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[ezcol_3quarter]Here are the most common signs of arthritis we see in horses at our practice. Since a very high percentage of all lameness that we see are created by arthritis, these are also some of the most common signs of lameness we see. In order to confirm these suspicions, we perform a lameness examination, take radiographs (X-rays) and/or perform an ultrasound study. This will give us certainty of the cause of the problem and how to treat it.
Fortunately, the treatment of arthritis is very straight forward once we know the cause and where is it coming from. Our approach include a combination of local treatment to the joints that are affected, in addition to systemic joint supplements.
For more information about how to treat your horse, please fill out the form with your contact information!
Common Signs of Hock Pain
Number 1: Your horse is not moving the same way as it used to
Your horse can be moving slower than previously. This applies to any horse with any athletic capacity and any breed. It can be very insidious (gradual effect with harmful ways). This will come with subtle changes over a period of time rather than overnight, unless there is an accident or a traumatic event involved.
Number 2: There is a short stride
One of the complaints I get from trainers is that their horse is not reaching as far as they used to. Usually one of the legs, although sometimes multiple ones, do not stretch as much as the
others. We call this asymmetry on the gait. Depending on the joint involved, you will see different behaviors on the pattern of the stride.
Number 3: Your ride is not as smooth as it used to be
Sometimes the only complaint I get is that the horse does not feel very comfortable anymore. It could be a choppy gate, could be a bunny hopping type of gate or any other feeling you
perceive as a rider. This is not as easy to recognize as a source of arthritis as other signs. However, it’s a very good red flag for the rider to realize there is something not 100%.
Number 4: You notice a swollen joint
This is a very easy sign to notice. Especially because you will see a difference between other joints. For example, if one fetlock is swollen, you can compare it to other fetlocks on your horse. Sometimes, nature can throw a little curve at you and your horse have all joints swollen, but this is the exception rather than the norm. The reason a joint will be swollen is because there is increase in the amount of fluid in it. This can be perceived easier in some joints than others. For example, fetlocks, knees, stifles and upper hock joints are probably the easiest ones to notice. Coffin joints, pastern, lower hock joints, neck and back are more challenging to observe.
Number 5: There is decreased range of motion in any joint
In my life, the perfect example for this is my grandmother. She loves to nit, every year she has a harder time grabbing the smaller needles. Because, her fingers don’t move as easily anymore. She has decreased range of motion. Same with horses, when they have arthritis in any of their joints, you will notice a decreased range of motion. Of course, this is easier to notice in joints
that have a high range of motion such as fetlocks, knees (carpus), neck; and slightly more difficult to notice in lower range of motion joints such as pastern, lower hock joints and back joints. With practice, any rider can detect the most subtle changes in any joint.
Number 6: When you ride him, he starts stiff and then sort of “warms” out of it
As a rule of thumb, if a lameness improves with exercise, there is a high chance, it is a joint related issue, rather than soft tissue (tendons or ligaments). For example, due to an old back
injury I developed back arthritis. Quite often, especially when I don’t take my joint supplements and don’t have a balanced diet, I have a gnawing lower back pain. As I start moving, stretching and or exercising, this pain will significantly diminish. Horses with arthritis will experience the same phenomenon, they will start moving a bit stiff or slightly lame, then they will loosen up and be able to do their job.
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