Monthly Archives: May 2013

Horses are Becoming Resistant to Antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance a threat to horse drug arsenal

By on May 05, 2013 in Health, News

Antibiotic resistance is rapidly becoming an issue in the equine world, a new white paper has warned.

It warns that tighter controls could be imposed on medicines in a bid to prevent antibiotic resistance. Such controls could ultimately mean certain antibiotics would no longer be available for use in horses.

To slow the development and spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria, it is imperative that all parties involved practice the careful use of antibiotics, according to the paper produced by the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Equine Research Coordination Group.

The group, comprised of organizations and researchers that support equine research, is chaired by New Zealand-born equine orthopedic specialist Dr Wayne McIlwraith, who is based at Colorado State University.

Antimicrobial resistance is a type of drug resistance whereby bacteria are able to survive exposure to an antibiotic.

It is inherent to the use of antimicrobials, according to Dr Harold McKenzie III, who is associate professor of medicine at Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.

“Any time antimicrobials are used, there is an inherent selection process whereby the bacteria exposed to the antibiotic will be inhibited or die, but a few bacteria will likely survive,” he said.

“Ultimately, if this process continues, only resistant bacteria remain.”

Due to the frequent use of antimicrobials in humans and animals some bacteria are becoming resistant to many antibiotics, a situation known as multi-drug resistance (MDR). Continue reading

What Problems Occur in Dressage Horses?

Dressage horses are required to perform accurately with flexibility and muscle control. The entire body, but particularly the hindquarters and the neck, can be stressed. The hips, hocks, stifles, and back should receive regular attention from a Sports Massage Therapist.

Lateral work can cause stress in the costarum (side flexor running parallel to the back muscles), the pectoral muscles, shoulders,and inner and outer thighs.

Collection can cause tension in the jaw, throatlatch, and neck. Dressage horses work hard, and should be given relief from muscle stress on a regular basis! Many injuries can be avoided by maintaining the health of joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

How Does a Hunter’s Bump Form?

The sacroiliac joint is the only moving joint between the backbone and the pelvis.

When this joint becomes dislocated, the bump will appear. When the horse lands from a jump, the rear foot may reach too far forward under the horse, or slide forward. The entire weight of the horse (and rider) is being supported by that one leg. The movement of the leg coming too far forward rotates the sacroiliac joint so far that the supporting ligaments (usually just on one side) tear. This causes the front of the pelvis to move up and forward out of its normal position, creating the bump.

There may initially be pain and a reluctance to use the leg on the side of the injury. The horse may refuse to jump at all for a while. Strides may be short. Eventually the pain subsides, but unless the dislocation and muscle tightening is corrected, the movement of the leg will always be limited.

In the past, it was believed there was no treatment or help for hunter’s bump, but more recently it has been shown that cold laser, chiropractic, and massage therapies are effective.

What is a Sarcomere?

The place within a muscle where contraction to move takes place is called a sarcomere. When sarcomeres become overstimulated they contract, but are unable to release. A healthy sarcomere pumps blood through the capillaries in the muscle fibers. When sarcomeres become a trigger point and stay contracted, blood flow stops in that muscle. The trigger point sends out pain signals and the brain makes the muscle rest. The muscle then shortens and tightens as it is not used. You can see what a vicious cycle this is!

The solution is to manually release these areas through Trigger Point Therapy.

The Calming Effect of Cold Laser Therapy

I just came back from the Woodside Horse Trials (eventing) in California. A young rider approached me before her preliminary dressage test and asked if I could help her with her thoroughbred, who has been known to get agitated in the dressage ring. I used a protocol that has been tested for show nerves. It only took 4 minutes which I was happy about, since I didn’t want to get in the way of the riders’ preparations.

The test went well! No rearing. He stayed in the arena. He did not toss his head. He was calm and did his job. Mission accomplished! This is a safe, legal, and quick tool that could help many improve their dressage scores.

The Science of Skinny

I am riveted to a book right now, that is not directly connected to horses or massage, but to health. It is called The Science of Skinny, by Dee McCaffrey. I think the title is a bit misleading, as this is not a book about getting thin. It is about sugar as a “poisonous toxin” that causes such diseases as arthritis, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and every immune system disorder. The book discusses, in a scientific way, how eliminating processed foods can restore health.  Eating foods in their closest-to-natural form is the true path to sustained weight loss and, in fact, the remedy for almost any health problem. You will understand your body’s chemistry after reading this! Implementing small changes from the science-backed information in this book will improve your health, even if you don’t follow every recommendation. 

There are too many mind-blowing facts to list here, but two that grabbed me: the FDA allows foods with trans fats to be listed as containing 0% trans fats. What??

Sodium laurel sulfate (yes, the toxic ingredient to be avoided in  shampoos) is found in many boxed cake mixes! In fact, the FDA keeps a list of over 3000 ingredients that are added to foods, most of them synthetically concocted.

I am adding the book to my “I recommend” column on the right to make ordering easy.

Another Cause of Chronic Pain

I talk about Stress Points a lot in this blog. Have you been wondering why I don’t mention Trigger Points much? Let me explain: Stress Points occur where muscle tendons attach to bone. Trigger Points form in the belly of the muscle. A trigger point is a knot about the size of a pea, deep in the muscle,  and it keeps the muscle both tight and weak. The constant tension of a trigger point restricts circulation to the muscle. The tricky part of treating the pain caused by these points is that the pain is often referred to another place, like a joint. Typically the joint pain is treated, but the cause isn’t.

With experience, I have found that there are some visual cues to many trigger points. I look for ripples in the skin, or just a difference in texture. When I feel a change in temperature during treatment, I know I am on the right track. Circulation has increased and the site feels warmer.

Releasing Trigger Points

  • Helps to relax muscles.
  • Improves range of movement and general body tone.
  • Helps relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Once the trigger point has been worked on, cold laser can be very useful in bringing relief from the pain, especially those in the back and sacroiliac. Being able to eliminate pain without the use of injections or pills is a very achievable goal with these therapies.

Is Your Horse Uncomfortable Standing Still?

If you see your horse flexing his leg in cross ties and showing discomfort, there is a tight muscle that could be responsible. It is called the rectus femoris. If this muscle is stressed, your horse will look lame when asked to move forward and the hind leg will take short steps.

The rectus femoris attaches to the ilium (a bone in the hip) and flexes the stifle joint. When a horse twitches when I touch right above the stifle, this is one of the muscles I focus on in my massage treatment. If the muscle is extremely tight, the stress point will be very tender. In that case, cold laser is also advisable to relieve the inflammation and pain.

The Goals of Equine Massage

In the not so recent past, sports massage for horses was considered a luxury. Now we know that it is one of the essential ingredients for keeping our equine athletes in top condition.

Massage decreases pain that is caused by tension and stiffness in the muscles. It releases cramped muscles.

Massage helps heal injured muscles.

Massage allows the body to move with greater efficiency.

Massage can help return an injured horse to full function.

Massage can prevent injuries from occurring in the first place by increasing blood flow and oxygen.Massage can help the removal of metabolic waste (lactic acid, carbon dioxide). This promotes healing.

Massage can prevent a potential injury. Tight muscles that shorten can cause a tear in the lower limbs. These muscles can not release themselves, but can be released through sports massage and stress point therapy. Massage therapists can feel potential problems in your horse before lameness and injuries occur.

These are just a few of the benefits of massage!

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