Most people love a good massage, and they would probably love it even more if they regularly carried another person or two on their back. Have you ever considered getting one for your horse?

Top 5 Benefits to Equine Massage

  1. Injury Prevention

Just like humans, horses are more prone to injury when their muscles are tense, tight, and overused. If a muscle is in poor condition, they’re more likely to be pulled, or create wear and tear on their joints. Animals cannot tell us when they’re in pain, so it is a great idea to aim for pain prevention.

  1. Increases Flexibility and Range of motion

Horses are not especially flexible animals: they’re not often seen stretching and bending to funky yoga poses. In fact, horses are fairly limited to laying or standing, and in some cases, sitting. That being said, their natural range of motion is worth preserving because that can also prevent injuries. The more naturally your horse can move, the happier it will be.

 

  1. Pain relief

Muscle tension is not any less painful for horses than it is for people, therefore, your horse may greatly benefit from pain relief, especially in areas that contain scar tissue. The movement of stiff muscles in scar areas gradually loosens scar tissue, and improves the animal’s circulation. This is especially helpful for stall bound horses.

 

  1. Relaxation

Obviously, relaxing a horse’s muscles will help a horse relax. A horse may display it’s relaxed state in several ways, like licking, chewing, swaying into the massage, and even falling asleep!

 

  1. Trust

One of the top benefits of Equine Massage is building trust with your horse. This can help a horse learn that human touch can be a pleasant thing, and this is therefore often recommended for horses that have been rescued from abusive homes. In a healthy home setting, it is still beneficial, as it can show your horse that they mean much more than the work that you may put them to. Bonding with your horse can improve their loyalty to you.

 

Now that you know that benefits of equine massage, would you hire a massage therapist for your horse?

 

Ceruli, Paige. (2018, July 7). The Benefits of Equine Massage Therapy. DVM360. https://www.dvm360.com/view/the-benefits-of-equine-massage-therapy

Fought, Emily. (2019, July 15). Top Benefits of Equine Massage Therapy. Cowgirl Magazine. https://cowgirlmagazine.com/benefits-equine-massage-therapy/

Lorton, Stacey. (2017, March 28). Equine Massage Therapy: They Key to Keeping your Horse Healthy and Performance Ready. Cowgirl Magazine.  https://cowgirlmagazine.com/equine-massage-therapy/

 

Horse in Winter

Brrr! It is starting to get colder, the days are getting shorter, and autumn is gradually making its decent into winter. It is important to discuss the best winter care to protect our equine neighbors from the harsh elements.

  1. The Winter Water Ways

Fun facts: In the summer months, horses naturally obtain 60-80% of their water intake directly from the food they eat- like lush grasses from the pasture. However, the feed often provided in the winter is much dryer, and therefore does not provide the hydration that grass might.

For this reason, it is important to make sure that your horse has sufficient access to water. Without the hydration from pastures, a horse will need to drink about 10-12 gallons of water a day.

If you’re concerned that your horse isn’t drinking enough water, it may be helpful to keep the water between 45-65 degrees and ensuring that it doesn’t freeze by regularly maintaining the water tank heater and substituting salt blocks for loose salt.

 

  1. Lower Critical Temperature and Feed

When winterizing your horse, it is important to know that all horses have lower critical temperature – this is the temperature point at which your horse will need extra calories to sufficiently maintain its weight, health, and overall well-being against the cold.

 

Adult horses tend to reach their lower critical temperature at 18 degrees Fahrenheit when they have their winter coat, and 41 degrees Fahrenheit when they have their summer coat. Smaller horses, weanlings, and foals will reach their lower critical temperature at a higher temperature than mature horses.

 

If your horse is in a climate where it will reach its lower critical temperature, it is important to increase your horses feed by up to 25%. The nutrient needs will remain the same, and it is generally agreed upon that forage is the best feed for winter. Your horses exercise needs will remain the same as well.

 

  1. The Dos and Don’t of Blanketing

If your horse is in a colder climate, blanketing may be a good idea, but only if done in the correct conditions. Blanketing your horse incorrectly can damage their skin, their winter coat, and make them less tolerant of the cold.

 Dos:

  • Remove blanket daily and verify that it stays dry and that the blanket fits properly to prevent the development of sores and rub marks.
  • Blanket when there is no shelter available, and temperatures drops beneath 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When there is a risk of the horse getting wet (example: weather predicts rain, ice, sleet or snow).
  • When your horse has not acclimated to winter or developed a proper winter coat.
  • The weather is decreasing, but your horse is in poor health.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t blanket a horse before the December 22nd, as this is when their winter coat is still growing. Premature blanketing will signal the coat to stop developing.
  • Do not blanket a wet horse, as this can make the horse colder, and cause sores to develop.

 

  1. Hoof Care

Much of routine hoof care will remain the same in the winter months- but you may notice that your horse’s hooves grow much slower than when in the summer months. This is normal! Trimmings should still occur every 6-12 weeks.

It is also good to regularly check your horse’s hooves for ice and snow packed underneath the hoof. When ice gets stuck in a hoof, it increases your horse’s chance of slipping and falling, and make it difficult for them to talk.

 

  1. Shelter

Providing some form of shelter, such as an open-sided shed, trees, or a building can increase the horse’s tolerance of the cold. If you’re in an area with mild winters, they may seldom use their shelter. In more extreme climates, safety from snow, ice and wind allow horses to tolerate temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Winter is coming- don’t let catch yourself unprepared!

Sources:

University of Minnesota Extension. (2021). Caring for your Horse in the Winter. https://extension.umn.edu/horse-care-and-management/caring-your-horse-winter

Blocksdorf, Katherine. (2019, November 19). 14 Winter Care Tips for Horses and Ponies. https://www.thesprucepets.com/winter-horse-and-pony-care-tips-1887259

 

 

What is Equine Metabolic Syndrome?

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a condition that is associated with 3 main features: obesity or regional adiposity (fat pockets on various parts of the horse’s body, such as the neck and ribs), insulin resistance or insulin regulation issues, and laminitis.

 

What causes EMS and where did it come from?

EMS is believed to be caused by genetic factors. Because certain breeds, such as ponies, donkeys, and Arabians are predisposed to developing EMS, some believe that gene associated with EMS was evolutionarily developed to help equines in food scarce climates be able to more efficiently store carbohydrates and maintain their weight to prevent starvation when food was not available.

However, a horse’s environment can play a factor in a prone breeds development of EMS- such as rapid pasture growth, or unregulated access to a pasture (where they may experience hyperphagia: a hunger to eat non-stop).

 

Regardless of the origins of EMS, it is important to know that EMS affected horses produce high levels of insulin when they eat meals that have high levels of specific carbohydrates, and these insulin levels are slow to return back to a normal level.

 

Laminitis and Other Affiliated Conditions

One of the largest concerns regarding EMS is that it increases a horse’s likelihood of developing laminitis, which is an extremely painful (and in severe cases, potentially life threatening) condition where an animal’s hoof separates from the underlying coffin bone. This can make it painful and difficult for your horse to walk and stand, which can restrict their mobility and access to necessary resources, such as food and water.

Horses with EMS may also be more prone to developing hyperlipemia, which is a condition where the blood stream passes too much fat to the liver, and therefore causes the liver to become diseased and function less efficiently. Hyperlipemia can cause EMS to worsen significantly, because it can affect a horse’s desire to eat, which, in turn, affects insulin levels.

In addition to laminitis and hyperlipemia, another cause for concern is the increased likelihood of developing PPID (also known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction- say that five times fast), obesity, and infertility.

 

What should I do if I think my horse has EMS?

First, talk to your vet. Your vet should be able to run blood tests that can determine the glucose and insulin levels of your horse. It is quite likely that the vet will want to come to where the horse is and take the tests there- this is because glucose levels can also be affected by other factors- such as stress, or diet changes. Keeping your horse in the place that it considers home is important for an accurate test.

If your horse tests positive for EMS, the likely methods of treatment are dietary management, non-structural carbohydrate restriction, gradual calories restriction (emphasis on the term gradual: from 1.5% of their body weight to 1.25%, and then after some time, down to 1% until they reach their ideal body weight- this is important because sudden restrictions can worsen EMS), eliminating/restricting pasture access, increasing exercise, and if all else fails, possible Thyroxine or Metformin supplementation. Non-structural carbohydrate restriction may come in multiple forms: the preferred method is to run a feed analysis so that your vet can have an in-depth understanding of your horse’s current nutrient intake.

If a feed analysis is not a good option for you and your horse, they may suggest soaking your horse’s hay, which will lower the levels of non-structural carbohydrates. Should you choose this option, please know that is important to add vitamin and mineral supplements because the soaking process can also leech much of the nutritional value in hay.

Sources:

Kritchevsky, Janice. (2019, April). Overview of Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/metabolic-disorders/equine-metabolic-syndrome/overview-of-equine-metabolic-syndrome

Young, Amy. (2020, March 23). Equine Metabolic Syndrome. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Center for Equine Health. https://ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/equine-metabolic-syndrome

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine: Leatherdale Equine Center. Equine Metabolic Syndrome.  https://www.equine.umn.edu/research/equine-genetics-and-genomics-laboratory/current-projects/equine-metabolic-syndrome

Naturally, horses are a bit injury prone: when they fall, they fall farther than a human does, and they land on weight that is much heavier than a person. If you own horses, it is possible that you may experience medical emergencies. So how can you be prepared?

 

Observe your horse for changes

This one can be a tough one, but if you know your horse well, it should be easier to identify when they aren’t looking or acting like their normal self.

Some signs of distress in horses are pawing at the ground, vocalizing, repeated head movements, flared nostrils, decreased appetite, etc.

Does your horse seem lethargic? Are they experiencing seizures, paralysis, or seem like they are in pain? These symptoms could indicate that it is time to take a closer look.

 

A closer look:

At this point, there are several at home tests you can do to assess your horse. Your vet will likely want to know your horse’s heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and their skin pliability. To test the skin pliability, pinch or fold the horse’s skin and let go- how quickly the skin snaps back into place can indicates whether your horse is dehydrated.

You can also test if your horse’s blood oxygen levels are normal by opening their mouth and pressing your thumb against their gum and releasing it.  At first, the gum will likely be an off-white color, but it should quickly return to the color it was before your touched it.

 While you’re looking, what color is the inside of their nostrils?

 

In case you’re not familiar, here is what these tests should look like on a healthy horse:Horse Face

Respiratory rate: 12-20 breaths per minute.

Rectal temperature: 99.5-101.5 F

Gum re-coloration time: 2 seconds.

Skin pliability: immediate.

Any part of their body that secretes mucus (such as the nostrils) should be pink.

 

 

Be prepared before an emergency happens

  • Keep your veterinarian’s number saved as a contact in your phone, including their after-hours number. Some recommend also having a backup vet saved in your phone, just in case yours is not available at the time of the emergency.
  • Know the fastest emergency route to your local surgical center.
  • Keep a copy of your horse’s medical records in case they may not be accessible after hours, during an emergency (this includes allergies and vaccinations).
  • Keep a first aid kit in a place where it can be easily accessed.
    • A good first aid kit should contain cotton rolls, contact bandages, cling wrap, gauze pads and wrap, adhesive wrap/tape, scissors, latex gloves, antiseptic solution, pliers, and some form of emergency splints.
  • Delegate care roles among your friends or family to help you with the horse if there is an emergency, as it is important to avoid panicking during an actual emergency. Your horse will need you to remain calm, and you will need someone to help them remain calm.
  • If you board your horse at a stable, make an identification card to hang in front of their stall, incase there is an emergency while you are absent. The card should include your name and contact information, the name and contact information of your horse’s veterinarian and how they can be reached after hours, a brief summary of medical history, and your veterinary insurance information if applicable.

 

Call sooner rather than later

If your horse is acting out of the ordinary, call your veterinarian before it escalates to an emergency. Even if your horse only seems somewhat unwell, notify your vet, as it can help him/her prepare for the possibility of an after-hours emergency and identify the problem before it worsens.

 

Medical emergencies are frightening, but they are manageable, especially if you are prepared. For more tips on how to keep your horse happy and healthy, subscribe to our blog.

 

Sources:

American Association of Equine Practitioners. (2021). Guidelines for Equine Emergencies. AAEP. https://aaep.org/issue/guidelines-equine-emergencies

Eilerts, Jennie. (2019, May 31). Causes and Effects of Stress in Horses. Pro Earth Animal Health. https://proearthanimalhealth.com/causes-and-effects-of-stress-in-horses/

 

 

 

 

Uh oh! Is your hooved friend walking funny? It may be caused by Laminitis.

What is laminitis?

Laminitis is defined as the damage of the laminae, which is tissue that connects their hoof to the bones in their feet. This damage can be simple inflammation, stretching, separation, or tearing of the laminae. Once laminitis occurs, the coffin bone of the foot and hoof capsule start to rotate and sink into each other.

As you can probably imagine, this can be very painful for your horse. The good news is that it can sometimes be prevented!

 

Preventing Laminitis in Your Horse

The short answer for preventing laminitis is to make sure your horse is healthy, and to work to prevent endocrine diseases, such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), by making sure your horse is eating appropriately and not becoming overweight.

Some breeds of horses are more prone to developing laminitis, such as Draft Horses, Ponies, Morgan’s and miniature horses.

Regulating your horse’s feed is an important part of prevention. If a horse has sudden access to unregulated forage, such as escaping to an alfalfa pasture, they may develop “grass founder” laminitis because their body has not adjusted gradually to the change in their diet.

Horses may also develop laminitis if they experience digestive upsets caused by overloading on certain carbohydrates, such as excessive grains, or fruits.

Other causes of laminitis are excessive damages to the feet (referred to as “road founder”), leaning too much on to one foot because of injuries on another foot, other foot diseases, or exposure to bedding that contains black walnut shavings, and more.

 

Signs a Horse Might Have Laminitis are, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Hesitance when turning left or right
  2. Changes in their stride or gait
  3. Changes in behavior and temperament
  4. Shifting weight while standing
  5. Excessive caution while walking on hard surfaces, or an obvious preference for soft surfaces
  6. Heat and/or pulse coming from hoof
  7. Resistance of lifting foot
  8. Heels or hooves grow more quickly than the rest of the hoof
  9. Bruising or white line on hoof wall, and bruising of soul
  10. Changes in hooves or hoof wall angle
  11. Bulging/convex soul

 

 

Treatment

The damage caused by laminitis is irreversible, and treatment is usually aimed at preventing further damage and managing the damage that has already occurred. If you’re concerned that your horse might have laminitis, it is best to start treatment sooner rather than later.

Depending on the severity of the laminitis, prognosis and treatment might look a little different, but it will usually include changing their diet to one that includes hay with low non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), sugars, and low calories. There is also a strong likelihood that your vet will suggest confining them to an area with soft ground with deep bedding to limit pressure on the laminae, and then work to reduce inflammation.

Reducing inflammation of the laminae is often accomplished through a combination of rest, icing of the hoof, and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can also provide pain relief. 

If you are concerned your horse might have laminitis, call your vet soon!

 

Sources:

Young, Amy. (2020, March 23). Laminitis.  UC Davis: Veterinary Medicine Center for Equine Health. https://ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/laminitis

American Association of Equine Practitioners. (2020). Laminitis: Prevention & Treatment. AAEP. https://aaep.org/horsehealth/laminitis-prevention-treatment

The Laminitis Site. (No date). Laminitis. https://www.thelaminitissite.org/

 

view of ears of a brown horse coat

Are you all ears? The study of equine audiology, or horse’s hearing, has taught us a lot. From how the shape helps them receive sound to just how many frequencies they can hear, understanding how horses hear can help us build better companionship with our equine friends. Let’s dive into some horse ear facts so you can see what I mean.

How Does the Horse Ear Shape Help Them Hear?

Horse ears are not only adorable, but functional, too. The outside part of the ear (what we see) is called the “pinna”. Inside the pinna is the ear canal. Sound waves are funneled into the pinna and travel down the ear canal, eventually reaching the ear drum. 

The funnel shape of horse ears help them catch the sounds around them. Their ears are also independent of each other, allowing them to move and detect sounds separately. Horse ears can even swivel up to 180 degrees! This is a helpful tool as a prey animal – they are more likely to hear a threat coming their way.

Do Horses Hear Better Than Humans?

It’s a well-known fact that dogs hear much better than humans, but what about horses? The answer is…yes! But only slightly. Horses can hear higher and lower frequencies than humans, with up to a 13,500 hertz difference. Horse vision is better than their hearing, so they rely on it more to take in information.

Horse ears are very telling of how they feel, so their body language may show that they are afraid of something near or off your land that you can’t hear. Make sure that your horse feels safe and secure when this happens. You can offer them shelter or offer a fun distraction to calm them down if they get anxious.

Common Horse Ear Problems & Solutions

Flies, Mites, and Ticks

Although hearing loss is less common in horses than humans, you should look out for some other common issues. Ticks, mites, and flies are the obvious threats – they are visible lil buggers that will bite the pinna. They can carry diseases and cause discomfort & ear infections, which can lead to bigger issues if left untreated.

How to Prevent & Minimize Horse Ear Pests

The main thing you can do to help your horse is regularly check for mites, ticks, and fly bites on your horse’s ear. You will see red bumps, irritated skin, and/or oozing scabs if they have been bitten. If you notice that your horse has been shaking its head more than usual, that is a sign that you should take further investigation.

You can spray animal-safe fly repellent, or keep your horse sheltered while flies are really bad. Make sure that the horse’s environment is clean and not an inviting place for flies to annoy you & your animals.

Frostbite In Horse Ears

If you take proper care of your horse during winter, you shouldn’t have to worry about them getting frostbite. However, if you see pale or red swollen skin on the tips of their ears (where they get poor circulation), you should gently warm them up and call your vet immediately. They will be sensitive to touch, so be very careful.

What to Do If You Are Worried About Your Horse’s Ears

 

If your horse is shaking its head more than usual, or you do see continuous signs of bites/irritation, do not hesitate to call your vet. To avoid more serious issues down the road, it is important to make sure that your horse’s ears are taken care of early on. 

Your vet might suggest some ear ointment or another medication to help, or at least be able to give you trustworthy advice. BRD Vet Rx is happy to answer any of your questions – we love to see happy, healthy horses!

horse racing at Saratoga Springs

Here at BRD Vet Rx, we call ourselves an equine vet compounding pharmacy. You know that our passion is to help horses achieve the happiest and healthiest lifestyle possible, but what exactly makes us different from a non-compounding vet or pharmacist? 

What Does A Compounding Pharmacy Do?

Animals need prescriptions for medications, just like humans do. Sometimes, people need custom combinations and dosages of medications to achieve their desired outcomes. This is called “compounding” – or “to make whole”. These combinations create a medicine that can’t be achieved with normal formulas. 

Not all doctors are trained on how to compound medicine, but you can visit a certified compounding pharmacy to ensure that you get medication that fits your individual needs. Compounding pharmacies follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Extra-Label Drug Use regulations, and the pharmacist will make the drug based on their client’s (veterinarian’s) suggestion.

How is A Vet Compounding Pharmacy Different Than One For Humans?

Just like how the compounding pharmacies we go to are for humans, vet compounding pharmacies specialize in making custom medications for animals. The veterinarian determines what the animal needs, and will then compound the medication themself or will hire another pharmacist to do it for them. 

The vets and pharmacists who work for vet compounding pharmacies study animal health, so that they can confidently determine what is in the animal’s best interest. Every pet owner wants to know that the medication that they buy is safe, legitimate, and the right combination of drugs for their animal. BRD just happens to specialize in horse medications – and we are proud of it!

When Should You Go to A Vet Compounding Pharmacy?

There are a variety of reasons why someone may need to take their furry friend to a compounding pharmacy. The overarching answer is that a standard vet pharmacy cannot provide the right medication to their pet. Here are some examples of reasons why someone may be directed to a compounding pharmacy:

  • Their pet has an allergy and the ingredient must be removed for their safety
  • They may need a higher or lower dosage than the standard
  • The animal may not be able to swallow a pill, so a vet pharmacist needs to create a paste from the crushed up pills
  • Their pet is picky, so the compounding pharmacist needs to add flavoring to the medicine so that they don’t spit it out

Your primary veterinarian will prescribe the compounded medication if they believe that the commercial options are not the best choice for your pet. They will provide a recommendation for a vet compounding pharmacy, and you will be able to have them make it for you.

Why Choose BRD Vet Rx?

There are lots of options out there for equine vet compounding pharmacies, so how do we stand out from the rest? Our story started in 1925 when we opened our doors to help horses live their best lives. Since then, we have almost 100 years of equine compounding experience! 

We provide expertly-crafted sterile and non-sterile compounds, meaning we can serve almost any need for your horse. We believe in compounding the optimal formula for your horse’s needs at a fair and honest price. In addition:

  • All Pharmacists and Technicians are fully licensed and meet the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) 797 and 795 requirements.
  • We follow USP guidelines and use only FDA approved Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.
  • Provide fast reliable shipping while meeting medication requirements.
  • Ensure all sterile compounds are tested for potency and sterility.

View our products here, or contact us today to see how we can best help you and your horse.

group of horses in a green prairie

How to Read Horse Body Language?

Do you ever wonder if your horse is trying to tell you something? People and horses form such strong connections because we are both intelligent, expressive creatures who communicate with verbal and physical cues. Horse body language can be expressed throughout their entire body, which is amazing – so how should we interpret it as horse owners?

Listen Up!

Ears are a very telling part of horse body language. As you may guess, when the ears are pinned back, they are angry or nervous. Do not approach the horse in this state, or you might get a nasty bite or kick.

As you’re training your horse, you may notice that your horse is more likely to listen when their ears are forward and alert – this means that they are interested and engaged in what’s in front of them. This is a good equine communication indicator that your horse is ready to listen.

When your horse is relaxed, you’ll notice that their ears are turned to the side. They may not be paying attention to anything, in particular, so be careful not to startle them. Make yourself known (calmly – no surprise hugs!) to avoid any negative reactions out of fear.

The Tale of Horse Tails

On the opposite end of the ears, lives the tail. Horses use their tails more than to just keep flies away – but it isn’t always easy to read what they’re trying to say. For example, slow, occasional swishing is normal behavior. But if you notice fierce, faster swishing, your horse is probably annoyed. 

If you see their tail tucked tightly against their rear end, they are nervous and afraid. This is a pretty obvious sign that you should check in and think about how to make your horse more comfortable. It is not wise to get too close to them when they are feeling threatened like this. 

When your horse is carrying its tail high, it’s on high alert. This could be accompanied by forward-facing ears – your horse is very interested in something. But do be mindful – some breeds of horses have naturally higher placed tails that may look like they are alert when they are actually relaxing.

Understanding Horse Vocalizations

Horses communicate with their voices, too – just like humans! Keep in mind that every horse communicates differently, but here are a few categories of sounds you may hear while chatting with your equine friend:

Examples of Positive Horse Vocalizations:

  • Nickering (a soft, low sound that comes from the throat)
  • Neighs 
  • Winnies 

You can usually tell when your horse is happy. If they trot over to you, nuzzle you, or follow you, you know that they are content and that they like you (or they just really want that carrot in your hand).

Examples of Negative Horse Vocalizations:

  • Squealing
  • Aggressive Snorting 

When horses feel immediately threatened, you may hear squealing accompanied by thrashing, ears back, and biting. If a horse is unsure but doesn’t feel quite right, they might be snorting and shaking their head. This could happen if they sense that something isn’t right. 

Knowing these cues can help you better understand your horse and form a better connection. Remember to never approach a scared horse, and give them lots of positive feedback when they are friendly towards you. If you have any questions about your horse’s health, contact the team at BRD Vet Rx – we’d love to hear from you.

young tan appaloosa and brown horse touching noses

About Uveitis In Horses

Vision loss is tragic for all species, but understanding it is important for the healthy treatment of eyes and taking proper care if vision does become lost. Uveitis in horses is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, also known as the middle layer of the eye (between the cornea and retina). Episodes vary in severity, and it can happen once or multiple times. It’s the most common cause of vision loss in horses.

Can Horses Experience Uveitis More Than Once?

Uveitis in horses can be painful, and it’s never a good thing. However, it can be managed and treated, with the hope that it will not happen again. It is not completely preventable, but if it keeps happening, it may become a bigger issue. 

Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU), or Moon Blindness, is repeated episodes of Uveitis. It can happen in one or both eyes, and can eventually lead to complete blindness. The term “moon blindness” was a term from the 1600s, when people thought it was temporary blindness influenced by moon phases. The damage cannot be reversed, but surgeries and proper care can prolong your horse’s vision.

What Are the Signs of Uveitis In Horses?

Some signs of Uveitis include tears in the eye, squinting, swollen and red eyeball(s), sensitivity to light, yellow pus, and/or a cloudy, bluish haze over the cornea of the eye. There are many factors that go into how susceptible your horse is to getting Uveitis, and sometimes the episodes are minor enough that you won’t notice until it’s too late and vision loss occurs.

According to Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh, ERU affects 2-25% of the horse population in the United States. It is somewhat common, and certain breeds are more genetically predisposed to experience it. Appaloosas are the most at-risk breed, with up to a 25% prevalence to it. The disease is still somewhat a mystery to horse health care professionals, even though it has been recognized for centuries.

What Should I Do If I Think My Horse Has Uveitis?

Even if you’re not sure your horse is experiencing Uveitis, call a trusted horse health professional immediately. The earlier you can detect it, the better chance you have at prolonging your horse’s vision. There’s no test to determine if it’s a one-time occurrence or if it will happen again, but giving your veterinarian the most information that you can will give them a better idea about your horse’s situation.

You can work with them to find the primary cause of the episode (infection, blunt trauma, ulcer, etc), and this helps decide the likeliness of ERU. If it happened without a primary event triggering it, it’s more likely that it might happen again. Since it is a progressive disease without a defined cure, you’ll want to discuss an aging plan and proper treatment options.

How Do You Treat Uveitis In Horses?

Even if your horse has a one-time occurrence of Uveitis, you’re going to have to implement some treatment with your horse. Treatment options include topical anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, and medications that dilate the pupil. The goal of these is to reduce inflammation and pain, prolonging the comfort and vision of your horse. 

We hope that you and your horse never have to go through this, but being educated on the subject will best prepare you for catching it early on. Contact BRD Vet Rx with any questions you may have, or view our products for more information. We look forward to hearing from you and are here for your horse health needs.

two riders on running brown racehorses

What is Ringbone?

As they age, horses will wear on their leg joints and hooves from day-to-day activity. Eventually, this can lead to a degenerative arthritis condition called Ringbone. It affects the pastern and coffin joints, also known as the high and low ringbone. Ringbone in horses starts when joint inflammation occurs, leading to pain and lameness. 

Signs of Ringbone in Horses

Lameness is one of the first signs of Ringbone. Horses that have a more upright hoof angle are more likely to suffer from Ringbone because they don’t absorb impact as well and put more weight on the joints. In more advanced cases, you may notice a bony, swollen mass surrounding the high or low ringbone. 

The mass will be hard (bony) when you press on it, and pressure will not hurt your horse. Sharp pain will occur once the affected joint is flexed – but don’t try this yourself. Call a horse health professional to take a look, instead.

How To Treat Ringbone In Horses

Your farrier or horse health professional may have a variety of treatment suggestions depending on your horse’s weight, activity level, build, etc.. Ringbone can affect horses of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and there is no one treatment that works for all patients. Since it is a progressive disease that is irreversible, the focus will be on managing your horse’s comfort and mobility.

A farrier may suggest special corrective shoes to minimize overuse of joints for comfort. As far as medication goes, joint-feed supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are popular for reducing pain. These treatments are usually topical or injected.

There’s also another method that is used that may surprise you: fusing the joints. Depending on how the disease progresses, the affected joints may fuse together. This relieves some of the pain the horse experiences because the joint cannot be flexed anymore. Some horse health professionals elect to medically speed up the process if they think it’s the best option for the horse. 

What Should I Do If I Think My Horse Has Ringbone?

If you see signs of lameness or a swollen area around the ringbone joints, call your trusted horse health professional. They will be able to properly rule out other options and diagnose your horse without further injuring them. From there, you can discuss a treatment plan that has your budget and horse’s best interest in mind.

Your farrier might recognize Ringbone during a scheduled appointment as well. He might be able to give some advice on corrective shoe fittings or other options to improve the comfort of your equine companion.

View our horse health products or contact us at BRD Vet Rx today for more information.