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Contents of this newsletter

01 Foals with bendy legs

02 Caring for your older horse

01 Foals with bendy legs

This foal is about to receive surgery to correct a severe ALD of her knee

This is a happy time of year when many young foals are joining us. However, a thing that is often overlooked, especially in non-racing breeds, is the conformation of their lower legs. Some limb deformities can, if untreated, become permanent disabilities rendering horses unsound for life.

Common angular limb deformity (ALD) sites include above the fetlocks and above the carpi (knees). These abnormalities of the bone can cause the leg to angle into or away from the body.

Preventing ALD can be difficult in many cases. Feeding foals a balanced diet, and restricting feed intake and exercise during periods of fast growth can be beneficial. Remedial farriery early in life can help, and often resolve, minor ALD.

In cases not responsive to conservative management we recommend surgery. This may involve a periosteal elevation (strip) or a trans-physeal screw. These surgeries work by either increasing or decreasing growth on one side of the limb and absolutely need a functional growth plate to work. Strict timeframes apply and performing surgery early gives a much better chance of complete resolution.

As a general rule fetlocks should receive a strip by one month of age, or a screw by 4.5 months of age. Knees usually should receive a strip by 3 months, or a screw by 15 months.

If you are concerned about the conformation of your young foal please call us to have it assessed by one of our experienced veterinarians. Waiting for them to ‘grow out of it’ is highly discouraged because some of them never will!

02 Caring for your older horse

Horses and ponies can often live into their thirties or beyond with the right care. If you’re lucky enough to own an older horse, here are some key health tips.

Maintaining healthy body condition in older horses is very important and can be achieved by supplementing their diet with an energy dense feed. Older horses may eat less and can lose the ability to absorb nutrients efficiently.

Caring for an older horse involves maintaining their dental health and ability to eat. Older horses can lose teeth, develop sharp points and develop painful mouth ulcers, which affect their ability to chew and digest. Signs that your horse may have a dental problem include weight loss, dropping feed and foul-smelling breath.

Older horses often develop arthritis. Arthritis means painful joints and horses that have had an athletic career are at increased risk. Fortunately there are many treatments available such as supplements and anti-inflammatory medications which can be extremely helpful in keeping your older animal moving comfortably.

Annual veterinary health checks are recommended. We perform a thorough physical examination and blood tests if required to identify horses with liver, kidney, gastrointestinal or hormonal dysfunction, all of which are increasingly common in older horses.

In the end, when the sad time comes to make the difficult decision to part with your aged equine friend our caring veterinarians can be there to offer advice regarding euthanasia.

If your horse is due for a check up or you’re worried about their health, call us today.