Stringhalt??? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-15-2009, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Does anyone have any helpful advice or information regarding the condition of 'stringhalt' in horses? My mare is showing a unilateral abnormal gait in the left hind leg where she lifts it in an exaggerated and prolonged way, towards her belly, before stomping it down with every step she takes. A friend of mine told me it was stringhalt. I did some research on the Internet and from the videos I've seen, my mare has this condition. She is 15 years old and was moved to a new pasture 3 weeks ago. The condition showed up about 4 days ago. We have searched the pasture and have found no suspicious weeds in it (it's really beautiful grass). The hay is from the same guy and from the same fields as the last two years. None of the other 3 horses have it. She was violently kicking out at the new mare we brought in about a week ago (although not ever making contact that we could see or determine) and about a week ago she clocked her head pretty hard on one end of the loafing shed as she was going after this new mare. After she hit her head, right above the eye - shaved the skin off the area, she staggered around and shook her head a bit. I was worried about her but she seemed to pull out of it.
From what I can tell the prognosis isn't all that great. Anyone have any experience with this condition or any success stories. Any suggestions on what I might try? Hers isn't a severe case and it seems a little intermittent - more pronounced on some steps, slightly noticeable on others and barely there at the trot. Thanks a bunch!
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-16-2009, 02:57 AM
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Unfortunately, by what you've said, it sounds like the knock on the head may be as possible a cause as stringhalt. I'd want to get that checked out too. Stringhalt is also a nervous/neurological disorder. If 'abnormality of gait' is the only thing, depending on what that means, it could also just be that she put her back out or such kicking at the new addition. Horses with stringhalt typically have difficulties backing up & in more extreme cases may actually kick or scrape their belly with every step of their hind legs. It doesn't tend to affect front legs until well advanced, and if left can also lead to blindness.

Given that she's in a new field, I'd be inclined to get her out of it immediately, back to a definitely safe one until you've ruled out possibility of stringhalt. It is thought to be a severe lack of magnesium, so not necessarily a specific plant that causes it, but often capeweed or other flat weed seems to be a big culprit - perhaps these plants are an indication of the lack of mag. It seems to be a cumulative thing - the more they eat of it the more they're likely to develop problems. Some also seem more susceptible than others, and I've known of cases where only one or 2 in a herd get it & all others are fine. Paddocks dressed with dolomite or such, and horses fed well balanced supps don't tend to be susceptible to the problem.

I've known horses who were rehabilitated & completely over it, but think it depends on how severe, how long they've been so magnesium deficient & allowed to graze problem pasture as to the prognosis. My 'Natural Horse Care' book by Pat Coleby says... Remove the horse from the offending paddock. No lucerne hay or grain. Feed 2 tablespoons of dolomite daily, add one dessertspoonful of epsom salts for 10 days only; also 3000mg magnesium orotate twice a day from the start. Immediately the horse starts to improve, cut the magnesium orotate to half. Once the animal is fully recovered, delete the magnesium orotate and restore the dolomite to the normal dose.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-16-2009, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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That's a good bit of information - thanks. My mare can back up just fine and she doesn't kick her belly. Also the gait is intermittent - can almost disappear for a short bit then reappear and is barely noticeable at the trot. I do feed her HorseGuard daily and there are 2 mineral salt blocks available to them. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to move her out of the pasture right away but will look for an option for that. This showed up almost 3 weeks after being in the new pasture...would it take that long for symptoms to show? I will try the dolomite, epsom salts and magnesium orotate for sure. I will get a vet out soon if it doesn't look to be improving although I'm not certain what a vet could ascertain from the head 'knock'. Yesterday it seemed a little less pronounced which was good. I didn't think of 'putting out her back' by kicking at the other mare but that seems a good possibility as she was really going at the other one a number of times! Thanks again for the info.
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-16-2009, 02:24 PM
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i watched a video in college last year (it was about vet practices & horses who had all kinds of "problems", lamenesses & ones that just went bridle lame) . . .

one of the horses on the video had stringhalt, he brought one of his back legs up to his tummy at a walk, and both of them at trot . . . when ridden he was fine, and he was actually a racehorse - this never affected his carreer from what i can remember, other than when he was being walked / trotted up
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-16-2009, 03:04 PM
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My Shetland has Stringhalt and I find hers improves with excersise and also in the summer it is a lot better, During the winter she gets very stiff in the back legs and sometimes finds it hard to move, but I rug her up, stable her and excersise her continually through the winter and it seems to lighten it up a tad, and stops the elevated back leg movement so much. But on some research, some websites claim that it can go either way. That it can get worse or better with excersise. I don't know if this helps any,
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-16-2009, 09:08 PM
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Shilott, do you feed supplements for balanced nutrition? Have you tried vitamin & mineral 'therapy' as example above?
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-17-2009, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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I'm going to arrange to have this mare moved out of the pasture for a few weeks to rule out some toxic plants. I'll also be able to exercise her daily in an arena to see if that helps. I'm also thinking of getting a horse chiropractor out in case its cause is from having strained her back while kicking at the other mare. Any thoughts on this??
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