Alfalfa


KC
 

I was wondering what type of issues that alfalfa could causes when it comes to horses's feet. I remember reading that in IR/PPID horses it can cause issues with them but was wondering if it can causes issues with healthy horses too. I have been dealing with some issues with my mare's hindfeet which I know some of the issues but just got to wondering if alfalfa could be contributing to it as well. I only feed 2 lbs max. of the alfafla pellets each day with her supplements. It just got me wondering if it could be playing a small part in her issues.

Thanks
Kathy in Ohio


Lavinia Fiscaletti
 

Hi Kathy,

Some equine do not tolerate alfalfa well for as-yet-unknown reasons. Aside from an actual allergy or hyperactivity, it can make a horse footsore. The calcium levels are quite high vs. the phosphorus levels, so it can make mineral balancing problematic - 2lbs of alf pellets provide around 13g calcium. Protein is very high, exceeding the needs of the majority of average horses, which then gets peed out making urine more pungent.

If your horse is having issues with alf, it wouldn't be confined to just the hind feet. Trim and possible overloading of the hinds due to more subtle issues in the front feet would be more likely possibilities.

What types of issues are you having?

--
Lavinia

Moderator/ECIR Support


KC
 

Hi Lavinia,


It’s something that I want to investigate to make sure it was or wasn’t having a hand in her problems. This is the first time I have fed this amount of alfalfa to her for this long which is about a year. I only gave treats that contained alfalfa prior to this. The only reason I started feeding this is because the place I get my feed became unreliable of stocking the timothy grass pellets which is what I normally fed before. It was just easier to get the alfalfa plus I have been dealing with some health issues and I just didn’t feel like running all of the place to get horse feed.

I will try to make a long story short. This all happen between September to December. She had a bad subsolar abscess in the left hindfoot along with a suspected case of cellulitis. I say suspected because my vet couldn’t perform the blood test to confirmed it. I wasn’t able to get him there until the tail end of the 3rd flare up. He said the test wouldn’t be accurate enough to confirm among other reasons. I didn’t know for sure that I was dealing with something else until the 3rd flareup (Dec.). I have never heard of cellulitis until my vet told me about it. If I had known, I would have called him when she had the 1st flareup (Sept.) which was at the same time I was dealing with the subsolar abscess. I just thought the swelling was from the abscess. The 2nd flareup (Oct.) I started to suspect it was something else but just wasn’t confident enough to know for sure. I was still dealing with the abscess at that time. My mistake I should have listened to my instincts & called the vet at that time.

I’m pretty sure the weather has a big hand in her issues. We have had so much rain this past summer/fall that its unreal. This is a horse that doesn’t have foot problems so this is new territory. I have dealt with abscesses in other horses but not her. What got me concerned is during her last trim is some of things my trimmer has found. One is that the false sole that developed from the abscess is only partially gone. It’s still in the heel area. In the toe area, it’s gone but there is a brownish line in the sole that follows the white line. He wasn’t sure why it was there. He told me he has only seen that with laminitis. The white line is also misshapen from where the abscess blew. The abscess hole was about an 1” in length and ½” deep right in the toe where the white line is. I’m hoping that it just need more time to grow out. The other part when she got trimmed is the right hindfoot had a bulge in the outer bar. When he removed some of the bulge, he found had what look like a gravel in it along with blackish pockets in it. This is a weird place to have gravel. The bars also look like they are “remodeling”. Right before all this happen in the left hindfoot, she had a couple of cases of bulges in the bars along with misshapen bars. No gravel but had the blackish pockets. So, it gotten me wondering if this is sign that the right hindfoot is got something brewing.

As of right now, she is sound and no more flare ups from the cellulitis. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. With riding season coming up soon, I want to make sure her issues are in the past. I just want to make sure I’m not doing something that would jeopardized the health of her feet. That’s why I was asking about the alfalfa. After thinking about it more, just in case it is, I think I will switch her back to the timothy pellets to be safe. Besides she doesn't need the extra protein or calcium, I really didn't think about the balancing part when I started feeding it to her. It was just more convenient for me to get.

Thanks
Kathy in Ohio


Lavinia Fiscaletti
 

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for the background info. Doesn't sound like the alfalfa was the problem but now you know the pro/cons of adding it.

No more beating yourself up over the cellulitis thing - you did what you knew best at the time.

She didn't develop false sole from the abscess. The sub-solar abscess pooled in the space between the live sole and the slowly exfoliating dead/calloused sole creating a pocket that detached them. Once the abscess drained, this left an air gap between the to layers instead, that is slowly shedding away. This layer would normally just wear away in lits and ices rather than shedding as a thicker "slice" that is obvious. If it sheds, or is removed, too soon, it exposes the immature live sole plane that is not ready to be making actual ground contact. It can result in tenderness. If that happens, pad and boot until the sole has time to toughen up and callous over again.

The brownish line is likely some old blood that was trapped in that area when the abscess formed and is now growing out. It will all grow out in time.

Bulging in the bars is usually related to growth and weight bearing changes, possibly complicated by trim issues. If she was leaning more on that RH due to the pain in the LH than it could have contributed to some flaring pressures that caused the compensatory changes in the bars. The blackish pockets adjacent to the bars could have been remnants of little abscesses, spots of detachment due to the shift in the bars themselves. If they are large/deep and recurrent then you need to figure out why they are occurring. If not, then chalk it up to something that happened some time in the past, that is now growing out and becoming visible.

Going forward, just make sure the overall trim is as optimal as it should be to provide the foundation she needs to keep her feet healthy and sound.

--
Lavinia

Moderator/ECIR Support


KC
 

Hi Lavinia,

That makes a lot sense on what I’m seeing especially with the bulge and remodeling of the bars on the right hind. I didn’t even think about all the weight that foot might have taken on due to the issues with the left. Basically, in the left, I’m still seeing things that happened in the past. I was hoping that was the case but I started worrying that it might not be. I just need to give it more time to work itself out which means more patience on my part. I’m pretty sure the trim is in good shape. It’s been something I have been focusing on the last couple of years. She used to have troubles with flaring, etc. We finally figured out the “trick” to get the flaring to stop.

I’m trying not to beat myself up on cellulitis issue. But it didn’t help right after I found out about it, that I ran into a friend of mine who’s horse had it right about the same time as mine except it was 10 times worse. She was still treating it after 4 months. She showed me pictures and it just freaked me out. Her vet thought they would have to put the horse down because of it. It was that bad.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Kathy in Ohio