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When is it time to give up on my horse?
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Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu Jul 18th, 2013 06:13 am
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Hi Dr Deb

Did I ever tell you about the informal little trial I organised a while back to see if transdermal application of MgCl would have any noticeable effects on horses?

For humans, absorption through the skin is a much more efficient way to absorb just about anything - think nicotine patches and hormone creams. Good book on the subject: Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Mark Sircus. I use a MgCl cream made by the same company from whom I buy MgCl flakes.

The downside is that anything bad we put on the (human or horse) skin will also end up in the body - think endocrine disrupting substances in personal care items, cleaning chemicals and fabrics. Scary book on this subject: Slow Death By Rubber Duck by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie.

Two people kindly volunteered to follow my trial protocol which involved sponging a warm 30% solution of MgCl over the horse's topline muscles immediately after they were worked daily, covering with a light rug for half an hour to limit drying, and then rinsing off to avoid irritation to the skin.
One person was a racehorse trainer who was not feeding MgCl. The other person had pleasure horses in light work and was already feeding MgCl. Both volunteers reported a visible improvement in their horses, indicating the magnesium had been absorbed through the skin.

While the results were good, the whole procedure is not practical for longterm use. Messy, time-consuming and expensive in terms of the amount of MgCl that is needed. Mag sulphate would be cheaper but may not be as effective. Friends who have tried soaking in a MgCl bath and also a MgSO4 bath tell me the MgCl soak gives much better relief to sore muscles.

I've wondered about getting horses to stand in buckets of warm magnesium water as I personally have found a foot-soak very effective. I've not been sure how much the horse would absorb through the soles and hoof wall, but then if a horse can get laminitis from standing on black walnut shavings, maybe the soles are porous enough to absorb magnesium. Do we know if black walnut is absorbed through the hoof itself? Or could vapours from the shavings be inhaled by the horse in the reduced air-circulation of an enclosed stable?

Regardless, the skin around the coronet appears to be highly vascular so would be a good region for transdermal absorption if the horse is standing fetlock-deep in buckets.

I agree this would be another tool to get much-needed magnesium into an acutely footsore horse, although I would not soak for more than 15 mins as softening the sole may increase the discomfort for a horse who is already thin-soled/foundered/laminitic.

Now I have something else to report which is quite exciting. Liaising with a vet, it seems that injecting magnesium sulphate intramuscularly shows great promise in quickly helping horses with acute laminitis or founder, and also weak-footed horses who are unable to tolerate large amounts of magnesium orally.

One Welshie pony (about 350kg) foundered in both front feet a couple of months ago; there was no sole penetration but it would have come close given the convex profile acquired by the soles. The pony was completely unable to move. She was given 2 ampoules of MgSO4 on alternate days; each ampoule contains about 2.5g of MgSO4 and was mixed with saline solution. Two weeks later the pony was galloping around with her herdmates as though nothing had happened (without shoes or boots), despite the obvious distortion remaining in the hoof capsules.

Two of the large horses who participated in some of your clinics in Australia this year have also responded very quickly. These horses had not foundered and were probably not 'laminitic' in the usual sense of the word, just had weak and/or deformed feet. Progress has been much faster since commencing with the IM MgSO4. One of these large horses (around 700kg) was given 2 ampoules twice per week, the other was given 3 ampoules 3 times per week. This amount is still considered to be low even for a 70kg human, so should be well within safety ranges.

If Geedubya or anyone else is interested in this approach, it must be done with a veterinarian's supervision. This is an 'off-label' use for MgSO4, so a vet may want the owner of the horse to sign a disclaimer.

More work needs to be done in this area but it's certainly looking hopeful.

Pauline

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jul 18th, 2013 07:32 pm
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Dear Pauline: Exciting news indeed. Really, people should be talking with their vets to bring the vet up to speed (if she or he isn't already) on the content of this thread, and on appropriate background reading. The book you recommended to me, Pauline -- I've forgotten the author and I'm a thousand miles from where the book is lying in my office at the present moment -- but the title was something like 'The Magnesium Book" and the author was a woman. If you realize what I'm referring to, please post the author and title here because I think this book, being written by an M.D./researcher, would have more impact and seem more credible and convincing to a veterinarian than any other.

As to off-label use: well, if the vet is convinced that it works and it's safe, there shouldn't be a problem. The problem will be for the client to find a veterinarian who is on board with this. MIght help also if we inform the veterinarian that this is the exact treatment -- although the dosage per pound is much higher for the human -- that M.D.'s use to treat pre-eclampsia in pregnant women who are about to give birth. A shot of good old Epsom Salts stops the uncontrollable muscle cramping that could otherwise kill both the mother and the baby.

As to absorption through the soles of the horse's feet: This should be the absolute ideal location for transdermal application of anything in a horse. The soles are extremely porous -- vis., one will have noticed the 'sweat marks' from the soles of the feet that any horse leaves after standing for a short time upon dry cement. Plus, as you point out, not only the coronet bands but the entire internal interlaminar surface, which is yards and yards of tissue if it were pulled out flat, is very highly vascularized. Uptake should therefore be very efficient. And yes, it is through the soles of the feet that the horse who stands on walnut shavings takes in the alkaloid toxins that will kill him from standing on such bedding.

If Geedubya wants to go with Epsom Salts, they're cheap and available anywhere. He could also get the pure MgCl flakes and soak 'em in that. I agree about not longer than 15 minutes, but that amount of time should be plenty. Cheers, and thanks, Pauline for your input -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Fri Jul 19th, 2013 11:44 am
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The Magnesium Factor
Mildred S Seelig, MD, MPH
Andrea Rosanoff, PhD
Avery Books


Associate Professor Mildred Seelig was both a practicing physician and researcher who devoted some 40 years to investigating magnesium. She was a President and Executive Director of the prestigious American College of Nutrition and founding editor of its Journal.

This book has a wealth of information about the role of magnesium in human health. For those who like to see the detail, there are 75 pages of references. The chapter on 'Metabolic Syndrome X, Diabetes and Magnesium' includes reports on the research done by Prof Lawrence Resnick and colleagues at Cornell who concluded that a low magnesium ion inside cells causes metabolic syndrome.

Quote from p.41:
"As a cell's magnesium ion level falls, the calcium ion level rises. The result is a low magnesium/high calcium cell ratio. This affects the functioning of various kinds of cells in ways that bring on syndrome X"

A chart then follows that lists the consequences of low magnesium/high calcium for cells in the pancreas, fat tissue, muscle, blood-vessels, blood platelets, heart muscle, adrenal glands, nerves, liver and kidneys.

My thought is that hoof lamella cells could be added to the list as low magnesium/high calcium may disrupt magnesium-dependent ATP production, resulting in a weakened lamella connection. This may be a different pathway from what is conventionally thought of as 'laminitis'.

Pauline

GoldPony
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 Posted: Fri Jul 26th, 2013 02:57 am
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Hi Pauline and Dr. Deb,
I have been thinking about the foundered pony that was injected with MgSo4. I am wondering how the MgSo4 (or anything short of an anesthetic) could relieve the pony's pain if it's feet remain damaged. If no x-rays were taken at the beginning, it would seem valuable to see exactly what was happening after it became sound.

So my question is whether you think there was some healing/improvement in the pony's feet, or is there some blocking of the pain?

I'm sure you are working to sort this out, and I am probably premature in asking these questions, but this is an amazing result. I am the owner and maintainer of an IR Morgan which has not foundered- but I know the danger is there, so any information is of interest to me.
Nancy

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Fri Jul 26th, 2013 04:15 am
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Nancy - I'm leaving tomorrow for an overseas trip so will have to wait 'till I get back mid-August to answer this.

Pauline

Dorinda
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 Posted: Mon Jul 29th, 2013 02:41 am
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Hi Dr Deb & Pauline.

This is very topical for me at the moment as I have been massaging MgCl into the coronet band for a few months now to the front feet of a horse that was riden as an endurance mount and although massaging would have helped the hair around the coronet band has significantly put on growth. When I started it was looking like someone had cut it straight. Evidence of the pink concussive bruising has also deminished. Please find attached a photo taken last month. The hair is sticking out which indicates some sinking, but it hasn't got any worse.

Cheers
Dorinda

Attachment: RF cranial.JPG (Downloaded 534 times)

Dorinda
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 Posted: Mon Jul 29th, 2013 02:55 am
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Okay for a comparison. Here is a photo taken last year. You can see the bruising and that the hair growth is minimal.

Cheers
Dorinda

Attachment: RFcranial view copy.jpg (Downloaded 532 times)

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Tue Aug 20th, 2013 01:10 am
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Nancy

The short answer to your question is ‘I don’t know’, but I do not think the MgSO4 was involved in pain relief.

Regrettably we may never know for sure as, to date, specific controlled research regarding magnesium’s action in maintaining/restoring hoof function has not been done. Research dollars are scarce in most academic institutions these days, and as magnesium is a naturally occurring substance it does not provide the promise of a patented product to justify commercial investment funding.

If you’ve been reading Dr Deb’s Forum for some time, you’ll know I’ve been experimenting with the use of magnesium privately for several years. Results with hundreds of horses (and they’re just the ones I know about) have been outstanding. I cannot think of any horses where there has not been at least some small improvement to hoof integrity, weight control, or overall health. Many dedicated owners have been struggling for years to find solutions for their weak-footed horses, and can hardly believe the rapid, visible changes in hoof form that start appearing within a couple of months of switching to a diet that optimizes magnesium intake. Simply adding magnesium to an existing diet rarely produces a positive change; it is essential to limit elements that disrupt magnesium absorption. Owners of overweight or IR horses often report seeing the disappearance of localized fat pads and cresty necks within a month or less, followed by an overall weight loss in following months. Some of those horses have even been able to return to fulltime grazing, or at the very least, extended grazing time.

Having seen many of these horses myself, I know the hoof changes are occurring faster than simply the growth of new, stronger lamina, so ‘something’ else has to be happening.

As mentioned previously, my hunch is that the ‘something’ involves cellular ATP energy. As I understand it, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the life, the energy, inside every cell, hoof lamella cells included. We can think of every living cell having a little energy factory inside, like a battery, that provides the energy for the cell to do it’s own particular job. No ATP energy inside the cell is like having a flat battery, nothing works. The connection with magnesium is that ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active, therefore no magnesium means the battery is still flat.

I am speculating that inadequate dietary magnesium may lead to a shortage of magnesium in the body; magnesium is essential for multiple metabolic processes, more than 350 separate biochemical reactions. The body’s use of available minerals seems to be prioritized, with the brain and central nervous system usually being top of the list; essential internal organs are likely to be high up on the ‘list’ also. Depending on individual genetics, hoof lamella may be further down the list, having to make-do with whatever magnesium is left. If the body does not consider hoof lamella a priority when magnesium is in short supply, perhaps there is not enough magnesium to bind with all ATP molecules in hoof lamella cells. The result of low cellular energy in hoof lamella could be lamella that are weak and less able to maintain the strong interface between the dermal and epidermal cells. We well know the consequences of a weak lamella bond; footsore, weak-footed horses, laminitis or even the total failure of founder.

Supplying extra dietary magnesium to these horses invariably initiates the growth of a stronger hoof form, but this delivery method is dependent on the efficiency of the digestive system. For acute laminitis/founder episodes I have suggested giving the horse multiple tiny feeds around the clock, each with a small amount of magnesium added, so that the horse will have absorbed more magnesium in a 24-hr period than if he was given only one or two feeds. This has worked quite well but can still take many weeks before the horse is comfortable without intensive hoof support. My idea about injectable MgSO4 was that the digestive system is bypassed so the full benefit of the magnesium would be instantly available for cellular uptake, as is the case when it is injected IV in hospital emergency rooms.

I am thinking that the pony may have recovered so quickly because the IM magnesium was available for use by lamella cells to restore ATP energy, and therefore lamella function was restored even with a distorted hoof capsule. I do not know if the damaged lamella connection was repaired, although I’m aware this is thought to be not possible.

I cannot prove any of this; it is purely my own conjecture. However, there is some precedent in that neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock describes the importance of maintaining cellular energy in order to protect neurons from exposure to toxic substances, and the role of magnesium in limiting cell damage from the influx of excess calcium.

As you know, there has been a lot of research into the connection between insulin resistance and laminitis, with high-fructan pasture grasses often being singled out for blame. I have always queried this assumption as here in Queensland our predominantly warm-season C4 grasses do not contain fructan (energy is stored as starch not fructan) yet laminitis and/or distorted feet are just as common as in cool-season regions.

Recent research by Prof Richard Johnson indicates that both fructan and starch can be metabolised to fructose by gut bacteria, suggesting that it is fructose that is ultimately the cause of weight-gain and obesity in both horses and humans. The rapid breakdown of fructose by the enzyme fructokinase in the liver, small intestine, caecum and large intestine etc causes ‘cell shock’, a brief period in which the cells become depleted of ATP energy. This leads to the production of oxidants, and systemic inflammation via bacterial products entering the blood, and could be implicated in the cascade of biological events that lead to founder. Prof Johnson’s book ‘The Fat Switch’ is highly recommended.

It would be interesting to know if supplemental magnesium is able to assist in reducing or preventing that depletion of ATP energy consequent to the action of fructokinase on fructose that has been produced in the gut from ingested fructan and starch. Some work has already found that dietary magnesium may prevent fructose-induced insulin insensitivity, for instance this study: 'Dietary magnesium prevents fructose-induced insulin insensitivity in rats' http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8206589

If proved to be correct, this could perhaps explain why horses grazing C4 fructan-free grasses that accumulate starch appear to be just as vulnerable to laminitis and hoof problems as horses grazing C3 fructan accumulating grasses; they both have the potential to be metabolised to fructose by gut bacteria.

Numerous sources report that magnesium deficiency results in insulin resistance. Some studies have been done to investigate the role of insulin resistance in magnesium transport, concluding that insulin resistance and magnesium depletion ‘may result in a vicious cycle of worsening insulin resistance and decrease in intracellular Mg(2+) which may limit the role of magnesium in vital cellular processes’. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8861135 'Magnesium transport induced ex vivo by a pharmacological dose of insulin is impaired in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus'.)

Whichever way I look at this whole issue of countless domestic horses with weak, sore feet, laminitis, or IR, magnesium deficiency keeps popping up as a possible contender. Added to that is the anecdotal evidence from very many horses who have quickly improved when their diets are changed to allow maximum absorption of magnesium.

Pauline

Last edited on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 01:14 am by Pauline Moore

GoldPony
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 Posted: Wed Aug 21st, 2013 02:04 am
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Pauline,

Thank you for your in-depth answer and dedication to finding alternative ways to deal with the issues of IR horses. It's too bad that the financial bottom line leaves many new treatments and cures undiscovered, for both humans and animals. I have requested a copy of your "Magnesium Paper", I hope it is still available.

My horse is not obese or lame at this time, but has the crest and tailhead fat deposits. She is on dry lot with grass hay, 1 lb of low-starch pellets a day and I have recently started adding a small amount of CoolStarch copra to her feed. She is not very fond of it but I think she will adjust over time. I am planning to only replace about 25% of her pellets with the copra because of the fat content - I don't want any weight gain. Oh, and she also is on her second Redmond salt rock and has abandoned the commercial mineral block.

I hope you and your veterinarian will continue with the magnesium trials, maybe a research institute will take note.

Nancy

Last edited on Wed Aug 21st, 2013 02:09 am by GoldPony

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Wed Aug 28th, 2013 04:25 am
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Nancy

You might be interested to look at some general information about the benefits of coconut oil on this link to the research of acknowledged authority on fats and oils, Mary Enig, PhD. http://coconutoil.com/coconut-oil-research/

Contrary to common belief, coconut oil is not fattening, due to its effect in increasing metabolic rate. The following quote is taken from physiologist Dr Raymond Peat's article on coconut oil:(http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml)

"In the l940s, farmers attempted to use cheap coconut oil for fattening their animals, but they found that it made them lean, active and hungry. For a few years, an antithyroid drug was found to make the livestock get fat while eating less food, but then it was found to be a strong carcinogen, and it also probably produced hypothyroidism in the people who ate the meat. By the late l940s, it was found that the same antithyroid effect, causing animals to get fat without eating much food, could be achieved by using soy beans and corn as feed"

If you go to the Stance Equine website you'll find numerous information sheets and articles written by nutritional biochemist Dr Tim Kempton specifically about the benefits of coconut oil for horses.

Pauline

geedubya
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 Posted: Sat Aug 31st, 2013 12:31 am
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Checking in.  We stopped increasing the MaCl dose at 12 tbsp per liter, giving 50 ml of that solution twice a day, as the manure seems plenty soft (no diarrhea, but green, and no resistance at all to a mash by the manure fork).  Our guy is still on his thyroid meds, and we do not have a follow up appt with the vet for another 4 weeks, for xrays.  He has front shoes set back from the toes, with some kind of rubber-epoxy padding under the heels.  Farrier was called in by the vet, so we've stuck with her until this course in complete.  Our horse shows absolutely no distress, and while kept on flat, bare ground, trots eagerly, and has no problem putting weight on the forehand.  My questions are:  are we right to stop the doseage increase now, and what next - how do we know the MaCl is "working" to prevent future laminitis?  I ceratinly don't want to "test" it by leaving him out on a green pasture.

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 06:04 am
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We definitely do not want the horse to scour, so the slight softening you have seen indicates MgCl should not be increased further at this stage. You may even need to decrease a little if the stools are softer than would be considered 'normal'.

If MgCl is having the desired effect, you should soon see the new hoof growth just below the coronet. Look for a change in direction of that new growth, ie more vertical than the old hoof wall below. You may notice a distinct horizontal line across the hoof wall that would be consistent with the commencement of MgCl supplementation. The new hoof growth may also be a different texture - smoother, firmer.

When the new growth has got to ground level at the heels, and about halfway down the wall at the toe, you may find your horse is able to revert to normal shoes, or even go without shoes. Your vet and farrier will be able to advise you if this is appropriate for your horse. Once the horse has reached that stage (several months usually) you could try introducing short periods of green pasture grazing (start with half an hour) but closely monitor his weight, any hardening of his crest, and any difference in the way he moves, eg a shorter stride.

Pauline

geedubya
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 Posted: Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 05:51 pm
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Thanks Pauline. We will do as suggested and check back in after some time. Perhaps I can post a picture of the new growth on the hoof.

alijay
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 Posted: Wed Sep 4th, 2013 07:07 am
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Hi Pauline,
I'm glad I found this forum as I first found out about your studies on magnesium when your name was mentioned at an Andrew Bowe clinic earlier in the year. Since I've started taking magnesium myself it reminded me of you.

I currently use magnesium gel along with magnesium citrate tablets and wondered if the gel would be suitable to use on my horses rather than feeding it? Here's a link to the gel I currently use:
http://www.echolife.com.au/products/australian-magnesium-gel-with-organic-aloe-vera.html
It's in an aloe vera base so I'm assuming that would be ok? And if so how would I determine how much to use? The website says its 850mg per teaspoon. Would a transdermal application cause a softening of the manure like feeding would? Would the best application be on the hoof sole or around the coronet area?

Sorry for all the questions in one go, but I have 3 horses on C4 grass on North Coast NSW and it's just turned spring :) One suffered laminitis some years ago, another I got from a friend who didn't want him anymore and I'm still trying to get his hooves comfortable. I've always been told to feed a calcium supplement due to where we live but I wonder now if that is just adding to the problem.

Your advice would be much appreciated, and yours too Dr Deb :)

regards
Ali

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Sat Sep 7th, 2013 04:49 am
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Hi Ali

There would be no harm to your horse to use the magnesium gel topically, but it might harm your wallet - that's a very expensive way to get magnesium into a horse!

You can make a magnesium 'oil' by dissolving magnesium chloride hexahydrate flakes in water. It is highly soluble so you could try using 150g of flakes per 100ml of hot water. The resulting solution feels 'oily' on the skin, hence the name, but it is not an oil. You could then massage some of the 'oil' around the coronet, or paint on the sole. Check for skin irritation with continued use; I've always found horse skin is more sensitive than our own.

It is unlikely transdermal application alone would be sufficient to meet the horse's total magnesium needs but every horse is different and has differing needs. I'd certainly be interested to know what happens if you decide to try using just topical application.

It's not possible to answer your question about manure softening with transdermal application of magnesium as there are no precedents for what may happen. In terms of human usage - some people using magnesium foot soaks find their gut tolerance for magnesium is then reduced, others do not get that response despite soaking in whole baths of magnesium water. I suspect the same variation would be seen with horses.

Whatever delivery route of magnesium is used, it's very important to monitor the horse closely for any possible adverse reactions (although I've not yet heard of any). Even though magnesium is considered to be a very safe, non-toxic mineral, we are wanting always to use as little as possible; only as much as it takes to eliminate deficiency signs, without disrupting gut function. All the work I have done with magnesium is experimental, and is contrary to conventional nutritional wisdom, but the results speak for themselves.

The question of calcium and oxalates is a big issue. Please go to my website http://www.gravelproofhoof.org where you will find subpages devoted to calcium and oxalates under the Diet main heading. You will see photos of a pony with severe Bighead disease (of several years' duration) whose facial swelling reduced to near normal after only 4 months of a high magnesium/low calcium diet. This pony had previously been fed large amounts of calcium and DCP with no improvement. Also read the story of my own horse, Rory, who has excellent strong bone and no Bighead disease despite grazing high-oxalate setaria for 8 years and consuming a low-calcium diet. These two examples do not prove anything but may give you a different perspective on the subject.

Best wishes
Pauline


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