there is something wrong because he typically loves his job.” Grooming is the next interaction where paying close attention will tell you much about your horse’s health. Rather than quickly dusting off the saddle area and jumping on to ride, take the time to run your hands over their whole body, especially the back and legs, before and after work, checking for any heat, swelling or reactions that can be early indicators something is not quite right. Obvious pain requires a veterinary examination. When a horse comes in from the paddock hopping lame, it can often be hard to tell if it is an abscess requiring a simple poultice or a fracture requiring much more intensive treatment and stabilization. When acute pain is obvious; don’t guess or delay – call the veterinarian. For less obvious lameness, your veterinarian has been trained to assess the severity on a scale from one to five. Early intervention increases the chances of a good outcome and can prevent matters from escalating into a much worse injury. The veterinarian will check the horse in both walk and trot, on straight lines and turns.“A lameness that is visible at the walk is automatically going to be at least a three if not higher,” comments Henderson. After a thorough exam, a rehabilitation plan can be made. Chronic pain will impact the horse’s ability to heal and their quality of life. “It is an old way of thinking to want a horse to be a bit sore in the healing process to prevent it from box-walking,” explains Henderson. “Our ability to control pain both every day and certainly in the medical environment is becoming more and more recognized as mandatory.” Once the horse is controlled in its pain, they can move better and heal faster and therefore do not lose as much muscle quality during the healing period. Modern treatment methods can also help avoid the knock on effects of stomach ulcers and sourness that often accompany chronic pain. Choosing the right pain control method or treatment is another conversation to have with your veterinarian as there are many option available and extended use of Phenylbutazone can have negative effects on a horse’s stomach. In addition to being on the look-out for signs of pain, a dutiful horse owner is always employing prevention practices. They apply poultice and wrap horse’s legs to stem swelling after a hard work out and give them time to recover. Similarly, we take care of ourselves with rest after a work-out, a hearty meal to replace nutrients and perhaps a hot bath. Our horses count on us, their primary care-takers to be diligent and attentive in both prevention and early detection of pain. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information visit: EquineGuelph.ca.
The Ohio State Racing Commission's (OSRC) monthly meeting will be held Tuesday, June 23 at 10 am at 77 South High Street, 31st Floor, East B, Columbus, Ohio. Due to a scheduling conflict, the proposed agenda that included scientific presentations regarding medication thresholds has been postponed. This fourth leg in a series of OSRC meetings began earlier this year concerning the development of model medication rules based on scientific and fact-based analysis will be rescheduled for a later date. The February OSRC meeting featured comments by Edward J. Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) on current research methodology and passage of model medication rules. At the March OSRC meeting, six Ohio personalities expounded on these same issues, including: Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, of the United States Trotting Association (USTA); Dave Basler, Executive Director of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Thoroughbred trainer William Cowans; along with Standardbred conditioner Virgil Morgan, Jr., and Renee Mancino, Ohio Harness Horseman's Association (OHHA) Executive Director. Five veterinarians presented their views at the April OSRC meeting, including: Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic, Grove City; Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic; Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC; Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic; and Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky. Dr. James Robertson, the OSRC's consulting veterinarian, presented an update on the progress of the OSRC/The Ohio State University (OSU) and Ohio Department of Agriculture's Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL)'s comprehensive cobalt research study at the May OSRC meeting. Dr. Beverly Byrum, Director of Laboratories for the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL) the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) and the Consumer Protection Lab, spoke in detail about the ATL, the official OSRC equine drug testing lab, while fellow ATL Director Soobeng Tan submitted the 2014 ATL annual report to the OSRC, discussing testing procedures and results from 2014. All OSRC monthly meetings are open to the public and horsemen are encouraged to attend. Kimberly A. Rinker Ohio Standardbred Development Fund Ohio State Racing Commission
Five veterinarians presented their views on testing and medication issues at the Ohio State Racing Commission's (OSRC) monthly meeting on April 28 in Columbus. Early in 2015, the OSRC began listening to presentations from a wide variety of individuals concerning the development of model medication rules based upon scientific and fact-based analysis. Veterinarian Dr. John Piehowicz, who treats racehorses at his Cincinnati-based clinic said "the welfare of the horse must come first," mirroring the mindset of the other veterinarians in attendance. "I believe Ohio's policy is the most humane for treating horses," Dr. Piehowicz stated. "While uniformity is desirable, it is not practical. Currently I can help horses, but if we change to the RCI-RMTC rules, I can no longer effectively treat racehorses with safe, FDA-approved medications. We need a published curve based on real world information and rational decisions based on creditable research. The use of some medications, such as Clenbuterol, allow racehorses to live comfortably." "I commend the OSRC in the direction they are going regarding medication policies," stressed Dr. John Reichert, who practices on Standardbreds at Woodland Run clinic in Grove City, Ohio. "In Ohio we've had 122 positives from 12,000 tests in the past year, which is less than one percent. That says to me there are relatively few positive tests in Ohio and that the majority of people-vets and trainers-are playing by the rules. The hot issues with the RCI-RMTC are steroids and Clenbuterol, which we use primarily to treat inflammatory airway disease and joint issues." "In my practice, I'm addressing mainly soreness, lameness and breathing issues," Dr. Reichert continued. "Corticosteroids are used a lot in inflammatory airway disease and joint issues, and in the 25 years I've been a vet I have yet to see a catastrophic breakdown from the use of these steroids. Nobody wants a catastrophic breakdown-but unfortunately it is part of the athletic scene. We see more of these from backyard pleasure horses than we do in racehorses. "In regards to Clenbuterol, as vets, we have to be able to use Clenbuterol within reason," Dr. Reichert stressed. "My perspective as a vet is that I look at Clenbuterol as a therapeutic treatment of a racehorse. A five-day course of treatment is more of what is required for the Standardbred racehorse. Scientific research doesn't support performance-enhancement by the use of Clenbuterol." "It's difficult to obey the rules if you don't know what they are," explained Dr. Dan Wilson, a partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic. "We routinely test blood and urine, and the tests are sophisticated to the level of one grain of sand on a beach. There is nothing to suggest this level would enhance a horse's performance. Muscle and enzyme physiology is different for each breed: Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter horses-they are all different. As proposed, the RCI & RMTC rules would alleviate all therapeutic medications for the use in Standardbreds. The loss of Clenbuterol and corticosteroids for treatment in Standardbred racing would compromise the industry and limit my ability to effectively treat horses." "We need uniform medication rules," agreed Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic. "Corticosteroids are used daily by my friends in the human medical field and we need the same tools as veterinarians. A uniform program needs to be in place for daily treatments, and there needs to be regulated medications we are allowed to use therapeutically. The question I have is in regards to dosage in surgical medications, that's an issue. Where is the safe zone? The emergence of newer therapeutic medications being adopted into the regulations is another main concern regarding the welfare of the horse." "There is not another commission in the country that has gone to the depths of what the OSRC is doing here." admitted Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) and Kentucky practitioner. "Eighteen of the 26 drugs in the RCI-RMTC report have no published data. The idea of thresholds is great and we're all about uniform rules, but let's get things right first. "In 2013 for instance, 24 hours out was the standard time for Banamine (to be administered prior to a race) and then in 2014 a new study came out and the RCI-RMTC said 'oops! we were wrong and Banamine can now only be used 32 hours out,'" Dr. Clara Fenger. "All kinds of people got positives as a result and purses had to be redistributed and horsemen were in danger of losing their livelihood. There was just vagueness in their limits. "We use medications because we need to," she stressed. "For instance, 27% of yearlings that go through the Keeneland Sale already have arthritis in their hocks-and that's not limited to Thoroughbreds. It's in all breeds-as these are living, breathing animals we're dealing with. We need education so that other practitioners can learn what works best in practical situations. Based on our preliminary data, most vets are using the appropriate amounts. Most Ohio rules we can live with and the RCI should be looking to Ohio instead of the other way around." The OSRC will listen to chemists and scientists present their views on these same medication and threshold levels in Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses at its June 23 meeting, schedule for 10 am, 31st Floor,East-B, 77 South High Street, Columbus. Kimberly A. Rinker
Five veterinarians have been invited to speak at the Ohio State Racing Commission monthly meeting to discuss possible medication practices for Ohio horseracing. The meeting will be held on April 28, at 10 a.m., 19th floor of the Riffe Center, 77 South High St., Columbus. These veterinarians will present their views regarding medication protocols for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries, and provide their insight into the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) controlled therapeutic medication proposals. The veterinarians scheduled to attend include: Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic in Grove City. Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic specializing in racetrack Standardbreds, equine anesthesia, and racing medications and testing. Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC, whose client list includes Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup winning conditioners. Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic whose area of focus includes lameness evaluation, respiratory health and MRI. Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky. At the March OSRC meeting, the USTA's Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, along with the HBPA's Dave Basler and trainer William Cowans and the OHHA's Renee Mancino and trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr., offered their thoughts on medication and testing procedures. During February's OSRC meeting Edward Martin, RCI President and Dr. Dionne Benson, RMTC Executive Director provided input into these same subjects. The OSRC values input from all stakeholders within both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Ohio racing communities and is moving forward into developing a sound medication policy. Kimberly A. Rinker Administrator Ohio Standardbred Development Fund Kimberly A. Rinker Administrator Ohio Standardbred Development Fund email@example.com Ohio State Racing Commission 77 S. High Street, 18th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108 Phone 614-779-0269 Fax 614-466-1900
Columbus, OH --- Results of an intensive, United States Trotting Association-funded scientific study intended to ascertain the appropriate regulatory level for determining the excessive presence of the naturally-occurring substance cobalt were announced on Tuesday (Sept. 30). Based upon extensive research, the scientists have concluded that 70 parts per billion in blood is the appropriate regulatory threshold. The recommendation guards against false positives, while identifying those who are engaged in artificial administration with the intent to enhance a horse's performance. "I want to thank Doctors Maylin, McKeever and Malinowski for applying appropriate scientific principles and protocols to achieve a regulatory threshold that is both reasonable for the industry and efficacious in deterring those who would choose to violate it," said USTA President Phil Langley in praising the contingent's diligent efforts. "With substances that are a natural constituent of a horse like cobalt, there is always a fine line between catching the cheaters and protecting innocent horsemen from violation. These scientists worked hard to achieve a proper balance, which should serve as a guidepost for the rest of the industry," added Langley. The USTA Medication Advisory Committee will continue to study the overall effects of cobalt and other substances in the racehorse in greater detail. Research indicates that cobalt stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO) to produce red blood cells. Widespread abuse of cobalt by human athletes has been rumored for years, and its purported use in racehorses prompted the USTA to take a highly proactive approach in the prevention of its artificial administration for the purpose of illicit performance enhancement. In June, the USTA contracted with Dr. George Maylin of New York's Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College to determine at what level cobalt ceases being considered a naturally occurring substance and becomes a clear attempt at performance enhancement. His work was assisted by Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Based upon the USTA's funding, Dr. Maylin was able to secure a long-term lease of a specialized state-of-the-art instrument required to conduct proper scientific analysis to determine the presence and levels of cobalt in samples. That new, unique equipment with unrivaled performance differentiates these results from any other scientific study on the artificial introduction of cobalt in horses. It is anticipated that the regulators in several jurisdictions will consider the suggested threshold when the supporting data is released. From the USTA Communications Department
Here at Harnesslink we are constantly trying to bring you updates on all the harness racing and breeding issues affecting our industry. However we feel little or no coverage is given to the multitude of companies and service providers that provide products to the harness racing community. Therefore we thought it was timely to take a look at some of these companies and the products they offer. One of those companies is, APC, Inc., the manufacturer of the new LIFELINE serum-based equine performance products. While mostly unknown in the equine industry, APC is a third-generation family-owned company headquartered in Iowa. This science-based company is a global leader in the fractionation (concentration) of serum and plasma-based proteins. For over 30 years the company has been spearheading discoveries that have improved performance and health of many species of animals including calves, swine, aquaculture and more. With such proven performance in other species, APC realized they could apply these learnings to the equine industry. Everybody in the harness racing industry knows that for the equine athlete, racing, training and travelling takes a significant toll on your horse’s performance. Joint soreness, stomach upset and respiratory issues, often caused by inflammation, have been major factors affecting performance since the inception of this industry. The success of the LIFELINE range of equine products is due to BioThrive™. This active ingredient is made using APC’s proprietary process. Derived from bovine serum, its safety and beneficial effects have been documented in more than 300 published peer reviewed journal articles. These bioactive proteins have been shown to help support a healthy inflammation response. When a horse experiences stress or occasional soreness due to normal training, its immune system springs into action to combat the stressors. This immune system response results in inflammation which can have an effect on the following; Gut - digestive health and related conditions such as ulcers Joint - occasional soreness Respiratory - breathing and lung issues related to exercise Bioactive proteins when given orally help reduce overstimulation of the immune system so the horse's resources aren't spent fighting the stressor and instead can promote a healthy gut, maintain proper joint function and ease respiratory issues related to exercise. Unlike a lot of the products on the market, LIFELINE is not a vitamin or mineral supplement which typically target nutrition and work in just one system at a time. It works multisystemically. It also works fast with studies demonstrating a difference within just fourteen days. LIFELINE has two equine products which are aimed at horses in different stages of their life. Both products have bioactive proteins as their active ingredient, specifically formulated based on the age of the horse. Equine Elite is for horses experiencing the rigors of training and racing. AgeWell is for the older horse who is experiencing the physical effects of aging but are still expected to perform to their best. A recent gait analysis study conducted by Dr. Josie Coverdale and Joy Campbell of Texas A+M University measured stride length and knee range of motion with increasing dosage of serum-based bioactive proteins in exercised horses. The response strongly suggested that the horses in the study experienced healthy joint function and/or comfort while on LIFLINE BioThrive™. This study involved thirty horses over a 28 day period and was a robust academic study in a controlled setting and reinforced the feedback that LIFELINE was receiving daily from its clients. APC is also in various stages of process for a number of other studies on horses to include gut health, training in 2-year old stallions and mare/foal pairs. Results are not finalized but are promising. LIFELINE takes corporate responsibility very seriously. It is a member of the National Animal Supplement Council which is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals and horses The company has also invested in research ensuring that LIFELINE products are show/competition safe. The LIFELINE brand has come a long way over the past few decades. Between its significant investment in R&D, current and upcoming scientific study results and positive testimonials from product users, the future for APC looks assured. All in all I think the company motto says it all about LIFELINE – Watch Them Thrive. http://horse.watchthemthrive.com/ For this months special offer click here. Harnesslink media Lifeline Equine Performance
Schenectady, NY – Harness Racing’s top guns descended upon the New York State Gaming Commission public hearing to advance concerns over proposed drug levels for racehorses. U. S. Trotting Association President, Phil Langley, and Standardbred Owners Association of New York President, Joe Faraldo, led a group of distinguished veterinarians and research experts to counter the “one size fits all” approach being forwarded by the Thoroughbred-based Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) proposals. The appearance of the Standardbred leaders at the public hearing, called by the agency formerly known as the NYS Racing and Wagering board, was to hear “testimony about adoption of per se regulatory thresholds for 24 approved equine medications and amending pre-race restricted time periods for various drugs.” One particular therapeutic substance, respiratory aid Clenbuterol, has been at the forefront of a debate over uniform medication rules approved by the RMTC. Although there is widespread Thoroughbred support for the measures, the Standardbred industry has argued that the two breeds have very distinct differences and therefore should be treated differently. The proposed rule would prohibit the bronchial dilator from being administered within 14 days of racing, effectively eliminating its potential benefit to Standardbreds that generally race every week. Langley noted that, “Our horses are so durable, they do not even look [like Thoroughbreds.] Many of our horses race 30 to 40 times each year. In fact, the leading money-winning horse of all time started 198 times. We are not trying to get the standards lowered. We just want to conduct [racing] the way we are.” Dr. Kanter, an expert in equine medicine and pharmacology, with over 40 years of experience as the track vet at Buffalo and Batavia. “This measure could be denying horses the benefit of years of research of these useful therapeutic drugs, while the efficacy of known substitutes is yet unproven.” Dr. Janet Durso of Goshen, NY, reiterated those concerns. “Clenbuterol is one of the best drugs for treating blood and discharge from a horse’s lungs. Remedies would be problematic without it!” One of the contributing factors toward this proposal is the concern that some Thoroughbred trainers are abusing Clenbuterol by overdosing in order to achieve a repartitioning effect, or to build muscle mass. That appears to be a non-issue in Standardbreds as they race too often for long-term dosages to be administered effectively. Dr. Tobin, a renowned expert from the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, stated, “Clenbuterol did have a repartitioning effect and increased muscle mass, but this did not translate into an increase in performance. In fact, it decreased performance.” Although the prospect of catastrophic injury of racehorses was discussed, Dr. Tobin noted that “Harness Racing was one of the safest sports in North America. Only 1 in 15,000 fatal injuries occurred in Standardbreds, where 1 in 2,000 occurred in Thoroughbreds over the same time period.” Several other items were addressed, such as the list of 24 drugs that would provide for the basis of drugs that would have established levels for testing. All others would be considered “off-limits” for use and result in positive tests if found in race-day blood or urine testing. In addition, the proposal of special corticosteroid regulations sparked added debate. Of the nine speakers, eight of the experts gave convincing testimony toward the need for separate rules for each breed. Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), was the last speaker and lone dissenter. She noted that the ad hoc committee for all breeds felt that the thresholds are appropriate, and that the state of Pennsylvania was “on-board” with her groups recommendations. Nonetheless, Joe Faraldo is not convinced that the RMTC proposals are suitable for Harness Racing. “We heard today that not all of the scientific bases have been covered. I believe that the [NYS Gaming Board] is cognizant of that fact. Because this board took the time to listen to all of these points of view, and the science behind them, it is a good indication that Harness Racing will be treated fairly.” by Chris Tully for Harnesslink.com
What has been described in some quarters as the biggest doping scandal in racing history occurred in England last month. The magnitude of the incident aside, there is a lesson to be learned from this notorious event that has little to do with doping. The message developed is this: Advocate for others only that which you truly practice yourself.
Darren Binskin is fuming with Harness Racing New South Wales officialdom after what he has termed a 'Miracle Mile' (A$750,000) disgrace. The Australian trainer now intends to confront them with all guns blazing in a hearing in Sydney at 2.30pm on Wednesday.
Due to an overwhelming positive response, Equine Guelph has opened registration for a second offering of their eWorkshop on colic prevention. Over 80 students from local and international background gained valuable knowledge over the course of 2 weeks in March to combat the number one killer of horses (other than old age!) with Equine Guelph's new eWorkshop on colic prevention.
In the Paulick Report’s “The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Lasix – A Racetrack Practitioner’s Perspective” (March 7, 2013), Dr. Don Shields, who has been a practicing veterinarian at Southern California racetracks for more than 25 years, makes a compelling argument for the use of furosemide (Lasix) to treat horses for exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in both training and racing.
The Board of Directors of Racing Commissions International has voted to move forward with a major revision of the association's model medication rules for horse racing.
The key to a horse's health lies beneath its appearance. A growing number of horse owners rely on the misconception that if their horse appears healthy and fit, then chances are it is. What if we had the tools to help us look beyond a horse's appearance so that good decisions could be made for its optimal health and management?
'Equine Stress and Transportation' is the over-arching theme of the upcoming Horse Management Seminar hosted by the Rutgers Equine Science Center and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The seminar, scheduled from 8:00 am - 3:30 pm on Sunday, February 10, 2013, will feature presentations by several equine industry experts.