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.

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Are swellings linked to laminitis?
Q: I own a lovely grey Arab mare and we take part in long-distance riding.

She suffers from laminitis so is kept on a high fibre, low sugar diet plus vitamins, minerals and Devil's Claw. She has now developed soft swellings on the outside of her legs, just above each fetlock. She is also stiff on her left foreleg.

I have a feeling these problems might be connected to the mild bouts of laminitis. Is this likely to be the case, and can you explain what these soft lumps are? She alo has a windgall on her left hind leg.

A:These soft swellings on your horse's fetlocks are most likely to be related to distension of joint capsules within the fetlock. However, to make sure it would be necessary to see a picture of their exact nature and position.

Since you horse has had laminitis occasionally, this is likely to put unusual strain on joints, muscles and tendons. Swellings, windgalls and occasional lameness may result from the extra strain when she has been lame with laminitis.

I would suggest you try some alternative ways of preventing laminitis permanently. One of the best ways to do this is to improve the digestive process and thereby remove acid conditions in the blood which cause blood vessels in the feet to shut off.

One alternative for laminitis is to use probiotics to make sure the bowel flora remain stable. Together with probiotics, you could also use Aloe vera or Devil's Claw to dampen down inflammation. Another simpler, alternative is to use a liver stimulant, which helps the liver break down acids and carbohydrates before they cause problems.

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