Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stifle issues-upward fixation or locking patella.

I want everyone to know that I read what you read...and a wee bit more. Much of what is available is fairly factual, but some is not. I was reading the current issue of Western Horseman
which has an article on "Unlocking Stifle Problems" by Michelle Anderson. This article deals with
UFP / upward fixation of the patella and for the most part is sound advice. The problem we frequently see in our practice is the unfit (I thought it was fit) horse. This problem (UFP)
arises from a laxity of the Medial patellar ligament which is part of the horses reciprocal apporatus
or locking mechanism which allows the horse to rest standing up. With UFP the ligament is lax or longer and hangs up on the medial side of the femur which causes pain and a stiff leg which drags
the toe behind. Frequently this leg "pops" as the limb comes forward. The old treatment was to
"clip" or "cut" the stifle. This is a surgical procedure where the medial patellar ligament is severed to prevent it form locking. The downside to this is a BIG one.....fracture of the patella. In 15-20% of the cases this occurs and can do so at anytime after the surgery leaving you with an expensive pasture orniment. The only time we do the procedure anymore is in cases where the limb is locked and we are unable to reduce it by backing up the horse. The best treatment is exercise, either straight line or long line lungeing. This builds up the quadricep muscles and thereby pulls the patella into place eliminating the problem. This can require significant amounts of time to properly condition the horse. The article also mentions injecting the joint with counter irritants. This is a NO-NO. No irritating substance should ever be put into a joint,
you can however, inject these substances into and around the medial patella ligament to try and cause local inflammation and scar tissue making the ligament wider and hopefully stop the UFP.
This is frequently helpful but doesn't take the place of a good exercise program.
If you notice this happening to your horse have a thorough lameness exam done to rule out other potential cause and when thats done ......start working your horse.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

10 Tips for Reducing Your Horse's West Nile Risk





10 Tips for Reducing Your Horse’s West Nile Risk

While the incidence of WNV is lower in our practice it is still a threat. The number of Encephalitis cases state wide is on track to surpass the previous record and we should all be aware of things we can do to decrease the risk. Certainly vaccination is key, however any immunity can be overwhelmed if enough virus is introduced and the horse is somehow debilitated.
Since first being recognized in the United States in 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) has posed
a serious threat to horses and humans alike. In the equine population, the virus is transmitted when a mosquito takes a blood meal from a bird infected with WNV, then feeds on a horse. While many horses exposed to WNV experience no signs of illness, the virus can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. In some cases, especially in older horses, WNV can be fatal.
As a horse owner, prevention is the key to reducing your horse’s risk of contracting WNV. Follow these guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to protect your horse against WNV:
1. Consider vaccinating your horse against the disease. In February 2003, a vaccine was licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics for use in healthy horses as an aid in the prevention of the disease. Talk with your veterinarian about the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your horse.
2. Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites. Dispose of old receptacles, tires and containers and eliminate areas of standing water.
3. Thoroughly clean livestock watering troughs at least monthly.
4. Use larvicides to control mosquito populations when it is not possible to eliminate particular breeding sites. Such action should only be taken, however, in consultation with your local mosquito control authority.
5. Keep your horse indoors during the peak mosquito activity periods of dusk to dawn.
6. Screen stalls if possible or at least install fans over your horse to help deter mosquitoes.
7. Avoid turning on lights inside the stable during the evening or overnight.
8. Using insect repellants on your horse that are designed to repel mosquitoes can help reduce the chance of being bitten.
9. Remove any birds, including chickens, located in or close to a stable.
10. Don’t forget to protect yourself as well. When outdoors in the evening, wear clothing that covers your skin and apply plenty of mosquito repellent.
For more information about the virus, ask your equine veterinarian for the “West Nile Virus” brochure, produced by the AAEP in conjunction with Bayer Animal Health, an AAEP Educational Partner. Additional information about WNV can be found on the AAEP’s horse-health Web site, www.myHorseMatters.com.


Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

10 Tips for Caring for the Older Horse


10 Tips for Caring for the Older Horse

Because of advances in nutrition, management and health care, horses are living longer, more useful lives. It’s not uncommon to find horses and ponies living well into their 20s and 30s. While genetics play a role in determining life span, you too, can have an impact.
You may think that turning your old-timer out to pasture is the kindest form of retirement. But horses are individuals. Some enjoy being idle; others prefer to be a part of the action. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the horse. Proper nutrition, care and exercise will help the animal thrive. Follow these guidelines to develop a total management plan for your older horse:
1. Observe your horse on a regular basis. Watch for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude. Address problems, even seemingly minor ones, right away.
2. Feed a high quality diet. Avoid dusty and moldy feeds.
3. Feed your older horse away from younger, more aggressive ones so it won’t have to compete for feed.
4. Feed at more frequent intervals so as not to upset the digestive system. Two-three times daily is best.
5. Provide plenty of fresh, clean, tepid water. Excessively cold water reduces consumption which can lead to colic and other problems.
6. Adjust and balance rations to maintain proper body conditions. A good rule of thumb is to be
able to feel the ribs but not see them.
7. Provide adequate, appropriate exercise to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and mobility.
8. Groom your horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health.
9. Be aware that older horses are prone to tumors. Look for any unusual lumps or growths from head to tail as well as beneath the tail (especially on gray horses).
10. Schedule routine checkups with your equine veterinarian. Call immediately if you suspect a problem.

A quick response to ailments, injuries or a decline in fitness can keep your older horse from having a serious or prolonged setback. That means less worry for you and a better quality of life for your old friend. For more information about caring for the older horse, ask your equine veterinarian for the “Older Horse” brochure, provided by the American Association of Equine Practitioners in partnership with Educational Partners Bayer Animal Health and Purina Mills, Inc. Visit the AAEP’s horse health web site, www.myHorseMatters.com, for additional information about caring for the older horse.

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Disaster Preparedness Guidelines

Disaster Action Guidelines For Horse Owners

You should be aware that actions you take before, during and after a natural or man made disaster could save your horses' life. In Florida and many States you can obtain a six month Event Permit from your Veterinarian. This is essentially a six month health certificate. You should get one of these at the start of Hurricaine season and keep it with your travel papers. You should have duplicate copies of all important papers and keep one in your truck/trailer at all times.

Plan Ahead Before a Disaster Occurs:


  1. Familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that can occur in your area and develop a plan of action to deal with each type. Some disasters to consider are hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, severe winter weather, fire, nuclear power plant accidents with release of radioactivity to the environment and hazardous material spills.

  2. Survey your property to find the best location to confine your animals in each type of disaster. Check for alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps and automatic waterers are not working after the disaster.

  3. If you think you might need to evacuate your horses from your property determine several locations the animals could be taken, several routes to these locations and the entry requirements for each. Make arrangements in advance with the owner/operators to accept your horses and be sure to contact them before taking the horses there. Locations that could be used for evacuation are private stables, race tracks, fair grounds, equestrian centers, private farms and humane societies.

  4. Permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand, tag, photograph (4 views-front, rear, left and right side) and/or drawing. Record its age, sex, breed, and color with your record of this identification. Keep this information with your important papers. If not identified at the time of the disaster in the above manner, paint or etch hooves, use neck bands or paint telephone number on side of animal.

  5. Be sure your horses' vaccination and medical records are written and up-to-date. As a minimum, each horse should have a current Coggins test documented. Check with your veterinarian as to what immunizations are advisable. Have documentation of any medicines with dosing instructions, special feeding instructions and the name and phone number of the veterinarian who dispensed the drug.

  6. Place a permanent tag with your name and phone number, and the horse's name on each animal's halter.

  7. Consider in your plan the prioritizing of which animals will be saved, if all cannot be saved. Let all farm personnel know of your plans in case you are not there when a disaster occurs.

  8. Prepare an emergency kit consisting of:
    1. plastic trash barrel with lid
    2. water bucket
    3. leg wraps
    4. fire resistant non nylon leads and halters
    5. first aid items
    6. portable radio and extra batteries
    7. flashlight
    8. sharp knife
    9. wire cutters
    10. tarpaulins
    11. lime, bleach

  9. Have trailers and vans maintained, full of gas and ready to move at all times. Acclimate your horse to trailers and vans.

  10. Remember during emergencies you are taking minimum actions to assure the animal's survival. Have enough fresh water and hay on hand for 48-72 hours.

  11. During disasters you may wear different or unusual clothing, so condition your horses to strange appearances ahead of time.

  12. Consider your insurance needs and be sure you have all the coverage on your property and animals you may need and that claims will be paid for the type of disasters you may encounter.

  13. PRACTICE YOUR PLAN.

At the Time of the Disaster:

  1. STAY CALM! FOLLOW YOUR PLAN!

  2. Listen to the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) station on your portable radio for information about how to locate horse care providers offering services during the disaster and any special instructions about actions you should take to protect your animals.

  3. If you leave your home, take your horses' immunizations and health records with you. Records kept at home may be damaged during the disaster.

  4. If you evacuate and take your horses with you, take all your immunization and health records, your emergency kit and sufficient hay and water for a minimum 48 hour period. Call ahead, if possible, to make sure that your emergency location is still available.

  5. If you must leave your horses unattended at home, leave them in the area most appropriate for the type of disaster you previously selected such as high ground in a flood. Leave enough water for the length of time you expect to be gone. Do not trust automatic watering systems in case power is lost.

After the Disaster:

  1. Be careful about leaving your horses unattended outside after the disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and the horses could easily become confused and lost. It is best to place them in a secure area. Be sure fences are intact as some may be damaged by the disaster. Check fences and pastures for sharp objects that could injure horses. Be aware of downed power lines, racoons, skunks and other wild animals may have entered the area and could present a danger to your horses.

  2. If any horses are lost during the disaster contact veterinarians, humane societies, stables, race tracks, equestrian centers, surrounding farms and other facilities that might house animals. Listen to the EBS for infomation about groups that may be accepting lost animals.

  3. If you find somone else's horse after the disaster, isolate it from your animals until it is returned or can be examined by a veterinarian.

  4. Use extreme caution when approaching and handling unknown or frightened horses. Work in pairs when handling strange horses.

  5. Check with your veterinarian, the state veterinary medical association and the Department of Agriculture for information about any disease outbreaks that may have occurred as a result of the disaster.

  6. Be prepared to identify and document ownership when claiming lost horses.

  7. Consider establishing security measures on your farm to protect assets from looters, exploiters.

This information prepared by:
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Maryland Veterinary Medical Association
Maryland Emergency Management Agency
Maryland Horse Council
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service
Maryland Racing Commission
Maryland Jockey Club