Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vet: mind your easy keeper horse

Dr.Kara M. Lascola

"Easy keeper" is an endearing term. It's the animal that horse owners know to somehow overcondition on a diet of grass hay and rank pasture. It turns out the easy keeper often develops a freshly recognized metabolic syndrome called insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is often discovered by veterinarians when a horse owner makes a call about laminitis or founder, said Dr.Kara M. Lascola of the University of Illinois. The syndrome first became a specific diagnosis in 2002 as research began to sort out the differences between metabolic disorders such as Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism.

"Insulin resistance can affect younger horses," Lascola said."Repeated bouts with laminitis or founder are usually what gets the vet out for a look. When they ask about the horse's history, the pattern of laminitis is an indication"

The disorder has no cure but is manageable with proper diet and exercise. Because insulin resistance tends to affect young horses, management is typically the route owners choose. The easy keeper in the pasture is often obvious. It will look healthy but will have fat deposits at key spots on its body. The horse will have a high body condition plus fat pockets on its tailhead, udder, crest of the neck, shoulders and flanks.

And there also are symptoms such as sore feet, bruising and episodes of laminitis.

Insulin resistance can hit any breed, but it's most common among ponies, Morgans, Arabians, Warm Bloods and Saddlebreds. It's less common among Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, and Lascola suspects the racing breeds have less insulin resistance because of their high activity levels.

"Insulin resistance is sometimes called a 'disease of prosperity' because it's often induced by overfeeding. Continuing to feed high levels of grain and highly digestible forage to a horse that's worked infrequently can cause a horse to over-condition and become insulin resistant," Lascola said.

Management means a strict diet and increased exercise for the life of the horse. Technically, the syndrome starts when glucose (sugar) remains in the blood stream. It's very similar to type 2 diabetes in humans. The sugar in the blood can't be used by the cells so the sugar is converted to fat and laid down in pockets on the horse's body. Without the ability to use the glucose properly, the cells become inflamed, further reducing blood flow to critical areas such as the hoof, Lascola said. Once a horse has a bout with laminitis it will always be susceptible in the future.

"Reduce non-structural carbohydrates in the diet, soak hay in water, and restrict access to pasture. A grazing muzzle can be a very effective tool. Consult with your veterinarian about the details of feeding and caring for your horse," Lascola said.

Veterinarians will take blood samples to confirm insulin resistance and to develop a management plan. Testing for the syndrome is essential since it's similar to Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism. The diseases share some similarities. In fact, a horse can have Cushing's and insulin resistance at the same time, she said.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Waiting begins

It's been said wait for nothing and enjoy the now. So
that's what I plan to do. Still...

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Lightharvest, originally uploaded by NetAgra.
More along the lines of harvesting the sun.
As of this week there are still a lot of acres of corn
and soybeans to go but progress is rapid.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Close action

Harness racing was once the feature event at county fairs and
festivals throughout rural America. About a half dozen Wisconsin
county fairs still have harness racing. I had "free rein" to
take pictures at the Iowa County Fair and get close enough to have
track dirt tossed all over me as I took pictures.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Independence Day

Okay, so it was July 5. Things are lush and green. Forget corn
knee high on the Fourth of July. How about tasseled and
silked on the fourth?

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Bean Horizon

Wish I'd shifted the sun out of direct center. Eh, maybe I can crop
it to my liking some day.

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Friday, July 02, 2010


Pea vines send out these tiny hooks. It's amazing to
watch them seek out places to anchor. And they cling tight
once they find a point to wrap.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pea flower

Following days of rain, the sun is out and things are drying.
There has been so much rain that plants just
grew and grew and grew and we didn't see much else. A
day or two of sun has really brought out the development
phases so we can hope for some fruit.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Pansy portrait

Flower photos aren't my usual thing. In this case the light
was hitting the flowers making it interesting
to try something.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


That day at House on the Rocks I took almost 200 pictures.
The place is just so weird. This shot was in an area loaded
with circus things: tiny model circuses by the thousdands,
wagon wheels, posters...and this.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Infinity room

The Infinity Room at House on the Rocks. Or something. The "house" itself is
rather cool. The rest of the place is just odd. Lots of it is junk. Some of it
is priceless. Maybe. All a head shaker.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stormy dinner

This is from a set called "feeding the string." A storm had just passed
and the horses and people came out of their shelters to finish evening

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Over the shoulder

The outcome of the picture seems to imply being blocked
off from going toward the other horse. But not so much.
Just me trying to take a different horse picture.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Running for the barn

A storm blew in as I was out in the pasture taking pictures.
The horses made it back to the barn ahead of me!

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Ms. Jersey

Ms. Jersey, originally uploaded by NetAgra.
Curious history. Snapped this shot while visiting an agricultural
experiment station. Ms. Jersey is a research animal. She is not a pet,
or for that matter a member of a commercial dairy herd. But she is,
along with her herd-mates, one of the best cared for animals in the
world. It's a portrait of a working dairy animal. One of my photofans has
commented that, in a set of related photos, the cows don't look so good.
I've asked in a reply why the commenter feels that way. Right now, I'm
guessing that most people see animals as pets and a picture of a working
dairy cow in a work setting is foreign. Ms. Jersey was eating vigorously
before she looked up at me and the camera.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Spooky, originally uploaded by NetAgra.
Deer head in a window. I took a few shots thinking it's cool just
on the oddity scale. Later, I was messing around with it in Picasa and
enjoyed the soft focus around the edges. And the more I look at the
image the less spooky it gets and the more intellectual it feels.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Aus trees

Aus trees, originally uploaded by NetAgra.
These trees were hybrid crosses between willow and poplar. They grew 60 ft. tall
in less than 15 years creating a hazard in my yard. They did have their moments, however.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cut from the herd

Not exactly the open range but a recent cutting horse competition
provided a small taste of cattle handling skills.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saga of the white wheel

This wheel makes me a little nuts. It hangs on a tobacco strip house.
There's something appealing about the graphics of this but I'm not sure
I've captured it. Yet. As the seasons change I may hit it one day with
just the right light.

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