Equine Studies Group

Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Equine Studies Group

Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

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Longland A.C.,ELNS | Dhanoa M.S.,Rothamsted Research | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture | Year: 2012

Background: Pasture (fresh or conserved as hay/haylage) forms the basis of most equid diets and contains varying amounts (0 to ≥ 200 g kg -1 dry matter (DM) or more) of fructans. Over-consumption of fructan is associated with the onset of laminitis in equids, an agonizing condition that may necessitate euthanasia. To enable appropriate dietary management of animals susceptible to laminitis, it is essential that fructans can be properly quantified in fresh and conserved pasture. For research purposes, fructans are frequently quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), but these methods are costly for routine screening. However, an inexpensive colorimetric method for measuring fructans in human foods is commercially available. The aim here was to determine the suitability of the commercially available colorimetric method for determining the fructan content of pasture grasses for horses. Results: Pasture grasses (Phleum pretense, Festuca rubra, Dactylis glomerata, Lolium perenne) managed for grazing (sampled from April to November) and a further set managed for conservation (sampled in July) were analysed for fructan content by HPLC and the colorimetric technique. HPLC values ranged from 83 to 299 g fructan kg -1 DM (mean 154); corresponding colorimetric values were 5-238 g fructan kg -1 DM (mean 82). Discrepancies in values between the two methods varied with time of sampling and plant species. Comparison of selected samples before and after incubation with the fructan hydrolases used in the colorimetric method revealed incomplete fructan hydrolysis from the pasture grasses, resulting in underestimates of their fructan content. Conclusion: The colorimetric technique was not a reliable substitute for HPLC to quantify the fructan content of pasture grasses. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry.

Tinworth K.D.,Charles Sturt University | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Sillence M.N.,Queensland University of Technology | Noble G.K.,Charles Sturt University
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2010

Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia increase the risk of laminitis and horse owners and veterinarians should attempt to enhance insulin sensitivity in at-risk groups. In obese animals this may be achieved, in part, by promoting weight loss and increasing exercise, but such intervention may not be appropriate in non-obese insulin-resistant animals, or where exercise is contra-indicated for clinical reasons. An alternative approach to controlling insulin sensitivity in obese and non-obese horses may be the use of certain herbal compounds that have shown promise in humans and laboratory animals, although little is known of the effects of these compounds in horses. The herbs can be grouped according to their primary mechanism of action, including activators of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, anti-obesity compounds, anti-oxidants, compounds that slow carbohydrate absorption, insulin receptor activators and stimulators of glucose uptake, with some herbs active in more than one pathway. Certain herbs have been prioritised for this review according to the quality and quantity of published studies, the reported (or extrapolated) safety profile, as well as potential for efficacy, all of which will hopefully motivate further research in this field. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

Tinworth K.D.,Charles Sturt University | Boston R.C.,University of Pennsylvania | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Sillence M.N.,Queensland University of Technology | And 2 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2012

Metformin may be an effective therapeutic option for insulin-resistant (I-R) horses/ponies because, in humans, it reportedly enhances insulin sensitivity (SI) of peripheral tissues without stimulating insulin secretion. To determine the effect of metformin on insulin and glucose dynamics in I-R ponies, six ponies were studied in a cross-over design by Minimal Model analysis of a frequently-sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT). Metformin was administered at 15. mg/kg bodyweight (BW), orally, twice-daily, for 21. days to the metformin-treated group. The control group received a placebo. A FSIGT was conducted before and after treatment. The Minimal Model of glucose and insulin dynamics rendered indices describing SI, glucose effectiveness (Sg), acute insulin response to glucose (AIRg) and the disposition index (DI). The body condition score (BCS), BW and cresty neck score (CNS) were also assessed. There was no significant change in SI, Sg, AIRg, DI, BW, BCS or CNS in response to metformin, or over time in the control group. There were no measurable benefits of metformin on SI, consistent with recent work showing that the bioavailability of metformin in horses is poor, and chronic dosing may not achieve therapeutic blood concentrations. Alternatively, metformin may only be effective in obese ponies losing weight or with hyperglycaemia. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Dugdale A.H.A.,University of Liverpool | Curtis G.C.,University of Liverpool | Cripps P.J.,University of Liverpool | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Argo C.M.,University of Liverpool
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2011

Changes in appetite, body mass (BM), body condition score (BCS), direct (ultrasonographic) and indirect (deuterium oxide dilution technique) measures of body fat were monitored in Welsh Mountain pony mares (. n=. 11, 5-19. years of age) offered ad libitum access to a complete diet (gross energy 16.9. ±. 0.07. MJ/kg dry matter) for 12. weeks during summer (. n=. 6; 246. ±. 20. kg) and winter (. n=. 5; 219. ±. 21. kg). At the outset, each group comprised two thin (BCS 1-3/9), moderate (BCS 4-6/9) and obese (BCS 7-9/9) animals.For ponies that were non-obese at the outset, BM was gained more rapidly (. P=. 0.001) in summer (0.8. ±. 0.1. kg/day) than winter (0.6. ±. 0.0. kg/day). This was associated with a seasonal increase in dry matter intake (DMI) which became maximal (summer, 4.6. ±. 0.3% BM as DMI/day; winter, 3.5. ±. 0.1% BM as DMI/day) during the second month. The appetite of the obese ponies was half that reported for non-obese animals in the summer and BM remained constant irrespective of season.Body 'fatness' increased progressively for non-obese but not obese ponies. Body fat content was exponentially associated with increasing BCS but BCSs >6 were not useful indicators of actual body fat. Endogenous circannual mechanisms to suppress winter weight gain were insufficient to prevent the development of obesity in ad libitum fed ponies. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Dugdale A.H.A.,University of Liverpool | Curtis G.C.,University of Liverpool | Cripps P.,University of Liverpool | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Argo C.M.,Equine Studies Group
Equine Veterinary Journal | Year: 2010

Reasons for performing study: Increased prevalence of obesity among UK horses and ponies demands evidence-based advice to promote weight loss. Hypothesis: Restriction of dry matter intake (DMI) to 1% of body mass (BM, 6% of predicted maintenance digestible energy [DE] requirements) would promote weight loss without compromise to health. Methods: Five mature (mean ± s.e. 10 ± 2 years), overweight/obese pony mares (BM, 257 ± 20 kg: body condition score [BCS] 6.8/9 ± 0.5) were studied over 12 weeks. Animals were individually housed. Daily provision of a chaff-based, complete diet (measured DE, 8.5 MJ/kg DM) was restricted to 1% of actual BM as DMI daily. BCS, girth measurements and ultrasound-derived measures of subcutaneous fat depth overlying the gluteal region and 12th intercostal space (rib-eye) were recorded weekly. Body fat content was estimated at the beginning and end of the study by deuterium oxide dilution methods. Clinical biochemistry was monitored weekly. Behaviour was observed (24 h, 3/5 ponies) on 3 occasions. Results: BM decreased by 4.3 ± 1.1% during the first week and thereafter by 0.7 ± 0.1% of BM at end of Week 1 each week. BCS remained constant. Heart and belly girths, rump width and subcutaneous fat depth at rib-eye decreased significantly with time and BM. Fat comprised 45 ± 19% of BM loss. Fatter animals lost relatively more fat. With decreased feeding activity, time spent in 'play' and rest increased by 36 ± 11% and 438 ± 95%, respectively. Conclusions: This plane of nutrition resulted in an overall rate of weight loss of 1% of outset BM weekly. BCS was not a useful index of early weight loss but heart and belly girths and subcutaneous rib-eye fat were identified as alternative markers. Potential relevance: This study provides an evidence-base for the management of weight loss in obese animals, especially those for which exercise may be contra-indicated. © 2010 EVJ Ltd.

Dougal K.,Aberystwyth University | de la Fuente G.,Aberystwyth University | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Girdwood S.E.,Aberystwyth University | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The horse has a rich and complex microbial community within its gastrointestinal tract that plays a central role in both health and disease. The horse receives much of its dietary energy through microbial hydrolysis and fermentation of fiber predominantly in the large intestine/hindgut. The presence of a possible core bacterial community in the equine large intestine was investigated in this study. Samples were taken from the terminal ileum and 7 regions of the large intestine from ten animals, DNA extracted and the V1-V2 regions of 16SrDNA 454-pyrosequenced. A specific group of OTUs clustered in all ileal samples and a distinct and different signature existed for the proximal regions of the large intestine and the distal regions. A core group of bacterial families were identified in all gut regions with clear differences shown between the ileum and the various large intestine regions. The core in the ileum accounted for 32% of all sequences and comprised of only seven OTUs of varying abundance; the core in the large intestine was much smaller (5-15% of all sequences) with a much larger number of OTUs present but in low abundance. The most abundant member of the core community in the ileum was Lactobacillaceae, in the proximal large intestine the Lachnospiraceae and in the distal large intestine the Prevotellaceae. In conclusion, the presence of a core bacterial community in the large intestine of the horse that is made up of many low abundance OTUs may explain in part the susceptibility of horses to digestive upset. © 2013 Dougal et al.

Argo C.M.C.G.,University of Liverpool | Curtis G.C.,University of Liverpool | Grove-White D.,University of Liverpool | Dugdale A.H.A.,University of Liverpool | And 2 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2012

Evidence-based, weight loss management advice is required to address equine obesity. Changes in body mass (BM), body condition score (BCS), heart (HG) and belly circumference (BG), direct (ultrasonographic) and indirect (D2O dilution, bioelectrical impedance analysis [BIA]) measures of body fat as well as indices of insulin resistance (IR) were monitored in 12 overweight (BCS≥7/9) horses and ponies of mixed breed and gender for 16weeks. Animals were randomly assigned to two groups (Group 1, n=6, BCS 7.6/9±0.6, 489±184.6kg; Group 2, n=6, BCS 8.1/9±0.6, 479±191.5kg). Daily dry matter intake (DMI) was restricted to 1.25% BM as one of two, near-isocaloric (DE ∼0.115MJ/kgBM/day), forage-based diets (Group 1, 0.8% BM chaff-based feed: 0.45% BM hay; Group 2, 1.15% BM hay: 0.1% BM nutrient-balancer).Statistical modelling revealed considerable between-animal heterogeneity in proportional weight losses (0.16-0.55% of Week 1 BM weekly). The magnitude of weight loss resistance (WLR) or sensitivity to dietary restriction was independent of diet or any measured outset variable and was largely (65%) attributed to animal identity. Predicted rates of weight loss decreased over time. BCS and BIA were poor estimates of D2O-derived body fat%. Reciprocal changes in depths of retroperitoneal and subcutaneous adipose tissues were evident. Changes in BG were associated with losses in retroperitoneal fat and BM (r2, 0.67 and 0.79). Indices of IR improved for 9/12 animals by Week 16. For obese animals, weight loss should be initiated by restricting forage DMI to 1.25% BM. Subsequent restriction to 1% BM may be warranted for WLR animals. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Dugdale A.H.A.,University of Liverpool | Grove-White D.,University of Liverpool | Curtis G.C.,University of Liverpool | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Argo C.M.C.G.,University of Liverpool
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2012

Body condition scoring systems were originally developed to quantify flesh cover in food animals and are commonly used to evaluate body fat in Equidae. The relationship between concurrent estimates of body fat content (eTBF%, deuterium oxide dilution; range, 2.7-35.6%) and subjective appraisals of body 'fatness' (body condition score, BCS; range, 1.25-9/9), was investigated in 77 mature horses and ponies. Univariate (UVM, r2=0.79) and multivariable (MVM, r2=0.86) linear regression models described the association, where BCS and eTBF% were explanatory and outcome variables, respectively. Other measures (age, sex, breed, body mass, ultrasound-generated subcutaneous and abdominal retroperitoneal fat depths, withers height, heart and belly circumferences) were considered as potential confounders but only height, belly circumference and retroperitoneal fat depth remained in the final MVM.The association between BCS and eTBF% was logarithmic. Appraisal of the transformed regression (UVM), actual eTBF% values and 95%CIs of the model forecast, suggested that the power of log-transformed BCS as a predictor of eTBF% decreased as BCS increased. The receiver operating characteristic curve for the prediction of horses with an eTBF% of >20%, suggested that the UVM correctly classified 76% of horses using a 'cut-off' of BCS 6.83/9 (sensitivity, 82.5%; specificity, 70.8%). Negative values for eTBF% were obtained for two thin ponies which were excluded from analyses, and caution is advised in the application of deuterium dilution methodologies where perturbed tissue hydration could be predicted. The data suggest that BCS descriptors may warrant further consideration/refinement to establish more clinically-useful, sub-classifications for overweight/obese animals. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Bamford N.J.,University of Melbourne | Potter S.J.,University of Melbourne | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group | Bailey S.R.,University of Melbourne
Domestic Animal Endocrinology | Year: 2014

Breed-related differences may occur in the innate insulin sensitivity (SI) of horses and ponies, an important factor believed to be associated with the risk of laminitis. The aim of this study was to measure the glucose and insulin responses of different breeds of horses and ponies in moderate body condition to a glucose-containing meal and to compare these responses with the indices of SI as determined by a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT). Eight Standardbred horses, 8 mixed-breed ponies, and 7 Andalusian-cross horses with a mean ± SEM BCS 5.0 ± 0.3 of 9 were used in this study. Each animal underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) in which they were fed a fiber-based ration (2.0 g/kg BW) containing 1.5 g/kg BW added glucose, as well as a standard FSIGT with minimal model analysis. The glucose response variables from the OGTT were similar between groups; however, the peak insulin concentration was higher in ponies (94.1 ± 29.1 μIU/mL; P = 0.003) and Andalusians (85.3 ± 18.6; P = 0.004) than in Standardbreds (21.2 ± 3.5). The insulin area under the curve was also higher in ponies (13.5 ± 3.6 IU·min·L-1; P = 0.009) and Andalusians (15.0 ± 2.7; P = 0.004) than in Standardbreds (3.1 ± 0.6). Insulin sensitivity, as determined by the FSIGT, was lower in Andalusians (0.99 ± 0.18 × 10-4/[mIU·min]) than in Standardbreds (5.43 ± 0.94; P < 0.001) and in ponies (2.12 ± 0.44; P = 0.003) than in Standardbreds. Peak insulin concentrations from the OGTT were negatively correlated with SI (P < 0.001; rs = -0.75). These results indicate that there are clear breed-related differences in the insulin responses of horses and ponies to oral and intravenous glucose. All animals were in moderate body condition, indicating that breed-related differences in insulin dynamics occurred independent of obesity. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Giles S.L.,University of Bristol | Rands S.A.,University of Bristol | Nicol C.J.,University of Bristol | Harris P.A.,Equine Studies Group
PeerJ | Year: 2014

Reasons for performing study: The prevalence of obesity in companion animals, including horses and ponies has risen drastically in recent years and risk factors have been little investigated. Horses are unique amongst companion animals in that many are outdoor-living and forage independently on pasture; they also have a dual utility and companionship role. The body condition of wild and free-living equines is known to vary seasonally, yet previous estimates of the prevalence of obesity and associated risk factors in domestic animals do not consider this. Most previous studies were conducted during the summer months when pasture quality is greater and obesity prevalence is likely to be highest. In addition, many previous estimates do not use validated body condition scoring methods and rely on owner reporting. Objectives: To examine the prevalence and risk factors predictive of equine obesity at both the end of winter and the end of summer, in a domestic population of leisure horses with daily access to pasture. Using validated body condition scoring methods and a single, trained observer. Methods: Body condition and belly girth measurements were taken at the end of winter and during the summer in a population of leisure horses (n = 96) with outdoor pasture access for ≥6 h per day. Risk factor information was obtained by two owner questionnaires and analysed statistically using a mixed effects logistic regression model. The dependent variable was obese (BCS ≥ 7/9) or non-obese (BCS < 7/9). Risk factors associated with seasonal change in belly girth were also explored using a mixed effects linear regression model. Results: Obesity prevalence rose significantly from 27.08% at the end of winter to 35.41% during summer (p < 0.001). Breed was the risk factor most strongly associated with obesity (p < 0.001). Supplementary feed was not a strong predictor and there was no association with low intensity structured exercise. As winter BCS increased, the percentage seasonal change in belly girth decreased. Conclusions: Obesity prevalence differed between winter and summer in domestic equines. Supplementary feed and low intensity structured exercise in equines living outdoors for ≥6 h per day had limited or no effect on obesity levels. Seasonal variation in body condition was lower in obese equines. Potential relevance: It is important to consider season when studying equine obesity and obesity-associated disorders. Risk factor analysis suggests preventative measures may need to be breed specific. The metabolic implications of a lessened seasonal change in body condition in obese animals, warrants investigation. © 2014 Giles et al.

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