In some parts of the county, the frozen ground is a welcome occurrence! Bugs are gone, snow might be coming, and the earth gets a time to rest. BUT - you horse’s hooves might not appreciate it so much.
Frozen ground is wickedly hard - harder than any concrete or asphalt road. It also likes to freeze rocks into place, creating little spikes in the ground. Your horse won’t be able to kick them out of the way, so tripping is a risk, as are nasty bruises from landing on one of those - even at the walk.
If you dive into the journals, medical research, and scientific papers, you will find that laminitis sometimes falls into one of three general phases or stages: Sub clinical, acute, and chronic. What does this mean as it relates to laminitis and your horse?
A windpuff is a soft and squishy blemish found on a horse’s lower leg. Generally speaking, windpuffs are just a blemish. Occasionally, a windpuff will cause pain and lameness. You will typically find them around the back of the fetlock joint. This is the point of your horse’s anatomy that the digital flexor tendons wrap under the fetlock on their way to the hoof. The tendons themselves are covered with a tendon sheath. Between the tendon and the tendon sheath is a layer of fluid.
What’s the big deal about icing horse hooves?
If you have ever seen a horse with laminitis, you understand the agony and suffering that goes on. It’s horrible. Doing everything you can to prevent such a situation will help your horse have a better life! There are several situations that horses can find themselves in that warrant some ice therapy on their hooves as a preventive measure. All in the name of pain relief, reducing inflammation, and helping to prevent laminitis!
What are splint injuries in horses?
Splints are a fairly common occurrence in horses, and for the most part they are fairly benign where the small splint bone of the lower leg is fractured, or the accompanying tendon is injured. It’s always critical to involve your Veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan, as some splint injuries can be critical.
What to do if you suspect laminitis!
Not all hoof injuries and conditions are laminitis, but many possibilities look the same, and might feel the same, to your horse. Any time a horse has soreness, lameness, heat in the hooves, or you suspect a hoof issue, please consult your Veterinarian for a treatment plan. We had the amazing opportunity to chat with Dr. James Orsini, of the New Bolton Center, about laminitis.
Your horse's vet kit - how to put one together!
One of the most important things you can have for your horse, besides a carrot, is his Vet Kit. Horses are masters of getting into trouble, and a well planned Vet Kit will bridge the gap between and accident and your Veterinarian arriving. Vet Kits are easy to put together if you have a handy list.
Laminitis is the most dreaded of all horse conditions - intense pain and often long lasting and tragic results. While we do know a lot about the causes of laminitis and ways to help the laminitis horse, there are also these amazing little tidbits of laminitis information that might just help your horse avoid laminitis all together.
Laminitis isn’t the same for all horses, and a lot of that has to do with the reason that laminitis has occurred. What we do know is that there are lots of reasons for laminitis to affect a horse, and those reasons can be boiled down to four categories.
The stifle joint functions to flex and extend the hind leg, moving your horse along. The passive stay apparatus that locks your horse’s hind leg so the other one can rest is also part of the stifle joint’s function. When comparing anatomy to the human skeleton, the stifle joint is equivalent to the knee. However, the human knee is straight when we are standing, and the stifle is angled when the horse is standing.
The hock joints of your horse are located on the hind legs just above the cannon bones. They are equivalent to the human ankle. The hock functions to carry weight, push off the earth, and allow your horse to run, jump, turn, and play. The hock joints are such an important joint to all equine athletes, regardless of discipline.