Winter can be a difficult time of year for our arthritic older equine companions. The cold wet weather can affect their comfort and more time in the stable means they are likely to stiffen up. So, what can we do to help?
- Keep your horse moving, regular gentle exercise (every day) in an area with good safe footing. This may be pasture turnout (but ensure they don’t just stand still all day!) or any other form of safe gentle exercise as appropriate for your horse. This is important even if your horse is retired from ridden exercise to keep them mobile, but ensure they are safe and comfortable to do so.
- Seek advice from your Vet, as they may need extra support in the form of medication to keep them comfortable.
- Pick your turnout wisely! Ensure they have good footing (not just in the field but to and from the field) and the fields are not too poached or on too steep a gradient, as all these can increase stress on the joints.
- Make sure their companions aren’t bullying them.
- Ensure the farrier visits regularly to keep the feet balanced. Monitor their behaviour with the farrier as a reluctance to hold their leg up for the farrier can be an early sign of joint problems.
- Physiotherapy can help keep them comfortable and mobile.
If you have any questions or would like any more information on helping your slightly older horse happy and comfortable through the winter, please get in touch and our friendly and knowledgeable team are happy to help!