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5 Health Conditions All Horse Owners Should Be Aware Of

Every good horse owner wants what’s best for their noble steed. So, it’s important to be able to recognise signs of ill health in your horse to ensure they get the best care possible.

From Arthritis to Gastric Ulcers, here’s five health conditions all keen equestrians should be aware of.

1. Arthritis

Just like us humans, older horses are also prone to arthritis. This slow-developing disease occurs when the joint cartilage wears down, resulting in pain and reducing movement in the affected limbs.

However, the pain can be managed by stimulating the cartridge, which can also slow down the progress of the disease. Studies have also revealed that products containing Glycosaminoglycan polysulphate and hyaluronan (for example, Hylartil and Hyonate) can help lessen pain, as well as improve your horse’s quality of life. 

2. Equine Colic

Although relatively common, equine colic is a big concern for horse owners. Colic literally just means abdominal pain, but it can range from slight discomfort to a twisted gut that may require life-saving surgery.

This condition is characterised by rolling around or wanting to lie down, pawing at the ground, a lack of appetite, and issues defecating. Due to the potential severity of the situation, all instances of colic should be treated as an emergency.

3. Laminitis

Laminitis is as common as it is painful. This condition is an inflammation of the laminae, soft tissue found in the hoof of horses and ponies. Laminitis affects blood flow to the area, causing the tissue to swell. Over time, the lack of blood flow causes cells in the laminae to die.

This is a big problem, as this tissue supports the pedal bone, and therefore the animal’s weight. Overweight horses are particularly susceptible to getting laminitis, but the disease can be caused by a number of things, from stress to bacterial infection.

4. Desmitis

Desmitis is common in athletic horses and is found in both the fore and hind limbs. This condition is an inflammation of a horse’s ligament, usually caused by an injury (although incorrectly fitted shoes can also cause desmitis), with the three most common ligaments affected being the suspensory ligaments (this is known as Proximal Suspensory Desmitis or PSD), the check ligament, and the collateral ligaments in the coffin joint. Symptoms include limping, heat or damage in the problem area, swelling, and reluctance to stand.

5. Gastric Ulcers

Gastric ulcers are painful erosions in the lining of a horse’s stomach, usually caused by stress or a lack of green food. There are two types - squamous ulcers and glandular ulcers. Squamous ulcers (also known as equine squamous gastric disease) affect the top third of a horse’s stomach and are created by excess acid.

Whereas glandular ulcers (equine glandular gastric disease) affect the bottom two thirds of the animal’s belly and are caused by the mucus lining failing to protect the glandular tissue. Reduced appetite, stomach pain, weight loss, and a change in attitude are common signs of gastric ulcers, but they can be treated by Gastroguard once diagnosed by a vet.

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