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Discussion on Stringhalt - Diet and Treatment

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Mickey Corn
New Member
Username: Mickey01

Post Number: 1
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Monday, Apr 7, 2003 - 4:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I recently acquired a 6 yr old Belgian mare with stringhalt. Right now her symptoms are very mild; occasional involuntary flexion of hind legs, shaking legs when she backs up, planting hind legs for stability, leaning weight back into haunches. Her history, as a 2 yr old, she had an abcess on her left hip approx 6" down from spine. The abcess was drained and she was treated with penicillin. Sometime after that she started developing stringhalt symptoms. However, she has not worsened in 3 years. She received 1 chiropractic session but the Dr. said she was too big and well-muscled for him to manipulate properly. Nothing further was done with her. Her back feet have not been trimmed in over a year. I need to know:
1) Is there any information on the success of alternative therapies (i.e., acupuncture)?
2) How does one care for the back feet of a strinhalt horse? I don't shoe, but since she is on soft pasture, her feet won't wear down very much.
3) In one posting Dr. Oglesby seemed to indicate that phenytoin treatments were not recommended, but his article indicates "clinical improvement in 24 hours" after treatment. I'm confused!
4) What constitutes a "high fat" diet? I am currently feeding 1-1/2 pounds of Equine Senior daily with alfalfa cubes. She also has daily access to pasture. She weighs about 1900-2000 pounds and is about 17 hands.
5) Exercise seems to be indicated, but I was advised that draft horses couldn't be lunged. Since she is not broken to ride or pull, would walking her around the pasture be sufficient exercise?
6) Would breaking her to ride (pasture only) be detrimental to her condition? Should she be encouraged to backup, or does that aggravate the condition? Going forward she moves like a dream! Her trot just seems to float.
7) Is there a recommended regimen of vitamin, mineral, or other supplements that might be helpful?
8) What is the overall success rate of the surgery and what exactly does it do? I've read the clinical description of the surgery, but why/how does that stop the stringhalt?
9) Are there any other sites (that are not too clinical!)where I can read more about stringhalt?

Thanks so much for your time! I'm trying to learn all I can, so I can give her the best chance possible.
Mickey :-)

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D. Barry
Member
Username: Cassey

Post Number: 31
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Monday, Apr 7, 2003 - 9:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Mickey,
I own a draft as well, and have her on the high fat diet you ask about in your post. She has been on it for two months and has shown improvement, her symptoms were similar to what you describe. As for riding, well, we ride her at least five days out of seven most weeks. Dr. O has an article (search EPSM) that discusses the diet,etc. as does ruralheritage.com (but in a nutshell, they aim for 1 cup of oil per 500 lb of horse while cutting out as much carbohydrate as possible, pretty uncomplicated, really)
I have never heard that drafts couldn't be lunged. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
Thanks so much
Dee
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8098
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 6:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

In this reply I am assuming that you only have stringhalt in the leg on the side where the ascess formed and the stringhalt is clearly secondary to this earler injury.

1) None that have researched or reported in the literature (if there were we would place it in the article).
2) Most sringhalt horses are not a problem to tend to the back feet. If yours is this may be either a training or disease issue (EPSM).
3) You are confusing an experimental treatment for the epidemic (toxic) form of stringhalt with the teatment of the traumatic form, which is what it sounds like you have. Notice that the phenytoin treatment comes under the Treatment / Epidemic heading in the article. The specific case I was addressing in the post to the member was the traumatic form.
4) As D. writes above, designing a high fat diet is described at, Equine Diseases Lameness Diseases of the Upper Rear Limb Tying Up, Rhabdomyolysis, and Shivers (EPSM). You can also find information at Care for Horses Nutrition Fats and Oils in the Diet of Horses.
5) I was not aware you could not lunge a draft.
6) No, but stumbling may be detrimental to your condition.
7) Good, balanced nutrition is fine (If there were a nutritional treatment or cure we would place it in the article).
8) As the article states the prognosis is fair, that means there is a fair chance it will not work also. The surgery severs one of the musculotendinous structures that is responsble for the abnormal involuntary motion. The problem is that this is not the only stucture that may be responsible for the motion.
9) I don't know of any specific stringhalt sights but I am sure a google search would work. Our articles are written to be readable by non-medical folk. The labeled "scientifc reports" and "technical information" is included for those who want more but are not essential reading: if there is something of importance in them the information is pulled out and written at a easier to understand level in the article.
DrO
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Mickey Corn
Member
Username: Mickey01

Post Number: 2
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 11:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks to both of you for the quick reply :-)

Actually, Motion (her name) has stringhalt in both hind legs. The association between the abcess and the stringhalt is all anecdotal from the owners and the vet (we have the same vet). The owners are friends who breed and show Belgians. Motion was doing very well in halter before the abcess. Once the stringhalt manifested, they had to stop showing because it became too obvious in the ring... this was sometime in her 3rd year. They are the ones who advised me that you cannot lunge a draft horse. They weren't sure why, but when they first started breeding several years ago, they had been advised by other breeders that it couldn't or shouldn't be done. From both your statements, can I assume this is not true?

Both my vet and farrier expressed concern about trimming her back feet because of the danger of an involuntary flexion and the weakness she has holding her weight on one back leg. The farrier who trimmed her last has since quit the business, but apparently he just used brute strength to hold up her foot long enough to get her trimmed. Is this not a common problem with stringhalt horses?

Someone suggested having the farrier get down on his knees and lift the leg a very little bit, but not up into the ususal "farrier" position. I'm not sure my farrier would be willing to do that and I have no idea how to find one that would. It sounds dangerous to me!

Thanks for the reference to the article on diet. With a high fat diet are there concerns about stringhalt horses becoming overweight? Does it make it harder for them to get around with stringhalt when they are heavier?

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Suzanne Moore
Member
Username: Suzym

Post Number: 342
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 12:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Doesn't this sound more like EPSM than stringhalt?

When DJ got so hypocalcaemic that he could hardly stand on three legs, my farrier got down on his knees like you describe. He just barely lifted the feet off the ground. He did this a couple of times before DJ got his strength back.

By the way, DJ had a mild form of stringhalt - at least that what the vets said, it it looked like it. He seemed to pretty much out grow it, and it looked NOTHING like what you're describing with Motion.

Good luck!

Suzy
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Mickey Corn
Member
Username: Mickey01

Post Number: 3
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 4:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm not familiar with EPSM... but then I wasn't familiar with stringhalt until I got Motion about 3 weeks ago.

I was told by the owners that she was "stringy" in the back. I called my vet, and he said that was a laymans term for stringhalt. Per the owner, this same vet clinic (although not necessarily that specific vet) were treating Motion during the abcess and confirmed the stringhalt. I personally wouldn't know stringhalt from EPSM from "shivers" - which someone else suggested - from a hole in the ground. Are there any tests that would give a definitive diagnosis?

I guess I get to start searching the website for EPSM and shivers info. Beware of friends giving away horses :->

Thanks for the good wishes :-) Mickey
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Mickey Corn
Member
Username: Mickey01

Post Number: 4
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 5:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O., Dee, and Suzy,

UPDATE FOR EVERYONE: I just went out and read some info on EPSM aka Shivers (nice to know I just have one more disease to research and not two!). Anyway, I'm definitely going to have a muscle biopsy to eliminate or confirm EPSM. I can't figure out if EPSM is preferrable to Stringhalt, but I definitely need to get a handle on which one she has. Thanks for all the input and references. I really appreciate the support. I'll let you know what I learn :-)

Mickey
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D. Barry
Member
Username: Cassey

Post Number: 32
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2003 - 8:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Mickey,
I can tell you that dealing with EPSM is probably one of the easiest and cheapest conditions to get a handle on. I buy oil in bulk, have cut her concentrate down to hardly any, (just enough to help soak up the oil-12 senior feed cubes) and I add soaked alfalfa cubes (literally five or six soaked cubes-they make quite a bit of filler) to "bulk up" her meal and again help absorb the oil. She's on 24/7 turnout with free choice hay. I give a vit supplement, (not an expensive one) since the hay is not the greatest quality. I'm lucky, she is not a picky eater so I haven't had to experiment with various feeds and oils. I didn't spring for the biopsy, since I figured the diet would be "diagnostic" and it was...we saw improvement within the month, and it continues. Less stumbling, leg hiking and a freer moving back end are the main things I've noticed. Plus, I swear her muscles are starting to fill out. So, the diet costs no more than what a regular feeding program does, and like I said, I ride my horse all the time, so no loss of enjoyment. As for the weight issue, do check out the Rural Heritage web site, they have numerous postings discussing this. My horse has always had a huge belly with a terrible top line, now there seems to be some redistribution of the fat, she's starting to look better top and bottom. Hang in there.
Dee
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halladay swanson
New Member
Username: Halladay

Post Number: 4
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, Nov 9, 2006 - 6:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Mikey,
I have a 17.3hd, TB gelding with bilateral stringhalt. He is sedated for the farrier making trimming & shoeing possible. Your farrier can use a stand for Motion to rest her foot on and you can ease her concerns by NOT pulling her foot out behind her. If Motion is not saddle trained currently, lungeing her at a walk would help make her stronger as well as walking uphill (any incline). Since going up requires coming down, I suggest serpentine coming down.
My gelding gets acupuncture 3-4 times a year with B12 injections at the acupuncture site. Appears to help his gate, and absolutely helps the soreness from having the "hitch" in his gate.
halladay
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Judith K Westlund
New Member
Username: judy

Post Number: 1
Registered: 4-2008
Posted on Thursday, Apr 10, 2008 - 11:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My TN Walker started locking her left leg when walking about a month ago. The vet gave her estrogen injections and seemed to help for a bit but now is doing it in both legs. He sometimes drags his toe before lifting it very high. I think it might be stringhalt and want to start a diet to try to help. The vet wants to cut the tendon and I'm not all that ready to do that. Anybody in the Nashville area know a vet that is great with horses.......and need the diet plan. Thank you very much....I want help for my horse.
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Lee
Member
Username: paul303

Post Number: 1071
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, Apr 10, 2008 - 11:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Judith! Click on the "Stringhalt" article at the top of this page. Scroll down to the bottom of that page ( past the list of discussions on stringhalt ). You'll see a pink bar that says: start your own discussion. When you add on to an old discussion, it tends to get missed. Start your own discussion and everyone will know to jump right in.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 20459
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Apr 11, 2008 - 9:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Judith,
Besides starting a new discussion don't forget to read the article. I would note that your description of a toe drag before the high rise also sounds like possible upward fixation of the patella so you might want to check it out to. About 1/3 of the horses I have referred to me with stringhalt are UF of the P. The article on UFP is in the same topic as is the stringhalt article.
DrO
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