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Hi Guys, PLEASE HELP! Same as last year, The restricted grazing of winter; causes my 13year old, 14.2hh grey Connemara’s sheath to swell significantly! Once he has been in his stable for only a couple of hours he starts stomping his back legs, pawing at the ground, tiny rears and banging the ground. It must be irritating him so much, poor pony! 😢 Of course I have had his sheath cleaned and checked, it is just fluid retention from standing in his stable, (once moving around it goes down) much like some horses that legs swell from being stood still. With legs, You would bandage to help: what can I do with a sheath?? There is no winter turnout where I am so what is the alternative? Is there something I can give him or do to help with the swelling? Many Thanks In advance Kelly
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Wow, never seen that before. I'd be looking for alternative accommodation(anyway, as there are many other health & wellbeing probs caused from keeping a horse in a box) where the horses were allowed out, if at all possible. Otherwise you'll just have to take him out frequently for walks. Interested tho, if this happens withing a couple of hrs of being locked up, does it get swollen overnight generally? As horses don't move that much overnight generally anyway. And what has the vet suggested? Nutritional balance and general condition of the horse may have some bearing on his 'susceptibility' to this.
 

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That is a tremendous amount of swelling to occur in a few hours of "confinement"...
So no matter when he is confined he swells and retains"?" like this?
Or is this only when he is taken off pasture...
If this is a no matter when he swells that is one thing...
If he has a reaction like this only during the time of no pasture then something he is not eating is triggering this response, or it is something he is being fed that causes a allergic reaction is more my thinking.
IR horses also commonly have a swollen sheath that with a confinement appears worse...
Think I would be looking at the food supply and speaking with the vet about IR possibilities.
Please let us know what you discover..
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What are the feed differences when stalled? I assume that when grazed feed and hays are reduced and when stalled they are increased. My feeling is a combination of metabolic issue and restricted motion.
 

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Have you had a vet check him? A swollen sheath was one of the many symptoms for Leukemia in my hunt pony...
 

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I have a friend who had her gelding out on pasture earlier this fall. The pasture was a muddy mess due to freezing, thawing, repeat. She couldn't do anything about it. When this happened, the horses legs got covered in mud, and their legs began to trap a fluid in them called edema fluid. This edema fluid is what causes the horses legs to swell. My friend's gelding's sheath also swells up with this edema fluid.
She has found the only way to keep it under control is regular exercise. She brings him up to the barn, scrapes the mud off with a metal curry comb, gives him a brief grooming, and then turns him out in the arena to run around.

To me, it sounds like you are having the same problem of your guy not getting enough exercise. I would let him out in an arena to rip around, or take him on walks, every day.
 

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Mud does not cause edema. Bacteria in the mud that enters the system through openings in the skin can cause cellulitis and hence swelling in legs. Most typically lack of movement causes the swelling. If the horses are just standing around and not moving at all whether in a stall or not you can see swelling.
 

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I'd be getting blood work done checking for metabolic issues. My geldings have had swollen sheaths, but not to the extent your pictures show.

It only happened 2 times in winter months. Had big dumping of snow and there movement was very limited. Once corral was plowed out and they were able to move around ,swelling was gone.
 

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IR horses also commonly have a swollen sheath that with a confinement appears worse...
That's what I first thought it'd be, reading the subject. But after seeing(never seen an obese/IR horse so swollen there) & reading, sounds like a bad 'stocking up', but very strange if it only happens to his sheath.
 

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I have a gelding, when in limited movement (like when there was 3 ft of snow on the ground), his sheath swells up like this (or close to it). I would scatter slow-feed hay bags along the fence of the paddock he is in and try your best to keep him moving.

I had a vet out for this and had blood drawn to check for issues and tick-borne disease. $600 down the drain and no answers. I make sure he is able to pee when he really stands around for long periods of time. It's been like this for several years (at least around 5) where as soon as the cold sets in and he sits at a round bale, his sheath swells up. I'm interested to see what's different this winter at our new barn where he is stalled at night (warmer inside!) and where there will be much less snow.
 
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I think the first thing I'd do would be to call the vet out to check him for everything mentioned above and anything else he could think of. Then I'd pull the horse out and give him a cold hosing to his sheath for about 15-20 mins and then take him for a hand walk. Once the vet had seen him and given me a diagnosis and if it concluded that the lack of movement was deleterious to his overall condition and health, I'd be moving my horse to somewhere he could have some kind of turn out every day.
 
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