Why I Am So Excited About Microbiota!

E. coli bacteriaDid you know that your intestines are home to a complex and fascinating community of microorganisms including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses?  In fact there are ten times more bacteria in our bodies than cells.  These microorganisms account for 1-3% of our body mass.  In healthy people, these microbes exist in harmony within our bodies serving essential functions such as synthesizing certain vitamins, breaking down and extracting nutrients from the food we eat, train our immune systems to recognize invaders, produce anti-inflammatory compounds, and balance our brain chemistry.  A growing body of research suggests illness, stress, poor diet and certain medications can adversely affect our microbiota, potentially causing disease1.  On the upside, however, it may also be possible to heal disease by rebalancing our gut environment.  Continue reading

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Monitoring Your Horse’s Vital Signs and Administering Medications Safely

equine-vet-examining-horse

I assembled this collection of veterinarian produced videos, to help you gain confidence monitoring your horse’s vital signs and administer injectable and oral medications safely.  By gaining these skills you will be better prepared to evaluate your horse in an emergency and convey key information to your veterinarian.  As always, be sure to consult with your vet before commencing any treatment. Continue reading

Train your eye to better identify lameness in your horse

I came across this well done, five part video series, that helps us better identify lameness in our horses.  This first video discusses how lameness is diagnosed and the next four videos are actual case studies.  Each video is 1.5 to 4.5 minutes in length and was prepared by Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Aqua Pacer Conditioning

Aqua Pacer at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center

Aqua Pacer at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center

This week I am sharing an article I wrote and published in 2010, discussing Aqua Pacer conditioning.  Enjoy!

Emily Covington and I teamed up with Bruce Jackson at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center (F.H.E.T.C.) in Fair Hill, Maryland, to explore the benefits of an underwater treadmill or Aqua Pacer, as part of our fitness regimen. Our training program had always put a strong emphasis on fitness. Our horses lived primarily outdoors rather than being stalled, and we utilized cross-country hacking, free lunging, free jumping, cavalletti exercises and hill climbing to enhance soft and hard tissue strength and cardiovascular health. The Aqua Pacer however, offers several intriguing benefits. Horses working in the above ground, underwater treadmill, use the same muscles, ligaments and tendons as land based exercise but concussive stress is greatly lowered. This high resistance, low impact workout, reduces weight bearing by 40-60%. In clinical settings, Aqua Pacer therapy has been shown to increase strength, fitness and cardiovascular endurance as well as improve range of motion and flexibility. The height of the water and the speed of the treadmill are fully adjustable to achieve specific outcomes. Continue reading

Tickborne Diseases in Horses

The prevalence of tickborne diseases in our equine friends is on the rise, with Lyme Disease being the most commonly reported followed by Anaplasmosis and rarely Pirplasmosis.  There is disagreement whether Rocky Mountain spotted fever occurs in equine, but a study conducted in Columbia and published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene suggests it does.  I created a table (below) describing the characteristics of each disease for easy reference. Continue reading

Stay Vigilant Concerning Tickborne Diseases

Adult Deer Tick

Adult Deer Tick

It’s nearly a daily reality, that I hear about a person or horse contracting a tickborne illness.  I thought it would be prudent to review the facts and share helpful resources.  Not all medical professionals are well versed in tick borne diseases, even in high risk regions, so I encourage you to get educated.  Here on the east coast, at least nine diseases are transmitted by ticks and they include:

  • Anaplasmosis: deer tick
  • Babesiosis: deer tick
  • Borrelia miyamotoi infection: deer tick
  • Ehrlichiosis: lone star tick
  • Lyme disease: deer tick
  • Powassan disease: deer tick/groundhog tick, primarily in the northeast and Great Lakes
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever: dog tick/Rocky Mountain wood tick
  • STARI: lone star tick
  • Tularemia: dog tick/wood tick/lone star tick

The 2014 CDC Tickborne Diseases Manual, does a great job identifying ticks, describing disease symptoms, explaining testing methods and details current treatment protocols.  The information is presented in easy to read tables.  Without a doubt, preventing tick bites is best.  Ticks are most abundant in tall grassy or leaf covered areas, so when working in high risk environments be prepared.  If possible tuck your pants into a pair of tall boots or socks and then spray your legs with insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET.  Several outdoor apparel manufacturers now offer clothing treated with permethrin. Continue reading