Research News: 04/04

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Rehydration Strategy
Exercise in the hot weather can rapidly deplete your horse of salt and water, and replacing these losses leads to more rapid recovery and better cooling. We all know drinking electrolyte-spiked fluids, like GatorAid, helps human athletes. What you may not know is that studies at Michigan State and in Sweden have come to the same conclusion for horses, with a surprising twist.

Immediately after exercise, horses offered either plain water or water with salt drank the salted water as well as or better than the plain water. The salt was added at approximately the same concentration as body fluids. Since drinking plain water will dilute the concentration of sodium in the blood, and sodium is the primary drive to drink, drinking the salted water should keep the horse drinking well throughout the cool-down period. After first consuming either plain or salted water, horses that drank salted water first drank a 50% more over the next hour than horses whose first drink was plain.

To make your own salted water in the concentrations used in these studies, add between one to two level tablespoons of salt per gallon water.

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New Genetic Disease In Quarter Horses
In 2001, Dr. Stephanie Valberg and the Clinical Sciences group at the University of Minnesota Veterinary School identified a deficiency of an enzyme called GBE1 in seven related Quarter Horse foals that were either stillborn or died within seven weeks of birth. Recent further studies have localized the involved genes, and about 2,600 Quarter Horse siblings of those seven foals are believed to carry the defect.

The affected foals exhibited low white counts, muscular contractures, seizures, breathing difficulties, heart problems, elevated muscle enzymes and weakness. Examination of the muscles, liver, heart and white cells revealed an abnormal form of glycogen.

This disease appears only when both parents carry the defective gene. Studies of half siblings confirmed they have enzyme levels approximately 50% of normal horses. Since special staining techniques must be used to identify the abnormal glycogen in the liver, heart and muslce tissues, related foal deaths could be incorrectly assumed to be due to a different cause.