A diagnosis of asthma used to mean retirement for performance horses, or in some cases, euthanasia. But with advancements in research, good management, and the development of products that help coughing horses perform, now many riders can keep their wheezing horses comfortable and extend their lives. Asthma — also known as inflammatory airway disease (IAD), heaves, broken wind, COPD, and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) — is one of the most common respiratory ailments in horses, whereby the horse’s air passages narrow and normal breathing becomes onerous.
When things just don’t feel right, you may experience a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, or you might actually manifest physical symptoms such as gastric distress, perspiration, or muscle tremors. In humans and in horses, stress can create a multitude of psychological reactions ranging from mild anxiety to debilitating near panic and severe depression, and reduced immune response which can invite illness. Long term stress can produce ulcers, musculoskeletal disorders, heart irregularities, and create a host of psychological vices.
Researchers at the New York Institute of Technology, College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) are suggesting that, in fact, the four side toes did not completely disappear but remain even today as remnants still present within the horse’s modern lower leg and hoof. Scientists widely accept that the essentially redundant splint bones – the small bones found along the outer sides of the metacarpal or cannon bone - are remnants of the second and fourth toes.
With spring just around the corner our thoughts turn to riding, riding, and more riding. While not nearly as enrapturing, save some consideration for that lonely chariot outside, which gets our beloved steeds to and from events, shows, and trails. Every trailer that has been parked or stored for the winter should undergo a methodical inspection and maintenance routine before hitting the road each year. Safety should always be of primary concern, but comfort is important as well – every time a horse has an unpleasant trailering experience, he or she will go through that much more stress on the next trip.
Horses and risk are words that often appear together. Riding, trailering, coaching, operating a boarding facility, working with horses and the public – pretty much anything that involves a 500-kilogram horse and a 60-kilogram human - has elements of risk. Historically, those risks weren’t well recognized or managed. For example, velvet-covered hunting caps looked pretty but did little to prevent concussions, while uncertified coaches routinely plopped unsuspecting children on devilish ponies adept at dumping their charges.