Letters: 07/99

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Price Correction
The price of Med-Vet Pharmaceuticals/United Vet Equine’s Xtra-Flex Plus was incorrect in the May 1999 chart. The four-pound price is $59.95.

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Skin Bumps In Saddle Area
Last summer our five-year-old Holsteiner cross mare developed several small bumps in the saddle area that we thought were bug bites. I treated them as such and continued riding her. She is a chestnut with hyper-sensitive skin. But the spots grew into lumps as large as a quarter and increased in number until her saddle area was covered with at least a dozen of varying size. Riding seemed to add to the size and number of bumps, though they were never inflamed or sore.

Finally one vet injected the largest ones with cortisone, which reduced them slightly in size but did not solve the problem. Next, oral prednisone was prescribed, which caused a prompt colic. Then a visiting clinician told me of having the same problem with a chestnut horse in Germany, and it was treated as a management problem, so I did the same:

1. Put a gel pad next to the mare’s skin without the fabric cover.
2. Had my saddle refitted so it was a perfect fit for this horse.
3. Rode with a well-tightened girth.

The problem is caused by the friction of the saddle’s movement on the horse’s back and probably involves ingrown hairs. Every effort must be made to keep the saddle still. I now ride with a “naked” gel pad and my newly-stuffed saddle. The bumps are decreasing in number and size.

-Gina Kanevsky
Internet

We wanted to share this letter because the management steps outlined here are exactly right.

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Dirty Sheath
I like your thoughts on selenium and tail loss, as expressed to Crystal Fenton (May 1999). Although Ms. Fenton doesn’t mention tail rubbing, another thing to check might be the cleanliness of the gelding’s sheath.

-Gaye Bergstrom
Ctr. Animal Health & Productivity
University of Pennsylvania

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Tail Chewer
In response to Crystal Fenton’s May 1999 letter, the problem with mane and tail loss could be simpler than a nutritional imbalance. My mare also suffered from a mysteriously dwindling tail. Then one day I noticed the horse in the neighboring paddock ripping chunks of her tail out with his teeth. For some reason, my mare didn’t mind. In any event, horse owners may only need to look as far as pasture mates when manes and tails start disappearing.

-A. Campbell
Middletown, CT

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Scrubbing Sponges
I have an additional comment on sponges (March 1999). Not long after my daughter converted me to the nylon-net scrubbing sponges that come with bath-wash liquid, it occurred to me that this might work well on my horses. Great idea! It scrubs hard enough to get all but the toughest stains, provides an invigorating skin rub, helps remove shedding hair and can be rinsed and hug to dry on its sturdy attached cord. No problem, either, with boiling or bleaching.

-Martha McDaniel
Kaneohe, HI

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Stallion-Like Mare
The letter about the stallion-like mare (May 1999) described my friend’s mare to a T. Her mare became progressively more aggressive and hard to handle. I told her to have her vet check for an ovarian problem. The first two vets found nothing, but the third found a baseball-size tumor. My friend was at her wit’s end as she loved the mare, but she had become unsafe for no apparent reason. The tumor was removed and within weeks the mare was back to normal.

-Jan Sharp
Ashtabula, OH

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Water Therapy
I read your article on bowed tendons (May 1999) and agree with most of your observations. But, I race harness horses and have a therapy pool that the horses walk in. This “progressive-resistance” water therapy has given me a 100% success rate with bowed tendons in a fraction of the time. Walking in the cold-over-the-knee water exercises the horse without straining the bow. In fact, in the winter, the icy water tightens up the bow in days. I’ve had bows at all stages and, while they all need individual evaluation, every case been successfully returned to racing, from a fresh injury to year-old bows to annular ligament surgery.

However, I want to disagree with one thing you said about bandages. Maybe your sport boots are OK for riding horses, but it’s been my experience most of my racehorse bows stayed better without bandages during exercise. Constraining the leg during exercise seems to cause rubbing against the tendon and does more harm than good.

-Jackie Roe
Friendship, MD

We agree hydrotherapy for inflammation and reducing impact is excellent, although expensive, unless there’s a facility nearby where you can take your horse and simply pay per hydrotherapy session.

We also agree roll-on exercise bandages can be a problem, tending to slip somewhat no matter what you do, trapping dirt and rubbing skin. However, when properly fitted, the sport boots we tested don’t rub, admit dirt, restrict motion or make tendons “weak” by absorbing too much force (no bandage can do that). They help prevent reinjury to a tendon that becomes fatigued as the horse returns to work.