Leave The Light On: Blue Light Therapy May Help Keep PPID Horses More Comfortable - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Leave The Light On: Blue Light Therapy May Help Keep PPID Horses More Comfortable

One hallmark of horses affected by pars pituitary intermedia dysfunction (PPID, formerly known as Cushing's disease) is their long, thick haircoats, which often grow year-round (most abundantly in fall) and don't shed well. This overabundance of hair puts horses at risk for discomfort from the heat and at risk of skin infections, reports The Horse

Researchers have suggested that exposing horses with PPID to blue light may affect their circadian rhythm, which affects the seasonal hormone regulation that influences hair growth. Blue light is one of the lights found in natural sunlight; it regulates melatonin. 

A mask that aims blue light into one eye of a horse has become popular in recent years to manipulate mares' heat cycles, as well as to help show horses maintain a summer hair coat year-round.

Dr. Amanda Adams, an associate professor and specialist in equine immunology at the University of Kentucky, wanted to test whether the blue light would assist horses affected by PPID. Adams joined forces with Dr. Barbara Murphy, an assistant professor at University College Dublin's School of Agriculture and Food Science, in Ireland, and student, Dr. Ashton Miller. 

The team created a study using 18 PPID-positive horses of various breeds that were not being treated for their condition. 

The blue-light mask was used on eight of the horses from mid-July to late October. The masked horses received 14.5 hours of light per day, including naturally sunlit hours. The unmasked horses received 10.5 hours of blue light from the sun each day.

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 The research team tested adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, weight, temperature, heart, and respiratory rates multiple times throughout the study. None of these differed between the two groups. However, the weight of the individual hairs varied. Samples taken from behind the hip seven times were repeatedly lighter and shorter on the horses that were wearing the blue-light mask. This did not affect the mask-wearing horse's ability to grow winter coats. 

Though wearing a blue-light mask is not a cure for horses with PPID, it does alleviate some of the discomfort having a long, thick hair coat causes, the researchers concluded. 

Read more at The Horse. 

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