Ask Horse Journal: 05/00

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Is Adequan The Right Choice'
I have a six-year-old Oldenberg/Thoroughbred mare. She is a pasture horse and plays vigorously. She apparently injured herself in the pasture. She was very lame on her right front leg around 5:30 one evening. We wrapped the leg, gave her bute, confined her to a stall, and called the vet. There was a lot of heat and swelling; I suspected a bow.

The vet did X-rays the next day, but when she developed the X-rays at her office, results were inconclusive. The injury was not a bowed tendon, but the angle on the X-rays wasn’t right to make a conclusive diagnosis. Possible diagnoses were either a bone fracture or a sprain near the fetlock area.

We scheduled to take the horse to the vet, so that the vet could develop X-rays as she took them. In the interim, we kept a support bandage on the leg, continued the bute, and also iced and hosed the leg each day.

At the vet’s office, we got an X-ray that showed there was no bone fracture, but an extensive sprain. The vet’s recommended treatment is two months of stall confinement, with hand walking only. The vet suggested also four injections of Adequan at four-day internals, which we have started. The prognosis is that she will recover completely.

In looking at the information on the Internet, most of the applications for Adequan appear to be for chronic lameness, usually arthritis. Also, most of the suggestions are for a seven-treatment regimen. Why the difference in treatments'

-K. Havis
Sandy Ridge, NC

It’s always difficult, if not impossible, to second-guess a treating veterinarian, but the likelihood is that the Adequan was recommended to prevent possible cartilage damage/irritation that might result from joint instability in a case of severe strain. The strain itself doesn’t usually directly involve the cartilage but injury to supporting ligaments and tendons around and in the joint might lead to abnormal/unstable movement of the joint and cartilage irritation. Your vet may also have found evidence of increased synovial fluid within the joint, another indication for treatment with Adequan (it’s actually more useful in acute arthritis/joint irritation than chronic).

As you said, the usual course of treatment is about seven injections. Your vet may be planning on re-evaluating the condition at the halfway mark to determine if more Adequan is warranted.


Stall Walker
I have a three-year-old Irish Sport Horse who has started to stall walk. We keep all the horses on a regular feeding/turnout schedule to try to prevent anyone from getting impatient, but it hasn’t work for him. Our stalls are 14’ x 14’ with large Dutch windows in the rear and Dutch doors in the front. Sometimes he walks in circles, and sometimes he weaves up and down the center wall between his stall and his pasture buddy’s stall. Even though the mess is terrible, I am more concerned with any irregular muscling that may occur. I would like to stop this habit before it becomes ingrained. My vet suggested hanging a board perpendicular to the center wall in order to break up his walking. This helped, but I have watched him simply shove the board out of the way. I would truly appreciate any advice you could give me.

-Nicolle Villers
Orange, VA

You say the horse has just “started” to stall walk but don’t mention what he was like before. Did you have him a good while before this started or is he a new arrival' If this is actually a new behavior for the horse, there is an explanation somewhere.

Stall walking is a form of agitation. Some horses are simply the high strung/ “neurotic” type with other nervous habits and general jumpiness while others seem to be trying to tell you something. They want out but there is definitely a specific goal in mind if they get out.

Since you don’t mention any problems with barn manners or behavior when being trained, the superficial explanation is that he is just a big, young horse with excess energy who needs more turn out. More formal exercise may just make him fitter and more prone to stall walk. Try to think of any changes in routine that might have triggered this. Is there a new turn out buddy or schedule, or a new stall neighbor, new grain or hay, new horse in the barn' Of course if the horse is a new acquisition he may just be adapting poorly to his new routine.

It is unlikely the horse will respond to any nutritional manipulations, such as thiamine or magnesium. Long-term chemical “tranquilization” is not a viable answer either. Herbals may be a better choice, but the real answer lies in finding what is causing this. Can you close up the barn to prevent escape and let the horse “loose” in the aisle on a long line to see where he goes and what he does' He might be trying to get to a specific horse. If he just gets more agitated and disorganized you are right back to a situation of needing more time out of the stall.

Can you adjust turn-out schedules to put him with the horse he wants to be with (if that is the problem)'

Life would be a lot easier if our horses could talk things out with us. As it is, all we can get from this horse’s behavior is a very clear “I’m dissatisifed. I want something.” While we gave you suggestions, why and what is still your challenge.


Feed What You Need
The article “Feed What You Need” (December 1999) gave me good information that was not in my vet book’s nutrition chapter. But I also found the article left me with some major questions.

For example, you mention the importance of mineral ratios in the diet, but it would be great if you also printed what these ratios are supposed to be, so that everyone can calculate for themselves what their horses are getting. In particular, I am interested in the Ca:Mg (calcium:magnesium) ratio. What should it be in the horse’s average daily intake' Also, what is the minimum and maximum daily requirement for iodine'

How much lysine is in soy meal on a percentage or g/lb. basis' And what is its Ca:Mg ratio' I am feeding soy meal as a supplement for protein, calcium and phosphorus in the winter.

Any help you can give me on these questions would be appreciated. I would love to find a book or web site that you deem reliable.

-Lisanne Pearcy
Corvallis, OR

The most important ratio is calcium:phosphorus, which should be between 1.5:1 and 2:1. Estimated calcium requirement for a 500 kg (1,100-pound) adult, nonpregnant, nonlactating horse is 20 grams/day and does not change with activity level. The official NRC recommended daily magnesium intake for a 500 kg horse is 7.5 grams/day, which would give a Ca: Mg ratio of 2.7:1. We consider a Ca:Mg ratio of 2:1 to be ideal and important to the maintenance of normal muscular function in performance horses. On the trace mineral front, it is usually recommended that a zinc:copper ratio of no higher than 3:1 be maintained to avoid zinc interfering with copper.

Iodine, like selenium, is a critical trace element but has a narrow margin of safety. Iodine requirements are estimated to be between 1 and 6 mg/day for an adult horse. Toxicity begins at 35 mg/day and an upper safe limit for all horses is about 50 mg/day.

As above, the minimum magnesium daily intake recommended by the NRC is 7.5 grams/day. However, if you are keeping an ideal ratio of 2:1 Ca:Mg, calcium intake at this level would be inadequate. No toxic level has been established for magnesium in the horse.

Soybean meal has a lysine content of about 3%. However, overheating during processing may destroy a considerable amount of the lysine. Soybean meal has a Ca:Ph ratio of 1.3:1 (whole soybean meal) to 0.87:1 (dehulled soybean meal).

We did assume a bit of nutrition knowledge when writing this article due to the constraints of space. We have touched on most of these elements in our own nutrition articles over the years, but one ba sic reference that is a must for everyone serious about investigating the details of their horse’s diet is the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements for Horses. This is available from National Academy Press through their web side (, by phone at (888) 624-8373.


Summer Immune Defense
With EPM and other protozoa, Lyme disease, EIA and the encephalitis viruses???including the deadly Eastern and West Nile forms???all circulating again as summer arrives, our attention needs to focus on building our horse’s immune system to its optimal level. It’s his best defense.

Grass is a cheap, effective immune-enhancer???one of the reasons our horses look so nice in the spring and summer. Fresh vegetation is rich in essential fatty acids, high in protein, loaded with antioxidant vitamins A and C and has a wide variety of key minerals present in a naturally chelated form. Absorption of the nutrients is aided by grass’s natural high water content.

In addition to allowing the maximum safe amount of grass, you should:

• Deworm regularly and use probiotics???if not routinely, definitely before and after deworming to encourage re-establishment of normal gut microbes.
• Supply ample fresh water.
• Allow free-choice salt.
• Use electrolytes when indicated.
• Address specific nutritional needs, like growth or tying-up.
• Use a supplemented grain mix and/or vitamin-mineral supplement.

Very old, young, or heavily worked horses may benefit from the use of an immune-stimulant supplement (see March 2000), especially if your area is at high risk for an infectious disease, such as West Nile, Lyme or Potomac horse fever. Probiotics are immune-stimulating, but other supplements suitable for daily use include Actimune, Glutasyn and Equine Defense System (Larch arabinogalactan, Astragalus, Ginseng, whey and Schisandra being some of the heavy players).

During times of higher stress, or with outbreaks of disease in the region, use of the more potent and rapidly acting supplements containing Echinacea or injectable immune-stimulating products from your veterinarian, likely would be in order.


Ask For The Paste
Many medications and supplements are also available in a paste form. You just need to ask for it. Pastes are more expensive but easier to adminster. You can get paste:

• Phenylbutazone
• Banamine
• Tribrissen (a good broad spectrum antibiotic)
• Pro-Burst (a branched chain amino acid helpful in tying-up, see April/May 1999)
• MSM paste.

MSM paste can be used with other drugs to help control muscle pain, allergic reactions or flares of periodic ophthalmia and can help protect the stomach from the effects of bute.

You can even request an antibiotic ointment for eyes instead of drops, as it lasts longer and you can more easily see if it actually got onto the eye instead of the face or lids.