Horses are high performance athletes. Just think about it - their movement provides the ultimate combination of strength and coordination. But, what really helps a horse achieve smooth, frictionless movement? Healthy and happy joints.
For a healthy joint to achieve a range of motion, several structures must work together like a well-oiled machine:
At Countryside, we encourage horse owners and trainers to think about joint care management early on in a horse's career. Early intervention leads to the most successful prognosis and can prevent permanent joint damage, which can eventually lead to osteoarthritis.
A good horsemanship practice is to check the legs before and after each ride or workout. Run your hands down your horse's legs to feel for any heat, swelling or other changes. In many cases, there are signs before a horse ever goes lame. Proper maintenance and management can allow your horse to not only reach their best performance level but extend their performance lifespan.
No matter your horse’s discipline or breed, the joints are subject to stresses and injury and it is impossible to prevent joint stress. So, what happens if you find out your horse does have some arthritic changes starting to occur? Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is not curable, so the key is management. A successful management and prevention program can slow down or halt the ongoing damage, but early detection and prompt treatment is vital. Procedures such as icing and bandaging, anti-inflammatory drugs, phenylbutazone and surpass for example, anti-arthritic medications such as Legend and Adequan and joint injections are effective treatments for managing osteoarthritis. Newer techniques such as IRAP have been developed which involves collecting and using the horses’s own natural antibodies as a joint injection. The goal of all joint therapies is:
From training to competition, repetitive movements and trauma can lead to inflammation of the joint. When inflammation occurs, it can be a result of damage to the synovial membrane. The synovial membrane increases the volume of synovial fluid, which dilutes the hyaluronic acid and causes the synovial fluid to become less viscous (thinner and more watery). This condition is known as synovitis and it's what can make the joint feel warm and puffy. Synovial health is vital to proper joint function.
Ultrasound is a diagnostic technology that uses sound waves to reveal internal structures of your horse. This quick and painless diagnostic tool plays a major role in the treatment and management of equine injuries.