Saturday, May 1, 2010

Swollen Sheath & Sticky Stifle

Recently, I've made two calls to my vet regarding Guinness, and I thought that I'd share what I'd learned.

Yesterday, I called her regarding his sheath appearing somewhat swollen. About a week ago, I noticed him peeing on his front legs, which is unusual. It seemed to be due to his not relaxing enough to allow his equipment out. A couple of days later, it happened again, so I checked things out. When I pulled his sheath back, out his pecker popped along with some trapped air. Weird. It happened again two days ago. Yesterday, the whole vicinity looked somewhat puffy.

Her response: She has seen horses go for a long time (years?) without lowering their bits and consequently peeing up inside their sheath. It doesn't seem to hurt them, so don't worry about that part. The swelling could be due to lots of things including the high pollen count and/or fly spray. She suggested to give him some cool sponge baths with a little white vinegar diluted with lots of water. Also, perhaps to give him a little Bute to see if it helps. She thinks that his whole body probably has a tiny bit of edema right now, but that since his sheath is a low point, it is gathering their. He has a runny nose too (pollen) so this makes a lot of sense..

The other issue was that during our second trail ride, which was on a firm, flat surface, I noticed Guinness having a little "hitch in his git along." Some corner of my mind whispered "locking stifle." I got home and started to research it, but had to get ready to head out of town for a week.

Here are a couple of links to good info about it: Part 1 Part 2 Good article (The diagram at the top of the post is of a stifle joint, the equivalent of a human knee, found in the rear legs.)

What she said (plus a little of what I learned through research): Age, lack of fitness, and straight hind legs are the biggest factors for stifle issues. It is common in young horses and in gaited horses.

Things that should help:
  • trimming with shorter toe in back/little higher heels
  • decrease small circles until more fit
  • hill and ground pole work is good (and seems to have helped him already)
  • increasing his overall fitness level

Previous symptoms:
  • Hopping into trailer with both back feet? He is over that now.
  • Hopping over log and catching back foot (landing on fetlock). Better now.
Fortunately, if he is truly having trouble with his stifles, it is very mild. After a good trim, I didn't notice it all during our last trail ride.

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