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Alimentary Canal Function In Horse Health

The alimentary canal in horses is basically the complete digestive tract from the mouth all way through to the anus. There are several different components or sections of the horse's alimentary canal, all which must function together to allow the food to be properly digested, nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream, as well as waste material to be eliminated from the body. Any one of the sections or components of the alimentary canal or digestive tract that is not working correctly can have minor or major affects on the horse's overall health and nutrition levels, regardless of the type of feed provided.The top section of the alimentary canal includes the mouth, teeth, and esophagus, all which work to pre-break the food, usually grass, hay or grains, into smaller sections so that the digestive processes can be completed in the stomach and intestines. Older horses and horses with tooth and dental problems often have trouble in chewing and breaking up food items, leading to greater problems with digestion further along the alimentary canal. [...]

Anaerobic Bacteria - A Problem For Many Aspects Of Horses

Anaerobic bacteria refers to any type of bacteria that thrives and grows in areas where there is no oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria does best in moist conditions in deep tissue or organs were exposure to oxygen is very limited or non-existent. Typically anaerobic bacterial infections are characterized by foul odors, swelling, pain and inflammation as well as tissue destruction that is often permanent. Horses, like any other animal, may develop anaerobic bacterial infections due to any number of factors, but they tend to be most commonly seen in hooves, dental and tooth problems and respiratory conditions. Deep cuts and wounds are also a likely source for anaerobic bacterial infections.Anaerobic bacteria in the hooves is considered to be the likely cause of a condition known as White Line Disease. In this instance small cracks or breaks in the hoof wall allow the bacteria into the hoof where it continues to grow and develop. This will result in a white, lumpy looking breaking or crumbling of the hoof horn that is often described as looking like spoiled cottage cheese. [...]

Anterior Segment Dysgenesis: A Genetic Condition Of The Eye

Anterior Segment Dysgenesis, more simply known as ASD, is an inherited, genetic condition that most often occurs in horses that are dark or chocolate brown in color and have a white or cream colored mane and tail. Typically horses with ASD are part of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed, which is the gaited horses bred and developed in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States.ASD is present at birth and does not become progressively worse with age; rather it remains constant throughout the life of the horse. Screening by a veterinary ophthalmologist when the foal is approximately four months old can confirm the presence or absence of the condition, and foals can then be cleared for breeding stock if the problem is not present at that age. Horses cannot develop ASD as they mature so it is relatively easy to keep affected foals from being produced if owners are diligent with testing before breeding. [...]

Azoturia Or Tying Up Syndrome In Horses

This condition has long been a problem in draft horses and horses that are worked consistently through the week and then given a day or two of rest. Azoturia, also know as Tying Up Syndrome, Monday Morning Sickness, and Equine Rhabdomyolosis Syndrome, is a muscle and metabolic problem that results in painful cramping of the leg muscles, inability to walk and move, shortened stride and blood or dark coloration in the urine, excessive sweating and changes in gait and stride. If the azoturia is pronounced the muscles may appear very hard and stiff even to the touch and the horse may have problems in controlling the hindquarters, occasionally resulting in collapse. While not usually life threatening it can be serious once the kidneys become involved so early treatment and proper management of the horse is important. [...]

Back Bending Can Be A Problem In Older Horses

Some horses, especially those that have a longer body or more crest or arch to their neck will occasionally develop problems with bending and movement of the spine as they get older or if they are injured in some way. Just like with people, the horse's spine is made up of a series of vertebrae that are cushioned with cartilage known as discs. The spinal cord runs through the center of the discs and vertebrae, sending impulses and nerve messages through to the various parts of the body to keep the horse moving. Unlike people, the horse's spine is not really flexible except in the neck region and where the spine and the hindquarters or pelvis come together, the rest is basically rigid and strong. [...]

Anemia And Blood Aeration Problems

The red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the various cells of the body so they are able to function and move. Each cell in the horse's body needs oxygen to do its job and without all cells working properly the horse will experience any number of health related problems.Anemia, or lack of red blood cells in the body results in poor blood aeration or ability to carry oxygen to the body. Anemia is actually relatively common in horses of all ages and breeds, although Arabians and some Thoroughbred lines in particular are more prone to anemia than some of the coldbloods or heavier horses. [...]

Cerebellar Abiotrophy A Serious Inherited Condition In Arabians

Equine CA or Cerebellar Abiotrophy, found almost solely in the Arabian horse bloodlines, is a neurological, genetic condition. Most foals appear normal and show no sign of cerebellar abiotrophy at birth but noticeable symptoms usually appear around four months of age. There are some cases where the first symptoms of cerebellar abiotrophy appeared in foals only a few days old or horses over a year.Cerebellar abiotrophy develops when the neurons recognized as Purkinje cells, located in a region of the brain called the cerebellum, start to die off shortly after birth. It affects a horse's coordination and balance under six months of age but because of the gradual onset of CA symptoms, caretakers or owners often do not notice any physical problems in affected horses until they are much older. A horse without Purkinje cells has no sense of distance and space. [...]

Signs And Symptoms Of Cardiac And Respiratory Problems In Horses

There is nothing as horrible as having a wonderful, healthy horse suddenly become ill. Often there are few precursor signs and symptoms to signal that the horse may be developing cardiac or respiratory problems that, when left untreated, can be fatal.Horses in general are highly unlikely to have sudden heart failure that leads to immediate death. What we know as cardiac failure in humans is rare in horses, rather they tend to have poorer functioning of the heart muscle resulting in fatigue, inability to exercise or work and lethargy and lack of energy and enthusiasm. Horses, by nature, are very curious and active animals, so any changes in their interest in the environment around them or changes from active, energetic horses to tired, inactive horses are usually signs of a serious health condition. These conditions tend to become more significant as the horse ages, and may even be mistaken for old age. [...]

Choke: A Preventable Eating Problem

Horses may develop a bad habit of gulping their food too fast and not chewing it as much as it needs to be before swallowing. In both of these cases the food can actually lodge in the horse's esophagus, resulting in a condition known as choke. Choke is most often not life threatening, but it can be very alarming to both the horse and the owner, and can potentially be problematic if the blockage does not clear on its own.One of the biggest causes of choke is found in horses that are feed dry feed pellets or hay cubes, or feed that is high in beet pulp. All of these types of feeds are very dry and expand when the moisture in the horse's mouth and digestive tract come into contact with the food. If the horse is in a hurry to eat or is just lazy and doesn't break up the food and mix the saliva in with the feed in the mouth, the food absorbs the moisture further down the throat. [...]

Club Foot In Horses - A Puzzling Problem For Breeders

Club foot is a lack of the attachment of the coffin bone in the hoof that results in varying degrees of malformation of the hoof as well as the stride of the affected horse. Club foot is almost always on one of the front feet, but very rarely on both. About a fifth of the time club foot may be seen on a hind foot, but typically these cases are much less severe.The coffin bone in the horse's hoof is responsible for giving the exterior hoof its uniform shape, as well as allowing the horse to carry its weight normally distributed throughout movement. The coffin bone is actually in three separate segments, and club foot is noted when the lowest segment, or third phalange, is twisted and out of proper positioning. [...]

Colic Is More Than An Upset Stomach

The term colic is generally understood by horse owners and vets alike to mean any type of pain or discomfort in the stomach of the horse, although it can be caused by several different factors. Some horse are more prone to problems with colic while other horses, on the same pasture and getting the same types of feed will have no problems whatsoever. It is likely that there are some breed differences as well as hereditary components to horses with constant colic and research is ongoing. Colic can range in severity from a slight pain and annoyance to the horse right up to a fatal blockage of the gastro-intestinal tract. Since there are many different types of colic the first step is to understand what is the cause, then choose the correct treatment and prevention method. [...]

Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis In Swiss Freiberger Horses

Although congenital hepatic fibrosis is more commonly seen in other species of mammals including humans, it is occasionally seen in one breed of horses, and that is the Swiss Freiberger horse. In research tests, all of the reported cases of congenital hepatic fibrosis within the breed can be directly linked back to offspring and decedents of one stallion named Wigar, thereby confirming that the condition is hereditary. Since the condition does not occur in every foal born in the line, researches have determined that it is a recessive autosomal gene that causes the condition.Congenital hepatic fibrosis is present at birth and results in a thickening and altering of the tissues of the liver. Typically in most affected horses the condition is progressive, fatal and non-treatable with the liver enlarging significantly and large cysts developing throughout the organ. Since the liver is responsible for filtering and detoxifying the blood, when a malfunction in the liver occurs the results are very serious and usually fatal. [...]

What Are Cow Hocks Doing On Horses?

Cow hock is a term used to describe a particular formation or conformation of the hindquarters of a horse. The hock is the joint that is between the cannon bone and the gaskin on the hind leg, it is the point at which the leg bends towards the back before it drops straight down to the fetlock. The hock is roughly equivalent to a human elbow in that it bends forward rather than backwards like our knees do.The term cow hock simply means that the horse's hocks turn in towards each other rather than staying parallel. If you look at a cow you will notice that their hocks turn in, hence the name. Many breeders prefer a horse to be very slightly cow hocked, especially in gaited breeds where it adds a somewhat rolling movement to the hindquarters. Most horses will have a slight turning in at the point of the hock, which will cause no soundness problems nor will it affect the horse's performance in any way. [...]

Cribbing: A Sign Of Boredom In Stables

Cribbing, also know as wind sucking, is a common problem in horses that are stabled all the time or that are constantly under stress. Experts in horse behavior believe that the start of the problem is usually boredom when horses are confined to small spaces for long periods of time, then it may actually evolve into a habit or obsessive compulsive type behavior for the horse as a response to or way of dealing with stress. In rare cases there may be health issues, especially excessive acidity in the stomach that can be noted with cribbing, but whether it is the cause or the result of the behavior is still being debated. [...]

Cryptorchidism: Reproductive Issues and Behavioral Problems

Cryptorchidism occurs when one or both of the testicles in a colt do not descend into the scrotum. This condition can occur in the male of any species, but it is often noted in specific lines of horses, so it is likely to have a genetic or inherited component. When a colt's testicle or testicles do not descend the colts is called a ridgling or rig, or may also be known as a high flanker if the testicle is located just above the scrotum under the skin.In all male fetuses the testicles are first developed in the abdominal cavity, then at about the second week of development they move down through the inguinal canal, through two sets of inguinal rings, into the scrotum. The rings are muscular areas that help to move the testicles down into the scrotum. In some male fetuses, through hormonal, mechanical and developmental reasons either one or both of the testicles do not move into the correct location. [...]

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