2002 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention

Thousands of equine veterinarians visited Orlando, Fla., Dec. 4-8, 2002, with the health and welfare of their equine patients at heart. The annual convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) served up research presentations and current events appropriate for the equine practitioner seeking valuable continuing education, and also a day for horse owner education. Look for more information in the AAEP Wrap-Up, which will arrive with the March issue of The Horse, or in the Convention Reports category at www.TheHorse.com.

DSLD in Peruvian Pasos

Certain breeds of horses are predisposed to certain health problems, and it appears that the Peruvian Paso is no different. In her presentation "Twenty Cases of Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD) in Peruvian Paso Horses," Jeanette Mero, DVM, of Starland Veterinary Services in Ithaca, N.Y., discussed the characteristics of Peruvian Pasos and her experience with DSLD in this breed.

DSLD is characterized by a loss of elasticity in the suspensory ligament. It isn't well reported, and is traditionally thought to occur in broodmares, older and hard-working horses, and those with prior suspensory desmitis. Mero presented findings from examinations of 20 affected Peruvian Pasos. "These horses had widely varied conformation, bloodlines, geographic location, and management," she said.

Mero noted that the cause and early changes of DSLD are unclear, but histopathology (tissue) examinations suggest a primary collagen disorder. She noted that the variance in age (most were 12 years old or younger) and work level (often none), and the high number of four-limb cases of the horses in this study "suggests a different etiology for DSLD in Peruvian Pasos than in other breeds. A genetic component seems plausible and warrants further investigation. No other breed develops DSLD consistently in this way," she added.

More information: See Suspensory Ligament Desmitis in Peruvian Pasos.

One Joint Nutraceutical And Hock Lameness

Horse owners often feed their horses various supplements in an attempt to improve some part of those horses' functions, but very little scientific research has been done to prove or disprove their faith in these products. Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center, shed some light on one product's efficacy in minimizing joint lameness with her presentation "Double-Blind Study of the Effects of an Oral Supplement Intended to Support Joint Health in Horses with Tarsal Degenerative Joint Disease."

The study looked at the effects of a joint supplement (Corta-Flx) on gait asymmetry caused by degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the distal intertarsal and/or tarsometatarsal joints of one or both hocks. "DJD is the most common form of joint disease in horses (especially older working horses)," Clayton stated. "The objective of this study was to objectively assess changes in gait variables in horses with tarsal DJD after administration of a joint supplement in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial."

Results from force plate data and computerized video gait analysis showed that the product produced a more symmetrical gait pattern, considered to be characteristic of a sounder horse. As with any study, there are conditions for interpreting these results. "The results of this study are specific to the oral supplement used in this study, and would not necessarily apply to other similar products," Clayton cautioned.

Also, neither this nor any other product is a magic bullet. "It is unrealistic to expect that an oral supplement of this type will restore complete soundness," she explained, "but an effective product might be expected to improve the lameness so that the horse's gait pattern more closely approaches left-right symmetry."

More information: See One Joint Nutraceutical's Effect on Hock Lameness .

West Nile Virus (WNV)

Maureen Long, DVM, PhD, of the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, Dept. of Large Animal Clinical Services, spoke on WNV at Horseman's Day on Dec. 8.

As of the convention week, Long said, there were 13,600 confirmed equine cases for the year, with the Midwest being the heaviest hit. Because many attendees were from Florida, she outlined the disease's progress there, saying there had been 467 confirmed equine cases in 44 Florida counties in 2002. Of those 467 cases, Long said, 254 had not been vaccinated. For another 102, information on vaccination was not available. Of those known to have been vaccinated and still contracted the disease, 67 had received one injection instead of the recommended two; 29 had received two injections, and 15 had received three injections.

Long reviewed the proper protocol for vaccination of horses, and included recommendations for use in foals and broodmares. While the vaccine is not labeled as being recommended for broodmares, it has been administered to them with no negative effects (see WNV Vaccination in Mares and Foals). The disease is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, so she urged horse owners to take preventive measures by clearing up mosquito breeding areas, using insect repellents on horses, putting screens over stable windows, and attempting to keep horses out of areas that are heavily infested with mosquitoes. More Horseman's Day information: See Horseman's Day at the AAEP Convention--Christy West and Les Sellnow

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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