e-book Clicker Training for Fun with Horses: Quick Tips for Fun and Functional Horse Tricks

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Nitrogenous fertilisers also add to the problem. Nitrate is reduced to nitrite in the hind gut of horses and rumen of cattle and can contribute to nitrite poisoning. In areas where the feed dries off completely in summer, the flora of the digestive tract adapt to this and then the microflora cannot change rapidly enough to deal with the sudden change from low energy dry feed to very low mineral content, high nitrate green feed. This can occur even when horses are still fed their normal meals and supplements.

The owners think that the pony is safe because laminitis only occurs in spring. The factors causing laminitis are diet and digestive change, combined with the quality of the pasture as above. For example, going away on holiday is risky if you have a laminitic pony that you rely on someone else to feed and care for unless you thoroughly explain why it is not safe to let the pony graze in the garden, or feed the pony lots of molasses, etc.

It can be hard to explain that it leads to fermentation and acidosis. The common scenarios include: show horses that are being fattened for a special event, the pony that is usually fed hay and then goes to pony camp and gets lupins and barley, the pony that comes from a dry paddock and is put into an area hardly big enough to trot in but it is up to its knees in irrigated grass, the horse that lives on irrigation year in year out and is always chronically foot sore but not lame, and the owner who wants the horse to have more energy coming up to an event.

The more grain they feed, often the worse the horse feels and behaves. Adding more grain to the feed to pep the horse up may have the opposite effect and lead to laminitis. Always make gradual increases in energy and look at other factors for why a horse is not gaining weight. It may have other underlying physical causes or be lacking essential minerals or elements e. Without the correct nutrients in the right ratios the horse cannot make substances essential to life but will still store excess energy as fat which is secondary to other functions in importance.

Horses and ponies will also develop laminitis when the brand of feed is changed e. Rice is very high in carbohydrate.

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Make dietary changes slowly. Superphosphate and other fertilisers are becoming increasingly associated with laminitis. New pasture species are also implicated as they contain increased concentrations of water soluble carbohydrates and less effective fibre. These plant species have been developed to increase productivity for farmers as the pasture is more palatable plant sugars , highly digestible and energy rich. This leads to lowering of rumen pH more acidic in cattle and the lowering of large intestinal pH in horses and has led to increased levels of laminitis in cattle and horses.

Research has begun into these issues for production animals as chronic laminitis in dairy cattle significantly reduces production. Buying hay and chaff can now be a risky business for the owner of chronically laminitic animals due to dietary causes because you will often not know how the feed was grown or its energy content. Therefore, if you grow your own hay and chaff always begin with a soil analysis from a company that sells nothing but soil analysis and not one that sells fertiliser.

Other elements may correct themselves when the pH has been raised and you can add other minerals as stock-licks, or in feed. Re-test in 12 months and use fertilisers sparingly where horses are concerned. A clue to the health of the soil is also the colour of the grass, bright green or dark green? Darker is healthier.

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Are the trees struggling to survive? If so, the soil under them is probably not healthy and using superphosphate and other fertilisers without resolving soil pH issues may be the cause. If you cannot afford to spread lime or dolomite on the whole paddock, treat under the trees to save them. Are the horses eating the trees, stripping the bark etc.? If so, they are looking for minerals, particularly copper which is found in the cambium layer of the tree under the bark.

Protect the trees by covering with chicken wire and supplement the minerals lacking in the soil.

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This is another sign that the soil is not healthy and is promoting the types of plants which prefer an acidic soil. Grasses grow better in soils which are closer to neutral pH. On some properties every equine has laminitis to some degree. This is the best reason I can give you for getting a soil analysis done by companies which sell nothing but analysis.

The analysis should direct you to the importance of soil pH and the best way to correct it e. Refer to the list of suppliers at the back of this book. There are no rules with horses and ponies but this is a good guide, trust your instincts! Be objective about what you hear and read. The truth is, there are thousands of professional horse people who do not understand laminitis or the basics of the horses foot.

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They ride, show, train etc. The horse was already in Royal Show condition and it did founder. Or, the pony needs to keep its energy up this week, it was also in show condition and went from a basic diet to lupins and barley while at a week long pony camp. It did not get through the week sound. Or, it is safe to put the pony in the paddock, it is winter. You can feed as much grain as you like or whatever you like as long as you feed this stuff additive as well.

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Every horse, pony, donkey, cow etc. This is a fact.. In Dry areas laminitis often follows the autumn break, when the new grass is coming up. High intakes of nitrate and nitrite occur in animals fed lush herbage that has been heavily fertilized with ammonium or potassium nitrate nitrogenous fertilizers. High intake also follows a drought during which time nitrification bacteria accumulate large quantities in the soil and the first new growth may then have toxic levels. Lush new grass is low in magnesium Mg and in cold, overcast weather has higher levels of accumulated nitrates toxins.

Nitrate is reduced to nitrite in the hind gut of horses and the rumen of cattle and can contribute to nitrite poisoning.


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Nitrate is converted to nitrite in the plant or in the digestive tract of the animal. In a plant nitrate is a precursor of ammonia which is used for amino acid production. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and proteins are essential for life. This conversion is performed by an enzyme called nitrate reductase which contains molybdenum and is sensitive to many factors. Nitrite from plants is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream where it affects vascular smooth muscle leading to vasodilation and pulmonary lung hypertension and decreased cardiac heart output.

Refer to the 3rd theory of the causes of laminitis. Nitrites react with haemoglobin which is the oxygen transport molecule within red blood cells. The oxidisation of haemoglobin forms met-haemoglobin which cannot carry oxygen to the tissues and the animal develops difficulty breathing dypsnea coffee coloured mucous membranes and blood brown blood. Abortion in cattle is also associated. Therefore, clinical signs of toxicity include respiratory distress, discoloured brown or blue gums, rapid, weak pulse and trembling, collapse, coma and terminal clonic convulsions.

The signs are exacerbated by exercise.


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  8. However, it is rare for the disease to be this severe. Horse-owners in cold, wintery, weather see their horse with laminitis and usually cannot understand why. Many plants including common grasses and weeds are able to absorb nitrate from the soil and accumulate dangerous quantities within their tissues. The rate of accumulation is affected by a wide range of factors including;.

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    Provide other sources of feed, especially good pasture hay which is digested in the caecum hind gut. Breaking down and digesting cellulose into simple sugars breaks the chemical bonds within the fiber and releases the energy held in these bonds as heat. This heat keeps the horse warm and provides the digestive environment suited to neutral pH and normal flora of the hind gut.

    High levels of Nitrogen in pastures are also thought to play a part in lowered levels of magnesium e. Sodium Na facilitates Magnesium Mg absorption from the gut; therefore, when sodium is low, such as occurs in young, fast growing pasture, magnesium absorption is impaired. Calcium and magnesium absorption are also linked and therefore the easiest way to ensure that both are present at the same time is to feed dolomite or a commercial calcium and magnesium supplement.

    Calcium and magnesium are needed for normal muscle and nerve function including the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and blood vessel walls. Toxaemic — any systemic disease with a septic or toxic focus — pneumonia, pleurisy, diarrhoea, colic or endometriosis. Inflammation of organs remote from the feet, can cause laminitis — colic, colitis, metritis retained placenta. Effective treatment of the cause must be accomplished before improvement in the laminitis can be expected.

    An organic treatment of viral and toxic infection is Vitamin C. Ask your veterinarian if this may be used in combination with other veterinary treatment. Toxic infection leads to the most serious forms of laminitis. Treat the cause early and effectively. There is an enormous mobilisation of fat from the tissues to the liver. The liver is completely overcome by the overload, fills with fat and fails, often resulting in death. When a horse or pony gets mild laminitis, owners often unintentionally add to the misery by starving it.

    Anyone who tells you to starve a fat horse or pony is giving you very poor advice. People do this because they think it will be helpful as the pony foundered because it was fat. Laminitis is compounded by fat but not directly caused by fat. Refer to the metabolic profile of a laminitic pony in genetics and laminitis above.

    The brain and blood cells must have glucose to survive. Below a critical level low glucose can lead to death.