Foal with Tendon Laxity (and orphaned) My story - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-17-2017, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Foal with Tendon Laxity (and orphaned) My story

I hope my story sheds some light and provides a little insight for anyone else that might be encountering this issue. Sorry for the essay, but I wanted to be detailed!

Filly was born with severe tendon laxity on his front fetlocks, as well as hyperextension in her knees. She really looked like a mess at birth, had trouble standing and a lot of issue walking. She quickly developed sores on her fetlocks and mare&foal had to be kept stall bound.

The original owners were advised by their local vet to splint her legs because the laxity was so bad. They splinted her, and spent a lot of time doing physio on her legs, rebandaging multiple times a day. After 3 weeks, there was ZERO improvement. On top of that, filly had developed pressure sores from the splints, despite rewrapping multiple times a day. Filly was also getting sores from lying down too much.

The original owners decided they should put her down because she wasn't getting better and they were worried about her being in too much pain, quality of life etc.

I dairy farm and quite often come across calves with minor issues similar to this that get better within a few weeks, and thought that maybe there was something more that could be done with Filly. I offered to take her to my farm where there is access to more tools and manpower.
At 3 weeks old, Filly was removed from her dam and moved to a dairy calf barn. At this point, my main concern was not her tendon laxity, but dealing with her sores. She was put in a 3ft x 6ft pen bedded with about 18” deep of shavings. This made is very comfortable for her and prevented any more abrasions from occurring. The same day she was moved, this smart little cookie learned to drink milk from a pail. She was fed Cows milk mixed with dextrose to bring the sugar content up. Her splints were removed and not put back on.
For the next 5 weeks, I spent 3 – 5 times a day cleaning and re-wrapping her wounds – which turned out to be even worse than I thought because there was a lot of dead tissues that eventually began sloughing off. For the first bit, I used an Epsom salt paste to draw out any bacteria, and then switched to using buck-wheat honey. The honey kept the wounds soft so prevent cracking, yet still have the same drawing effect as the Epsom salts.
Bucket feeding meant I had a really good idea of how much milk she was intaking. She was typically drinking 9 – 12 litres per day, while also nibbling at some foal starter grain.
After 2 weeks she was moved to a larged pen – 6ft x 6ft. As she was standing a moving around more often. Another 2 weeks after than she was in a 12ft x 6ft pen.
It wasn’t until she was 2 months old did we REALLY notice she was improving. She was still walking on her fetlocks, but when you worked her legs, they didn’t feel like spaghetti anymore. I will note that her hyperextended knee issue went away within the first week. All this time, doing absolutely nothing to her legs other than treat her wounds. I consulted some other vets from out of province on the issue and they advised to do nothing and just be patient. So that is what we did.
At 2.5 months she could stand and walk without her fetlocks touching the ground. At that point we moved her outside to a sheltered pen (still bedded about 18” deep with straw and shavings) where she could visit with the other horses. Another 2 weeks later, and she was fully upright. At 3.5 months we started letting her out for short turnouts with the other horses.
So it took us 3 months!! Lots of work and gradually larger pens.
If you take anything away from this:
- DEEP bedded pens
- Small turnouts, gradually made bigger
- NO splints

I’ll note, that for an ‘orphan’ foal, the fact that we NEVER bottle fed her and never played with her, has prevented her from becoming a monster. She is a well behaved little horse who halters, leads and picks up her feet at almost 4 months old.
I’ll also note that she was weaned off milk at 3 months as her grain, water and hay intake was sufficient. Also, she is already bigger than the other foals at the original owners farm. Must be something ‘bout that cows milk 😉
loosie, DanisMom, TuyaGirl and 3 others like this.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-17-2017, 07:10 PM
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I really appreciated this thread. My mare gave birth to a foal last year who had absolutely no problems but if she did, this would have been good to read. There are so many opinions on what to do with this situation and it makes it hard to know what to do without having the experience.

I'm happy for you that the outcome was good and happy for the baby that you came along for her. I can perfectly understand why the original owners may have made the decisions that they did.

Good job with the filly

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post #3 of 6 Old 06-19-2017, 04:23 AM
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Hi, thanks for sharing!

I was taught that if you are going to splint for this, it has to be done in very early days and there's not much point in doing it down the track, whether or not it improved stuff, or was done earlier. Seems your experience holds with that. I was also taught that *so long as it's not straining exercise, it's better to allow them free movement than to confine them greatly.

I think there's a fair bet(from other stuff I've since learned) it was nutritional, or that was a big factor at least - something in the mare's diet was out of whack/deficient, allowed this problem, and her change of nutrition with you allowed her to become stronger.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-19-2017, 09:00 AM
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When I moved to OK I had a couple of foals that were somewhat lax in the tendons or 'down at heel'. OK has a severe deficiency of selenium in the soil. I started supplementing the mares in the last trimester with Vit E & Se and have not had the problem since. I've never had a foal that was as severe as the one the OP mentioned, so I also wonder what the mare was being fed.

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post #5 of 6 Old 06-19-2017, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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the original owners are very experienced breeders. This was the first time they had ever encountered the issue in 20+ years of breeding, and unfortunately, the vet they dealt with had never encountered the situation either. So everything was trial and error on their part.
Our area is also deficient in selenium. The breeders do have an excellent nutrition program for their broodmares.

One vet suggested it was possible the laxity could have been caused by the position of the foal in the uterus during development - especially since she also had hyperextended knees. though you can't really say unless you ultrasound late in pregnancy. But as far as nutrition is known, I do agree that something could have been missing. Or that possibly the mare doesn't absorb certain nutrients the way she should (this is the 1st full-term foal they have gotten out of this particular mare, so maybe she has underlying issues? who knows) Filly was perfectly healthy otherwise - hence the reason they tried to give her a fair chance.

I will admit, I got a little anxious for awhile thinking that MAYBE she wouldn't get better. That maybe the splinting early on did more damage. Come fall, we will probably have her x-rayed to make sure everything looks A-OK.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-19-2017, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheddar View Post
the original owners are very experienced breeders. This was the first time they had ever encountered the issue in 20+ years of breeding, and unfortunately, the vet they dealt with had never encountered the situation either. So everything was trial and error on their part.
Our area is also deficient in selenium. The breeders do have an excellent nutrition program for their broodmares.

One vet suggested it was possible the laxity could have been caused by the position of the foal in the uterus during development - especially since she also had hyperextended knees. though you can't really say unless you ultrasound late in pregnancy. But as far as nutrition is known, I do agree that something could have been missing. Or that possibly the mare doesn't absorb certain nutrients the way she should (this is the 1st full-term foal they have gotten out of this particular mare, so maybe she has underlying issues? who knows) Filly was perfectly healthy otherwise - hence the reason they tried to give her a fair chance.

I will admit, I got a little anxious for awhile thinking that MAYBE she wouldn't get better. That maybe the splinting early on did more damage. Come fall, we will probably have her x-rayed to make sure everything looks A-OK.
Hopefully she'll be fine. My experience with those foal with the lax tendons is once they get straightened up, if they didn't have any joint damage before, they won't now. I THOUGHT I had a good feeding program for my mares, but that was by California & Arizona standards. I didn't realize that moving to Oklahoma would force me to reevaluate everything in it, not just for the mares. After having a few with those wonky tendon issues, I tried the supplement and it worked wonders. My feeding program now, based on needs in this area, looks NOTHING like what I did in CA & AZ. And of course, every mare is different and absorbs vitamins, minerals and even just nutrition differently.

Sounds like you got the filly going down the road on a good note, so we'll cross our fingers for her and hope she keeps on that way.

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