Horse Health

Health news, veterinary advice, and educational tools to keep your horse healthy provided by The Horse

Researchers Examine Fatal Lumbar Vertebral Fractures

When it comes to catastrophic injuries in racehorses, most people immediately think of severe limb fractures. But these athletes sometimes suffer life-threatening fractures beyond the limbs. Lumbar vertebral fractures, for instance, can occur in the loin area near where the rear of the saddle sits.

Colic: To Refer or Not to Refer

Four out of every 100 horses colic each year, making it the most common equine emergency. While most cases do not require surgery, 7-10% of them do involve lesions that are only correctable through surgery.

Carbohydrate Composition and Equine Digestion

Carbohydrates, including starches, sugars, and fiber, provide horses with the energy they need to meet their daily requirements. But what type of carbs should you be feeding? High-starch diets, for instance, can increase the risk of metabolic disease, while high-fiber diets might better support horses' nutritional health.

The Vet Tech's Role in Colic Surgery

Despite veterinary advancements and dramatically improved postoperative survival rates, colic is still a leading cause of death among horses. Colic, by definition, is abdominal pain; this is a clinical sign rather than a disease. A horse can be “colicky” for many reasons—large colon torsions, small intestinal strangulations, spasmodic ep...

Study: Cortisol and Noncribbing Cribbers

Back in 2011 an equine ethicist suggested that cribbers 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.

How Do Muzzles Impact Horses' Grass Selection and Intake?

In theory, turning a horse out isn't rocket science: Bring horse to pasture, remove halter and lead rope, close gate behind you. But if you're turning an easy keeper out in a big grassy field that happens to be the only pasture you have access to, turnout can be much more complicated—and hazardous to the horse's health. In situations lik...

Preventing Injuries in Thoroughbred Racehorses

The big names are recognizable: Barbaro, Eight Belles, St Nicholas Abbey. But hundreds of other racehorses have suffered racing or training injuries that ultimately proved fatal, as well. And while everyone would like to see the number of catastrophic injuries that occur on racetracks reduced, finding ways to actually accomplish that is easier said than d...

How to Manage a Collapsed Foal

Foals have seemingly endless energy, darting around their fields, playing with their pasturemates, and recharging with a quick nap and a drink from Mom. But, occasionally, a foal develops a health problem that zaps that energy and leaves him in a collapsed heap, looking sickly and vulnerable. What should you do if this happens to your foal?

What Causes Equine Grass Sickness?

We all know that horses residing at pasture spend the majority of their days grazing. But did you know that, in certain parts of the world, grazing could put a horse at risk for contracting a potentially fatal disease? And what's more, researchers still aren't sure what causes the disease, called equine grass sickness (EGS).

Study Compares Abdominal Bandage Types

It's no secret that leg wraps and bandages applied to horses' lower limbs protect and support the soft tissues within. But what about the abdominal bandages veterinarians wrap around horses' bodies post-colic surgery—do they function in the same way?

Study: Boots, Wraps Increase Leg Heat During Exercise

Tendon boots help protect horses’ front legs from injuries such as hoof strikes or collisions with jumps. Wraps protect this sensitive area during travel or flat work. But Austrian researchers have determined that boots and wraps have definite effects on skin and tendon temperature as well—and those effects are probably not without health cons...

Study: Vets Disagree on Equine Neurologic Assessments

Is that horse lame, or is he exhibiting neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination)? For some horse owners, answering this question can be difficult. Recent study results suggest, however, that owners aren't the only ones that find it challenging to evaluate a possibly ataxic horse: Researchers determined that equine health experts have difficult...

Haynet Design and Forage Consumption Rates Studied

It’s no secret that horses in modern management situations can benefit from slowed forage intake, which mimics feral horses' natural foraging tendencies. But do these slow feeders really work? A group of University of Minnesota researchers recently put two slow-feed haynets—one with medium-sized and one with small-sized openings—to t...

Strangles Signs, Risk Factors, and Complications Evaluated

If your horse had strangles, would you be able to tell? He'd probably have those token swollen lymph nodes and maybe a fever, right? It's possible, but researchers recently determined that these signs alone might not be the only ones that should prompt a strangles test. In fact, more than a quarter of the horses in their recent research presented ...

Monitor Mares' Progesterone Levels before Inducing Labor

Inducing labor in humans might be commonplace, but performing the same procedure in pregnant mares is tricky business. If the timing’s off, the foal isn’t likely to be strong enough to survive. But French researchers say that monitoring mares' progesterone levels—combined with veterinary and breeding experience—could be the key...

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