Objective—To describe the demographic and clinical
characteristics of a population of geriatric horses.
Animals—467 horses that were ≥ 20 years of age.
Procedure—Medical records of 539 geriatric horses
that were evaluated at a university large animal hospital
between 1989 and 1999 were reviewed. Data
collected included signalment, reason for evaluation,
specific diagnoses, surgical procedures, inpatient or
outpatient care, duration of hospitalization, and outcome.
Results—467 horses met the criteria for inclusion in
the study. Horses that were ≥ 20 years of age comprised
2.2 and 12.5% of horses evaluated during 1989
and 1999, respectively. Pony breeds were significantly
overrepresented in the ≥ 30-years-of-age group.
Gastrointestinal tract, musculoskeletal, and respiratory
tract problems were most frequently reported.
Colic was the most common clinical sign, followed by
lameness. Diagnoses made most frequently included
pituitary dysfunction, strangulating lipoma of the
small intestine, laminitis, heaves, large colon
impaction, and gastric ulcers. Pituitary dysfunction
was significantly more prevalent in horses that were
> 30 years of age. Laminitis was significantly associated
with the presence of pituitary dysfunction.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—It was difficult
to assess association of age with illnesses identified
in these horses. Demographic data and information
regarding common diseases of horses that are ≥ 20
years of age are limited but will become increasingly
important as this geriatric population increases. (J Am
Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:93–98)
Objective—To describe the demographic and clinical
characteristics, management practices, and owner
perception of a population of geriatric horses, and to
compare these data with findings in a group of
Procedure—Data were collected via a survey tool
from owners of 165 horses that were > 20 years of
age and 53 horses that were < 20 years of age.
Results—Compared with young horses, the geriatric
group included a significantly greater number of
ponies; geriatric horses were also more likely to have
a history of colic, dental disease, tumors, lameness,
and pituitary disease, but not laminitis, diarrhea, allergies,
respiratory tract disease, thyroid disease, or
fractures. Horses that had participated in Western
equestrian disciplines were more likely to have a history
of lameness. Among old horses, those with pituitary
dysfunction were more likely to have a history of
laminitis than those without pituitary dysfunction.
Geriatric horses were more likely to have long hair
and shedding abnormalities than were younger horses.
Owners perceived their horses as old at approximately
22 years of age. In horses older than 16.5
years of age, age was a negative factor in the purchase
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Geriatric and
young horses share some similar health problems,
but old horses have distinct health problems and veterinary
medical requirements. The management and
athletic history of horses may influence health as they
age. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:99–103)
Objective—To determine the complementary DNA
(cDNA) sequence of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist
(IL-1ra) in horses and compare messenger RNA
(mRNA) expression of IL-1ra among horses of various
Sample Population—Blood samples from neonatal
and adult horses examined for a variety of diseases.
Procedure—A polymerase chain reaction procedure
was used to amplify a 220 base pair (bp) portion of
the genomic DNA. The upstream and downstream
regions of the cDNA sequence were determined by
means of 5' and 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends
(RACE) procedures. Northern blot hybridization was
used to examine steady-state mRNA expression of IL-
Results—The consensus sequence of the cDNA
obtained with the 5'-RACE procedure and the
sequence for the 220 bp portion of the genomic DNA
represented the putative sequence for secreted IL-
1ra. The predicted secreted IL-1ra amino acid
sequence contained 176 residues with an in-frame
stop codon; the N-terminal 25 amino acid residues
resembled the signal peptide reported for human
secreted IL-1ra. An approximately 1.3 kilobase pair (kb)
band that represented a portion of the 3' end of the
coding region and the 3' untranslated region was
obtained by use of the 3' -RACE procedure. Northern
blot hybridization detected a 1.6 kb transcript in blood
RNA from adult Arabian, Belgian, Thoroughbred, and
Conclusions—Results suggest that the DNA for
equine secreted IL-1ra has a short (29 bp) 5' untranslated
region, a 534 bp coding region, and a long
(approximately 1,080 bp) untranslated region. (Am J
Vet Res 2000;61:920–924)
SAMPLE 2,879 people who owned or leased ≥ 1 horse.
PROCEDURES Participants were recruited through social media and online horse forums to participate in an online survey about their horses, including measures of attachment, veterinary care decision-making, and experiences surrounding the death of a horse. Data were collected for primary horses (those respondents interacted with most) and secondary horses. Horses were further categorized as geriatric (≥ 20 years of age) and nongeriatric.
RESULTS Geriatric primary horses were considered companion animals, retired, or used as part of a business significantly more frequently, and described as competition horses significantly less frequently, than nongeriatric horses. Geriatric horses were owned or leased significantly longer than nongeriatric horses, but the degree of respondents' attachment did not differ for geriatric versus nongeriatric horses. When respondents reported the death of a horse in the previous year, euthanasia was associated with higher levels of bereavement than death by other means. Death of geriatric horses most commonly followed a chronic illness and was associated with significantly higher levels of bereavement than death of nongeriatric horses. Among factors influencing decisions regarding expensive or long-term medical care, the horse's ability to lead a comfortable life was ranked highest. Respondents with geriatric horses made numerous accommodations for their care.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results provided important initial information about the relationships people have with geriatric horses. Understanding how individuals perceive their horses and how they make decisions regarding complex veterinary care is critical in informing effective client communication.
Objective—To determine clinical features of horses
with bacterial meningitis or brain abscesses secondary
to infectious disease processes involving the
Animals—7 adult horses.
Procedure—Medical records of Tufts University, the
University of Pennsylvania, and the Livestock Disease
Diagnostic Center (Lexington, Ky) were reviewed to
identify adult (> 12 months old) horses in which a
postmortem diagnosis of bacterial meningitis or brain
abscess had been made. Horses were included in the
study if an intracranial infection was confirmed, the
horse had a primary infectious disease process involving
the head, and there were no signs of systemic
Results—23 adult horses with bacterial meningitis or
a brain abscess were examined during the study period,
but only 7 met the criteria for inclusion in the
study. Primary sites of infection included the
paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity, periocular tissues,
and submandibular lymph nodes. Three horses died
suddenly prior to hospitalization, and 1 horse was
hospitalized but died 7 days after the onset of neurologic
abnormalities. The remaining 3 horses were
euthanatized because of a rapid deterioration in clinical
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Although
rare, fatal intracranial complications can develop in
horses with infectious diseases involving the head.
(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:739–742)
Objective—To create a mathematical model to assist in early prediction of the probability of discharge in hospitalized foals ≤ 7 days old.
Study Design—Prospective study.
Procedures—Medical records from 910 hospitalized foals ≤ 7 days old for which outcome was recorded as died or discharged alive were reviewed. Thirty-four variables including historical information, physical examination findings, and laboratory results were examined for association with survival. Variables associated with being discharged alive were entered into a multivariable logistic regression model. Accuracy of the model was validated prospectively on data from 163 foals.
Results—Factors in the final model included age group, ability to stand, presence of a suckle reflex, WBC count, serum creatinine concentration, and anion gap. Sensitivity and specificity of the model to predict live discharge were 92% and 74%, respectively, in the retrospective population and 90% and 46%, respectively, in the prospective population. Accuracy of an equine clinician's initial prediction of the foal being discharged alive was 83%, and accuracy of the model's prediction was 81%. Combining the clinician's prediction of probability of live discharge with that of the model significantly increased (median increase, 12%) the accuracy of the prediction for foals that were discharged and nonsignificantly decreased (median decrease, 9%) the accuracy of the predication for nonsurvivors.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Combining the clinician's initial predication of the probability of a foal being discharged alive with that of the model appeared to provide a more precise early estimate of the probability of live discharge for hospitalized foals.