Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Understanding Stringhalt

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a friend who was surfing the net looking for horses. One of the animals she came upon was listed as having stringhalt in both hind legs. What is that? she wondered.

Horses with stringhalt are also referred to as "stringy." Stringhalt usually manifests most visibly at the walk. The horse will involuntarily flex his hind leg (or legs) and step exaggeratedly high. Muscle atrophy is commonly seen in horses with stringhalt, so in addition to an unnatural movement, the horse's soundness is also affected.

Stringhalt is a gait disorder. Sometimes eating the wrong plants can bring it on (this is called "acquired stringhalt"). We don't need to worry about our horses eating the plants repsponsible here in southwest Michigan. They're mostly found in the Pacific Northwestern and in Australia.

There is also "traumatic stringhalt." This results from the compression of a nerve, or other specific injury.

Information collected from "All Horse Systems Go", the incomparable new vet book by Dr. Nancy Loving, DVM, from Trafalgar Square.