Keeping your horse in good health should always be your priority. And one of the horse’s most crucial body parts that you need to ensure remains in optimal health is the joints. The horse’s joints connect two bones and are cushioned by cartilage and connective tissue. Joints are also filled with synovial fluid, which serves as a lubricant.
The horse’s joints are subjected to continual pressure and support the body’s weight. Due to this, the joints are frequently susceptible to issues such as front fetlocks, stiffness around the knee joint, coffin joints, and hocks, which negatively impact the horse’s overall comfort. Therefore, it is preferable to take preventative measures and avoid such complications, which are most common in older horses but can occur at any age.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a list of guidelines to follow to keep your horse’s joint health in peak condition.
1. Feed Your Horse Supplements
Several joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis, can affect horses, causing discomfort and stiffness. While some horses adjust well to the pain, others have a drastically restricted range of motion and quality of life.
It’s essential to supply your horse with joint-supporting supplements to aid in the management of pain and stiffness. MSM is a joint supplement, a perfect natural remedy to use in conjunction with a healthy diet.
You can also use glucosamine, an all-natural joint pain reliever produced from natural components, and other joint supplements. The finest additions are nutritional supplements like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. However, you must consider your horse’s age, food, and the outcomes of diagnostic tests performed on his joints to determine which supplement is best for his needs.
2. Regularly Exercise Your Horse
One effective way of safeguarding your horse’s joint health is by regularly exercising your horse by engaging in low-impact workouts. Regular exercise is key to protecting your horse’s joint health because it helps tone the muscles and improve joint fluid circulation.
Exercises will also stimulate the production of synovial fluid, a viscous liquid that acts as a lubricant for your horse’s joints and helps maintain their flexibility. Like humans, horses need this fluid to keep their joints healthy and pain-free.
Another advantage of regular exercise is that it helps make the cartilage thicker and healthier, thus providing added protection to the joints. With this in mind, you must ensure your horse remains active by engaging it in physical activity daily, even when you aren’t riding or training.
Ideally, a minimum of 30 minutes a day of dedicated physical activity, such as walking or trotting on a lead line, is enough. The best thing about this is that you can do this at any time of day. Therefore, you don’t have an excuse as to why you should skip exercise.
But while exercise is crucial for your horse, make sure to do this appropriately. For example, if you are riding your horse, keep the ride slow and steady to prevent injury or soreness of the joints.
3. Observe Balanced Nutrition
Ensuring your horse sticks to a healthy diet isn’t only essential for the horse’s overall well-being but, more specifically, for maintaining healthy joints. This is because a healthy diet provides a horse with enough proteins and minerals that are essential in maintaining the synovial fluid, cartilage, and bone.
Without these nutrients, your horse won’t be able to gain healthy weight, consequently increasing the chances of suffering a joint injury due to weakened muscle tissues.
Therefore, you should prioritize keeping your horse on a balanced diet to ensure its joints remain healthy and strong. This is especially important if you’re planning to do a lot of strenuous activities with your horse, such as jumping.
You can also boost your horse’s diet by adding supplements such as zinc, copper, and vitamin E to his feed. Certain types of feed, such as oats and alfalfa hay, are perfect for providing these nutrients.
4. Warm Up Your Horse Before Exercise
A warm-up session is essential to ensure that your horse’s joints are prepared for the workout that’s about to follow. Once warmed up, your horse’s body gradually increases body temperature and heart rate, allowing blood to flow into the muscles. This will help lower the chances of muscle soreness and subsequently minimize the chances of joint health.
It’s recommended that a warm-up should last at least 10 to 15 minutes in length and consist of a slow jog and trot. With your horse fully warmed up, it reduces the chances of joint injuries and improves its overall performance.
5. Pay Close Attention To The Hooves
Hoof health is a significant consideration if you ride and care for your horses. And one way to do this is by investing in proper shoeing for your horse to safeguard it from experiencing joint stress that might lead to injury. And with the hooves being this integral, it pays to carefully look at each foot every time you groom or tack up your horse. This means checking for cracks, splits, or other abnormalities in the hooves, and signs of lameness in the legs.
Therefore, you must take care of the hooves to keep horses comfortable and prevent them from developing painful and expensive joint problems.
6. Maintaining Healthy Weight
Being overweight is bad for you and even worse for your horse. Obesity may be the most common nutritional issue in horses today. This is a common problem nowadays since many horse owners overfeed their animals when they should be reducing their consumption.
As a result, anytime you feed your horse a treat or a handful of grain, consider whether they genuinely need it or if you want to make them happy with a little extra. Remember that when your horse carries more weight than is necessary, its joints are put under extra strain.
Proper care for your horse’s joints is critical if you want them to remain fully functional. However, if you are a horse owner unsure what to do, this article will walk you through all the necessary steps to protect your horse’s joint health. Applying and following these suggestions will make your horse healthy and strong enough to handle intense workouts.