Just like older humans, ageing horses seem to feel the cold more and more with every passing winter. Here are a few ways to help keep your equine friend(s) happy and sound during the colder months:
- Support their joint health. Consider a natural daily treatment like Interpath’s 4CYTE™ EPIITALIS® Forte Gel, or 4CYTE™ for Horses granules. Both products are scientifically proven to provide pain relief and repair damaged joints affected by age, injury and arthritis.
- Keep up the exercise. Although it’s tempting to keep an older horse in a warm, cosy stall during winter, confinement can worsen their arthritis. Exercise will not only encourage movement of the synovial fluid (which reduces friction between the joints), but keep your horse’s tendons, ligaments and muscles in good condition.
- Warm up before a big ride. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure your horse is properly warmed up before you head out for a gallop on a cold winter morning. A good groom, walk around and massage should precede a warm up under saddle, followed by a stretch. This routine should reduce the risk of injuries and help avoid expensive vet bills.
- Manage your footing. For horses, negotiating hazardous winter footing can be difficult when their joints don’t move as freely as they used to. Slick, icy surfaces are obviously dangerous, but churned up mud can freeze and spell trouble too. Keep footing smooth and ice-free, and pay particular attention to areas near run-in sheds, gates, troughs and hay feeders, and the paths horses take between them.
- Keep it even: If possible, a fairly level, flat paddock is preferable to steep, hilly paddocks to put the least possible strain on the joints.
- Keep them warm: A warm, well-fitted rug helps to keep joints of the upper limb warm and comfortable. A snug, thick, well-insulated rug is preferable to multiple thinner rugs, or heavy weighted rugs that can be a greater risk of getting tangled around legs or fences.
- Soft touch: Soft bedding should be used if your horse is stabled. Standing for long periods on hard surfaces can exacerbate the pain from arthritis.
- Regular pedicures: Having your horse regularly trimmed or shod by a farrier helps maintain a healthy and well-balanced foot. Improper foot balance and overgrown feet can increase the strain on joints.