Tuesday, October 16, 2007

*Red Running Star’s bout with Stringhalt

What is Stringhalt? Many folks have heard the word, but exactly what does it entail? A horse with stringhalt, when walking, will hyper-lift one or both back legs (as if to kick their belly for flies). It is as if the message from their brain to their leg/s goes into overdrive. The nerve that controls the lateral digital extensor muscle misfires and causes the exaggerated lift.

Additionally, the lift causes a shift in the normal walking cadence and although the horse eventually adapts to this, at first it is as if they need to relearn walking.

Why does Stringhalt occur? The causes are considered “unknown” although in the United Kingdom and Australia it is known that eating some plants can allow Stringhalt to develop. Here in the United States, it is most often the result of injury. Because the muscle lies on the outside of the leg, a well placed kick can cause inflammation of the nerve resulting in Stringhalt.

*Red’s Stringhalt developed on Saturday, October 6, 2007. Chuck had fed lunch hay a bit after noon and all was well. When we arrived at about 5:30 p.m. to feed supper he had Stringhalt. It had rained that afternoon and so we assumed that he had slipped. Because he was otherwise fine (ate, drank, bright eyes) we left him with his pal *Beau to see what he was like in the morning. At this time we knew little about this disability.

The next morning he was the same, so we brought him up into a stall. Kelley Robie, of Horsetail Herbs, is trained in herbalogy, energy bodywork, and is also an Animal Communicator. She has worked on *Red before and was in the area so I asked her to stop in. Kelley got that he slipped in the mud. But why would he have gone onto developing Stringhalt when another horse would not have? This was our mystery.

Sunday evening Kelley called me after reading through her herbalogy books and said that the plants that had been indicated in the UK as causing Stringhalt actually prevented the absorption of magnesium (so causing a deficiency in magnesium). She recommended getting him on more magnesium and said she would continue to research.

Monday, October 8, 2007.

I called Burlington Equine to have Dr. Randy Frantz come out. He is a vet and also is a chiropractor and acupuncturist who has worked on *Red before. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it out this way until this coming Friday, so I set-up the appointment anyway.

Then I called our local vet, Dr. Tom Stuwe. His new partner, Alyson (omgoodness I’ve forgotten her last name!). She came out and confirmed the Stringhalt. She said the best case scenario was that he would get over it and the worst was that he would need to have the tendon cut in that leg. She promised she would do some more research and get back to me. In the meanwhile, she had me start him on Phenylbutazone for three days. I told her that we would try every other means at our disposal before having him operated on because once cut, it cannot be uncut. She understood.

I have also contacted Linsey McNeal from VitaRoyal http://www.vitaroyal.com/ and have filled out her Horse Profile form.

This evening, Alyson called to tell me the results of her research. She confirmed what she had already told me but said that some positive results had been found by 1) using a low carbohydrate diet; 2) increasing his Vitamin E and Selenium; and 3) acupuncture. She could not find anything relating increasing Magnesium.

Tuesday, October 9-Thursday, October 11

No real change in *Red except he seems more resigned with his predicament and less angry/frustrated. His appetite remains good. Guin has taken him for short walks. On Wednesday, the 10th we did a video of him to show his movement so that we can make comparisons better. We’ll get that loaded up onto YouTube as soon as we can.


Walter Jeffries said...


Is it your white barn / arena that collapsed in Marshfield?

I have a farm over in Orange, just south of you and I am thinking about setting up a hoop barn. We raise pigs. I would love to hear from you about what happened so that I can avoid a collapse.

I am thinking about building a gothic (pointed roof) greenhouse on a concrete kneewall foundation to give our pigs a winter farrowing space.

Any words of wisdom on these sorts of hoop / greenhouse structures are appreciated.

Sugar Mtn Farm

Anonymous said...

Hi my horse has stringhalt in both hind legs, sometimes one is worst than the other. I have tried increasing his vitamin E but it doesn't seem to have any effects. Please let me know exactly what you fed your horse to create such improvment. My horse only has a bad case of stringhalt in the winter. In the summer he got 100% better and now he has it again. P.S. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Laura