Five Common Horse Health Problems and How to Prevent Them

Sometimes, a vet can get your horse back to normal; unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Avoiding ailments is the best medicine, so we’re sharing five common horse health problems and how to prevent them. Please note that this is just a brief overview, meant to bring the following issues to your attention. We strongly encourage you to seek professional veterinary sources to learn more. 

Common health problem #1: Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (or Degenerative Joint Disease) greatly affects your horse’s range of motion. In fact, it’s actually one of the most common reasons why owners need to retire their horses. The affected joints swell, appearing larger than normal and causing your horse to act stiff. 

Unfortunately, once your horse has arthritis, there is no cure for it. To reduce the likelihood of arthritis, you’ll need to start prevention measures early. Make sure your horse has enough time to warm up and cool down. Change up where you ride—you’ll need to ride on different types of terrain, avoiding hard or uneven surfaces. Lastly, keep an eye on your horse’s weight, as being overweight only places more pressure on their joints. 

Common health problem #2: Laminitis 

Laminitis is a serious condition, causing painful structural changes in a horse’s hoof. Horses stand almost all the time, so the inflammation is extremely uncomfortable.

Symptoms include: 

  • An increased heart rate
  • Reluctance to walk or move 
  • Rocking on the heels 
  • Hot hooves for several hours 

Luckily, you can intervene before symptoms become debilitating—or even before your horse experiences them. One way to prevent laminitis is to invest in performance boots. These devices reduce stress and pain, but make sure you order the right size! 

Other steps toward prevention include maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program. You horse needs to let out their pent-up energy, and exercise also keeps their limbs in great shape. 

However, if your horse has laminitis, seek veterinary attention immediately and follow the vet’s instructions carefully. 

Common health problem #3: Poor dental care

If you notice a foul odor coming from your horse’s mouth, they likely have poor dental hygiene.

Eventually, after constantly eating feed, horses wear down their teeth unevenly. If your horse starts to behave abnormally, their teeth could be bothering them. Remember to take your horse to a vet to have them file down his or her teeth as often as necessary. 

To ensure a healthy horse, make sure you start routine dental care early. Young horses should have their teeth checked every six months. Horses older than five years of age should have annual oral examinations, and they may even need to visit more than once. Dental conditions shouldn’t be allowed to go for too long, as they can affect your horse’s overall health and lead to more serious problems down the road.

Common health problem #4: Colic

Colic, one of the graver illnesses, involves severe abdominal pain, and it may require surgery. While this isn’t a disease, it’s the number-one killer of horses. Regardless of age, breed, or sex, any horse can get colic. There are also different types, including gas colic, obstructive colic, and many others. 

If you want to help prevent colic, you’ll need to take your horse’s digestive health seriously. 

Here are some precautions you can take to help prevent equine colic

  • Feed your horse only what they need : 
  • Give them a roughage-rich diet 
  • Make sure they drink plenty of fresh, clean water to avoid impaction 
  • If needed, provide digestive supplements 

Common health problem #5: Back issues 

A horse’s back is a complicated system of bones, muscles, tendons, nerves, and more—one wrong move and they’ll feel pain throughout their entire body.  

Unfortunately, performance horses frequently experience back problems. If you and your horse compete often, keep in mind that they may develop back issues over time. You’ll know your horse is in pain if you notice changes in their performance. 

One of the best back pain remedies for horses is rest. Even one or two days off can help prevent overuse.  

To relieve any pain, you can also use Limber Up® liniment foam or spray. Formulated to relax your horse’s tired muscles, these horse health products deliver cooling, soothing relief. They’re also non-greasy, so you can apply the product before putting on a brace.

In extreme cases, you may have to see a vet for injections or mesotherapy. You can also see a practitioner in your area for special massage or stretching programs.

To prevent future problems, be sure that your horse’s saddle fits; an ill-fitting saddle will scar or rub up against their skin. We offer a saddle liner that soothes sore backs and ensures a perfect fit. 

We hope reading about these five common horse health problems prepares you for the future. We know your horses mean the world to you, so we do everything we can to make sure they’re living healthfully and happily. 

You can ensure your horse is in the best shape with Back on Track, a top-rated provider of therapeutic equine products. From head to hoof, your horse will feel their best and perform to their fullest potential. Shop our horse health products now, or reach out to our staff with any questions. 

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