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Month: September 2021

Quick Intervention Helps Foal Return to Loving Family

Featured in The Plaid Horse

A new life is something to celebrate, but when a newborn foal has complications and a fever of unknown origin, the fear can be overwhelming. For Robin Hogan of Myrland Stables in Davie, Florida, getting her newborn foal the help it unexpectedly needed was the first priority.

Hogan fell in love with her mare Vogue, a black and white Gypsy Vanner, when it came to her barn for training. The two connected instantly. There was only one caveat; Vogue was pregnant. Still, Hogan welcomed the added bonus and was excited for the chance to raise a foal that could eventually join Vogue in the equine therapy program that she is planning.

Vogue had a somewhat difficult birthing, but eventually “My Wildest Dream,” known in the barn as Eros, was born. Everything seemed good as Hogan navigated the early days of caring for Eros and his mother after birth, but at only four days old, Hogan noticed that Eros’ playful, spirited attitude had changed.

foal with patent urachus
“Eros” owned by Robin Hogan.

“He was a little bit on the lethargic side,” remembered Hogan. “I walked Eros and his mom out to the pasture, and he seemed to decline when he was there, like it must have taken all his energy to get to the pasture. It was surprising because just the day before he was running around, and even the night before he was running and playing. It just happened that quick. It was crazy. I noticed he was peeing out of his umbilicus (navel) which was a big red flag.”

Hogan was able to move Eros back to the barn and found that he had an extremely high temperature. Hogan called her veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Carrillo, and they were able to bring the foal’s temperature down slightly. However, when it spiked again, he was administered intravenous fluids and the decision was made to take Eros to Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Hogan noted, “PBEC had come highly recommended, and I thought, ‘If you’ve got a chance to save him, this is it.’”

Eros was admitted to Palm Beach Equine Clinic and placed under the care of board-certified internist Dr. Peter Heidmann and Dr. Sidney Chanutin. Upon examination and palpation of the foal’s umbilicus, they noted urine dripping out.

During fetal development, the umbilicus is connected to the urinary bladder via a tube called the urachus. Normally, within a few hours after birth, the urachus will shrink and close at the navel, and then urine is diverted to empty through the urethra into the bladder. When the urachus does not close completely, urine can dribble out from the umbilicus. This condition is referred to as patent urachus, and it may happen within the first few weeks of life, even after the urachus originally appeared to have sealed at birth.

Eros was diagnosed with patent urachus, along with omphalitis (infection of the umbilical stump) and septicemia (bacteria present in the blood), which are severe complications commonly seen in foals.

Dr. Chanutin performed an ultrasound examination on Eros, which confirmed the patent urachus and helped determine the presence and extent of infection in the umbilical structures. Blood cultures and a complete blood count were taken, as well as bacterial cultures of the navel to determine which bacteria were causing the infection. This helped the veterinarians confirm the appropriate antibiotic choice for the foal.

In some cases, surgical removal of the infected navel structures is needed. Surgery can fully close the opening between the urachus and the bladder, but thanks to a quick and thorough veterinary diagnosis, Eros avoided surgery.

Eros recovered at Palm Beach Equine Clinic for two weeks with his mother Vogue by his side. He was treated with systemic antibiotic therapy, anti-inflammatory therapy, and gastroprotectants (Omeprazole). His umbilicus was treated topically to promote closure of the patent urachus.

After discharge, Eros remained on medication for an additional four weeks. His owner reported that once he returned home, he soon returned to his normal, happy self. Hogan remarked, “I was going through all these emotions having never had a colt before, and then he puts his little head on my shoulder, and I thought well we’re going to give you all the care we can! It was such a scary learning experience for a new horse owner. It was a steep learning curve.”

Hogan credited her barn manager, Alicia May, for helping care for Eros, as well as Dr. Carrillo and the veterinarians of Palm Beach Equine Clinic. “I have such confidence now in my veterinary care team. I have to say it’s all a team effort,” she said. “I had no doubt that my horses were in the right place for this kind of situation.”

Having fully recovered, Eros is now seven months old, and Hogan is training him regularly, getting him used to working with humans and becoming less sensitive to his environment in preparation for his future equine therapy work with his mother Vogue.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is available 24/7 for any equine emergency and works regularly with referring veterinarians. For more information, call 561-793-1599.

Summer Sores in Horses

Habronemiasis Treatment

summer sores in horses may originally start as a small superficial scratch.
Summer sore on a horse’s leg.

Hot, humid climates create the perfect environment for flies to thrive, and therefore, contribute to many irritating issues for horses. Summer sores, medically known as habronemiasis, are one of the most serious problems caused by flies. They may originally be spotted as a small, superficial scratch. However, they can fester into a serious condition and persist for weeks to months if not properly diagnosed and treated.

What are Summer Sores in Horses?

Summer sores are lesions on the skin caused by the larvae of certain stomach worms, called Habronema. These worms in the horse’s stomach produce eggs that pass through the digestive tract and are shed in the horse’s feces. Barn flies then gather on and around the manure, consequently collecting the parasite’s larvae on their extremities.  Summer sores will ensue when flies carrying the larvae lay their eggs onto an open wound or the mucous membranes of a horse (usually areas such as the prepuce, lower abdomen, corners of the eyes, and margins of the lips). The larvae cause an inflammatory reaction, typically with discharge and the production of granulation tissue infected with larvae.

Signs of summer sores in horses:

  • Non-healing skin lesions
  • Intense itching
  • Formation of exuberant granulation tissue (proud flesh)
  • Calcified necrosis (dead tissue) 

Identifying Summer Sores in Horses

“Firstly, it is incredibly important that the owner does not assume a lesion is a summer sore because of its appearance or their experience with summer sores,” said Dr. Meredith Mitchell, a Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarian who often treats patients with this condition. “Granulation tissue can look like a summer sore but actually be the result of a different infection or skin issue. So, it is crucial to contact a veterinarian at the first sign of a potential summer sore before any treatment is administered.”

summer sore on the hind leg of a horse
Summer sore on a horse’s back leg.

Summer sores commonly appear as proud flesh with small, yellow-colored beads which are the larvae within the horse’s skin, and a mucopurulent (mucus or pus) discharge associated with the wound.

Treating Summer Sores in Horses

For treatment of the visible summer sore, corticosteroids are administered to reduce the inflammatory hypersensitivity reaction and antimicrobials to treat any secondary infection that may develop because of the open wound. If not treated quickly and appropriately by a veterinarian, summer sores can persist for months and possibly require a surgical procedure to remove the granulated tissue and larvae.

“The standard summer sore treatment is debridement of the wound and an injection of Ivermectin (Noromectin),” Dr. Mitchell said. “However, more medicine is not more effective with summer sores. The larvae and flies can develop a resistance to the treatment, so it is always best to consult with your veterinarian for dosage information. Also, this specific treatment does not include preservatives, so it is imperative than an unopened bottle is always used to prevent contamination that could lead to an abscess in the injection site.”

Additionally, there are local injections that can be administered directly around or into the lesion itself to promote healing. Dr. Mitchell also relies on oral treatments, such as Prednisolone and Dexamethasone tablets, depending on the patient’s case.

Summer Sore Prevention

Prevention strategies are key to controlling summer sore outbreaks and protecting horses. The most effective summer sore prevention methods include:

  • Fly control with automatic fly repellent spray systems, fly masks, sheets, boots, and a sheath protector.
  • Proper and timely manure removal from the stalls, stable, paddocks, and property. Removal of trash, wet straw, and other materials that could be breeding sites for flies and maggots is very important.
  • Appropriate wound care using topicals such as a silver nitrate stick (when not bleeding) and bandages to protect wounds from flies.
  • Implementing an effective de-worming program with your veterinarian. The de-wormer will disrupt the parasite’s life cycle internally, killing both adult worms in the stomach and the larvae formed in the skin tissue.
summer sore on a horse's ankle
Summer sores can be difficult to treat and must be diagnosed by a veterinarian.

Many owners also chose to actively prevent summer sores by supplementing their horse’s diet with immune boosting natural supplements. “Sometimes with patients that have stagnant, non-healing summer sores, they can really benefit from being prescribed herbal medicines. I’ve seen many horses do well on the Chinese Herb Wei Qi Booster in particular,” Dr. Mitchell mentioned.

If you suspect your horse may have a summer sore, contact your veterinarian at Palm Beach Equine Clinic by calling 561-793-1599 to discuss treatment and an effective de-wormer program for your horse.

Takeaways from Tokyo: The Olympic Experience from a Veterinarian’s Perspective

Dr. Jorge Gomez and Dr. Christopher Elliott were amongst the over 100 veterinarians on the ground supporting the equine athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Jorge Gomez, MVZ, MS, DACVS, served as the Official Veterinarian for the Mexican Show Jumping Team and is a surgeon with Palm Beach Equine Clinic, and Chris Elliott, BVSC, MRCVS, MANZCVS, DACVSMR, served as Veterinary Services Supervisor and is an associate veterinarian for Palm Beach Equine Clinic. We spoke with each of them about their experiences at this unprecedented international event.


What were your expectations for Tokyo, and did the Games live up to those expectations?

CE: Tokyo 2020 reached far beyond my expectations. The ability to achieve such an elite level of equestrian competition in the face of COVID-19 restrictions is remarkable. The whole Olympic organizing committee should be proud of this achievement.

JG: We all knew of the existing restrictions in place for COVID-19. There were mobility limitations in place to decrease the chances of spreading the virus, however, the Games were very well organized. The competition and training arenas were state-of-the-art facilities, and the stables were all under air conditioning, so those amenities couldn’t have been better.

What did you enjoy most about your time at the Olympics?

CE: Having a front row seat to the Olympic Games has been an honor and a privilege. I have most enjoyed working alongside my veterinary colleagues from across the globe. The Games spirit was strong among all the vets at Tokyo 2020.

JG: Most definitely the level of competition. We had the opportunity to watch the best athletes in all three disciplines dressage, eventing and show jumping.

What was the experience like of working with such a diverse group of veterinarians?

CE: It’s always great working alongside veterinarians from all over the world. Veterinary medicine transcends language and cultural barriers and bonds us all in the goal of preserving equine health and welfare. In the face of many extreme challenges surrounding these Olympic Games, the professionalism, dedication, and efficiency of all vets at the event rose to the fore to ensure the very best in equine health, welfare, and performance.

JG: The experience is always nice and an honor to be a part of. There’s a group of us that have been at many of the international competitions and Olympic Games for years. Then, there are also new faces, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us all to meet. We share difficult cases from our practices as well as talk about new techniques and treatments.


Palm Beach Equine Clinic extends congratulations to all of the athletes that represented their respective countries at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. While challenges were abundant, the events were awe-inspiring and the best of equestrian sport was on display.

PBEC also extends a special congratulations to our friends Dr. Mike Heitmann and Alice Womble, the owners of Sanceo, ridden by Sabine Schut-Kery. Sanceo was a part of the U.S. dressage team that won silver and had two personal best scores at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

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