Horse Research Updates
 By Winniefield Park   •   1st Nov 2016   •   1,071 views   •   0 comments
Horse Research Updates

We’re discovering more and more about how horses think, what they eat and how they function in general and that’s largely due to researchers. Equine and animal research is being carried out around the world, and those who study horses have learned some remarkable things that benefit us all as horse lovers and owners. This allows us to help them perform better, and improves our care of them. Here is a look at some recent research reports that further our understanding of our favorite animal.

Is GMO Feed Okay
The safety of genetically modified food ingredients such as soybean, canola and other grains for humans is a contentious issue. Those who have developed the GMO grains claim that the safety of consuming the foods is well backed up by science. But, there are those who believe not enough research has been done, and we just don’t know the implications of eating genetically altered food over the long term. And so our concerns about the safety of eating these grains extends to our horses. A report from the Kentucky Equine Research, an internationally renowned nutrition, research, and consultation center dedicated to spreading information about equine research, released a report citing that based on the findings of 135 studies, GMOs are safe for our horses. “The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.”

Every wondered if a horse from elite performance bloodlines was okay for the average rider? Turns out we can put our minds at ease. Amateurs aren’t going to be over-horsed if we buy a mount with the famous relative. Whew! Right?. “The genetic correlations we found indicate that a common selection process for both amateur and elite jumping horses is indeed possible...” said Anne Ricard, Ph.D., a researcher at the French Institute for Horses and Equitation at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. Apparently, the upside is that there’s no need to breed for two different markets - amateur and professional. Using mathematical equations to link each hose in the study to its relative, researchers were able to determine the success of bloodlines. Bottom line, if you are concerned about a horse's suitability for an amateur, you might want to have it temperament tested rather than base your judgment on its successful ancestors.

A Better Understanding of Sarcoids
Sarcoids are non-malignant tumors that grow on a horse’s skin. They tend to look like irregular lumps and start out very small, but grow fairly large. For the most part, these benign tumors are harmless, although they are unsightly. They can cause a problem if they occur where the horse might rub them, or if they occur where tack or harness might irritate them. They can be removed. They can, however, grow back. Sarcoids on horses are caused by a papillomavirus similar to the ones that can cause a type of cancer in humans. Although the lumps on horses may be caused by a virus, researchers have found that the reason a horse may or may not get the virus is encoded in its genes. This discovery not only benefits horses but may also pave the way for further understanding of HPV in humans.

Vice or Comfort
There was a time when things like cribbing, weaving, stall walking were called vices. Bad horses did these things. But, thanks to research into the reason why horses develope these habits, we’ve come to understand that this isn’t just bad behavior, but a way to cope with stress. Recently, there have been several studies exploring stable vices, or ‘stereotypies’. It’s been discovered that cribbers don’t actually swallow air. Rather they gather a bubble of air in their esophagus, and then expel it like a shallow burp. The air never reaches further than high up in their throats. As we learn more about the various stereotypies we learn more about preventing them and coping with them.
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