Equine Science: Weekly News and Trivia Question - November 27, 2009

This week the big topic of conversation in the equestrian industry has been the FEI’s decision to allow horses to compete on small amounts of Bute and other anti-inflammatory drugs. No matter where in the world you are the new regulations are being discussed, so rather than going into detail about it here, I recommend you check out the following links if you’d like to hear about some of the latest news surrounding the FEI’s decision:

Horse & Hound Online
FEI painkillers rules contradicts their research in 2004

British vets say bute in competition will lead to 'catastrophic inj...
Aachen takes a stand for clean horse sport and will not allow bute
Online petition fights FEI decision to let horses compete on bute

South East Asia's Equestrian Community:
Vets demand FEI reopens 'bute debate'

New Zealand's Horse Talk
FEI headache grows as drug-rule backlash intensifies

So what else has been going on in the equine science world? Well firstly there’s a new piece of scientific technology which horse owners might want to get their hands on.

Polar Electric have developed a heart rate monitor – the first one available for owners to use; previously only vets have been able to monitor the rate of horses’ hearts. This new piece of equipment can transmit your horse’s heart rate in real-time whilst you are riding.

Horse & Hound Online have reported that the hear rate monitor can also track your speed, distance, pace and altitude and could help owners understand their horse’s fitness as well as measuring how they cope with stress or perform in competition. It currently costs £469.30 (GBP) and is available here.

Disease control in foals could be improved after new research into the genetic makeup of the bacterium Rhodococcus equi.

Rhodococcus equi
can affect young foals leading to problems with their lungs such as pneumonia and abscesses. The bacterium is found in soil and feeds on horse faeces, but foals can become infected by inhaling dust containing Rhodococcus equi. It can also infect humans.

Now the Equine Science Update blog has reported that scientists have worked out that the bacterium have a special type of metabolism that help them survive in their environment. Researchers also found that Rhodococcus equi contains genes which lead to antibiotic resistance but have found a weakness which may allow them to develop a vaccine. However, it is unlikely that the vaccine will be administered to foals since their immune system is not sufficiently developed to cope with the vaccination but by vaccinating their mums prior to birth it is hoped foals will gain passive immunity by drinking the mares’ milk.

Image from Wiki Commons, copyright of Benkid77 and reproduced here under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere trying to battle the increasingly cold weather, you might want to read this useful article by the feed company Blue Chip about why you should give your horse a feed balancer this winter. The article offers advice on feeding and watering your equines for the winter and explains why fibre and ‘friendly bacteria’ are so important in the colder months.

Finally what do horses and footballers have in common? Well it would seem that horse placenta treatment has become the new fad with injured footballers. English footballer Frank Lampard has become the latest footballer to have his injured thigh treated using horse placenta and follows in the footsteps of a host of footballers.

The exact science and technique behind the method is somewhat secretive, but it would appear that the footballers are having their injured muscles and ligaments massaged using fluid from horse placentas. Placentas have long been thought to lead to health benefits with some research suggesting that eating it can reduce post-natal depression! However, further research is needed to ascertain whether or not fluid from equine placentas can help speed up athlete’s injuries.

That’s all for this week’s blog but before you go see if you can answer this week’s trivia question:

Q. On average, how many hours a day do horses sleep?
1. 3 hours
2. 6 hours
3. 9 hours
4. 12 hours

Find the answer on my profile page by clicking here.

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