Newsletter Vol 11 2017
Contents of this newsletter

01 Angular limb deformities in foals

02 Lice in horses

01 Angular limb deformities in foals

Young foals can commonly be born with or develop "crooked legs", otherwise known as Angular Limb Deformities (ALDs). ALDs can occur in the front and/or hind legs and occur as the result of abnormal growth at the growth plate. The knees, fetlocks and hocks are most the frequently affected joints. There is usually either an outwards ("valgus") or inwards ("varus") deviation of the limb from the affected area.

Close attention should be paid during the foal's first few weeks of life to quickly identify the presence or development of any ALDs. Management is best achieved within the foal's first few months of life, before growth plates begin to close. Treatment should be dictated by your vet and will vary depending on the type and severity of the ALD as well as the foal's age.

Conservative Management

  • Restricted exercise/stall rest
  • Corrective farriery - trimming and/or hoof wall extensions

Surgical Management

  • Periosteal stripping – surgical technique aimed at accelerating growth on the shorter side
  • Transphyseal bridging – surgical implant designed to slow growth on the longer side

Conservative management will often suffice however surgical options are considered in severe cases or in older foals which are approaching the latter end of the management window.

If you're worried about your foal's health, please give us a call.

02 Lice in horses

Lice infestation in horses is uncommon and is usually only seen when the horse's immune system is compromised – for example, young growing horses, geriatric horses, or horses in poor condition or poor health. Horses may be affected by two species of lice:

  • H asini - the "sucking louse"
    This is the most common species affecting horses, and is usually found in the mane, forelock, tale base and around coronary bands.
  • D equi - the "biting louse"
    This louse is usually found on the body e.g. head, neck and flanks

Lice are host-specific and can only spread from horse to horse - humans, cattle, sheep and other species are not at risk of infestation.

Signs of lice infestation

  • Skin irritation
  • Excessive rubbing and itching
  • Roughened coat
  • Patchy hair loss and self-mutilation
  • Anaemia in severe cases

Lice may be visualised by parting the mane or coat and promptly inspecting close to the skin. In lighter infestations lice can be tricky to identify. You should consult your vet for an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other causes of skin irritation, itching, and hair loss.

Pour-on lousicide treatments are available for horses - it is not recommended to use cattle or sheep lousicides on horses as severe inflammation can result. Clipping and washing to remove hair and skin debris that lice feed on can help. Contaminated gear and equipment should also be cleaned and treated. Affected horses should be re-examined in the weeks and months following treatment to ensure that reinfestation is not occurring.