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VETERINARY ADVICE

Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

Breathing Easy
Q My ponies (two welsh Sec As, a Sec B and a Sec C) stay in during the winter for about 15 hours overnight.

I try hard to maintain a healthy atmosphere for them by bedding them on shavings and soaking their hay. However, one of them often gets 'sticky eye' and another coughs a couple of times when she starts work. I have had them checked by a very good equine vet, but I would like to boost their capacity to cope with their regime. Can you recommend a supplement to support their respiratory systems?

A You're already trying to keep the stable as dust-free as possible. You can also use supplements that help keep the airways open and expel mucus from the lungs. Ideally you want to strengthen the horse's immune system so that this kind of mild allergic problem goes away completely.

Most of my advice for such problems makes use of the herb Adhatoda vasica (lion's muzzle or malabar nut) which acts as an expectorant. I combine this Ayurvedic herb with many other plants to calm the lungs and keep the airways open.

 I find that Ayurvedic formulae are the most effective for chest problems, but there are many other European-type formulae available which include plants such as elecampagne, liquorice and thyme.

Some formulas can be very effective for COPD type situations, soothing sore lungs in ways that is not possible with strong medicines.  In the same way that a simple syrup can soothe sore chests, herbs can make all the difference when your vet has done as much as he or she can.

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