Saturday, December 26, 2009

Treating piroplasmosis

Research brings hope for horses with piroplasmosis. A drug used to treat protozoal infections in cattle has been shown to be effective against one form of the disease in horses when used at relatively high doses.

Piroplasmosis in horses is known to be caused by two blood-borne parasites, Babesia (Theileria) equi and Babesia caballi. The organisms infect the red blood cells and cause fever, anemia and jaundice.

Infected horses may remain carriers of the infection after recovering from the initial signs of disease. Such horses can transmit the disease even though the organisms can no longer be found in blood smears.

Now researchers at the Agricultural Research Service Animal Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Washington, led by Dr Don Knowles, have found that relatively high doses of imidocarb dipropionate are effective for treating horses infected with Babesia caballi.

Read the full story at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Test for Fell Pony syndrome

Scientists have developed a test for the gene responsible for Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome (FIS).

FIS is more often known as Fell Pony Syndrome after the breed most commonly affected. However, the disease is not confined to the Fell Pony, and has been reported in the Dales Pony as well.

Affected foals become ill when they are a few weeks old. Signs include loss of condition, diarrhea, coughing and weight loss. As the condition progresses, they develop anemia, immune dysfunction, and wasting.

FIS is always fatal. Affected foals die or are euthanized, usually before reaching three months of age.

Researchers at New market’s Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Liverpool University have announced that a DNA-based test that should be available in February 2010.

Read the full story at

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Does work cause stereotypies?

Does the type of work that horses do make them more or less likely to adopt stereotypic behaviour? Recent studies in France suggest it could do.

Stereotypies are abnormal repetitive behaviours with no apparent function. They are sometimes referred to as stable vices. Examples include wind sucking, crib biting and head tossing.

Researchers at the Universit√© de Rennes 1, led by Dr Martine Hausberger, observed horses’ behaviour and related it to the type of work they performed.

Seventy-six French Saddlebred horses were divided into six groups according to their work: eventing; show jumping; advanced riding school; dressage; high school and voltige (a mixture of acrobatics and gymnastics on horseback.) All horses worked for only one hour a day and spent the remaining 23 hours in their stable.

The proportion of horses in each work group showing stereotypies was similar (between 81-100%). However, different types of work appeared to be associated with different stereotypies.

Dressage and high school horses were most likely to show stereotypic behaviours. Some of them showed more than one abnormal behaviour pattern. They were also more likely to display the more serious abnormalities such as cribbing, wind sucking and head tossing and nodding.

For more details see

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Scientists to study effect of exercise on laminitis.

The Laminitis Trust has awarded a grant of £134,425 to the Royal Veterinary College and the Laminitis Consortium to investigate the effects of exercise on horses and ponies that are predisposed to pasture-associated laminitis.

Lead investigator, Dr Menzies-Gow, explains: “This project will in part investigate whether exercise can reduce the level of chronic inflammation in laminitis-prone animals, which may then prove to be a simple and practical way of reducing the risk of future bouts of disease in susceptible animals.”

The grant commences in January 2010 and will run over two years. The Laminitis Consortium will provide regular updates on progress.

See for more details...