Jenny Pearce

Early stringhalt warning for southern Australia

This is a particularly bad stringhalt – with every step, his legs are jerking upwards and hitting his belly. Less severe stringhalt can have their legs jerking a little higher than normal and suddenly having trouble backing up can also be an early sign of stringhalt.

What to do about stringhalt – prevention and cure.

I’ve had two requests for help with stringhalt in two days one from Victoria and one from South Australia.  It appears that the danger season is starting earlier than usual.  We’ve had a weird grass season with grass stressed by frost and yet it’s still growing – a weird combination.

Firstly, stringhalt prevention is better than cure

Given the early onset of stringhalt this year, I suggest that you get your magnesium organized and ready.

BUT giving too much magnesium can cause similar symptoms to magnesium deficiency.  The best way is to give your horse the right amount of magnesium for their individual requirements, is to put the magnesium into a second source of water and let them choose which water they drink. The barefoot blacksmith sells a good quality magnesium at a reasonable price.  Click here for that website.   Scroll down his page for more sizes ranging from $20 worth to $100.

Make sure their other minerals are supported too, because that may affect magnesium absorption.  You can give them some seaweed meal in a bucket – again, as long as they’re not hungry.  I don’t like to feed seaweed in their hard feeds because if they don’t need it, they’ll usually still eat their feed and more minerals are not better…

Or you can get minerals from a wide variety of native pasture and weeds – hand graze them if they’re safe on a lead, on the  road verges where all kinds of native grass / good weeds grow.  Don’t do this with a hungry horse – feed them first and then they’ll be selective with what they eat.  I shouldn’t need to say it, but don’t go out on the side of a road with a horse who isn’t safe in traffic.

Some clean copper pipe coiled up and thrown in the bottom of the water trough will take care of copper deficiency which is very common in Australia.  If they’ve got those pretty looking dark eyes and muzzles (that show people like to put on with make up) then 99 times out of 100, they’re copper deficient.

Helping a horse with stringhalt to recover

Don’t despair – stringhalt is totally fixable. 

I don’t care that some vets say it’s not, I’ve dealt with dozens of even really bad cases successfully.  It does however take a four pronged support to bring their body back into well being:

1. The Pasture needs to be fixed – dolomited or limed and dolomited – you can just sprinkle dolomite on the capeweed and flatweed as a last resort, if you don’t have the facilities for soil testing and proper spreading over the whole paddock.

2. Magnesium in the body needs to be balanced – sometimes it’s not always magnesium by itself – it can also be copper, zinc, or other minerals stopping the uptake of the magnesium, which is why I like seaweed meal as long as they eat it happily by themselves not in the food.

Just to give you an idea of quantities, I’ve had bad cases of stringhalt take up to 7000 mg magnesium orotate twice daily for a few days and then dropped down to 2,000mg a day until the danger time was over.  Magnesium orotate works – I wouldn’t ever give that high without testing for the individual horse’s requirement though.  These days I’m more likely to use the Tibetan magnesium in a second source of water and then the horse can take what they need.

More minerals are not better.  Overdosing on minerals will often give similar symptoms to a deficiency and can cause more harm in some instances.

Magnesium ad libbed in a separate source of water will work too, then they can dose themselves.  Notice how often I’ve said that I like this method best?  Notice how often I’ve said that more minerals ARE NOT better?

Vitamin C can also help heaps in such a stressful situation.  I prefer sodium ascorbate as a source of Vitamin C, although fresh garlic from a jar in the supermarket and rosehips from the herbal supplier are also high in Vitamin C for a temporary boost.

3. Body work – Bowen muscle therapy is my personal favorite– Jim Mastersons work is lovely and no doubt lots of other things are too that I don’t have experience of.

4. And this is perhaps the most abso… bloody… lutely important element to recovery – specially of severe cases.   Stringhalt is a nervous system disorder – a NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDER – triggered by magnesium deficiency.  You have to get to the underlying cause of the horse BEING NERVOUS. That is no reflection on you.  Horses store the tension from OLD stress.  This explains why one horse in the same paddock with 15 other horses can get stringhalt and the other 14 don’t. It’s underlying emotional stress and you’re in the right place here to solve that.

Get the free lessons The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse – that will give you a good start to understanding how horses are physically and emotionally affected by stress.  Old emotional stresses and the physical tensions caused by them are absolutely fixable. The 9 Keys are the foundation for our work here – they’re completely free and the right place to start. 🙂





  1. Petra Webstein 09/07/2017, 12:31 pm Reply

    Hello Jenny, I so agree with you. While we have to take care of the physical, when we really want to solve a problem at its root cause we have to look into the emotional side of the animal or have said that of ourselves.

    • jennyp 09/07/2017, 2:16 pm Reply

      Yep – same as us – thanks for that petra. 🙂

  2. Mary House 07/19/2017, 6:38 pm Reply

    thanks Jenny – will print and give to the owner – maybe she will contact you for the 9 keys to happiness. This mare is a left over from the summer, she has been like this for 6 months, I only got involved cos the girl helped to feed mine while we were away. – I will have a look at some bowen moves, – do a test to see which will be the most effective.

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