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Stringhalt in horses - Natural Horse World

Stringhalt in horses

FalseDandelionCatsEar
Catsear is also known as flatweed or false dandelion

In Australia, stringhalt in horses is commonly seen in summer and autumn as drought-stressed pastures are overtaken with weeds such as false Dandelion (also known as Catsear or Flatweed) and Capeweed.
Toxins from these weeds affect the nervous system resulting in an exaggerated high stepping action in one or both hind legs.
In mild cases, the symptoms show when the horse is asked to back-up or if there is a change of terrain, cold weather or if the horse becomes nervous or excited.
Horses with stringhalt can walk, canter and gallop but have trouble trotting properly.

What to do if your horse has stringhalt:

The classic high leg jerk of stringhalt.
Photo: V. Stewart
  1. Remove the horse immediately from the pasture.
  2. Consult your vet for a diagnosis as medication may be needed to prevent permanent damage.
  3. Give them Bach Flowers rescue remedy – available from most chemists and good to have on hand for all health crisis situations.
  4. Feed good quality pasture hay ad-lib. (If you are feeding an insulin-resistant horse who is prone to laminitis, soak the hay for a couple of hours before feeding if it hasn’t been tested for sugar and starch levels).
  5. Add the herbs Valerian and Mugwort to the feed to help repair nerve signals.
  6. Feed a good balanced mineral supplement such as Balanced Equine’s Hoof Rescue + SE
  7. Ideally have your pasture and feed tested to get a customised mineral mix for your horse and area. We recommend Carol Layton and www/balancedequine.com.au

Horses left untreated for this condition will suffer from muscle wastage and may never completely recover.

Most cases resolve once the horse is removed from the pasture in a period of 2 weeks to 2 years, depending on the severity of the stringhalt.

Prevention is better – check your pastures for the offending weeds and if you have a lot of them, remove your horse before it shows symptoms and feed grass hay and supplementary feed according to use and condition.

To read more about this condition visit www.thehorse.com article on Classic & Australian Stringhalt or https://balancedequine.com.au/stringhalt/

This Facebook group also has lots of helpful advice.

2 thoughts on “Stringhalt in horses

  1. libby cheshire says:

    My TB has had stringhalt since April this year and we are currently giving him Bach Rescue Remedy, magnesium, B1 injections, hay and grain. I would like to try valteran and mugwart. I would like to use liquids so I can put it in the grain. He is better and can galloping in to be fed but is still having issue walking. Please advise.

    • Cynthia says:

      Hi Libby,
      I’m not a herbalist so not qualified to comment about the Valerian or Mugwort – perhaps you can contact an experienced equine herbalist about that for the best advice. One thing I’d also be sure your horse is receiving is a balanced mineral mix to supplement anything else missing from his diet. I’d suggest an equine nutritionist like Carol Layton from http://www.balancedequine.com.au would be able to helo you there.
      I do know it can sometimes take up to 2 years for stringhalt to resolve completely so keep the treatment going and be sure to restrict him from grazing any weeds that might be contributing eg. flatweed (false dandelion), cape weed, sheeps sorell and couch grass.
      All the best, Cynthia.

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