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Pt. 3: Parasites and Anemia in Horses

17 September, 2014 | Posted in category: Horse Health | No Comments

horse-headThis is Pt. 3 of Parasites and the Equine Gut, a new series investigating the connection between parasite control and your horse’s digestive health — and what we can do to help. 

In the first two posts of this series, we discussed why worms are still so common in horses, and how an infection can affect your horse’s nutrition. In Pt. 3, Parasites and Anemia in Horses, we address a little-discussed problem in the horse world — anemia, a condition where horses have reduced red blood cell mass, which impacts their ability to carry adequate oxygen to tissue and muscles. This often results in lethargy, poor performance and poor recovery after exercise.

Those who participate in disciplines requiring extreme speed and fast recovery, such as racing or polo, frequently keep closer tabs on red blood cell counts. However, a healthy red blood cell count is important for all disciplines, as anemia is symptomatic of larger, more serious problems, including a parasitic infection.

Defining Anemia in Horses

A simple blood test conducted by your vet is sufficient to diagnose anemia. The test measures the horse’s packed cell volume (PCV). In horses, a normal PCV ranges from 32%-48%. When a horse’s PCV levels fall below 30, the horse is considered anemic. A diagnosis of anemia may be a relief for horse owners concerned about a horse’s otherwise unexplained lethargy, poor coat condition or lack of appetite.

There is good news. In most cases, treating the underlying cause of anemia will usually allow your horse to regain the red blood cell levels he needs in a matter of weeks.

The Relationship Between Parasites and Anemia

While it’s easy to see that a low red blood cell count is detrimental to your horse’s health and well-being, it’s crucial to understand that anemia is always a symptom of a larger health issue that needs to be identified and resolved. There are three major causes of anemia in horses

  • blood loss due to internal or external bleeding
  • destruction of blood, caused by disease, infection, toxins, or parasites
  • reduced red blood cell production, due to disease or nutritional deficiencies.

The first two types of anemia can both be related to parasitic infection. In particular, chronic anemia from blood loss is a common side effect of parasites affecting the gastrointestinal tract of the horse.

Large strongyles — aptly known as blood worms or red worms — are the parasites most closely associated with anemia. Both the larvae and the worms cause damage that leads to blood loss, and consequentially, anemia. As larvae, large strongyles migrate throughout the organs via the blood vessels, causing damage and leaving behind ulcerated nodules. As mature adults, strongyles attach to the large intestine and feed on a specific spot before moving on to another spot. When they evacuate, they leave behind an exposed “pit” in the mucosal lining, which can become infected and/or ulcerated and may bleed.

Ulceration with potential blood loss is also associated with tapeworms and bots when they attach to the mucosal lining in the GI tract.

While not directly associated with the digestive tract, a type of protozoan parasite transmitted by ticks infects horses’ red blood cells. These parasites destroy red blood cells, a disease known as babesiosis.

Treat Parasites to Resolve Anemia in Horses

Treating anemia — regardless of its cause — is only done effectively by resolving the health issue that is causing the anemia. Trying to use iron and vitamin B12 supplements to treat anemia is simply putting a band-aid on the problem.

If the underlying problem is parasites, treating and controlling the parasites effectively will let the horse’s red blood cell counts return to normal levels without further intervention.

Up Next: Parasites and Ulcers

Like anemia, which can be caused by the damage created by parasites, ulcers can also be a result of a parasite infection. An equine ulcer is simply a lesion on the lining of a horse’s stomach. Gastric ulcers are believed to be caused by acid, stress and possibly bacteria — but these lesions can also be caused by parasites. Subscribe to the SUCCEED blog as we talk more about the relationship between worms and ulcers in Part 4: Parasites and Ulcers.



Meet Quinn Sanders: 2014 NSBA Heroes on Horses Ranch Horse Pleasure World Champion

11 September, 2014 | Posted in category: SUCCEED Stories | No Comments

Winner-Ranch type w awards

SUCCEED is proud to have been the title sponsor of the special Heroes on Horses event at the National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship Show again this year. The NSBA offers two Heroes on Horses classes during the World Championship Show. Both are open to veterans with disabilities.Heroes on Horses classes have been part of the NSBA Worlds since 2011.

Prior to 2011, Quinn Sanders, a U.S. Army veteran who served tours in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, hadn’t been on a horse since he was six years old — and that was only for a quick lead-line ride up and down the block. But last month, Quinn took the world championship title in the Heroes on Horses Ranch Horse Pleasure class at the National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship, on his horse Black Magic. It was his first time ever showing at the NSBA World Championship Show.

Quinn credits his success directly to Black Magic, saying, “it was mostly all Magic, not me — I don’t really know a lot about arena riding” — but since the class was judged on 50 percent rider and 50 percent horse, we did a little digging to find out where that other 50 percent came from. We discovered that the secret to Quinn’s success could be traced back to Melanie Mincey and the Broken Wheel Ranch Project, in Bonham, Texas.

Quinn was in a program at the VA hospital in Dallas, Texas, for veterans recovering from stress, anxiety and PTSD. It was there that Quinn met Melanie, a nurse at the hospital.  When Quinn told Melanie about his love of horses, she invited him to visit Broken Wheel Ranch, where she and her husband, James, run a therapeutic riding ranch for veterans. With the slogan, “Helping Veterans Recover, One Ride at a Time,” Broken Wheel serves around 20 veterans on a regular basis. The program is completely free to vets and their family members.

“We’ve got about 300 acres to ride on, so we mostly ride on the trail,” Quinn says. “But when it came time for the show, I started riding Magic in the arena, where I could get the feel of him, and he could get the feel of me.”
Quinn, who lives about 80 miles from Broken Wheel, comes to ride at least once a week, and usually tries to bring several other veterans from his program at the VA with him to ride. He can speak first-hand about the value of therapeutic riding to his quality of life, and wants nothing more than to share that with other veterans.
“If you’ve got any type of a mental condition or depression or PTSD, horses are fantastic,” he says. “Riding relieves all of your stress and anxiety and it’s really peaceful — like sanctuary on the back of your horse when you’re riding down through the trees and by the creek.”
And from learning the basics from Melanie and her team, Quinn has also progressed to learning to be a trainer, thanks to several seminars he’s attended.
“I’m mostly learning how to build a partnership with a horses by building up trust,” he says. “I try to do that with our veterans now too — try to help them experience what I’ve experienced with horses. It’s definitely a lifetime thing for me. I don’t like to say never, but I’ll never give up horses!”
Eight other veterans from Broken Wheel also participated in the Heroes on Horses classes — several of whom had competed the year before.
“I felt really grateful for the chance to compete in the Heroes on Horses class,” Quinn says. “It really makes us veterans feel appreciated, and that we’re not going unnoticed. For the NSBA to create that class in 2011, they really showed us they cared — and we’re grateful for that.”
Congratulations to Quinn and Black Magic, world champions of this year’s Heroes on Horses Ranch Horse Pleasure class!



Pt. 2: Parasites and Nutritional Difficulties in Horses

10 September, 2014 | Posted in category: Horse Health | No Comments

2663326889_e68dfff7b4_bThis is Part 2 of Parasites and the Equine Gut, a new series investigating the connection between parasite control and your horse’s digestive health — and what we can do to help. 

In the first post in this series, we discussed why worms are still so common in horses, despite regular deworming programs. In Pt. 2, Parasites and Nutritional Difficulties in Horses, we’ll be getting more in depth about why that’s a problem for your horse — and especially for his digestive system.

The Impact Parasites Have on Nutrition

There are more than 150 types of parasites that affect horses, but the four most common types are strongyles, ascarids, tapeworms and bots. All horses are infected by one or more parasites, so it’s up to us to control their numbers.

Parasites are often behind common equine maladies, from small symptoms like a horse rubbing its tail or losing its shiny coat, to weight loss, diarrhea, colic, and even death. While different types of parasites have different effects on your horse (see below), all kinds of worms cause our horses’ digestive systems to work overtime to compensate for the inflammation and blockages caused by these parasites. Here are several common problems:

  • Hindgut inflammation: parasite infection in the hindgut can cause inflammation, which has negative effects on digestive health and function.
  • Colonic ulcers — or lesions that occur in the hindgut (and specifically the colon) of a horses — have also been linked to parasites.
  • Gastric ulcers are lesions occurring in the lining of a horse’s stomach. No one knows exactly what induces equine gastric syndrome, but we do know that ulcers occur when the mucosal lining of the stomach is compromised — potentially by parasites.

All three of the above challenges, which worms can cause, have an impact on your horse’s ability to absorb nutrients. That means that your horse isn’t getting the full value of his feed and can, as a result, have reduced energy levels, reduced stamina and speed, trouble recovering quickly from exercise, and difficulty maintaining weight.

Signs of Parasite Infection in Horses that May Compromise Nutrition

Not all types of parasitic infections are easy to diagnose. But here are some signs to look for:

  • Weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, and colic may be symptomatic of large strongyles
  • Malnutrition, weight loss, and diarrhea can be indicative of small strongyles
  • Weight loss, poor condition, anemia, and colic can be caused by tape worms
  • Inflammation and ulceration of the stomach are effects of bots.

These are clear signs that a problem is brewing in your horse’s gut – and warrant a call to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to use diagnostic tools such as fecal testing or endoscopy to determine if parasites – or something else- is the problem.

Parasites May be the Problem

Although some of the above symptoms may not be visible to the naked eye (or could be attributed to other factors in the horse’s environment), be sure to consider parasites if your horse is experiencing any of the above symptoms. Testing for and treating parasites is a good place to start when you have a horse who seems nutritionally compromised or just a little “off.” 

All of the parasites mentioned above take a significant toll on your horse’s digestive system. While the damage caused may either be direct (such as inflammation, ulcers or the death of the tissue lining the gut) or indirect (colic, anemia, or nutritional deficiencies as a result of internal damage), parasites affect all horses — so it’s up to us to create an appropriate parasite-management plan.

Up Next: Parasites and Anemia

Subscribe to the SUCCEED blog to follow along as we continue to dig deeper into identifying and controlling parasites in our horses. The next article in this series on Parasites and the Equine Gut examines the relationship between anemia and parasites. Anemia in horses is defined as a reduction in red blood cells, which are critical to your horse’s ability to perform at its best. Follow along as we discuss how parasites affect red blood cells, and how we can avoid the dangers associated with anemia.

Flickr Photo Credit: Jodi Bratch (used via Creative Commons)



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Monday Myth #40: SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program is Expensive

08 September, 2014 | Posted in category: Care & Management, Monday Myths: Horse Care, Using SUCCEED | No Comments

It’s a review we hear often enough about SUCCEED: “I like what SUCCEED did for my horse, but it’s just too expensive.” If you are reading this, it’s probably because you’ve heard it too – or even said it yourself.

And you would be right. SUCCEED is expensive. It’s no myth that a $3+ per day price tag is higher than what you see when compared to many other feed supplements on the market.

But before letting the price deter you, take a moment to consider two critical questions:

  1. Why is SUCCEED expensive?
  2. What is my horse’s health worth?

There is a difference between price and value. Here’s a look at why SUCCEED’s price reflects high value in so many ways: the product’s quality, its impact on your horse’s health, the longer term benefits in your horse’s behavior, performance ability and attitude…and the potential savings over time. 

Why Is SUCCEED so Expensive?

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You can buy saddles for $3,000 or $300, but you know very well which one is going to be more comfortable (for both horse & rider), last longer, look nicer, and be backed by better service. The same goes for your horse’s digestive health supplement. When you pay for SUCCEED, you are paying for higher quality, human pharmaceutical grade ingredients, derived from unique processing that retains key nutrients, and ongoing research to ensure safety and utility. 

Quality Ingredients

Common oat flour contains about 4 percent beta glucan, a soluble fiber that provides the functional benefits to digestive health. SUCCEED doesn’t contain just any oat flour derived from standard oats (typically full of starch which is decidedly bad for equine gut health). We use specially grown oats that contain more bran and less starch, and we primarily utilize the hull. This ensures a higher concentration of beta glucan in the flour  as much as 16 percent.

The same goes for the oat oil in SUCCEED. We source our oil from a supplier that uses a patented extraction process utilizing ethanol. This retains a higher concentration of polar lipids, a natural constituent of the oat oil, as compared with the more common hexane extraction process which typically destroys them. It’s the polar lipids that provide so many benefits to the structure and function of the digestive tract.

Those are just a few specific examples of the higher quality ingredients and processes used in SUCCEED which cannot be duplicated by another product. (Check out the “What Goes In” series to learn more about the benefits of oat flour, oat oil, and yeast in SUCCEED.)

Dedication to Research and Exceeding Industry Standards

We also work hard to do things the right way. Freedom Health:

  • Maintains a manufacturing facility that meets human pharmaceutical practices, registered with the FDA and following the highest standards for consistency and quality control.
  • Employs two veterinarians on our management team who are constantly providing research, testing, and customer support.
  • Jumps through extensive hoops to make sure our products are properly licensed for sale and meet rigorous regulatory standards.
  • Participates in independent research studies.

And, unlike most supplements, SUCCEED is backed by extensive research that has led to multiple patents. You can find those patent numbers on all of our labels, and vets can access full patent and research information in the Veterinary Center.

What Is Your Horse’s Health Worth?

An expensive supplement does have clear value if it has enough benefit for your horse in terms of health and performance – and even reduces costs over the long-haul.

Gut health is at the core of your horse’s overall well-being. Anything less than 100 percent has far-reaching effects, from nutrient absorption and energy to hair coat and condition to more serious digestive issues. Digestive health also affects overall health which, in turn, can impact the horse’s attitude, trainability, willingness, and ability to perform to full potential. Therefore, your horse’s digestive health has inestimable value.

When your horse’s gut and digestive processes are healthy, you may avoid costly vet visits and treatments. You may even find that your feed bill goes down when your horse’s system is able to more efficiently and effectively digest its feed, allowing you to decrease grains or other products you use for increasing calories. Put it all together, and you’re likely to find that SUCCEED more than pays for itself!

SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program Works

Challenge-WB-330-x-330-v2SUCCEED works by supporting the healthy structure and function of the entire equine digestive tract, naturally. But don’t take our word for it. Read reviews from international riders and amateur owners alike to see the value they and their horses get from SUCCEED.

Yes, SUCCEED is more expensive than your horse’s average feed supplement. But price does reflect value when it comes to this high quality supplement, proven to have far-reaching benefits for many horses as well as their owners and trainers. 

Take the SUCCEED Challenge. We are so confident that you will see valuable benefits with SUCCEED that we will give you your money-back, no questions asked, after a 60-day trial period if you aren’t happy with the results.

 



Pt. 1: Parasites in Horses Remain a More Common Problem Than You Think

03 September, 2014 | Posted in category: Horse Health | No Comments

Horse in Pasture

Welcome to Parasites and the Equine Gut, our new series that investigates the connection between parasite control and gut health — and what we can do to help.

The first article in the series, Part 1: Why Parasites are Still a Problem in Horses discusses why worms are still so common in horses, and why that’s a problem for your horse’s gut. As the series progresses, we’ll walk you through the problems parasites can cause for your horse’s digestive system, what to watch out for, and finally, what you can do about it. Subscribe to the SUCCEED blog to follow along with our Parasites and the Equine Gut series.

Parasites in Horses are Still a Problem

For many horse owners, parasite control goes like this: purchase a few types of paste dewormers, dose each horse in the barn every couple of months, and rotate brands with the intent of killing the full spectrum of parasites. Sound familiar? For many of us, the answer is probably yes.

However, last spring the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) published the first official set of guidelines for parasite control — and many of us may have learned that we were doing it all wrong. Here’s why.

  • The worms we’re targeting have changed. The large strongyle bloodworm is no longer the top parasitic bad guy — small strongyles are. Tapeworms have also become a larger problem.
  • Certain parasites have built up a resistance to the wormers (called anthelmintics) we’re giving horses to get rid of them.
We’re not monitoring our horses’ parasite loads closely enough, and are instead relying on the calendar to tell us when to worm.
  • We’re treating horses by the herd, instead of taking an individual approach to parasite control.

For these reasons, and other management-based reasons (when was the last time you scooped all of the manure out of your paddock, for example?), worms are still a significant problem for horses.

The signs of a “wormy” horse are generally easily observed by the naked eye — a poor coat, ribs showing, a rubbed tail, plus a listless, low-energy attitude — but the effect worms can have on your horse’s gut health are much more serious. For that reason, we’ll also be discussing the best ways to measure your horse’s internal health, just in case the signs of an infestation aren’t readily recognized (such as, with a new horse that you just can’t seem to get healthy).

How Worms Can Hurt Your Horse’s Digestive Health

Different parasites affect your horse in various ways. In addition to the physical signs noted above, a heavy infestation of worms causes a variety of problems internally, from stomach irritation and diarrhea, to intestinal obstruction and perforation, ulcers, anemia and colic.

Now here’s the good news: unlike many cases of idiopathic colic, where it’s impossible to determine a root cause, colic caused by parasites is something we can generally avoid with an appropriate worming routine. That’s also true for the other symptoms of heavy parasite loads mentioned above. So while the list of complications caused by parasites is long and scary-looking to any horse person, take heart in knowing you can mitigate and control these factors through an appropriate worming program.

As we work our way through this series, we’ll help you identify potential gut-related problems that may be induced by parasites, test your horse for worms, and create an appropriate program that you can tailor to your own horse.

Up Next: Parasites and Nutritional Deficiencies

In Part 2: Parasites and Nutritional Deficiencies, we’ll be talking more about what and how worms hurt your horse’s nutrition and overall health. Follow along as we investigate specific gut-related issues caused by parasitism by subscribing to the SUCCEED blog. As we move through the series, we’ll continue to help you diagnose, treat and control parasites for a happier, healthier horse.

Flickr Photo Credit: PMarkham (used with permission via Creative Commons)



About the SUCCEED Blog

The SUCCEED Equine Blog is all about empowering horse owners, trainers, and barn managers to better understand and care for their horses' overall wellness.

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