If you are keen to keep your horses mobile, flexible and in work, even into old age, then read on.
If a horse is even mildly lame, there is a reason. Pain is nature’s way of telling a body to rest so healing can take effect. Just giving the horse “bute” and a few days off or worse still “bute” and no time off, is not going to solve the problem. More than likely it will make it worse.
The herbal kingdom has a great repertoire of herbs to prevent and heal joint problems. There are several herbs with unique actions that I would class as miraculous. I only use liquid herbal extracts made from organic herbs grown in Tasmania which are orally syringed. In this way the herbs go straight into the bloodstream via the liver which is a superior therapeutic method.
Knowing how joints work helps to understand problem conditions and how to treat them. Herbs are particularly effective in helping the equine body to repair joints and to prevent problems in the first place.
The basic structure and function of all limb joints, also known as articulations, are the same. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones where they articulate with the other bone/s in the joint. It also protects and facilitates transmission of physical stress to the underlying subchondral bone. Cartilage has no nerve or blood supply and obtains it nutrition from the synovial (joint) fluid which also surrounds the joint and lubricates the synovial membrane lining the joint capsule. Whilst articular cartilage can regenerate there is usually a narrow window of opportunity to influence its regeneration.
The synovial membrane does have a nerve and blood supply so pain and lameness is caused by inflammation of both the synovial membrane and the surrounding joint capsule whilst minor damage of the articular cartilage may not necessarily cause lameness.
Degenerative Joint Disease or Osteoarthritis
At the outset this is a disease of cartilage which progresses to bony changes in the later stages. It is caused by injury or may be systemic in onset and whilst it mainly affects mature horses, it can also affect younger animals.
Arthritis also known as Osteo Arthritis or DJD (degenerative joint disease) is one of the most common afflictions of man and beast.
As this painful condition cannot be cured, prevention is the best strategy. There are herbs and natural feeds which alleviate symptoms and prevent further degeneration.
Mitigating the effects of stiffness and pain allows many horses to continue in work or makes retired horses more comfortable and more mobile, which assists further in keeping the disease at bay until the horse is a lot older. Obviously the earlier the condition is recognised and treated the better, because in the early stages cartilage can be favourably influenced to regenerate, using unique herbs.
What causes DJD and why does it commonly affect fetlock, knee, hock, pastern and shoulder joints in horses?
It can be caused as a result of lack of essential nutrients in the diet, inadequate or incorrect feeding, an accident causing injury, from conformational faults, from repetitive stresses and strains on certain joints, working young horses in the wrong way and for too long before they are mature enough to cope with the work, as well as genetic predispositions.
Any kind of injury to bone or joints large or small can become a site for arthritis at a later date, some times long after. It is vital to administer first aid at this time, not just bute and time off.
Homeopathic Arnica should be in everyone’s emergency response kit, even if that is all you have. Just a few drops under the tongue immediately, followed up with hourly intervals will work wonders systemically.
A good herbal alternative to bute is Devil’s Claw and my formula combines this herbs with Meadowsweet, which makes it even more effective. This should be used along with the Arnica.
Proper nutrition of the foal in utero and throughout the horse’s growth, development and training is the true basis for prevention of joint problems from occurring in the first place. This is called preventive nutrition. The equine body requires a whole range of nutrients for growth and repair, and they don’t just need it occasionally, they need it all the time, with the requirements changing depending on their stage of development and training. Feeding isn’t just about calories!
Conventional treatment of young horses with developmental abnormalities such as OCD is to virtually starve them so they don’t grow too fast. All this does is to deprive the growing body of the essential building blocks for normal growth and make the condition worse.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the overfed youngster, probably also pumped up with steroids, which is particular prone to problems, due to extreme stresses on young joints from being overweight and too heavily muscled for the stage of development.
VF Joint Health Products
There are two joint health products available through my shop, the Guardian Formula which is specifically suitable for performance horses to maintain healthy joint and ligament function, and the Sustain Joint Formula which is specifically for older horses to maintain mobility.
Designer herbal remedies customised to the individual requirements are also available through consultation.
Natural preventive nutrition, premium quality therapeutic herbal remedies and timely emergency responses, are an unbeatable package, which can save a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of heartaches.