Ask the Vet – Blanketing, foals, aloe and more! – February 2019


DAN: Hey, SmartPak fans. I’m SmartPaker Dan. She’s Dr Lydia Gray, SmartPak
Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director, and we’re here to
answer horse health questions asked and voted on by you. Now last month you
might have noticed, we had a different person
sitting next to me. We were joined by
Dr Andy Kaneps. And he answered all of our
joint health questions. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Did a great job. DAN: He did a fantastic job. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So that was part of our
Joint Health Awareness Month. And he is just a
wealth of knowledge. DR LYDIA GRAY: I love him. DAN: He’s great. So if you haven’t
checked out that episode, I would definitely go
back and look at that one. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
he’s funny too. [LAUGH] DAN: He definitely has a
sense of humor for sure. But we are super happy
to have you back. DR LYDIA GRAY: Me too. DAN: Did you have
a good holiday? DR LYDIA GRAY: I did. DAN: Do anything good? DR LYDIA GRAY: Maybe. [LAUGHTER] DAN: That’ll be another episode. [LAUGHTER] But I’m sure you are super
excited to get back and answer questions. DR LYDIA GRAY: I am. Yeah. DAN: So while you
were gone, though, we did get an update from
our December episode. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, OK. DAN: Do you remember your
question about strangles? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes, yes. DAN: So Pete and Barkley
submitted that question on YouTube, and actually
gave us a follow-up. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, nice. DAN: So they said, “Thank
you so much for answering my questions. Pete is 110% better–” DR LYDIA GRAY: Woohoo! DAN: “–and has even been
bucking, running, and playing.” DR LYDIA GRAY: Nice. DAN: So great job. [LAUGHTER] If any of you have any other
follow-ups about your horses, please feel free to reach out. We would love to hear them. And of course, pictures
are always welcome. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mm-hmm. [LAUGH] DAN: So you ready to
start– get back into it? DR LYDIA GRAY: Let’s do it. DAN: All right. So question number 1. This was asked by Matt
on Ask the Vet form at DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. DAN: So Matt was
wondering “if there are common signs that
horses display when they are too warm in their blankets? Often people tend to
blanket their horse based on perception of how they
feel in current temperatures. I have 2 horses that are
ideal weight and moderately thin coats. I realize this may vary
from each individual horse.” DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So this one
actually did bring up a lot of comments on our
YouTube channel as well. So apparently, it’s a hot topic. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. DAN: So Elizabeth wants to know,
or said, “I hate being hot. I take my jacket off when I
need to, and my horse can’t.” Great point. And then Janell said,
“I don’t want my horse to be sweating in the
winter because of me.” We all have that guilt. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Another great point. [LAUGH] DAN: And then Penelope
said, “I don’t want my horse to sweat
in the middle of winter. That could be bad.” Also a great point. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So lots of concern about
horses overheating. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Which is great. And I’m going to answer
the question first, and then I want to share
some fascinating research out of Norway. If you’ve not heard this,
you will be floored. DAN: See, I knew you’d come
back with all the good stuff. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So unfortunately, there’s
not, like, a really great way to tell if your horse is
too hot in his blanket, other than the obvious sweating. Sometimes I tell, when
I get to the barn, I just– before I
take the blanket off to groom or whatever, I’ll
stick my hand up and feel how warm it feels up in there. And when I take it off,
if the hair is super flat, then I’m thinking, he maybe
didn’t need as heavy a blanket as I had on. Because the opposite
is, how do you tell if your horse is too cold? I think we should cover it
even though they didn’t ask. If your horse is shivering
is, like, the last resort. Their muscles are capable
of shivering to create heat. Their hairs stand up. They fluff is sort
of the everyday term. Piloerection is the
scientific term. And that creates
like an air layer between the skin and the
outside and keeps them warm. So that’s how I tell
if a horse is cold. They also will have
heat seeking behavior. They’ll go inside if they can,
like in a shelter, in a stall. They’ll stand on the
sunny side of things, they’ll avoid the wind. You know, those sorts of things. We let our horses at
our place, because they have run outs,
choose whether they want to be outside or inside. And that tells us if
they’re hot or cold. So sort of the place that
your horse picks to stand tells you if
they’re hot or cold. However, if you’re
from Norway, they did a study where
they spent two weeks, and they only needed two
times or five minutes, but they spent two
weeks teaching horses how to communicate
with their handlers whether they were too hot,
too cold, or just right. DAN: No way. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
what they did was they had white signs on a fence
at, like, horse head height. And one sign had a
black horizontal mark that was the too cold. One sign had a black vertical
mark, and that was a too hot. And then one sign had
nothing, and it was blank. And that was, I’m just right. Leave me alone. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
they taught the horses that when you’re too hot,
touch the too hot sign, and I will come take your
blanket off or change it. When you’re too cold,
touch the too cold sign, and I will put a blanket on you. And what they had to do
was not treat the horses for randomly touching a sign. That wasn’t the exercise. So they taught them,
like, they purposely made them sweat
under their blankets and then taught them,
touch the hot sign, and I’ll make your life better. DAN: Wow. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So the horses learned
it super quick. And then it was cold
and rainy and windy, which is the worst
conditions for horses, and they didn’t
have anything on. And so the horses
correctly touched the I’m cold, put the blanket
on, and so they rewarded them. DAN: I feel like
my horse would just go back and forth
between the two, just to see me take
his blanket on and off as a game throughout the day. DR LYDIA GRAY: I
think mine might, too. But they said these
horses would line up at their respective signs
when the people, like, drove in the road. DAN: That is so cool. DR LYDIA GRAY: They wanted to
communicate with the humans so badly about what they
wanted clothes-wise. Can you imagine the
other things they want to communicate with us about? DAN: I can only see
the training that’s going to be happening
in people’s barns after this video. [LAUGH] DR LYDIA GRAY: So
check that study out. DAN: So if we see the
hair is standing up, that’s the horse trying
to warm itself up, so you might need to blanket up. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. Yep. DAN: If you take the blanket
off and the hair is now laying flat, that could also be– DR LYDIA GRAY: Or
they’re sweating. DAN: Or they’re sweating. Also a potential sign that
maybe they’re too blanketed. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And times that you want
to consider your horse needs a blanket are
when it’s wet, rainy, snowy, icy, and windy. Wet and wind are the forces
of nature that horses don’t deal with very well. So they either need shelter,
a place to get out of it, or covering. DAN: Mm. Well, what I also liked
that Matt mentioned was that this may vary
on individual horses. DR LYDIA GRAY: Correct. DAN: So I think some people
are like, oh, it’s x degrees. I’m going to throw
this blanket on. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
also where you live. So if you live in Florida
and it gets, oh my gosh, 40, then everybody gets their heavy
blankets with their neck things on, and their heads are covered
and their tails are covered. [LAUGH] You know. And 40 where we live
is like, whoo, summer! So getting used to the
climate where you live is important, too. It takes 21 days for
horses to acclimatize. So if you move, take
that into consideration. DAN: So if you’re going down
to Florida for the winter to show and compete, it
might take your horse a little bit of time. DR LYDIA GRAY: Or you moved
and you moved in the winter from Florida to, say,
Minnesota, that’s going to take your horse
a while to get used to it. DAN: Which would
be a tough move. [LAUGHTER] DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: Awesome. Well, hopefully that
was helpful for you guys as we’re getting into the
dead of winter right now. So let us know if you guys have
any other questions about that. So on question number
2, this was submitted by Noa Jones on YouTube. And she wants to know,
“What is the difference between negative and
positive reinforcement? I think this could be
an interesting topic for your next video.” Well, a lot of
people have agreed, and that’s why it got here. And we also had another comment
on YouTube on the community– DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s like
people watch our videos. DAN: It’s like
people watch them. So from That Short
Equestrian, which, love the name, by the
way, “It’s currently a large topic in
the horse community, and it would be nice to see
both sides of the argument.” Ooh. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
you know, after doing my research, because
I’m going to say this, I’m not a behaviorist. I’m not board certified,
and I’m not a trainer. I be a veterinarian. It’s not as much that
there’s an argument as that there is some confusion
on the part of the humans about what this all means. So I printed it out. And you’ll forgive me if I
read it, because I do not want to mess this up. It’s really important. And even with it in
writing, I’m probably going to talk myself in
circles and get confused again, so bear with me. So this is operant conditioning
or trial and error learning. And there’s reinforcement
or rewarding, and then there’s punishment. And all that means
is reinforcement is doing anything that
increases the likelihood of the desirable
behavior recurring. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So punishment then
is doing anything that decreases the likelihood
of the particular behavior recurring. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So that’s not
what we think of as punishment. We think of punishment as
hitting or yelling or whatever. That’s kind of not
what behaviorists use. That’s not how they
define punishment. So that’s the first problem
we have to sort of overcome. DAN: So there’s reinforcement,
and then within that, there’s positive and negative. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So reinforcement
and punishment then can have positive and
negative for both. And those words mean
exactly literally what they’re defined as. Positive means adding and
negative means taking away. So if you say positive
reinforcement, it means adding something that
the animal wants, a reward, so that the behavior
you desire recurs. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So an
example would be having– well, this comes to mind first. Having a dog sit and
then give a treat. DAN: OK. Rewarding for the
behavior that– DR LYDIA GRAY: The
behavior that you want. So you want to condition,
reinforce that behavior, you reward it. DAN: Giving him something
for doing the right thing. DR LYDIA GRAY: I
think we all get that. All right. Now negative reinforcement,
this is one people don’t get. This is removing
something bad and thereby increasing the likelihood
that a behavior will recur. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
my example is– no one fall off your stool– the whole way we ride horses is
removal of a stimulus and then the behavior happens. So we add, say, leg
pressure or rein pressure, and then when the horse
responds, we take it away. DAN: Oh. DR LYDIA GRAY: That’s
negative reinforcement. You’re like, negative
reinforcement’s terrible. No. It’s a legitimate training tool. DAN: See, I do something
when I ride where the horse I ride is very lazy. He’s an Appaloosa stock horse. But there’s one
part of the arena that he is very afraid of. Which, I think we’ve
all had that horse where that side of the arena has
always had some monster on it. DR LYDIA GRAY: Boogity. DAN: Exactly. DR LYDIA GRAY: Scientific word. DAN: So we’ll trot and canter
on one side of the arena. And then we get
to that scary part is when I’ll ask him to
walk, because he’s lazy, so he likes to have– DR LYDIA GRAY: I love it. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes, exactly. That is a tried and true– DAN: But see, I
thought that was, like, positive reinforcement,
because I was letting him– but that’s actually
kind of negative, because I’m taking away. DR LYDIA GRAY:
You’re taking away– so what you’re taken away
aversive is the work. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: You’re
taking away the work, and you’re trying to reinforce
the behavior that you want to recur by taking away
something that he doesn’t like. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: That’s exactly– Dan gets it. [LAUGH] OK. So let’s move on to punishment. So as a reminder,
this is anything that decreases the likelihood
that a behavior will recur. OK. Positive punishment is– as
we said, positive is adding and negative is taking away. Positive punishment. Adding something aversive or
bad to decrease the likelihood that a behavior will recur. And the example
that I wrote down was when a horse bites
you, you smack in the nose. DAN: Mm-hmm. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. You’re adding something
aversive in the hopes that that bad behavior,
biting, will not recur. DAN: I think we
all know that one. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Positive punishment is the one that people– as a community, we don’t
think works the best. Everybody agrees. Negative punishment,
removing something the animal wants to
decrease the likelihood a behavior will recur. Now think about this. Here’s an example. You know those horses
that maul you for treats? They snuff your
pockets and stuff. If you reinforce that behavior
by giving them a treat, they’re just going
to do it more. However, if you either ignore
them or you can reframe– now here’s where
it gets confusing. Reframe it from
negative punishment to positive reinforcement by
saying, go stand over there and even look away
from me, that behavior is going to get you a treat. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: You’ve
changed the story now. DAN: So another
horse I work with– DR LYDIA GRAY: My goodness, Dan. You’re a trainer. DAN: So when I open the
door to give him his hay, he likes to stick his head
out and try to grab the hay right off the bat. I don’t give it to him
until he backs up and moves his head away, and then
I give him the hay. So would that fall
under– by the definition of negative punishment? DR LYDIA GRAY:
Well, you’ve taken what could have been
negative punishment, and you’ve reframed it to
positive reinforcement. DAN: I always try
to go positive. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. The behaviorists say that
positive reinforcement, even when the animal is offering a
behavior that is undesirable and you reframe it to say,
how about we substitute that moving away from the
mounting block, whatever the behavior is,
for something good, standing still at the mounting
block and then rewarding it, you find a behavior that
you want and you reward it, that seems to stick better and
conceptually makes sense better than the other methods. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So you’ll
clearly need to read on your own about this, but we’ve
begun the dialogue. [LAUGH] DAN: It is for sure
an interesting topic, and it can be very in depth. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: You can go any
direction with it. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right. So it’s all about
consequences and timing. So we humans are
not very good at it. Animals are very good at it. And there’s a saying
that every time you work your horse– you’ve
heard this– you’re either training or untraining. DAN: Ah, little George
Morris quote there? DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, it’s George
Morris’ trainer, Gordon Wright. DAN: Oh, I did not know that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Little something for everybody. DAN: OK. All right. Well, hopefully that helps
you guys out in your training. Keep us posted with how
that works out for you. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. Love to hear more comments, too. DAN: Yes, absolutely. So let’s get on to
question number 3. This was submitted by
Grace Hiramoto on YouTube. So Grace wants to
know, “I wonder if SmartPak in general, not
specifically “Ask the Vet,” could do a ‘foal 101′ video? For example, when to do what,
i.e. vaccinations, farrier work, and wellness on a foal.” This also, of course, got a
lot of questions and comments. DR LYDIA GRAY: We don’t even– DAN: Any time you
mention foals, it’s always going bring
in a lot of comments. So from Breakfast Foods,
which also, fantastic name– DR LYDIA GRAY: I love that. DAN: “I’ve been interested
in becoming a vet, so I’ve always loved to learn
new information about foals.” And then Lauren said, “I just
want to see cute babies.” Lauren, I– DR LYDIA GRAY: Baby
horses, especially, like, miniature baby horses. Baby donkeys. [GASP] Maybe the videographer will
put a baby donkey picture in. DAN: Oh, I think we can
find a baby donkey photo. [LAUGH] DR LYDIA GRAY:
They’re the cutest! DAN: –baby foals, I agree with. And I agree that we
should absolutely do a foals 101 video. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. All right. So this will be our
start, and we’ll kind of gather up the
information from this, and then move on. DAN: I was kind of
hoping there was going to be a foal waiting in
here when we came in today. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh! Sorry. So Sorry. So foals 101. Oh, gosh. This is a huge, huge topic, and
might take more than one video. So I put everything
together, and I’m trying to condense it
down to what we can cover in three minutes here. I think of foals as sort of
before they’re on the ground. So mare care, and
then the first 30 days or so of the foal’s life
up to weaning, and then life of the weanling. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: You know, so
those discrete segments all have special veterinary medical
or preventive wellness care needs and nutrition,
and everything. So I guess the first
piece of advice is, or whatever included
in a foal 101 video is make sure your mare
care is up to date. So that includes
vaccinations and deworming, because the mare’s health
influences the foal’s health. You know, that first
milk, the colostrum. What the scientists or the
veterinarian would say, the passive transfer of maternal
immunity or immunoglobulins is really important. And that comes from having
your mare vaccinated against common diseases early. DAN: OK. So make sure mother
is in good health– DR LYDIA GRAY: And that
she’s at a good weight. I mean, if she’s
thin or fat, then she’s either not going
to make a healthy baby or be able to feed a healthy
baby or have foal out well. So you want to have a good
five-ish body condition score. And I’ll say this
so I don’t forget it is if you’re breeding a mare
or you’ve got a young horse, you’ve got to have your
veterinarian involved. There are so many
pieces that are a part. Like for example,
when the mare foals, the veterinarian
needs to come out within the first 12 to 24 hours
and do a wellness foal care. Whether you see
a problem or not, the vet needs to
evaluate that foal for, did he or she stand up? Is the nursing going on? Is the cognition all there? Is there a heart murmur? Do the eyes look good? Is there a patent
urachus, umbilical? I mean, there’s so
many things to look at. You need an expert who can
quickly do a physical exam and make sure that
everything is OK. As an owner, your job is to make
sure the foal has and continues to have, because
things change quickly, straight legs or standing
completely on their hoof. They’re nursing, they’re
sleeping, they’re running. They’re doing all good baby
horse things or baby donkey things. There’s so many things
that can go wrong, that if your foal is
not doing those things, then contact your vet. Obviously, this is like
the last topic, behavior. You need to do a lot
of reading if you’re going to breed a mare, have
a foal, have a young horse, because there’s a lot to know. I don’t want to
get into specifics as far as when you
should do what, but I did read on a farrier’s
website that I trust, he likes to be out there
looking at horse feet and legs and trimming on them
in the first month. So 30 days. And he likes to
come every 30 days to make sure that things
are progressing correctly, because there could be angular
limb deformities, flexural limb deformities, contracted tendons
that if they’re handled early, if you’re on top of them,
you can make them without– the horse can end up having
a useful, productive life and be healthy and sound
without surgical intervention. DAN: So the farrier
likes to come out early to do any foundational
work on the feet that could be impacting any
of the upper limbs. DR LYDIA GRAY: And examine them. This farrier said, I like
to watch the foal walk and make sure
they’re landing heel to toe and the legs
carrying straight, and there’s nothing
funky going on. So this guy stays on top of it. You know, she asked I
think about vaccinations and deworming. There are protocols. Your veterinarian
will help you develop the protocol that is right
for you, because it differs. Was the mare vaccinated
ahead of time or not? That’s a huge difference. Where you live
geographically, the foal’s risk of exposure to
certain diseases. The type and brand
of vaccine used. All that depends
on what vaccines are given when and which
intervals, because with foals or the first time a
horse gets a vaccine, you don’t give just one. One’s a booster. We have to start the series
of one, two, or three. Yeah. And nutrition, it’s important
to feed the foal right early. When to begin creep feeding. What do you creep feed with? Having the foal’s body
condition score of five is important, because
they get too heavy or they get too much
sugar in their diet, and then you run into
developmental, orthopedic disease and other problems. Boy, there’s a lot of stuff. DAN: There’s a lot. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s a lot. There’s a lot. DAN: So a lot of
it sounds like one, you know, your own
horse’s condition, the mare’s condition,
then the foal’s condition. When it’s born, if there’s any
sort of deformities or things that have to be– DR LYDIA GRAY: Know normal. DAN: Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then when
to call the vet for abnormal. But your veterinarian will
need also to make assessments. We don’t wait that
first 12 to 24 hours. You get the vet out and
make sure things are OK, because things might look good
to you that are not on track, and you want to
jump on them early. DAN: OK. And especially, so
work with your vet closely for finding out all
those other vaccinations and things of that nature,
depending on your area and your horses’ health. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mm-hmm. DAN: Well, if you guys have any
other questions about foals, make sure to send them our way. And if you have any
photos, please send them. You can send them
directly to me. It’s OK. What? DR LYDIA GRAY: Baby donkeys. DAN: Oh, and baby donkeys. [LAUGHTER] We’re into all of that,
and I will definitely get working on that
foals 101 for you. So question number 4 was
actually asked by Katie on Ask the Vet form. And Katie wants
to know, “What are your thoughts on adding aloe
as a supplement for horses with a history of ulcers? If not aloe, what
do you recommend? My sweet Mimic had
them about a year ago, and I just want to
make sure he continues to heal and stay comfortable.” And she said, “Thank you
for all that you do!” DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh. DAN: That’s very sweet. DR LYDIA GRAY: Wait, is there
a public comment for this one? DAN: There is no comment, no. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. I thought I’d check
before I launched into it. DAN: I love that she says “sweet
Mimic,” though, for her horse. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. That’s a great name. That’s a great name. We like aloe as a
ingredient for horses that need some gastric support. In fact, we like it so much, we
put it in our SmartGut Ultra, and that’s the supplement that
has that great research out of LSU. Dr Andrews, who
did that research, he pointed out some things. The effects of aloe
vera are likely due to the synergistic actions
of the 75 known ingredients found in the plant leaf. And it’s the clear
mucilaginous gel inside that leaf where
all the good bits are. The good bits, as we
call them, are still being elucidated or
scientifically isolated and then scientifically studied
to find out what they are. Some of them aren’t
even named yet. We’re putting them
into categories, like we found antioxidants. We found cytoprotectants. That’s things that protect
the cell from damage. And you can understand
why that would be helpful in an ulcer situation. So aloe is one of the
ingredients that’s been around for, I mean, centuries. And humans have used it
for a long, long time. So its use of recorded
history is phenomenal. And it’s also one
of the ingredients that has a ton of research
supporting its use. And so we put it in our
product along with licorice. I could almost say the
same thing about that. We have calcium and magnesium,
because of their ability to buffer the acids. There’s glutamine, which is an
amino acid, that is important when cells are
rebuilding, and that’s going on as the lining is
being replaced during healing. You know, glutamine
as an amino acid just supports normal healing. So you need that. You need extra amounts of that. Sea Buckthorn. I have some great
research in horses. So we have looked
at all the research and found these ingredients
and put them into our formula. So we obviously think
aloe is a great substance, and I highly recommend its use. But I like to include the
other ingredients that we have. I mean, there’s so many
others I didn’t mention, the collagen and silica
that make our formula sort of a– it’s also synergistic. It has a well-rounded effect. DAN: OK so aloe is a
component of gastric health. DR LYDIA GRAY: It is. And aloe itself has
many components. DAN: And as you were
mentioning with people, they use it all the time,
like if you get a sunburn or something like that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. You can use it even topically. Uh-huh. DAN: So kind of think
of the same thing, like, in the horse’s
stomach if they’re having some sort of
inflammation or something of that nature going on. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s
probably something in aloe that supports a normal
inflammatory response. Yeah. We know there are antioxidants
in there for sure. Yeah. DAN: Well, we’re
all about aloe here. DR LYDIA GRAY: We’re
all about aloe. DAN: We do have
it in the pellets. We also do sell it in
the liquid form, as well. So would that just be something
you would, like, top dress your horse’s grain with? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. Yep. If you want to go
with straight aloe, then we have that product. If you want to use
aloe that’s combined with other ingredients
that have research, too, and support of their use,
you can choose that route. DAN: Well, if you do want to
check out that SmartGut Ultra research study of that
Dr Gray was speaking of, that Dr Frank
Andrews did for us, you can actually check that
out on our product page, on the SmartGut
Ultra product page. It’s definitely worth
the read to go over with your trainer or your vet
and see if that’s something that works for you guys. Well, on to question number 5. So this was submitted by
HBC Equestrian on YouTube. And they said, “My horse is
a 13-year-old Quarter horse and I’m planning on breeding
her in the next couple of years. How do I know if she
is ready for breeding? What steps should I take with
my vet to get my horse ready?” It sounds like HBC
and Grace should have a little conversation. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, it’s
spring, and everyone’s– DAN: Thinking babies. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mind
turns to babies. Yeah. But this question
gives me the chance to use one of my
favorite big words. DAN: Oh, yes. I love when you say big words. OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Theriogenology. Have you heard that before? DAN: You know– DR LYDIA GRAY: No? OK. DAN: Didn’t come up at most
of my dinner conversations. [LAUGH] DR LYDIA GRAY: It does in mine! So it just means– it’s the branch of
veterinary medicine that is about reproduction. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So the
expert veterinarians who study mare and
stallion health are called theriogenologists. So I’m sure that word
will be on your screen. So what this– DAN: If it can fit. [LAUGH] DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. What this person needs– and
I’m so glad she’s thinking proactively– is it a breeding soundness exam. And a breeding soundness exam,
like, there’s physical exams, there’s pre-purchase exams. This one has a
very specific need, and it’s to make sure that
the mare is healthy and can carry a foal– can conceive and then
carry a foal a term. And so the breeding
soundness exam starts with a physical
exam, because they want to look for things
about the mare that could make it hard for her
to either conceive or carry that foal. Maybe it’s
conformation problems, maybe it’s another
health problem. What if she has
Cushing’s, you know? Is that a mare that
should be then bred? There is a point– one expert I contacted said he
feels it necessary to point out genetic defects in the horse. But it’s not the
veterinarian’s purview to say, “Don’t breed the horse.” It’s just, I want to make
sure you know about this. DAN: Have all the information. DR LYDIA GRAY: Have
all the information. It’s still your decision. But that’s part of a
breeding soundness exam. And then the part
that probably everyone thinks is the evaluation of
the reproductive tract itself, and there’s two
components of that. There’s the internal, which
involves palpation, probably nowadays with the use
of ultrasound just to visualize structures. And then there’s also
an external examination. You want to look
at the structures on the outside to make sure
that they’re in good shape, too. One of the things we do in
mares that aren’t anatomically correct behind– I’m saying that as PC as I can–
is a Caslicks procedure where we sew the top of the vulva
closed so that– gosh, I don’t want to get– DAN: You’re too far in now. You’ve got to just go. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh. Well, if their vulva is laying
so that fecal material can drop into it, you can see how that
would be an unsanitary place to grow a baby. So there’s a Caslicks procedure
that closes that and makes it all nice and clean. There. I did it. [LAUGH] DAN: Wasn’t so bad. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then the
third step of the breeding exam is probably want to take some
samples while you’re in there. And you can take
an endometrial– endometrium is the
lining of the uterus– culture. You can also grab some
cells for a cytology. But the most important
thing is what’s called an endometrial biopsy. So actually, there’s
a long instrument with a little tip
at the end, and you take an actual sample of the
uterus and send it to a lab. And then they tell you,
is there inflammation, which is reversible,
or is there scarring, which is not reversible. And they actually–
the lab will grade the quality of the mare’s uterus
and tell you, it looks great. Give her a clean bill of health. She’ll have no problems
conceiving and carrying to term and foaling. Or there’s so much
scarring, there’s no place for the
placenta to attach, and she’s not probably not
going to be able to carry. And then I know the question
is going to be, but why? So if a mare has a
history of inflammation, then each one of
those bouts is going to create some scar
tissue and some– yeah. So then after time–
and she’s 13– after time. So she needs to have
the talk with her vet and have a physical
exam performed, and internal and external
evaluation, and some testing. DAN: Well, you mentioned
the horse being 13. Is age also something to
take into consideration, especially where it’s going
to be the first breeding? DR LYDIA GRAY: You
know, a teenage mare is not the youngest mare
to carry a foal, but not the oldest either. So I would just– you know,
she’s had 10 years of cycling, and it’ll be really interesting
what that endometrial biopsy comes back with. DAN: OK. So as long as the vet signs
off on that health condition. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And it doesn’t
mean that you can’t breed your mare if it
comes back a grade 4, there’s lots of scarring. It just means that,
don’t get your hopes up, and you might spend
a lot of money, and your mare might get
bred, and she might lose it. So it kind of sets expectations. DAN: Lets you know what you’re
getting into beforehand. DR LYDIA GRAY: Exactly. Money-wise and time-wise
and heartbreak. And then hardship
on the mare too. DAN: If you do end up
breeding your horse, though, HBC, we
want photos ASAP. [LAUGH] Send us a couple through the
whole journey of the pregnancy. We’re into all of it. [LAUGH] Well, that was it for the
questions for this month. DR LYDIA GRAY: Cool. DAN: These are some
great ones, guys. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, man. My brain is smoking. Is there, like,
smoke coming out? DAN: Great way for you
to come back and get started with this episode. But we do need your questions
for our March episode. Ask your questions anytime on
YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the SmartPak
blog, and our form at Just make sure to use the
hashtag #AsktheVetVideo. Don’t forget to check out our
playlist and the Horse Health Library to see if your
question’s already been answered. If your question was
answered in this video or in a previous one,
make sure to reach out to us at
[email protected] so you can claim your
SmartPak gift card. So until next time, don’t
forget to subscribe, and have a great ride.


6 Responses

  1. georgieanna seltner

    January 29, 2019 1:02 am

    my horse has one certain door in my arena that he is terrified of.always has a boogie man somewhere in time the whole wall that had the door in it was so scary to him.

  2. Kaylyn

    January 29, 2019 3:13 am

    Hi Dr. Gray, recently I was fortunate enough to be able to rescue and bring back home an 8 year old OTTB mare I retrained upon her retirement from racing. She fell in her last start, but had no injuries impacting her soundness. I never had any soundness issues while retraining from 4 years to about 6 years old. Upon being sold, the new owners immediately switched farriers and had soundness issues. They had her being done at Rood & Riddle, moved to glue ons, and then eventually back to a regular shoe with a thin pad on the fronts. Upon getting her back, my farrier put her back in just a regular shoe up front and started correcting her now poor hoof angles. We've had no soundness issues since. However, I have noticed – with no particular rhyme or reason – her front feet may feel warm at times. It could be in the morning or evening, before turnout or after, etc., but she has never taken a lame step, even when they feel warm. What's the explanation for this? For further context, she flexed an intermittent 1 out of 5 on the left hind with radiographs positive for arthritis in bilateral hocks and left stifle in October of 2018 at her PPE. Thanks! #AskTheVet

  3. Harley Buckley

    January 29, 2019 3:54 pm

    from a vets prospective, are shipping boots or standing wraps necessary when trailering your horse?

  4. Dalia Untura

    January 29, 2019 3:57 pm

    My horse is bitting me for treats even when I tack him up. What should I do? I don’t think I should hit him but there is no other way

  5. Harley Buckley

    January 29, 2019 4:00 pm

    My horse recently had a karatoma “scare” in her right hind foot. my farrier noticed the growth and we had the vet perform xrays about a year and a half ago. the vet saw a small growth in the xrays but it was no where near the bone so she wasn’t concerned and said just to keep an eye on it. since the xrays my vet has left her practice. my horse is bare foot and sound and we have been documenting by taking pictures every time we trim her. my question is, what is a keritoma? how are they treated? and when, if any should we know to have more xrays taken. i will send pictures as well. thanks so much!!! 🤗💗


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