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.

Cracking Up
Q: My young horse has recently developed cracked heals, but not in a way I've seen before. He has developed a vertical crack down the middle of each heel leading towards the frog, on all but the off side foreleg. There is no weeping no smell and he isn't lame.

He is turned out all day and is in at night. His stable is kept clean and the field is not particularly we. My blacksmith says this is common in houses with white legs and my horse has four socks. I wondered whether this could be due to a nutritional deficiency.

A: Your horse's cracked heels certainly do sound a little unusual. Your blacksmith is correct in saying that this kind of problem does occur more on white areas of the coat and skin. If there is no infection involved, then I would suggest that the condition might be related more to dietary imbalance.

This imbalance could also be related to poor liver and digestive function. My normal approach in such cases is to feed as good a mineral and vitamin formula  as possible, the best contain chelated or protein-bound minerals.

We use a chelated mineral product  and also often have good success with good liver tonic

Homeopathy can also be useful in such situations. For topical treatment I would recommend aloe vera. Honey can also be very useful if you are able to keep it in position on the wound.

If in doubt call for advice. We're here to help.

Free veterinary advice helpline: 01243 773363 (UK)
Free veterinary advice helpline: 0044 1243 773363 (International)
Mobile veterinary advice line: 07734 240 709 (UK)

All numbers available 9am - 5.30pm UK time.
Out of hours: try mobile number.