Friday, July 05, 2024

Fascinating Fascia

Horses Inside Out has released details of a series of courses coming up in September,
presented by Gillian Higgins.


Discover More About Fascinating Fascia! (1st September – Online)


Healthy fascia is vital for a healthy horse. Understanding the fascial system is crucial for riders, trainers, and equine therapists. Fascia impacts posture, movement, force transmission, proprioception, reflexes, energy, sensation, and potentially the horse’s emotions. Proper hydration of fascia is essential for its function and the overall musculoskeletal health of the horse.


This seminar is open to anyone interested in learning more about fascia for the benefit of their horse.


Developing Palpation (5th & 6th September)


A practical 2-day course designed to improve palpation skills and techniques. Participants will revise anatomy knowledge, learn new techniques, and practice on various horses to refine their skills.


Fascia Release Techniques (9th & 10th September)


This course delves into the anatomy of different types of fascia, their connections, functions, dysfunctions, and maintenance. Participants will learn and practice various palpation and fascia release techniques over two days.


Joint Mobilisations (12th & 13th September)


Learn to assess subtle changes and recognize abnormalities in soft tissues and joints. The course covers musculoskeletal testing and appropriate mobilisation techniques.


For all the details, see:

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Ontario riding schools sought for research study

 Do you run a riding school within three hours of Guelph, Ontario? If so, you may be able to play
a part in a forthcoming study at the University of Guelph aimed at identifying strategies to help riding school horses thrive.

The researchers, led by Dr Katrina Merkies in the. Department of Animal Biosciences, are seeking 23 hunter/jumper lesson establishments, each with a minimum of four horses, to volunteer their facilities for data collection in the study. 

They assure that the study will have no impact on the day-to-day running of the school. Participants will receive a $100 honorarium.


If interested, please contact the research team for more details on how to participate.


Contact or for more information or 

register online

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

New internal parasite guidelines from AAEP

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has issued revised Internal Parasite Control Guidelines to help minimise the risk of parasitic disease and maintain the effectiveness of current drugs for as long as possible by delaying further development of anthelmintic resistance.

The guidelines, originally created in 2013 and last revised in 2019, account for recent advances in knowledge concerning increased anthelmintic resistance and optimisation of parasite control management practices. They also address common misconceptions and offer parasite control program recommendations for senior horses (over 15 years old), mature horses (between 5 and 15 years old), and young horses (under 5 years old).

The guidelines were reviewed and updated by the AAEP Internal Parasite Control Guidelines Task Force, chaired by Dr. Nielsen and comprised of 10 AAEP members predominantly board certified in veterinary internal medicine, veterinary parasitology and/or veterinary microbiology. 

“We have seen dramatic development in the field of equine parasite control over the past 10 years, since we first launched these guidelines, and we work hard to keep our recommendations up to date,” said Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, DVSc, DAVCM, DEVPC, Schlaikjer Professor of Equine Infectious Diseases at the University of Kentucky.

Important conclusions to be drawn from the revised guidelines are to:

  • Perform fecal egg count reduction tests annually to ensure that you are using effective dewormers in every herd or barn.
  • Recognize that no anthelmintic will eliminate all parasitic stages from a horse.
  • Continue using fecal egg counts once or twice per year to stratify horses into low, medium and high shedders to reduce pasture contamination.
  • Deworm all horses at a baseline rate and target selected horses more often based on fecal egg counts.
  • Not use fecal egg counts to diagnose disease in horses as there is no correlation between fecal egg counts and disease-causing parasite life stages.
  • Discontinue deworming all horses with fixed intervals year-round and stop blindly rotating anthelmintic classes.

View the guidelines at

You can access the entire guidelines document by clicking the Download Resource button.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Memory for dung sniffing

Horse dung (c) Avrezn
 Horses sniff dung for several reasons - for communication, social behaviour, and environmental awareness.  

Dung contains chemical cues that can convey information about the individual who deposited it, such as their identity, sex, and reproductive status. By sniffing dung, horses can recognize and gather information about other horses in their vicinity. It may also help horses understand social structures and hierarchies within a group, allowing them to recognize dominant individuals and avoid potential conflicts.


Horses may form "stud-piles" where they deposit dung in specific locations to mark their presence. This behaviour can communicate territorial boundaries or indicate that a particular area is frequently used by certain individuals or groups


Research by Audrey EM Guyonnet, and Ian Q. Whishaw, at the Canadian Centre of Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Alberta looked at how horses use location , odour, and memory related to their encounters with dung.


In their study, which is reported in Behavioural Processes, they assessed the response of horses when they were led, at varying time intervals, to objects chosen by the experimenter or to dung deposits, which they were allowed to sniff.


Twenty-two horses were included in the study. which was carried out in a total of six riding arenas—two indoor and four outdoor. – 


The research team took video recordings of the horses encountering the objects and the dung Frame-by-frame video analysis assessed several factors: the way the horses approached the objects or dung deposits, the duration of sniffing, nostril use, ear position, and blinking associated with dung investigation.


The researchers found that horses consistently approached and sniffed dung deposits for a longer time compared to non-dung objects.


While they were sniffing, horses moved their heads across the dung deposits. They showed no specific nostril or ear preference when investigating the target and they tended to blink as they disengaged from sniffing.


Horses showed a reduced likelihood of approaching and shorter sniff durations when revisiting dung deposits encountered earlier the same day, regardless of the location. The researchers suggest that this indicates a strong short-term memory for dung and its location.


However, horses showed poor memory for dung visited on the previous day, suggesting that their memory for dung is good on the same day but significantly diminishes by the next day. This pattern reflects adaptive forgetting, allowing horses to focus on current environmental cues. (“Adaptive forgetting” refers to the brain's mechanism of intentionally forgetting certain information to optimise memory function and cognitive efficiency. It helps individuals prioritise relevant and important information while discarding outdated, irrelevant, or redundant data. This process is thought to enhance learning, decision-making, and overall cognitive performance.)


The researchers suggest that this phenomenon of adaptive forgetting, where memory for dung visited the previous day fades, may be beneficial for horses. It optimizes risk assessment by preventing unnecessary interruptions in foraging caused by conspecifics and ensures that their attention remains focused on current and potentially more relevant environmental cues.



For more details, see:


Audrey EM Guyonnet, Ian Q. Whishaw,

Adaptive forgetting of place/object memory for dung in the domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus): Memory for a day.

Behavioural Processes,

Volume 217,



ISSN 0376-6357,

Friday, June 14, 2024

Do endocrine disorders affect anthelmintic performance?

Recent research indicates that insulin dysregulation may affect the performance of anthelmintics
like ivermectin. This suggests that horses with such endocrine disorders might be more prone to parasitic infections.

In a study conducted by Martin Nielsen and colleagues at the University of Kentucky, the response to ivermectin was evaluated in horses with insulin dysregulation (ID), pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), or neither condition. 


The study population was part of a special herd at the University of Kentucky’s Department of Veterinary Science, which included horses with and without these endocrine disorders. These horses were kept in permanent paddocks without pasture rotation or enhanced hygiene practices and received routine anthelmintic treatments: ivermectin in March or April and July or August, and moxidectin/praziquantel in November.


The study focused on senior horses (aged 13 years and over) and those with or without PPID, ID, or both. Out of 47 horses in the research herd, 19 met the criteria for inclusion. These horses, all with positive faecal worm egg counts, were treated with ivermectin at the recommended dose of 200 mcg/kg. Faecal samples were collected before treatment, two weeks post-treatment (for the Faecal Egg Count Reduction Test, or FECRT), and then weekly until worm eggs reappeared in the faeces (Egg Reappearance Period, or ERP).


Two laboratory tests were employed to assess the response to ivermectin: the Faecal Egg Count Reduction Test (FECRT) and the Egg Reappearance Period (ERP). For the FECRT, a reduction of at least 99.7% in worm egg counts is considered effective two weeks post-treatment. The ERP for ivermectin is typically 8-10 weeks.


The study found no significant differences in the effectiveness of ivermectin between the groups. However, the small sample size may have made it difficult to detect any potential differences. Overall, ivermectin was highly effective, with all horses showing a greater than 99.7% reduction in worm egg counts at the two-week mark. 


Nonetheless, the researchers observed that the ERP was shorter in horses with ID and those with both PPID and ID, at six and seven weeks respectively, compared to eight weeks for both the PPID-only and healthy control groups.


They suggest that their findings indicate a need for further investigation of the possible influence of endocrine disorders on anthelmintic performance in horses.



For more details, see:


M.K. Nielsen, C.A. Finnerty, N.E. Ripley, A.E. Page, M.E. McClendon, A.A. Adams,

Ivermectin performance in horses diagnosed with equine endocrine disorders,

Veterinary Parasitology, (2024) Vol 328,110182,

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Effect of diet on strongyle infection and gut microbiome

Recent research from France suggests that the first step in controlling intestinal worm infections inanimals should be providing them with diets that maintain a healthy gut ecosystem. 

Horses’ intestines can harbour many different worms, some of which can cause severe disease. It's concerning that some of these worms are becoming resistant to deworming medications. This resistance has emerged through factors such as incorrect dosing or frequent use of the same medications.


It's clear that we need to adopt a more sustainable approach to managing equine  intestinal parasites.


To address this challenge, scientists are exploring different methods, including dietary changes. These diets might enhance the body's defences, regulate gut bacteria, or directly combat parasites. For example, certain foods containing plant compounds might hinder worm reproduction in the body.


A study by Noémie Laroche and colleagues, at Lab to Field, Dijon, and the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté, investigated how diet affects strongyle infection in horses, focusing on immune-mediated, microbiota-mediated, or direct deworming mechanisms. The work is reported in PLos ONE.


They studied twelve adult French Trotter geldings naturally infected with strongyles. These horses were divided into two groups and fed either a high-fibre or high-starch diet, along with supplements containing polyphenol-rich pellets from dehydrated sainfoin or control pellets made from sunflower and hay.


The study revealed that horses on a high-starch diet had higher strongyle egg excretion compared to those on a high-fibre diet. However, adding sainfoin to the high-starch diet reduced egg excretion. What’s more, sainfoin supplementation decreased larval motility, regardless of the diet.


Moreover, the high-starch diet was associated with lower faecal bacterial diversity, changes in faecal microbiota structure, lower faecal pH, reduced blood acetate levels, and lower haematocrit compared to the high-fibre diet.


Overall, these findings suggest that dietary changes can be an alternative strategy for managing helminth infections. 


The study highlights the importance of considering broader ecological mechanisms in parasite management strategies. The researchers emphasize that eradicating helminth infections entirely is unrealistic and could have negative effects. 


They write: “… pursuing a goal of eradicating helminth infection (zero infection) is not only illusionary but also likely to produce more negative effects than benefits. Mammals have coevolved with helminths during millions of years, and in most cases, the infection does not produce severe symptoms.’


“We therefore suggest that a safer strategy to control helminth infection would be to improve host tolerance to the infection rather than pursuing a hopeless, environmentally toxic, strategy of drug-based eradication.”


For more details, see:


Laroche N, Grimm P, Julliand S, Sorci G (2024) 

Diet modulates strongyle infection and microbiota in the large intestine of horses. PLoS ONE 19(4): e0301920.