This review aims to provide practical outcomes on how to minimise the incidence of transport-related problem behaviours (TRPBs) in horses. TRPBs are unwanted behaviours occurring during different phases of transport, most commonly, a reluctance to load and scrambling during travelling. TRPBs can result in injuries to horses and horse handlers, horse trailer accidents, disruption of time schedules, inability to attend competitions, and poor performance following travel. Therefore, TRPBs are recognised as both a horse-related risk to humans and a human-related risk to horses. From the literature, it is apparent that TRPBs are common throughout the entire equine industry, and a YouTube keyword search of ‘horse trailer loading’ produced over 67,000 results, demonstrating considerable interest in this topic and the variety of solutions suggested. Drawing upon articles published over the last 35 years, this review summarises current knowledge on TRPBs and provides recommendations on their identification, management, and prevention. It appears that a positive human-horse relationship, in-hand pre-training, systematic training for loading and travelling, appropriate horse handling, and the vehicle driving skills of the transporters are crucial to minimise the incidence of TRPBs. In-hand pre-training based on correct application of the principles of learning for horses and horse handlers, habituation to loading and travelling, and self-loading appear to minimise the risk of TRPBs and are therefore strongly recommended to safeguard horse and horse-handler health and welfare. This review indicates that further research and education with respect to transport management are essential to substantially decrease the incidence of TRPBs in horses.
This study aimed to compare body growth, metabolic, and reproductive hormonal changes in trained Thoroughbred yearling horses under different climate conditions with and without light supplementation (LS). Thoroughbred yearlings raised at research centers of the Japan Racing Association in Hokkaido (north) or Miyazaki (south) were divided into control and LS groups. In the LS groups, 44 colts and 47 fillies from Hokkaido and 11 colts and 11 fillies from Miyazaki were exposed to LS with an extended photoperiod of 14.5 hr of daylight and 9.5 hr of darkness. One week before and once a month after LS, circulating total thyroxine (T4), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1), prolactin (PRL), cortisol, and progesterone (P4) concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay and fluoroimmunoassay, respectively. Growth parameters, including body weight, height, girth, and cannon bone circumferences, were measured monthly. Hair coat (HC) condition was scored. Under natural conditions, the T4 concentrations of Hokkaido yearlings tended to be higher, whereas the IGF-1 (colt) and PRL levels were significantly lower than those of yearlings in Miyazaki. Growth parameters and HC scores were lower in Hokkaido yearlings. With LS, the PRL and P4 concentrations in Hokkaido and Miyazaki were higher, and the first ovarian activity tended to be earlier than in the controls. Only LS Hokkaido yearlings showed significantly higher HC scores than the controls. Comparing the different climates among the LS yearlings, the levels of PRL and P4 and the HC scores in Hokkaido yearlings increased and reached levels similar to those in Miyazaki yearlings. The body weight and girth increment percentages of Hokkaido yearlings in January dramatically decreased and then eventually increased to levels similar to those of Miyazaki yearlings. This suggested that yearlings in naturally colder Hokkaido exhibit higher basal metabolism to maintain homeostasis. However, providing LS may help to improve growth and early development of reproductive function in Hokkaido yearlings to levels equal to those of Miyazaki horses.
Problems associated with the proximal metacarpal region, such as an osseous injury associated with tearing of Sharpey’s fibers or an avulsion fracture of the origin of the suspensory ligament (OISL), are important causes of lameness in racehorses. In the present study, four Thoroughbred racehorses (age range, 2–4 years) were diagnosed as having forelimb OISL and assessed over time by using standing magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI). At the first sMRI examination, all horses had 3 characteristic findings, including low signal intensity within the trabecular bone of the third metacarpus on T1-weighted images, intermediate-to-high signal intensity surrounded by a hypointense rim on T2*-weighted images, and high signal intensity on fat-suppressed images. Following the sMRI examination, all horses received 50 mg of tiludronic acid by intravenous regional limb perfusion once weekly for 3 weeks. Attenuation of the high signal intensity on T2*-weighted and fat-suppressed images was observed on follow-up sMRI in 3 horses. Following rest and rehabilitation, these 3 horses successfully returned to racing. In contrast, the other horse that did not show attenuation of the high signal intensity failed to return to racing. To our knowledge, this is the first report of OISL in Thoroughbred racehorses assessed over time by sMRI under tiludronic acid treatment. Our findings support the use of sMRI for examining lameness originating from the proximal metacarpal region to refine the timing of returning to exercise based on follow-up examinations during the recuperation period.
We investigated changes in heart rate (HR) and HR variability as a function of age in newborn foals to old Thoroughbred horses. Experiments were performed on a total of 83 healthy and clinically normal Thoroughbred horses. Resting HR decreased with age from birth. The relationship between age and HR fit the equation Y=48.2X-0.129(R2=0.705); the relationship between age and HR for horses 0–7 years old fit the equation Y=44.1X-0.179(R2=0.882). Seven-day-old horses had the highest HR values (106 ± 10.3 beat/min). The low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) powers increased with age in newborn to old horses. These changes in HR and HR variability appear to result from the effects of ageing. Three- to seven-year-old race horses had the lowest HR values (32.9 ± 3.5 beat/min) and the highest LF and HF powers except for the HF powers in the oldest horses. Race training may have contributed to these changes. Horses of ages greater than 25 years old had the highest HF powers and the lowest LF/HF ratios. In individual horses, 8 of the 15 horses over 25 years old had LF/HF ratios of less than 1.0; their HR variability appears to be unique, and they may have a different autonomic balance than horses of younger age.
A Thoroughbred horse with severe chronic laminitis of both forelimbs was evaluated on the same day with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT). Both MRI and CT revealed loss of the dorsal aspect of the cortical bone of the 3rd phalanx and sclerosis. CT reflected the status of the horny layer and bone of the affected feet, while MRI depicted inflammation of the laminar corium, together with tendon edema. On the 3-dimensional CT venogram, vessels were visualized in both the right and left forelimbs, although there was a difference in the vasculature of the coronary plexus and circumflex vessels between the right and left forelimbs. A combination of both MRI and CT provides detailed information regarding pathological conditions.
A three-year old Thoroughbred racehorse was anesthetized with sevoflurane and oxygen inhalation anesthesia combined with constant rate infusion (CRI) of alfaxalone-medetomidine for internal fixation of a third metacarpal bone fracture. After premedication with intravenous (IV) injections of medetomidine (6.0 µg/kg IV), butorphanol (25 µg/kg IV), and midazolam (20 µg/kg IV), anesthesia was induced with 5% guaifenesin (500 ml/head IV) followed immediately by alfaxalone (1.0 mg/kg IV). Anesthesia was maintained with sevoflurane and CRIs of alfaxalone (1.0 mg/kg/hr) and medetomidine (3.0 µg/kg/hr). The total surgical time was 180 min, and the total inhalation anesthesia time was 230 min. The average end-tidal sevoflurane concentration during surgery was 1.8%. The mean arterial blood pressure was maintained above 70 mmHg throughout anesthesia, and the recovery time was 65 min. In conclusion, this anesthetic technique may be clinically applicable for Thoroughbred racehorses undergoing a long-time orthopedic surgery.
Temporohyoid osteoarthropathy (THO) is characterized by progressive osseous proliferation of the stylohyoid and petrous temporal bones. Generally, diagnosis is confirmed by guttural pouch endoscopy and skull radiography. In the present case, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were performed in a 6-month-old Thoroughbred foal showing signs of head tilt and unilateral ear droop, consistent with the presence of a vestibular disease and unilateral facial paralysis. CT revealed bony fusion and proliferation of the right temporohyoid joint, while MRI revealed that otitis media was responsible for THO. In conclusion, this report suggests that CT and MRI provide a more concrete diagnosis and better understandings of the mechanism of THO etiology.
Although radiographic findings at the apical portion of the proximal sesamoid bone (PSB) are often observed in young Thoroughbred foals, conflicting findings, either fractures or apparent secondary ossifications centers, have been reported. Three cases (aged 2, 5, and 7 weeks) were identified in 30 necropsied foals (0–31 weeks old). Histopathologically, the subchondral trabecular woven bone was fractured and exhibited focal necrosis of woven bone, fibrin exudate, and/or fibrosis within the foci. In the 7-week-old case, proliferations of chondrocytes were also observed. These findings suggest that the radiographic findings represented a healing process of the apical PSB fractures associated with the mechanically damaged subchondral trabeculae. Developmental PSB injuries should be taken into consideration during the management of young Thoroughbred foals.