Research into senior horse health issues continues

October is the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the MARS Equestrian Fellowship at University of Kentucky

Horses aged 15 and over make up between 20% to 30% of the U.S. equine population. An important milestone will be reached this year in the quest to learn more about this population. October marks the one-year anniversary of Amanda Adams, associate professor at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center specializing in aged horse research, becoming the first MARS Equestrian™ Fellow. This fellowship supports her work to improve not only how the industry cares for senior horses but also how veterinarians can better diagnose the conditions and diseases that affect them.

“In a short period of time, we have made major breakthroughs in gaining a better understanding of how to nutritionally manage horses suffering from insulin dysregulation, specifically in equine metabolic syndrome horses. We are also learning that the season has a profound influence on the metabolic responses of these diseased horses, which will help shed light on why these horses may develop laminitis at certain times of the year,” said Adams, a faculty member of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Over the last year, we have also been working to define sarcopenia (an age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength) in aged horses and how specific diet and exercise routines may reverse or improve that muscle loss. Furthermore, we are studying what effect exercise has on the inflammation-aging response in aged horses.”

While the progress is promising, Adams said that more work is needed. In addition to learning how to better manage these horses, there is a need at the basic scientific level to understand how the aging process affects the horse’s immunity, metabolic status and nutritional needs.

“The many problems we face with the aging horse are important given the growing senior horse population,” said Pat Harris, Director of Science, MARS Horsecare. “Thus, it is critical that we continue these efforts to advance the field and improve our knowledge in senior horse care ” “ultimately creating a better world for horses” added Bridgett McIntosh, Director of MARS Equestrian™.

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