Horse Health

Health news, veterinary advice, and educational tools to keep your horse healthy.

Preliminary Test Results Suggest Possible Causes, Preventative Measures

Preliminary Test Results Suggest Possible Causes, Preventative Measures

After testing numerous pasture samples for mycotoxins, endophytes, and other possible causes to the problems in Kentucky, tests have shown higher than expected levels of a mycotoxin called zearalenone, according to Dr. Steve Jackson, a consultant for Bluegrass Equine Nutrition. Jackson and other presenters stressed that zearalenone has not been pinpointed as the definitive cause to the problems.

Two Ohio Counties Experiencing Similar Syndromes

Now two counties in Ohio are seeing syndromes similar to those being presented in Kentucky, according to an update Thursday by Dr. Grant Frazer, associate professor at Ohio State University. Frazer said there is no way to make a confirmation that this is the same problem that Kentucky veterinarians and researchers are dealing with, since no definitive description of the problem has been narrowed down.

Florida Only State Requiring Special Permit for Kentucky Shippers

Florida Only State Requiring Special Permit for Kentucky Shippers

The Kentucky state veterinarian's office has fielded calls from all over the country regarding late term abortions and early foal loss in Kentucky mares, but Florida remains the only state to take action. The Sunshine State is requiring a special permit for horses shipping in from Kentucky. Dr. Don Notter, Kentucky state veterinarian, is recommending that anyone shipping a mare anywhere should contact the state veterinarian for their destination. He said restrictions and special permits could become required almost overnight.

Keeneland Info Session Goes to Video

The information session on late term abortions and early fetal loss conducted at the Keeneland sales pavilion Thursday will be available online at Keeneland's web site, www.keeneland.com, for the next 48 hours. In addition, Keeneland announced at the meeting that it will have a videotape of the session available early next week.

Foal Losses: View From the Field

Foal Losses: View From the Field

Actually, the view from the field in Central Kentucky is rather lonely. There are acres and acres of fresh-mown--or being furiously mowed--pastures that are beginning to resemble putting greens. The recommendation is to cut the grass to hopefully reduce the amount of mycotoxins being ingested by mares--if in fact that is the cause of the current syndromes affecting pregnant mares. Managers and owners desperate for something to do that might help are taking all suggestions seriously. Veterinarians are pulling out all the stops treating at-risk mares with everything that seems logical. Researchers and scientists are busily taking samples and running tests to try and find answers.

Florida Officials Tracking Requests for Horse Shipments; Van Companies Busy

Florida Officials Tracking Requests for Horse Shipments; Van Companies Busy

Officials with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Animal Industry, reported early Thursday afternoon that in 2 1/2 days they have received applications for 71 permits for horse shipments from Kentucky to Florida. In the wake of the recent foal/fetal loss outbreak in Kentucky, the state of Florida enacted temporary regulations requiring all horses from the Bluegrass State be tracked through the issuance of a permit from the state's Commissioner of Agriculture.

Feed Additive Might Help Protect Mares During Foal Loss Syndrome

Feed Additive Might Help Protect Mares During Foal Loss Syndrome

Veterinary and diagnostic professionals in Kentucky are working feverishly to identify the cause of the recent abortion and early fetal loss syndromes. One of the most probable causes is mycotoxins in pastures. If that is the case, then a mycotoxin binder used for other animals--and now being produced locally as a feed additive for horses--could offer the first preventative treatment for the current situation.

Could Foal Loss Syndrome Be Slowing?

Could Foal Loss Syndrome Be Slowing?

The highest number of foals/fetal samples taken to the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington, Ky., during the current problem with late-term abortions and early embryonic loss occurred on Derby Day, May 5, according to the Center's Director, Lenn Harrison, VMD, Dipl. ACVP. On that day, 73 foals/fetuses were brought in for examination. Word from at least two veterinarians is that while early pregnancy mares might still be at risk for losing their pregnancies, the loss of these late-term foals is slowing.

Florida Issues Permit Process Guidelines on Horses Travelling From Kentucky

Florida Issues Permit Process Guidelines on Horses Travelling From Kentucky

In the wake of the outbreak of late-term fetal/foal deaths and near-term abortions in mares in Central Kentucky, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued guidelines for the equine industry on horses from Kentucky entering Florida. The guidelines require a permit to be obtained prior to shipment by veterinarians who issue Official Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. It also recommends to Florida farms that mares from Kentucky be kept isolated from other horses and their health be closely monitored. There has been no ban issued on shipment of horses from Kentucky to Florida.

Equine Researchers Outline Steps Being Taken on Fetal/Foal Loss Syndrome

Thoroughbred industry leaders, veterinarians, researchers, and farm managers met with the media at the Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, Ky., for a press briefing on the current fetal/foal loss syndromes occurring in the state. While there are no answers as to why so many mares are aborting in near-term or having stillborns in late term, there are defined paths being taken that everyone involved hopes will lead to the cause.

Estimate: Foal Losses Could Have $150 Million Impact on Kentucky Economy

With Kentucky's share of the Thoroughbred foal crop in the United States at an all-time high of nearly 30%, the repercussions of the excessive foal loss that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing may be felt for years to come. Based on figures compiled by The Blood-Horse, the economic impact of the problem could easily exceed $150 million, if foal losses amount to 20% of the anticipated 2002 crop. A 1997 national economic impact study conducted by Barents estimated the Kentucky breeding sector to be a $900 million industry annually.

FAQs: An Interview With Dr. Doug Byars on Excessive Foal Loss

FAQs: An Interview With Dr. Doug Byars on Excessive Foal Loss

Dr. Doug Byars, a veterinary reproductive specialist at Hagyard-Davidson-Mcgee near Lexington, offers the latest information and advice to horse owners and farm managers concerning the excessive loss of late-term and near term foals. He was interviewed by Kimberly S. Graetz, editor of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care (www.thehorse.com) and a contributing editor to The Blood-Horse.

2001 Breeding Season Crisis: Many Mares Losing Foals; Links to Related Stories

2001 Breeding Season Crisis: Many Mares Losing Foals; Links to Related Stories

Two "syndromes" of unknown origin that began in late April are causing Central Kentucky farms to lose an excessive number of foals and fetuses. The first syndrome results in what broodmare owners know as "red bag," or premature placenta separation. The placenta comes out before the foal, often causing the foal to suffocate if the birth is unattended. The second syndrome was discovered a short time later, when veterinarians began to perform 60-day ultrasound fetal checks and found many mares either were not pregnant or in the process of ending their pregnancies. Some farms have experienced losses from 25-75% of next year's foal crop. There is no evidence the problems are slowing down.

Foal Loss Outbreak of 1980 Eventually Discounted as 'Artifact Epidemic'

An outbreak of early-term fetal loss in 1980 was eventually discounted by researchers as an "artifact epidemic" caused by earlier than usual examinations. Still, that outbreak now is viewed by many as similar in nature to the current syndrome that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing. According to experts such as Dr. David Powell of the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, the current problem is much more widespread than in 1980.

University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab Seeking Answers About Foal Loss

The director and staff of the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Laboratory have been working long hours conducting necropsies and running tests in an attempt to find answers to the questions raised during the ongoing losses of fetuses and foals in the state. While there hasn't been time yet to compile official numbers of incoming horses for testing, more than 60 have come on some days. The normal number of incoming abortions per day at this time of year is five to six, with a little higher number per day of dead foals.

Excessive Foal Loss Great Concern to Central Kentucky Farms

Excessive Foal Loss Great Concern to Central Kentucky Farms

Two "syndromes" that began near the end of the third week of April are causing Central Kentucky farms to lose an excessive number of foals and fetuses due to an as yet unknown cause. The first syndrome results in what mare owners know as "red bag," or premature placenta separation where the placenta comes out before the foal, often causing the foal to suffocate if the birth is unattended. The second syndrome was discovered around May 1 when veterinarians began routine 60-day fetal checks and discovered that many mares either were empty (not pregnant), or were in the process of losing their pregnancies. Some farms have experienced losses ranging from 25-75% of next year's foal crop. And there is no evidence that this problem is slowing down.

Sales Prepping Yearlings

As spring moves into summer, the primary focus of activity on many breeding farms is preparation of yearlings for sale. There isn't much scientific research on exercising horses at that young age, yet many farms are using forced exercise to make these youngsters look like little athletes rather than the gangly teenagers they are. While it is good that ...

Storm Behavior

During thunderstorms, most horses show no noticeable response to either thunder or lightning independent of the severity of the rain and the wind.

The Horse Hosts Free Foot and Mouth Seminar

The Horse magazine will conduct a free seminar for horse owners and industry professionals addressing EPM, West Nile, and Foot and Mouth disease concerns. The April 27 event at the Kentucky Horse Park Visitor's Information Center coincides with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the same location. Speakers will include Dr. Bill Saville, of The Ohio State University, and Dr. Peter Timoney, of the Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington.

Strangles

Strangles is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory system in the horse. It is caused by a bacterium, Streptococcus equi. Symptoms of strangles include inflammation of the throat, nasal discharge, and abscesses in the lymph nodes that are located in the head region.

Rash of Positives for Human Drug Clonidine Reported in Nebraska

A human drug used to treat high blood pressure, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and addictive behavior has been detected in at least 10 post-race samples of horses racing in Nebraska recently, and sources say the number of positive tests could double in the coming weeks. Seven trainers have been notified by the Nebraska Racing Commission that their horses tested positive for Clonidine, which drug testing experts say can have both a calming and analgesic effect on horses and is closely related to Romifidine and Guanabenz, two drugs suspected by racing officials as being used illegally on horses.

Oxley's Triple Crown Contenders to Race for Equine Research

John C. Oxley, who with wife Debby has a pair of Triple Crown candidates in Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos and graded stakes-placed Hero's Tribute, announced that 1% of money either colt wins through victories in grade I races through the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) will be earmarked for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. The donations are retroactive to the Florida Derby, in which Monarchos earned $600,000 (which provided $6,000 to the foundation).

Castration

Castration usually rids a horse of unwanted stallion-like behavior, including screaming at and fighting with other horses and potentially aggressive behavior toward humans.

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