Arthritis in Horses

Tiz Cha Cha Cha, a Thoroughbred mare, has never travelled to the left. She would get aggressive when competing in dressage, frame or jumping. She would twirl her head and slap her ears. It was assumed that she was a Thoroughbred, but X-rays showed her to be a very aggressive Thoroughbred. She also suffered from arthritis and bone-on-bone pain.

What’s equine osteoarthritis?

Equine degenerative joint disorder (DJD) is also known as equine osteoarthritis (OA). This chronic disease results in joint degeneration and decreased flexibility. All joints in horses can be affected. This is true for all breeds and ages. It is believed that OA accounts for as much as 60% of horse lameness.

How do different equine sports impact specific joints?

While any horse can be affected by OA in any discipline, there are some common issues and joint problems in all equine sports. For example, cutting horses and reining horses greatly impact the horses’ hocks and stifle. This increases their OA risk. Hunter jumpers are also more likely to develop front limb lameness at the coffin and fetlock joints. A horse with more extensive use of a joint increase the likelihood of developing OA.

What causes arthritis among horses?

Trauma to the joint



Improper shoeing

What signs are there of arthritis in horses?

Limping or lameness in one or more joints

Warm to the touch, swelling or pain joints

Reluctance to stand, walk, trot, or canter or difficulty with this behaviour

Reduced movement or stiffness of the joints

What should I do if my horse is suffering from arthritis?

Ask your veterinarian to examine your horse if you think your horse may be suffering from joint pain. Your veterinarian can do a lameness assessment. This will allow you to confirm the diagnosis. Ask your veterinarian for details about osteoarthritis treatment.

How can my veterinarian diagnose OA in my horse’s horses?

Your veterinarian can perform a routine lameness exam on your horse and provide diagnostic tools to determine if your horse has arthritis.



Nuclear scintigraphy



Nerve and joint blockages



Is equine osteoarthritis treatable?

Although there is no cure for OA in horses, unfortunately, it can be treated with pain relief and inflammation.

What treatment options are available for horse arthritis?

Equine OA treatment relieves pain and inflammation, allowing horses to move more freely. For more information on treating equine osteoarthritis, ask your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend one of these prescription medications for your horse.


Adequan i.m.


Overtakes Topical

How can horses’ joint health be protected?

You can incorporate horse arthritis supplements such as Cosequin or Command Cetyl Advanced to maintain cartilage and joints.

Prioritize hoof care and maintain horses on a regular trim plan. A lifelong horse farrier can tell you more about horse hoof health.

Avoid obesity and keep horses at their optimum weight.

High-quality nutrition is essential for healthy bones and healthy cartilage.

Use softer feet and limit your work on hard surfaces.

  • Nadia S. Reid

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