World Conference Veterinarians discuss Injuries Pain and Nutrition

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Day 2 Vets and Nutrition

 June 17 Den Haag, Holland ~ With Moderator Dr. Mohammed Mashmoum from Morocco keeping the pace, the panel of vets skilled in racing and breeding exchanged views on their responsibilities to the animals in their care.

Dr. Mashmoum led off by stating that the role of the veterinarian is very important as protector and ameliorator (healer).

Dr. Mikael Holmstrom from Sweden has a PHD in the field of genetics and breeding and has made studies of the biomechanics of the sport horse, specifically of the dressage and show jumper. He is now working in Kentucky specializing in genetic tracking  of Thoroughbreds.  His work compiles extensive data on race records with the results benefitting breeders and buyers in their quest to find the exact qualities they wish in their programs.  In his studies he remarked that a well balanced body is less apt to have injuries. “It seems that the hindquarters (the locomotion) is relatively smaller in Arabians than in Thoroughbreds,” he stated.

Dr. Russell Malton, born and educated in New Zealand began working in Dubai in 2004 for Sh. Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum where he oversees 2 yr old Thoroughbreds.  He is also involved in the local endurance racing and is a proponent of the welfare of the horse. Speaking about horses on the track, he said,   “We must detect early lameness as well as offer prevention.”  Dr. Malton sees many soft tissue injuries in the Arabian- most often in the fetlock and tendon.  He feels his job is to do preventive medication, describe and maintain management, and communicate with the trainer.

Dr. Michiel Daem from Qatar agreed that there are many performance injuries in Arabians in the flexor tendons. He stated that some breeding lines need more time to mature….and starting a speed career at the age of four is better.

Dr. Andrew Daglish trained in his native Scotland and worked in several countries before coming to the UAE.  He oversees multiple stables of Arabian sport horses and his duties include flat racing, endurance and breeding. “We work as part of a team,” he said. “We must understand training, metabolic and lameness problems.  The necessary team of trainers, nutritionists and veterinarians create a synergy which is necessary to be successful.”

Speaking of breeding forward, Dr Daglish made a point that a breeder must make certain that historic injury traits are not passed on through breeding. He also mentioned that major areas of concern in race horses was the muscular skeletal area and also nutrition and digestion.

Dr Abdelilah Araba from Morocco spoke of the nutrition challenges in the Middle East and the fact that diverse feeds are sometimes used. “Feed should be fibrous,” he said. “Without the correct ration of fiber the horse is more apt to acquire stomach problems and colic.”

Dr. Roland Devolz from France has worked on the Technical Advisory Committe for IFHAR. He  noted that many of the emerging nations recently into racing need to start with basic education and information on the needs of breeding and racing horses.  “Problems can be managed with the aid of your veterinarian,” he said.  He also strongly felt that finances influence many dangerous decisions, primarily that horses are started to race at too young an age. “There is a permanent struggle between the economy and performance,” he stated.

The major world topic of pain management for race day drew divided opinions. In the United States  anabolic steroids like equipoise and Winstrol are forbidden to be in the blood stream on race day as are  ulcer medications or  Advil-like anti-inflammatory drugs. However, the US and Canada are the only major racing jurisdictions in the world that allow the raceday use of furosemide -Lasix, or Salix, up to four hours before post time.  Dr. Malton stated that Lasix is used in training in the Middle East.  There are management factors that call for it’s use for bleeding, “ he said.

Note:  Furosemide or frusemide is a loop diuretic used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and edema.  It is most commonly marketed by Sanofi-Aventis under the brand name Lasix.  It has been used to prevent race horses from bleeding through the nose during races.

It was noted that a vet and all associated with the care and feeding of a racing athlete must also be careful to avoid some plants, such as the poppy and cocoa which will trigger a positive in drug testing. Hay must be certified, as that paper is necessary if there are any random plants that show up in tests. Horses under medication must be kept isolated, as drugs can be transferred in bedding.

Dr. Daglish felt that a hot climate was was not necessarily detrimental to the breeding of horses as he has had success importing horses from Europe to the UAE.

Dr. Abdelilah Araba from Morocco stated that Arabians have an advantage in warmer climates as they have a low heart rate and wide body surface that more easily dissipates heat. He stated that if there is also humidity,  that creates the problem.

At the Conference wrap, it was decided to set up a consultative/advisory veterinary committee attached to IFAHR that will be assigned  matters related to the Arabian racing horse including the use of medications with due observation and respect of the prevailing international laws in this regard.

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