Heart Disease

Action Point: Be aware of heart disease in horses.

Rational: I have never heard of heart disease in horses before. While it makes sense that it can happen, it was just something that I have never thought of before. Heart disease is a very serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Since I know very little about this condition and there is a lot to it, it would be in my best interest to learn about the variety of causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Steps to Achievement: In order to achieve this goal I will make a 1/2-1 page note on this condition to put in my binder. I will include the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and average expected cost. I will use resources such as https://wagwalking.com/horse/condition/heart-disease, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/horse-owners/heart-and-blood-vessel-disorders-of-horses/diagnosis-of-cardiovascular-disease-in-horses, and https://ker.com/equinews/heart-problems-in-horses/ to complete this goal.

Common Equine Respiratory Conditions

Action Point: Be aware of causes, symptoms, and treatment of common respiratory conditions.

Rational: By being aware of common respiratory conditions, such as equine influenza virus, equine herpes virus, equine rhinovirus, strangles, and sinusitis, I will be able to take appropriate steps to help care for my horse and the others nearby to insure that it does not spread further and treatment takes place immediately. Respiratory conditions are very serious, some can even be considered a global concern.

Steps to Achievement: To achieve this goal I will make a 1 page note to put in my binder that includes information on equine influenza virus, equine herpes virus, equine rhinovirus, strangles, and sinusitis. Under each of these titles I will include the causes, symptoms, treatment, and quarantine precautions. I will use resources such as https://www.merckvetmanual.com/respiratory-system/respiratory-diseases-of-horses/overview-of-respiratory-diseases-of-horses, https://www.myhorseuniversity.com/single-post/2017/09/25/Common-Equine-Respiratory-Diseases, and https://www.msd-animal-health.ie/diseases/horses/equine_respiratory_disease/Introduction.aspx.


Question and Answer with Dr. Moore

My Question:

From what I understand, hyperlipemia is a rare blood disorder. This condition occurs in overweight equines or those that undergo a fast change in their diet. Equines with this condition will have very high amounts of fat in their blood. This can cause the liver to work absurdly, resulting in the process of liver failure. Symptoms of this disease include slowness, lethargy, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, and abnormal behavior. My question is, if you have an overweight horse/pony, what measures would you take to quickly reduce their weight before this condition occurs, but also decreasing it slowly enough that it doesn’t cause this condition to happen from the sudden change?

Dr. Moore’s Answer:

Hyperlipidemia also known as hypertriglyceridemia occurs when there is a negative energy balance (underlying illness, pregnancy, lactation, sudden starvation) or physiological stress (parasites, transport) in the horse. Ponies, miniature horses and donkeys are most susceptible. Many horses with insulin resistance (equine metabolic syndrome and some PPID horses) have hypertriglyceridemia so special attention has to be made to address the underlying condition. As you mentioned, it is a challenge to take an overweight horse (likely with equine metabolic syndrome) and help it lose weight but also prevent it from developing hypertriglyceridemia. For many, we use a three pronged approach; diet, exercise and levothyroxine.

The recommendations for weight loss in horses is to aim for 0.5% to 1.0% body weight loss weekly. This is done by feeding a grass hay, with NSC <10% at 1.4-1.7% body weight . Some horses are resistant to losing weight ( like people). We aren’t sure why but they need a slightly greater reduction in feed at1.15% body weight.

Along with diet, an exercise program should be instituted. This is barring any issues with laminitis ( which would have to be addressed first). Horses (ponies) should be exercised at a low to moderate intensity (canter) for >30 minutes a day 5-7 days a week. Checking the pulse or using a heart rate monitor will held with the intensity and heart rates should be around 130-150 beats per minute. Lower intensity (trot to slow canter) is used for those with previous laminitis and done on a soft ground (heart rate 110-130 bpm). Discontinue and have your vet assess if there is any lameness. This exercise can be ridden or unridden.

Levothyroxine is used to improve insulin sensitivity in these horses but should only be done with veterinary supervision. Horses need to be weaned off of this medication as the horse’s own thyroid gland will reduce making the hormone when an external source of the hormone is fed.

Triglyceride levels in the blood can and should be monitored if there is any question regarding how the horse is adapting to these management changes.

Medical Conditions That my Horses are More Susceptible To

Action Plan: Learn what medical conditions and diseases that my horses may be susceptible to or have a greater chance of developing.

Rational: By knowing what conditions my horses have a greater chance of getting I can become a better owner. I say this because I will be able to do research ahead of time and learn about the condition, how to prevent it (if possible), signs/symptoms, diagnosis, when to call the vet, how I can help the vet, steps my vet will take, and expenses I need to be prepared for.

Steps to Achievement: In order to achieve this goal I will talk with my vet and ask them about equine medical conditions that they frequently see in our area (ex. Moon Blindness). From there we can develop some preventative strategies together (ex. Can we test the soil and water ahead of time? Is there a vaccine available?)

Medical Conditions “Cheat Sheet”

Action Plan: Create a cheat sheet of common medical conditions.

Rational: By being aware of the common medical conditions (alimentary and renal, neurological, skin, eye, muscular and metabolic, and ectoparasites) and knowing the symptoms of the conditions, I will be more likely to notice problems in my horses and get them medical attention quickly when needed.

Steps to Achievement: “Equine Veterinary Nursing” page 266-285 has a great overview of common medical conditions, causes, signs/symptoms, and treatment. I have already read this section. Therefore, the next step of my goal is to reread and take notes on this information. This way I will have a physical reference that I can put in my binder and take with me to the barn.

Owner Safety with a Colickly Horse

Action Point: Go over the safety ‘rules’ with the people that work on the farm regarding entering a stall of an anxious colickly horse (this will also be a good reminder for myself).

Rational: Horses can be dangerous animals to begin with, with the addition of colic or distress this can result in injury to the owner. In this unit I have learned that horses can become agitated when they cannot stop pain that is in their body. I do not want anyone to get hurt by my horses, therefore I want to go over these rules with our farm members. Safety of the handler comes first.

Steps to Achievement: To complete this goal I will go over the rules with all of the farm members at once. This insures that we can discuss, ask questions, and develop answers together.

Colickly Safety ‘Rules’: If it is not safe or you feel uncomfortable do not enter (horse throwing itself against walls, horse making strong efforts to roll, etc); have a person there on standby (to run the door or in case an injury does happen); have a clear path between you and the door; beware of the horse’s legs (kicking, pawing) and do not stand in the kick zone, even if your horse does not normally kick; and if the horse wants to roll encourage it to stand until you can get out of the stall.

Colic Prevention Related to my Management Style

Action Point: Insure that the horses are always unable able to break into the grain room and in insure that the buckets of water are never frozen.

Rational: In relation to my management style, the two most likely factors to occur that could cause colic include; the horses breaking into the grain room or the water freezes. The grain room has a simple latch, one that a clever horse could probably figure out. A sudden intake of large quantities of grain can cause colic and laminitis in equines.I carry water to my horses and pour it into buckets, if the horses do not drink from the buckets frequently enough in the winter the water will freeze. Equines that don’t get enough water are at a greater risk for indigestion, impaction, and other conditions.

Steps to Achievement: To achieve these goals I will purchase a ‘horse proof’ latch and install it on the door of the grain room and I will also purchase each horse a heated bucket. This way, it insures that the horses will not be gorging in grain and they will always have water.

Example of Purchases I will Make:

Latch: https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=30E06FCA-7B6A-11D5-A192-00B0D0204AE5

Heated Bucket:
https://www.princessauto.com/en/detail/60-litre-13-gallon-heated-bucket/A-p8001031e;jsessionid=rSwbi+N+4s3CKt+yo8-QFQb4.pal-prod-com1 )

Parasite Control Program

Action Point: Devise an ideal control program with my vet using strategies such as the 20/80 rule and a FECRT.

Rational: An ideal parasite control program is individualized for every farm and horse, therefore the best way to make use of the 20/80 rule (20% of the population carry 80% of the worms) is to have a FECRT (fecal egg count reduction test) performed.

Steps to Achievement: To achieve this goal I will discuss this topic with my vet when he comes in the spring to do vaccinations and perform a dental check. When he is here I will also ask him to take a sample to perform a FECRT.

Annual Dental Exam

Action Point: Have a dental exam included in my annual vet check up.

Rational: Regular and preventative dentistry has a large impact on the health of horses, both short term and long term. Issues should be treated as soon as possible, therefore an annual check up (as opposed to waiting until I notice a problem) will reduce the risks of problems.

Steps to Achievement: In order to achieve this goal I will ask my vet ahead of time to come a bit earlier to book my horses in for a dental exam when he comes in the spring.

Tools and Techniques Available

Action Point: I want to become more aware of the options available for my horse if joint disease should happen.

Rational: In order to heal joint disease tools and programs need to be put in place. If I am aware of the techniques that my vet may take to diagnose the problem, I will be a more informed and knowledgeable owner. By having background knowledge I will also be able to ask more educated questions and have effective communication.

Steps to Achievement: In order to achieve this goal I need to make notes on a couple articles. I need to do more than just read the article because I personally find some of it too difficult to remember.

Articles for Me to Make Notes On: