• By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

The stifle. It’s the largest and one of the most complex joints in the horse’s body. It’s also key to smooth locomotion, transferring energy seamlessly from the large hind-end muscles to the long, delicate lower-limb bones. The stifle helps propel horses across turf, over obstacles, and around tight corners. Not surprisingly, with such huge forces centered on two bones cushioned by two small cartilaginous discs, injury to the stifle generally has a profound negative impact on performance.

“Stifle injuries account for a substantial number of injuries in sport horses,” says David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, professor of equine surgery at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, in Fort Collins. Although the exact prevalence of stifle injuries remains unknown, Frisbie estimates that approximately 40% of sport horse injuries can be associated with the stifle.

Chris Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, a professor of orthopedics also at CSU, agrees that stifle injuries are a risk for any athletic horse but adds that they’re more prevalent in some disciplines than others. Veterinarians typically see them more frequently in Western performance horses, for instance, than in adult Thoroughbred racehorses.

While the stifle joint’s repetitive forward and backward motion during racing, or any high-speed work, can cause injury, “it’s the lateral-to-medial rotational movements of Western performance horses that tend to put significant stress on the soft tissue and cartilage in the joints,” Kawcak says—in other words, the quick side-to-side movements of spinning, cutting, and running barrels.

Regardless of breed and discipline, joint anatomy remains the same, and how veterinarians diagnose and treat common stifle injuries is transferable. In this article we’ll review stifle anatomy briefly and describe injury diagnosis. And while developmental orthopedic disorders also can result in stifle injury, they have a different cause and are diagnosed and treated differently, so we’ll skip them in this discussion. We’ll also describe the newest methods of treating common stifle injuries.

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What Shape are My Horse’s Feet In?

By Stephanie J. Corum, MS

Many horse owners spend an extraordinary amount of time fretting over their horses’ feet, believing soundness is impossible because the animals’ hooves don’t match those depicted in anatomy textbooks. So says Maryland-based farrier Darren Greaves, CJF, who notes that the “ideal” foot is quite rare. In most cases, Greaves stresses that deviations from optimal angles and shape are not the end of the world. Rather, with consistent, proper care farriers and horse owners can manage most hoof types, and horses can function successfully in their designated capacities.

Greaves and Scott McKendrick, CJF, of Trenton, Utah, share the very basics of seeking hoof balance and recognizing common foot problems.

Striking a Balance


A balanced hoof allows the horse to travel across the ground better, and this hoof balance is a farrier’s primary concern when trimming and shoeing. Make sure the horse is standing square on flat, level ground while you evaluate hoof balance. Good foot balance (although it will vary among each individual horse) consists of:

  1. Equal medial/lateral size and shape (the foot’s inner and outer quarters, or edges, land evenly when the horse walks);
  2. Anterior/posterior balance, in which the foot can be divided evenly at the widest part of the hoof from front to back;
  3. A straight hoof-pastern angle (there’s a straight line from the pastern down the front of the hoof wall);
  4. Easy breakover (the toe is not too long and is squared, rounded, or rolled to allow for easier movement);
  5. Adequate heel support (if shod, the shoe extends to the end of the hoof wall to support the back of the leg); and
  6. A hairline (coronary band) that is parallel to the ground.

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South Carolina suspends some livestock evacuation requirements ahead of Hurricane Irma

By Amanda Shaw

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - Clemson Livestock-Poultry Health which oversees animal health issues in the state has issued an order suspending some requirements for interstate transport of animals as South Carolina braces for possible impacts from Hurricane Irma.

The order remains in effect until the end of September and allows owners of large animals such as horses, cattle, swine and goats, to speed up evacuations ahead of the storm.

“Due to potential emergency conditions that appear likely due to Hurricane Irma, South Carolina will make temporary exceptions to the regulations governing the importation and exportation of animals coming into and leaving South Carolina,” said State Veterinarian Boyd Parr. “All animals moving under these exceptions are expected to return to their state of origin no later than Sept. 30 unless the order is extended or revised.”

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Horses test positive for Equine Infectious Anemia in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health received confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory on Aug. 29 that two horses were confirmed positive for Equine Infectious Anemia. One horse is located in Finney County, and the other is located in Kearny County; both premises are under quarantine, and all other horses on site are being tested.

Earlier this month, six horses in Finney County tested positive for EIA. Since that time, KDA–DAH has conducted detailed surveillance, identifying and testing additional animals connected to the index case. Through this investigation, these two additional horses have been confirmed positive. Surveillance testing continues in the area.

KDA–DAH has established an EIA page on the KDA website at www.agriculture.ks.gov/EIA, where any future positives resulting from this investigation will be posted. The public will be notified of updates to that webpage via the KDA Twitter account, @KansasDeptofAg.

EIA is an incurable, infectious disease caused by a virus that can affect horses, donkeys, asses and other equine species. This virus destroys red blood cells and is spread through blood-to-blood contact, not through close proximity or casual contact. Clinical signs of EIA include fever, anemia and edema; however, affected horses may not show symptoms. All infected horses, including those which are asymptomatic, are carriers of the disease.

The virus can be transmitted from an infected equine to a “clean” equine by biting flies, the use of unsterilized or contaminated medical instruments, or through a blood transfusion. This disease does not affect humans. KDA has identified a prescribed surveillance area within one-half mile of the affected premises, and is working with local officials and horse owners to identify any other horses that may have been within that surveillance area in order to test those animals.

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Hurricane Harvey Animal Response Efforts Underway

 

AUSTIN – When Governor Abbott declared a preemptive state of disaster for 30 counties in advance of Tropical Depression Harvey; the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) took the cue and accelerated preparations for what was predicted to be a major storm event. Under the State Emergency Management Plan, TAHC is the state’s coordinating agency for all disaster response issues related to animals, both large and small, including livestock, pets, and zoo animals. By the time Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, August 25, the agency and its response partners were prepared for action.

The storm proved to be even more severe than predicted, and TAHC quickly set up an Animal Response Operations Coordination Center (AROCC) at its headquarters in Austin. Through daily operations at the AROCC, TAHC is striving to meet animal related response needs by coordinating efforts of state, federal, industry, and non-governmental cooperators with an animal focus. The AROCC can be reached at 512-719-0799, or 800-550-8242, ext. 799. The AROCC connects with the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, through agency State Operations Center (SOC) assigned personnel.

TAHC has boots on the ground in some of the hardest hit areas of the state where local authorities have authorized entry, assessing animal issues resulting from Hurricane Harvey. Agency personnel deployed and continue to work with local disaster district committees, calling on resources to meet animal related needs locally whenever possible.

For animal issues related to Hurricane Harvey, owners should call their local animal control officer or their local emergency operations center for assistance.

Strong winds and rising flood waters destroyed fences and displaced large numbers of livestock. TAHC is coordinating with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to establish livestock supply points in areas of critical need, and with Texas Department of Agriculture to receive and distribute donations of hay and livestock feed. TAHC requested the services of Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers (TSCRA) Special Rangers to assist in capturing stray livestock and returning them to rightful owners.

The number of shelters available to receive animals is at 74 and growing as response efforts progress. In addition to pre-designated shelters, the TAHC has received numerous offers of sheltering space from livestock owners with pasture or barn space. With their permission, this information has been forwarded to the 2-1-1 operators and posted on our website at http://www.tahc.texas.gov/emergency/TAHC_SheltersHoldingFacilities.pdf.

With the help of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care and non-governmental organizations, TAHC is supporting evacuation, sheltering, and care of companion and zoo animals. Many veterinarians and veterinary technicians have volunteered to provide care where needed. TAHC is compiling these resources and sharing information with emergency response centers and shelters.

Updates will be provided as new information becomes available and assessment teams are able to report damages and needs for assistance.

“Our hearts go out to all who are affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director. “It is a tumultuous time in our State, but we are grateful for the support and resources our industry, government partners, non-governmental partners, and neighbors are providing.”

Response Partners actively supporting the AROCC include: Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Pork Producers, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers, Texas Poultry Federation, SPCA, Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Forest Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team, USDA - Farm Service Agency, and USDA - Wildlife Services.

For the latest information on Hurricane Harvey animal response efforts, visit www.tahc.texas.gov.

WEST NILE VIRUS CONFIRMED IN KANSAS HORSE

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health (KDA–DAH) was notified in August by the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that a horse in Reno County has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The horse was euthanized due to the severity of the illness. This is the first reported equine case of WNV in Kansas in 2017. Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate their horses to prevent the spread of WNV.

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Kansas and in the United States. It causes severe neurological disease in horses. Birds and humans are also susceptible to the virus; other livestock and pet animals are not susceptible to WNV. Clinical signs in horses can include fever, incoordination, generalized weakness, drooping lips, teeth grinding and inability to rise. There is no specific treatment for WNV, but there are several effective vaccines available for use in horses.

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Hooves Helping Joints

By Nancy S. Loving, DVM

The degenerative joint disease arthritis is all too common in active and aging horses. In an effort to slow the progressive deterioration of joint tissue, owners and veterinarians often reach for anti-inflammatory medications and/or regenerative therapies. After all, our goal is to keep these joints comfortable.

One often-overlooked strategy in this effort is hoof care. Certain trimming and shoeing techniques can alter a horse’s limb biomechanics—for better or worse. In this article we’ll discuss how to care for arthritic horses’ hooves for maximum comfort.

What Exacerbates Joint Pain?


Arthritic horses try to minimize their joint pain by reducing the load on the affected limb(s) and shortening stride length. “This suggests that pain is associated with the concussion of impact and extreme ranges in motion (ROM),” says Andrew Parks, DVM, Vet MB, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, a professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Athens.

Force of impact The limb’s loading rate (deceleration) when the foot lands affects the force of impact on that leg, as can footing type. “The impact of baked clay in summer or frozen ground in winter is quite different from a soft dirt paddock, bedded stall, or engineered arena,” says Parks. “Anything that slows down the rate of deceleration of the foot is likely to decrease the effect of impact. Materials that absorb energy on hoof landing—either from the ground surface or within the shoeing apparatus—also reduce impact.”

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