The horse is a complex creature, subject to many of the same constraints that we put on ourselves, which in the end impacts their health and performance. Each horse is unique in their personality and constitution, which plays a major role in the exact contributors to their particular health and lameness concerns. Diet, environment, stress, conformation and other influences each play a part, but in most health conditions, we do have one common denominator, which is inflammation. In most, the inflammatory response is over expressed and if efforts are put into the equation to balance that response, then health and soundness can be easier to obtain.
Each week, emails and inquiries come in daily, seeking help and guidance with their particular equine condition.
The top 5 equine conditions that I personally encounter are:
- Joint pain or lameness
- Tendon or soft tissue injuries
- Allergies (including COPD and IAD)
- Lamintis and metabolic related conditions (including PPID and IR)
Our Cur-OST® formulas were created for our equine patients over 8 years ago and utilized with good results in all of the above scenarios. The response rate in most instances is 80%, but can be improved further if we consider patient variability. This is a big factor and despite having two horses with a similar condition, whether it is laminitis, joint or otherwise, they are never the same or identical. There is much to be considered with each patient, including diet, constitution, body condition and life style factors. This is usually the variable that leads to a good response in one case, while the other only improves minimally. It can be frustrating, but with further understanding, better results can be obtained in even the difficult cases.
Let’s run through my typical approach in each of the above mentioned situations. One thing to note is that I will apply a regimen for a two week period of time, then reassess and make changes or adjustments as needed or dictated by that patient. What we are doing here, through the use of our Cur-OST® formulas is balancing over active cellular pathways, improving cellular function and healing, supporting the immune response and finally, lessening negative contributors such as stress or even phlegm, which may pose concerns when present.
Joint pain and lameness presents at different stages. We may have one patient with very low grade lameness which shows under saddle at a canter, while in another we may have a history of a joint fracture with significant discomfort. The one with low grade lameness may only demonstrate a windpuff or slight distension of the joint with no bone changes on x-rays, while the one with the fracture may have severe remodeling and bone changes on x-ray. In both cases, we have discomfort and in both cases, we have inflammation, but one case is more advanced than the other.
My initial approach with joint discomfort is to evaluate the degree of discomfort as well as the patient, looking for other indications of problems. The things I am looking for is signs of deficiency in the diet or even digestion, which may reflect in poor hair coat, hoof condition or weak tendons. These are important if present, because deficiencies such as these can actually contribute to the inflammatory process and to joint conditions.
In most strictly joint cases, meaning no other problems are evident, I will use our Cur-OST® EQ Plus for a regimen of 14 days, twice daily, then re-evaluate. In our hands, the EQ Plus is the main formula we use and one that we rely on for most situations. The dose can be increased if needed and even reduced in other situations as time goes by, so it is quite flexible, plus it provides antioxidant support and even some nutrient value.
In the more severe situations, implying higher levels of discomfort in the patient, we will use our Cur-OST® Pure EQ, again for a regimen of 14 days, twice daily. This is a good formula, offering the highest levels of Curcumin and Boswellia, plus vitamin C to help balance the inflammatory response. Some patients, due to the extent of their condition, require this formula daily, while others can be either reduced in dose or moved over to the EQ Plus formula.
If the patient has underlying metabolic, allergy or even laminitis concerns, then we will often start with our Cur-OST® EQ Total Support. The goal here is to help balance other factors such as nutrient deficiencies and underlying gastrointestinal problems, along with general inflammation support, which may be contributing to joint problems.
The bottom line with joint problems is that the earlier we catch them, the more easier they are to manage. Nothing can reverse joint or soft tissue damage that has occured over time, so we have to understand that some limitations are naturally in place.
Tendon/Soft Tissue Injuries:
Tendon, ligament and muscle injuries are common, not only in the legs but also in the back along the spine. There are many contributors to these problems, including conformation, shoeing, concurrent lameness which shifts weight, nutrient deficiencies and even poor saddle fit or rider balance.
Most soft tissue injuries that I consult with are chronic in nature, meaning they have been present for over a month with little improvement. One of the biggest problems that is encountered here is not only scar tissue formation, which inhibits return of movement, but also poor circulation to the region, which impacts overall healing. Inflammation, often uncontrolled, is present at the onset of the problem and tends to persist throughout the healing process, which negates recovery on many levels. Nutrient deficiencies are also common place, which also contribute to poor tissue health and overall weakness of the structure, predisposing to injury.
My typical approach with soft tissue injuries is to balance the inflammatory response but also impact the immune response and circulation. In many chronic injuries, the immune system is needed in order to clear dead tissue and debris from the region, but is often impaired in many patients.
In average patients, we will generally rely on our Cur-OST® EQ Plus combined with our Cur-OST® EQ Immune formula to help accomplish both goals. The formulas will be dosed twice daily for 14 days, then on average once daily from that point forward. If we feel the patient has underlying gastrointestinal digestion concerns or even nutrient deficiencies, then we will use our Cur-OST® EQ Total Support combined with the EQ Immune formula. In some cases, diet needs to be addressed, corrected and even fortified with the use of the Cur-OST® EQ Nourish or EQ Rejuvenate formula.
The bottom line with most tendon and soft tissue injuries is that improvement can be accomplished quite readily, but in order to continue to maintain or even progress further, one must find the underling causes for the strain and correct them if possible. As a case example, in my experience, most suspensory injuries are related to foot imbalances, which is causing a shift in weight and impacting balance. If we address the problems as mentioned above, plus improve balance and travel in that patient, even chronic injuries often respond in a short period of time.
Allergies (Including COPD/IAD):
Allergies are a common problem, impacting the skin, eyes and airways. An allergic response involves the immune system and subsequently, the inflammatory response. Itching, discharges and redness are all secondary to the immune response over reacting and producing inflammatory proteins. If we want to control these patients, we must address both of these contributors, while keeping in mind that the immune response is based out of the gastrointestinal tract…so this means that in most of these patients we have underlying problems in this region. Coincidentally, most of these patients are easy keeper types, carrying more body weight, so there is a connection with the gut.
In our allergy cases, we will almost always use our Cur-OST® EQ Total Support in combination with our EQ Immune formula. This approach helps us to balance the inflammatory response, enhance the immune response and target the gut, reducing inflammation in that region and improving digestion. The general response rate, even in chronic cases, is over 80%, especially when we make an effort to clean up the diet and remove contributors in this area.
In reality, almost all cases of laminitis are metabolic patients, even if undiagnosed. This is not taking into consideration those laminitic horses that develop secondary to another problem such as a fracture or severe injury or even septic type of condition. Aside from these select patients, the majority of horses with laminitis are easy keepers, metabolic types. When we look at human data regarding metabolic problems and even Diabetes, we begin to discover how closely inflammation is tied into these conditions, as unregulated inflammation contributes to poor cellular function, poor circulation and even poor insulin sensitivity. However, we also learn how leaky gut syndrome, diet and overall digestive problems may play an underlying role.
PPID or Cushing’s disease is becoming even more common in today’s world, with many of these patients also being more easy keeper types with histories of metabolic type problems. They are also predisposed to laminitis not only due to higher circulating levels of cortisol, but also due to poor insulin sensitivity and blood circulation.
My typical approach with a laminitis or metabolic or PPID case is through the use of the Cur-OST® EQ Total Support. Through the use of this formula we are able to balance the inflammatory response and also target the gastrointestinal tract, which is often at the root of the problem. The level of inflammation present in the patient is the variable and something that is not consistent from one to another. Some respond very readily, along with traditional support and correction of hoof problems, while others are more advanced and require higher levels of support. In those cases, it is not uncommon for us to add in our Cur-OST® Pure EQ, even for the short term, to help increase levels of Curcumin and other supportive herbs. In cases of PPID, we will typically add in our Cur-OST® Adapt formula, to help balance the adrenal glands, stress response and cortisol levels.
The bottom line with these types of cases is that they are the most complex of all the equine situations, having problems at many levels. The GI tract is often involved on variable levels and time is required to provide a high level of healing to this region. In many cases of higher GI damage, we may tweek or alter the approach for each individual patient in order to improve outcome. In most, if not all, the diet also needs to be addressed in order to reduce further damage and to promote healing to the body. One of the final determinants of outcome is proper foot care. There are a million ways to address the feet and no one way is correct in all situations. What we do have to realize though, as with anything, is that if a particular approach is not working, then we need to change that approach. In my opinion, any approach should provide almost immediate results for that patient in regards to comfort. At the very worst, I will allow for a few days to pass before making a change.
ERU is also becoming more common with time. It is truly an inflammatory response, essentially one where the immune system is literally attacking the inside components of the eye for unknown reasons. As the immune system attacks, damage is done and not only is pain inflicted, but long term damage to vision can be compromised. So, essentially, we have an inflammatory and immune component to this condition. In some cases, dependent on the patient, there is also a tie in with poor gut health, which is contributing to the inflammatory response.
In the non-easy keeper ERU case, my typical approach is our Cur-OST® EQ Plus combined with our EQ Immune formula. This approach helps us to balance the inflammatory and immune response. In the ERU patient that is an easy keeper or has underlying GI problems, that approach is changed to use the Cur-OST® EQ Total Support in combination with the EQ Immune formula.
The bottom line with most ERU horses is that success in management is dictated by the stage of the condition. As with most conditions, damage that is present cannot be reversed by any means or approach, so the earlier we decide to manage the problem, the better. Overall, success with ERU cases averages 70-80% or higher, dependent on the stage of the condition when therapy is initiated.
I hope this information has been helpful. Thank you.
Tom Schell, D.V.M.
Nouvelle Research, Inc.