SOUNDNESS Exercise and arthritis
Q:My horse is beginning to develop minor arthritis, but he is prone to laminitis so I know I need to keep him active. What are some good exercises for him that won’t stress him too much? He has been started on an MSM/glucosamine supplement.
Name withheld by request
A:Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. People experience different types of arthritis, but in horses, we primarily see degenerative osteoarthritis (OA)---inflammation that, when unchecked, leads to degradation of the cartilage and the remodeling
of the bone in and around a joint. Lameness and swelling in a joint are obvious signs of advancing OA, but earlier warnings can include reduced activity when the horse is at liberty, stiffness or mild lameness that disappears with exercise, and an uncharacteristic reluctance to jump, turn around barrels or perform other athletic activities.
Horses develop OA for a number of reasons, and effective treatment requires identifying and addressing the underlying cause. Poor conformation, advanced age and obesity can make a horse more susceptible to arthritis, and other common causes include joint infection, trauma and overuse stemming from training or competition. Promptly treating causes like trauma, especially in younger horses, may lead