Tufts Animal Expo

At this year’s Tufts Animal Expo Educational Conference, the horse took a back seat to tributes for search-and-rescue dogs recently returned from duty in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The Oct. 10-13 conference was sponsored by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and was promoted as a conference for animal health professionals.

A popular event for horse people was a full day of lectures on sport horse medicine by Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, the McPhail Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinarians, farriers, trainers, and riders overflowed the meeting room.

Clayton’s recent research focuses on ways to discern and quantify the effects of the rider on horse movement and lameness. Clayton uses reins with electronic sensors and sensorized saddle pads to collect data on the differences of weight distribution and pressure from riders. Veterinarians often refer to "bridle lameness" or "rider imbalance" as a vague factor in a horse’s performance problems. Clayton soon might have a system in place to determine how individual riders interfere with or enhance a horse’s movement.

Tufts’s Mary Rose Paradis, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, offered insight into older horses. Paradis stressed the shifting demographics of Tufts’ caseload, documenting a significant increase in care given to horses over the age of 20. She compared caseloads at Tufts in recent years with 10 years earlier, and offered a few reasons why more older horses were being seen.

Using USDA statistics of median age of horses from the recent national animal health study, Paradis found that while horses aren’t necessarily living longer, they might be receiving surgical and medical treatments at a more advanced age than in the past.

Among Paradis’ theories was that a strong economy enabled owners to provide more care options for their older horses, and that the shifting role of the horse to companion animal from livestock is creating an ongoing relationship between horse and owner that lasts longer than in years past.

About the Author

Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at www.hoofcare.com. Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604.

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