[updated September 2020] DSLD is short for Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis. My husband’s horse Foster has DSLD. Foster is a 13 year old Clydesdale/Appendix Quarter Horse cross gelding. He came to us overweight with pasterns that were horizontal at rest. Initially, he also was unable to canter normally; instead he would bunny hop with both rear legs moving together.
Over the last 3 years Foster has made significant progress. His pasterns have come up and he is able to canter normally, even throwing in a buck now and then. Foster still has enlarged, calcified fetlocks, slower-than-normal hoof growth, and persistent flares in his rear hooves. Foster also still cribs, and has some challenges maintaining his weight.
Over the last couple years I have had various questions about what has made a difference for Foster. I decided to collect all the tidbits on DSLD that I could find and post them here, as well as post about Foster’s lifestyle.
What Foster eats most days:
4 cups of rolled barley
Regular formula Dynamite vitamin/mineral supplement or Dynamite TNT
Dynamite 1-1 and 2-1 calcium-phosphorus mixes fed free choice
Dynamite Izmine mineral fed free choice
Dynamite NTM salt fed free choice
Dynamite Free & Easy joint supplement
Lifevantage Protandim (1 tablet daily)
Foster’s diet changes periodically, including spring and fall herbal/clay cleanses.
Other folks I know with DSLD horses have felt their horses also did well eating:
Dynamite TNT (instead of Regular Dynamite)
Dynamite Hiscorbadyne (Ester C plus bioflavenoids, which is included in Free & Easy)
DSLD horses appear to do better on low-sugar/low-carb diets. Most folks avoid grain and are careful about their pasture and hay. http://www.safergrass.org/ has good information about low-carb forages. Be aware that some grasses listed at safergrass could be genetically modified.
I am very careful about Foster’s feet. Foster is barefoot, and has a mustang trim with rolled toes. I suggest finding a hoof care practitioner trained to do what are commonly called mustang or natural barefoot trims. I have a collection of barefoot trimming links on my website.
I found that keeping Foster turned out to move around is very important. He has a run-in shed rather than a stall, and and access to pasture and exercise trails/tracks.
Some folks use bute to relieve the pain of this condition. Note that bute may inhibit collagen formation, as well as contribute to ulcer formation, I have chosen to avoid bute for pain relief for Foster.
Many people have fed a Chinese herb called Jiaogulan to horses with DSLD. There are some published papers on using this herb – you can find the research at the angelfire website above. I found suggested feeding amounts listed on a blog entry.
“Older horses – 1/2 tsp twice a day
Younger horses – 3/4 tsp twice a day
Give twice daily, 20 minutes before feeding anything in the morning, preferably at least an hour between dosing in the afternoon/evening and when the horse last ate. Again, do not feed for 20 minutes after the second dose of the day.
Signs an effective dose has been reached include:
-pinker gum color
-brighter more alert attitude
If these signs are not seen within 3 days, increase the dose in 1/4 tsp increments”
(This is a quote from a blog entry. Please consult your vet about these dosages.)
A google search also revealed that some folks feed Arginine Alpha Ketoglutarate (AAKG), an amino acid Arginine. They fed 3-4 grams per 500 lbs bodyweight. Please consult your vet about this feed item.
I have not fed either AAKG or Jiaogulan to Foster. I am not a veterinarian. The information above is not intended to treat or diagnose. I am simply sharing the results of my web search for other folks’ experiences with DSLD. I strongly suggest you consult with your health care practitioner before trying any of these ideas. Herbs and supplements can interact with each other and other drugs. Please – be careful and work with a knowledgeable professional.
I have read about vibrational remedies prepared by Carolyn Libby. I believe these are similar to homeopathy. Her website is http://www.purplechanges.com/ Carolyn’s own horse had DSLD. Foster has not yet tried her remedies.
Also look at dental issues. A caution for you – according to some equine dentists’ experiences, a horse with this disease and resulting hind end instability may actually develop dental imbalances that are helping to stabilize the back end. They found issues with Foster’s teeth that normally it would be standard practice to correct, but were reluctant to potentially destabilize his rear further.
The homeopathic remedies Causticum and Argentum Metallicum may also be beneficial. If in doubt, work with a classical homeopath.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.