Throughout your horse's life, its musculoskeletal system and joints will be put to test. In older horses, stiffness and lameness are often linked to the development of osteoarthritis. Although osteoarthritis is a common condition for aged horses, it is possible to limit these stiffnesses to create a more comfortable life for your horse.
We offer you some advice on how you can try to improve the joint comfort of your senior horse.
Remember to keep an eye on the weight of your senior horse, especially when it is no longer working. Beware, weight gain is problematic for weakened joints because it will overload them. Note that excess weight can also lead to other problems such as laminitis.
Just like obesity, massive weight loss (fat and muscle) is also a concern for an older horse. It is important that it keeps in good enough condition to be able to move around easily, which is essential for drinking and eating. Movement also helps limit the development of chronic pain linked to osteoarthritis.
If your senior horse is in good shape, there is nothing to prevent it from continuing to exercise by walking. Regular work helps to maintain the musculature and limit the ankylosis of the arthritic joints. When working, as with a younger horse, it is recommended to do so on good ground. Avoid excessively hard ground, which puts more strain on the joints and bones. Very deep and slippery ground will require more effort, increase the risk of falling and overload the tendons.
The saying "no foot, no horse" also applies to retired horses. A regular visit from your pastor or farrier is essential to keep your horse's feet in good health! Feeding is important and it is possible to supplement the intake of biotin, an essential element for the growth of a quality horn. This component is found in particular in Hoof Biotine.
If your horse is suffering from joint pain that restricts its movements, your vet can recommend treatments to relieve it. Your horse may be treated with anti-inflammatory products such as corticosteroids, irap or prp, combined with lubricating products such as hyaluronic acid. General treatments can also be used to treat the affected joint as well as other affected joints. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to relieve pain. Bisphosphonates can be used to limit bone reshaping, bone pain and the development of osteoarthritis.
Finally, to support the joints of your senior horse, you can use food supplements which will limit the development of stiffness, such as Harpagyl which is rich in harpagoside. These can be used continuously or during more difficult periods for your horse: change in the texture of the ground, intense cold, etc...
Do not hesitate to ask your vet for advice.