This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
This disease is characterized by dropsical swellings of the limbs and lower part of the body. When it comes under the belly some call it "water farcy;" and it is called "stocking" when in the legs. It is due to a debilitated condition of the system. The walls of the blood vessels become relaxed and allow the thin, watery part of the blood to ooze out and settle in the cellular tissue underneath the skin.
Symptoms - The legs will be swelled after standing in the stable over night, but it is not so extensive as in lymphangitis, and is not painful; and it will pit upon pressure with the fingers Swellings often form under the belly, sometimes to the thickness of a couple of inches. It passes away with exercise and returns again when the horse stands over night.
Treatment. - A purgative is not generally advisable; but the bowels must be regulated by giving soft, digestible food. Give, morning and night, a dose composed of nitrate of potash, two drachms; sulphate of iron, two drachms; nux vomica, one drachm; and feed liberally to build up the strength. Do not blister the swellings nor apply strong liniment; but apply cold water with force, as from a hose, for ten minutes, then rub the parts dry with a cloth and give plenty of rubbing with the hand or with a brush. Give moderate exercise every day.
This is very common and is due to the same cause. Exercise will generally effect a cure.
Horses that have run in the pasture until late in the fall and are then stabled should be fed up gradually and have exercise every day throughout the winter if not at regular work.