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Horses + Medical Conditions

  • RAO (previously called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD) is a relatively common cause of coughing and nasal discharge in stabled horses. In long-standing cases the horse may have difficulty in breathing and its chest and abdomen can be easily seen to move, hence the even older name ‘heaves’.

  • This is one of the conditions that affect young foals during their first few days of life. It is potentially life-threatening. Some cases occur when the full urinary bladder wall tears in response to high pressure during delivery whereas others result from incomplete development (closure) of the bladder wall leaving a hole in the wall.

  • Sidebones are a name for a condition that results in ossification of the collateral cartilages of the foot, i.e., the cartilages transform into much harder and less flexible bone.

  • ‘Spavin’ is a common condition in ponies and horses of all ages. There are two forms of spavin – bone spavin and bog spavin. Both affect the hock.

  • This is a common condition, invariably associated with exercise, that most frequently causes hindlimb stiffness, but can affect any of the muscles of the skeleton. Other medical terminologies include ‘acute myopathy’ and ‘rhabdomyolysis’.

  • Urticaria or ‘hives’ is a common skin condition in which well-defined raised areas (lumps, wheals or rings) occur in the superficial dermis (an upper layer of the skin). Mostly these areas are quite small but in severe cases whole areas such as the face or one or more of the limbs may become swollen.

  • The terms ‘whistler’ and ‘roarer’ are used to describe horses that make an abnormal respiratory noise during exercise. The noise is heard during inspiration (i.e., breathing in) and may be anything from a high pitched soft whistle to a harsh ‘roar’.