Letters: 05/04

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Western Saddle Pads Price Correction
We just received the March 2004 evaluation of Western saddle pads. It is a good and comprehensive article with a lot of general information on saddle pads and under-blanket pads. However, somehow the prices were miscommunicated on our pads. The correct prices are: $83 for Flint Ergonomic (WEG 52) and $44- $51 for Flint Felt Under Blankets.??

-David Flint
Flint Saddlery
www.flints.ca

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Joint Supplements
I just got time to read the December 2003 issue and would like to add my confirmation about joint supplements. At about age 16, my Quarter Horse began to display lameness in his left shoulder.?? Though he is not worked hard now, he was a working cattle horse in his younger years.?? Two veterinarians looked at him and agreed that he had mild arthritis.?? At that time the suggested regimen was to bute him before and after riding.?? I asked about beginning to use a joint supplement.??I started my horse on one of the products you’ve recommended, and the results are amazing.?? He has had no lameness in over a year and has not needed any bute in that period of time.??

-Joan McColly
California

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Purpura Victim
Thank you for making readers aware of purpura hemorrhagica (February 2004).?? I lost a horse to this illness four years ago and can’t emphasize enough how fast this condition can hit.?? She was gone within a week.

A necropsy showed that she had extensive internal bleeding (it’s possible that a brain hemorrhage caused the seizures) and her intestines were full of large, soft blood clots, which was the likely cause of her mild colic.??The organs examined were extensively perforated.

The vets did not happen to mention purpura at that time. It was??a night or two later when, unable to sleep, I was sifting through vet books for some explanation.?? The best description, oddly, was in a 100-year-old U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Diseases of the Horse, which is where I found the information on the lack of clotting and facial swelling. The mare had an intranasal strangles vaccination about six weeks earlier, the only known reason for this to happen.

I doubt if anything could have been done for my mare, as things simply progressed too quickly from the time the symptoms were obvious.?? I can at least hope that the information can result in another horse’s symptoms being caught and acted upon quickly.

-Rhonda Watts
New Hampshire

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Balanced Trot
I just wanted to say thank you, yet again, for another issue worth reading and rereading.?? Your trot exercise (February 2004) was very helpful. My green horse and I were having a heck of a time staying balanced together, and your exercise did the trick!

-Erin Jaffarian
California

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Another Purpura Case
I read with extreme interest your article on purpura hemorrhagica, especially that purpura can damage internal organs. My Tennessee Walking Horse gelding developed purpura as a four-year-old.

Although we put him on prednisone, which gave us the desired response, more than two years later, he continues to have abdominal distention and itchy skin. Extensive testing has been inconclusive.

I’ve been told he was fat and had a behavioral problem. I know this isn’t true, and I have found an herb called arabinogalactin and a prescribed injection of normal serum with added gamma globulin have regulated him. I would love to know the cause of this affliction. No one had mentioned the possibility of organ damage.

-Kim Starling
Colorado

If your horse had any organ damage from the systemic infection and/or purpura, a chemistry panel and careful physical examination would pick it up.?? It sounds more likely that he either has an immune imbalance or is depleted of key nutrients as a result of his struggle — or both. You may need to take him to a full-service veterinary school clinic to get to the bottom of this.

When a horse has purpura, there’s a massive activation of all arms of the immune system.While this is going on, the horse may become sensitized/allergic to many things, such as a feed ingredient, bedding, an insect, blanket material and so on.??

It’s also possible your horse has a persistent focus of infection somewhere in his body that keeps the immune system activated.?? With prolonged illnesses such as this, the stress can result in adrenal gland dysfunction, which worsens the imbalance between inflammatory processes and the arms of the immune system that control them.??

Your horse’s improvement with arabinogalactan and normal serum suggests he has either an immune system imbalance (in favor of inflammation/allergy) or a continuing activation of his immune system from a focus of infection — or both.

Arabinogalactan isn’t actually an herb.?? Arabinogalactans are complex carbohydrates found in the cells walls of plants/trees, yeasts and some other organisms. These substances stimulate local immunity in the intestinal tract, resulting in improved populations of beneficial bacteria and decrease in pathogens, possibly helping to protect the horse’s intestinal tract from disease.??

They also activate the systemic immune system at multiple levels from antibody-producing lymphocytes to the clotting systems.?? Although they are often described as “balancing” or “modulating” the immune system, the overall effect is definitely in favor of activating it, which may or may not be something good for your horse.??

The normal-serum effects could be either activating or balancing/quieting, depending on what factors are lacking in the horse.??Commercially available immune serum is prepared from horses that have been blood tested and determined to be “universal donors,” which greatly decreases the possibility of any adverse reactions from using the product, but there is still a slight chance of this.?? It also may only be a temporary fix.