How do I reduce swelling in my horse's leg?

Does your horse have swelling in his leg? Here Gil Riley, managing equine vet at the Pool House Equine Clinic explains what you can do to help him. 

Q: My horse has a big inflammation on his back leg and my vet has put him on isoxsuprine for the remainder of his life. He’s 25 and retired with no physical activity. What can I do to reduce the inflammation?

A: If your horse isn’t in pain the most likely cause of this condition is due to a drainage problem from the limb, possibly as a result of some constriction in the lymphatic vessels.

The lymphatic vessels are thin tubes that help return tissue fluid back into the circulation. These tubes have no muscle in their walls, so require the limb to be moving to pump the fluid back into the abdomen and onwards into the blood.

Movement can help reduce this swelling but as your horse is retired it will look worse than one that’s in work.

My advice would be to give your horse as much turnout as possible so that he’s standing still for the minimum amount of time.

The isuxuprine your vet is giving is with the intention of improving circulation and that may certainly help, but keeping your horse on the go so the fluid doesn’t get chance to settle is the thing that will make a big difference