Newsletter Vol 4 2017
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Contents of this newsletter

01 Increase in diagnoses of OCD in horses

02 Is my horse unhappy, unhealthy or just unruly?

01 Increase in diagnoses of OCD in horses

An OCD fragment in a Thoroughbred yearling’s hock picked up on screening radiographs

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a developmental joint condition seen in young horses. With the widespread use of portable digital radiography it has become more frequently diagnosed outside the racing industries.

What causes OCD? Failure of bone to fully form as the horse grows causes loose cartilage or bone fragments within the joint. The cause of this failure is complex and genetics, diet, biomechanical forces and exercise all play a role.

What are the signs? Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Clydesdales and Warmbloods are commonly affected breeds. OCD may be suspected in cases of a swollen joint but usually causes only mild, if any, lameness. Clinical signs may not be seen and OCD is often only diagnosed on screening radiographs. OCD can develop by the age of approximately 8 months, and some of the joints commonly affected include stifles, hocks and fetlocks.

What do we do about it? The management of an OCD is your horse will depend on the location and severity of the defect, and the planned use of the horse. Severe OCD can lead to early onset osteoarthritis and limit an athletic career. In these cases surgery may be performed, usually with very good success. Some OCD defects will heal in time and require no action other than monitoring.

Call us today to discuss any troubling swelling if your horse’s joints.

02 Is my horse unhappy, unhealthy or just unruly?

Can a horse's health be affecting their behaviour?

The answer is yes - but defining the problem can be difficult for owners dealing with their horse every day. The advice of our vets is often sought when a horse begins to behave badly and out of character.

There are many factors that can affect horses' behaviour so beware of making a diagnosis without veterinary help. Here are a few examples:

  • Subtle musculoskeletal pain may present as a change in attitude to work, poor performance and a slow recovery.
  • Stomach ulcers can be the cause of a bad attitude, among other signs
  • The seasonal reproductive cycle of mares and testosterone levels in stallions can contribute to a changes in behaviour, especially towards other horses.
  • Oral pain, such as that caused by a broken tooth, may make your horse resent the bit.

The role of the vet is to work with you to determine whether a medical cause of bad behaviour exists, drawing on first-hand experience and professional knowledge. Medically diagnosed problems can then be addressed to improve your horse’s behaviour. Often an underlying medical cause does NOT exist and the services of an experienced trainer may be employed to provide a fresh perspective on your horse’s behaviour.

Has your horse's behaviour taken a turn for the worse? Speak to one of our vets for advice.