Has your horse got a hoof bruise?

At this time of year, hooves can easily bruise on dry, hard ground. As living, flexible tissue, hooves are designed to expand and contract, withstanding concussion. However, too much force from an impact can cause damage. This may be from something as simple as treading on a stone! A hoof bruise may develop and become apparent afterwards. Also, the hard ground can affect the biomechanics of ligaments, joints and tendons, and some horses with certain problems (navicular and arthritis for example), could simply get worse.

So what are hoof bruises?

Bruises are small haemorrhages that occur when blood vessels rupture due to trauma. Similar to humans having a blood-filled blister (haematoma) under the fingernail, larger haematomas can also form between sensitive tissues and the sole of the hoof. The resulting internal pressure can be very painful!

What are the signs of a bruise?

Symptoms can include:

  • increased digital pulse
  • shortened stride or more obvious lameness
  • purple/red marks on the hoof.

How do I locate a bruise?

Even if there are no external marks, hoof testers can be used to test sensitivity of the soft tissue structures within the hoof capsule. This aids in locating the specific area of pain, which will help determine the cause of the problem and the best way to treat it.

How are bruises treated?

Treatment options may range depending on the specific case. It could involve paring the sole to relieve pressure, cold therapy, poulticing, protective bandaging or anti-inflammatories. Deep bruising can also trigger abscesses, so if in doubt, seek veterinary attention.

Emiliano Espinar, veterinary surgeon, checking a horse's hoof with hoof testers.

Why flies can harm the eyes!

Warmer weather unfortunately can mean more pesky flies, and they can often irritate horses’ eyes. You may notice that your horse has swollen eyes or discharge (from one or both eyes). Likewise, the conjunctiva (the membranes or pink tissues surrounding the eye) may be red. Also, the white of the horse’s eye (sclera) may have more small blood vessels showing.

What can I do to help my horse’s eyes?

Using fly masks can prevent flies from irritating the eyes by stopping them from landing. There are many types available (some with ear covers to prevent flies biting the inside of the ears too.) Fly repellant may also be a good idea but take care not to get in the eyes. Further irritation could occur! Remember that if there are showers, it may not remain on the skin long enough to be effective. In some cases we may use antibiotics or steroids (or a combination of the two) to combat symptoms. Steroids can often be used to reduce inflammation and antibiotics deal with any bacterial infection.

It is also important to have the right treatment; human over-the-counter eye drops may not be suitable for treating infections. Also, if you are competing, eye drops containing steroids may not be appropriate!

What else should I look out for?

If your horse is scratching itself, then it could have another condition such as sweet itch. This may need investigating so that an appropriate management plan can be put in place. Flies may also be responsible for transmitting BPV which can cause sarcoids! Corneal ulcers can also develop if the horse rubs or scratches the eyes on either its legs or another surface. Again, this is where prompt veterinary attention is required to assess and treat the problem, thereby reducing the risk of any further issues.

Flies can irritate horses' eyes. A horse's eye with flies near it.

How to cool down after exercise

After working out in the sunshine, what’s the best way to cool a horse down after exercise?

What happens to the heat?

The 4 main ways that heat dissipates are:

  • radiation (heat between 2 objects that aren’t touching),
  • conduction (heat transfer between two objects that are touching)
  • convection (cold air moving across the skin, which forces heat away from the body)
  • evaporation (liquid i.e. sweat that vaporises, thereby dispersing the heat energy).

Sweating is not an effective method of cooling down in humid conditions, however.

What’s the best way to cool down?

Research has shown that the most effective way to cool a horse down is by spraying with cool water, then scraping that water off, before spraying again.

What about cold water and colic?

Despite rumours about hot horses drinking and getting colic, research also shows that horses can be offered cool (not ice-cold) water, as rehydration is most important.

Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID)

Equine Cushing's Disease, PPID - Dr. Emiliano Espinar Veterinary Surgeon

Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID)VIDEO

Learn about Equine Cushing’s Disease in this video explaining the symptoms, cause, diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID)VIDEO

Learn about Equine Cushing’s Disease in this video explaining the symptoms, cause, diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

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