Finding lumps & swelling on your horse?

“Why is it always the good ones that get hurt?” the question most horse owners ask themselves when first seeing that cut, noticing swelling or feeling heat in a leg when bringing a horse back from the field or exercise.

Finding lumps, bumps and swelling on horses is a very common problem for owners. Some will need veterinary treatment depending on type, location and history. Others can be treated in the stable.
Swelling caused by trauma will resolve in time. The location will determine if there is any impact on movement and hence subsequent performance. Lumps and bumps from trauma are due to swelling between the cells of the tissues, along with blood and inflammatory fluid. The inflammatory response is necessary for fighting infection and the normal healing of damaged tissue. Swelling is the body’s first response to a trauma and the first course of action will be to control the swelling. This is typically done with cold hosing and icing both quite manual in terms of application. There is little or no readily available information on the relative efficiency of topical cooling agents. However, there are many products on the market claiming to cool the equine limb. Each claim to have various benefits, including cooling, but there appears to be little or no scientific data to support these claims. One product that has been proven to produce lower leg temperatures more so than its control at the end of treatment was STAYSOUND (Nightingale, 2007). Topical treatment in the early stages of inflammation is strengthened by oral anti-inflammatory agents, for most yards the ‘trusty’ packet of Bute (phenyalbutazone) is all too often the first port of call in these cases but serious consideration needs to be given to the horse’s competition schedule (phenyalbutazone carries a lengthy withholding period before any competition). These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be very harsh on the sensitive stomachs of horses and long-term use is certainly not recommended due to their effects on other organs. Inflammation anywhere in the body (both human and horses) involves excessive stimulation of certain neutrophils which in turn release Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) – limiting or inhibiting these Reactive Oxygen Species will both reduce swelling and thus pain caused by a trauma. Curcumin has been extensively researched and the benefits of it as a treatment of acute or inflammatory disease involving an excessive ROS production is well documented. That said the benefits of Curcumin are limited by its low solubility in water and corresponding intestinal absorption. Curcumin must be given through a carrier to improve bioavailability and absorption into the blood and target tissues. When choosing a Curcumin based supplement care must be taken regarding the source and presentation of the Curcumin as many forms are poorly utilised by the equine. Using a from that is micro-encapsulated with natural oligosaccharides improves aqueous solubility, dispersibility and absorption. Unfortunately, such forms of Curcumin or indeed Turmeric are expensive and therefore rarely included in animal feed supplements. An exception to this is the newest addition to TRM’s product range – KURASYN 360X an innovative product the combines highly bioavailable Curcumin combined with Hyaluronic acid. However hard we try to protect our horses’ delicate skin from nicks and rubs it is often inevitable even when using the softest snaffle, the fluffiest of sheepskin on bridles and headcollars or the latest best fitting tendon boots…. that dreaded ‘rub’ will appear at the wrong time, in the wrong place and your horse will think that said part of his anatomy is falling off! Today’s tack box staple for such situations is EQUIZAL a product designed specifically for horses and not baby’s bottoms! EQUIZAL is a combination of Beeswax, Tea Tree Oil, Zinc oxide and Lanolin that forms a natural barrier cream which sooths and moisturises affected areas. As always it is advised to seek veterinarian advise if you are in anyway concerned particularly for persistent heat and swelling in the lower limb area or if cut or abrasions are deep and are at risk of infection.