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Arthritis in Horses (Part 2 of 2)

Training of horses young early in life, particularly on compacted tracks or arenas, fast gaited and jumping horses are more prone to develop arthritis later in life. Poor conformation and poor farriery can also be a factor, leading to uneven wear and overload on particular tendons and joints. Horses left to develop long toes and lowered heels risk strain and arthritis in the joints.

Nutritional deficiencies also have a bearing on joint health. High grain, rich feeding, an acidic diet, and inadequate calcium or copper in the diet can increase the incidence of bone and joint degeneration.

Action: With Arthritis, prevention is definitely better than cure. Early recognition and care of arthritis is also highly beneficial.

Early stages of arthritis can be settled with topical liniments. Warm poultices and warm bandaging can help to warm up joints and increase mobility. Applied whilst transporting a horse, overnight or prior to gentle exercise, or alternatively after work, to help relieve minor soreness. Armoricaine Clay poultices can be used in this way.

Diet: According to Pat Colby it is not uncommon for the overuse of super-phosphate fertilizers to have a debilitating and depleting affect on the mineral balance of soils. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassiuim should be added to help balance these phosphorus levels.

High grade dolomite is important for treating and preventing arthritis and giving an adequate Calcium and Magnesium supply. Australian seaweed or Kelp (Natrakelp is the most readily absorbed form of liquid seaweed), apple cider vinegar and flax seed meal or flax oil (refrigerated) have healing properties and are good for supporting a balanced diet for your horse.

Cold pressed Linseed oil, Garlic, Chamomile and a mineral or good quality rock-salt lick will also help support your horse.

MSM is a biological sulphur powder that contains a type of sulphur that is often lacking in arthritic sufferers.

Ester C is a non-acidic Vitamin C that can be added to feed to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Glucosamine is also used widely now for the treatment of arthritis, and a vegetable form can be sourced.

An acidic or high grain diet is not recommended for arthritic horses.

General Tip: Management and comfort of arthritic horses is important. Suitable rugging will help your horse through the colder periods. Warm paddock boots can also be used where required.

Therapies that support the suppleness and freedom of movement both in preventative and treatment care, are highly beneficial to your horse. This can include qualified and quality Chiropractic work (where required), Acupuncture and regular Massage for your horse. Exercises that support suppleness are also a good idea, and working your horse on gentle, supportive surfaces will increase the longevity of their joints.

Where an accident or injury has occurred, good first aid and follow up treatment lessens the likelihood of arthritic degeneration occurring. A good example of initial treatment might look like this:

  • Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence for shock and trauma
  • Homeopathic Arnica for injury
  • Rosehip tea with an appropriate mineral supplementation
  • Herbs for tissue regeneration and detoxification
  • Natural feeding diet to support bone health and general wellbeing
  • Adequate rest

I hope some of the ideas in this article have been of use for increasing your understanding of arthritis.

About the author

Zoe Dodds is an Equine Acupuncturist & holistic healer from Australia and the founder of Natural Horse Therapies.

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