This article is part of our Joint and Hoof Health Awareness Month brought to you by Cosequin Joint Health Supplements.
Joints make movement possible. Whether you rein, rope, barrel race, or trail ride, your horse’s joints take the brunt of the activity. Experts believe up to 60% of lameness is due to osteoarthritis, the progressive deterioration of cartilage cushioning joints. Arthritis can result when a healthy joint gets injured in a fall or twist, or from day-to-day stress over a horse’s working life.
There’s also much you can do proactively to help protect your horse’s joints from deterioration, or extend his ability to work comfortably even if arthritis does develop.
Constant Movement. Consistent exercise tailored to your horse’s comfort and athletic level is critical to keeping him limber. In addition to regular riding as appropriate, provide him with as much pasture turnout as possible.
Warm Up Right. A proper warm-up at the start of riding is also important in protecting your horse’s joints, particularly as he ages. Aim to spend at least 5 to 10 minutes in this routine, starting with plenty of walking. This allows tendons and joints to stretch gently, without injury, before undertaking more vigorous action.
Don’t Over Work. Any time your horse gets out of condition, bring him back to fitness incrementally over time to avoid stressing his joints. During training sessions, introduce new work gradually to enable his critical leg structures to adapt to unfamiliar maneuvers. Don’t over-drill.
More Ways to Help
Supplement. Adding a daily supplement is a great way to help protect your horse against cartilage deterioration. Cosequin’s ASU Pellets are easy to use and help support your horse’s cartilage.
Weight Maintenance. Maintain your horse at his ideal weight; extra pounds increase the load bearing on joints. Regular, frequent hoof care to keep feet correctly balanced minimizes undue stress on legs, plus wards off injury-causing stumbles.
Good Ground. Work your horse in good footing with a solid, even, not-too-hard surface. This helps prevent missteps and lessens the ongoing stress that contributes to degeneration over time. Avoid riding or turning out on slippery ground. On the trail, steer clear of rock-hard surfaces or unsafe terrain.
Stalling. Keeping your horse on concrete is tough on legs; if you can’t avoid it, be sure to use good stall mats and plenty of bedding to provide cushioning.
Learn more about Joint and Hoof Health Awareness Month here:
Why Hoof Health Matters on the Trail