Welcome to Dr. Madalyn Ward’s Online Center for Holistic Horse Care

Veterinarian Madalyn Ward provides information about basic horse care, horse hoof care, and treatment for equine founder in horses. Dr. Ward is a horse chiropractor specializing in foundered horses, horse nutrition, equine acupuncture, treatment of equine health problems and healing. Through her blog and newsletter, Madalyn provides additional advice on horse supplements, equine nutrition, laminitis, and horse and mule health.

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Holistic Horsekeeping Newsletter September 2014

September 2014

Holistic Horse Health: Is your horse stocking up?

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 19, Number 9

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In This Issue:

1. Holistic Horse Health: Is your horse stocking up?

2. Help Spread the Word About Holistic Horse Care

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1. Holistic Horse Health: Is your horse stocking up?
Madalyn on horseStocking up with swelling in the back and/or front legs is a frustrating problem for horse owners. Stocking up is the accumulation of lymphatic fluid and a sign that the lymphatic system of the horse is overloaded with toxins. Stocking up occurs most often when the weather is warm and humid and the horse is not getting enough exercise or drinking enough water.

How Warm Weather Affects Stocking Up
Why does stocking up occur more in warm, humid weather? Well, the lymphatic system is kind of like the sewer system in a city. When the fluid is not moving, it backs up and gets stagnant. Unlike the blood circulatory system, the lymphatic system has no heart to push the fluid through the vessels. The lymphatic system depends on the horse’s movement to circulate lymphatic fluid.

The lymphatic system has a series or valves that prevent fluid from passing back down into the lower parts of the body after movement pushes the fluid upwards. When it is warm and humid, horses are less likely to move around so the lymphatic fluid settles in the lower parts of the body. When the fluid builds up in the lower legs, the lymphatic valves are pushed open and this allows the fluid to settle back into the legs instead of moving back up towards the drainage areas of the body. Damp weather, cold or warm, also tends to make a horse more stiff. Stiffness can be another reason your horse does not want to move.

Another challenge with humid weather is the tendency for the horse to not drink as much water. Again using the sewer analogy, fresh flowing water is needed to flush the system. When the weather is already damp the horse feels saturated and does not want more water but if he does not drink his lymphatic system accumulates toxins and his lymphatic fluid gets thicker and less likely to flow easily.

Summary of Causes:

  • Hot, humid weather
  • Lack of exercise
  • Decreased water drinking
  • Thick lymphatic fluid from buildup of toxins

Prevention for Stocking Up
To prevent stocking up in your horse you will want to provide him with exercise. If he lives in a stall make sure he has some time out to move around. If your pasture horse is not moving on his own then hand walk him or ride him to get his lymphatic system to function. If your horse must stand for an extended period of time, for instance when being trailered, consider putting some support on his legs. Bandaging in warm weather is not ideal but you can use a product called Equitape which gives support to circulation without compression or heat buildup.

You will also want to encourage drinking, but adding salt or electrolytes is not the best way to do this. Salt actually increases dampness in the body. You will have better results by adding some drying type foods to the diet. Alfalfa and blue green algae have drying and cooling energetics. Mild diuretic herbs, such as uva ursi and dandelion leaf, will encourage the kidneys to eliminate excess fluid in the body. Ani Motion is an herbal product that helps relieve stiffness. Even if your horse is not sore and stiff all the time, he may need a little extra support during damp weather.

Summary of Prevention:

  • Provide exercise
  • Use support tape on the lower legs if the horse must stand long periods
  • Avoid excess salt or eletrolyes
  • Feed cooling and drying foods and herbs
  • Ani Motion to relieve stiffness worsened by damp weather

Treatment for Stocking Up
Treatment of stocking up involves continuing the steps for prevention and adding some extra support in the form of body work, acupuncture or homeopathy. Body work, such as Bowen or Equine Touch, will increase the energy of your horse and get his Qi (vital energy) moving. Massage, lymphatic drainage techniques and TTeam moves will physically move the accumulated fluid from the extremities so the lymphatic valves can work properly. Acupuncture points which help clear dampness include SP 6, 9, BL 18, 20, 22, 23, and LU 7. Homeopathic remedies to consider include nux vomica, pulsitilla and apis. Rhus tox is a good remedy for stiffness that is worse in damp weather.

Summary of Treatment:

  • Continue preventive measures
  • Bodywork to increase overall energy and physically move excess fluid
  • Acupuncture to remove dampness
  • Homeopathic remedies to clear toxins, encourage drinking and relieve stiffness

Mild stocking up is an inconvenience but not a serious threat to your horse. Basic preventive measures can avoid stocking up. Stocking up in horses is usually not painful to the horse. Pain, heat or lameness would be a sign of a more serious condition involving inflammation or infection. Call your veterinarian if lower leg swelling involves pain, heat or open sores.

2. Help Spread the Word About Holistic Horse Care

Do you find our Holistic Horsekeeping newsletter to be informative and full of good tips about caring for your horse from a holistic perspective? If so, consider sharing this one with your horse friends. Seeing each horse as an individual and considering the whole horse for nutrition and health care is what Holistic Horsekeeping is all about. If you know someone who would appreciate learning more about this type of care for their horses, forward this to them or share the information about signing up for the newsletter on your social network sites. To signup for the newsletter, just have your friends and family go to http://blog.horseharmony.com/, enter their email address in the field on the upper right and click the OK button. They will then get an email to simply click a link to activate and confirm the subscription. It’s that easy. They’ll start receiving the weekly blog and newsletter articles that can help their horses become happy, holistically healthy horses.

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