I have had four young horses with umbilical hernias. Two were acquired that way, two were born to my mare.
- The first one (colt I bought) was corrected surgically when the colt was a yearling.
- The second (colt born here) closed on its own before he was a year old
I am dealing now with the 3rd and 4th and don't know what to do.
My TB filly will be 2 in April. She is lean and leggy which might contribute to the fact that there is almost nothing bulging in the hernial area. I can easily forget it's there... but it is there. It is about 1 or 1-1/2 fingers wide.
My Paint colt will be 1 on 2/28. He is a chunky monkey and has more of a pouch protruding from the hernia. His is about 2 fingers wide.
So my questions are: how long do you wait to see if a hernia will close on its own? Do you do any "home remedies"? Should I proceed with surgery on both of these horses sooner than later? My inclination was to have the colt, who is younger, done now in conjunction with gelding. But that is because the filly's hernia is so much less noticeable, which might be a mistake on my part.
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf
Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?
It's always worth a try to use a belly band, as a foal, to see if you can avoid surgery. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but worth a try. Easy, for both horse and human. Had good results last summer with one on a suckling colt, put a sponge ball in the hole in the abdominal wall to irritate the sides of the hole, and got full healing in the months after the band came off. Always sedate the foal to apply the band, even with a tame foal who will stand for the band to be applied, my vet says. When the foal takes the first step and feels the band, even a tame one CAN panic, and run blind, resulting in injury or death. Sedation allows them to wake up slowly with the band in place, no panic ensues. Sometimes they will close on their own, without the belly band, so it is hard to say if using a belly band is the true and full cause of the closing, but it won't hurt, and might help.
With a hole less than two fingers, they are usually OK to leave, especially if nothing is poking through the hole. Two fingers and with a pouch coming through and two years old, you are probably looking at surgery for that one.
It's interesting that with the filly, there isn't much (anything?) protruding. It is definitely past time with that one to hope it'll close on its own.
Doing the hernia on the boy while he's castrated sounds like a good idea, just have the vet make sure he'll stay asleep long enough to get it done!
Two of my own first 3 foals had surgeries to repair their hernias. (We do it in the fall of the year foaled.) That vet charged about $600.
This year, my boss had to use a different vet and he clamped off the hernia on a foal at about 2 months old. Baby was turned out with Mom, nothing different except for a big wooden clamp which fell off when the hernia was closed. It DID NOT look comfortable, but the foal survived. That was under $200, no tranq or surgery required.