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 there a cure for windsucking?
Q: My TB gelding started windsucking as a yearling when he had to be permanently box rested for seven months due to a growth problem. He is now turned out full time and only comes in to be ridden fed and groomed.

He still windsucks in the stable and I have seen him doing it in the field. I use an anti-windsucking collar in the stable but it only works if its done up really tight and I'm not keen on this. A friend told me this is now just a habit, which needs to be broken.

Is this true or is he still suffering from depression? I want to help him psychologically and stop his windsucking.

A: Although the problem started when your youngster became stressed or bored, there is a chance your horse may carry on windsucking because it makes him feel good.

This is because some people think that the process of windsucking gives some pleasure to horses due to the release of endogenous endorphins (natural 'happy' chemicals released into the blood when the air is sucked into the stomach). There are no known medicines in conventional veterinary circles that will help a great deal but minerals and herbs to help lower acids in the stomach can sometimes resolve the situation.

Some vets have tried antidepressants but I would not recommend this and would prefer to use herbal food supplements. Horses at grass have more distractions and are much less likely to windsuck, but this is obviously not the case with your horse.

I would suggest the use of a long term calming agent to make him feel better, more relaxed and less in need of anything else to make him happy. Using an 'antacid' formula might also do the trick.

Most calming agents contain valerian but I do not think this is suitable for long-term use. I prefer tropical antioxidant formulas.


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