Rocky Bay Equine Newsletter, June 2014 
In This Issue
WINDSWEPT
Progress Photos
see article right
Words of the Month
"valgus" & "varus"
On a roll with angular limb deformities, let's look at the descriptive terms valgus and varus.  Relative to a straight long bone, a valgus deformity suggests that the limb bends laterally (to the outside) from the midline.  Varus indicates that the limb bends inward towards the midline.  The most common variations occur in the forelimbs with carpus valgus (knock knees) much more common than carpus varus (bow legs).  Although most commonly associated with the carpus (knee), these conditions can occur wherever there is a long bone - joint combination, including hock or fetlock joints. Surgical procedures, like periosteal stripping, have been developed to help correct severe deviations or those that don't straighten out as the foal grows.
incognito alert!  In case you haven't seen Dr. Weeks in awhile.... this is his debonair self these days.  Yep, his youngest  graduates HS this month and if you earn all that gray beard hair, you certainly should flaunt it! Congratulations to Kelsey Weeks and parents of the grad!
Contact Information
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Dr.Bo Weeks
Dr.Crystal Williams
 
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Time for a nod to all the dads and grads, "well done" one and all and Happy Father's Day!  The equine fatherly line up is another strong one this year with a few new stallions in the RBE assist roster, including I B Smart Cat, Command Bux, Such A Classic Kid, Sun Dun Zippo, Tristtan, and old favorites Snowford O'Donnell, Manuforti's Touchdown (Ollie) and Curley Rode His Ma (Curley).


Ceremoniously yours,

Dr. Bo Weeks, Dr. Crystal Williams, Linda Weeks
and all the other matriculates at Rocky Bay Equine
 
Tessa's Story, Part II "windswept"
Remember Tessa from last month?  The Fresian foal born prematurely, rejected by her mother and adopted by Amber? We mentioned that finding a new mom was not the last of her challenges, read on for chapter two of her story.
 
Tessa was born with a condition of her hind limbs called "windswept".  One hind limb bent inwards and the other outwards from midline.  (see photos left sidebar)
 
One of several types of angular limb deformities that may effect front and/or hind limbs. These conditions can be dramatic, especially in the newborn since not only are the bones soft but tendons and ligaments are weak and stretchy.  Both the front (radius) and hind (tibia) long bones grow from growth centers at each end, called growth plates or epiphyses. When damage occurs or uneven pressure is applied across these growth plates the bone grows faster on one side than the other causing bending of the limb.  Other things that can cause either front or hind legs to appear bent are malformations in the smaller bones of the joints themselves, either the carpus or the hock joint.
 
The good news for Tessa was that the bones of her hock joints were normal in form and the location of the bending was on the inside of the tibial growth plate on one leg and on the outside of the other.  Because we know how malleable a newborn can be, we began with conservative treatment to balance the load on bones and joints, keeping a close eye on Tessa and carefully managing the amount of exercise she received... too much might make her worse, but not enough would limit her chances of straightening up on her own.  As you can see by the photos (left) improvement has been steady and significant.  Additional radiographs will provide insight to how the bones are forming and will help determine whether or not surgical intervention is indicated.  Weighing all the pros & cons with expectations for her future will also influence the final decision.  We'll let you know as Tessa's story continues.
Knowledge, the most powerful drug there is! 
The Horse was with us for Dr. Duren's talk on equine nutrition in our second evening symposium, at the Theler Center in Belfair.  He delivered a practical approach to feeding based on sound science about equine physiology.  Evolution of the horse is not what it used to be. The original design for eating & nutrition evolved under dramatically different circumstances than the feeding and housing practices we impose on horses today.  Sometimes the animal pays negative consequences for our ignorance of that design.  Did you know that a horse is meant to eat about 17 hours a day? That one locked in a stall is 6 times more likely to colic?  That a horse's relatively small stomach constantly secretes acid and without the regular buffering effect of food & saliva he's very likely to get ulcers.  Did you know that up to 60% of (non racing) performance horses have gastric ulcers?  That's a lot of tums that need dispensing.... or, is there a better way to deal with this problem?  If you know that saliva is the best buffer for stomach acid and saliva production is stimulated by food, then maybe feeding a small amount of hay throughout the day and prior to riding or a performance might just help with that uncomfortable stomach ache.  Did you know that digestive ability declines with the age of your horse, and that the problem is directly related to their teeth?  Improvements in dental care have dramatically increased the longevity of todays equines.  It's clear that with knowledge and understanding of design and function comes the power to help your animals live long and healthy lives!  

What is Condition Scoring?
We talked about using a weight tape in the last newsletter, but that's only part of the picture.  You know that some people can look lighter or heavier than their actual weight depending on their body type and how fat is distributed, the same goes for horses.  It's always best to stand back and assess the whole animal. Guidelines, called body or condition scoring are there to help you put what you see into perspective. Remember that while all horses should have a shine to their coat and a glint in their eye, body condition is relative to breed, discipline and activity level.  There are several ways to convert observations into numbers, the Henneke System is one useful method.  It focuses on 6 key areas; back, ribs, withers, neck, behind the shoulder and tail head.  Click here for more information on body condition scoring.
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