Is there a 2-legged horse

Tarnished legs on the horse

Tarnished legs on a horse - what can you do?

Of all domestic animals, the horse suffers the most from the tarnished leg symptom. Fascinating about it: The horses usually only suffer from this swelling after standing for a long time. If they are ridden or are they allowed to go to the paddock, they almost completely decrease. But why do the horses' legs swell so much at all? Why does this keep happening? Can this phenomenon - once it has appeared - disappear again completely? How can we best support the horses in such a case? In the following, our experts have dealt with tarnished legs in detail.

Tarnished legs are not a disease in themselves, they are just a symptom; an indication that there is a weakness in the lymphatic system of the affected horse. They always appear in pairs and the first swellings always appear on the hind limbs. In order to better understand what happens in the horse's organism in such a case, we first took a closer look at the lymphatic system:

The Lymphatic system of the horse runs as a network through the entire body of the horse and is an essential part of the immune system. After the arteries and veins, it is the third major vascular system of the organism and thus a very extensive structure. Compared to a person who has between 400 and 600 lymph nodes, we speak of around 8,000 nodes in the horse that are interposed in the vascular system. The lymph itself is responsible for the removal of various substances such as proteins, toxins, pathogens, etc. from the intercellular space back into the venous system. Before it flows there, it is cleaned in the lymph nodes. The lymphatic vessels themselves have a spontaneous, rhythmic ability to contract. This is supported by the contraction of the muscles, the pulsation of the arteries, the breathing and the bowel movement. However, the flow of lymph can be interrupted for various reasons. The result: fluid and pollutants remain in the tissue, swelling occurs in these areas; mostly in the legs.

Causes of tarnished legs in horses

In the simplest case, the evil that favors tarnished legs is simply a lack of exercise. Horses in open stalls are far less affected than horses that have to spend most of the day in their stalls. If that is the solution to the riddle, the cause is simply eliminated: If the horse is allowed to move more, the lymphatic system is stimulated again and the legs swell. Tarnished legs can also result from a diet that is too high in protein. The connective tissue itself consists of a gel-like basic substance. Water can penetrate this with almost no resistance. Protein per se takes twice as long to do this. If an unusually large amount of protein has to be transported away via the lymph, this can lead to congestion in the vascular system and thus to tarnished legs. Last but not least, problems in the cardiovascular system as well as in the liver and kidney metabolism can be the reason for tarnished legs. To this end, it is advisable to change or expand the feed ration (see section MASTERHORSE expert tip).

Acute and chronic swelling of the horse's legs

Tarnished legs can be divided into "acute" and "chronic" based on the duration of the swelling. If this occurs again and again over two to three months, one can definitely speak of chronically tarnishing legs. After this period, the lymph vessels in the horse's legs have already worn out and their own ability to contract has decreased. In order to restore the lack of compression and thus stability, the body itself forms additional connective tissue in the affected areas. This does not go back again, that is, the leg remains thicker from now on.

Treatment of tarnished legs in horses

As indicated earlier in the text, the treatment of tarnished legs depends on the cause. In some cases it is sufficient to change the way the horse is kept, to change the feed ration or to control the fluid intake. If you want to support the horse beyond that, this can be done in the form of manual lymph drainage. In order not to destroy the vessels, this should be done by the veterinarian or a physiotherapist. It uses a special, gentle massage technique to unblock the blood vessels and get the lymph flow going again. It is then advisable to provide the leg with specially adapted compression stockings for a certain period of time or with the help of a column bandage created by the veterinarian. The horse should then be able to move around sufficiently. In this way, the accumulated lymph can be optimally distributed in the body. As a little tip, we recommend treating the skin on the area that has been swollen over a long period of time with particular care and attention. Such areas have a poorer blood supply and are more prone to injuries and thus also to infections. This makes it harder for any wounds to heal and thus remain a portal of entry for pathogens for a long time.

ATTENTION: It is not advisable to bind horses with tarnished legs with conventional stable bandages for a longer period of time. This can continue to hinder the lymph drainage, since the vessels are too tightly compressed. In addition, they are usually not enough to bandage the leg down to the hoof. This can lead to unwanted additional swelling between the hoof and the bandage.

  • INFO TO GO - Swollen horse legs
  • Tarnished legs always appear in pairs, the swelling begins on the hind legs.
  • A lack of exercise, excess protein in the feed or a kidney problem are the main causes of tarnished legs.
  • Manual lymph drainage, professional bandages over time, and exercise can all help reduce the swelling.
  • The metabolism and lymphatic drainage can also be stimulated through feeding or, if given prophylactically, can be kept going.

Masterhorse expert tip

In order to keep the metabolism and thus the lymphatic system in motion, the horse should of course always have the opportunity to be able to move sufficiently. You can also support it through feeding. In our range there is, for example, that EQUIPIR - renal. It contains the ideally suited herbs hawthorn, birch, arnica and nettle in an optimally balanced composition. The kidney and thus the detoxification function are supported in the best possible way. The cardiovascular activity is stimulated and the lymphatic drainage is improved. This powdered formula is ideal for horses with tarnished legs. It is available in the form of cut herbs MASTERHORSE HEAMOCLEAR. This also stimulates the entire kidney metabolism and also the excretion of water. The pure herb mixture contains nettle, heather, birch leaves, dandelion, field horsetail, juniper berries and walnut. We recommend this as a mineral feed for horses with a sensitive metabolism MASTERHORSE BASIC METABOL. The contained probiotic live yeast, a few selected herbs and the lecithin added to the recipe support digestion, strengthen the liver and kidneys and promote the metabolic processes in an effective way.

Especially in older horses, tarnished legs can indicate a weak heart. With the CARDIO-VITAL, a herbal mixture of hawthorn, ginkgo, lavender, mistletoe and ginseng, their physical performance is largely preserved. The seniors feel more vital and the cardiovascular system stays in good shape. Younger horses with a healthy heart can still suffer from circulatory problems and, as a result, from tarnished legs. They too benefit from the herbs in CARDIO-VITAL.

Tarnished legs - not to be confused with

Of course, horses can also suffer from swollen legs when the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems are functioning properly. Infections, phlegmon, or poisoning are possible causes. The therapy in these cases is completely different - you can find out more about this in the associated expert tips.