Horses

Behavior

Retrospective evaluation of crib-biting and windsucking behaviors and owner-perceived behavioral traits as risk factors for colic in horses

Outcome: Cribbing/windsucking was significantly associated with colic but was unassociated with one category or severity of colic over another. No other repetitive behaviour was associated with colic. Age (> 20 years) was significantly associated with colic. An anxious temperament was not associated with risk of colic.

Impact of the study on quality of care: Animals at higher risk for colic may be identified based on history of cribbing/windsucking behaviour, but this behaviour was unassociated with increased risk for a particular category or severity of colic. Horses characterised as being more anxious were not at increased risk for colic. There is a need to elucidate a causal relationship between cribbing/windsucking and gastrointestinal function as development of more effective and humane strategies to treat cribbing/windsucking behaviour may help to improve equine welfare and reduce the risk of colic.

Publications: Malamed, R., Berger, J., Bain, M.J., Kass, P., & Spier, S.J. (2011). Retrospective evaluation of crib-biting and windsucking behaviours and owner-perceived behavioural traits as risk factors for colic in horses. Equine Veterinary Journal, 42(8), 686-92. (DOI:10.1111/j.2042-3306.2010.00096.x)

Genetics

Hoof Wall Separation Syndrome in Connemara Ponies

Purpose of Study: Hoof Wall Separation Syndrome (HWSS) is an inherited condition seen in Connemara ponies and typified by the dorsal hoof wall splitting away from underlying structures. The condition results in afflicted ponies having to support weight on the sole of the hoof instead of the dorsal hoof wall, causing severe pain and a diminished quality of life.

HWSS is particularly troubling for the Connemara community because the parents of affected ponies are themselves completely unaffected.  Investigation into the underlying genetic cause of HWSS has the potential to inform these breeding decisions, and could also provide insight into the disease pathophysiology. Sequencing of candidate genes within a specific region on the genome is currently underway, and any functionally relevant genetic differences identified will be validated using a larger sample set.  

Ophthalmology

Survey of Ocular Lesions in Equine Neonates Presenting to Referral Centers

Outcome: Ophthalamic lesions were detected in 55.7% of neonatal foals with systemic disease. Acquired ophthalmic disease was more commonly detected than congenital ophthalmic disease. Foals with sepsis were more likely to have uveitis than were foals without sepsis.

Impact of the study on quality of care: A complete ophthalmic examination is indicated in neonatal foals evaluated for systemic disease.

Publications: Labelle, A.L., Hamor, R.E., Townsend, W.M., Mitchelle, M.A., Zarfoss, M.K., Breaux, C.B., Thomasy, S.M., & Hall, T. (2011). Ophthalmic lesions in neonatal foals evaluated for nonophthalmic disease at referral hospitals.  Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 239 (4), 486-92. (DOI:10.2460/javma.239.4.486)

Theriogenology (Reproduction)

Endometrial biopsy-related changes in older maiden mares

Purpose: Older, maiden mares have a reputation for being subfertile. It has been shown that maiden mares older than 13 years have reduced fertility compared to mares that have had previous foals. The specific reasons for the reduced ability to become pregnant and maintain a pregnancy are unknown. This study compared biopsies from the uterus of older maiden mares with mares of comparable age to look for detrimental changes that can explain the drop in fertility.