PHD Veterinary Service

PHD Veterinary Service
PHD Veterinary Service

Contact Info

Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571

Read more about Dr. Porter
And PHD Veterinary Services @

Monday, September 30, 2019

Signs of Hock Problems in Your Horse

Noticing your horse isn't bringing their back legs under them like they use to? Not getting quite as must spring off the ground when approaching a fence? Is your horse pulling down in the bit more than usual? It may not be that your horse is not in the shape they use to be; those could be signs of hock problems.

While you may prefer to hear that your horse needs a boost in his training regime, hock problems don't mean the end to you and your horse's success. When noticed earlier enough, there are steps you can take to prolong your horse's career.

What is the Hock?

The hock joint isn't just one thing, rather an area.

The hock links the lower leg bones to the tibia in a horse's upper leg. It consists of four basic joints and multiple bones and ligaments.

The upper joint (the tibiotarsal joint) is responsible for extensions and the majority of the hock mobility. The bottom three joints handle the remaining movement (about 10%).

With so many working parts, wear and tear is typical and expected —especially in working horses. No one breed is more prone to hock problems. Instead, breeds that are taken out of their historical use (like asking a draft horse to be a jumper) are more susceptible to hock injuries and problems.

Signs of Hock Problems in Horses

With hock problems ailing all breeds, it's important to keep an eye for signs. What is lameness shouldn't be mistaken for laziness. While not preventable, when noticed and treated early enough hock problems won't stop your horse in their tracks.

Here are a few common signs of hock problems in horses.


Or rather stiffness at the start of a ride that eventually goes away. When a horse is suffering from a hock problem, all of the ligaments in the joint tense up and become tighter, trying to protect the joints and bones.

This tightness will eventually be worked out as your horse stretches and moves.

Shifting Their Weight

Not all hocks are created equal — even in one horse.

With hock problems, your horse wants the weight off of their bad hock even when standing.

Shifting weight while standing isn't always a sign of hock problems as it's natural to change weight on and off a leg while standing. However, if you notice your horse always takes the pressure off a particular leg, it's worth checking out.

Changes in Gait

Pain alters the movement of any animal. With pain in the back legs, horses will shorten their gait to take weight off their back. If the pain is severe, they may even shift more weight onto their forelegs, ending up in a hunched position.

Less Spring in Their Jump

When approaching a fence, horses shift their weight into their hind in, allowing them to spring off of the ground and clear the fence.

Horses with hock problems are reluctant to do that. In developing injuries, they may still jump, but with less spring. Keep an eye out if your horse gradually begins hanging their back legs and catching rails.

With horses in severe pain from a hock injury, they may start refusing. If your horse wasn't in the habit of stopping before fences and you cannot figure out why they are starting too, take a look at their hocks.

Changes in the Appearance of Their Hock Joint

One of the apparent signs of hock problems is a change in the hock's appearance.

The hock joint has a particular, recognizable anatomy. If you notice any deviations from this or notice swelling, tenderness or heat at the hock, it's time to call your vet.

Treating Hock Problems

While it always breaks your heart when your horse is in pain, the good news is that hock injuries can be addressed.

While not 100% treatable, there are different injections and exercises that will reduce pain and tenderness. With working horses, hock injections are relatively common. Using naturally-occurring injections that act as anti-inflammatories, vets can reduce swelling and discomfort, allowing you and your horse back in the ring.

Hock problems are common in horses — especially working horses. Knowing the signs of hock problems can give you the time to address them with your vet before they take over your horse's career.

Have questions? Think your horse is suffering from a hock injury? Give PHD Veterinary Services a call at 352-258-3571.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Preventing Colic in Horses


It's one word that strikes fear in most horse owners — and for good reason! A horse with no outward signs of distress can find themselves in trouble just a few hours later.

With colic in horses causing significant issues, you may be wondering if there are ways of preventing colic. The good news is yes. With a little work, you can help keep your horse happy, healthy, and hopefully colic-free.

First, let's take a quick look at what colic in horses is and why it happens.

What is Colic?

From horses to humans, colic is a broad term that refers to any abdominal pain.

The severity of colic in horses depends on what is causing it. It could be spasmodic colic (or gas colic) caused by excessive gas in your horse's digestion. Or it could be impaction colic with several different causes that are entirely disrupting your horse's digestion.

The severity of colic also dictates a veterinarian's ability to assist. If caught early enough, it may take some medication and slow walks around the barn. If severe, it means going into surgery to remove the impaction.

If your horse is showing the below signs and symptoms of colic, call your vet immediately.

  • Rolling or Wanting to Lie Down
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Lack of Defecation
  • Lack of Normal Gut Sounds
  • The Appearance of Being Bloated
  • Pawing & Signs of Anxiety
  • Increased Heart Rate (normal is 28-44 beats/minute)
  • Profuse Sweating 

Colic is quite common and is a broad term. But, there are some things you can do to help reduce your horse's risk.

Tips for Preventing Colic in Horses

Like most things in the world, colic is not 100% preventable. But, you can go a long way in helping prevent severe colic in your horse.

Stay Consistent With Feed, Portions and Times

A potentially common cause of colic is a sudden change in diet, like food type or portion sizes. While changes in diet are sometimes necessary, it's important not be in a constant state of change.

During these shifts, it's best to switch the diet gradually over the week with incremental increases and changes. Small changes allow your horse's digestion to become accustomed to the new grains and food.

Keep Your Horse Moving and Active

A moving horse is a happy horse. And that unrestricted movement during turnout allows a horse's digestion and intestines to stretch out and do their jobs.

With each step your horse takes while socializing or grazing, the food in their gut is moving as well increasing the rate of breakdown and mobility in their system. A horse that is kept in a stall at all times, will have a hard time moving enough to help boost their digestion.

Always Have Fresh Water for Your Horse

Like moving, water helps your horse's digestion, and with preventing colic.

When a horse (or any animal) becomes dehydrated, digestion becomes harder and more taxing on the animal's system. A horse that is turned out or kept in the stall without access to clean water is at higher risk of impaction, one of the more severe types of colic in horses.

Preventing colic in horses isn't always possible, but the above tips can go a long way in helping keep your horse (and their digestion) happy. Have questions? Think your horse is at risk for colic? Give us a PHD Veterinary Services in Florida a call at 352-258-3571.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chronic Arytenoid Chondritis in a Horse

A twenty year-old quarterhorse gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for a complaint of chronic coughing and exercise intolerance. There was no nasal discharge noted during the physical exam however the amount of air that was exiting the nares during expiration was subjectively reduced. An endoscopic exam was performed to evaluated the nasal passages, pharynx and larynx. In Figure 1, a "normal" airway of a horse is pictured. There is a large opening within the larynx (green arrow) which corresponds to the opening to the proximal trachea which provides air into the lungs. The small blister-like structures seen along the dorsal pharyngeal wall are common in young horses and considered lymphatic tissues.
Figure 1
In Figure 2, the endoscopic images correspond to the 20 year-old horse with a cough and exercise intolerance. Notice the airway (green arrow) is significantly reduced compared to the "normal horse" in Figure 1. The clinically relevant anatomy includes the arytenoid cartilage (blue stars), vocal cords (red cross), and the laryngeal cicatrix (yellow arrows). In this horse, the arytenoid cartilage is thicker than normal and the vocal cords are adhered to each other. In addition, a thick scar or cicatrix has developed between the arytenoid cartilage and the epiglottis. Hence, the cause for the recurrent cough and exercise intolerance is due to a significant reduction in the airway at the level of the larynx. The airway reduction is caused by the narrowing of the laryngeal opening due to cicatrix formation between the arytenoid cartilage and between the vocal cords.
Figure 2
The cause for the cicatrix formation is likely chronic inflammation of the arytenoids otherwise known as arytenoid chondritis. Arytenoid chondritis is most common in older horses and often results in severe narrowing of the airway at the level of the larynx. The cause of the inflammation is not well known and these horses are often treated with a throat spray that consists of an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory product and a corticosteroid. Usually, medical management with throat spray is not suffice and the long term prognosis for these horses is guarded unless a permanent tracheostomy is performed. Surprisingly, if the surgery is a success, horses with this condition tend to thrive in their environment as long as they do not go swimming!!
 This case represents a good example of the need for endoscopic exam of horses with recurrent coughs and/or exercise intolerance.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

PHD Veterinary Services New Van!!

After driving 333000 miles in 5 years, the original PHD veterinary services van died in Orlando. Five weeks later, the new and improved van has been set up and is ready for business!! This van has an additional 16 inches in length for more stuff!!We are looking forward to getting this van on the road and coming to see you and your horse in the near future!!



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Equine Ophthalmologist: Dr. Brenden Mangen

When it comes to examining and treating equine ocular disease, there is no substitute for a veterinary ophthalmologist. Until recently, this typically required transporting the horse to a referral facility such as the University of Florida. PHD Veterinary Services is very excited to share the news that there is now a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist available for horses in north central Florida AND that he will come see your horse on the farm. Dr. Brendan Mangan is employed by Affiliated Veterinary Specialist (Affiliated Veterinary Specialist) in Gainesville, Florida. Currently, he is evaluating equine patients on Fridays at veterinary hospitals AND on the farm! Please have your veterinarian contact him with any questions regarding equine patients that would benefit from the expertise of a veterinary ophthalmologist!! PHD veterinary services strongly endorses his specialty services!!

Dr. Mangan grew up in upstate New York, but moved to Colorado to obtain his veterinary degree at Colorado State University in 2003. From 2003 to 2004 he pursued further training as an intern in small animal medicine and surgery at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals in Ithaca, New York. In 2007 he completed a 3 year residency program in veterinary ophthalmology and a M.S. in clinical sciences at Colorado State University. Dr. Mangan started and operated an equine ophthalmology referral practice in San Diego, California from 2007 to 2011. He returned to the east coast to work as an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida from 2011 to 2014. He joined Affiliated Veterinary Specialists at the Gainesville location in August of 2014 and provides medical and surgical care for both horses and small animals.

Contact information:

Dr. Brendan Mangan, DVM, MS, DACVO
Affiliated Veterinary Specialists
7314 W. University Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32607

Friday, February 27, 2015

Subcutaneous Pythiosis in a Horse

.A 10 year-old warmblood gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for the complaint of a swollen left front fetlock that was associated with a chronic draining wound. The recent history included a biopsy of the wound and diagnosis of pythiosis per histopathology. The gelding was treated with a single dose of a systemic pythiosis vaccine. In Figures 1 and 2 the yellow arrows are pointing to the firm swelling that is directly on the backside (palmar aspect) of the fetlock joint. In addition, the red arrow in Figure 2 corresponds to the chronic draining wound. The gelding was sensitive to direct pressure over the swelling, passive flexion of the fetlock and was mildly lame at the trot.
Figure 1

Figure 2
An ultrasound exam was performed of the area in question. The firm swelling consisted of multiple fluid filled structures along with focal areas of apparent mineralization. The structure appeared embedded within the distal annular ligament; however the superficial flexor tendon (SDF) and the deep digital flexor tendon (DDF) appeared to be normal. In Figure 3 the yellow arrows are highlighting the fluid filled structures. This case is a very unusual presentation for pythiosis in a horse. The majority of cases present with an external lesion as seen in Figure 4. As external lesions there are several treatment options which involve aggressive surgical de-bulking and various topical medications. The pathogen responsible for this condition is found in stagnant water and invades superficial abrasions that might be present any where on the horse. Hence the lower limbs are most commonly affected but it has been diagnosed in the naso-pharynx and GI track of horses.

Figure 3

Because of the complicated location of the lesion in this horse, we elected to treat with a potent anti-fungal medication known as Amphotericin B. The medication was administered through a vein in the lower limb using regional limb perfusion. This technique maximizes the local perfusion of the soft tissues with the medication and minimizes the systemic effect of the medication. 

Figure 5
The lesion was re-evaluated 30 days after the initial treatment and there was approximately 40-50% reduction in size of the lesion. However, after 60 days, the lesion appeared to resume growth and a second treatment with Amphotericin B was recently administered. In addition, the gelding as received 2 vaccines against the pythiosis and will likely receive another. Because of the location, surgery is not an option for this horse hence the systemic therapy is our best option at this point. The case is on -going and the blog will be updated as we go!!

Figure 6

Friday, February 20, 2015

Severe Navicular Disease in a Horse

.A 10 year-old thoroughbred gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for the complaint of intermittent forelimb lameness. The gelding was purchased several months following a prepurchase exam performed by a local veterinarian. The buyer opted for NO radiographs at the time of the prepurchase considering that the horse was sound. Unfortunately, within several months after purchase, the gelding developed a lameness in the right front foot which was intermittent. The client contacted  PHD veterinary services for foot radiographs and a lameness exam. The lameness exam noted NO lameness in the forelimbs but rather a mild to moderate lameness in both hind limbs after flexing the upper limbs (hocks/stifles). The gelding was not positive to hoof testers in either forelimb. A radiographic exam was elected to document the palmar angle and sole thickness in both front feet. The image in Figure 1 is a lateral image of the right front foot and Figure 2 is a lateral image of the left front foot. The yellow arrows are highlighting the navicular bone of each foot.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Interestingly, the lateral image of the suspect foot (right front) appeared normal however the lateral radiograph of the left front foot was highly abnormal. The navicular bone of the left front foot was flattened and completely sclerotic when compared to the navicular bone of the right front.foot. Additional views of the navicular bone are imaged in Figures 3 and 4.  In Figure 3, the skyline projection of the navicular bone suggests severe deterioration of the bone and what appears to be a chronic fracture of the navicular bone (yellow arrow). The flexor surface of the navicular bone is very irregular.

Figure 3
In Figure 4, the distal border of the navicular bone is imaged. The yellow dotted line outlines the navicular bone and the yellow arrows are pointing to the many dark circles which are consistent with areas of lysis and/or cyst formation. The findings in Figures 3 and 4 are consistent with SEVERE degeneration and likely chronic fracture of the navicular bone. 

These findings are NOT consistent with the physical exam findings of a sound horse or the history unless this horse has had the nerves, which provide innervation to the foot, surgically transected (nerved). At the time of the exam, the gelding did demonstrate sensation to the skin along the heel bulbs however there were small scars consistent with a previous surgery over the neuro-vascular bundles. Considering how normal the right front navicular bone appears, the degeneration of the left front navicular bone is most likely due to a septic process from a penetrating foreign body that resulted in infection of the navicular bone or a traumatic fracture. Regardless of the cause, these radiographic findings are suffice to retire this horse from forced exercise and hope that he remains comfortable for an extended period of time. This case represents another example of the benefit of simple foot radiographs as part of all prepurchase exam.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ionophore-free Horse Feed Mills

The two bags of horse feed shown below were produced in IONOPHORE-FREE mills!! Why is this important??  In the past year there has been at least two well publicized cases of horses ingesting feed that was contaminated with a common supplement for cattle known as ionophores. The first case involved a barn full of horses in south Florida which ingested contaminated feed. Initially, three horses died however the remainder of the 22 horses were expected to eventually die due to the toxin in their feed.  The story is heart breaking however it could have been prevented.

 Recently, there was another reported incident of horses becoming ill and dying from contaminated feed. . Once again, the feed appeared to be contaminated with the supplement for cattle, ionophores. Ionophores are extremely toxic to horses and attack the muscle of the heart. If the horse does not succumb initially, it is likely that the diseased heart muscle will slowly weaken resulting in heart failure and death.. How can horse owners and trainers avoid the possibility of such a tragic occurrence?? By purchasing horse feed from ionophore-free mills. Most feed companies produce feed for various types of livestock including cattle and horses. In addition, it is common practice for some feed companies to produce cattle and horse feed in the same facility. These feed companies practice techniques to "flush" the cattle supplements out of the system prior to producing the horse feed. Clearly, there is room for error. The solution is to buy feed from documented, ionophore-free mills. If your horse feed representative is not capable of saying the words "ionophore-free mill" then its time for a change in feed!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Proximal Suspensory Desmitis in a Horse

A 10 year-old warm-blood gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for the complaint of forelimb lameness. During the lameness exam, it was noted that the gelding was moderately lame in the right front limb and the lameness appeared worse when the horse was lunged at the trot in a circle to the left. Palpation of the limb noted only mild response to pressure over the proximal suspensory ligament (back side of the limb, just below the carpus). A series of nerve and joint blocks were performed to isolate the source of the lameness. Once the proximal suspensory ligament was "blocked" the horse's lameness improved significantly. Therefore, an ultrasound exam was performed of the soft tissue structures of the right limb with emphasis on the proximal suspensory ligament. Figures 1 and 2 correspond to the proximal suspensory ligament. The yellow line outlines the body of the proximal suspensory ligament in cross-section and the blue arrows a bright (hyperechoic) lesion within the suspensory ligament. The area of increased brightness or echogenicity is consistent with an enthysophyte. In addition, the enthysophyte was surrounded by an area of decreased echogenicity consistent with edema or active inflammation. An enthysophyte is a abnormal bony projections at the site of attachment between a tendon/ligament at bone. In this case, between the proximal suspensory ligament and the third metacarpus (cannon bone).


Figure 2
In a similar case, the horse was subjected to a CT (computed tomography) exam and the enthysophytes appear as small, spikes (blue arrows) which are projecting into the body of the suspensory ligament (yellow outline). From this view is understanding why these horses have chronic and recurring forelimb lameness issues. The presence of enthysophytes tends to worsen the prognosis with regards to return to "full" work.


The above mentioned gelding was treated with rest, multiple PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections, and shockwave treatment. He is currently sound however his prognosis remains guarded for full return to work and show.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Eye Lid Tumor in a Donkey

A 2 year-old female donkey presented to PHD Veterinary services for the complaint of multiple tumors surrounding the left and right eye. The tumors have been present for several months and have been treated by surgical debulking and intra-lesional injections with a variety of chemotherapy agents. However, the tumors continue to return. There is a golf ball size tumor just below the right eye and the left eye is nearly closed due to the tumor's involvement of the entire eye lid!

The plan for this donkey involves biopsy of the tumors followed by local treatment with an immune stimulant that contains mycobaterial cell wall extract. PHD veterinary services will be working with Dr. Brendan Mangan from Affiliated Veterinary Specialist in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Mangan is a board certified ophthalmologist with extensive experience treating such cases! Dr. Mangan suspects that these tumors are sarcoids and not squamous cell carcinomas. Certainly, an unusual presentation for sarcoids in a young donkey!! Dr. Mangan submitted several core biopsies this week for confirmation and began treatment with the mycobaterial cell wall extract.

After the initial treatment with the immune stimulant, Dr. Mangan plans to surgically remove the tumors surrounding both eyes! Thereafter, it is likely that the injection of the local immune stimulant will be repeated along with focal cryotherapy. The biopsy results and follow-up pics will be added to this post next week so stay tuned!!!