Ask Horse Jounral: 02/01

Using Human Flaxseed
I read with interest your article on flaxseed (June 2000). I started over a year ago looking for a product to improve my horse’s coat, and anything else that might benefit. I tried corn oil (he got diarrhea almost immediately) and rice bran (no apparent improvement) and a powdered commercial supplement (only moderate improvement). He was already getting 4000 units of vitamin C and 4000 of vitamin E to boost his immune system. Then several months ago I starting using flaxseed oil gelcaps from the grocery store shelf. His coat looks much healthier, and his hooves are coming in thicker. This product claims no preservatives, no artificial color, and is sealed so there is no breakdown from exposure to oxygen. It comes in 1,000 mg doses. I have been giving Mac two capsules in the morning with his breakfast and two in the evening with his dinner. According to the label, each gelcap contains 1,000 mg of flaxseed oil, standardized to 55% alpha linolenic acid, 17% linoleic acid, and 17% oleic acid. Is this a good supplement (it seems to work well), or should I use an equine supplement/product’

-Joanne Foster

One of the soundest rules to follow when it comes to supplements is if something is working well for your horse, stick with it. You hit on a specific deficiency problem that has responded beautifully to supplementing with the pure flax oil. If you are satisfied with the results, the price and the convenience there is no reason to change. On the other hand, if you would like to simplify a complicated supplement program, you might want to consider one of the products we discussed in June 2000.

Begin by determining how much of each of the products you would need to give to match the same level of essential fatty acids (EFAs) he is currently receiving. If your horse also has arthritis, consider that arthritis often responds to EFA, particularly linolenic acid, supplementation but this takes time. Three months is a realistic minimum for the body to adjust its chemistry.

The anti-inflammatory effect of the omega-3s (and your antioxidants) helps slow destructive processes but adding either glucosamine or chondroitin will speed/stimulate healing. Using Isoflex GL from HorseTech (800/831-3309) as an example, every ounce gives you 5,000 mg of glucosamine (the standard maintenance dose or half the loading dose) and three grams of linolenic acid. Your four capsules of pure flax oil were giving you 2,200 mg of linolenic acid.

Allowing for the fact you were feeding a pure standardized oil, and whole flax products may vary somewhat in their EFA content, an ounce of the Isoflex GL should get you the same coat/hoof results plus the benefit of glucosamine for 90?? a day. Compare this price to what it would cost you to feed both your gelcaps and a glucosamine supplement, as well as the convenience.


Aggressive Pregnant Mare
My pregnant mare (she’s been in foal for three months) was really sweet until yesterday. She has tried to attack me five times in two days. I’m bewildered and scared for my life when I feed her. She has had a complete and drastic personality change.

-Lisa K. McDonald

Rabies, encephalitis or a toxicity must always be considered first with any sudden and extreme personality change. Get your veterinarian to rule that out. However, pregnant mares can sometimes become antisocial or specifically antihuman. Hormonal changes play a role. There may also be an element of physical discomfort, such as from stretched ligaments or something more serious like a partial uterine twist or low-grade colic. If she checks out OK by your veterinarian, we recommend you get expert advice on how to deal with her and avoid situations that put you in danger from an experienced trainer.


Hormonise And Cyproheptadine
Thank you for you Cushing’s syndrome article (December 2000). It is timely for us. We have had many donkeys with this disease and are just now trying to get a handle on it. I have a question or two. Can Hormonise can be used in conjunction with cyproheptadine’

I am treating a 40+ jenny with Cushing’s. She has no bottom teeth. A diet of all alfalfa cubes is too high in protein for a donkey. I know of a chopped grass/alfalfa mix that would be perfect, but it has molasses in it, which I imagine is out for an insulin-resistant condition. Do you know of any product I can use’

-Sunni McNary
Burro Rescue Rehab Relocation

We did not use the Hormonise in conjunction with either cyproheptadine or pergolide. It probably works pharmacologically in a manner more similar to pergolide, but the details are largely unknown so we would not recommend using combinations at this time unless with you have the approval and close supervision of your veterinarian.

First Thunder (formerly Montana Pride) has a 70-30 timothy-alfalfa cube (feed about 10 pounds per 500 pounds bodyweight). We aren’t sure about local availability, so contact the company directly. The same holds for Triple Crown’s Timothy And Alfalfa cubes.

We suggest you also check out your local farm supply stores that also sell feeds (like Agway, Southern States or TLC), even if they are not specifically horse oriented. Many of these have, or can order, hay cubes. Don’t forget to supplement the magnesium intake with any timothy/alfalfa cube diet. You should add seven grams magnesium per 10 pounds of 70-30 cubes or nine grams per 10 pounds of 50-50 cubes.


Locking Stifle Treatments
How effective is it to have a ligament blistered or cut for a locking stifle’ Any feedback you may have on these procedures would be appreciated.

-Jeanne Kirby

The internal blister/injection technique works well, except in the most extreme cases where the anatomy of the bones forming the stifle is so abnormal that locking is inevitable. Cutting is a minor surgery, and the results are excellent with most horses. This is no reason to take this, or any surgery, lightly however.

Before considering this step you should be sure exercise has had an adequate trial, meaning six to eight miles per day, every day, of vigorous trotting and uphill work once he’s fit enough to endure it.

Ask your vet if there is an underlying anatomical abnormality that means only surgery will work. X-rays will answer this, but require specialized equipment available at large clinics. However, you may need to go to a larger clinic to find a veterinarian experienced in the procedure anyway. If the stifle is actually normal (onset later in life suggests this), and the problem is weak ligaments, heavy exercise, possibly with an internal blister is the way to go.


Relief For Injured Heels
If you horse interferes or just likes to carry on a good deal when outside, you’ve dealt with cuts to the heels and bulbs. You probably also know that bell boots aren’t 100% effective. Even those cuts that don’t go too deeply or bleed can be extremely painful, and the deeper tissue separations are tugged with every step the horse takes.

A human skin product called Zim’s Crack Creme (Perfecta Products, is extremely effective in moisturizing, encouraging healing and providing instant pain relief. We found it also works well on heel scratches, dry- skin cracks and superficial abrasions. The active pain-relieving ingredient is the herbal arnica.

Crack Creme distributors are listed on the web. It cost about $8 for a two-ounce bottle — a little pricey but you use very little. It also works great on human paper cuts and skin cracks of all types, as it was developed originally for the painful, cracked hands of cement workers.


Help In The Cattle Aisle
Check out the cattle aisle of your local farm store. There are several dairy or beef-cow items that you can p urchase at a reasonable price and use to your advantage with your horse, although checking with your vet for individual circumstances is always advisable. These include:

Rehydration electrolyte/dextrose mixtures for calves with diarrhea.These typically have a good ratio of sodium to potassium, sources of bicarbonate (such as citrates) and are carefully formulated for rapid absorption. They are appropriate for use in foals with diarrhea as well as heavily stressed performance horses. Don’t use the ones containing citrates for endurance horses, though, and double check with your veterinarian before using them.

Antibiotics in tubes for treatment of mammary gland infections (mastitis). These are potent antibiotics designed specifically to be used directly on sensitive tissues and come in both short-acting formula (lactating cow) or long-acting formulas (dry cow). Applicator tips are sterile and about an inch long, making them convenient to use for treatment of deep wound infections and hard-to-reach areas like the depths of castration wounds. They’re also good for scratches.

Dewormer alternatives. Bovine fenbendazole, equivalent of Panacur, brand-name Safeguard, is available in multidose tubes at big savings over the equine-brand labels and has the same drug in the same dosage. Thiabendazole is also available this way — used for regular deworming, larvicidal dose deworming and in some cases as an immune stimulant.

A variety of injectable products. Products, like B vitamins, that may be recommended for your horse may be available at significant savings from the dairy aisle. Again, always check with your vet to make sure the product is equivalent and safe to use in your horse.

Odd, hard-to-find items. The dairy supply aisle is also a good place to find odd items, such as small flat trays you can use for free-choice loose salt or minerals and cages for water and feed buckets to prevent young horses, bored horses and wise guys from dumping them out.

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