Last Updated on March 31, 2022 by Allison Price
Horses are quadrupeds and can be ridden fast or jump to escape danger. As with any animal that has one leg at each corner of its body, if one limb is compromised, the entire animal becomes vulnerable.
Horses that are suffering from lameness need to be seen by a veterinarian. The lower limb of a horse is composed of bone, tendon and joint with little muscle protection. These structures are susceptible to injury, accident, or poor conformation. As horse owners, it is our responsibility to ensure that our horses are comfortable and healthy during, and after, exercise.
Warm up The term “warmup” refers to the change that the horse’s body undergoes from a resting, or homeostatic, state to one of active or dynamic. Warming up is a gradual increase in horse’s heart beat in controlled manner in order to increase oxygen supply to the muscles and other vital organs. To avoid injury to muscles and ligaments, it is important to warm up properly before competition, training, and exercise. Warming up improves mobility and elasticity, which reduces strain on the tendons and ligaments.
The best way to heat your horse will depend on its discipline and the conditions in which it is working. It is important to keep the basic principle consistent and make sure that your horse is being trained in a regular, repeatable manner.
A thorough, controlled warm-up is essential. The cooling down after an exercise session is crucial to allow your horse to relax. It also allows for the release of lactic acid from tired muscles. This will reduce injury risk after exercise.
A form of protection for the legs is always a good investment, regardless of whether the horse is being ridden under saddle or lunged.
Poor coordination in young horses can lead to more self-inflicted injuries like brushing and reaching. Horses with big, bouncy gaits are more likely to be injured due to their exuberance. Horses with poor conformation or injuries are more susceptible to interference from another limb. Horses that jump are more likely to sustain leg injuries from the pressure placed on their legs by jumping. When landing, turning, and taking off, ligaments and tendons are subject to a lot of strain. Add to that a hard, uneven or hard surface and a fixed object (in the case of a fence cross-country), and injuries are much more common.
You should consider the terrain under your horse’s feet and the type of gait you choose to use when hacking. While we all know that trotting along the road can increase the horse’s concussion, trotting or cantering on a sun-baked bridle path with excessively muddy edges can cause severe damage to the tendons and ligaments. Long grass can cover all kinds of dangers, including rocks, stumps, and rabbit holes. Consider walking on foot new routes, and taking it slow if you see terrain that has changed in the past.
Boots and Bandages
Boots are generally a better choice for horse owners because they are easy to put on, clean, and take off quickly. Boot owners should be aware that there are some issues with boots. These include heat buildup, restricted movement, poor fit, and weight.
There are many styles and designs of boots. Some are made for specific disciplines, while others can be used for all activities. You can also find them in a variety of materials (or a combination), including leather, leather, plastic, sheepskin and gel. No matter what boot you choose, they must be properly applied and used for their intended purpose.
Badly fitting boots can be worse than no boots. The boot is designed to provide support and protection for the lower limbs. If they are too tight or wrongly fitted, they can put pressure on the legs, causing further problems. Boots that are not properly fitted can cause rubbing at the knee and fetlock joints as well as poorly fastened straps. They may also move when the horse is working.
When choosing the right size horse for you, it is advisable to use the manufacturer’s measurement guide.
Although there is less variety in the polo or exercise bandages, they are available in many colours and have a clip or velcro fastening. When properly fitted, the bandages protect and support the lower legs of the horse’s ligaments and tendons. To prevent excessive tightening, it is recommended to use thin wraps or exercises pads underneath the bandages. This will provide additional protection and help to keep them from getting too tight. Bandaging has a few drawbacks. They can be too tight or unevenly fitted, which can lead to tendon injuries.
Aftercare and Leg Cooling
No matter what type of leg protection you choose for your horse, we recommend that it be removed as soon as possible after work in order to avoid any injury from heat buildup in the tendons or ligaments.
Numerous studies have shown that horses’ core temperatures can rise between 6-8 degrees Celsius after intense exercise. Repeated elevations of the tendon temperature may cause the breakdown of the associated fibres. Heating can also be exacerbated by the lack of leg protection, such as boots or bandages.
Recent studies also show that running cool water is more effective in reducing the temperature of the legs than ice. Horses that have done hard work, such as. If your horse has been doing hard work, such as galloping on uneven ground, jumping on hard terrain or exercising on hot days, you can cold-hose it for 5 minutes before giving it a gentle walk. It would be a good idea to leave it out for several hours so that it can stretch naturally before you put it in a stable place.
Running water may not be available at all times when you’re out competing. If this is the situation, we recommend soaking your cool boots in cold water (preferably iced), making sure they are fully submerged. Also, make sure to check them frequently to ensure they are not being reheated before competing. Hot cool boots can cause more damage than good if they are left on the floor.
Clay or gel-based, low-temperature products are another option to cold water and iced booties. While the cooling gel products are mostly made from alcohol, clay can act as a carrier of volatile substances. These substances evaporate when applied to the legs, carrying heat away and causing cooling effects. The cooling effect can be countered by the clay’s insulating properties. If clay is being used, it is essential that no bandages be placed on top of clay to prevent it from evaporating. It is also important to wash the clay with cool running water as soon as it has dried.
Signs that something is wrong early.
If your horse is lame after exercising, it may be an indication that they have suffered an injury. Exercise is a common way for horses to sustain injuries. These include injuries from over reaching or brushing, bruising or inflammation due to knocking fences, tendon and ligament injuries due too much extension of the lower leg, and bruising or bleeding injuries.
It is important to evaluate your horse’s legs for any signs of lameness or other problems after exercise. You can detect signs of heat, swelling, or pain by carefully palpating each lower limb. This will alert you to take immediate action to get your horse into veterinary care.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!