Causes of Poor Equine Body Condition in Nicaragua

It’s nearly impossible to separate simple malnutrition from the presence of other diseases, one veterinarian said.

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One of the most obvious signs of welfare issues in working equids is emaciated body condition. While we might be quick to judge that these animals are not receiving enough food, the reality is that dental issues, parasites, or other diseases or conditions might be contributing factors.

Sara Gomez-Ibanez, DVM, of Sustainable Veterinarians International, has participated in a number of equitarian projects in Central America—“equitarian” referring to volunteer equine veterinarians sustainably improving working equid health. During an October 2014 Equitarian Workshop in Nicaragua, she decided to investigate several infectious and parasitic conditions of working equids there and see how they correlated with low body condition scores.

She presented her results at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

“As a veterinarian, I wondered why some horses looked so much better than others in the same area,” she said. “I started asking (the owners) questions and got recurring complaints: lethargy, inappetence, and ill thrift

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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