Stringhalt In Horses

The Body of the Horse
This section is all about what happens in and on the horse from nose to tail. It is divided into systems.

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[memb_is_logged_in] Discussion:

This condition has occurred in horses over the ages. If your horse is affected, your vet will probably say they don’t know the cause, there is no treatment, and it will get worse. Our hearts go out to these animals not because it is painful (it is NOT), but because it appears so uncomfortable.

What current research is showing is that there may be several causes. These include trauma to the leg, trauma to the spine, developmental disease of the nerves or articular cartilage, degenerative disease of the nerves or articular cartilage, or a toxin (“false dandelion”). When there is more than one possible cause, then the reality is no one knows for sure what the cause is OR there are two or more causes of that show the same signs. Either one is not helpful to the horse or the horse owner.

One researcher is using an Electromyogram (EMG) which measures the electrical signals in the muscles to pinpoint the cause, but there is still no known treatment for any nerve or tissue damage found. There is one exception and that is for the toxic cause.

When false dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata) is found and the horse is removed from eating it, then the horse returns to normal between a few weeks to a year depending upon how long the horse has ingested the plant. The toxin usually affects both hind legs but can affect other parts of the body including the forelimbs and the larynx. The plant is found in Australia (hence the name “Australian Stringhalt”) but the plant has also been found in other parts of the world including Brazil, but I’m not sure if it is found in North America. Not all horses exposed to the plant become afflicted with stringhalt.

The bottom line is if your horse is diagnosed with stringhalt, realize that it is a progressive disease and there is no known consistent treatment for it. Some older vets may recommend performing surgery on a tendon near the hock, removing a piece of the tendon which causes the jerking up motion of the disease. Understand that this is not removing the cause. It is like cutting the string of a puppet but the cramp in the puppeteer’s finger is still causing the finger to twitch.

Please let me know if you have had any success with your horse if it has stringhalt. Try to be specific and clear in your comment below (HINT: write it on paper and edit it before posting). Thanks ~ Doc T

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Discussion:

This condition has occurred in horses over the ages. If your horse is affected, your vet will probably say they don’t know the cause, there is no treatment, and it will get worse. Our hearts go out to these animals not because it is painful (it is NOT), but because it appears so uncomfortable.

What current research is showing is that there may be several causes. These include trauma to the leg, trauma to the spine, developmental disease of the nerves or articular cartilage, degenerative disease of the nerves or articular cartilage, or a toxin (“false dandelion”). When there is more than one possible cause, then the reality is no one knows for sure what the cause is OR there are two or more causes of that show the same signs. Either one is not helpful to the horse or the horse owner.

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