TheHorse.com has created a series of free, two-page, downloadable Fact Sheets to give you a short, basic synopsis on a variety of topics associated with horse health, care, management, and welfare. You are welcome to read these online, download them to your computer, e-mail them to friends, or print them out and share with your horse-owning friends or equine groups.

More Fact Sheets will be released in the coming days and weeks, so return often! If you have suggestions on future topics we should include on TheHorse.com Fact Sheets, please send us an e-mail.

These fact sheets may be reprinted and distributed in their exact form for educational purposes only in print or electronically. They may not be used for commercial purposes in print or electronically or republished on a Web site, forum, or blog.


All Fact Sheets

Infectious Diseases

Syndromes/Common Complaints

Anatomy/Physiology

Nutrition

Lameness/Laminitis

Horse Management

Reproduction

Diagnostic Imaging

Fact Sheets

Infectious Diseases

BOTULISM IN HORSES is a fatal neurologic disease caused by toxins the anaerobic, spore-forming, soil-dwelling bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxins are extremely potent, and horses are particularly sensitive to them.
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268K
EQUINE INFLUENZA is a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by strains of the influenza virus type A.
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249K
EQUINE PROTOZOAL MYELOENCEPHALITIS is a progressive and potentially fatal neurological disease in horses caused by a protozoal (single cell) microorganism, most commonly Sarcocystis neurona, which causes inflammation in the brain and/or spinal cord.
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EQUINE RABIES is a life-threatening neurological disease that can affect all warmblooded animals, including horses, dogs, cats, skunks, wolves, foxes, raccoons, and bats--and humans.
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281K
EQUINE STRANGLES is a highly contagious and debilitating equine disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi.
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229K
RHODOCOCCUS EQUI is well known for its ability to cause severe pneumonia in young foals, but it can also cause septic arthritis (infection of joints), osteomyelitis (infection of bones), neonatal diarrhea (enterocolitis), and more.
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263K
WEST NILE VIRUS (WNV) causes a potentially fatal encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) in a variety of mammals such as birds, horses, and humans.
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VACCINATING HORSES is generally considered to be the most cost-effective method of preventing infectious diseases; however, vaccines do have limitations.
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338K

Syndromes/Common Complaints

ALLERGIES IN HORSES can be performance-limiting, painful, and unsightly--and expensive to diagnose and treat. Download
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ANHIDROSIS: About 5-10% of horses are unable to sweat, which means they do not perform well as athletes.
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424K
EQUINE COLIC is defined as the presence of abdominal pain. Signs of colic in horses are variable and often depend on the severity, location, and cause of the pain.
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460K
EQUINE CUSHING'S DISEASE, equine Cushing's syndrome, hyperadrenocorticism, pars intermedia pituitary adenoma (PIPA), and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) are all terms used to describe horses with an endocrine (hormonal) disorder.
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The term "EQUINE METABOLIC SYNDROME" is being used more often in equine practice to describe horses with abnormal fat distributions and insulin resistance.
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EQUINE INSULIN RESISTANCE is a reduction in sensitivity to insulin that decreases the ability of glucose to be transported into the body's cells from the bloodstream.
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THRUSH IN HORSES is a common equine foot infection that can affect the frog, sole, white line, and sensitive tissues of the hoof.
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196K
TYING-UP IN HORSES, also known as exertional rhabdomyolysis, azoturia, set fast, Monday morning disease, or paralytic myoglobinuria, is a common equine muscle disease.
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101K

Anatomy/Physiology

CARDIOLOGY: THE EQUINE HEART: Cardiac disease is considered the third-most common cause of "poor performance" in athletic horses (after musculoskeletal disease and respiratory disorders).
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403K
EQUINE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM dysfunction is an important cause of exercise intolerance and poor performance in horses.
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397K
EQUINE UPPER AIRWAY: Since respiratory dysfunction is a major cause of poor performance in athletic horses (second only to musculoskeletal disorders), a basic knowledge of the structure and function of the respiratory system, particularly the upper respiratory tract, is important for horse owners.

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THE HORSE'S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM is large, complex, and functions like a factory, yet it is exceedingly delicate. Digestive tract dysfunction in the horse is an important concern for owners and veterinarians.
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331K
JOINT STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION: A joint is defined as an anatomic union or junction between two or more bones. There are three basic types of joints in the horse: Synovial, fibrous, and cartilaginous.
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396K
TENDONS AND LIGAMENTS are tough, strong bands of soft connective tissue—collagen-rich materials that hold various body structures together.
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401K

Nutrition

Loss of ELECTROLYTES has far-reaching consequences, impacting virtually all of the horse's body systems. Download
162K
EQUINE COLIC is defined as the presence of abdominal pain. Signs of colic in horses are variable and often depend on the severity, location, and cause of the pain.
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460K
EQUINE JOINT SUPPLEMENTS have been purported to decrease inflammation, increase mobility, provide the building blocks for articular cartilage synthesis, and/or contribute to the overall health of movable joints by some other mechanism.
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400K
EQUINE SUPPLEMENTS: Nutraceuticals are thought to have some beneficial effects for horses, but more studies are necessary.
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400K
FEEDING BROODMARES: Proper broodmare nutrition is one of the most important contributors to a successful breeding program.
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323K
FEEDING GERIATRIC HORSES: Just because a horse is older does not necessarily mean he requires a special diet; aging is not a disease. However, many older horses with special physical or nutrional needs (geriatric horses) require specific diets and feed modifications to maintain good health and body condition.
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FEEDING EASY KEEPERS: The term "easy keepers" refers to horses and ponies that maintain or gain weight on a minimum amount of food.
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293K
HOOF SUPPLEMENTS FOR HORSES: Oral supplements might be indicated for horses with dry, cracked, or brittle hooves. Download
415K
THE HORSE'S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM is large, complex, and functions like a factory, yet it is exceedingly delicate. Digestive tract dysfunction in the horse is an important concern for owners and veterinarians.
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331K
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: Not all fats or fatty acids are created equal; some are more beneficial than others for horses. Download
344K
 PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS are dietary supplements given to horses in an effort to prevent or treat certain illnesses or simply to promote a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) system.
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 VITAMINS AND MINERALS are two of the six essential nutrients required by horses (the other four are water, carbohydrates, protein, and fat).
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Lameness/Laminitis

EQUINE ARTHRITIS refers to an inflammation of the joint. There are different kinds of arthritis, such as septic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, the most important arthritis affecting horses is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a major cause of lameness in athletic horses (up to 60% of cases).
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EQUINE JOINT INJECTIONS can help veterinarians diagnose lameness or medicate a horse's painful joint.
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670K
EQUINE JOINT SUPPLEMENTS have been purported to decrease inflammation, increase mobility, provide the building blocks for articular cartilage synthesis, and/or contribute to the overall health of movable joints by some other mechanism.
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400K
EQUINE LAMENESS, defined as a deviation from a normal gait, is an indicator of a structural or functional disorder of the musculoskeletal system (the limbs or spinal column) that is noted while the horse is either moving or stationary.
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445K
JOINT STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION: A joint is defined as an anatomic union or junction between two or more bones. There are three basic types of joints in the horse: synovial, fibrous, and cartilaginous.
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396K
LAMINITIS is an inflammation of the sensitive laminae that connect the horse’s hoof to the coffin bone (third phalanx or pedal bone). It can occur severely and acutely, and it can be a one-time occurrence or a chronic/recurrent problem.
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397K
NAVICULAR SYNDROME is a "catch all" phrase describing chronic forelimb lameness caused by pain stemming from the navicular bone and related structures.
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425K
PAIN MANAGEMENT IN HORSES: In veterinary medicine, particularly equine practice, the recognition, classification, management, and overall importance of pain and pain management have only recently been described.
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239K
TENDONS AND LIGAMENTS are tough, strong bands of soft connective tissue—collagen-rich materials that hold various body structures together.
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401K
ULTRASONOGRAPHY IN HORSES: Equine practitioners use ultrasound machines to help diagnose a number of physical abnormalities.
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336K

Horse Management

COMPOSTING: Efficiently managing manure is an important aspect of caring for horses. Storing fecal matter is unsightly, malodorous, attracts flies, takes up valuable space, can pollute nearby stream and ponds, and is typically costly to remove from the farm. Composting is a viable option for virtually any equine operation, regardless of size.
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426K
DEWORMING refers to the removal of internal parasites (worms) from a horse. Deworming is an important part of horse ownership because uncontrolled parasitic infections, particularly in foals, yearlings, and older, pregnant, or debilitated horses, can cause severe problems.
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IDENTIFICATION: Permanent, tamper-resistant, and accurate identification of horses provides positive proof of ownership. The identification of race, performance, sale, and show horses, broodmares, and stallions can be achieved rapidly and confidently using a variety of methods.
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249K
PAIN MANAGEMENT IN HORSES: In veterinary medicine, particularly equine practice, the recognition, classification, management, and overall importance of pain and pain management have only recently been described.
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239K
WOUND CARE: Due to their inquisitive nature, a well-developed flight response, their large size, and that they are commonly confined in areas with potential obstacles such as metal or wire, horses tend to be accident prone, making both minor and major wounds a fairly common occurrence.
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801K

Reproduction

CLONING EQUIDS is defined as the process of creating a genetically identical copy of another cell or organism (i.e., bacteria, plant, or animal) through non-sexual means.
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281K
FAILURE OF PASSIVE TRANSFER is the process by which mares pass antibodies on to their foals via the colostrum (first milk). If foals don't get the necessary antibodies from their dams (failure of passive transfer), they are at risk of developing serious medical conditions.
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261K
FEEDING BROODMARES: Proper broodmare nutrition is one of the most important contributors to a successful breeding program.
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323K
FOALING, also referred to as parturition, is the process of a mare giving birth to a foal. Foaling occurs approximately 338 to 345 days from the last breeding date; however, this time period can range from 320 to 365 days or more.
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360K
ULTRASONOGRAPHY IN HORSES: Equine practitioners use ultrasound machines to help diagnose a number of physical abnormalities.
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336K
ENDOMETRITIS is failure of the uterus to clear foreign contaminants (i.e., bacteria, spermatozoa) resulting in inflammation of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium). This is an important cause of reduced fertility and infertility in mares, therefore is a major contributor to economic loss in the industry.
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361K

Diagnostic Imaging

ULTRASONOGRAPHY IN HORSES: Equine practitioners use ultrasound machines to help diagnose a number of physical abnormalities.
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336K

These fact sheets may be reprinted and distributed in their exact form for educational purposes only in print or electronically. They may not be used for commercial purposes in print or electronically or republished on a Web site, forum, or blog.

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