UVAS Lahore in collaboration with Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and under its project titled “In-service Veterinary Professional Development Project (IVPD) arranged a two-day national workshop on ‘Equine Distal Limb Lameness Diagnosis and Sonography’ at UVAS Veterinary Academy Lahore.
Prof. Dr. Nasim Ahmad VC, presided over the inaugural session of the workshop while UVAS Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Masood Rabbani chaired the concluding session. In-charge Pet Centre Prof Dr Asim Khalid, Prof Dr Ijaz Ahmad, Dr Shehla Gul Bokhari and a number of participants were present. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Masood Rabbani said that UVAS is working actively on the health and treatment of animals by adopting the latest techniques and methodologies. He said such workshops are important for the capacity building of young veterinarians. The equine distal forelimb ultrasound workshop designed for practicing veterinarians/ students confronted with the challenges to diagnose and locating the seat of lameness in the equine flexor tendons. The focus of the training was to enable the participants to correctly scan the musculoskeletal structures of equine (Horses) distal forelimb as well as to locate lesions in the lame athletics horse. In which experts delivered their lectures on the topics of anatomy of equine distal forelimb, ultrasonography anatomy of the equine distal limb, equine distal limb lameness evaluation and nerve blocks, hands-on lameness examination nerve blocks and necropsy samples and rehabilitation of lame horse etc.
STEPS OF FEEDING PERFORMANCE HORSES
While performance horses often have more specific nutrient requirements than the average horse at maintenance, all horses have the same general needs, and keeping it simple when it comes to feeding is the best method for reaching maximum horse health. Here, we will break it down step by step so that you can make sure your horses receive exactly what they need.
Determine your horses’ energy needs based on their exercise and training schedule.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to take an honest inventory of your horse’s training regimen. Generally, the only horses that fit into the “very heavy” category are racehorses, elite endurance horses or three-day-eventing horses, while most other horses fit into the light or moderate exercise categories. The reason it is important to be honest with yourself about your horse’s activity level is that if you have a horse in the light or moderate category who you unintentionally feed at the heavy or very heavy level, you will likely be at risk for overfeeding, which can have detrimental and debilitating health consequences for your horse. Light or moderate category horses don’t require same amount of energy as compared to performance horses that require twice as much as horse at maintenance.
According to The Nutrient Requirements of Horses (NRC), there are four categories of activity level and intensity:
Light exercise: One to three hours per week of mostly walking and trotting.
Moderate exercise: Three to five hours per week of mostly trotting, with some walking and cantering and some skilled work, like jumping, dressage, cutting or ranch work.
Heavy exercise: Four to five hours per week of trotting, cantering, galloping and skilled work.
Very heavy exercise: One hour per week of speed work and/or six to 12 hours per week.
Always, always, always start with hay (and a hay test).
Energy can be supplied in the diet by carbohydrates and fat. Most performance horses require some form of Non structural Carbohydrates, it is important to limit the NSCs in the diet to what the horse really needs based on its age and exercise intensity. Remember: A happy hindgut equals a happy horse. The large intestine in the horse’s digestive tract is home to billions of beneficial microbes that digest fiber and produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which are used as a source of energy. This is the reason why hay alone can meet the energy requirements of some horses. The forage component of a horse’s diet also takes pasture grasses into account, so be sure to factor in how much turnout your horse receives. If you are feeding performance horses, invest in a hay test, which will tell you the exact nutrient levels and help you determine which nutrients need to be added to the diet (based on equine requirements) in the form of grain and horse supplements. We should also note that good-quality fat is an easy and, often, safer way to increase energy in a performance horse’s diet. Fats will be used by the horse’s body during aerobic exercise, which can help save the glucose from NSCs for high-intensity or long-duration exercise.
Remember the importance of water and salts.
While these nutrients are often overlooked, adequate access to fresh, clean water and iodized salt is crucial for all animals, but especially for performance horses. When exercised in hot, humid weather, horses could lose up to four gallons of sweat per hour! Additionally, horse sweat is hypertonic, meaning that it contains higher levels of electrolytes than what is circulating in the body. This means that giving a sweaty horse plain water will only further dilute the concentration of electrolytes in its body. Given that electrolytes are required to maintain the fluid balance and electrical activity of each cell, they are hugely important for performance! In normal circumstances when a horse is only emitting small amounts of sweat, an iodized white salt block or loose salt, in addition to hay and grain, will do the trick. If weather and exercise — or some other form of stress, like long-distance travel — lead to prolonged, excessive sweating, providing a high-quality electrolyte supplement with potassium, sodium and chloride is a very good idea.
Don’t overdo protein
Many horse owners accidentally misunderstand how protein should be used in their horses’ diet. Adding energy (or extra calories) to the diet is done with carbohydrates or fat. While protein and, more specifically, levels of certain amino acids are required for growth, muscle and the maintenance of body systems, protein is an inefficient energy source. Horses have requirements for essential amino acids, importantly lysine, methionine and threonine. This is another reason why investing in a hay test will help you to balance your performance horse’s diet. Horses doing light work can often meet their protein requirements (approximately 10% of their diet) from hay and pasture and the use of a ration balancer. Horses doing moderate to heavy work have higher protein requirements, which can typically be met with commercially fortified grain and/or the addition of alfalfa hay. In general, a protein deficiency is not common in most domestic horse diets; in fact, it is more common for protein to be fed in excess, which will end up as a waste product. If you begin to notice a heavy smell of ammonia in your horse’s stall, this is a telltale sign that you may be overfeeding protein.
Help minimize and manage stress.
It’s no secret that performance horses endure stress. What we sometimes forget, however, is that this stress can impact almost every system in an animal’s body, from its digestive system to its musculoskeletal system. A well-rounded approach to managing performance horses includes taking all of these systems into consideration.
- Joint and hoof health
- Immune function
- Gut health
The key to feeding performance horses is moderation. No one ingredient or nutrient is beneficial when there is either a deficiency or an excess. Use common sense, pay attention to your horse’s behavior and cues, and seek balance with an equine nutritionist.