Research vs. Reality

We always have our radar set to ?research,? so we can help make your horse-keeping simpler, easier and more efficient. Unfortunately, good ones are few and far between, and I end up pasting much of what I find on Facebook because the information is more amusing than useful, like reindeer fur for saddle pads. (Please visit our Facebook page and ?Like? us, as we and our sister publications track that sort of thing. Although I know Horse Journal readers spend more time in the barn rather than at the computer, it would help our tally, if you can.)

Among the troublesome research studies I’ve run into was one about paste deworming, stating that horses find paste deworming more stressful than getting tablets. The article was published in the International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine. The researchers measured stress using indicators like the horse’s Flehman response, tossing or shaking their head, defecating and salivation.

I don’t know about you, but my horses don’t seem stressed by paste dewormers. They might initially avoid the tube, but they certainly don’t salivate about it or carry on about it. Now, if I’m late getting the feed out of the feed room, well, that’s clearly equine stress, measured by pawing, kicking, neighing and running around the stall.

If you think your horse is stressed by paste deworming, I’d advise you to work with him, so that he becomes more accustomed to it and considers it an acceptable practice. I’ve little doubt that most dewormer pastes aren?t tasty, but it’s an annoyance at most. The important thing is that the pastes are effective, and a belly full of parasites has to be more stressful than a 10-second paste dosing.

When it comes to silly research, I’m also always reminded about the claims on fly spray labels about their ability to last days, even weeks. Ask any horseman, and you’ll be told we’re lucky if we get a couple of hours out of even a top (aka expensive) fly spray.

The researchers making those long-duration claims are watching how many flies stay on the horse and for how long and if they bite the horse. They don’t count flies that land and leave, but our horses sure do. Researchers don’t worry about how often the horse stomps away those pesky bugs, but we do. All they watch is whether the flies actually land and stay or not and how that compares to the untreated horse. But is this useful’

Dr. Grant Miller, one of our Veterinary Editors, makes the point in his cover article on Legend and Adequan that there are thousands of research papers on joint supplements ? oral or injected ? and they have conflicting viewpoints and findings. it’s confusing to vets and horsemen.

Interestingly, the research does agree that these products do more to prevent joint problems and inflammation than they do to control it. That finally answers the question, ?Should I give a joint product to my young horses’? Yes. Finally, research that makes sense.