ARCHIVE: Case Studies

This is an Archive of Case Studies with newer Case Studies to be published very soon.

Dr. Martha Faraday patting a horse's shoulder.

Ulcers & Gut Dysfunction

Presentation: 12 year old off-the-track-thoroughbred (OTTB) with extensive racing background presented with several years’ history of inability to gain weight despite frequent large meals totaling over 20 lbs of food per day, free-choice hay, and pasture access. 

Approach: Foods and nutraceuticals were selected to improve digestion, optimize gut flora and their function, and detoxify and pH balance the hindgut. Meal sizes were drastically reduced. A short course of omeprazole with 90 days of stepped tapering also was used.

Outcome: After six months on the protocol, a few pounds of food a day with appropriate gut support had produced weight gain in the form of muscle, a glowing coat, and new positive attitude.

Presentation: 3 year old Morgan mare presented with intractable diarrhea of 18 months duration. She had frequent gut discomfort sufficient to cause her to lie down. Symptoms were exacerbated by time on grass. She was intermittently depressed and unwilling to eat. 

Approach: Her current feeding regimen had pro-inflammatory ingredients and inadequate foregut enzymatic support and hindgut flora support. Foods and nutraceuticals were selected to minimize gut stress, alleviate gut inflammation, improve digestion, optimize gut flora, and pH balance the hindgut. Nutrient deficiencies also were addressed.

Outcome: After nine months on the protocol, gut pain and reluctance to eat had resolved, manure was of normal texture >90% of the time, and she was tolerating pasture time well. She also had grown several inches and was preparing to enter training. 

Lameness & Arthritis

Presentation: 5 year old warmblood gelding presented with intermittent lameness in left front foot. X-rays and flexion tests were negative. 

Approach: His feeding regimen was changed to include anti-inflammatory foods and nutraceuticals. A request was made to the attending veterinarian to test for Lyme disease. The test came back strongly positive and the veterinarian prescribed antibiotics.  His feeding protocol was adjusted for additional inflammation control, gut protection, and immune support.

Outcome: At two weeks on the new feeding regimen, before beginning antibiotics, the lameness had mostly resolved. After treatment for Lyme and the additional feed adjustments for immune support, the lameness resolved completely. At 7 months, he remains sound. He continues on an immune-supportive protocol.

Presentation: 20 year old Friesian presented with severe upper and lower ringbone in both front legs, worse on the left; disease documented with x-rays. Presumed arthritis in hocks as well although x-rays were not performed. He presented grade three/four lame on the left front leg per the attending veterinarian and with stiffness in both hind legs. He struggled to stand for the farrier because he could not keep his weight on one front leg without pain. Lyme disease and EPM were ruled out. He was on 1.5 Equioxx daily. He spent most of his day standing in one place. 

Approach: His diet was adjusted with multiple anti-inflammatory components and with nutraceuticals to promote blood flow and tissue repair. Given the severity of his disease and the degree of disability, an aggressive cocktail approach was used to target inflammation that included his prescription Equioxx as well as herbs, medicinal mushroom extracts, and systemic enzymatic therapy.

Outcome: At six weeks on the new regimen, he was able to trot several hundred yards without signs of lameness. The farrier reported that he stood easily on each front foot for shoeing. At three months, he is trotting and cantering comfortably in the field, his hind end mobility and flexibility is greatly improved, and he has the energy to play with his herd mates. His Equioxx has been reduced to one pill daily with plans to attempt further reduction.  

Insulin Resistance & Founder

Presentation: 15 year old spotted saddle horse presented with history of laminitis and subsequent founder with rotation, worse in the right front foot on x-rays. Blood work indicated borderline insulin resistance. With shoes, he remained lame on the right front. 

Approach: His diet was changed to emphasize anti-inflammatory components, decrease carbohydrates and increase protein levels, and enhance insulin sensitivity with nutraceuticals. A hay analysis was requested to ensure low levels of non-structural carbohydrates. Daily management was changed such that he was in a large sacrifice area during the high-risk periods of spring and fall grass but allowed out on grass for grazing at other times (e.g., during summer and winter, grazing time was divided into a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening).

Outcome: The lameness resolved after 60 days on the new regimen. He went back to work and has remained sound 95% of the time for the last five years. Occasional flares were traced back to too much time on grass (e.g., a gate left open). 

Allergies & Breathing

Presentation: 17 year old Welsh pony-thoroughbred cross presented with seasonal coughing, snorting, and wheezing that had progressed to head-shaking severe enough to prevent riding from May to October. Symptoms were worse on windy days. He also had chronic back pain presumably from the violent inadvertent motion of his head during daylight hours. Masking, keeping indoors, and a variety of allergy treatments did not ameliorate his symptoms. 

Approach: His diet was adjusted for immunomodulation to support more balanced responses to environmental allergens. He also was placed on nutraceuticals with airway-opening and mucus-reducing effects and on a medicinal mushroom extract to promote reduction of inflammation in the trigeminal nerves of the face and head.

Outcome: This regimen was implemented pre-emptively in April 2020 with the goal of preventing his seasonal cycle that typically began in May. He remained rideable throughout the spring, summer, and fall, with the head-shaking almost absent and the coughing and snorting greatly reduced. His back pain resolved after chiropractic and acupuncture.  

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM)

Presentation: 18 year old draft cross mare presented with neurological symptoms secondary to EPM. She had been treated twice for EPM in the last two years. She had severe residual symptoms that prevented her from being ridden. At the consult she stood in the crossties with her hind legs nearly crossed and having what her owner described as seizures – yawning followed by long periods staring vacantly into the distance with a sudden return to awareness.

Approach: Nutraceuticals were added to her diet to reduce spinal cord inflammation and promote the release of nerve growth factor to support spine and nerve repair. Dietary components also were added to support her immune system to more effectively fight the parasite and to promote full body inflammation control.

Outcome: At six weeks, the owner reported that the mare was back under saddle and enthusiastically and safely carrying a rider at the walk, trot, and canter. At 60 days she no longer had behavioral indications of neurological symptoms. At 90 days, she was fit, with a glowing coat, and signs of robust health. She remains on immune-boosting nutraceuticals.

Presentation: 30 year old quarter horse mare presented with near complete loss of right hind leg control secondary to EPM. She had degenerative suspensory ligament disease with fused fetlocks in both hind legs and arthritis in her right knee. The loss of right hind function with the compromises present in her other legs made it difficult for her to get up and at the consult she could not walk in a straight line. The owner was considering euthanasia but wanted to try a holistic approach.

Approach: An aggressive protocol that targeted reduction in spinal cord inflammation and promotion of nerve regrowth, as well as full body inflammation control, was begun. Dietary components to support her immune system as well as tissue repair and blood flow also were added. 

Outcome: Slow return of right hind leg function was observed over the next few months. After four months on the protocol, she has full control of the right hind leg. She remains on immune supportive and inflammation controlling substances as well as on a low dose of spine and nerve supportive nutraceuticals.

Complex Cases

Presentation: 5 year old warmblood gelding presented with anxiety, history of ulcers, and poor hoof quality. The owner reported that his anxiety and ulcers began after repeated trauma involving an older, aggressive horse. The ulcers had been treated with omeprazole and sucralfate but his behaviors, including the persistent anxiety, suggested continued ulcer presence. He also had extremely poor hoof quality with frequent chipping and cracking.

Approach: His diet was adjusted to promote gut comfort, optimize digestion to remove gut stress, and heal inflamed gut mucosa. Pro-inflammatory elements were removed and anti-inflammatory foods and nutraceuticals were added. Additional nutraceuticals were added to promote calming and a serious trace mineral deficit was corrected to address his anxiety and his hoof quality. 

Outcome: After two months on the new protocol, the owner reported that he was “the bravest horse in the barn,” he was showing evidence of gut comfort, and his coat had started to glow. Disruptions at the barn flared his anxiety, adjustments were made to his protocol, and at four months he was again calm, handling training with confidence, without gut issues, and with excellent hoof growth requiring trims every 5 weeks and allowing him to remain barefoot. 

Presentation: 9 year old warmblood gelding presented approximately 125 lbs overweight, with severe fatigue, full body stiffness, and sensitivity to cold, especially on his back. He could not tolerate training for more than 10-15 minutes. Coat was dull, body posture was awkward, and he slept through most of the consult. Blood tests for Lyme disease and thyroid function were requested from the attending veterinarian. The Lyme test was strongly positive, suggestive of a chronic infection, and thyroid function was borderline low.  

Approach: Feeding regimen included excess carbohydrates, lacked sufficient protein, and was trace mineral deficient; it also had pro-inflammatory components. His new protocol addressed these issues and targeted the excess weight, an underactive thyroid, and the Lyme infection. In particular, it focused on improved immune support, optimized thyroid function, and the promotion of a more active metabolism. The veterinarian prescribed antibiotics to treat the Lyme disease and additional gut support was instituted. 

Outcome: At six months his exercise tolerance had returned to normal, the overall body stiffness had resolved, and his sensitivity to cold was gone. His weight had decreased to a healthy weight for his height and his coat quality had improved. He was able to return to a full schedule of training and showing. He remains on an immune-supportive protocol.