Science versus Old Wives Tales?

1stclassalan

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Now my old mum is convinced that you can catch a cold waiting at a bus stop - particularly if you've rushed out after washing your hair or had a recent bath but come on ...... this is 2010 not 1710 ..... you wouldn't expect a modern doctor to bleed you to effect a cure.

So why are there reports in last week's H & H about horses having colic problems because they've been kept in during the bad weather with the inference that the lack of movement and restricted water has caused their guts to impact. This report is of course dimetrically opposed but another feature a bit further in that says horses have evolved to do with water when they have to!

As far as I understand, the gut of all mammals works much like an earthworm moves - it is automatic and systematic - just as breathing and heartbeat are.

It may well be that changes to diet can introduce imbalances in the body chemicals that control that movement but to blandly state that restricted access to water will do it is wrong.

I also have a strong opinion that the idea of a rolling horse twisting a gut is also one of the biggest myths - if the rolling horse has one - it is the cause of the rolling and not the other way about.

Discuss.
 
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1stclassalan

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Because the horse is designed to walk around all day not be stuck in a 12x12 box.
You are posting like my old mum! Horses - or that matter any of us were not "designed" to do anything by anything - we are all a bunch of interacting chemicals brought about by random chance. Once an organism is formed, what most folk call evolution by natural selection takes over. The fact that a horse is an animal of wide open spaces now ( even though it evolved from the eohippus of quite different "design" ) does not necessarily mean that it cannot cope without being cramped up.

And no amount of captivity will in my opinion stop the gut working like an earthworm no more than I'd expect it to stop a horse breathing.
 

tristar

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i always feed damped hay, and if they have to eat only hay indoors give a mash and my favourite is to cut long grass with shears to feed and just watch it come out the other end all lovely and green.
check the horses droppings to see if they are soft , if not, do something about it.
 

3DE

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As above - dehydration means that the gut reabsorbs more water making the food bolus harder and more prone to impaction. Also being stuck in a 12x12 and not able to move slows down the movement even further - moving around actually aids movement of food through the gut. Have you ever noticed that after a long walk or swim you often need a poo? Lack of exercise is a huge cause of human constipation...
 

ofcourseyoucan

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horses were not designed to live indoors! walking and movement helps with gut activity, yes they can do without water for periods(but not ideal) as long as not eating cream crackers. science had evolved, but old wives tales generaly ring true!
 

teddyt

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You are posting like my old mum! Horses - or that matter any of us were not "designed" to do anything by anything - we are all a bunch of interacting chemicals brought about by random chance. Once an organism is formed, what most folk call evolution by natural selection takes over. The fact that a horse is an animal of wide open spaces now ( even though it evolved from the eohippus of quite different "design" ) does not necessarily mean that it cannot cope without being cramped up.

And no amount of captivity will in my opinion stop the gut working like an earthworm no more than I'd expect it to stop a horse breathing.
Actually i agree with notjustforxmas. Horses are not physically and mentally designed to live how we keep them. Some cope but many dont. And define cope. Its not black and white.

Colic, azoturia, laminitis, box walking, weaving, crib biting..... All man made and all caued by innappropriate management.

I think science is hugely valuable but it should be used alongside good old fashioned horse management, which sadly is lacking these days. You need both- one is not sufficient on its own imo.
 

1stclassalan

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I see no scientific evidence here from any of you, including the OP.
S :D
Ah, my original post needs no scientific evidence - it calls for it! I merely pointed out that there were two 180 degree conflicts reported and that there must be an answer that is correct based on a little more than conjecture.

It's quite obvious that horses have evolved into a migratory herd animal that necessarily has to move large distances often eating on the move - I would contend that the animal's gut had the same trouble dealing with all that movement as with standing still - the same for having a lot of water or the lack of it but I have no evidence - does anybody?

If you have ever seen a video of a fertilised egg begin to cell divide, one of the first recognisable features is a tube forming that becomes the gut and spinal column - thus the workings of this feature are set very early on and continue even while the whole animal might be under considerable stress.

As an aside too, you cannot be sure as to how the gut is working by how often poo drops - cars come out of the factory at so many a minute but that's not how long it takes to make one. I studied my mare intently after giving her the old blue 100's & 1000's worming potion - the little bits took 24 hours to start appearing and 96 to completely clear - despite her doing the regulation ten piles a day.

During her seventeen years with me she had colic twice, once really badly back in the days when sufferers were tubed with cooking oil, I feared for her and stayed with her for 24 hours till all was well, on either occasion she had no different treatment, no differing food, good access to water etc., etc.
 

1stclassalan

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How about the fact that if you are dehydrated you get constipated. Science doesn't require repeatable demonstration by experiment - just repeatable demonstration ;)
Hmmm,,, I feel you have an agenda..... but I'll play along.

I dispute that dehydration and constipation are that closely linked - what evidence can you bring?

Then again, what constitutes dehydration ?

Your last statement is self defeating.
 

KitKat_89

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If scientific evidence is what you want, may I point you in the direction of GoogleScholar, Science Direct, PubMed, and many other academic search engines.

As I am bored, I have had a little browse myself:

Risk factors for equine acute abdominal disease (colic) : Results from a multi-center case-control study
Mathew J. Reeves, MO D. Salman, Gary Smith
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 26 (1996) 285-301

EQUINE VETERINARY JOURNAL
Equine vet. J. (1997) 29 (6) 454-458
Prospective study of equine colic risk factors
MARY K. TINKER', N. A. WHITE, P. LESSARDS, C. D. THATCHER, K. D. PELZER, BETTY DAVlS and D. K. CARMELS

Case control study to investigate risk factors for impaction colic in donkeys in the UK
Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Volume 92, Issue 3, 15 November 2009, Pages 179-187
Ruth Cox, Faith Burden, Lee Gosden, Christopher Proudman, Andrew Trawford and Gina Pinchbeck

All of the above, and many others cite limited, or no access to water (even for short periods of an hour or two) as risk factors for colic.

This doesn't mean access to water is the only risk factor, nor that all horses who go without water for a time will get colic.

If common sense isn't enough to convince you, how does that little list do? If you disagree with the statments made, go research evidence to support your argument!

(For anyone annoyed by my lack of structured referancing - please forgive my laziness of just c/p-ing)
 
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3DE

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I dispute that dehydration and constipation are that closely linked - what evidence can you bring?
As dehydration occur the large bowel reabsorbs more water thus causing the bolus to become more firm. The decrease in fluid balance causes an increase in the haematocrit of the red cells thus making the blood more 'sticky' (for want of a better layman's term). The increased stickiness of the blood reduces the blood supply to the bowel thus reducing the removal of toxins. In addition to this reduced blood flow also caused the mucosa to decrease production of mucus, further decreasing lubrication.

So a hard mass, little lubrication and a buildup of toxins can result in constipation (impaction colic in horses) and in worse case scenarios perforation of the duodenum and toxic shock.

What evidence can you bring to the discussion disproving that constipation/impaction colic isn't linked to dehydration. I can prove my point, can you prove yours? It's no good claiming I have an agenda without proving evidence to support your own point of view. After all, you raised the topic.

My qualifications are the following BSc Hons in Biomedical Sciences specialising in cellular pathology and haematology - degree project was development of a novel stain for the presence of H.pylori in the gastric mucosa, MSc in Biomedical Sciences specialising in Transfusion Science - masters project was influence of fluid balance, particularly over-fluidisation and dehydration in the requirement of blood transfusion. I currently work as Blood Bank Manager and participate in a multidisciplinary on call service offering Haematology, Chemistry, Coagulation, Trnasfusion and Microbiology testing and also offering technical and clinical advice.

I base my statements on personal experience and 18 years of training/practice in my field. What do you base your statements on?
 

3DE

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This doesn't mean access to water is the only risk factor, nor that all horses who go without water for a time will get colic.
Agreed - another risk factor is poor mobility. Decreased mobility decreased the movement through the bowel. In my experience in hoomans, the elderly are particularly at risk of severe constipation, and the complications involved with it, as they tend to have limited mobility and decreased fluid intake.

Here's one for you - myself and OH have same diet. I poo twice per day, and have lovely soft motions. He poos twice per week and frequently makes himself bleed. The only difference is that I am more active than him and also he drinks more coffee and alcohol than me. Since he has taken on a new , more active job he has started drinking a lot of squash (he gets thirsty because of the hard work) and of course moving about more. Suddenly our bowel movements are comparable :)

If anyone on here ever meets OH, please don't tell him I have been discussing his bowel habits on the interweb ;)
 

3DE

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Your last statement is self defeating.
It isn't :) I was pointing out that something can be proved by reproducibility invivo. There is no need to provide experimental evidence if nature already provides that evidence - you stated "Remember that science requires demonstration by repeatable experiment". I was simply pointing out that you were not completely on the mark there...

I for one am for science over old wives tales any day. But some old wives tales can be proven to have some substance. Except for the one about sitting on a cold wall giving you piles... Mum - that's bull excrement!
 

3DE

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C_C your posts need a "like" button :D

(and your qualifications shame my ten minutes of googling :eek: )
I'm not normally one to brag TBH but when asked 'where's your proof?' at least I can state my experience/experiences. I wonder what OP can claim... Or even if that can back up their derogation of my post ;) My guess is that it will turn into name calling rather than there being any actual scientific basis ;)

As a scientist, one never asks people of proof (unless our own POV is questioned lol), I would research something myself and gain a better understanding. Sometimes I even change my own POV based on information I have found. Once example is battery hens - the minimum standards of care for battery chickens is better than that of barn chickens and even some free range! I still wouldn't buy battery but now I only buy organic (for the increased welfare rather than the 'organicness') if I do need to buy chicken. For the main I just go in the garden and kill my own.
 

KitKat_89

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Oh and other thank thanks again - I'm too lazy to google ;) If I don't have personal knowledge I don't get involved lol
Haha, I was going to keep out of it honest! ;) As I know nowt about it, but OP's attitude annoyed me greatly. Disputing opinion is one thing, but if you want evidence, and are not willing to accept perfectly sensible comments without it....go and look it up ffs!

You shouldn't claim lack of 'scientific evidence' just because you can't provide any yourself! Grrr

Oh dear - I seem to have a seasonal case of grumpiness! :(
 

mystiandsunny

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According to my vet, a horse not drinking enough can cause compaction. I'm guessing if she was taught that at vet school, there is a scientific basis behind it. Her point though was that the horse needs to drink enough over the course of a day, not in a specific period. Generally, according to her, they'll only not drink enough if water isn't available, or if they're feeling ill.

The one about frosty grass causing lami - it can. Want the scientific info? The grass plant moves around its sugars into the above-ground bit (leaves) to increase the concentration of sugar molecules in the liquid within them, and thus lower the temperature at which ice crystals are likely to form. If they do form, they destroy the cell walls and cause a lot of damage.

Many other 'old wives tales' are correct, many are not. Some work but not for the reason given!
 

perfect11s

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Now my old mum is convinced that you can catch a cold waiting at a bus stop - particularly if you've rushed out after washing your hair or had a recent bath but come on ...... this is 2010 not 1710 ..... you wouldn't expect a modern doctor to bleed you to effect a cure.

So why are there reports in last week's H & H about horses having colic problems because they've been kept in during the bad weather with the inference that the lack of movement and restricted water has caused their guts to impact. This report is of course dimetrically opposed but another feature a bit further in that says horses have evolved to do with water when they have to!

As far as I understand, the gut of all mammals works much like an earthworm moves - it is automatic and systematic - just as breathing and heartbeat are.

It may well be that changes to diet can introduce imbalances in the body chemicals that control that movement but to blandly state that restricted access to water will do it is wrong.

I also have a strong opinion that the idea of a rolling horse twisting a gut is also one of the biggest myths - if the rolling horse has one - it is the cause of the rolling and not the other way about.

Discuss.
They say the devil makes work for idle hands , you seem to love to play devils advocate with your posts, I realy loved the student one PMSL!!!!....
 

tristar

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many years ago i caught an awful cold waiting at a bustop, freezing to death, please report back to mom.
i believe its quite true about older people not drinking enough, in fact i might suggest we would all feel a lot better if we drank water regularly throughout the day, i personally drink a glass of water every three hours, and can recommend.
when my horses are indoors due to the weather they have damped hay 5 times a day 7.30 11.30 4.0pm 6.0 9.0 because horses need to eat at regular intervals, this encourages them to drink, i might suggest that fed at less regular intervals could cause them to bolt the hay without sufficient mastication.
my scientific qualifications are, (due to the fact i left school at fifteen, never to return,) watching and observing horses and common sense.
 

paisley

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If we're going to dispute the word 'designed' can we consider that the horse is a mongastric hindgut fermentor please? The essential structure and function of the horse gut indicate what this system is meant to do. You mention that the gut is an early feature of development- well super, but its still going to develop into the digestive system of the species, not what the species might have to cope with.
The bulk of digestions occurs in the hind-gut , which also acts as a resevoir for water. And as very knowledgable people have pointed out, less water simply means that any remaining plant fibre will impact.
The small intestine and stomach do relatively little in terms of equine digestion. And as you have pointed out, the horse is free ranging, and therefore termed a 'trickle feeder' to allow both eating and running away!
 

tristar

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i also understood that the pelvic flexure? is where it can get impacted, and also that the continous movement of the gut, peristalis, is dependent to a large extent on the regular amounts of fibre to maintain its action, no to mention the benefit of the hind gut flora, but then i left school at 15 so i could be wrong!
 

Mike007

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What the OP has completely failed to grasp is that there is no contradiction.Restricting fluid intake does cause colic and yes horses have evolved to drink at irregular intervals,but the crucial point is that a horse cannot survive indefinately on restricted water.It must at some point have access to an adequate supply of water to rehydrate. If people want "science" and scientific explanations it might help to learn to read and think a bit more.
 

amandap

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Because the horse is designed to walk around all day not be stuck in a 12x12 box.
I agree with this. Human's get constipated if they don't move too. :D Movement is incredibly important for horses in all sorts of ways, circulation, good muscle and body development, good hoof structure and function, good mental attitude, generating warmth etc. etc. etc.
I may be old but these are not old wives tales I'm afraid. Sorry if it doesn't fit in with what you believe op.

All body systems are influenced by each other. If circulation is reduced everything slows down including peristalsis. Add to that only dry hay,dry feed and there is a recipe for constipation or impaction colic as it's called in horses.
 
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