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Discuss Grey Horses and Common Bumps Under Their Tails at the Horse Health forum - Horse Forums.

Wondering what everyones thoughts are about Grey horses having the common bumps typically associated with ...
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    Grey Horses and Common Bumps Under Their Tails

    Wondering what everyones thoughts are about Grey horses having the common bumps typically associated with greys under their tails...

    Would you ever buy a grey horse that had one?

    And in your oppion, how would that effect the price of one with the condition?

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    subbing...never heard of this...
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    melanoma, very common in greys, I personally would walk away.
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    Gray Horse Disease--Melanoma

    by: Fred McCashin, VMD, MSc
    January 01 2003, Article # 3621
    It is interesting that Federico Tesio in his book Breeding The Race Horse described the inheritance of the gray coat color like a disease or defect, since melanoma skin tumors are so common in the gray horse. On the other hand, the gray horse survives these tumors better than any other species that develops them. While horse owners worry about gray horses' tumors, scientists recognize that the horse must harbor the secret to surviving melanoma.
    In the 1970s, I experimented on healthy, melanoma-bearing, retired gray horses by administering tumor vaccines made from a horse's existing tumors, presumably to stimulate a protective immune response against further tumors. The vaccines were made by Vincent Saurino, PhD, an emeritus professor in the College of Science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. One horse, after receiving vaccinations made from his own tumor, lost black pigment in some areas of his skin, including the tumors on his tail. This is a process called vitiligo. More recent research shows this might hold the key to the cure for melanoma.
    One researcher, John Powderly, MD, has expertise on melanoma in several species, including man, that has led him to do more work on immunotherapy and the possible triggering of vitiligo. In mice, man, horse, and a special breed of swine called Sinclair swine, vitiligo has been associated with melanoma regression.
    These miniature swine are the most dramatic example of vitiligo curing melanoma. About 84% of them are born with cutaneous nevi (pigmented skin areas), which develop into melanomas in the first six weeks of life. More than 50% of the tumors spread to internal organs, and some of these pigs die by the age of six weeks.
    Many survive malignancy as vitiligo begins around six months of age. Then the black pigs turn totally white as the tumors shrink. Experiments in these swine have shown that the vitiligo process, although not well understood, is enhanced by hormones and immune competence. I've seen unusually developing white skin in horses due to hormones, inflammatory insults from infestations to trauma, and even post-surgical procedures. These all are situations that would involve a serious immune response.
    Melanoma-associated vitiligo and immune mechanisms against pigment cell antigens occur in the gray horse as well. If vitiligo is a manifestation of the immune system's breaking of self-tolerance, then the white patterns mean that melanoma cell antigens are being seen by the immune system as targets. The melanoma cells bearing black pigment are thus destroyed, leaving the skin white.
    In mouse and human studies, the immune response to melanocytes (cells carrying black pigment) can be even more specific. Non-pigmented skin can occur in body stripes, which correspond to a dermatome (area of skin innervated by a single sensory nerve) or body segment. The striped vitiligo patterns suggest unique dermatome-specific antigens. Since melanocytes originate embryologically at the site of the central nervous system (neural crest), it makes sense to derive a vaccine from nervous (dendritic) tissue.
    Powderly is working on a dendritic melanoma vaccine in an effort to immunologically turn on the vitiligo process to achieve regression of the melanoma.
    There have been four documented human cases of spontaneous melanoma regression associated with vitiligo. In all cases, vitiligo had crept over the dermatome where the primary melanoma was situated, and the tumor regressed. These are rare cases in man, but it is the pattern of regression seen in Sinclair swine where the vitiligo is generalized.
    Vitiligo in the horse is sometimes bilaterally symmetrical and segmental when it appears to be immunologically and/or hormonally regulated. In my experience, it's not as common in other coat colors as it is in gray horses, where the pattern is often random. Although I haven't seen spontaneous total regression of melanomas in the horse as occurs in Sinclair swine, I have seen retarded growth and even partial regression of melanomas in horses which have had some form of immunotherapy.
    I was aware of the role that vitiligo could play in the process; however, when I have debulked (removed) a rapidly growing melanoma from the perineum or tail and left it to heal as an open wound, the remaining black tumor tissue is replaced by healthy pink granulation tissue (skin then heals over the pink tissue). I've always believed that granulation tissue in the secondary healing process has an increased immune capability, and it would appear to be true when this tissue replaces melanoma in the gray horse. As we anticipate some breakthrough in development of an immune stimulant in the fight against melanoma in man, we continue to look to animal models for some clues on the direction the research should take. Veterinarians will continue to use their tools of immunotherapy and surgery to enhance the gray horses' ability to coexist with his melanoma. The gray horse might hold the secret to survival from melanoma for us, his caretakers.
    ejforrest-

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    I have a 29 year old Arabian gray that has had them and she is still going strong. Owned her for 4 years without a problem.
    ejforrest-

    "A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence".

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    Yep, melanoma!

    My aunts gray horse started out with that. He's like 20 now and has tumors all over him, including all over his sheath and one behind his eye making his eye ball bulge out. He still seems happy and he moves around good and doesn't seem in pain, but they are onsidering putting him down before winter.

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    So clearly we have established that they are melanomas, the thing that is concerning about them is that they continue to grow and operating only makes them more agressive. Now, we prefer to find them in harmless places like on the neck and face, tail ok, but when we start getting closer to the anus we start running the risk of blocking off the rectum, this is when big issues arise. Not being able to poop is a big deal and operating only offers temporary relief and prompts a more aggressive response from the melanoma itself. A slippery slope It is just something you have to weigh. Ask your vet what their opinion is. I wouldn't say that this would keep me from purchasing a horse but it would be a consideration for me.

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    I recently got a crash course in this topic and am still absorbing the information. You may want to read over the email response in the thread I posted earlier this week. The doc clears up quite a bit of the misconceptions there. ERollison is a great source on the forums for info too

    Ghost's tumor thread
    Ghost - 09/24/2010 - Maggie - 11/11/2010

    "If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle." - Rita Mae Brown

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    In my experience, grey horses are very individual in their development and tolerances of Melanoma. While it is feasible that most, if not all, grey horses will develop melanoma at some point in their life...how many they get, how fast it grows/spreads, and how they cope with it physically on a daily basis is is hugely variable. I have seen horses as young as 9 covered with them...I have personally owned many greys that had none, or only 1 or 2 tiny ones. I owned a grey Percheron mare that was 21 at the time of purchase who didn't have any! Now, whether or not she had any internal melanoma is unknown...however, she is now 25 and is still going strong! Incidentally, old time horsemen that I have talked with over the years in my travels have often told me that "flea bitten" grays had a lower incidence of melanoma development than the horses of the "pure white" variety. I always thought that was interesting given that the Percheron mare was a flea bitten grey and had none. A "white" quarter horse I had at one time had a tiny little one on his cheek...coincidence? Would I purchase a horse with a few little bumps on the underside of it's tail? Yes...personally, it really wouldn't bother me provided the price was fair. Would I purchase a grey horse with masses of melanoma all around the genitalia? No. If the tumors were in spots that would affect use (on the girth area/bridle areas...no. I personally think grey horses are beautiful...though sometimes the price for owning a flashy grey horse is the risks associated with melanoma development.

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    Thanks so much for the imput everyone!

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