Monthly Archives: Nov 2014
It is with great sadness to say that Alex Naylor eldest son to Mandy and Bob (Mandy being a member of the Vale of Arrow Riding Club) passed away on the 27th October 2014.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time. To find out more about this incredible young man please click the DONATE link below to read Alex’s story and Donate on-line.
Alex and his pony Jack
What is atypical myopathy?
Atypical myopathy is a mysterious yet often fatal illness, usually found in grazing horses — mostly in the autumn and spring.
The illness weakens the muscles of the body and can present with sudden stiffness, muscle tremors, collapse and colic-like signs, with a low temperature. Often dark urine is seen. The fatality rate is around 70%.
A study published last year in the Equine Veterinary Journal revealed that toxins from the seeds (pictured above) of the tree acer pseudoplatanus — more commonly known as the sycamore — is the likely cause.
The research was done by the University of Liege and involved 17 horses from Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands.
High concentrations of hypoglycin A were found in all the horses. The pastures of 12 of the horses were visited by botanists and the sycamore was found to be present in every case.
In America research has linked seasonal pasture myopathy (the US equivalent) to toxins from the box elder tree. Both trees produce seeds containing the agent hypoglycin A.
“This toxin is not always present in every seed, or in seeds from every tree. This makes it difficult to predict whether a particular horse will become ill when exposed,” says H&H vet Karen Coumbe.
It is not contagious and can affect horses of all ages and types, but young horses may be more vulnerable.
When are horses at risk?
Outbreaks of the fatal disease tends to be seasonal, with most cases occurring in the autumn. Victims are usually kept in sparse pastures, where seeds are on the ground and are eaten when there is not much grazing.
What are the signs?
The onset of the disease can be extremely rapid, with some horses being found dead in their fields.
Signs include muscular weakness and stiffness, dark urine, fatigue, colic-like signs, shivering, sweating and trembling.
What should owners do?
• Fence off areas where sycamore seeds and/or leaves have fallen
• Regularly inspect fields to ensure seeds have not blown in from nearby sycamore trees
• Supply extra forage (hay or haylage) especially where pasture is poor
• Reduce stock density, so there is enough good grazing for every horse
• Turn out horses for short periods (ideally less than 6hrs.)
• Pick up and remove sycamore seeds, if possible
• If concerned contact your vet immediately
What treatment is available?
Horses diagnosed early by blood and urine tests can be treated with intravenous fluids and intensive care, but once the signs are present it is already serious.
Read more about the recent increase in cases in Horse & Hound magazine (23 October, 2014)
During firework season most horse owners naturally worry about the effects fireworks will have on their horse. There is not a lot we can do to prevent displays taking place but we can do certain things to help our horses through this distressing time.
Horses are flight animals therefore their natural instinct is to run away from something that frightens them. If you have no choice but to keep you horse out during the firework season then simple checks to your field should be undertaken to ensure their safety.
- Check fencing is secure so that if your horse runs around the field they will safely stay contained!
- Remove objects from the field i.e. jumps, vehicles, buckets etc the less there is in the field for the horse to bump in to the better!
- Feed hay in the field/give extra hay to keep the horses occupied.
- Check regularly and more often if possible – Fortunatly the fireworks season is short but remember the weekend before November 5th and after are popular times for major events so the firework period could last 10 days or more.
- The BHS have the following advice for keeping a horse in the barn:
- If your horse is kept in a barn or enclosed stable area it might be possible to limit the effect of fireworks by keeping barn doors closed
- Playing music within the barn or stable area may dull the sound of the bangs depending on the distance – NB: This should be introduced before the event so the music is itself not something for the horse to worry about
- Leave stable or barn lights on as this may help lessen the effect of the bright lights and flashes in the night sky
- Unfortunately we can do nothing about the burning smell that accompanies fireworks except hope the prevailing wind direction takes it away from the horses
- Try as far as possible to keep your horse in its normal routine so it feels secure
- Take care when the horse is startled, an injured owner is no good to anyone!
If you are unfortunate enough to have a problem caused by fireworks, please report it to The British Horse Society on its dedicated fireworks accident online form at www.horseaccidents.org.uk