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“Managing a horse with low immunity can be a tricky task,” says Karen Coumbe MRCVS.

“However the first step is to try and establish why your horse is more susceptible to infection and illness.

“Detailed clinical investigations may be required to pinpoint problems such as viral infections, including the herpes virus.

Sometimes such horses have problems with their bone marrow and it may be worth investigating this further in order to rule out cancers such as lymphoma that impairs bone marrow function.

“There are many supplements on the market that claim to boost immunity, however before selecting any such treatment it is sensible to look for proof that it really works.”

Show rider Louise Bell credits aloe vera for maintaining her champion working hunter Out Of Sight’s immune system (despite his great success, Out of Sight suffered many health problems throughout his career).

Vet Tim Watson MRCVS, has used it successfully for treating a multitude of ailments.

He says: “The leaves of aloe vera plants are rich in a substance called acemannan, which is a powerful immunostimulant and has a potent defence to fight against viruses and certain cancers.

“It is one of the few substances that may enhance immune function in humans and animals.

“There are a number of anecdotal reports of the use of acemannan as an immunostimulant in horses.

“These reports are supported by results of clinical studies, which demonstrate efficacy in the treatment of equine respiratory diseases, including viruses, lower airway inflammation and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

For the full article on managing equine illness, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (8 October, ’09)

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