Monthly Newsletter

TFB Equine Newsletter

TFB Equine

The veterinarians and staff at the TFB Equine are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

5 Most Common Physical Therapy Treatments for Horses

Rehabilitative therapy focuses on using physical techniques to promote healing, recovery, and well-being. The use of rehabilitative or physical therapy for horses is becoming fairly widespread and acknowledged throughout the veterinary community. However, some are still weary because so little clinical research centered on the safety and effectiveness for equines exists. With the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation becoming an approved specialty area of veterinary medicine in 2010, knowledge will only continue to grow. Currently, the five major modalities, or types, of rehabilitative therapy used for horses are as follows:

Cold Therapy

Cold temperatures help decrease blood flow and when applied to an injured area will aid in minimizing swelling and inflammation. This can alleviate pain, slow metabolism to surrounding tissues to minimize further damage, and speed healing. It has been effective for a variety of muscle, joint and soft tissue injuries.


Electrotherapy technology has been available since the 1960s and is used to reduce swelling, manage pain, improve range of motion, deliver blood flow, and more. It involves applying an electric current to electrodes placed on the body to create controlled movement of muscles, tendons and ligaments. There are several different types which stimulate either sensory or motor nerves.

Heat Therapy

While acute injuries are treated with ice and compression, heat therapy is more commonly used on chronic injuries or arthritis. Warmth causes blood vessels to dilate and increases blood flow to the site of injury. It is used after pain and swelling has subsided. Options include: hot compresses, soaking boots and more.


Hydrotherapy is the simple, yet effective, method of applying cold water to an injured area to encourage healing. Water cleanses, soothes, and helps fight inflammation and infection. Immersion therapy takes this ever further by getting the whole body involved via equine swimming pools and underwater treadmills. This environment helps improve fitness levels and allows for rehabilitation without “weight-bearing concussive forces” on the limbs.

Laser Therapy

Class IV therapeutic lasers deliver infrared wavelengths to stimulate a return to normal cell activity. They can reduce pain and inflammation and promote circulation, which all lead to a faster recovery. This therapy is most often used on tendon and suspensory injuries, osteoarthritis, back disorders and to promote wound healing.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Applying heat to an injury might not always be enough to reach deep tissues. Therapeutic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to raise the temperature of targeted deep tissues without even heating the surface skin. It can be used to promote wound healing and treat musculoskeletal injuries.

R&R is the Best Medicine: Horses with Tendon and Ligament Injuries

It's no secret that horses are big, heavy animals who are on their feet often. Because of this, injuries to tendons and ligaments are quite common. Injury to the superficial digital flexor tendon (aka "bowed tendon") or the suspensory ligament apparatus is the most common as both are involved with the major load-bearing joint in a horse. Causes can range from inherent conformational faults to fatigue and lameness which result in overload. If a horse experiences pain in one area, he or she may then overuse other muscles and limbs to compensate. This can lead to injury of soft tissue tendons and ligaments.

The Three Stages of Healing

It's important to consider your horse's natural healing process as he or she recovers. Although there is no shortage of "tricks and treatments" to speed along recovery, none of them speed up the process itself. These techniques can provide functional movement, but overuse – rather than R&R – will lead to incomplete healing and greater potential for future injury.

Stage One

When your horse sustains a tendon or ligament injury, the natural protective response of the body is to produce inflammation. This puffiness is actually the body's way of stimulating tissue regeneration and it lasts for about three to four weeks. Concurrently, new capillaries will be formed to provide the area with needed blood supply.

During this stage, you should stall your horse, hand walk him or her, and only gradually increase exercise. Your veterinarian will have unique recommendations for your individual horse and its lifestyle.

Stage Two

From week four through week 16, type III collagen fibrils will form as part of continued healing. These structural proteins will link together, forming collagen fibers, then fascicles, and groups of those will form new tendon or ligament.

During this stage, you should walk your horse under tack and increase time spent walking on a free exerciser.

Stage Three

From weeks 16 to 32, type I collagen is at work replacing the weaker type III collagen that previously formed. This is the collagen found in normal tendon and ligament tissues and it will increase the overall strength of the injured tissue.

During the first part of this stage, owners can walk and trot their horses under tack either mounted or unmounted or on a free exerciser. Some veterinarians may allow cantering and small paddock turnout given ultrasound results that show improvement. From weeks 24 to 32, cantering can typically be increased and free-canter can be allowed after about a week of work under saddle.

Again, your veterinarian will be able to design the best rehabilitation program for your unique animal and the severity of its injury.

Keeping Your Senior Horse’s Winter Blues at Bay

Tips for Cold-Weather Equine Care

Horses are hardy animals, but just like any other creature their lives often get a bit more tough during the harsh winter months. From the frigid cold temperatures, to the sleet, snow and icy ground, the right balance of care and support will help your aging horse weather yet another winter.

With average lifespans of 25 to 33 years, a horse is considered a senior only once it starts to show signs of aging that slow him or her down. For some, this may happen at 15; for others, aging might not start to take its toll until 20 or order. Signs of an aging equine include stiffness, difficulty maintaining a healthy weight and decreased immune response.

To best help your lifelong companion during the winter, consider the following:

Hydration - Water buckets can quickly freeze over once the temperature drops, so be sure your horse has access to fresh, non-frozen water at all times. Many horses drink less during the winter because of frozen sources. Heated water buckets and feed with an extra dash of salt will help encourage drinking. Hydration is important in temperature regulation, proper digestion and many metabolic functions.

Nutrition - Nutritional needs can change as a horse ages and many senior horses will become noticeably thinner and less toned during the winter. It is important to monitor your horse's weight and seek the advice of a veterinarian if he or she appears to be shedding to much mass. In addition to a steady supply of quality hay, supplements with healthy fats and amino acids can be added to the diet.

Dental Health - A horse's teeth are always crucial in ensuring he or she is able to eat and receive proper nutrition. If a senior is experiencing a sore mouth, this could lead to further winter weight loss and other associated health concerns.

Hoof Health - Standing on cold, frozen ground can lead to hoof troubles. However, it's not just that – ground conditions can change daily from dry to wet, icy to snow-packed. These fluctuations would be unkind to anyone's feet. Keep an eye on your horse's hooves and utilize a farrier to ensure his or her utmost comfort.

Skin & Coat Health - Just as elderly people are more cold, more often than younger folks, aging horses are also apt to catch a chill more easily. In addition to being more susceptible to skin infections during the coldest months of the year, older horses aren't able to regulate their body temperatures as easily and will need extra blanketing and protection from winter conditions. Just make sure your horse is clean and dry before blanketing.

Immune Function - As horses age, their immune function begins to decrease, meaning they may be more prone to illness or slower to recover from injury. Because of this, it's recommended that your veterinarian examines your senior horse annually and administer the appropriate vaccines to help boost their immunity.

Caring for Horses in Quarantine

Introducing a new horse to your farm or stable is an exciting time. Before you allow your horses to co-mingle, it is important to set aside a period of time to observe any potential illness your new equine may be afflicted with. Quarantine is also appropriate when one or more horses become ill or are potentially contagious after returning from any environment where they may have picked up something that you don’t want spreading.

By following these tips, you can reduce disease spread – saving yourself time and money spent caring on sick animals and ensuring a higher quality of health for your trusted steeds.

For starters:

• Keep horses current on necessary vaccines

• Maintain cleanliness of all stalls, equipment and feed/water receptacles

• Minimize rodent and insect populations

• Keep show and young horses separate from those who do not travel or are old

• Take the temperature of show horses for a week after returning from competition

Caring for Horses in Quarantine

When it comes to quarantine, a separate, isolated barn is always best. When this isn't possible, a spacious trailer, paddock or portable pen with shelter and water will do the trick. Once you've chosen the spot and moved your horse, make sure everyone is aware of the quarantine by both telling them and posting signs. You should be able to determine if a horse is sick within 10 days, but three weeks is often recommended for added assurance.

If possible, the person caring for the sick horse(s) shouldn't also be caring for healthy horses as disease can easily be spread on hands and clothing. If you're a one-man/woman operation, care for horses in their order of health: healthiest first, potentially exposed second and sick last. Use disposable gloves, plastic coverings over your shoes and aprons or coveralls. Dispose of these items carefully after each visit with the quarantined animal and wash your hands often.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Even when your horse is quarantined, illness can be spread easily if you aren't careful. Be sure to avoid:

• Communal water (don't submerge hoses)

• Spreading fecal matter via equipment/tires

• Placing contaminated bedding/food in open-air piles or in pastures

• Using the wrong disinfectants (organic matter inactivates bleach)

Catching Illness Before it Spreads

Viruses and bacteria can live for varying amounts of time inside the body, as well as outside or in water sources. It is important to educate yourself on the different illnesses your horse may be exposed to. Horses with fevers or nasal discharge should prompt a call to your veterinarian. Having a quarantine plan in place will allow you to be proactive when it comes to controlling and preventing disease and virus spread.

Achooo! 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Horse Flu

Equine influenza, or horse flu, is one of the most common respiratory diseases in horses. It is highly contagious and spreads by the snorting or coughing of an infected horse. Here are 10 facts about the equine influenza virus (EIV):

1. EIV is an RNA virus, so it's less stable and can mutate more readily than a DNA virus. This makes the development of effective vaccines very challenging.

2. EIV vaccines are often composed of inactivated/killed virus, so they can be short-lasting and provide that less-than-optimal protection.

3. Horses with horse flu typically show symptoms within 24 to 72 hours. They won't shed the virus until they spike a fever. Vaccinated horses can exhibit no symptoms and still shed/spread the virus.

4. With a week of rest recommended for every day of fever, horse flu can easily prevent equines from working for two to three weeks or more.

5. As new strains emerge, vaccination against older strains of horse flu may not be effective enough.

6. From 2010 to 2013 there was a significant increase in cases of horse flu, including in vaccinated and older horses. EIV is often known as a predominantly young horse disease.

7. It is now commonly recommended that all horses at high-risk should be immunized twice each year.

8. EIV can cross between horses and dogs. Researchers believe this occurs because the animals share similar sialic acid receptors, which the virus attaches to.

9. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) routinely studies influenza strains. This helps vaccine manufacturers plan product adjustments and helps veterinarians select those with the most protective potential.

10. EIV is easily spread by horse owners who don't follow proper hygiene and quarantine guidelines.