Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is CPL?
    A genetic disease of draft horses and cobs that causes the lower leg lymphatics to be compromised, resulting in oedema, inflammation and skin folds.
  2. Is there a cure?
    Unfortunately not.
  3. So what can I do?
    Begin holistic CPL-friendly management protocol and CDT to slow the progression of the disease.
  4. Is there a test for CPL?
    Not yet.
  5. How do I know if my horse has CPL?
    Look for bumps, folds and pitting oedema on the pastern. That is usually the first indicator.
  6. Is it caused by feather mites?
    Studies have found a link between CPL and feather mites. Certainly mites will exacerbate the disease.
  7. Will a biopsy diagnose it?
    No. Biopsies should not routinely be used for diagnosis of lymphoedema disease.
  8. Do I have to clip my horse’s feathers off?
    Yes. The disease can progress at different rates so you need to be able to see any changes and treat accordingly and reduce the potential for feather mites.
  9. Does my horse need 24/7 turnout?
    Ideally, yes. Horses lower leg lymphatics only work when they are moving. Track systems are perfect for CPL horses.
  10. But what about mud?
    Use mud protection or keep the horse in a larger indoor area with enrichment to encourage them to move around.
  11. What if my horse has to be stabled because of livery yard rules?
    Rebecka Blenntoft has developed the Stable Bandage Workaround (SBW) for this scenario and the Equi-lymph medically correct compression garments.
  12. Can I use normal stable bandages, boots or compression socks on my CPL horse?
    No, they can be very dangerous for horses with CPL.
  13. Can my horse still be ridden?
    Absolutely, providing they are sound and comfortable. Exercise is good for CPL.
  14. Can my horse have boots or wraps on during exercise?
    Yes, it is a good idea to protect the legs during exercise.
  15. Can my horse go in the sea?
    Yes, but make sure to rinse off the salt water afterwards.
  16. Would hydrotherapy help?
    Yes, any exercise is good – both for the lymphatics and to keep weight down. Make sure to protect the legs with an emollient afterwards incase the water makes the skin dry.
  17. Can I wash my horse’s legs?
    Yes, but make sure you don’t use products that dry the skin out.
  18. What if my horse has dry skin or hyperkeratosis (“mallenders and sallenders”)?
    Regularly apply a quickly-absorbing emollient cream to help moisturise the skin. You will probably need to do this for the rest of the horse’s life as there is no cure for hyperkeratosis.
  19. What is the expected life span for a CPL horse?
    Impossible to say, it would depend on lots of factors besides the CPL.
  20. Do CPL horses have to be euthanised?
    Rarely for the CPL itself. If they do, it is usually because they have developed a bad infection that starts to affect the rest of their body, or their CPL was too advanced when it was found and would not respond to treatment.
  21. Can CPL make horses lame?
    Not usually, unless they have a secondary infection or hoof problems, or the folds and nodules are so bad that they struggle to move their fetlock joints. Please call your vet if your horse becomes lame.
  22. Will my horse get laminitis?
    Possibly. Research has found that some horses with CPL do develop laminitis, but what we don’t yet know is why.
  23. What can I feed my horse?
    Ideally, a good quality organic, forage-based feed + a balancer. Aim for <10% sugars and starch.
  24. Will my horse stamp his feet even if he doesn’t have feather mites?
    Yes, they may do when their legs feel strange or uncomfortable as they fill and struggle to drain. A lot of CPL horses will stamp their feet straight after exercise which could be because of the effect it has on their legs.
  25. My horse is scared of clippers. What can I do?
    You will need to gently desensitise your horse to the clippers as CPL horses usually have good reason to be fearful. It will be safest for all involved if you employ a reputable professional (such as a Monty Roberts Certified Instructor) to help with the process as it can be easy to get wrong if you aren’t used to doing it.

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