Follow along as we track a recent suspected tendon injury on a 20 year old TWH gelding. The horse came up lame in pasture. Snow and ice are suspected in a strain/sprain of one or more tendons in the right front. Swelling and heat presented on the weekend of March 16/17. Owner took to vet on Monday, March 18th. Vet recommended shoes and wedge pads on front, bute. Owner contacted me on Wednesday 20th and horse arrived on Sat 23rd.
First a do a whole body grooming to check the whole body to see if anything else was obviously affected and if there is anything else to address. Its spring, and horses love to roll in the mud and everyone is shedding like crazy.
Pastern and above is obviously swollen, lets see how much
I'll clip the whole area clean and then measure the widest part above the pastern joint.
The farrier left some sticky packing material on the heel bulbs so I'll get that off.
After cold hosing, Tuff Rock volcanic mud poltice is applied. Pastern is measured at 12.5 inches circumference. Tomorrow we will cold hose, reassess and poltice again. Diet is developed with nutricuticals to enhance healing.
Soybean hulls can be a good fiber alternative in horse diets. This is concluded from a new study, published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
“The domestic horses diet often contains a mixture of forages and grains in addition to or in place of hays. Using starch-rich foods (concentrates) in equine diets can result in large changes in the intestinal microbiota of the animals and subsequently in the digestibility of the nutrients. The excessive starch in equine diets can lead to fermentation of the feed by amylolytic bacteria in the large intestine resulting in an increase in lactic acid production, decreased pH, and increased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which can increase intestinal disorders such as colic or laminitis. “
The gastrointestinal tract of the horse is designed to handle a near continual supply of forage. “The hindgut, grinds away slowly, turning fiber into usable energy. Some fiber contains more energy than others. Rapidly fermentable fiber sources, sometimes called super fibers such as beet pulp and soy hulls, offer many benefits to horses, including an upsurge in energy from normal pasture grasses and hay.” (Kentucky Equine Research)
Today’s horse diets are recommended to have lower grain proportions. Therefore, alternative energy sources became necessary. Soybean hulls can be a good alternative fiber source, as it promotes a decrease in starch levels without compromising the caloric density of the feed.
The nutritional value of the hulls is quite good. The nutrients in soy
hulls are highly digestible and are considered an energy feed as opposed to a roughage feed. In some studies, the fiber has been shown to be 85 percent digestible, which illustrates a product high in fiber can also be high in energy. (https://articles.extension.org:443/pages/39695/what-are-soybean-hulls)
Many studies on the inclusion of soybean hulls in equine diets have shown promising results. The Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2004, determined that soy hulls appear to be an acceptable replacement for up to 70% of the total forage in diets for horses. “This feedstuff is economically feasible, readily available, palatable, and digestible. Horses in our study readily consumed all experimental diets with no adverse reactions. “
When compared to beet pulp, soy hull pellets are much easier to feed. While Beep pulp should be rinsed, soaked and rinsed again, hull pellets only need water. And a lot of it. Hull pellets will absorb and swell similar to beet pulp, but becomes more of a mash texture, sticker and similar to cooked oatmeal. This form of mash like product provides a great carrier for supplements, salt and other diet additives.
Hull pellets are 30% higher in protein, has 25% less iron, twice the Zinc and only 1/3 of the ESC (simple sugar) than Beet Pulp. Hulls have minimal fat and no phytoestrogens found in the bean. The cost of hull pellets is the same when purchased at our local feed stores. Beet pulp comes in a 40# bag and soy hull pellets as distributed by LayzD Equine Services LLC comes in a 50# bag. Both are priced at 35 cents per pound.
After much research and consultation with Professional Equine Nutritionist from all over the world in addition to the United States, I am of the opinion that Soy Hull Pellets are a superior feed product as both a carrier for supplements and as a fiber source for senior and other horses with compromised dentation. Those horses with bad or no teeth who cannot chew hay and need a wet diet.
Since the hull pellets are not available locally, LayzD Equine has them shipped in and available for sale at our Corvallis facility.
The amount of soy hull pellets should be determined by a qualified nutritionist as other feed products in the diet should be considered and the nutritional values balanced. However, both hull pellets and beet pulp can safely be fed in amounts up to 30% of the total daily consumption safely.
Veterinarians working with many laminitic horses are well acquainted with the problem but others are unfamiliar with it. It’s a laminitis-like syndrome triggered by cold weather.
Horses normally have a very high tolerance for cold. In all species, cold causes a reflex shunting of blood away from the extremities and toward the core to limit loss of body heat. Healthy horses prevent the hoof tissue from being damaged from low blood/oxygen supply by using local arteriovenous shunts – pathways which allow them to divert blood quickly back to the veins for return or to send it to the local tissues. When low blood supply reaches a critical level, the arteriovenous shunts to that part of the hoof can close, perfusing the tissue.
The only adverse effect of cold weather and reduced blood flow to the hoof in healthy horses is slower hoof wall growth. In horses with metabolic issues that result in high insulin levels, it may be a different story.
We don’t know all the details of the mechanism but it is clear from research that high insulin can cause laminitis. We also know that even if they have never had a full blown laminitis episode these equines can show similar abnormal structure of their laminae. One thing we do know about it is that levels of endothelin-1 are greatly elevated. This is a chemical in the body which causes blood vessels to contract down. It has also been shown that the vessels in the hoof become more sensitive to other messengers that cause contraction. These changes may interact with cold induced blood vessel constriction to cause a critical interruption of blood supply to the hooves of those horses.
Horses with cold induced hoof pain/laminitis show obvious lameness, foot pain and often typical laminitis stance but without bounding pulses or heat in their feet. In milder cases it may be mistaken for the sensitivity to moving over frozen uneven ground that all horses show. However, it doesn’t go away on level surfaces. There is variability in individual sensitivity to cold but signs may appear beginning at 40F [4.4C].
Even horses that have their insulin usually well controlled by a low carbohydrate balanced diet can be susceptible. This may be because cold weather has also been observed to often cause wide swings in insulin levels and/or because of previous damage to the circulation in the feet.
The first step in helping these horses is protecting their extremities from the cold. Leg wraps such as lined shipping boots work well and are safe to leave on because they won’t slip out of place and cause uneven pressure on the tendons [aka “bandage bows”]. Boots with pads and socks or fleece lining are essential.
The equine can be supported nutritionally by supplements which encourage the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vessel dilating messenger that is the natural counterbalance to endothelin-1. The herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan) is a powerful support for nitric oxide. This is helped by providing the precursors for nitric oxide in the form of L-arginine and L-citrulline. Antioxidants also combat oxidative stress which inhibits the activity of the enzyme that produces nitric oxide inside blood vessels [eNOS – endothelial nitric oxide synthesis].
Winter laminitis has historically been regarded as very difficult to manage but understanding the vascular mechanism has led to significant strides in helping these horses balance the forces affecting the blood supply to their feet.