September 14, 2008 | | Comments 0




Stringhalt in Horses

Stringhalt is a condition where a horse involuntarily over flexes its hind legs. It is possible for only one or for both of the legs to be affected. Most cases of stringhalt happen when a horse is already a bit older and has had a lot of experience with work and training. The condition may barely be noticeable at first but may begin to get worse. If a horse owner is not observant, he may not notice for some time that his horse has mild stringhalt because the condition is not continuous. Severe stringhalt however may make work and performance difficult for riders.

Causes of Stringhalt

Stringhalt is not understood very well. Different horse experts may have varying opinions. Some horse owners suggest that the condition may either be genetic or the result of toxicity. Those who believe in the theory of toxicity suggest that ingestion of certain plants combined with poor nutrition may bring about stringhalt.

Many veterinarians however believe that stringhalt is really the result of injury or physical stress affecting some muscles and nerves. The lateral digital muscle in the hock in particular and the nerves connected to it are major points of possible injury which can result in stringhalt. It is also quite possible that the damage may involve the spine or the nervous system. If this is so, the stringhalt may be more pronounced and may be more difficult to treat.

Signs of Stringhalt in Horses

The signs of stringhalt will vary from one horse to another depending on the severity of the condition. In horses with mild stringhalt, the over flexion may only be manifested through a slight tremor or movement that may be apparent to a critical show horse judge. The over flexion in some horses however can be so severe that they can actually hit their stomachs with each bend. This is not only bad for the show ring. It can be bad for your horse’s internal organs as well. Among some horses, over flexion may only happen in cold seasons or days.

Treatment of Stringhalt

Surgery is the solution for stringhalt. This does not mean though that every horse with the condition will benefit from it. If the problem is with the nervous system, then no amount of surgery on the hocks will help your horse. Just like humans though, horses may benefit from physical therapy. This simply involves consistent daily exercises. As with any horse condition, it will not hurt if you made sure that your horse has a clean environment and sufficient nutrition.

If stringhalt is severe, you may find it uncomfortable to work with your horse. The condition will also naturally eliminate your horse’s chances in show rings or in the dressage event. Some horses however with mild conditions may still be able to perform well in jumping.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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