Arthritis in horses, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a chronic condition of the horse’s joint or joints. Arthritis is caused by one of two scenarios - the cartilage wears down on the joint surfaces, or there’s an infection in the joint capsule. For the wear and tear variety of arthritis, a horse’s joints will start to have bone scraping bone as the cartilage is worn away. Inflammation and pain is the result. For the septic version of arthritis, an injury or wound has created an infection in the joint capsule.
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.
Caring for horses in the spring comes with one big challenge - the lush pastures. While horses love them, spring time pastures are often associated with laminitis. As the days lengthen, the sun tells grasses and plants to rev up photosynthesis. This increases the starches, sugars, and fructans of grasses. The cool nights of spring also increase the starches, sugars, and fructans.
We are well versed in all sorts of injuries and diseases that horses may have, yet not much attention is paid to the muscles of a horse. Just like humans, horses can have issues and situations that involve muscles, it’s up to you and your Veterinarian to figure things out.
Dr. James Orsini, a leading laminitis expert at the New Bolton Center, shares with Ice Horse a little bit about his career and a lot about laminitis.
Ice Horse talks with Dr. James Orsini about laminitis risks, signs, and finding the cause.
How does the horse owner know a horse is developing laminitis? It’s critical to also understand the risk factors involved here, and laminitis has quite a few. Video included!
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.