Medicina vetrerinaria

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Smith John Smith Mr. O’Brien English IV/2B 20 November 2011 Equine Degenerative Joint Disease in the Competition Horse An aged Yiddish Proverb states, “The wagon rests in winter, the sleigh in summer, the horse never.” This quote remains true even in today’s reality of most every competition horse. These equine athletes are expected to be at the top of their game and spend long hours traveling onthe road in addition to their competing. Training proceeds year-round, and along with this strenuous cycle comes such stress injuries as strained muscles or tendons, small fractures, and even complications like joint deterioration. Equine Degenerative Joint Disease can have damaging effects on typical competition horses; however, there are several measures one can take to prevent them. Joints arehighly complex structures composed of a variety of connective tissues comprising bone, articular cartilage, and peri-articular soft tissues, which all contribute to everyday joint function and undergo changes in metabolism and structure as part of disease (Caron 572). “Equine Degenerative Joint Disease(EDJD), also commonly referred to as Equine Osteoarthritis(EOA), may be considered a group ofdisorders characterized by a common end stage, progressive deterioration of the articular cartilage, accompanied by changes in the bone and soft tissues of the joint,” writes C.W. McIlwraith, BVSc, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVS (McIlwraith “Effectively” 1). This tissue is responsible for the functions of the joint, including weight distribution and bearing the weight of the equine. During proper function, thecartilaginous


Smith 2 surfaces glide atop one another with virtually no friction, even when carrying weight. However, in cases of joint trauma or EOA, the natural structure and normal function of the articular cartilage are disconcerted, which paves the way for joint abnormalities in biochemical, biomechanical, and structural states. When such trauma is left untreated, progressive jointdeterioration (EDJD) begins to occur. Not only will the joints begin to deteriorate, but the organs of other body systems will begin to fail (Caron 572). Along with repetitive wear and tear to the joints, there are other factors that can contribute to EDJD. Fetal and maternal malnutrition, genetically inherited traits such as reduced ability of the joint to manage trauma or bear weight, andstructural abnormalities are just a few other harmful circumstances (Bertone 1). There are in fact particular equines susceptible to developing this disease. Equines trained and shown in categories such as barrel racing, jumping, or eventing all fall under this category. Barrel racing involves an equine beginning at the entrance to the arena sprinting at full speed to the first barrel, slowing down tocomplete a full 360_ around the barrel, sprinting to the second barrel to repeat the same process, sprinting to the third barrel to repeat the process again, then tearing to the finish line (Caron 1030). The whole process of running full speed then turning on a dime does not conform to the natural movement of equines and poses extreme trauma and stresses on the joint. The hock and stifle joints,which are located in the hind legs, are most commonly affected. In addition, some of these horses begin to undergo training and competition at a young age, often even before their bodies have fully matured. This poses an almost guaranteed threat for EDJD if not properly taken care of. Most of these are retired after a few years of competing and then used for breeding as a precaution so the diseasedoes not develop. The sport of jumping includes the equine athlete jumping over huge obstacles

Smith 3 anywhere from a virtual standstill to a collected gallop with accuracy, precision, and care. Great stress is placed on the hind limb suspensory apparatus during the takeoff stage and the forelimb suspensory apparatus is also stressed during the landing because of the abundant weight crushed...
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