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.

Her legs fill
Q: My six-year-old mare goes out during the day and is in at night. Every morning her legs are filled with fluid-she isn't lame but is sometimes stiff. Within 15 minutes of riding or turning her out, the swellings have gone. Is this normal?

A: The reason that legs fill in the way you describe is that fluid from the blood vessels leaks out into the surrounding tissue too easily and is not carried away quickly enough by the lymph vessels

Nobody knows why this happens more is some horses, but I have found several approaches to be useful. Our most useful has been to strengthen the liver and digestive system. This seems to improve circulation and overall metabolism (bodily chemical reactions).

Herbs that help the liver more effectively than milk thistle are Eclipta alba and Andrographis paniculata . Antioxidants, which are available in many off-the- shelf herbal formulas, will also improve the circulation and protect against damage.

Specific herbs like ginger and frankinsense may also help a great deal, and some antioxidant herbs that I use are embelica officinalis (a gooseberry -like fruit that grows on trees) and ocimum sanctum.

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