In warm, conversational anecdotes taken from his own practice, Kelley - an award-winning columnist for The Thoroughbred Times as well as a practicing vet - writes about horse health care, from fertility to fractures to foot care. Appealing to the ongoing reader fascination with vets' lives and experiences, as well as to horse owners' needs for sound veterinary advice, THE HORSE DOCTOR IS IN is a medical reference without the endless pages of unreadable medical-speak. Sound, browsable, practical, and usable, this book will both be read in armchairs and used in 3 a.m. barn emergencies. A broad range of equine health issues is covered in four major sections: Disease; Lameness; Breeding and Foaling; and Care and Management (which covers barn safety, stable vices, goats as companion animals, and more). Each chapter uses a true story to set up a health scenario, then flows into a practical discussion of problems, conditions, or diseases. There are chapters on everything from foaling through equine old age, allowing readers to enjoy the pleasure of fine narrative storytelling while learning how to better handle and understand horses. A particularly satisfying benefit of the book is becoming acquainted with a variety of interesting horses and their owners.
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Storey Publishing, LLC
November 17, 2002
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Excerpt from The Horse Doctor Is In by Brent P. Kelley
Chapter 3 - Injuries to Muscles, Ligaments, and TendonsMuscle Strains The reader may get the idea from reading some of these pages that I was fairly unprepared for the real world when I was granted my release from veterinary school. I was, but no more so than 99 percent of my fellow graduates around the country each year. The fact is, we just don't see as much in school as we might, especially with horses. It's not the school's fault; we can only be shown the cases that are presented to the school's clinic. Also, there are a whole lot of conditions that we are told about in class, but there are also many we aren't told about. One of my teachers said, "That diploma you guys have been working so hard for is only a license to learn. You'll learn more veterinary medicine in your first year out of school than you learned in your four years in school." He was right. With that disclaimer, when I first got out of school I was really bad at diagnosing lameness. If it was broken or bleeding I could usually find where the problem was, but if it was sprained or strained I had a terrible time. To make matters worse, shortly after graduation I met a veterinarian of many years' experience who was unbelievably gifted at recognizing lameness. He would turn his back on the horse and close his eyes and ask the handler to walk and trot the animal on a hard surface; he could tell where the lameness was just by listening. I usually couldn't tell by looking, probing, squeezing, or any other method. "It's a function of time, Kelley," he told me. "Do it long enough and you'll get it." He was right, but I'm still not anywhere as good as he was. It's very frustrating. Strains and sprains are still challenging, but I'm in good company. A whole lot of vets have trouble with strains and sprains.Incidence and Predisposing Factors Muscle strains can occur in any performance horse and usually occur in the hind limbs. The most common muscle groups involved are the longissimus and gluteal muscles (croup myopathy) and the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosis muscles (caudal thigh myopathy). Strains occur far less often in other muscle groups. There are many potential factors influencing muscle strains; the main ones are fatigue, lack of sufficient training or conditioning, lack of proper warm-up, and low ambient temperature. Fatigued muscles lose elasticity and don't function efficiently, therefore increasing the possibility of strain. Insufficient training predisposes a horse to fatigue. Proper warming up is necessary to enhance circulation, thereby increasing the ability to eliminate the muscular waste products (lactic acid) that are produced during exercise. Cold temperatures decrease circulation and increase muscle tension; the combination leads to fatigue. Muscle strains are classified by severity, from first degree to third degree. A first-degree strain is, in essence, a pulled muscle, and occurs when a muscle has reached its limit of elasticity. Muscle fibers are torn, but not the entire muscle, and it can continue to function, albeit painfully and in limited capacity. A third-degree strain is a complete tear; the function of the muscle is lost.Clinical Signs A horse with a muscle strain will show pain on firm hand pressure, but the area showing pain may not be the exact area of the injury. The best method of diagnosis is thermography, but this is often not available in the field. Lameness associated with muscle strains is highly variable. A croup myopathy is usually much less serious and involves less lameness than a caudal thigh myopathy. A croup myopathy lameness is usually noticeable as an apparent stiffness coupled with a shortened stride on the affected side and is often diagnosed incorrectly as stifle lameness. A flexion test by a veterinarian will differentiate between a croup myopathy and a stifle problem, because the flexion test won't increase the lameness in a horse with croup myopathy. A cauda