I am concerned about my gelding's
tendency to have swelling in his legs. His front left slightly and his rear
legs very noticeably. He is in a stall most of the day and he does not move
around much from what I have seen in spite of the large (12 x 14) space.
When I get to the barn each evening his legs are "stocked up" (that
is what others in the barn called it) and he acts reluctant to walk out of his
stall. After he walks for a while, 10 or 15 minutes of light exercise, the
swelling goes down.
A couple of
folks who have had horses for years have looked at him and mentioned that they
thought his legs were a little warm around the cannon bone and in the fetlock.
I cannot feel it, so if they are it is a very slight difference from the rest
of his leg. After a good ride the swelling is completely gone and he does
not act sore at all.
I have had
a lot of advice on this one but some of it conflicts and now I am getting pretty
confused. I have been told to do standing wraps, get him Sports Medicine
Boots for when we ride, have him x-rayed, rub him down with liniment, run cold
water on his legs for 15 minutes, one said before a ride one said after, and to
give him bute. I am wondering when I will actually find time to ride after
all this. I have placed a call to his vet who is an old country doctor type,
but I was curious if you had any words of wisdom for a new horse owner.
Stocking up is associated with stall confinement, lack of exercise
and overfeeding, specifically grain. Certain horses are predisposed
to stock up, others next door are fine. Once turned out for exercise, the
swelling usually disappears. The plain and simple cure for stocking up is
more, regular exercise. This does not mean harder or longer
rides when you do ride but more opportunities for the horse to get exercise during
the day, every day. Many horses do not do well in stalls full time.
It takes a lot of time, supplies, bandage washing, and expertise to apply and
monitor standing bandages. If that's the way you want to go, be sure
to get competent coaching. Generally a horse's legs will tend to become
dependent on the regimen. So for a chronic problem, do you want to commit
to a lifetime of standing wraps? When applied correctly, standing wraps
can result in reduced swelling. But if done incorrectly, they could result
in tendon problems (from uneven pressure or abrasion), stall kicking (if bandages
are uncomfortable or slip) etc.
no need to use sport boots, because when you ride the stocking up problem
is eliminated. I've seen many problems occur with improperly applied sports
boots. Also neoprene concentrates heat against the skin - stocked up legs
are already swollen and warm so you don't want to enclose and exacerbate the effect
of the heat.
Generally you don't want to
increase heat to an area of swelling and since liniment increases heat
to the skin superficially, it is not a good idea.
Running cold water on stocked up legs is the best advice you received and
will do the most good, next to providing regular exercise.
Hosing with cold water either before or after a ride would be ok. The thinking
is, before a ride reduces the swelling the horse has when you take him out of
Hosing after a ride: when
the swelling has disappeared from exercise but his legs are warm, if you run cold
water on his legs before you put him away, it usually tends to decrease the tendency
for fluids to pool in his legs as would happen if you "put him away warm".
If you choose to hose your horse's legs
with cold water after each ride, however, realize that just a few minutes won't
do any good - you need to do about 10-15. And daily periods of wetting his
skin, hair and hooves can invite lots of new problems - like skin fungus or a
weakening of the hooves from repeatedly wetting and drying. Horses hooves
are best when strong and hard, not soft and wet. If you hose, be sure you
dry the horse's legs and hooves very thoroughly before you put him back into the
Bute is an anti-inflammatory
drug that is good for reducing swelling but if this is a chronic condition, you
can't put the horse on bute for life, so don't consider it at this point.
X-rays are not something that would even cross my mind for stocking up.
Although I have shared my opinions with
you, as you have found out you can get as many opinions as people you ask!
My disadvantage is not being able to see the horse, facilities, management, and
his conformation and work in person. Ultimately you and your vet will have
to sort out what sounds the most logical to you since you know the horse, his
environment, and your own situation the best.
In summary, the number one "cure" is to provide more regular exercise.
If your horse could live in a turn-out pen with a roof at one end for shelter
from sun, rain, etc. He might never stock up. Do you have that sort of facility
available? Some stables include turn out (1-2 hours per day) as part of
board and that might be enough exercise. But standing for 22 hours or more
per day in a stall just allows the fluids to pool in the lower extremities and
certain horses just aren't equipped with the internal physical apparatus to pump
the fluids out of the tissues without exercise.
As far as therapy, cold water hosing is my pick. Its a good idea whenever
youre treating horses to always start conservatively.