Arthritis is a condition that must be properly taken care of all year round, but during winter, you may need to pay special attention to your horses with arthritis. Joints tend to be a bit more sensitive and susceptible to injury when the temperatures drop. Keep these tips in mind so your horse stays healthy throughout the winter season:
Make exercise a priority
Horses need exercise, especially those with arthritis. You may think that more movement would equal more pain for your horse’s joints, but that’s not the case. Being at a standstill only makes the symptoms of arthritis worse. If it’s particularly cold or slick outside, you can let your horse run free in an indoor arena so it gets its exercise. If you have an older horse, you can always rely on hand-walking to give it ample physical activity.
Schedule two exercise sessions a day for at least 10 to 15 minutes each.
Increase circulation by grooming
Grooming isn’t just important for a horse’s appearance, it’s crucial for its health as well. Regularly use a rubber massager brush on your horse to increase circulation to a variety of muscle groups.
Turn to supplements
What your horse eats has a direct effect on its mobility. If its joints are particularly stiff or uncomfortable, talk to your veterinarian about adding feed supplements to its feed. Glucosamine and HA, for instance, are great for reducing inflammation for increased mobility. Plus, a coat that is clean and free of any mud or debris offers more effective protection from the cold.
Maintain water consumption
The average horse body contains approximately 70 percent water, which is why it’s so important for these animals to get the water their bodies need. Your horse should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Symptoms of dehydration may include an increased heart rate.
If you notice any signs of dehydration or see that your horse isn’t drinking as much water as it needs, you can try flavoring the water to make the liquid more appealing. Experiment by adding anything from apple cider vinegar to apple juice, salt, or peppermint oil to see what your horse enjoys. Adding Apple A Day electrolyte to your horse’s feed helps them drink more water. If you are in a hurry, giving Electrocharge electrolyte paste will make your horse thirsty quickly. You can also try soaking your horse’s hay to increase its consumption. During winter, be sure to warm up your horse’s water. Horses will drink more warm water than cold.
Encourage your horse to lie down by placing a bed of hay on the ground. This will help comfort its joints when it has to be in the stable for a long period of time.