الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

It is amazing how easy it is to help some horses and how frustrating and difficult it can be to help others. The challenge is that every horse suffering from recumbent sleep deprivation is an individu

موقع أيام نيوز

Our Horses Lead Stressful Lives… 

Their genetics dictate that they live free, roam large areas, graze 20 hours a day, and have an established position in the “pecking order” of their herd. In captivity, our horses live in a confinement management system, are fed intermittent meals, and are often separated from other horses. Although there have been many advancements in horse care, it has been a constant struggle to address and manage the stress today’s horses suffer. Feed schedules, show schedules, training and exercise, separation from friends, and everyday life in stalls and confinement all contribute to stress.  

Can Stress Influence Digestive Health?

Several studies have been conducted on the effect of stress on the horse. However, very few have focused on the influence of stress on digestive health. They often focus on heart rate, cortisol levels, or reproduction, all of which, although important, fail to address one of the main systems most influenced by stress: digestion. Many times, we recognize this stress as acute or chronic diarrhea, weight loss and poor condition, or behaviour changes. Horses with these conditions are living in a state of constant digestive disturbance and consequently predisposed to suffer from acute or recurrent colic episodes. Even a small amount of additional stress such as a change in temperature or a low water trough can tip these individuals into a state of digestive distress.   



You may be asking, if these issues are so prevalent, why haven’t more studies been performed to better understand this relationship? One key component is access to the affected area. As many of us have experienced firsthand, it is extremely difficult to image or enter the hindgut due to the horse’s anatomy, whether in cases of emergency or as a diagnostic tool. Consequently, with the development of the three-metre endoscope, most of the studies involving digestive health have centered around gastric ulcers, a more easily accessible area. Work has been done observing the influence of psychological stress such as training and showing on gastric ulcer formation. Although the stomach is quite important it is still only a small portion of the total digestive system. 

Humans and Horses… What Can We Learn? 

Unlike the horse, the human digestive tract is more easily accessible, allowing for the use of many new technologies, including positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), helping physicians to better understand the causes behind many gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. These technologies have led many physicians to a shift in approach, from merely managing the symptoms to treating the root cause of the disease and its predisposing influences. New technologies have made it possible to classify all the GI diseases in humans by location and better understand the underlying causes of