Dealing with lameness can be extremely frustrating. The equine body is incredibly complex, and despite their large stature, horses require a considerable amount of upkeep and management in order to maintain their health and physical wellness. Continue reading for tips on working to prevent lameness in your horse to keep them healthy and sound.
Your horse’s diet plays a large role in the management of your horse’s health. This is especially true when considering the management of your horse’s limbs and hooves. A horse that is overweight has a very large chance of developing laminitis, also known as founder. Founder occurs when there is inflammation of the laminae of the hoof, which causes a lack of blood supply. This condition can be extremely painful for the horse.
To avoid conditions like founder, it is important to ensure that your horse is on a finely-tailored diet plan that will keep them at a healthy and happy weight. If you are unsure what to feed your horse, how much to feed them, or which supplements you should use, consult your veterinarian. He or she will be able to provide you with a professional recommendation for your horse’s diet plan based upon their current condition and where you would like their condition to be with proper management.
It is also important to keep in mind that as your horse enters different stages of their life, they will need different nutritional management. Work with your veterinarian to design a feeding and supplement plan that is meant to cater to the age of your horse, as well.
Exercise And Turnout
Lameness can occur both from a lack of exercise, as well as too much exercise. It is important to ensure that your horse is on a carefully-planned exercise routine. If you do not think you would be able to make it to the barn for a ride on certain days of the week, think about asking a friend to ride your horse for you, or in some cases, it may be good to consider doing a half-lease. This will help ensure that your horse is taking part in the amount of exercise that they need in order to stay happy, healthy, and sound.
Horses are naturally mobile creatures, designed to be constantly on the move all day long. Keeping your horse in their stall all day can have massive negative effects on their health in the long run. If possible, arrange for your horse to be turned out whenever it is possible. Not only will this help keep their mind sharp, but regular turnout is proven to help keep bone density, hooves well-developed and healthy, and muscles strengthened. If regular turnout is not possible, try to arrange for your horse to at least be walked on a daily basis, or even have turnout time in a round pen or arena.
If you suspect that your horse will be exposed to mud, rocky terrain, or ice, ensure that you take the proper precautions to keep them safe from injury. On some days, it really just might be best to keep them out of the pasture. On days such as this, opt for a private turnout in a round pen or indoor arena where your horse can stretch their legs safely.
Protective Boots And Compression Wrapping
Making sure that your horse’s legs are always as protected as possible is an excellent way to prevent injury which can lead to lameness. Protective legwear and footwear like splint boots, bell boots, and polo wraps are all excellent options for ensuring that your horse will have little to no chance of accidentally injuring themselves while exercising. The type of protective footwear or legwear that you use will depend on your horse, as some horses have issues with overreaching, while others have issues with crossing over and clipping themselves while moving. Some horses require jumping boots, as they can injure themselves if they happen to clip a pole when going over a jump.
Compression wrapping is something that can be done in order to manage the accumulation of fluid in your horse’s legs. Generally speaking, compression wrapping is really only done when the horse has had a history with injury or circulation in the past, or during trailering. Compression wrapping may also be done when it is expected that the horse will be spending a considerable amount of time in their stall, whether it be due to inclimate weather or an injury.
If your horse goes barefoot, it may be a good idea to invest in some hoof boots. These are especially useful if you suspect that your horse will be going over uneven or rocky terrain. Hoof boots help prevent stone bruising and any damage to the bare hoof.
Maintain Close Contact With Your Farrier And Veterinarian
Working to keep a horse sound is a collective effort on the part of you, your horse’s farrier, and your horse’s veterinarian. Maintain close contact with both of these professionals to build a plan to keep your horse sound.
Ensure that your horse maintains a regular schedule for their farrier appointments. If you choose to keep your horse barefoot, make sure that they receive regular trims to keep their hooves healthy. Conduct regular examinations of your horse’s hooves when you pick them out, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary, alert both your farrier and your veterinarian, as well. It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when the health of your horse is concerned.
If you notice any signs of lameness, even if it is just a slight limp or the horse keeping just a bit of weight off of a certain leg, inform your veterinarian as soon as possible. In the case that there is an issue that needs to be addressed, having your vet come out and help you take actions to solve the issue is always best. You don’t want to let the situation escalate into something that is not easily corrected.
The equine body can be quite challenging to manage as it can be fragile, but with the proper planning with both your farrier and veterinarian, you will be able to take all the necessary steps in keeping your horse as healthy, happy, and sound as possible.