Farm Call: Your Questions Answered

Collecting Colostrum

December 01, 2000


Q: How can I collect colostrum from a mare and save it for future use, and how long can I keep it?

A: Colostrum or "first milk" is the thick, yellow secretion from the mammary gland that's present immediately after birth. Produced in the mare's udder during the last two to four weeks of gestation in response to hormonal changes,

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Pin Firing

October 01, 2000


I am about to purchase a gelding who is off the track. I notice he has lines of scars on his cannons that the owner says are from "pin firing." What is pin firing, what is its purpose, and how often is it performed? Is there any long-term damage as a result?   via e-mail

Pin firing or thermocautery has therapeutic value for certain conditions in the horse. When

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Popped Knees

September 01, 2000


I was talking to one of my e-mail friends last night, and she said her horse had a "popped" knee. I hated to seem ignorant, but I have no idea what that means. Can you help?

via e-mail

"Popped knees" is a

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How Much Bute Is Too Much?

July 01, 2000

Q. My veterinarian recently prescribed "Bute" when my gelding came up sore after an endurance ride. He advised a specific dosage, but I wonder if I could be helping my horse more by increasing the amount of Bute or giving it to him more often. Can I give him more without making him sick?

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Researching the Equine Embryo

June 23, 2000

Q. For the first time in history, scientists are viewing the fine details of the equine embryo at major stages of early development, thanks to the use of the transmission electron microscope (TEM).

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When Should I Call the Vet?

June 01, 2000

Q. A reader asks how she can know when it is time to call the veterinarian for a health problem in her horse, and when advice from Internet chat rooms is enough information.

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Proud Flesh

May 01, 2000

Q. Q: My horse had a cut on his lower cannon bone and my vet gave me instructions on how to wrap it to prevent proud flesh. What is proud flesh, and can it really become a problem, or is he being overly cautious? A: Exuberant granulation tissue, or proud flesh as it is more commonly known, is part of the normal wound healing response in the horse. Granulation tissue is the pebbly...

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Coffin Bone Fractures

March 01, 2000


My horse has been diagnosed with a fractured coffin bone. What could have caused it, and what is the prognosis?

Fractures of the coffin bone or distal phalanx usually occur in the horse following some type of trauma, often from kicking, or a large force placed on the coffin bone (i.e., racing on hard tracks). However, they can occur from a penetrating object or as the result of

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Foal Heat Diarrhea

February 01, 2000


Can you please tell me what foal heat diarrhea is, and what causes it? Some people say it's because of the mare's hormones being transferred in her milk during foal heat, but other people have said that is an old wives' tale.

Foal heat scours (diarrhea) is a term used to describe the diarrhea that occurs in foals between seven and 10 days of age. It is

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Bladder Rupture

January 01, 2000

Q.  It's nearly foaling season on the farm where I work, and a groom was telling me about a foal last year that died of bladder rupture on this farm. Is this something that I can prevent? How do I recognize it?

Bladder rupture is a tear or leak in the urinary bladder that results in uroperitoneum. Uroperitoneum, the accumulation of urine in the peritoneal

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Patchy Hair Loss

October 01, 1999

Q. I noticed that my Arabian mare was missing a patch of hair under her mane at the beginning of the summer. Since then, the spot has gotten larger. What causes this? How can I treat it?

Hair loss in the horse can be caused by something simple, such as environment and temperature, or it can be caused by a more serious dermatophyte (fungus), such as ringworm, that invades the hair

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Foal Diarrhea

September 01, 1999

Q.  I am a new owner of a broodmare who just had her first foal, which now has diarrhea. What can I do about it? How serious is it for him? How do I keep this from happening again?

The causative agents for diarrhea can be bacteria, viruses, parasites, or a range of non-infectious agents or conditions such as toxins, lactose intolerance, or "foal heat" diarrhea. Foa

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July 01, 1999


Q: My horse had a soft tissue injury and my veterinarian gave him steroids. Some of the people in my barn say I need to be careful that he doesn’t get too aggressive or get foundered. I’m confused. How can steroids do all of that?

A: The steroids, an extremely broad category of drugs and natural hormones,

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Buying a Horse/Prepurchase Exams

June 01, 1999

Q. Q: I'm in the market for my first horse. I've seen people at my barn buy horses, and they always have a veterinarian check the horse over before making the purchase. What exactly does the veterinarian check for and why is this so important? A: For the sake of space and the amount of information available on this topic, this article will deal with the private sale of horses.

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Feeding Beet Pulp

May 01, 1999

Q. Q: I've been told I should feed beet pulp to help put weight on my skinny Thoroughbred. But I'm worried about the stories I've heard about beet pulp expanding in the horse's stomach and causing colic -- or worse! Is beet pulp a good addition to my horse's diet, and if so, how can I feed it safely?

A: Beet pulp is the fibrous

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Do I Need a Dental Exam For My Horse?

March 01, 1999

Q. Q: I have a Morgan mare who, I think, might have something wrong with her teeth. What should I expect from a dental examination for my horse? A: The veterinarian and the owner need to discuss what the owner wants and expects from a dental examination. Dental examinations can vary from a superficial examination to identify major abnormalities only, to a detailed examination that hopefully will

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Giving Horses Warm Water

February 01, 1999

Q. I've heard it's necessary to give horses warm drinking water in the winter. Is this true? And if so, how warm should it be? Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep my horse's drinking water warm when it's freezing outside?

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The Down Horse

January 11, 1999

Q. The "down horse" refers to a horse which has become recumbent and cannot rise. The term is a clinical sign and is a non-specific development of a number of disease conditions; the causes can be many.

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Tail Rubbing Problem

December 01, 1998

Q. My horse is constantly rubbing his tail on anything he can find. It has become so bad that the hair at the base of his tail has either fallen out or become matted. Thankfully, I've finished my show season, but what is causing him to do this? He also seems to be losing weight. Are these two problems related?

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Heart Murmurs in Horses

October 01, 1998

Q. Is a heart murmur in horses the same as a heart murmur in people? What signs will a horse with a heart murmur exhibit? How can a heart murmur be diagnosed?

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Hives in Horses: Symptoms and Treatment

September 01, 1998

Q. Q: I noticed the other day that my Appaloosa gelding had hair standing up and welts on his skin. A friend suggested that he might have hives. What can you tell me about hives on horses? What kind of treatment should he have? A: The welts or wheals you have noticed on your horse are indeed indicative of the skin condition known as hives... Most cases are allergic in origin, and there are many

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Capped Hock Injury

July 01, 1998

Q. I have a three-year-old Thoroughbred filly who was shipped from Texas. When she arrived, she had a swelling on her hock that was called a capped hock. What exactly is a capped hock and how should I deal with it? Will it affect her ability to race successfully?

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Cooling Overheated Horses

July 01, 1998

Q. Q: With summer upon us, I am concerned about exercising my horse in hot weather. What can I do to make sure my horse is properly cooled out? Are there steps I can take before, during, and after exercise? A: There are many variables involved in this question. The answer depends on how much exercise your horse will undertake and how strenuous the exercise is. Also, it is necessary...

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Umbilical Hernia

May 01, 1998


I have been told that my horse has an umbilical hernia. What exactly is an umbilical hernia and what can be done to correct it?

A hernia is defined as a "protrusion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening." The common hernias affecting the horse involve the herniation of intestine and are inguinal, scrotal, or umbilical in location. The inguinal hernia is

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How To Find A Vet On The Road

April 01, 1998


We are in the midst of planning our summer vacation. We also are planning to take our horses on this trip so that we can do some trail riding. However, we do have a concern. What if one of our horses becomes ill or injures himself on the trip? What is the best way to find a veterinarian when we are away from home with our horses?

You say you are planning your

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