Taking Stock: Do Salt And Water Play A Role In Equine Leg Swelling? - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Taking Stock: Do Salt And Water Play A Role In Equine Leg Swelling?

“Stocking up,” where a horse's lower legs swell because of pooling lymph, can look alarming, but the condition is typically temporary. The condition generally occurs when a horse has a reduction in his usual activity level. This lack of movement impairs circulation.

Stocking up is not painful; the horse should not have a fever or be off his feed—these signs can indicate that something else is amiss and a veterinarian should be contacted, Dr. Clare Thunes says to The Horse.

A horse's lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system; the lymphatic system helps transport waste products and unused nutrients to the lymph nodes, and then helps return the blood back to the veins and heart.

A horse's digital cushion, which a wedge-shaped structure on the sole of the hoof, acts as a pump ad helps push this blood and fluid back up the legs toward the heart. When the horse is unable to move around (like when he's in a stall) to assist with moving the fluid back up the legs, the fluid can pool in the legs and the horse can become stocked up.

Dehydration can be another factor that affects if and how much a horse stocks up. A dehydrated horse's blood pressure may be lower, which can diminish the ability of the lymphatic system to push the blood back up the leg. Sodium balance can also alter how easily fluids move across cells; a horse low in sodium may be more susceptible to stocking up.

Ensuring a horse always has clean, fresh water available at all times and that he has access to salt can help prohibit stocking up. Additionally, placing standing bandages on a horse that is stalled can eliminate the pooling of lymph and encourage circulation.

Read more at The Horse.

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More