· Horses on restricted exercise or box rest should be fed a laxative diet. Salt should be added to the food to stimulate water intake. In very cold weather taking the chill off water will help. It is important to monitor water intake. An adult 500kg horse requires 30 litres per day ( 3 x 2 gallon buckets) Feeding wet hay and damp feed helps increase water intake.
· Regular exercise to stimulate gut motility.
· Keep warm.
Azoturia / Tying Up / Exertional Myopathy
This is a metabolic disease which primarily occurs in muscularly fit horses maintained on a high plane of nutrition which have been rested for one or more days with no decrease in nutritional intake. Unfit overweight animals who are suddenly put into work are also predisposed to this disease. Once affected, there is an increased incidence of recurrence of this condition.
· Management of diet and exercise regimes is the most valuable approach. Establish a strict feeding and exercise regime. If daily exercise is not achievable, reduced feed intake such as a convalescent mix should be fed when the horse is restricted.
Mud Fever / Cracked Heels
Wet cold conditions predispose horses to skin infections such as pastern dermatitis , cracked heels and mud fever. Wet conditions result in the protective oil layer of the skin to be breached , allowing infection to take hold. Stabled horses may suffer from the condition in the hind feet due to urine scalding. Breeds with ‘feathers’ are more susceptible. It should be remarked that this is an infectious and contagious condition. The condition starts as a localised inflamed lesion with serum ooze and scab formation. If ignored this will progress to swelling of the legs (oedema), lameness and possibly a peculiar stringhalt type gait in some instances. In chronic cases fissures are created in the folds of skin under the fetlock resulting in cracked heels. Established skin infections in the lower limb often lead to damage to the integrity of the skin and result in horses being more prone to infection in the future. Mixed bacterial/fungal infection so unlikely to respond to antibiotics alone.
· Early stages – remove the scab by poulticing or using warm salty water. Dry the leg and apply antiseptic cream or soothing ointment such as Silver Sulfadiazine (Flamazine).
· More severe infections should be treated using antibiotic cream containing corticosteroids such as Fusidic acid and Betamethasone (Isaderm).
· Keeping the legs clean and bandaging down to ground level will help protect against secondary infection.
· Severe cases require clipping, removal of scabs and skin debris, topical antibiotics and anti inflammatory treatment in conjunction with a course of antibiotics.
· Avoid turnout in muddy paddocks.
· Remove mud by washing and drying the legs or let the mud dry and then brush off.
· A waterproof protectant such as udder cream can be applied before turnout.