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Newsletter Volume 5, 2018
Contents of this newsletter

01 Case study: horse with a broken leg

02 Beware: Autumn colic!

01 Case study: horse with a broken leg

A broken leg is usually a death sentence for a horse - a horse's size, anatomy and heavy dependence on four fully functional limbs means that they usually cannot be treated like that of a dog, cat or human with a broken leg. Nevertheless, there are instances where broken legs can be repaired, with some horses even returning to competition.

Such is the case with this promising 4 year old Standardbred mare, who became suddenly lame during fast work, prompting her trainer to call the vet.

The mare obviously lame in the front left and there was some swelling developing around the pastern and fetlock area. Several diagnostic tests were performed to investigate the cause of the lameness, as there were a number of possible diagnoses. X-rays were taken and showed clearly that the mare had fractured her pastern bone (or P1 bone).

Fractures of the P1 bone may occur in any type of horse used for performance, but more commonly in those that exercise at high speed. The P1 bone may fracture in a variety of ways including: chip fractures along the joint surface, sagittally or "down the middle" (as shown in this case), or comminuted (multiple fragments). The prognosis and treatment options vary depending on the type and extent of the fracture.

In this case, the fracture was able to be repaired by a specialist surgeon with the placement of two large screws across the bone. The screws act to stabilize the break and allow the bone to heal. With several weeks of box rest in a protective cast and bandage, followed by yard rest and a steady rehabilitation process this mare is expected to have a 70-80% chance of returning to racing.

02 Beware: Autumn colic!

Autumn is here and with the cool seasonal change often comes in increase in the number of cases of colic.

Colic is a pretty broad term used by vets and horse owners alike to describe any form of abdominal pain. Most of us are familiar with the common signs – pawing, rolling, sweating, dullness, and inappetence, to name a few. There are a huge range of different causes of colic, however the increase in cases during the Autumn months can be attributed to a couple of factors.

1. Lack of pasture cover
Following the Summer, pasture on offer is usually limited and of low quality and poor digestibility. Horses will tend to graze closer to the ground and in sandy soils this can lead to ingestion of significant amounts of sand. This sand can accumulate and consequently cause irritation within the digestive system, resulting in sand colic.

2. Cooler weather
Cooler weather can lead to reduced water intake. Given the lack of pasture availability, hay is often fed to cover the feed gap. This high fibre diet, combined with inadequate water intake, means that the digestive tract can be lacking in the moisture it needs to run smoothly and impaction colic can be the result.

Tips to prevent colic this Autumn:

+ Always provide fresh, readily accessible water
+ Supplement the diet with small amounts of salt to encourage water intake
+ Avoid overgrazing pasture, and feed hay or grain in feeders to prevent sand ingestion
+ Ensure dietary changes are always made gradually