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.

Speeding up the Healing Process
Q Four months ago my four-year-old ID mare sustained a nasty injury to her hock. After the initial treatment, my vet advised field rest with some in-hand walking.

Her hock is still twice the normal size with a thoroughpin, and she still rests the leg All the time. She is not 100% sound, but seems happy to play and gallop around in the field. Please give me some advice on what her future is as a riding horse, and whether herbal treatments may help.

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A It certainly sounds as though there is a lot of damage to the joint and surrounding tissues. I would suggest that you need to improve the body's natural healing ability while boosting circulation to all the scar tissue that obviously exist around the joint.

In conventional medicine there is little that can be given to speed the healing process. However, you could add immune modulating herbs, circulatory stimulants and antioxidant plants and minerals.

For circulation I usually use plants such as ginger, cayenne and prickly ash bark, and to help the healing process you should use aloe vera. Aloe vera has a multitude of beneficial actions in such situations: Stimulating the immune system and providing anti-inflammatory action. In addition, proprietary herbal mixes can be very useful.

If your question has not been covered adequately in the Vet Advice Topic Section, please feel free to start a thread in the Forum, and - time permitting - Stephen will endeavour to answer your question.