Helping Others With Equines

Dee Howe

Educational Posts

Common Ailments

Posted by Dee Howe on May 9, 2018 at 5:15 PM

When you own or care for a horse it is important to be familiar with their common ailments: time is crucial when dealing with an illness or injury!

You should always consult with your Equine Veterinarian if you suspect your horse is sick or injured.


When a horse has abrasions to the skin, they have to heal from the inside out so stitches & wrapping usually is required for the wound to heal properly. If done well there is little scaring. In cases of deep cuts to the legs, while you wait for the vet to stitch the horse up, there are a few things you can do. Only put a water soluble agent on the wound (furizone). If it is on the lower part of the leg, a pressure wrap will reduce bleeding & swelling plus keep the wound clean for the vet. If the horse seems stressed then put a blanket on them.  Anti-biotics may be needed to prevent infection per your veterinarians recommendation.  An anti-inflammatory may be given but sometimes you don't want the horse walking around a lot so ask your vet first.


Is a term used for a "stomachache". Signs are: looking & bitting at their flanks or belly, swaying or staggering, sweating, not eating, and laying down trying to roll. Some will be hard to keep on their feet. If they roll too much this can cause them to twist an intestine in which may lead to death. Most of the time it is caused by moldy feed, stress, extreme changes or rich feed, traveling, parasites and not drinking enough water. It can be aggravated by a blocked colon or horses that "crib", or suck air. Usually if the horse is not better in an hour after you have began treating them, then call the vet. If the horse has a history of colic, don't wait!

Begin with keeping the horse up and walking. Put a paper clip on the tip of each ear, this stimulates pressure points for pain. If there are two people: while one is rubbing the lips, the other alternates doing "stomach lifts" and rubbing the tail points (to be described later). If the horse wants to lay down, start walking it again. If you can administer it, give 1-2 quarts of mineral oil. A vet may also administer banemine to help the muscles relax.


Is caused by stress of any kind. It could be an illness causing high temperature (normal temperature is 100-101 degrees), too much or high protein feed, traveling, hard riding on bad surfaces, not passing the placenta when giving birth, age, not properly cooling your horse down after a hard ride and too much green grass to name a few.

Signs to look for is heat around the coronet band on the feet, moving stiffly, lame, a cresty neck, looking too fat, rings on the hoof, a dished look to the front of the hoof, a "rocked back" stance (the horse appears to not want to put any weight on the front feet) and when looking at the bottom of the foot you will see a widening in the white wall.

Once you can determine what caused the founder you can make the arrangements needed to prevent it from happening again. Slight cases of founder usually are fine but others may be damaged for life. Even though there is corrective shoeing available, if the coffin bone rotates in the hoof they may be lame for life.

It is important to work with a Vet and professional farrier to come up with a long term treatment & management plan for a horse that has foundered. One of the first things to do is to remove all feeds from the horse's diet that are high in sugar (grain, grass, alfalfa).


Is a term used when a horse is not traveling "sound" with even steps in their gait. Unsoundness can be caused by many problems in the legs and feet, the spinal column out of alignment, pulled muscles & tendons in the body, navicular, arthritis, bowed tendons, stoned bruised, ring bone, spavins, joint injuries, one shoulder bigger than the other, & spinal problems are a few unsound conditions.

To notice an unsound horse one must look at the topline and head as it moves. Never look at the legs while trotting them in a straight line and a 35 foot circle both ways. A flexion test is good to tell stiffness and problems in the joints.

Most of the problems usually occur from accidents, injuries, and poor conformation. For simple problems, rest, wrapping, liniments, and massage therapy can help. More serious injuries may take a longer & more in depth treatment. Your vet can help you diagnose & treat lameness in your horse.

Categories: Basic Care

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