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UTCVM: Advanced Equine Health Care For Owners


The University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine offered an in-depth seminar for horse owners on Saturday February 23, 2013. The all day seminar, Advanced Equine Health Care for Horse Owners, covered a range of topics: Parasite Control (Dr. Craig Reinemeyer); Equine first aid (Dr. James Blackford); Viral Diseases (Dr. Melissa Hines); Equine Arthritis (Dr. Steve Adair); Pre-purchase examinations: (Dr. José Castro); Nutrition focus on carbohydrates in forages and feeds (Dr. Bridgett McIntosh); Equine metabolic diseases (Dr. Carla Sommardahl); New Equine Hospital services (Dr. David Anderson) and featured a tour of the new large animal clinical services facility (see February issue, Mid-South Horse Review).

Following are some highlights of the seminar.

Equine Osteoarthritis

The most common cause of chronic lameness and loss of athletic ability in the equine is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is another name for joint degeneration or degenerative joint disease (DJD). It can be caused by years of wear and tear, or a single, traumatic injury. Synovial fluid in the joint thins and fails to lubricate, and the cartilage that should provide a smooth, articulating surface breaks down, allowing bone to grind against bone. As in man, this problem is not an unexpected sequela to athletic competition and the trauma associated with strenuous physical activities. The question is not if it will develop, but when it will develop.  As a rule, the earlier athletic competition is begun related to age, the earlier the individual will develop osteoarthritis. This is especially true when competition is started during periods of active bone and muscle growth.  This is typical of horse that are put into training when they are 16-18 months old and expected to perform at adult levels by 24-36 months of age.  Anatomically and physiologically, 2 year old competition in athletic events is not founded on sound medical principals. Once started it cannot be reversed. Though it can be slowed down and managed. Therapy is aimed at pain relief and protecting existing hyaline cartilage.

Equine Pre-Purchase Evaluation
By José R. Castro, DVM, DABVP-Equine, DACVS

A basic Pre-purchase Evaluationincludes performing a complete physical exam on the horse, where the veterinarian will be looking for any signs of previous surgeries, injuries, or conformational issues; checking the eyes; listening to the heart and lungs; checking the mouth for congenital diseases or major dental problems; performing a gait analysis, which will attempt to identify lameness; performing a very limited neurologic evaluation while the horse is at rest and in motion. Additional Options include:Upper Airway Endoscopy, Dynamic Respiratory Endoscopy Lameness Locator,Radiographs (X-rays, Blood Work Screening and Drug Testing.  Breeding Soundness Exam is typically not part of the pre-purchase evaluation.

Please recognize that the ultimate decision to buy or not to buy the horse is up to the buyer. The veterinarian only provides his or her opinion of how well suited the animal is for the intended job. It is very important that before the evaluation is performed, buyer and veterinarian must have an in depth discussion about the expectations for the new horse.  There are several options, or levels, for the pre-purchase evaluation. 

New Equine Hospital Services
By David Anderson, LACS CVM Tennessee

The new, state-of-the-art Veterinary Medical Center Equine Hospital opened in February 2013. This 85,000 square foot facility is now the most comprehensive facility for the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of horses in North America. Features of the new hospital include medicine, surgery, anesthesia and pain management, reproduction, rehabilitation, farriery and podiatry, and emergency services.  

The medicine service provides case consultation, disease isolation, intensive care, and neonatal intensive care hospitals. 

The surgery service offers outpatient consultation,  advanced diagnostics, standing surgery,  orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, intestinal surgery treatment centers. 

The emergency and critical care service provides fully staffed access for injured and disabled horses continuously 24 hours a day. This service is supported by specialists Board Certified in internal medicine, surgery, anesthesia, and reproduction.  

The rehabilitation service includes conditioning exercise facilities, climate controlled indoor riding arena, underwater treadmill, cold saltwater therapy spa, free walker, and lameness diagnostic center. 

The farriery and podiatry service is provided by a master farrier and includes a hot forge. Expert corrective farriery, therapeutic shoeing, and balance services are available.  

The reproduction service provides breeding and infertility evaluation and treatments for mares and stallions year around. This service is supported by Board Certified specialists in reproduction.  

Anesthesia and pain management consultation is available from Board Certified anesthesiologists, chiropractics, acupuncture, and equine rehabilitation practitioners.  

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