Health managment

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Retired Racehorse Makeover Health Management of your OTTB

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Page 1: Health managment

Retired Racehorse Makeover

Health Management of your OTTB

Page 2: Health managment

Major Issues Found In OTTB’s

1. Digestive Disordersa) Gastric Ulcersb) Intestinal Inflammationc) Fermentation Anomaliesd) Immune Function

2. Systemic Inflammationa) Joint Healthb) Muscle Functionc) Immune Responsed) Poor Hoof Health and Laminitis

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Evaluate the “Entire” Horse• Attitude / Temperament• Feet and legs• Body condition and

musculature• Digestive system and

appetite• Skeletal structure and

alignment• Presence of injuries,

blemishes and/or unsoundnesses

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Whole Horse Mgmt

• All of these systems are inter-related• A problem with one affects the function of all

the others!

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Appetite and Digestive Health

• Poor appetite, inconsistent appetite or finicky appetite are usually related to poor digestive function

Maggie Kimmitt photo

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Poor Digestive Function

• Inefficient mastication– Broken or dislocated jaw– Poor dentition

• Gastric ulcers

• Small and/or large intestine inflammation

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Gastric Ulcers

• 80 – 90% of race horses will present with gastric ulcers

• Must be “treated” with drugs that inhibit acid production/secretion such as omeprazole or ranitidine

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Gastric Ulcers

• “Prevention”– Free exercise– Green grass– Forage available at all times– Low starch/sugar diet– Controlled exercise– Gastric buffers (calcium, magnesium)• Alfalfa is natural gastric buffer

– Vegetable oils, fish oil, lecithin, aloe, others

Day 0Day 0

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Intestinal Inflammation

• 50 – 60% of race horses will present with intestinal inflammation

• Phases of intestinal inflammation– Stale gut– Mucosal inflammation– Ulceration– Colitis

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Intestinal Inflammation• Treatment objectives– Re-establish viable and healthy fermentation

• Horse is a fermentation vat on 4 legs with an attitude• Composition of microbiome has major effect on immune function

and over all health (including insulin resistance)– Re-establish normal immune function of intestine

• 60% or more of equine immune system is located in intestine– Provide anti-inflammatory activity

• Must be natural (ex: fish oil)• NSAID’s exacerbate or even cause intestinal inflammation

– In more severe cases use of misoprostol and sucralfate may also be required

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• How to identify–All horses do not present the same–Hind gut cannot be scoped–Ultrasound can be used, however, if

thickening is observed you already have substantial inflammation/ulceration and are well on your way to colitis– Identify by signs/symptoms/behavior

reported by owner or trainer

Hind Gut Health

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• Not performing to the previous level or level that is expected

• Change in personality – grouchy, “leave me alone” behavior

• Resistance to leg aids especially on right side– Right dorsal colon most often involved

• Backing ears when being saddled especially when the cinch is tightened

• Just dull

Hind Gut Symptoms

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• Prefers to eat hay rather than grain– NOTE: Gastric ulcers will eat a little grain then lay

down then get up and resume eating or just eat grain slowly

• Manure has a funny odor or consistency• Constantly switching from one hind leg to the

other in the stall• The hip/SI joint may be displaced• Common to be tight in back and hamstrings

Hind Gut Symptoms

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• Eating a lot but not gaining weight– (also symptom of “over-training”)

• Dull coat and/or skin disorders• Poor hoof quality• Allergies• Info from caretaker that horse improved while on

Gastrogard but quickly reverted when they took it off – BIG TIP

• Low fecal pH

Hind Gut Health Symptoms

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Negative Planter Angle

• Mentioned because it is very common in retired race horses and

• Is associated with sore back, tight hamstrings, stifle and hock problems

• Can be confused with or found in conjunction with hind gut inflammation

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Negative Planter Angle

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Summary• Evaluate whole horse to increase your chances of

finding the “primary” problems• Digestive health and function eliminate a lot of other

disorders such as allergies, bad attitude, bad hoof quality, poor weight maintenance, etc

• Work with veterinarian and/or rehab professional to identify and reduce sources of systemic inflammation

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