Monday, 02 October 2017 13:39

Did You Know? All About Melanoma

Did you know that 80% of grey horses will get melanomas at some point in their life?

A few months ago we made the startling discovery of a few small black lumps over Archie’s tail, around his bottom and on his sheath. Being grey he is of course at significant risk of developing melanomas in his lifetime but being 7 years old I was surprised to see so many. My first instinct (after a confirmed diagnosis from the vet and initial consultation regarding treatment options) was of course to head straight online to investigate the existing evidence for various treatments. Simply put melanomas in grey horses are benign, although they can become malignant, and usually cause local issues due to pressure or damage to surrounding structures. They can often result in problems with fitting tack, particularly if they are on the face. Single or large problematic melanomas are often removed surgically, however for horses with multiple small melanomas there are some exciting new treatment options.

Archie was carted off to Oakham veterinary hospital after I read about the “Oncept” melanoma vaccine. A relatively new treatment for horses, the vaccine was originally created for dogs who also suffer with the same issue of benign melanomas. So how does it work and above all does it work?

The vaccine targets tyrosinase, a protein found in melanoma cells. This protein is the enzyme which is the “rate-limiting step”, i.e the limiting factor, which controls production of melanin (the pigment produced by melanoma cells). The vaccine acts by triggering the horse’s body to produce an immune response again the protein. This means that the horse’s own immune system targets the abnormal cells, both those that are visible and those that you cannot see. As a fairly new treatment the data available regarding long term effectiveness and side effects and is limited, but in an area of equine medicine where there is little else of proven benefit it is an exciting new option in the battle against melanomas.

I am delighted to say that Archie responded well to the course of injections, and although it’s early days in his treatment we are full of hope that we have stopped this tricky beast in it’s tracks.

A huge thank you to Oakham Veterinary hospital, and in particular our friendly vet Mark, for their support and kindness during the treatment.
If you are looking for further information on Oncept or Melanomas theses links can get you started… (Please always consult your vet for diagnosis and advice)
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:56

Real Life Unicorns

Grey horses must be magical as they somehow always weasel their way into your heart, even when you are insistent that you want an easy-to-keep-clean bay horse. From my study of grey horse owners it seems to be that once you go grey you never go back, and so in order to survive a lifetime of grey horses it becomes necessary to learn the tricks of the trade early on.

Longstanding grey owners know all the best shampoos (human and horse), leg whiteners and chalks, plus all the weird things like putting ketchup on a stained tail (whoever tried that out the first time was braver than me!). They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the different types of lycra hoods and they somehow always manage to turn their horses out absolutely spotless. My personal experience is that no matter what I do Archie is always yellow somewhere come the following morning and even the covered bits managed to get stained. It probably doesn’t help that he is incredibly lazy and will find the one and only spot of wet straw in his stable to sleep in. No matter how many layers and wraps you put on, when you’ve got a 5am start and you need to get on the road pronto you can guarantee the stains will be gigantic.

The summer show season is replaced in the winter by endless battle against the mud. This winter I gave up trying to groom the copious amounts off on a daily basis, and after two weeks of eating dinner at 10pm having got back from the yard so late I decided we needed a turnout hood. The Snuggy Hoods Boxing Day sale was an fantastic excuse to purchase probably be best bit of kit I have ever bought! He still manages to get mud underneath it, but now it takes 5 minutes to remove rather than 50.

My best tactics for keeping Archie vaguely clean involve; combing through and conditioning his tail daily and then plaiting up, a turnout hood in the field and show hood in the stable the night before an event, and a new trick of wearing waterproof turnout rugs in the stable to stop the wee getting through! Most importantly and often the hardest thing to do is not stress about it on a normal day and instead save that for the days that really matter. Despite the awkward and time consuming colour, they really are a gorgeous bunch. Let me know any of your top tips, they are always gratefully received!

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs