The summer season is now getting into full swing whatever equestrian sport it is that you indulge in!

Having walked cross country tracks, working hunter courses and many miles of footpath over the weekend it is obvious that the ground conditions have now changed from mud to quite firm in places very quickly.

Keeping your horse sound for the competition season is one of the primary goals of any horse owner. Riding on hard ground can cause increased leg problems in horses while they are cantering and especially when jumping.

 

Common Leg Problems in Horses

Every time your horse’s hooves hit the ground force is sent up their leg. The horse’s joints, which are filled with fluid, act as a shock absorber to help protect the skeleton from the force of concussion created when your horse is moving.

When the ground is soft, much of the concussive force is cushioned and absorbed by the ground and the rest by the structures of the foot and leg. However, when conditions are hard, the ground absorbs less of this concussive force and as a result your horse’s feet and legs take the brunt. This can lead to a number of problems including:

Concussion & jarring: Hard ground increases the potential for injury to all parts of your horse’s body as tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, foot, and muscles are put under increased stress.

Concussive laminitis: Laminitis can occur for a number of reasons and whilst it is mainly associated with horses who are overweight or ‘good doers’ it can also be caused by work on excessively hard ground, particularly if the horse is doing fast work over a prolonged period of time. This results in what is known as concussive induced laminitis. If your horse has previously had concussive laminitis, it’s important to speak to your vet about appropriate preventative measures you can put in place.

Swollen Joints: The turning and twisting nature of dressage tests and jumping can cause increased pressure on the joints of the legs. Mild concussion through the joints results in them having to work harder to produce enough joint fluid to stay lubricated and moving well. This is why you may find some swelling or heat in your horse’s legs the morning after a competition.

Sore shins: The most common presentation of concussion causing pain in the long bones is sore shins. This problem is often seen in racehorses, particularly flat horses going at high speed over the firmer summer ground. Many horses with sore shins will be very sore when you feel the front of their legs but and they may have a shortened stride, although not appear to be lame. Sore shins may be difficult to detect; here’s an article that can help you understand sore shins in horses.

Reducing the Risk:
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the risk of bone and joint problems in your horse.

Cold therapies

Horsemen and women have cold hosed horse’s legs since the invention of the hose, and before that many horses were tethered in rivers across the country for the healing benefits of running cold water on sore and tired legs. The science behind cold hosing is simple and very effective, it reduces the heat and inflammation in the leg and joints.

The effect of cold hosing may be short-lived. The initial effect of reducing the heat in a joint is achieved within the first 10 to 20 minutes of hosing, so hosing often, rather than for long periods of time, is more effective. Considering the time taken to cold hose regularly and increasing water costs it is useful to have a product in your first aid kit that can help to keep joints cool and reduce swelling without hours of standing at the tap.

Ice-Clay is a ready to use cooling leg clay for horses. It should be applied in a thick layer by rubbing against the hair after hosing. Ice-Clay also contains tea tree oil which is a natural antiseptic. If your horse has a swollen joint, examine the leg carefully first to identify any wounds or scratches which may have caused the swelling. Do not apply

Ice-Clay is a ready to use cooling leg clay for horses. It should be applied in a thick layer by rubbing against the hair after hosing. Ice-Clay also contains tea tree oil which is a natural antiseptic. If your horse has a swollen joint, examine the leg carefully first to identify any wounds or scratches which may have caused the swelling. Do not apply Ice-Clay to areas of broken skins, cuts or grazes.  

to areas of broken skins, cuts or grazes.

Ice-Clay may be useful as part of a treatment program in treating some tendon injuries, capped hocks and splints. Ice-Clay is SAFE to use in horses competing and there is no withdrawal period pre-competition.

After cold hosing or using Ice-Clay you can continue to help revitalise your horse’s hot, tired legs by gently applying Arnica and Aloe Vera Leg Gel. This convenient, cooling gel contains aloe vera, a natural antiseptic, plus arnica, a herb renowned for helping to heal bruising.

Maintain your horse’s hoof health

Horses with poor-quality hooves may be more susceptible to developing concussive laminitis and sore feet. Equally excessively dry hooves can become brittle and struggle to expand and contract. This can result in breakages, most commonly around nails and clenches.

There are several ways you can help to maintain good hoof health over the summer months. From a dietary point of view, including a hoof health supplement in your horse’s diet can be immensely beneficial. Hoof Aid Liquid and Powder contain nutritionally significant levels of biotin, as well as zinc and methionine to targeting the common deficiencies associated with poor hoof health.

Alongside adequate nutrition, good hoof hygiene is a must. As part of your daily hoof care routine the inclusion of Flexi Hoof and Heel Conditioner can be of great benefit. Flexi Hoof and Heel Conditioner cream aids with maintaining moisture to the origin of hoof growth the coronary band, promoting hoof flexibility and shock absorbance. Regular use of Flexi Hoof and Heel Conditioner cream ensures maximum hoof growth, suppleness and strength while conditioning and improving the health of the whole hoof, sole, frog and heel.

Support your horse’s joints

Hard, unyielding summer ground places extra stress on your horse’s joints. Feeding a joint supplement will help to provide additional nutritional support for normal and healthy joint function thereby helping to keep your horse comfortable and moving at his best.

Whether your aim is to feed a joint supplement to help prevent joint injury or to support a pre-existing joint issue such as osteoarthritis, we recommend Foran Equine Ost-O-Flex. This is a palatable, highly effective syrup, containing glucosamine – a key component of cartilage, MSM – to promote joint and ligament health and a bioavailable source of calcium, chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid to help maintain joint mobility and health.

For horses less than two years old, whose skeleton are still adapting we recommend Osteo-Glycan. This is a superior powdered supplement containing highly available calcium. Chelated copper and zinc, as well as vitamins A and D are included to support bone mineralisation. Osteo-Glycan also contains marine collagen, and clinoptilolite, an organic silica, all of which play essential roles in the formation of bone.

If you’re looking for any further advice, why not get in touch with one of our equine nutrition experts here.

 

Related Products

Ice-Clay

Ice-Clay

Easy to use, cooling and soothing leg clay

View Product
Arnica & Aloe Vera Leg Gel

Arnica & Aloe Vera Leg Gel

Cooling and soothing gel with anica and aloe vera

View Product
Hoof Aid Liquid

Hoof Aid Liquid

Support hoof growth and strength through a combination of Biotin and key minerals

View Product
Hoof Aid Powder

Hoof Aid Powder

Support hoof growth and strength through a combination of Biotin and key minerals

View Product
Flexi Hoof And Heel Conditioner

Flexi Hoof And Heel Conditioner

Rich nourishing conditioner cream to maintain hoof flexibilty

View Product
Ost-O-Flex

Ost-O-Flex

An effective combination to support mobility and joint function

View Product
Osteo Glycan

Osteo Glycan

Superior powdered supplement containing marine collage, vitamins and minerals to support bone and joint development

View Product

Related Nutritional Articles

Collecting Donor Colostrum

Collecting Donor Colostrum

Transition to Spring using Top Quality Supplements to Support your Horse’s Digestion & Wellbeing

Transition to Spring using Top Quality Supplements to Support your Horse’s Digestion & Wellbeing

Horse Coughing Problems, Causes and Treatment

Horse Coughing Problems, Causes and Treatment