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.

Q Recently my eight-year-old ID x TB was diagnosed with sidebone. I feel very much in the dark about how to cope with this, despite asking my vet and trying to find out more information.

I realise there is no cure and that it is a degenerative disease, but where can I go from here? I can now only walk her out occasionally, and on our return she is very obviously uncomfortable. My vet suggests bute to keep my mare comfortable. Is this safe and is there anything else I can try?

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A Sidebone is a term that describes the process where areas of cartilage in the foot become hard and bony. When this happens it may cause no problem at all, or it may interfere with the way the soft tissues around the area stretch and adjust during exercise.

This can cause pain and discomfort, although most cases of sidebone do not result in pain. The cause is unknown but it is most likely to be due to poor conformation and abnormal pressure and impact on certain areas of the foot.

Sidebone is difficult to treat and sometimes bute is the only option. However, long-term use of bute can damage the lining of the bowels and affect the liver.

Herbal alternatives can provide some anti-inflammatory action and the most commonly used one is devil's claw. Unfortunately, I doubt there are any preparations on the market that are strong enough to make a difference to your horse. In my opinion, herbs, such as frankincense and ginger are more likely to provide some relief.


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