EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear -

Most horses cough while eat­ing and drink­ing as they adapt to an open lar­ynx. Such cough­ing is usu­ally harm­less, though pneu­mo­nia can de­velop from chronic as­pi­ra­tion. Cory’s coughs di­min­ished over the first two weeks. Soft rapid coughs af­ter drink­ing lasted longer and still oc­cur oc­ca­sion­ally. A ground-level water trough helps.

As pre­dicted, keep­ing a post­op­er­a­tive horse calm is the big­gest chal­lenge. A good sup­ply of grass hay or a ground-level slow feeder gives the horse some­thing to do. Sta­ble him near quiet fa­mil­iar bud­dies. Rou­tine is com­fort­ing, so set a sched­ule for daily ac­tiv­i­ties. Fi­nally, find qual­i­fied help. The de­mands of ma­jor equine surgery and re­cu­per­a­tion are ruth­less.

Six weeks af­ter surgery, we stopped the va­le­rian and Cory revved his en­gines within 24 hours. War­ren con­ducted a fol­low-up en­doscopy---unse­dated, so let’s just say it in­volved white knuck­les and pale faces---and texted a video of Cory’s lar­ynx to Hack­ett. Both ve­teri­nar­i­ans were pleased with the out­come. The la­ryn­geal open­ing had re­laxed slightly, as ex­pected, and there was no sign of in­flam­ma­tion or in­fec­tion. The pros­the­sis was in­tact de­spite our melee in South Fork.

We be­gan re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, in­creas­ing hand-walks and work­ing up to longer ses­sions. Lack of ex­er­cise al­ways causes tis­sue to weaken---even bone takes a hit---so I turned up the dial very slowly to pre­vent in­jury. No one wants to put a horse through ma­jor surgery only to see him pop a ten­don. If re­hab goes well, it will be six months be­fore Cory is jump­ing cour­ses again. To­day, his coat shines, his eyes are bright and the whirl-buck-bolt quo­tient is wax­ing, to my si­mul­ta­ne­ous joy and dis­may.

Hack­ett em­pha­sizes that new de­vel­op­ments make pros­thetic laryn­go­plasty less risky and more ef­fec­tive all the time. To re­duce the risk of gen­eral anes­the­sia, Norm Ducharme, DVM, pi­o­neered a stand­ing ver­sion of the surgery that re­quires only se­da­tion. Eric Par­ente, DVM, ini­ti­ated the use of anky­lo­sis to sta­bi­lize the joint from which the la­ryn­geal car­ti­lage ex­tends. Anky­los­ing in­volves rough­ing up the joint chem­i­cally or me­chan­i­cally so that it heals with arthritic stiff­ness, mak­ing the pros­the­sis more sta­ble.

Jonathan Cheetham, PhD, is work­ing on nerve grafts and la­ryn­geal pace­mak­ers. In graft­ing, nerve growth factor is ap­plied to la­ryn­geal nerve to en­cour­age it to re­gen­er­ate. This tech­nique re­quires 16 to 20 weeks of re­cu­per­a­tion, too long for many rac­ing Thor­ough­breds. Still, it holds prom­ise for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment. La­ryn­geal pace­mak­ers in­volve

As pre­dicted, keep­ing a post­op­er­a­tive horse calm is the big­gest chal­lenge. A good sup­ply of grass hay or a ground-level slow feeder gives the horse some­thing to do.

im­plant­ing an elec­trode that stim­u­lates con­trac­tion of the cricoary­tenoid mus­cle. This con­trac­tion al­lows the mus­cle to move the car­ti­lage that opens and closes the lar­ynx.

La­ryn­geal hemi­ple­gia can be cor­rected at rel­a­tively low cost and with fre­quent suc­cess. If surgery is not an op­tion, War­ren asks own­ers to re­mem­ber that an un­treated roarer is “ca­pa­ble of liv­ing a use­ful life and does not need to be eu­th­a­nized. In­stead, have com­pas­sion for the an­i­mal and change your ex­pec­ta­tions to al­low the horse an eas­ier life.” A roarer can’t race or jump or spin any longer, but he can still walk on flat trails, pony young horses or teach begin­ners to ride.

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