Wood-Chewing in Horses: Examine the Diet for Cause

Article courtesy of Kentucky Equine Re- search

generally cite boredom as the basis for the frustrating vice. Is monotony the motive behind wood-chewing? Or has blame been misplaced? “I’ve seen a lot of pastured horses

Owners of wood-chewing horses

“Horses possess digestive tracts designed to process lots of fiber, but fencing materi- als offer the wrong kind, because it is vir- tually indigestible.” A dietary change might help alleviate

with access to acre upon acre of lush grass sidle up to a fencepost or plank and begin nibbling at it, systematically shredding it,” said longtime nutritionist Kathleen Cran- dell, Ph.D., Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Like many vices, wood-chewing

poses certain risks to horses. Ingestion of splinters can cause health problems, includ- ing oral wounds, a puncture anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, or impetus for enterolith formation. Old-timers list wood-chewing as a possible reason for re- current colic. “This question comes immediately to

mind: how can a horse with succulent pas- ture grass at its heels be tempted by a dried- out, painted fence board?” asked Crandell. The answer lies hidden in that ques-


contains little fiber. In fact, growing grass is composed nearly entirely of water. When a horse desires fiber, it heads to the fence- line when no hay is available,” she said.

“Horses crave fiber, and green grass

the need to chew wood, according to Cran- dell. This can be as simple as offering hay in addition to pasture. “Horses have an evo- lutionary need to chew roughage, and growing grass doesn’t fulfill that need,” said Crandell. Unfortunately, offering long-

Airway Disease in Racehorses More Prevalent Than Previously Thought, Study Reveals

Story: Deirdre Healey Racehorses need their breath

to run their best. But inflammatory airway disease (IAD) can rob them of their stamina. New research in the Ontario

Veterinary College at the University of Guelph shows the disease is much more common than previ- ously thought. “We looked microscopically

stemmed forage such as hay doesn’t always dissuade a horse from chewing wood. Other methods of discouraging wood- chewing involve covering surfaces with metal, wire, or taste deterrents. Confirmed chewers can be outfitted with a muzzle that prevents them from grasping wooden ob- jects with their teeth but allows free-choice eating.

be aggravated by hindgut acidosis, a distur- bance in the gastrointestinal tract pH that causes some horses to engage in stable vices

Equine Guelph’s online course: Advanced Equine Health through Nutrition. To view all Equine Guelph online courses including Nutrition offerings

Dr. Kathleen Crandell instructs As a final note, wood-chewing might

at the lung tissue of horses that died during or just after races, and quan- tified the inflammatory cells within their airways,” said Prof. Luis Ar- royo, Department of Clinical Stud- ies. “We expected to find that the majority of the animals would have normal airways, with only a small number actually affected with the disease, but that was not the case.” Along with graduate student

Federika ter Woort and pathobiol- ogy professor Jeff Caswell, Arroyo discovered that most of the horses had some degree of IAD, with mild to severe airway changes. Previous research suggested

the disease occurs in up to half of equine athletes. “The disease was known to be

Customers defend Caledon Equestrian Park against accusations

DMF productions not returning deposits, following through on commitments, customers say

By Matthew Strader Caledon Enterprise A rival business who accused Eques-

trian Management Group (EMG) for the downfall of his business, Caledon Eques- trian Parkhas now admitted, his customers are angry at him for his own business prac- tices.

funct DMF productions, delegated about Caledon Equestrian Park at Caledon’s council, and its manager, EMG. However, following an Enterprise

Danny Forbes, owner of the now de-

news story about Forbes’ delegation where he claimed EMG had a monopoly of the park, a number of former customers of DMF productions came forward and said they have been victims of cancelled shows and events with no return on their deposits, and are now, even having difficulty getting a hold of Forbes for their money. In follow up interviews with The En-

terprise, Forbes admitted he has not re- turned money to a number of customers. Rival business owner claims EMG

has monopoly over Caledon Equestrian Park

a number of other customers and large media organizations to have the issue ex- posed, in another attempt to recoup the money owed. “Nobody has gotten their money

back,” she said. Forbes, regarding the Isabell Werth

clinic in question, said he had an agreed upon contract with Werth, but when ticket sales slumped leading up to the clinic, he could not pay the fee he had agreed to with his talent. He went back to Werth and her representatives to try and negotiate a smaller fee, but when they asked for the original contract, he had to cancel the clinic.

his customer came from talent like Werth having to be prepaid for their appearance and some personal losses from an account- ant who “cleaned him out” as well as other factors he said he could not explain due to a “civil action.” Craig Collins, the owner of EMG,

people their money back became difficult,” Forbes said. “I was able to refund half, to three quarters sometimes, but the rest I was in touch with and said I will pay you back within a year. I had a good schedule lined up for 2018, and it shouldn’t have been an issue.”

in an email. “He has sent out many com- munications all promising refunds and to date has not provided a refund to any ticket purchaser of the tickets.” Kathryn Hendricks, another customer of the April clinic said she is working with

she was a customer of a clinic DMF pro- ductions had advertised to run at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy (RCRA) on April 21 and 22 of this year. The clinic was cancelled on April 19, and since then, she has not been able to get in touch with Forbes to get her money back. “I am owed $395 plus HST,” she said

cess in future clinics to repay his financial commitments. Catherine McPherson explained that

Forbes said he was counting on suc- “Once I cancelled a clinic, giving

mal meeting with the man, the town and anyone else involved to discuss any of his complaints. He confirmed that all of the in- formation asked for at the past council meeting has been filed with the town and will be presented at a future meeting.

by Matthew Strader Matthew Strader is a reporter with the Caledon Enterprise. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @CaledonStrader. And The Enterprise on Facebook.

Email: Facebook Twitter

and tried to since then and that statement is correct,” Collins said. “It was done for all of the right reasons, that we didn’t accept his application. We evaluate the people that come here. We’re looking out for the repu- tation of the town and the reputation of the TRCA and the reputation of the Caledon Equestrian Park.” Collins also said he welcomed a for-

said he chose to hold off on answers on ad- vice of legal counsel. But when approached again by The Enterprise, said that it was Forbes’ reputation and track record that led to EMG refusing him the CEP venue. “He has rented the facility in the past,

He said his lack of ability to pay back

common in racehorses, but not as widespread as this study reveals,” said Caswell. “The findings suggest that IAD does not result from

unique exposure of an affected horse to the stimulus that causes the disease. But rather the research sug- gests that all racehorses may be ex- posed, with inflammation of the airways experienced by many.” Published in the American

Journal of Veterinary Research, the study examined lung tissue from 95 deceased racehorses, including thoroughbreds, standardbreds and quarter horses that had actively raced or trained before their deaths. This was the first study to as-

sess inflammation on a tissue level and the first to discover airway in- flammation in horses not specifi- cally selected for poor performance. “None of the deceased horses

showed obvious signs of airway in- flammation in their final three races,” said Arroyo. “The research shows that inflammation is always prevalent in racehorses, even those that may or may not have respira- tory signs.” Unlike equine asthma in older

horses, IAD causes no observable symptoms at rest but only during exercise. It most readily shows itself in poor race times, said Caswell. Possible causes of IAD in-

clude recurrent pulmonary stress, deep inhalation of dust, atmospheric pollutants and persistent respiratory

viral infections. Young horses have higher risk of exposure to these fac- tors because of frequent transport, intense exercise and time spent in stables. Little is known about how

IAD changes an affected horse’s lungs, said Arroyo. “At this stage, the findings are

mainly relevant to understanding the nature of the disease and how it develops. Until now, there was no knowledge about a potential corre- lation between the classification of the inflammatory cells in the air- ways and the lung tissues.” The Ontario Racing Commis-

sion requires a mandatory autopsy when a horse dies in or soon after a race. That means experts know a lot about what causes racehorses to die. But since IAD is not fatal, it has not been closely examined until now, Arroyo said. “This project gives important

information regarding the health status of the performing horse. De- veloping a better understanding of IAD could lead to better health in horses and a more competitive horse racing industry.” Contact Prof. Luis Arroyo lar-

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