When we think of arthritis, visions of fluffy-eared babysitters often come to mind – not horses! In reality, most horses who experience bouts of joint inflammation can still lead a satisfying life despite being diagnosed with arthritis.
With proper diagnosis, supportive treatment and careful management, your horse can lead a full and rewarding life. In many cases, they may even continue working at a reduced level for added stimulation.
How do I know if my horse is arthritic?
Your veterinarian will conduct a routine lameness exam to detect signs of joint problems in your horse. They’ll observe its movement on both soft and hard surfaces, as well as perform flexion tests that put pressure through the joints.
These tests make it easier to recognize the affected joint by increasing pain intensity. The vet then takes X-rays of the affected area to confirm their diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent type of arthritis for horses. This condition develops due to cartilage breakdown and loss of lubricating fluid within joints.
This leads to stiffness, lameness, and pain in the affected joint as well as decreasing its shock-absorbing capacity to protect against impact damage.
Otitis media (OA) can affect any joint in a horse, but the most commonly affected are the hocks, knees, stifles and metacarpophalangeal joints (feetlocks). Signs of an affected joint include heat and swelling due to excess fluid accumulation; lameness/pain; stiffness due to bony changes; crepitus–that popping, grinding or crackling sound and sensation felt within that affected joint.
Can I ride my arthritic horse?
If your horse has arthritis, you may not be able to ride him. But that shouldn’t stop you from exercising him nonetheless.
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent your horse from suffering for the rest of its life. To do this, assess what you’re doing with him and adjust it if necessary to reduce stress on his joints beyond what they’re used to.
Arthritis typically causes a stiffness that causes pain and lameness in horses. You may notice this in their way of moving, as they move shorter or slower than usual.
An arthritic joint can also feel hot or swollen. While these symptoms can be hard to identify, if you’re uncertain as to what’s wrong with your horse, consult a veterinarian right away.
Most cases of arthritis can be managed through regular exercise and medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, topical medications and joint health supplements.
Can I ride my arthritic horse while he is arthritic?
Many horses, particularly older ones, develop arthritis – also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis. This chronic condition can cause pain, stiffness and lameness but usually improves with gentle exercise.
Arthritic joint disease can be identified by several signs, such as pain, swelling, heat and difficulty moving the joints. Veterinarians can detect this through flexion tests on horses – they hold their joint in a flexed position then ask them to trot afterwards.
Veterinarians can typically detect arthritis in a horse’s joints by performing these tests and performing a comprehensive physical examination and palpation. Furthermore, they may request X-rays or perform multiple nerve block exams for additional confirmation.
Before beginning to ride an arthritic horse, consult with your vet about appropriate exercise and nutrition. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be especially beneficial as these have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce pain and swelling.
Can I ride my arthritic horse while he is lame?
Arthritis is a relatively common disease among horses of any age or discipline. This degenerative joint condition damages cartilage, the cushioning inside joints that allows them to move smoothly.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis. This chronic condition often begins after an injury or infection and worsens over time.
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and review your horse’s medical history. They may also take radiographs to identify any areas of concern and look for inflammation or changes in joint fluid.
Your vet can assist in managing your horse’s arthritic condition and preventing further damage by providing joint support, medications, supplements and exercise tailored specifically for him. They may also suggest a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids for optimal health benefits.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.