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Mark Twain was a lifelong lover of animals, particularly cats and dogs, and he wrote about animals throughout his writing career: his first national success, “The Jumping Frog,” included a variety of animals, and in his last decade, he wrote works on behalf of animal rights, including “A Dog’s Tale” and “A Horse’s Tale.” Late in his life, he was a prominent spokesman for animal rights and anti-vivisection. He called man “the lowest animal,” but his regard for and interest in other animals never wavered.
Even though Cormac McCarthy’s position in relation to the Western genre is subversive, working against a genre still requires thorough familiarity with the conventions of that genre. Two of McCarthy’s Western novels, namely Cities of the Plain (1998) and No Country for Old Men (2005), were originally written as screenplays, placing his writing within the context of the cinematic Western. Given McCarthy’s interest in both the genre and medium of Western films, an investigation into his cinematic influences is apposite. The publication dates of McCarthy’s Western novels follow the emergence of a revisionist shift in the Western film genre. The first wave of revisionist appeared in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. Largely influenced by social and ideological disillusionment following the Vietnam War, the films were characterized by their cynical, amoral, and above all violent portrayals of the so-called Wild West. There are numerous nuances of similarity between McCarthy’s Western novels and the most influential Western films of the pre-revisionist and revisionist eras, namely, those directed by John Ford, Sergio Leone, and especially Sam Peckinpah.
Periodic outbreaks of West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and to a lesser extent, California serogroup viruses (CSGV), have been reported in parts of Canada in the last decade. This study was designed to provide a broad assessment of arboviral activity in Quebec, Canada, by conducting serological surveys for these arboviruses in 196 horses, 1442 dogs and 485 humans. Sera were screened by a competitive enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and positive samples confirmed by plaque reduction neutralisation tests. The percentage of seropositive samples was 83·7%, 16·5%, 7·1% in horses, 18·8%, 0·6%, 0% in humans, 11·7%, 3·1%, 0% in adult dogs and 2·9%, 0·3%, 0% in juvenile dogs for CSGV, WNV and EEEV, respectively. Serological results in horses and dogs appeared to provide a meaningful assessment of risk to public health posed by multiple arboviruses.
Domesticated horses are increasingly kept under semi-natural housing conditions, whereas their adaptation capacity is not fully investigated. In all, 10 Shetland pony mares were held under semi-extensive conditions for 1 year. In winter animals were allocated into two feeding groups (60% and 100% of maintenance energy requirement, respectively). Triiodothyronine, thyroxine, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), total bilirubin, total protein, triglyceride, glucose, insulin and hair length were measured at monthly intervals, whereas BW, body condition score, cresty neck score and resting heart rate were recorded every 2 weeks. From summer to winter all Ponies showed a reduction in resting heart rate (P<0.001) and triiodothyronine (P<0.001) but an increase in NEFA (P<0.001), thyroxine (P<0.001) and triglyceride (P<0.001) concentrations. Feed restriction led to a reduced resting heart rate (P=0.009), increased NEFA (P<0.001) and total bilirubin (P=0.008) concentrations. Thyroid hormones did not differ between feeding groups (P>0.05). Refeeding of restrictively fed ponies resulted in a rapid increase in resting heart rate and BW and a return of blood parameters to reference values. Adequately supplied animals adapted without difficulty to varying environmental conditions, whereas feed restriction in ponies during winter resulted in reduced resting heart rates suggesting a reduced basal metabolic rate. The energy restriction was compensated by mobilizing body fat reserves which led to changes in blood parameters. Refeeding in feed restricted animals revealed a remarkably quick recovery of physiological and blood parameters to reference values. We therefore suggest that year round-outdoor housing can be a suitable housing system for robust horse breeds provided that an adequate food supply is available.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a growing public health concern in Europe and there is a need to develop more efficient early detection systems. Nervous signs in horses are considered to be an early indicator of WNV and, using them in a syndromic surveillance system, might be relevant. In our study, we assessed whether or not data collected by the passive French surveillance system for the surveillance of equine diseases can be used routinely for the detection of WNV. We tested several pre-processing methods and detection algorithms based on regression. We evaluated system performances using simulated and authentic data and compared them to those of the surveillance system currently in place. Our results show that the current detection algorithm provided similar performances to those tested using simulated and real data. However, regression models can be easily and better adapted to surveillance objectives. The detection performances obtained were compatible with the early detection of WNV outbreaks in France (i.e. sensitivity 98%, specificity >94%, timeliness 2·5 weeks and around four false alarms per year) but further work is needed to determine the most suitable alarm threshold for WNV surveillance in France using cost-efficiency analysis.
β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a popular ergogenic aid used by human athletes and as a supplement to sport horses, because of its ability to aid muscle recovery, improve performance and body composition. Recent findings suggest that HMB may stimulate satellite cells and affect expressions of genes regulating skeletal muscle cell growth. Despite the scientific data showing benefits of HMB supplementation in horses, no previous study has explained the mechanism of action of HMB in this species. The aim of this study was to reveal the molecular background of HMB action on equine skeletal muscle by investigating the transcriptomic profile changes induced by HMB in equine satellite cells in vitro. Upon isolation from the semitendinosus muscle, equine satellite cells were cultured until the 2nd day of differentiation. Differentiating cells were incubated with HMB for 24 h. Total cellular RNA was isolated, amplified, labelled and hybridised to microarray slides. Microarray data validation was performed with real-time quantitative PCR. HMB induced differential expressions of 361 genes. Functional analysis revealed that the main biological processes influenced by HMB in equine satellite cells were related to muscle organ development, protein metabolism, energy homoeostasis and lipid metabolism. In conclusion, this study demonstrated for the first time that HMB has the potential to influence equine satellite cells by controlling global gene expression. Genes and biological processes targeted by HMB in equine satellite cells may support HMB utility in improving growth and regeneration of equine skeletal muscle; however, the overall role of HMB in horses remains equivocal and requires further proteomic, biochemical and pharmacokinetic studies.
This paper reviews the occurrence and impact of threadworms, Strongyloides spp., in companion animals and large livestock, the potential zoonotic implications and future research. Strongyloides spp. infect a range of domestic animal species worldwide and clinical disease is most often encountered in young animals. Dogs are infected with Strongyloides stercoralis while cats are infected with different species according to geographical location (Strongyloides felis, Strongyloides tumefaciens, Strongyloides planiceps and perhaps S. stercoralis). In contrast to the other species, lactogenic transmission is not a primary means of infection in dogs, and S. stercoralis is the only species considered zoonotic. Strongyloides papillosus in calves has been linked to heavy fatalities under conditions of high stocking density. Strongyloides westeri and Strongyloides ransomi of horses and pigs, respectively, cause only sporadic clinical disease. In conclusion, these infections are generally of low relative importance in livestock and equines, most likely due to extensive use of macrocyclic lactone anthelmintics and/or improved hygiene. Future prevalence studies need to include molecular typing of Strongyloides species in relation to different hosts. More research is urgently needed on the potential zoonotic capacity of Strongyloides from dogs and cats based on molecular typing, information on risk factors and mapping of transmission routes.
Calcium is considered important in buffering excess stomach acid in mammals, including horses. Control of stomach acid is important in preventing the development of ulcers within the stomach lining, which, in horses, are considered to be caused by acid splashing. Algae supplements contain various minerals which are in natural form, as seen in all plant and feedstuffs. The current trial was conducted to examine if a high calcium algae supplement had any impact on gastric ulceration in horses, which may be due to buffering stomach acid, reducing the pH in a gradual manner, without resorting to medication. Ten horses, of either thoroughbred, standardbred or sport horse breed, were selected on the basis of the presence of ulcers in their stomach, as ascertained by endoscopy. The average ulceration score before algae supplementation was 2.2 ± 0.75 according to the EGUC scoring system. The horses were then maintained on their normal diet (unchanged from the initial ulcer scoring) by the owner with the addition of 40 g per day of the high calcium, algae based Maxia Complete® (Seahorse Supplements Ltd, Christchurch, NZ) for thirty days (T30). All horses were then re endoscoped to assess any change in ulceration score. All horses showed a significant improvement in ulcer score, with seven having a score of zero (fully healed, no evidence of further ulceration) and two with a score of one (some residual inflammation or keratinosis in areas of healed ulcers). This resulted in a mean score of 0.3 ± 0.48 (P < 0.0001: T0 versus T30) at the end of the study. This trial demonstrated that feeding an organic form of high calcium from algae reduced ulceration in horses.
Utilization of long-chain alcohols (LCOH) as diet composition markers in horses and cattle was assessed in a study conducted with 12 mature crossbreed mares (385±47 kg BW) and six adult non-lactating cows (499±36 kg BW) of Asturiana de los Valles breed. The LCOH data were combined with alkane and long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) data to test the applicability of combining these markers to estimate diet composition. Animals were randomly divided into groups of three animals and received a daily total amount of 1.0 kg dry matter/100 kg BW of diets composed of different proportions of ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and woody species (Ulex gallii and heather). Diet composition was estimated from even-chain LCOH (C20-OH to C30-OH) combined or not with alkane (C25-C31 and C33) and/or LCFA (C22-FA to C28-FA, C30-FA, C32-FA and C34-FA) concentrations in diet components and faeces by least-squares procedures, using marker faecal concentrations uncorrected for incomplete faecal recovery (FR0) or corrected using mean recoveries across diets within animal species (FR1). Results showed large differences between plant species in their LCOH profiles, and that these markers offered additional discriminatory information to that provided by alkanes and LCFA. The LCOH markers were incompletely recovered in the faeces of both animal species. In cattle, LCOH FR tended to increase with carbon-chain length in a linear manner in both diets (P<0.001), whereas in horses overall data showed a curvilinear relationship between these variables. Combination of LCOH, LCFA and alkanes resulted in more accurate diet estimates. Correction of faecal LCOH concentrations to incomplete FR led to more accurate diet composition estimates in both animal species. Results obtained in this study suggest the usefulness of LCOH markers combined with alkanes and LCFA to estimate diet composition of horses and cattle grazing mixed grassy–woody plant communities.
An appropriate energy feeding management that ensures the optimal dietary energy supply according to the energy expenditure (EE) is a crucial component for the horse’s performance. The main purpose of this study was to determine the EE during four specific exercises used in the training of Standardbred trotters (promenade, jogging, parcours and interval work-outs). A total of six Standardbred geldings performed four different testing situations on a track. The intensity (expressed in percentage of the maximal velocity over 500 m, i.e. v500) and volume (distance and duration) of the testing situations were determined according to practices reported by French trainers. Promenade and jogging included only an exercise phase, whereas parcours and interval situations also included a warm-up and a recovery phase. Oxygen uptake (VO2), carbon dioxide production (VCO2) and heart rate (HR) were continuously recorded from 2 min before the beginning through to the end of the testing situations, using a portable respiratory gas analyser. Blood lactate levels and rectal temperature were determined before and immediately after the exercise phase of each testing situations. EE of the different phases (warm-up, exercise and recovery) and EE of the entire testing situations (EETOTAL) were calculated from VO2 measurements and the O2 caloric equivalent. Interval and parcours situations induced higher physiological responses than promenade and jogging situations, particularly in terms of VO2peak, VCO2peak and HRpeak. The highest blood lactate concentration (6 mmol/l) was measured after the interval exercise, and respiratory exchange ratios ⩾1 were observed only for the parcours situation. The EE of exercise phase varied from 0.49 to 1.79 kJ/min per kg for promenade and parcours situations. The EE of warm-up and recovery phases did not differ between parcours and interval situations, and was estimated at 1.04 and 0.57 kJ/min per kg BW, respectively. On average, the warm-up and the recovery phases contributed to 38% and 19% of the EETOTAL. For promenade, jogging, parcours and interval situations, EETOTAL was evaluated at 12 618, 11 119, 13 698 and 18 119 kJ, respectively.
Examining the characteristics of an animal’s lying behaviour, such as frequency and duration of lying bouts, has become increasingly relevant for animal welfare research. Triaxial accelerometers have the advantage of being able to continuously monitor an animal’s standing and lying behaviour without relying on live observations or video recordings. Multiple models of accelerometers have been validated for use in monitoring dairy cattle; however, no units have been validated for use in equines. This study tested Onset Pendant G data loggers attached to the hind limb of each of two mature Standardbred horses for a period of 5 days. Data loggers were set to record their position every 20 s. Horses were monitored via live observations during the day and by video recordings during the night to compare activity against accelerometer data. All lying events occurred overnight (three to five lying bouts per horse per night). Data collected from the loggers was converted and edited using a macro program to calculate the number of bouts and the length of time each animal spent lying down by hour and by day. A paired t-test showed no significant difference between the video observations and the output from the data loggers (P=0.301). The data loggers did not distinguish standing hipshot from standing square. Predictability, sensitivity, and specificity were all >99%. This study has validated the use of Onset Pendant G data loggers to determine the frequency and duration of standing and lying bouts in adult horses when set to sample and register readings at 20 s intervals.
The purpose of the present study was to compare digestibility of grass hay, faecal and plasma volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations, and faecal bacterial abundance in overweight and moderate-condition mares. Five overweight adult mixed-breed mares and five adult mixed-breed mares in moderate condition were housed individually and limit-fed orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) hay at 20 g/kg body weight (as fed) daily for 14 d. Forage DM and fibre digestibility were determined using AOAC methods; digestible energy was measured using bomb calorimetry; plasma and faecal VFA concentrations were determined by use of GC and MS; faecal Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Fibrobacter succinogenes, Ruminococcus flavefaciens and total bacteria abundance was determined by quantitative real-time PCR using previously designed phylum-specific 16S ribosomal RNA gene primers. No differences in hay digestibility, faecal VFA concentrations or faecal bacterial abundance were detected between overweight and moderate-condition mares. Mean plasma acetate concentrations were higher (P = 0·03) in overweight (1·55 (range 1·43–1·65) mmol/l) v. moderate-condition (1·39 (range 1·22–1·47) mmol/l) mares. We conclude that the higher plasma acetate in overweight mares should be further investigated as a potential link between gut microbes and obesity in horses.
The Illerup Aadal weapon sacrifice mirrors the material world of a Germanic army from c. AD 210. Apart from the personal equipment and the weaponry of more than 400 warriors, it comprises four horses. The present paper gives the first conclusive analysis of the skeletal remains of these animals, involving osteological investigation and strontium isotope analysis. The results shed new light on the character of the sacrificial ceremonies which unfolded in the aftermath of Iron Age battles; on the nature of cavalry and its significance in Iron Age warfare; and on the much debated question as to where the army of Illerup Aadal had originally come from.
This study investigated some aspects of breeding management in the Italian Heavy Draught Horse breed, aiming at improving its efficiency at stud farm level. A first aim was to evaluate the risk of unsuccessful reproduction in mares after an early (3 years) or normal (4 years) age at first foaling, in interaction with different stud rearing systems. A second objective was the examination of the mean time length in which young 2-year-old stallions maintain a genetic superiority on older proven stallions, identifying a ‘genetic lifespan’ in which young stallions can be safely used for reducing the cost of services. Reproductive performance at first and second foaling of 1513 mares were used. Mares had a normal first foal at 3 (n = 745) or 4 years of age (n = 768) in stud farms on the basis of stable (n = 488), feral (n = 345) or semi-feral (n = 680) rearing systems. Logistic regression analysis was performed by modeling the risk of unsuccessful reproduction in the subsequent season (i.e., results at second foaling), as affected by the interaction of age at first foaling × rearing system (six classes). Genetic lifespan of young stallions was estimated by regressing the least square means from a mixed model analysis for repeated measures of individual differences in ‘total merit’ estimated breeding values (EBVs) between young stallions (mean no. of 45/year) and the mean EBV of all proven stallions in a given year of genetic evaluation (mean no. of 483/year). Young stallions born between 1999 and 2005 were used, following each generation (i.e., birth year) from 2 to 7 subsequent yearly genetic evaluations. In comparison with the best reproductive success of second foaling at 4 years in stable systems, the greatest risk of unsuccessful reproduction was at 3 years in feral (+167%) and 3 years in semi-feral conditions (+91%). Young stallions showed a 0.50 s.d. greater EBV at the first evaluation than proven stallions, with a mean annual decrease in EBV of 0.07 s.d./year on proven stallions. Optimal breeding management could be obtained in stud farms by limiting foaling at 3 years, particularly in feral and semi-feral rearing systems, and using young stallions for 3 to 4 years to maintain a perceptible selection differential with older proven stallions and to reduce cost of services. Later, the selection differential with proven stallions become less consistent and genetic improvement could be slowed down.