Horses, like humans, can develop the joint deterioration and soreness that is associated with arthritis. There are a number of different methods that can be used to treat arthritis in a horse of any age.
One of the most important factors in controlling arthritis in horses is prevention. Care should be taken in working and exercising horses, especially young horses, to avoid putting undue stress on developing joints.
There are several supplements that are available to add to the diet of a horse showing signs of arthritis. These include glucosomine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate. Both have been shown to slow the advancement of arthritis. These supplements can be administered separately or together.
Hyaluronate sodium can be administered in an injection into the joint. The injection lubricates the joint and also works as an anti-inflammatory medication. Injections are typically only available through a veterinarian, and should be administered at the vet's office only.
Regular exercise has also been shown to be beneficial to arthritic horses. The exercise should be low-impact. It can include supervised turnout, hand walking and hand grazing. Since most arthritic horses will not move and stretch enough to be beneficial to them, it's important to supervise them, provided the afflicted joints are not hot or swollen. Light exercise should not cause the horse more pain.
Most arthritic horses show improvement when left barefoot. Consult with both vet and farrier to decide what will be best for the individual horse. Many will show vast improvement when the hoof and frog is allowed to wear naturally. It should be kept trimmed in a shape that will keep the foot flat.
Hot and Cold
Hot and cold therapy can prove invaluable in treating chronic flare-ups. This treatment can be as simple as applying a compress or hosing off the joint. Cold therapy can be applied for heat, swelling and flareups. Hot therapy should be used to relax chronic stiffness and to prepare the horse for exercise.