The University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture partnered with the University of Minnesota to present the 2nd Annual Kentucky Breeders' Short Course held Jan. 21 and 22 in Lexington. The first day of the course was designed for veterinarians, and the second day was for horse owners. Both included a half-day session on equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) as part of a research project between the two schools' faculty. The following are highlights from some of the presentations:
Identifying and Managing EMS
Ray Geor, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor and chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University, presented both days to educate industry professionals about equine metabolic syndrome. EMS describes obese, insulin-resistant horses and ponies with increased susceptibility to laminitis. Breeds particularly susceptible to EMS are pony breeds, Morgans, Arabians, and Paso Finos. This condition can be controlled with restricted calorie diets and limited pasture time. Horses and ponies might remain susceptible to laminitis even after weight loss.
Toxicology Prevention in Horses
Cynthia Gaskill, DVM, PhD, clinical veterinary toxicologist at the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, presented six steps for treating poisoned horses. They included stabilizing the patient, clinical evaluation of the patient, decontaminating the patient if appropriate, enhancing the elimination of absorbed toxin, administering an antidote if available and appropriate, and providing symptomatic and supportive care as needed. Decontamination methods include gastric lavage (flushing) and activated charcoal. Absorbed toxin elimination methods include diuresis (increased urine flow and excretion rate of renally excreted toxins), repeated doses of activated charcoal, ion trapping, and chelation (a process that binds a mineral to an amino acid).
Managing Carbohydrates in Equine Diets
Laurie Lawrence, PhD, a professor in the Animal and Food Sciences department at UK, presented on how to interpret nutrient content of equine feed. Horse owners often have their feed analyzed for nutrient content in order to assure maximal nutritional value for their animals.
Emergent and Re-Emergent Diseases
Peter Timoney, MVB, MS, PhD, FRCVS, Frederick Van Lennep Chair in Equine Veterinary Science at UK's Gluck Equine Research Center, spoke about emergent and re-emergent diseases currently affecting the equine industry. Current emerging infectious diseases include Potomac horse fever, acute equine respiratory syndrome, and mare reproductive loss syndrome. Current re-emerging infectious diseases include equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis.
Diseases of the Scrotum and Testis in the Stallion
Barry Ball, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, Albert G. Clay Endowed Chair in Equine Reproduction at UK's Gluck Equine Research Center, presented on various scrotal and testicular diseases at Veterinarian's Day. One of the main topics of discussion was cryptorchidism--the failure of one or both testes to descend properly into the scrotum. This is a relatively common condition affecting 2-8% of male horses. Cryptorchidism appears to be related to a reduction of an insulinlike peptide and reduced testosterone levels and/or receptors. The undescended testis associated with cryptorchidism is subjected to elevated temperature, which causes problems in the differentiation between germ (genetically programmed to become eggs) and somatic (any body cell other than an egg or sperm cell) cells.
Equine Dental Care
Jack Easley, DVM, MS, Dipl. ABVP, a private practitioner, gave a presentation at the Horse Owners' Day on equine dental care. All horses should receive a yearly dental exam, Easley said, which is sometimes referred to as floating. This might involve filing the teeth to balance the mouth. Some clues that horses might be having dental problems include loss of feed from the mouth, lugging on the bridle, head tilting or tossing, resisting the bridle, large undigested food particles in manure, loss of body condition, and swelling of the face.
Other Short Course speakers included Molly McCue, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, University of Minnesota; Ed Squires, PhD, Dipl. ACT (Hon.), UK Gluck Equine Research Center; Krishona Martinson, PhD, University of Minnesota; Dan Rosenberg, Rosenberg Thoroughbred Consulting; Tim Capps, University of Louisville Equine Business Program; and Mats Troedsson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, ECAR, UK Gluck Equine Research Center.
Cassie Allison is an equine communications intern with the UK Equine Initiative and is a Community Communications and Leadership Development major.
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Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.