For today’s topic, we will discuss Ringbone! For any readers not familiar, this condition affects the coffin joint. The coffin joint is the joint in the foot of a horse that connects the lower-most bone in the hoof (referred to as either the coffin bone or the pedal bone) with the bone right above in, called the Pastern Bone.
Ringbone is a painful condition caused by bone growth in the coffin joint, similar to osteoarthritis. For more information on osteoarthritis in horses, check out our blog post on it! Ringbone can affect horses of any breed, age, or discipline, but it most often effects mature horses who have experienced intensive training. Ringbone most commonly effects the front legs of a horse, but it can also affect the hind legs.
High and low ringbone
A horse can experience ringbone in multiple parts of the coffin area. If the growth occurs in the pastern, the horse will likely be diagnosed with high ringbone. Alternatively, if the growth occurs in the coffin bone, the horse will be diagnosed with low ringbone. While both conditions are similar, low ringbone will cause a moderate lameness even in early cases, where as high ringbone may only cause a mild lameness. In advanced cases, the horse may have more severe lameness and pain.
Diagnosis of either type of ringbone will require a lameness test from a veterinarian, including flexion tests to localize the source of the pain. At this point, the veterinarian will likely take radiographs to identify the extent and direction of the bone growth.
Treatments for ringbone
Unfortunately, ringbone cannot be reversed, but it can be limited. A large part of treating ringbone in a horse is focused around limiting the advancement of the condition, and managing the horse’s pain.
Managing your horse’s weight can make a huge difference in the pain of the horse and the progression of the disease. An overweight horse will place more weight on the effected joints, which can also lead to additional problems. For more information, read our post on equine laminitis.
Routinely work with your farrier to regularly trim the horse’s hooves, and appropriately shoe the horse. This can limit the pain by changing the distribution of the weight of the horse to be more equally balanced, and reduce the pressure that is on the pastern bone. This treatment is most effective if applied in early cases, and may require the farrier and the veterinarian to work together to determine the best shoeing options for the horse.
Feed supplements designed for joint support can help reduce inflammation and support healthy cartilage growth. We recommend using supplements that include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, Omega-3s, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), and hyaluronic acid.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as NSAIDS are an excellent resource for managing pain. However, a veterinarian may prescribe other drugs, such as phenylbutazone.
Corticosteroid injections, hyaluronic acid injections, and in Europe (due to pending FDA approval in the US), polyacrylamide hydrogel into the joint.
Bone Remodeling medications, such as Osphos and Tildren, which bind to calcium and inhibit bone resorption.
Surgery – reserved for severe cases where horses have not responded to the previously mentioned treatments. The surgery, called arthrodesis, fuses the joint. The recovery for this kind of surgery can take six months to a year, and it often alters the gait of the horse. There is only a 50% chance of the horse returning to its full performance that it had prior to experiencing ringbone. However, it does resolve the pain of the horse and can help the horse to still have an active and fulfilling life.
Undoubtedly, early treatment of ringbone results in a better prognosis and is often most helpful. If you suspect your horse may have ringbone, or may not be feeling well in general, it may be time to call your vet.
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Depending on where you live and keep your horse, you may not have much space for riding your horse at home. One of the best ways to enjoy the end of summer is to take your horse on a field trip and adventure to a trail together. Equestrian trails can offer many beautiful sites to see, and can vary in distance so you can easily find the right kind of trail for you.
Articles and Blogs
Because of the exploding popularity of blogging, many horse riders have written reviews of trails they have been to, and either submit them to equine publications or post them on their own blog. For example, Horse and Rider has a whole section of their website specifically dedicated to trail riding and finding trails to ride. Here, you can narrow down your search by region, or by the type of area you want to go to, such as National Parks.
One great thing about these publications is that it offers a very detailed and descriptive first-hand account of people who visited the trail. This provides a key insight to the trail experience that might be difficult to find elsewhere. These posts often include information on what it is like to stay there overnight, and options for managing your horses during your stay.
Several entrepreneurs saw the need to conveniently organize trail information into a format that could be easily searched, and filtered through based on what you’re looking for in a trail! As a result, there are several great, online or mobile resources for finding trails.
TrailMeister is an online resource for finding horse trails, but also much more, such as horse camps, horse product reviews, helpful how-to videos and more. They also allow you to create your own account, track trails that you have been to, and create bucket lists for future trails.
While all of their trails allow you make comments, it seems and so though their user base is small enough that many trails listed on their website don’t include reviews by people who have visited the trail. However, in the search feature, you can still easily read the amenities that each trail location has to offer so you can be prepared for your trip.
AllTrails is a popular resource for outdoor enthusiasts of all types! AllTrails offers both free and paid services to use their website or mobile app. By using AllTrails, you can search in specific areas, and filter by the activity (we know you’re using it for horse back riding, of course), the rating of reviews left by other visitors, the length of the trail, and even the types of attractions you want to see on the trail!
Just like TrailMeister, AllTrails allows you to save trails to lists you create so you can easily find them again. The paid subscription of AllTrails allows you to use GPS on your trail, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
A word of caution: because AllTrails is used by hikers, runners, bikers, and more, you may want to thoroughly read the details of a trail you pick through this app to determine what kind of groups you could be sharing a trail with and the popularity of the trail, especially if your horse is sensitive or easily spooked.
We hope this helped you find a way to secure a location for your next trail adventure. For more helpful information about horses, join our newsletter!
This article is the second part of our Emergency Kit Must-Haves series. We understand that the unpredictable nature of emergencies can be an immense challenge; we wanted to share information on building an emergency kit to help you prepare for the unexpected.
This month we will be covering Dormosedan Gel®.
Dormosedan Gel® produces a mild sedative affect and is typically used prior to performing a minor surgical or diagnostic procedure, or if your horse gets nervous due to veterinary visits, clipping, or getting shod. Dormosedan Gel® is administered underneath the tongue, but it is ineffective if swallowed. Dormosedan Gel® typically takes a minimum of 40 minutes to take affect and can make horses sedated up to 180 minutes. Withhold both food and water until the effects of Dormosedan Gel® have worn off.
Dormosedan Gel® Application Do’s
Prior to administering Dormosedan Gel®, thoroughly clean the horse’s mouth, removing all food. Ensure that food and water are removed from the stall so that the horse does not swallow the gel while drinking or eating.
Impermeable gloves must be used when handling Dormosedan Gel®.
Avoid getting Dormosedan Gel® on your skin, eyes, or mouth because it is highly absorbed on these surfaces. If your skin or mucous membranes are exposed to Dormosedan Gel®, wash the affected area immediately and promptly seek medical attention. If your Dormosedan Gel® gets on your clothing, remove that contaminated clothing article.
Note that Dormosedan Gel® has deleterious effects on humans, including low blood pressure and low heart rate. If you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, take special precautions when administering this drug.
Other drugs with sedation effects should not be used in conjunction with Dormosedan Gel®, as the effects may have a cumulative result.
If your horse has certain pre-existing conditions, such as atrioventricular or sino-atrial blocks, respiratory or kidney disease, do not use Dormosedan Gel®.
Do not use Dormosedan Gel® on horses who are already anesthesized or sedated, or if your horse is experiencing shock or stress due to extreme hea or cold, fatigue, or high altitude.
If your horse has hypersensitivity to detomidine, do not use Dormosedan Gel®.
Do not use on horses intended for human consumption (we assume this probably doesn’t apply to our readers, but it is an important cautionary note).
Dormosedan Gel® General Cautionary Notes:
Federal law indicates that Dormosedan Gel® can only be prescribed or used by a licensed veterinarian.
Dormosedan Gel® is not a painkiller, and as such it should not be used during painful procedures.
Place Dormosedan Gel® under the horse’s tongue to successfully administer the medication. Unlike many oral veterinary products, Dormosedan Gel® is not meant to be swallowed. Swallowing could result in ineffectiveness.
Horses administered Dormosedan Gel® can exhihbit hypertensive side effects, as well as incoordination or staggering within the first five minutes after injection.
Dormosesdan Gel is for horses over one year old. It has not been tested in ponies, miniature horses, horses under one year of age, or in breeding, pregnant, or lactating horses.
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“Dormosedan Gel®.” Drugs.Com, www.drugs.com/vet/dormosedan-gel.html. Accessed 26 July 2022.
DORMOSEDAN (detomidine hydrochloride) GEL is a synthetic alpha2-adrenoreceptor agonist with sedative properties. DORMOSEDAN GEL® is indicated for sedation and restraint in horses. “Dormosedan Gel®®.” Zoetis US, https://www.zoetisus.com/products/horses/dormosedangel/dormosedan-gel.aspx#.
“FDA Approves First Generic Detomidine Hydrochloride Injectable Solution for Horses.” FDA, 28 Apr. 2020, www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/cvm-updates/fda-approves-first-generic-detomidine-hydrochloride-injectable-solution-horses.
Luukkanen, L., et al. “Some Effects of Multiple Administration of Detomidine during the Last Trimester of Equine Pregnancy.” National Library of Medicine, Equine Veterinary Journal, Sept. 1997, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9306069.
Did you know that your horse’s hock, or tibiotarsal joint, consists of ten bones and four joints? The structure of the hock is similar to that of a human ankle, but is located on the horse’s hind limb. When looking at a horse from the side, the hock is midway down the back legs – it’s the downward pointed area. The hock is often a site of horse aliments.
Equine athletes, such as show jumping and barrel racing horses, often face chronic health conditions involving their joints. Arthritis, or more accurately, osteoarthritis (OA), occurs when the joints deteriorate. Once deterioration of the joint starts, arthritis will continue to worsen. Like in humans, arthritis in horses is a degenerative joint disease. Arthritis affects the entire joint including the underlying bone, ligaments, synovial fluid, and tissues. This disease typically affects the joint where two cartilage-covered bones meet and link the skeletal system. Over time, arthritis may cause irreversible damage to your horse’s joint, causing the horse to become lame. Severe arthritis can occur in aging horses; however, arthritis can affect horses of all ages, breeds, and disciplines.
What are some of the symptoms of arthritis in horses?
Traumatic arthritis typically occurs quickly after an experienced injury. Symptoms of arthritis may include heat and swelling from increased joint fluid, pain, tenderness lameness, decreased movement due to joint stiffness after a period of inactivity, uneven gait, deformation caused by changes in bone, shortened stride, and even popping or grinding sounds coming from the affected joint(s). A behavioral change may also be indicative of arthritis – your horse may be unwilling or unable to keep up with your requests; racing horses may no longer want to race and jumpers may no longer want to jump. Other injuries or conditions may present similarly to arthritis so a veterinary assessment is vital for proper diagnosis.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis in horses and this long-term condition never goes away, but there are a number of treatments that can help relieve the horse’s symptoms and pain.
If you suspect your horse has arthritis it may be time to call your vet. Your vet can perform a physical exam to diagnose changes in joint soft tissues and to confirm that their state is not due to another condition with similar symptoms. Diagnostic techniques to gain additional information on your horse’s joint health may include radiography, ultrasonography, computer tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How can I help manage my horse’s arthritis?
Treatment includes the management of pain and inflammation. One of the typical courses of action, after maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular, non-strenuous, regular exercise, is to inject non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) directly into the affected joint(s). Other treatments include systemic therapy, supplements, intra-articular medication, biological therapies, along with rest and rehabilitation.
Are arthritic horses still rideable?
It depends on the stage of the arthritis. Horses who have early stages of arthritis generally may continue to be ridden, but at modified, low-impact levels. Horses suffering from advanced arthritis may not be able to tolerate being ridden. Unfortunately, some horses have such progressive arthritis that euthanasia may be the most humane option. Seek veterinary advice for the most appropriate solution for your horse’s condition.
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Osteoarthritis: a common disease that should be avoided in the athletic horse’s life
This is part of a multi-part series where we discuss things that your horse’s emergency kit should have. Our last part of this series was about a medication called flunixin, which can help relieve pain in an emergency. In this post, we will discuss the set sterilizing products that should exist in every horse emergency kit.
Have you ever owned a first-aid kit for humans, and noticed just how many bandages, gauze wraps, and sanitary wipes are in there? Well, your horse’s emergency kit needs to have the same kind of set! We will cover all that this should include in full detail, but these types of things are in there to generally take care of minor cuts, scrapes, burns and other wounds. Most of these wounds won’t require a vet trip, but they are unpleasant for the horse, and if untreated, can lead to painful and dangerous infections.
A roll of Cotton – This can be used to absorb fluids coming from a would or added to a bandage to extra cushioning for a wound.
Gauze pads / gauze roll – This can be used to protect a wound from friction, licking, and keeps it sanitary to reduce the risk of infection. These are used in the same way that band-aids are used on people.
Medical Tape – this is used to secure bandages to the horse.
Latex Gloves – This is used to prevent any pathogens on your hands from contaminating the horse’s wound, which helps prevent infections.
Scissors – This is great for cutting bandages, gauze, and tape to fit tightly on the horse, and to remove bandages when they are no longer needed.
A wound cleaning solution – There are quite a few products that can fall into this category, and all are great to use depending on the size and depth of the wound.
Saline Solution – such as a bottle of contact-lens solution is great for flushing out delicate would, such as near the eye.
Hydrogen Peroxide- this can be used to clean dirt out of a wound but is best to not use in particularly sensitive areas, such as a horse’s face.
Rubbing alcohol – this is great to clean other instruments in your kit, such as scissors, but is not great to apply directly to the wounds of a horse. However, it can be used to prepare an injection site if you need to give your horse a shot.
7.Antibiotic Ointment – this can be applied to wounds to help prevent infection. This is the same kind of triple antibiotic you would use on a wound for a person.
We understand that much of this is self-explanatory when you think about it, since this is a lot of stuff that you can also find and use on human injuries, but we would rather state the obvious than risk you not having these in your horse’s emergency kit. For more helpful information about horse health, join our newsletter or tune back into future posts!
Just like people, horses age with the passage of time and can eventually die from old age. Due to the improvement of veterinary practices, technology, and horse care, horses now reach their golden years much more often than they did previously. An aging horse is likely to experience some of the unpleasant symptoms with aging, and in this post, we’re going to discuss how to properly care for your horse friends as they age.
Aging In Horses
Signs of aging in horses are not always all that different from aging in people, for example, horses’ fur and manes will often lighten in color and turn gray with age and they may experience lameness, arthritis, a loss of muscle mass, poorer eyesight. An addition, aging horses may have drooping fetlocks, prominent withers, sunken eyes, hearing loss, weight loss, weakened immune systems, and more.
Horses that are elderly are also more prone to developing certain diseases, such as Cushing’s Disease, Osteoarthritis, and general cardiovascular, digestive, and endocrine issues.
Caring for an Elderly Horse
Older horses may require special diets. Sometimes, older horses have damaged teeth, and require special food that does not need to be chewed as much. As horses age, and therefore naturally experience declines in the performance of their gastrointestinal tract, they may have a more difficult time getting all the nutrients they need from their food. Because of this, it is common to give older horses vitamins and supplements.
If you believe your horse is experiencing joint pain, a veterinarian may recommend specialized horseshoes to help with it, treatments with NSAIDs such as flunixin, or even injections of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids or hyaluronic acids.
As horses get older, and their immune systems naturally decline, keeping up with routine vaccinations and deworming becomes even more important. Some suggest that when deworming, or testing for the need to deworm, it is a good idea to quarantine older horses to reduce the risks of parasites spreading while you work to get them under control.
How to Know When to Stop Riding
No one likes giving up riding time with their horses, but at a certain point, it is necessary to because it may just be too hard on an older horse’s body. While there is no exact, hard and fast number, many veterinarians recommend that you stop riding your horse somewhere when he or she is 18-25 years old. This number can change a bit depending on the health of the horse, and how well they are adjusting to aging.
Up until this point, you may have ridden, but noticed that your horse is riding slower. This is perfectly normal and to be expected for older horses.
It is also important to remember that just because a horse is too old to be ridden, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need exercise still. It is very important to continue to give older horses exercise, it might just be at a bit of a slower pace.
Equus Magazine did a great job going into full detail about what to expect when caring for an aging horse in this article, so we recommend giving it a read it you wanted more details.
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