Monday, January 28, 2008

Armchair veterinarian: Equine research for the non-vet

Skip to equine veterinary links.

In 8th grade I refused to dissect a worm in science class. In fact, I refused to watch. Temperament-wise, I'd much rather read about how to deliver a foal than to actually deliver one. So despite an all-consuming passion for animals, veterinary science was not a career option. Reference librarians, on the other hand, read and study endlessly on many specialized topics not in their area of expertise. As a grownup reference librarian, I don't have to be a veterinarian to "play one on TV." I do a lot of research my own horse's ailments. One might think that being armed with knowledge is a good thing. I'm not sure my veterinarians would agree.

Case in point: In 2006, Riley showed signs of tummy problems--yawning and chewing wood -- so I called the vet in. By the time she came to the farm, I'd searched Google and online databases for Index Medicus and Index Veterinarius. I'd learned the basic facts and my reading inspired a host of new, more difficult questions. I didn't ask "how do you test for ulcers?" I asked "would you expect blood fibringen levels to be elevated in colonic ulceration?" The young vet who came to the farm found this very tiresome, and she actually rolled her eyes at one point. Humphf! Okay, I'd gone too far. My favorite vet, Dr. W, seems not only to tolerate, but to enjoy my questions. Go figure.

Are you an armchair vet?
As much I hate worrisome and expensive horse ailments, I love researching veterinary topics. Equus magazine comes to our house every month, and I have an electronic subscription to The Horse. There's a LOT of horse information on the Internet, but you don't always know if it is authoritative. I like to find info from vet schools and extension agencies. The former tends to publish the latest findings on relevant topics. The sites below are credible and authoritative, plus the veterinary Web sites and newsletters report on unpublished/ongoing research.

Veterinary School and Institute Newsletters

Equine Science Center from Rutgers University
Rating: ****
Gotta see this one! Includes Q and A advice column, news, research reports, white papers, and learning opportunities.

Horsequest from Penn State University
Rating: ****
Sometimes extension publications are a little basic. Not these, look at topics such as equine muscle fiber types, equine thermoregulation, and blood pumping mechanism of the horse. Lots of information here. Can search by keyword, browse subject, or view popular articles.

Equine Health publications from University of California - Davis
Rating: ****
Includes the Horse Report, published quarterly, and other publications.
Each issue covers a different topic, e.g., colic, suspensory injurie, and global health of the sport horse. The Research Review reports on current research at the school. Polished and authoritative.

Equine Hospital Newsletter from Colorado State University
Rating: ****
This is the second of what is apparently an annual newsletter. The current issue provides a detailed case study, replete with graphic surgery pix and descriptions of state of the art techniques. Worth watching for the next edition!

Equinews from Kentucky Equine Research, Inc.
Rating: ****
Geared toward horse owners, this newsletter covers relevant topics and provides up to date research summaries.

Equine E-News from Ohio state University
Rating: ****
One article per newsletter, fairly detailed, and very topical. For example, the current article is about feeding during drought.

Horse Health page from American Association of Equine Practitioners
Rating: ****
White papers from the Equine Research Coordination Group (ERCG) on topics such as laminitis, osteoarthritis, and the equine genome.

Horse and mule publications from University of Missouri extension
Rating: ****
Publications are geared toward the middle of the road owner -- each article goes beyonod the basics, but is not super-technical. Topics like controlling internal parasites, what is a splint, determining a horse's age, and cold shoeing.

Poisonous Plants Database from Cornell University
Great resource, searchable database.

Publications from Texas A&M University
Rating: ***
Includes online video, press releases, and publications from TAMU. Topics seem to focus on disaster preparedness.

Equine AoE Team from Michigan State University
Rating: ***
See a) the veterinary extension section (view articles and bulletins), and b) adult horse extension (publications and newsletter links). The veterinary extension articles are geared to practitioners, adult articles are geared to owners. Good articles, some unique information not readily found elsewhere.

Pet Columns (Equine) from University of Illinois
Rating: ***
Basically a long list of well-crafted, brief articles on horse health on topics like tying up, colic, EPM, foaling, dental care, wobbler syndrome, summer and winter health.

Horse Extension from University of Minnesota
“Unbiased research for horse owners.” Great resource on issues such as blanketing and round bale management, check out the Horse Team newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter too.

Southwest PA Equine News
Rating: ***
Brief news articles from a variety of resources. Required reading for horse owners in SW PA, but there are also good general articles and announcements.

Penn State Horse Newsletter
Rating: ***
Focuses on current news in equine management and trends affecting the horse industry. Also seminar/training announcements. Make sure to look at the publications link for great stuff like stall design, fire safety, and stable flooring.

DVM News
magazine of Veterinary Medicine
Rating: ***
Geared toward vets, see equine link on main page for news and medical topics. Also a link for veterinarians to find out the latest in managing an equine practice.

Equine Veterinary Management
Rating: ***
Geared to veterinarians, information on practice management and trends in the industry. Good for anyone considering a veterinary career.

My Equine Network
Rating: ***
No indication of who authors this site, which makes me nervous. However, Myequinenetwork collects news from authoritative sources that can be viewed by date or category, plus you can get news feeds by category (see syndication link).

Equine Disease Quarterly from University of Kentucky
Rating: ****
Great publication, timely topics, authoritative reports with statistics and analysis. Emphasis is on equine public health as opposed to practical tips for owners.

Equine News from Washington State University
Rating: ***
Geared toward residents of Washington State, this newsletter includes research reports, announcements, practical tips, and new drugs and treatments.

OSU E-Equine from Oklahoma State University
Rating: **
Basic info for the first time owner.

Southern Illinois Equine Information Newsletter
Rating: **
Fairly basic information geared to new horse owners.

Equine Newsletter from Louisiana State University
Rating: **
A mixture of practical information and public relations for the program. Available as an enewsletter.


  1. HI, I recently found your blog and have been keeping up. Thanks for posting! I would suggest another publication for your interest in equine medical stuff... it's called "The Horse" from the "Blood-Horse" magazine... very in depth, good articles on horse health.

    I look forward to more entries! Loved the one on Mr. Big. I saw him at Foxhall and fell in love.

  2. Oh, yes, , I subscribe to The Horse ( It is excellent and I suspect vets read it to stay current. I'll mention it in the article, it has a nice email update feature too.



  3. Ah, yes, The Horse at - I subscribe but neglected to mention it. Thanks!


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