Ask Horse Journal: 03/02

Pregnant Mares And Fly Sprays
What is a safe fly spray for a mare’ Could it make a difference if the mare is pregnant or has a nursing foal who might ingest some of the stuff’

-T. West
New York

There really are no extensive studies on the possible effects of fly sprays on pregnant mares, pro or con.?? Pyrethrins and pyrethroids have the greatest potential for neurological side effects, although some could have reproductive ones as well, in high concentrations.??Details on this situation aren’t available, although certainly many people use them on pregnant mares with no problems.

The natural/herbal fly repellents are an option, but you have to be careful with nursing mares since citronella and possibly other concentrated oils can be eye irritants for the foal (and don’t put repellent on the udder). We believe the best choice is a combined approach to fly control with good stable management, fly traps, fly predators, masks and sheets, all of which combine to decrease your reliance on chemical repellents.


My friend’s horse was recently humanely destroyed due to colic.??The horse had a lipoma, which, as I understand, is a benign fatty tumor relatively common in horses.?? Unfortunately, they grow on stalks, which basically puts a weight on the end of a string in the horse’s abdominal cavity, and this can create a strangulation in the intestines.

This horse was 23 and had Cushing’s.?? His lipoma was the size of a golf ball, but it strangulated a large section of his small intestine, near the illium.?? They removed 30 feet of intestine. They also noticed a melanoma on his secum, which they removed, and somewhere along the line, a section of intestine got crossed or twisted somehow and they fixed that, resulting in three seams.??About three days later, he was allowed his first nibbles of grass and a little grain.??Three hours later, he colicked again — at least as bad as the first time and was humanely destroyed.

How common is this ailment’ Is there any preventative treatment that can reduce the risk of this sort of growth’?? Does obesity play a role in the development of these tumors’ The vet made it sound like they are somewhat common and cause a lot of colic surgeries.?? I would like to know if there’s anything I can to do avoid going through this experience again.

-Karen Bell

Unfortunately, we really don’t know much about the risk factors for lipomas.?? A few rare cases are reported in foals, but most horses with colic caused by a lipoma are 15 or older.??This is likely due to the fact that large lipomas are more likely to cause problems than small ones, and they grow slowly over time.??Geldings and ponies are also are higher risk for colic caused by lipomas, according to two large surveys.?? There is no information available as to whether or not obesity plays a role. As for how common they are, lipomas rank behind enteroliths and impactions as the most common cause of colic in older horses.?? No preventative measures are known.


Weird Bump
I noticed some swelling above the fetlock, and at the back, of my mare’s right rear leg.?? Initially I thought it was stocking up, because she’d not been ridden for three days due to a nasty insect bite on her back.??It grew to the size of flat football, and we think the culprit was a black widow spider.?? The swollen area had no heat, and she wasn’t lame.?? I palpated it, and she didn’t react.

I figured once she got back to work, it would disappear.??It did seem a bit better after exercise, but even four days later, the swelling was still prevalent.??Finally, I called my veterinarian, who said the swellings of the back legs are common and can be caused by bacterial infections from a small scrape or cut. I rechecked and found a tiny abrasion. A week later the swelling is diminishing. It’s been a puzzling scenario, and one I’ve not encountered before. Should I have done anything differently’

-Elizabeth McInerney

Your horse had a cellulitis, which is an inflammation/infection of the deep layers of the skin).?? It may well have been from a small scrape, or could even have been the same thing she had on her back.??These things will eventually go away on their own with no treatment at all as the horse’s body gets things under control.?? To speed resolution, if it worsens instead of improves, things like cleaning up any scrapes with a mild soap, cold-water hosing if it’s hot or warm water if it’s not, antibiotics and possible a one-time low dose of diuretic to mobilize the swelling are common treatments.?? It’s difficult to tell for sure, of course, but these leg swellings are usually not terribly painful.?? The leg probably felt more tight and uncomfortable than truly painful.


Navicular Help
My “antique” pony and an old mini mule are on Buteless because of your January 2000 article. It’s a wonderful success.??They are both much relieved from their arthritis.

My six-year-old Quarter Horse has navicular, and I’ve given him Corta-Flx. We’ve seen improvement, but we’re trying all sorts of things, so I don’t know what’s working.??

I would like to try him on Buteless. He’s had bute for pain in the past with good results, but I am afraid of the consequences of continued use. I also don’t know if I can give him Buteless and Corta-Flx at the same time or if Corta-Flx can actually help him’

He’s popped two quarter cracks on his other foot, then had to have a resection of his hoof from an abscess on his navicular foot. Right now he has two Equiloxed front feet.??I’m considering nerving him.

-Lenore Goins

Yes, you can use both Buteless and Corta-Flx at the same time.Another pain-control herbal you might want to consider is Navilam O from Emerald Valley Botanicals (888/638-8262).??This contains devil’s claw plus hawthorne-berry extract to encourage good circulation and seems particularly helpful for horses with laminitis or navicular.?? If you would like to try a powder formula instead of a liquid, try Uckele’s Devil’s Claw Plus, which combines devil’s claw with other herbs and also has good antioxidant support.?? With any of these products, you might want to start with double or even triple dosing for a week or two if he is very sore.

As for whether or not Corta-Flx is a good thing to try, the navicular bone does form part of the coffin joint, and in advanced navicular disease there is degeneration of the articular cartilage on the joint side of the navicular bone so it’s reasonable to consider using a joint nutraceutical.

However, navicular disease has many factors contributing to the cause and the pain, including a genetic predisposition in some cases, especially in Quarter Horses with small feet but heavily muscled bodies.??(See also January 2002, navicular.)

The quarter cracks on the good foot are a concern.??This indicates both??heavy loading of the foot at the quarters, rather than more posteriorly, and also that you may have general problems with hoof strength/quality.??Be sure the mineral levels in his diet are adequate and correctly balanced. Consider adding 15 to 20 mg/day of biotin to encourage hoof growth, plus methionine if your protein levels are borderline. We’d try the supplements and nutrition changes first before nerving a horse this young.

If you do consider neurectomy, make sure you ask your vet to block the horse with a local anesthetic first so that you can get a good idea of how effective the procedure will be. You might also want to consider freezing the nerves (cryotherapy, see July 2001) rather than actual surgery that permanently removes a portion of nerve.??Freezing kills only the nerve fibers that carry chronic pain signals, leaving skin sensation, pressure and position sense and pain fibers carrying sharp pain intact.


Iron Supplements: Save Your Money
Anemia related to iron deficiency is rare in horses. The common belief that iron supplements are needed by performance horses or can help “build blood” is wrong. Consider that:

• Excess iron in the tissues is a poison.
• Iron is a potent oxidant and generates damaging free radicals.
• Degenerative diseases, like arthritis have been associated with iron.
• In the tissue and intestinal tract, iron helps feed bacterial infections.
• Too much iron rapidly depletes the horse’s body of key antioxidant vitamins and minerals, leaving the horse vulnerable to allergy, infection, muscle, tendon and joint soreness or damage with exercise.

The horse really only needs a dietary iron level of about 50 ppm, but many are fed feeds or supplements with levels up to 5,000 ppm. Once absorbed into the body, iron is there for life. Only phlebotomy (“bleeding” the horse) can lower his burden. Blood-iron levels don’t accurately diagnose iron overload, as the body tucks the iron away inside its tissues.

If you’re deliberately feeding iron supplements, stop. If your horse has problems with chronic muscle soreness, tendon/ligament damage or arthritis, determine the horse’s total dietary intake. Call the feed/supplement manufacturers. Many labels list no information or only list the amount that was deliberately added. Ask for the total iron level in the product. Try to get your horse’s total intake at 300 to 500 ppm. Note: Iron up to 1000 ppm has been fed to ponies with no obvious short-term toxicity.

If your horse has iron overload, supplement with zinc, copper, selenium (watch toxicity there, too), manganese and vitamin E. Proceed cautiously with vitamin C, as it will enhance the absorption of iron and can precipitate the dumping of stored iron into the horse’s blood.


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