15 ways you can help your horse’s joints [H&H VIP]

  • In the current issue of H&H (9 January) we bring together top riders, vets and other specialists to find out if joint problems are on the increase. Here are our experts' recommendations on how to keep your horse's joints healthy — buy the magazine to read the feature in full

    1. Be more responsible for your horse. Know what “normal” looks like for him. Check his legs, trot up and lunge him regularly, do all you can to understand his way of going.
    2. Learn some biomechanics. A basic understanding will help you spot early warning signs.
    3. It’s up to you to balance your horse. Persistent poor training/crookedness can actually cause joint problems.
    4. Check you yourself are not crooked.
    5. Work on different surfaces: don’t become an arena addict. Horses need variety, and hard surfaces and uneven ground are useful in moderation.
    6. Make sure you know what exercise your horse has done if you are not able to do it yourself.
    7. Act early if you detect swelling or heat — joint problems can be managed much more effectively if diagnosed earlier.
    8. Don’t overlook the value of rest. Even if you only have 1 horse to ride — he may need it.
    9. Communicate with your vet and farrier. They are vital team members in keeping your horse sound.
    10. Consider trimming foals’ feet from an earlier age. 
    11. Do not be obsessed about your horse having perfectly matching feet. A mature horse just needs the right feet for his shape and build.
    12. Try to “MOT” your horse regularly. Prevention costs less than cure.
    13. Don’t allow your horse to get fat. Excess weight is not good for joints
    14. Plentiful movement and turnout benefits horses. And don’t snub the horse-walker.
    15. Don’t write a horse off because it’s 110th lame — so are many people, but it does not stop them from living full, active lives.