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.

Is stride shortening serious?
Q: I have owned my 15-year-old 15hh mare for the last three years. She has always been sound but over the last few weeks I have noticed her shortening her stride out hacking.

She doesn't fall or appear stiff its more of a quick stumble, then she carries on as if nothing has happened. When trotted-up on hard ground, she's perfectly sound. What could be causing this?

A: The problem you describe may be one of underdeveloped muscles or partial stifle lock. This sort of problem is relatively common and can be helped with controlled exercise along with supplements, which strengthen the muscles. Fenugreek may be useful and multi-mineral and sulphur supplements like MSM should help ensure good tendon development.

There is a small chance she has something more seriously wrong and you should consider calling your vet to check her heart at rest and after exercise. If there is a heart weakness, herbs like Arjuna can help and you should consider immune-strengthening herbs if there is a chance her heart was damaged by a virus infection.

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