In veterinary school, students are taught that urine is the "golden elixir of life"; if urine isn’t produced normally, the animal’s health is in danger. So what happens if your horse’s golden elixir suddenly turns blood red?

"Bloody urine can be caused by a variety of conditions, some as innocent as a bladder stone or a urinary tract infection while others include life-threatening cancers or tears in the lining of the urinary tract," explained Hal Schott II, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, during his presentation at the 12th Congress of The World Equine Veterinary Association, held Nov. 2-6, 2011, in Hyderabad, India.

During his review presentation Schott highlighted three less common causes of bloody urine (called hematuria) in horses:

Exercise-associated hematuria is caused by the abdominal organs pounding the bladder against the pelvis during exercise. This trauma leads to ulceration of the inner lining of the bladder and is more likely to occur in horses that empty their bladder immediately before exercising or in horses that exercise for a long time (such as endurance horses).

"This diagnosis should only be made after other more common causes of hematuria have been ruled out, such as a bladder stone," advised Schott.

Urethral tears occur in stallions and geldings, Schott explained, and Quarter Horses or Quarter Horse crosses are believed to be more commonly affected than other breeds. Horses with tears void a normal volume and color of urine, but at the end of urination a series