Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Real War Horse And General Things

Just a quick post to let those of you in the UK know that on Sunday there is a program on called War Horse: The Real Story. Click here to go to the channel 4 website. I am not sure if those of you not in the UK will be able to watch it online.

Also my blog giveaway ends tonight so I will be sorting out the winner and notifying them tomorrow!

On another unrelated subject, here are some photos I took when I was home of "Little Sam". He is by far the smallest pony on the farm. I am not sure how tall he is but I would have to guess about 10hh! He is a very cheeky little pony and I often see him cantering around the field with the big horses! Trooper isn't sure what to make of him!

Love Laura

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Getting Excited

I just saw this video for the Equestrian sports at the 2012 Olympics and I'm getting even more excited! I can't wait to go!

Love Laura

Monday, 27 February 2012

Making Progress

Here is a video my Mum took of me riding Trooper whilst I was at home. It is his back right leg (the one with the sock) that was injured. He is doing really well especially considering his age. He still needs more work in the canter as he kept breaking into trot. I am also wary about collecting the trot as I don't want to put extra strain on his leg. Hopefully next time I go home at Easter we will be able to start doing a wider variety of schooling exercises!

Love Laura

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Use Of Stem Cells In The Treatment Of Tendon Injuries

As most if you know, Trooper managed to injure his tendon at the start of September. I recently had to choose a topic to make a presentation on for a module called "Emerging Veterinary Science". I therefore thought it would be interesting to choose the subject of recent enhances in the treatment of tendon injuries. I am mainly going to focus on the use to stem cells as this is a recent are of research with a lot of work being carried out in the area.

Tendon injuries are a big problem in a number of species, the horse however is particularly prone. Horses can also be used as models for human research; this has led to interest into developing new methods to treat tendon injuries in the horse (Caniglia et al, 2011).There are three stages of healing after a tendon injury. During the acute phase there is inflammation, haemorrhage, swelling and break down of collagen fibres, this phase lasts a few days. The next phase is the sub-acute phase, there is granulation (healing), and repair by fibrosis and scar tissue formation, this phase lasts a few weeks. The final phase is the chronic phase, during this phase there is maturation and remodelling of scar tissue. This stage can be ongoing until it has healed, it may last for months. These stages of healing and what happens during them should be taken into account when researching potential new methods as their natural healing mechanisms may be exploited (Fessel et al, 2012). The aims of treatment are to reduce scar inflammation, scar formation and restore structure and function (Bedi et al, 2012). 

One problem in the horse is that they have a poor blood supply in their lower limb. This can lead to the injury taking longer to heal as there will not be as many cells reaching the area and having the desired effect. Another problem that happens when the injury is healing is due to the formation of scar tissue. This is not as elastic as the normal tendon tissue and therefore may be likely to reduce the performance of the horse and increase the likelihood of re-injury. Reducing the formation of scar tissue is one of the major factors looked for in these regenerative treatments such as the use of stem cells. 

Traditional treatments of tendon injuries include rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, hosing, bandaging etc. It has been suggested that all of these methods help to reduce the symptoms but do not help with the actual healing process in the tendon. 

The table below summarises some of the other new treatments that are becoming available. Trooper had the platelet rich plasma injection during his treatment. These treatments are injected into the site of the injury, this may be done using an ultrasound scan. They all encourage the growth cells and healing.

Stem cells are essentially immature cells that have not yet developed into a specific type of cell. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are the ones most talked about in research and have an indirect effect on tissue homeostasis (keeping everything the same and in working order). They are involved with hormone activity, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-apoptotic effects (prevents cells bursting) and the attraction of additional stem cells from the surrounding tendon (Uccell et al, 2011). 

Stem cells can come from a variety of origins. In the adult they may come from the bone marrow, in horses this has only been researched in recent years as before they had no need to obtain stem cells as disorders such as leukaemia in the horse are rare. They can be taken from the pelvis or the sternum. Once stem cells have been obtained via a needle they are cultured then injected into the site of injury on the tendon (Kasashima et al, 2011). Stem cells are also present in the foetus, placenta and the umbilical cord (Ranera et al, 2011). It has been found the MSCs may be species specific, however, within a species the MSCs are non-specific and the recipients and donors may not need to be matched (Young et al, 2012). A second injection did not elicit a greater response than the first suggesting no hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions took place. However, there has been conflicting research in this area (Carrade et al, 2011). 

Below is an image to show the different types of cells a stem cell can turn into once it has been taken and cultured in the lab. These include fat cells (adipocytes), bone cells (osteocytes), muscle cells (myocytes) and tendon cells (tenocytes). Once a stem cell has turned into a tenocyte it will be involved in the production of collagen and proteoglycans which help to heal the tendon. They have also been found to increase the tensile strength of the tendon.

Image from Nixon et al (2012)

Godwin et al (2011) looked into the long term effects of using MSCs and found it was safe to use in horses with tendon injury and reduced the re-injury rate compared to those who were not treated. No effects such as tumour formations were seen. MSCs were also found to reduce the re-injury rate compared to some other treatments.

Foetal derived embryonic stem cells have been researched by Watts et al (2011). The flexor tendons of 8 Thoroughbreds were looked at in a blind, randomised trial. MRI scans were used to assess the tendon. It was found that it induced muscular-skeletal regeneration but there was low long-term survival of cells. 

There have been some contrasting results as to whether treating tendon injuries with MSC helped the injury to heal. Caninglia et al (2011) used 6 horses and gave them MSCs from bone marrow 4 weeks after their injury. They found no significant differences in the collagen fibrils measured between the treated and control group. In this study, the control group were given bone marrow supernatant. This raised the question that the supernatant may have contained growth factors that were having an effect on the healing and not the actual stem cells. This treatment was also given at 4 weeks which may have not been the most beneficial time to give the treatment, more research would be needed into when the ideal time to treat horses with tendon injuries is.

There may be a relationship between where the cell has come from and what type of cell it will differentiate into. Therefore it may be more ideal to use stem cells taken from the tendon. Ni et al (2011) treated tendon injuries in rats with tendon derived stem cells, it was found to lead to earlier and better repair. Some common properties were found between the different MSCs but there were also unique characteristics of the tendon derived stem cells such as the expression of tenogenic and chondrogenic markers which help with tendon healing.

A possible link with tumour induction has been found with stem cells, however Godwin et al (2011) did not find this. Infections may be a problem due to the injection into the sterile tendon sheath. These are both problems that can also arise with the other treatments in the table above. There are also ethical issues with the use of a foetus to aid the healing of an injured horse (Ni et al, 2011). 

There are still many unanswered questions such as which type of stem cell may be best to use. A combination of treatments may be the best way forward. The concentrations of cells given and at which day they should be given also needs to be looked into. Cell-based treatments offer great potential due their ability to regenerate connective tissues. These treatments hold great promise but further research is still needed. 

A full bibliography can be given if anyone would like it.

If anyone reads this before Monday the 27th morning and has any questions then please ask because I get asked questions at the end of my presentation and I am trying to do extra research so I will be able to answer them! 

Love Laura

GB Rider Profile; Ben Maher

I have seen Ben Maher show jumping a number of times at Horse Of The Year Show. When he enters the ring his horses are always working beautifully in an outline and look like they are about to do a dressage test rather than a show jumping course.

I copied this time link of his biggest results from his website. Click here to go to the website.

1997- Wins first European pony team gold
1998- Wins second European pony team gold
2004- Wins young rider European team gold
2005- Wins Hickstead Derby and Speed Derby
2006- Named best up and coming riding by British Showjumping
2008- Represented GB at Beijing Olympics
2009- In team GB at European Championships
2010- Ranked number six in the world
2011- Wins European Team Bronze medal in Madrid

From a young age Ben Maher competed in show jumping, riding a 12.2hh pony in BSJA competitions. He won the Hickstead Derby at the age of 22 years making him the youngest rider to do so for 30 years. 

I am sure Ben Maher will be around in show jumping for a long time to come and will continue to gain great results.

Here is a video I have found on him recently made by the FEI YouTube channel.

I don't own any of these images.

Love Laura

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Shire and The Shetland

A girl from my course put the link to this on facebook and I had to put it on my blog! It is pairs dressage with a huge horse and a tiny horse.

I have a presentation on Monday about using stem cells to treat tendon injuries in horses so I am just researching for that at the moment. Once that is over I will write a blog post on it. I also have some video footage of me riding Trooper from when I was at home that I need to edit to show you all how well his tendon has healed. There are also a few other photos I took as well.

My blog giveaway ends at the end of this month so remember to enter if you haven't already.

Love Laura

Sunday, 19 February 2012

GB Rider Profile; Carl Hester

With the Olympics on it's way I have decided I am going to run a series of blog posts every Sunday on some of Great Britain's top riders.

The first rider I am going to feature in my series is Carl Hester. Carl is a dressage rider and I saw him ride at Wembley in November as he did a routine to music before the Spanish Riding School performed. I would definitely consider Carl Hester as GB's best known dressage rider.

Carl first learnt  to ride on a donkey and would ride it to the village shop. He then had a number of ponies and at the age of 19 he got a job at a riding centre in Hampshire. Here he had the opportunity to compete on a mare they owned and he won the 1985 Young Dressage Rider Championship. He then worked for other yards and trainers whilst competing including working for the Bechtolsheimer family. He has his own website where he talks about his story and it includes lots of nice photos from when he was growing up and the horses (and donkey) he had! Click here to go to his website.

He now has his own yard in Gloustershire. 2011 say him gain a Team Gold at the European Championships and two individual silver medals.

At the end of last year, Carl Hester was named Olympic Athlete of the year by the British Olympic Association. His hopes are high for the Olympics in the summer.

The main horse he is currently riding is called Uthopia, he is a 16.1hh stallion and is 11 years old.

Carl has written a number of books and also sells products from his own range such as reins. You can also follow him on Twitter.

I have found an interesting video of Carl Hester talking about dressage and how he selects horses that will make it to the top. Click here to watch the video!

These images do not belong to me.

Love Laura

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Very Muddy Day

I am back home now for a few days so I took some photos of Trooper this morning. The weather was horrible and his field is getting very muddy!

I think he would have quite happily stayed in the stable today.

My Mum with Trooper's best friend Joe!

The lovely Joe.

Then he decided to roll, luckily he went just past the deep mud!

 And then he decided to roll for a second time!

                      By this time, his rug had come undone so we had to go and fasten it again!

By the end, my camera lens had rain on it and Trooper was soaking wet and muddy!

I also rode him this morning and my Mum took some video for me so when I get back to uni where I have left my laptop I will upload this and do an updating post about his tendon. He is doing really well though and feels just like he did before the injury.

Love Laura

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Going Home Next Week!

I am going home next week for a few days, we have had  lectures cancelled as half of our course are on a trip. This means I will be able to do a proper update on Trooper!

He is still doing really well with his tendon healing and I am looking forward to riding him and seeing how he is doing. I might get my mum to take a video.

I am writing a presentation on new treatments for tendon injuries at the moment. I am mainly focusing on the use of stem cells. We have to write an 800 word summary as well so I might put it on here when I have finished it. We got to choose our own topic and I thought this would be a good one as it was relevant to Trooper and there has been a lot of research into it recently.

Here is a photo I found from when I went on a ride with some of my friends a few years ago. Trooper is at the back being beaten by two little ponies! I am very matchy in all my light blue gear!

Love Laura

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope you all have a lovely day! Here are some images from Dana's Doodles! They were kindly put in a PDF file on their blog for everyone to use!

Love Laura

Monday, 13 February 2012

Great Britain's Riders

After I finished my Spanish Riding School post yesterday I have finally got round to editing a video I took of Carl Hester riding to music before the show.

I have decided that with the Olympics coming up I am going to write a weekly post on one of Great Britain's top riders. This will include all the different disciplines in the Olympics and the Paralympics. I may also include some of the disciplines that are not in the Olympics. I will be researching on the internet and getting the most accurate information possible. Some of the riders I am planning to write about are Carl Hester, Lee Pearson, Mary King, Ben Maher and many more! We have so many great riders that I thought this would be an interesting weekly feature! 

Love Laura

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Spanish Riding School; From The Programme

As some of you may know I recently went to watch the Spanish Riding School at Wembley. I made a post after my trip but I wanted to write one with more information when I had the program with me. I have now got it so here is the post! Click here to see my other post and photos from when I went.

The Spanish Riding School has a strong military background. Written above an arch at the riding school they have the following words;

" This Imperial Riding School of Vienna was Constructed in the Year 1735 to be Used for the Instruction of Training of the Youth of the Nobility and for the Schooling of Horses in Riding for Art and War"

Both sides of the "art" and "war" definitely came across in the show. They were strongly based on military influences and showed short films about their background. The art side of the riding also came across in all the movements they did and when they worked in pairs or as a group to create synchronised movements.

The Order of Performance
At the start there was a performance by Lee Peason and Carl Hester. These was also amazing as you would expect from some of the top riders from our country.
  1.  Entrance and Introduction of the Riders.
  2.  Steps and Movements of the High School, Part 1.
  3. Pas de Deux; Two horses and riders rode in symmetry in this section, each riding a mirror image of the other.
  4. Work in Hand; This showed some of the jumps the perform such as the Levade, Courbete and Kapriole (more information on these below).
  5. On the Long Rein.
  6. Steps and Movements of the High School, Part II.
  7. Schools above the ground; One of the highlights of the performance, horses raise themselves above the ground either with their forelegs or both with their forelegs and hindquarters.
  8. School Quadrille; During this section there is a minimum of 8 horses. 
  9. Farewell Salute (image below).

The Levade is when the full weight of the horse is held on the hindquarters and holds the position for a couple of seconds. It looks like a controlled rear.

The Courbette is when the horse raises himself and shifts his weight onto his hindquarters then jumps forward.

The Capriole is when the horse jumps with all four legs simultaneously and kicks out his hindlegs at the moment his body is level.

They have 72 stallions at the Spanish Riding School. They are often given sugar lumps as a reward during training! It is said they all have two basic rights. One is to retire back to the stud where they were born and the second is to have a six week summer holiday every year. The horses must have good conformation and be willing to learn. They are selected at the age of 3 years. A groom may look after the same horse for 30 years.

80% of the riders that start training drop out due to the hard and long training schedule. They spend their first year on the lunge with no reins or stirrups before they are allowed to ride on their own. It can take around 12 years before they are a fully qualified rider. This shows the amount of skill these riders have.

If you get the chance I would definitely recommend going to watch these horses. They are beautiful and so well trained.

Also take a look at my giveaway!

Love Laura

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Animal Intelligence

I have always been interested in animal behaviour. When I was younger I wanted to train animals for films as a job when I grew up!

A TV program has recently been on called Super Smart Animals and it was very interesting. There were a wide range of animals in it and a little section on horses. It was really interesting and I would recommend it. It was a 2 part series. The very last part was really interesting with a chimpanzee having conversations with people using cards.

You can watch it by clicking the link below. If you are not in the UK I am unsure if you will be able to watch it but it might be on YouTube!

Click here to go to the BBC website.

Also take a look at my blog giveaway!

Love Laura

Friday, 10 February 2012

Why Do Zebras Have Stripes?

My boyfriend sent me this link from BBC news about research into why zebras may have stripes. It was an interesting article so I thought I would share it with you. They say it is to do with the colours of equids flies prefer to bite. Apparently darker horses are more attractive to flies, I think this sounds right because all of the horses I know with sweet itch are black!

Also take a look at my blog giveaway to win a headcollar! Click here!

Love Laura

Thursday, 9 February 2012

How Horses Keep Warm

I decided it would be a good idea to write a post on how horses regulate their temperature to keep warm due to the recent cold weather. The horse's body temperature is usually between 37.5 and 38.5 degrees Celsius. They have a mechanisms are used to keep the body temperature at the correct level.

Horses have adaptation to help keep them warm during the cold weather. The first one of these is their coat. The fur can stand on end to trap an extra layer of air when the weather is cold. This is called piloerection and the layer of air acts as extra insulation. The coats also has oils in it which makes it water-proof. Therefore, unless they are in the wet weather for a prolonged period of time it will not go through to their body causing them to get cold. Donkeys have a very different coat to horses as they are more adapted for warmer climates, their fur is much finer and they do not have the same oily coat.

They can shiver which uses the muscles more and produces heat. Mejdell and Boe (2005) looked at how Icelandic horses were responding to Nordic winter conditions.Around 40 horses were looked at for 23 days and only one horse was seen to shiver. During the period, the temperature went down to -31 degrees Celsius. The horses were found to use their shelter more when the temperature was colder or when it was rainy or windy. Their body condition scores remained within normal ranges. It was concluded that even in these temperatures, it did not pose much of a challenge on the horses. Therefore shivering may only occur when the temperature is very cold. Shivering may be more likely if the horse is wet as they will be losing a lot of extra heat. 

Their blood vessels can also constrict to prevent blood going to the surface and the heat being lost though the skin. It is thought that sweating inhibition may be partly due to vasoconstriction. 

Horses respond to the temperature in their environment by acclimatisation. The metabolic rates of horses in chronic cold have been found to increase by around 70% (Cymbaluk, 1994). Horses may need their digestible energy intake to be increased when they are in very cold conditions due to the increase in metabolic rate and using the energy to keep warm. However, over the summer they build up a store of fat which can be used in the winter when food may be more scarce or they may need the energy to keep warm. Horses will spend more time eating or searching for food in the winter due to their increased energy demands. This links back to my post on leptin.

Clipping Horses
We clip horses in the winter due to their thick winter coats making them too hot when we ride them. I think clipping horses in the winter is a concept some people that don't have horses find confusing. 

When horses are clipped they lose the layer of air that the fur can hold onto as an extra layer of insulation. It is also more likely that rain will go down to their skin and not run off the surface. This is why they need to wear rugs to compensate for this.

However, it has been found that clipping is beneficial to horses being exercised during the winter as they will recover more quickly after exercise and will not sweat as much. 

Different breeds will be able to cope with cold temperatures to different extents. This is due to what the breed as adapted to cope with. For example, Icelandic horses have evolved to live in cold climates and Welsh  cobs and ponies are adapted to living on mountains. However, Thoroughbreds are not well adapted for cold temperatures. This will reflect in the management of these different breeds during cold temperatures such as the rugs they where or what they will need to be fed. 

Thermal Imaging
I was just searching for an equine thermal imaging picture and I found this one. When I clicked on the website (click here) I saw it was a gadget you could buy to look at your own horse. I don't really know where you buy it from or how much it costs but it sounds like a good idea to me because one of the first ways most injuries are detecting are via feeling heat coming from the area. 

In the summer I wrote a post on how horses regulate their temperature to keep warm. Click here to go to the blog post. After writing this I then also did a post on Heat stroke and Acclimatisation.

Also take a look at the giveaway I am running to win a headcollar... Click here.

Love Laura

Friday, 3 February 2012

*CLOSED* 100th Post GIVEAWAY- Headcollar And Lead Rope

This is my 100th post! I can't believe that I have written that many since I started in the summer. As a thank you for everyone that reads my posts and as a celebration for my 100th post, I have decided to do a giveaway. The prize is a matching headcollar (halter) and lead rope (pictured below), they are navy and red and from the brand Aerborn. The headcollar is in the size cob and therefore is a medium, I thought this would have the most chance of fitting more horses.

To enter...
1. Follow my blog if you're not already following. You can follow my blog using Google Friend Connect, Networked Blogs or subscribe by email (all at the right hand side of the page) or by using Hay-net.
2. Leave a comment on this post saying one thing you like about horses and how you are following me.
3. Make sure I have a way of contacting your, if you have a blog I can comment on there, if not please leave your email address.

This giveaway is open worldwide. Entry is open until midnight (GMT) on the 29th of February. A winner will be chosen at random from the comments entered and will be announced in a post and I will contact you. If you are under 18, please get permission from your parents. 

And one thing I like about horses is the all their different personalities.

Love Laura
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