By Jay Joyce, DVM
How can you make the performance of your nearly-perfect horse a little better? “Performance Tweaking” is a term I’ve coined to apply to those horses who are performing very well but whose owners and trainers feel could do just a little bit better. Tweaking is not intended for obviously lame or off patients. Tweaking is for the horse who sometimes just “isn’t quite right ” when doing his job. Overall, such a horse gets the job done, but has those moments when you wonder if something could be done to get the horse to 100% of its athletic potential.
One solution may be Tildren, along with a thorough physical and lameness evaluation.
What is Tildren? Tildren is an amazing medication used for the management of arthritis in horses. It has shown great results in foot soreness, hock arthritis, and back pain. In normal horses, bones are always being remodeled. This process allows the skeleton to adapt to and perform under the mechanical stresses created by the life of a typical equine athlete. The two types of cells that are involved in bone regulation and renewal are osteoclasts and osteoblasts.
Osteoclasts – These cells cause bone lysis, which is the removal of microscopic areas of bone. These cells start working when new spaces need to be created within the bone to increase density in response to mechanical stress. Tildren works by inhibiting the function of these cells.
Osteoblasts – These cells build collagen, the most basic material needed in bone formation. They cause collagen mineralization and create denser bone. They also build new bone, sometimes creating too much new bone material.
Because osteoclast activity depends on osteoblast activity, and vice versa, stopping osteoclast activity stops both activities, stopping bone remodeling and arthritis.
Osteoclasts destroy bone faster than osteoblasts rebuild it, which can cause major issues in horses that are constantly putting stress on their bones. In competition horses, remodeling of bone is a highly active process, resulting in area of bone where there is less density, and areas where there is too much density. Joints where bones have either condition damage more easily and are inflamed and painful.
Tildren works by regulating bone remodeling in cases where there is too much bone destruction. It generates osteoblast activity, while suppressing osteoclast function. It also has anti-inflammatory affects, because it inhibits the secretion of enzymes that destroy cartilage.
Tildren is used primarily in subtle, chronic lameness and is considered a long-term investment in the control of arthritis in your horse. Navicular disease, hock arthritis, and back pain are some of the most common indications for its use. It is not yet approved by the FDA for use in the United States, so each use must be pre-approved by the FDA in writing. Food and Drug Administration approval is pending, however. Currently, the drug must be imported from France or Great Britain.
How is it administered? It is an intravenous medication delivered via a catheter over about 30 minutes. It is a very safe process and very well tolerated.
What are the side effects? Very mild cramping is rare. Some horses experience some sweating or slight muscle tremors. Tildren cannot be administered to horses less than three years of age or to mares that are lactating and/or pregnant.
How much does it cost? Typically, a Tildren treatment will run between $1000-1200. It is expensive but a solid investment in your horse’s future. Slowing arthritis is a good thing, and gives you more years of performance from your horse.
How long does it last? The medication takes up to 30 days to take effect and lasts six-12 months. Many clients use this medication annually, along with products like Adequan and Legend (administered how often?). They complement each other very well, and can enhance the long-term soundness of your horse.
The effectiveness of Tildren is gaining a growing body of scientific evidence. This medication is not a passing fad. It is real, proven, and effective for keeping your almost-perfect horse perfect.