Equine Science!

Equines and science!
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It has been a work in progress. For nearly 20 years, researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Missouri and the Hiroshima Institute of Technology have been looking at the gaits of horses and analyzing how these athletes move. Just as important, they have been investigating how veterinarians evaluate their movement.

“I’ve always been curious why veterinarians sometimes disagree as to if or where a horse is lame,” says Kevin Keegan, DVM, MS, DACVS, a veterinary surgeon and director of the university’s equine lameness program. His investigations have progressed from force plate use to high-speed camera analysis of horses on treadmills with instruments attached and include complex mathematical formulas to aid in the description of equine motion.

More recently these researchers have begun using acceleration and gyroscope sensors attached to the horse’s body as it’s trotted over the ground. The information collected by these sensors is wirelessly sent to a handheld computer that immediately generates gait analysis based on highly technical motion algorithms for evaluation by the clinician. This latest technological development (which is owned by the University of Missouri and licensed to Equinosis for commercial manufacturing and marketing) is available to equine practitioners as the Lameness Locator.

Owners and trainers need to realize there’s a definite, easy-to-remember schedule of fusion - and then make their decision as to when to ride the horse based on that rather than on the external appearance of the horse.
For there are some breeds of horse - the Quarter Horse is the premier among these - which have been bred in such a manner as to LOOK mature long before they actually ARE mature. This puts these horses in jeopardy from people who are either ignorant of the closure schedule, or more interested in their own schedule (for futurities or other competitions) than they are in the welfare of the animal.
The process of fusion goes from the bottom up. In other words, the
lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal’s back you look, the later. The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What this means is that the coffin bones get no TALLER after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That’s the first one. In order after that:
2. Short pastern - top & bottom between birth and 6 mos.
3. Long pastern - top & bottom between 6 mos. And 1 yr.
4. Cannon bone - top & bottom between 8 mos. And 1.5 yrs.
5. Small bones of knee - top & bottom on each, between 1.5 and 2.5 yrs.
6. Bottom of radius-ulna - between 2 and 2.5 yrs.
7. Weight-bearing portion of glenoid notch at top of radius - between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
8. Humerus - top & bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
9. Scapula - glenoid or bottom (weight-bearing) portion - between 3.5 and 4 yrs.
10. Hindlimb - lower portions same as forelimb
11. Hock - this joint is “late” for as low down as it is; growth plates on the tibial & fibular tarsals don’t fuse until the animal is four (so
the hocks are a known “weak point” - even the 18th-century literature warns against driving young horses in plow or other deep or sticky footing, or jumping them up into a heavy load, for danger of spraining their hocks)
12. Tibia - top & bottom, between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
13. Femur - bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.; neck, between 3.5 and 4 yrs.; major and 3rd trochanters, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
14. Pelvis - growth plates on the points of hip, peak of croup (tubera sacrale), and points of buttock (tuber ischii), between 3 and 4 yrs.
and what do you think is last? The vertebral column, of course. A
normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum.
These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 1/2 years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later full fusion will occur. And for a male - is this a surprise? — You add six months. So, for example, a 17-hand TB or Saddlebred or WB gelding may not be fully mature until his 8th year - something that
owners of such individuals have often told me that they “suspected” ).
The lateness of vertebral “closure” is most significant for two
One: in no limb are there 32 growth plates!
Two: The growth plates in the limbs are (more or less) oriented perpendicular to the stress of the load passing through them, while those of the vertebral chain are oriented parallel to weight placed upon the horse’s back.
Bottom line: you can sprain a horse’s back (i.e., displace the
vertebral growth plates) a lot more easily than you can sprain those located in the limbs.
And here’s another little fact: within the chain of vertebrae, the
last to fully “close” are those at the base of the animal’s neck
(that’s why the long-necked individual may go past 6 yrs. to achieve
full maturity). So you also have to be careful - very careful - not to
yank the neck around on your young horse, or get him in any situation where he strains his neck.
Dr. Deb Bennett - link to original article that this quote was adapted from
"ABOUT DR. DEB: Deb Bennett, Ph.D., is a 1984 graduate of the University of Kansas, and until 1992 was with the Smithsonian Institution. She is known as an authority on the classification, evolution, anatomy, and biomechanics of fossil and living horses. Her research interests include the history of domestication and world bloodlines and breeds. She teaches unique anatomy short-courses and horsemanship clinics designed to be enjoyable to riders of all breeds and disciplines, and all levels of skill.
Internationally known for her scientific approach to conformation analysis, “Dr. Deb” has made a career out of conveying a kind of “X-ray vision” for bone structure to breeders and buyers. Her background in biomechanics helps her clearly explain how conformation relates to performance ability. Dr. Deb’s clinics often feature real bones and interesting biomechanical models.”  - This, and the quote above found here :)

(via fivegaited)


Sooo like a true history peep, I take notes on random bits of historical history. This week, carriages! :D (forgive me if I made a mistake!)







CALASH (also name for folding top on BAROUCHE, CHAISE and VICTORIA)








No roof for driver = COUPE DE-VILLE
Coupé de-ville with folding top = LANDAU
Coupé de-ville with folding top over passenger =LANDAULET





- "Fly" = A cab (short for cabriolet) for hire, hansom replaced hackney
- A hackney of a more expensive or high class was called a REMISE







(via fuckyeahcarriagehorses)


The cost of vet care is something that I hear about every day. Every. Single. Day.

I hear about it every single day because there is at least one client every day who complains about our charges. If not two. Or five. And those complaints are always paired with these accusatory tones and nasty stares that clearly imply that, if we really loved animals, we wouldn’t charge such “exorbitant” prices for our services.

Well, let me tell y’all a story. 

The clinic I work at is a clinic undergoing a transition. A short time ago, the owner of the clinic had to sell it, and an even shorter time ago, she stopped working there. That’s when I got hired.

Now, clients loved this vet. They sang her praises from here to heaven. Nowadays, a good number of our angry, complaining clients are those who loved her so. She never charged such high prices, they say. She’d let us pay later. She would do this without charge. She wouldn’t make me get these tests done before refilling meds. 

And whenever people say this, I just have to smile and give them apologies and try to explain to them the value of good medicine, and so on and so forth. I can’t, however, actually tell them the truth.

I can’t tell them that the reason their favorite vet is gone is because all of those discounts, those low prices, those bills never collected, finally added up and cost her the practice. That’s right: she couldn’t pay the practice bills anymore. She couldn’t pay her employees. She couldn’t keep doing it. 

And so she sold the practice. To my new boss. And “retired.” That’s what we tell her old clients. “Retired.” Not “burned herself out while going into debt catering to people.” Which is what actually happened.

It’s a sad story. According to my new coworkers, she was a great vet. An incredibly sweet woman. Just wonderful…but a terrible business manager. Terrible time manager. Constantly giving things away for free. Unable to pay her employees fairly or provide them with raises that should have happened at timely points in their careers.

I wish I could tell all of those angry clients that. Yes, your favorite vet catered to you financially. And that is why you don’t have her anymore: because you and your lot literally drove her out of business. All those discounts you thought she was so kind to offer you? Drove her out of business. All those low prices that you thought were so fair? Cost her the practice.

But obviously, saying these sorts of things to clients is completely unprofessional and out of the question. So what do we do? We try to explain the medical value they’re getting for their money while ignoring their nasty looks and accusations of thievery. While charging fair prices to keep ourselves paid for our work and the hospital afloat.

I wish, however, that we could tell them the truth. That what they found so financially fair about their old favorite vet is what took her away from them.

(via pourqua)



An excellent treatment of a sloughed hoof capsule in which the coffin and navicular bone were retained.

(via mievzar-equus)


HERE is a video of the first two days of interaction between these stallions that I really recommend watching.

Kind of along the lines of what we were just talking about (and what I’m always talking about on this blog), here’s an article about how the Swiss National Stud experimented with pasturing breeding stallions TOGETHER - with excellent results.  To quote the article:

Handlers were ready with equipment to intervene in the event of conflict, but that was never necessary. The stallions established their own hierarchy in their little “bachelor herd” and lived together in apparent contentment for six months.

“None of the stallions ever had to be removed from the herd because of injuries resulting from interactions between them,” Briefer Freymond said.

Aggressive behaviors (defined as any behavior—regardless of whether contact was made—intended to push the other horse away, such as chasing, pushing, or kicking) were infrequent and typically occurred within the first three to four days, Briefer Freymond said. After that, she said, these behaviors might still occur occasionally, but their frequency and severity were similar to what researchers had seen among wild bachelor herds of Przewalski’s horses. Ritualistic behaviors also reduced considerably after the first three to four days, she noted.

“We encourage horse breeders with extensive pastureland to keep stallions in stable groups and in adequate densities, particularly for those that are not used for breeding the whole year around,” Briefer Freymond said. “This could potentially improve horse welfare and reduce labor associated with horse management.”

Everyone has seemed so blown away in the past when I’ve posted pictures of Icelandic stallions living together, or made posts about stallion-keeping practices in Iceland.  Hopefully this video will help people see that it’s not only Icelandic stallions that benefit from being kept in groups - it’s a truth that applies to all types of horses.  It’s sad that this kind of care isn’t the norm here in the US, as stallions, just like other horses, are social animals.  Anyone interested in horse behavior should watch the video, particularly people who argue that their horse can’t be kept with other horses because he’s never been kept with other horses and never learned social skills.  While that’s certainly a setback, it’s not an excuse not to work on socializing the horse, and we can see how quickly the above stallions were able to adjust to living together - an adjustment which was hugely beneficial to these horses.  To quote this earlier article on the same study:

Living in groups in the pasture led the horses to attribute their time differently to their various activities than when they had been in stalls, Briefer said. This particularly affected how often they ate, stood attentively, and rested.

"The advantages of living in a herd are clear," Briefer said. "Horses are naturally social, and maintaining them in groups is what best meets their needs for physical and mental well-being—stallions included."

Timing is equally important when training with negative reinforcers. The horse learns to turn left when the left rein is pulled, but only if the pulling stops when it does turn. The cessation is the reinforcer. You get on a horse, kick it in the sides, and it moves forward; you should then stop kicking (unless you want it to move faster). Beginning riders often thump away constantly, as if the kicking were some kind of gasoline necessary to keep the horse moving. The kicking does not stop, so it contains no information for the horse. Thus are developed the iron-sided horses in riding academies that move at a snail’s pace no matter how often they are kicked.

The same applies to people getting nagged and scolded by parents, bosses, or teachers. If the negative reinforcer doesn’t cease the instant the desired result is achieved, it is neither reinforcing nor information. It becomes, both literally and in terms of information theory, “noise.”


Vaccines and Herd Immunity

(via equinevetadventures)