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Managing the hoof-care needs of older horses can be difficult due to the many changes caused by old age and declining health, says Mary Rose Paradis, an equine veterinarian at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass. She told attendees at the early December annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in Nashville, Tenn., that 30% of veterinarians find up to 40% of their caseload consists of working with horses over 20 years of age.
She reported that musculoskeletal problems were the second most common presenting complaint (after colic) in a study of older horses. Among horses presenting with lameness, 38% had laminitis and 55% had lameness concerns classified as degenerative disease. Paradis says earlier injury to joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments can lead to progressive degenerative changes in the musculoskeletal system of geriatric horses.
Donald Walsh says understanding the causes of laminitis have changed very little among researchers over time. However, the head of the Animal Health Foundation in St. Louis, Mo., told attendees at the recent International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Fla., that laminitis caused by disorders of the endocrine system appears to be a modern-day syndrome.
In a review of the veterinary literature from 1860 to 1930, Walsh found most researchers shared the concept that congestion in the blood circulation system was a prelude…