Ask Horse Journal: 09/05

Watery Manure
My horse’s manure appears pretty normal and firm, but he produces a lot of fluid with it. Nothing has changed in his diet, not even his hay. He is on probiotics and drinks normally, but this problem is new. It appears to have started after I dewormed him about six weeks ago, but I’m not sure that’s the cause. What might be causing this’ Is it reason for concern’

It’s not reason to panic, but it’s not normal either. One possibility is that a die off of parasites created an inflammatory condition in his bowel. This in turn can either change the rate of passage of material or cause the bowel to secrete more fluids than normal, either of which could cause what you’re describing.

Another possibility is the theory (unproven) that a deworming that does not effectively remove encysted small strongyle larvae can cause them to become activated after the populations of competing parasites in the bowel is reduced by the dewormer.

First thing we’d try is removing grain and supplements, or giving him just a small amount of plain oats mixed with well-soaked psyllium powder as a carrier for the probiotic, and all the hay he wants. Make sure your probiotic is high-potency, and try giving him 20 to 40 billion CFU/day, split between feedings.

We suggest you get a fecal check for egg count done at this time. These are most accurate when fresh, so check with your veterinarian about having this done. Finally, if your last deworming wasn’t with a combo that targets tapeworms, use one for the next deworming treatment.


Capsaicin For Heels
I have a horse with chronic heel pain.??Several different farriers and veterinarians have attempted to relieve his discomfort through corrective shoeing and/or medication. His pain stems from extreme flat-footedness. I was interested in capsaicin and wondered if I should try on my horse.

Capsaicin can help with foot pain, but the real solution in this case probably lies with getting the mechanics of your horse’s hoof correct. We can’t say much without seeing the feet, but one cause of flat footedness is heels that are too high, with contracture of the heels and the frog.

It often happens that horses with heel-area pain end up having their heels raised in hopes this will relieve it, which may work for a short time but in the long run it only compounds the problem and makes it worse.


Weather-Related Colic
My 20-year-old gelding had only colicked once in his life previously, but this year he’s colicked twice, both times when we had dramatic changes in weather.??The episodes resolved with Banamine and walking.?? I wondered if you had any suggestions on anything I could do to try to prevent this.

Although no one can explain why, and we don’t even really know what’s going on in the gut, there definitely are some horses that are prone to colic with dramatic changes in the weather. Some people have success with using a low dose of tranquilizer (and we do mean low, 1 cc or less of acepromazine) on days when they know the weather conditions (advancing weather front with dramatic changes in the weather) are risky. Others keep Banamine on hand for use at the first sign the horse is uncomfortable. Discuss these approaches with your vet.

What did you think of this article?

Thank you for your feedback!