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Spinal Research





This involves a 17.2hh Belgium Warmblood gelding, 11 years. He is said to have stringhalt, but he has no exaggerated lifting of the hind legs in walk, his walk is normal, albeit rather stiff. However, when he is standing still his leg will come up and out to the side - much like a dog going to the toilet, which is an involuntary movement. He will also carry a leg sometimes for a stride. If you reverse him his leg will often come up as well.

He is out of work at the moment, and has been for 2 years - for various unconnected reasons, and has deteriorated. We have started pole work with him and leading in hand and he seems better - more likely to trot of his own volition rather than walk to canter. He is out 24/7 and his back is treated every 6 months and if fine (M Craib).

Reading in the green vet book (Hayes?) I'd have said it was shivers rather than stringhalt - what do you guys reckon? And thoughts on how best to improve him and strengthen him from the ground (no school and dark nights approaching!!)

I would do anything very slowly - no work in trot or canter until he is much stronger. I would do work in walk  and start off with simple work walk and halt on straight lines - i.e. very short hacks. You will need to do some massage type work - I don't have any recommendations on the type but I am sure that there are plenty of good books about. Keep work sessions short and give plenty of rewards. I have helped a horse with stifle problems (due to size and young age) and it has all been about short amounts of slow work with no sharp turns, adding in some simple walk pole work for interest. Make sure that you boot him up well to protect his legs and feet from any mishaps. Break him to long reins and take him for long rein walks when you can.
There's a lot of research being done on Shivers in the USA by a woman called Beth Valentine - check out this link....
The basic message is that it's a condition common in large horses, usually with draught blood in them, caused by an inability to process food properly.  It can be treated by a high fat diet, which is detailed on the website.
I found the site a couple of weeks ago, when a beautiful 18hh 3 year old on our yard was suspected of having shivers.... however, the vet's opinion now is that it's a slipping stifle caused by growing too fast, and hopefully it will correct with time and light exercise.


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