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Conference 2012

Conference Photos taken by INside Out Conference

Horses Inside Out Annual Conference 2012 Report by Claire Ellis

Held at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, the 2012 Annual Horses Inside Out Conference was, again, a great success as some of the UK’s top speakers discussed Horse Anatomy and how it affects performance. The conference was a sell-out, something which in the current climate, the HIO team was very proud of! The programme followed a slightly different schedule this year, with no practical sessions and a total of 7 guest speakers, all leading experts in their field.

This year, the conference also, very excitingly, saw the launch of Gillian’s latest book “Horse Anatomy for Performance”; 160 full colour pages looking at the 11 different influential body systems, this much anticipated book features never-seen-before paintings and high quality images and diagrams, making horse anatomy accessible and interesting to all.

Day One

Day one of the conference was led by John Killingbeck, as he explored the “Horse in the 21st Century”. John is the Veterinary FEI delegate at several international competitions, has travelled to three Olympic Games and several European Championships and holds a particular interest in competition horses, especially in lameness diagnosis, orthopaedics and foot problems.

John’s interesting and informative talk discussed and considered how the modern day equine has evolved and the various adaptations that have occurred to ensure survival of the fittest for over 55 million years. He explained that it is important to recognise these changes in when it comes to training horses and also the point that many recent diseases and ailments that are ‘popularly’ suffered in the equine world can be linked directly to 21st Century lifestyle and the huge change in emphasis from work-horse to the modern day pleasure-horse.

The second speaker of the morning was Dr Andrew Hemmings, who led a highly engaging talk on ‘Understanding the Brain Function to Optimise Health, Welfare and Performance’ of horses. Andrew is an Equine Neuroanatomist and the Principal Lecturer in Animal Science at the Royal Agricultural College. His main expertise and interest is in brain function in relation to stereotypy performance, brain function in relation to learning and the genetic factors underlying horse behaviour. This paves the way for a deeper insight into the functioning of other anatomical structures and their influence on performance. Andrew also leads the very popular Horses Inside Out dissection programmes with Gillian.

Andrew showed delegates, using both a useful mix of theoretical and proven knowledge, just how stereotypical equine behaviour can be used to optimise training, welfare and general health. He also helped to explain further that there is a definite linkage between brain function and behaviour of horses, and that many modern stereotypical behaviour traits that are shown in horses today may function as a coping mechanism employed in a stressful environment.

The next speaker of the day was Dr Pat Harris who is the director of science at the Waltham Equine Science group; she is also a Professor of Equine Studies at Virginia State University and a European Specialist in Veterinary Clinical and Comparative Nutrition. Pat lectures all over the world on Nutrition as it affects the health, welfare, behaviour and performance and is the author of numerous scientific papers. In her first lecture of the weekend, Pat spoke to delegates on the correct feeding and management to reduce the risk of horses tying-up (also known as Equine Rhabdomyolysis Syndrome). Tying-up is becoming an increasing worry to many owners, riders and vets; the syndrome, which primarily affects horses’ muscles, can occur in a horse of any age, breed or gender.

Pat explained to the audience, that although there is no definite procedure, or procedures that can guarantee horses don’t suffer from Equine Rhabdomyolysis Syndrome, there are indeed ways of managing the nutrition and daily keep of those susceptible that may help to reduce the likelihood, severity and frequency of any potential future episodes. These procedures include regular exercise and correct nutritional keep and dietary management.

The next speaker was Jeremy Naylor, who very kindly stepped in to replace Yogi Briesner who had been called away on specific Olympic duties. Jeremy, a passionate racehorse trainer and rider, is a specialist equine veterinarian. After graduating from the University of Bristol, he spent several years at Washington State University gaining an advanced training in equine exercise physiology and internal medicine. On completion of a PhD at Bristol on his return to the UK, he worked for the Valley Equine Hospital in Lambourn before joining the champion National Hunt trainer Martin Pipe for two seasons.

Jeremy’s interest in the horse as an athlete, and the correct training and management that is necessary to get the best out of it for its specific purpose is mirrored in the work that he does with racehorses. He spoke on how modern day training has evolved so that the guess work of getting horses fit can be removed and how it is possible to tailor sessions to specific horses in order to get the best from them.
The final speaker of Day One was Dr Svend Kold. Dr Kold is a consultant specialising in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery. He is a world leader in his field and has published extensively. He lectures regularly at congresses both in the UK and Europe and is co-author of "Clinical Radiology of the Horse". As a racing enthusiast Dr Kold is Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Ascot Racecourse.
Dr Kold led a highly interesting series of talks, focusing on Back and Pelvic problems in the Equine Athlete and also Conformational Effects on Performance in horses. He discussed training methods and ideas that may be useful in helping to eliminate potential problems, or indeed to try and correct those problems that may already be prominent including common back, neck, poll and pelvic problems.                                                
To close the first day of the conference, the five speakers from that day left themselves open to delegate questions in the form of a discussion panel which raised lots of topical and interesting questions and helped them to delve a little further into the minds of the experts.

Day Two

Day two of the weekend conference again proved to be a warm, gloriously sunny day, with many happy returning delegates from the day before and a few new faces. With the new book ‘Horse Anatomy for Performance’ proving so popular the day before, new boxes had to be opened and displayed as everyone wanted to make sure they got their copy before it had even hit the shops.

Haydn Price, consultant farrier to the BEF and team farrier to the British Dressage and Show Jumping Teams started the day; Haydn has a particular interest in performance horses and from this he has developed a specialist Equine Referral Centre. In 2004 he developed the Equinalysis Gait Analysis system which is now used by World Class Performance to assess locomotion; Haydn is also a regular contributor to publications and research programmes and lectures internationally within Europe, America and Mexico.

With his lectures looking at the Critical Factors in maintaining Soundness in the modern Sports Horse, Haydn spoke to delegates on the various ways in which hoof capsule balance, deformation and corrective shoeing practices can be incredibly influential when it comes to soundness in the horse. He also explored how the positioning of the shoes and the type of shoe selected could possibly effect the range of joint motion in the horse and therefore its anatomical performance. All of which proved a very interesting topic for discussion amongst delegates.

Following Haydn’s engaging discussion, John Killingbeck returned to explore the idea of the ‘Clumsy Horse’. John put the idea forward that there may not actually be such a thing as a ‘clumsy’ horse, but that in fact it could be down to neurological factors. An interesting area of conducted research, John explained to delegates that there can often be many clinical signs of this problem: they can be a combination of proprioceptive deficits and also impaired motor function. Diagnosed effectively through gait analysis, lameness assessment and also a change in temperament or demeanour, often horses with the classic ‘clumsy’ symptoms have been found following examination, to have missing chromosomes which give extra weight to the issue being neurological.

Next to speak on Day Two was Dr Pat Harris, who returned to discuss how nutrition can affect laminitis and obesity in horses, and how equestrians’ can practically manage nutrition and feeding in these animals.
It is a common fact that the best way to manage an obese horse is to prevent it from becoming obese in the first place, but it is also incredibly important that obesity management in equines is targeted and relevant to the individual horse in question. Obesity in horses, as in humans, means that their performance levels, anatomical capabilities and general health issues can be severely impaired providing serious long-term health (and sometimes psychological) problems. Pat then went on to explore and recommend different management systems and nutritional supplements that could be useful when feeding the obese horse.

When exploring the management of laminitic prone horses (and pasture associated laminitis), Pat emphasised the point to delegates that although obesity in the equine may reduce the risk of contracting laminitis, equally lean non-obese animals may suffer from it, as do those that graze on pasture with a high non-structural carbohydrate content (simple sugars, fructans and starch).

Pat provided delegates with very useful facts and advice on managing the laminitic equine and also the grazing and feeding that it receives; something that proved to be of great interest to delegates who all had a story to tell on the subject!
The final speaker of the conference was Dr Lesley Young; a specialist in equine cardiology with particular interest in the effects of general anesthesia on the equine heart and clinical cardiology of athletic horses, she runs a referral cardiology and sports medicine service at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. Lesley obtained her RCVS Diploma in veterinary Cardiology in 2000 and was given RCVS specialist status in 2006. Since December 2005, she has provided an ambulatory equine cardiology referral service to general practitioners throughout the UK and Europe.

Lesley’s two topics for discussion were on equine heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation and also on the topic of heart murmurs in horses and what they mean. Using a combination of visual and practical slides, Lesley provided a highly insightful and incredibly interesting talk to delegates as she looked into irregularities in how the heart performs and the impacts that it can have on the horses including declines in performance, and the various methods of treatment that are available to combat the problems. She also went on to recommend when and how treatment and diagnoses should be given to those that may be worried and the best way that re-conditioning could occur.

The weekend proved to be a wonderful success, with positive feedback and happy delegates who all confirmed that what they had learnt was highly useful and insightful for their careers.

Report writtem by Claire Ellis

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