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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.

He keeps falling
Q My Welsh Section D x Hackney gelding keeps stumbling while out on hacks. As a youngster he fell onto his knees when a bus spooked him. He was spooked 18 months later and fell again.

He has now fallen four times in the last month and his stumbling is becoming more frequent. He wears knee boots but I'm still worried he'll damage his joints. My horse has been checked by a vet who found nothing wrong. Is there anything I can do to help ease the problem?

A: I think part of the problem may be a degree of nervousness on your horse's part. As he has had several bad experiences and fallen a few times, you need to increase his confidence.

I would suggest a general purpose calmer, which does not take the edge off his alertness  which also improves fitness and general health, as it is an anti-oxidant. Given at a low level this may well help to prevent problems.

Other products can be bought at tack shops but with all calmatives stick to the recommended dose and be careful not to give too much as this could affect your horses alertness. Magnesium products can also be used, as this mineral is helpful in improving relaxation as well as muscle function.

If you are worried about damage to the joints in the knee I would suggest supplements to strengthen the joints and bones. Herbs like comfrey can help but I use tropical herbs which improve bone density and fracture healing enormously. A regular amount of such herbs in the feed will also strengthen the hooves.

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