Is There Any Help for Stringhalt?

I have a horse with mild stringhalt symptoms. do you know if any supplements that could help him. I feed good timothy/alfalfa hay, a 10% pellet grain and give biotin and a vitamin/mineral supplement from Buckeye that has Vit E and selenium. the horse has had this problem before but a few days off usually gets it to go away. he is a 19 year old quarter horse. I think it usually has occurred in the cold weather. RC, Florida

Dear RC,

Just so everyone is clear, stringhalt is a neuromuscular condition of the hindquarters where the horse rapidly flexes or “snaps” a hind leg towards the belly. While some cases may be due to the ingestion of a certain pasture weed, most of the time a cause is never found. Because it can be difficult to distinguish stringhalt from other disorders of the hindquarters like shivers and PSSM, I recommend a veterinarian examine your horse so you know for sure what you’re dealing with.

If stringhalt is the diagnosis, unfortunately there is no treatment or cure for the condition. Some owners report improvement with the prescription medication Phenytoin—an anticonvulsant used for epilepsy—or the supplement ingredient Thiamine, or B1. Important in the transmission of impulses along nerves, Thiamine has a number of functions within nerve tissue and this may be why it helps some horses with stringhalt.

I like that you’re feeding a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and that it contains Vitamin E and its antioxidant partner Se. Vitamin E seems to help many conditions that involve either the muscular system or the nervous system or both. Since experts aren’t really sure what the primary problem with stringhalt is, you’re covered either way!

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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2 comments on “Is There Any Help for Stringhalt?
  1. Monique says:

    Would be great if this blog could be updated with more recent information. There are two distinct different stringhalt. The regular one, and the Australian Stringhalt. Here is more info on Australian stringhalt.

    it is thought to be induced by toxic plants or fungi and possibly deficiencies in nutrients. Flatweed (Hypochaeris radicata) or “cat’s ear” is thought to be the leading contributor to Australian stringhalt. Flatweed is often mistaken for dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as their flowers and leaves look similar.

    Australian stringhalt generally is the worst during the first month after the disease is found. It usually resolves on it’s own with regaining of lost muscle and the gait returning to normal. Given enough time, Australian stringhalt will normally resolve itself. Horses can recover in as little as two weeks. While it can take up to several years to resolve, it is most common for the disease to dissipate within six to nine months time.
    More info:

  2. Roxanne Wymer says:

    I recently rescued a horse from Sod West Virginia and he has what looks to be Stringhalt but its an early stage and it has not gotten any worse but, if caught in time and with supplimeents or vitimans could surgury be ignored or would surgury be a better alternative to catch it before it does get worse

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