Transporting a horse can be stressful at the best of times. But if you suspect your animal has a medical condition such as arthritis it can be even more so. Our equine friends give us so much pleasure that it’s awful to think they might be living in pain, especially as they get older.

Having the best horsebox insurance in place is vital for a successful journey but so is a pre-journey health check.

Just like in their human owners, they can begin to suffer from stiffness in their gait caused by arthritis. While this is a very common condition, if it’s spotted early much can be done to slow it down and reduce the pain caused to the horse.


What is arthritis?

There are several different types of arthritis that can affect horses but the most common is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is a degenerative disease that involves the breaking down of the cartilage within a joint.

As the cartilage breaks down there is also a loss in lubricating fluid within the joint. This loss reduces the joint’s shock absorbing abilities to protect against impact damage.

Over time this leads to inflammation, stiffness, pain and eventually lameness. Previous joint injuries and infections can also make a horse more likely to develop arthritis. The condition can affect any horse from race horses to those ridden for pleasure.

A horse with arthritis laying down in a field at golden hour

What should owners look out for?

The key to keeping arthritis at bay is early detection and quick action to decrease further damage to the joint.

Symptoms that owners need to watch out for include:

  • Changes in the way your horse moves. These can be subtle but include changes such as shortening of stride, hollowing of the back, or raising of the head.
  • Any reluctance to perform tasks such as moving forward or jumping. Discomfort is likely to make a horse unwilling to do even things that they previously did with ease.
  • Stiffness that slowly disappears.
  • Puffiness around a joint.
  • Heat or pain in the area of a joint.
  • Lameness in a horse suggests the arthritis is already well advanced.

As soon as you notice any of these symptoms then contact your veterinarian to get them checked out. A professional will be able to diagnose the problem, pinpoint the affected joints, assess how serious the arthritis is and prescribe any treatment.

Just as with having horsebox insurance for your transport, having effective horse insurance in place means you can act swiftly to remedy any problems as soon as they occur.


Can arthritis be treated?

Unfortunately, despite medical advances it’s still not possible to cure arthritis. However, there are several treatments to reduce inflammation, slow further damage, ease pain and stiffness and possibly support the regeneration of cartilage.

The best treatment for your horse will be decided on a case-by-case basis in conversation with your veterinary professional.

As well as veterinary treatment, there are things you can do to help:

  • Reducing workload. Depending on the severity you might need to reduce activities such as jumping or riding over hard terrain in order to protect against undue stress on the joints.
  • Don’t ride the horse if it’s lame. Unmounted exercise is still great. So why not try long-reining or walking in-hand?
  • Keep your horse at a healthy weight. Too much weight can put unnecessary strain on joints. Too little weight might leave them weak and prone to further damage.
  • Keep them properly trimmed and shod. A well-balanced hoof absorbs impact more effectively and makes them less likely to slip and injure their joints further.
  • Keep them exercising. While you don’t want your horse to be injured further, regular exercise is good for horse health and to maintain joint flexibility.
  • Short, regular exercise tends to be better than longer, occasional exercise.
  • Consider adding supplements to their feed. There are a huge variety of supplements on the market designed to support healthy joints.
  • Allow your horse a longer warm up and stretch before exercise.
  • Keep the horse on soft but supportive footing. Avoid excessively hard, uneven or slippery surfaces.

An Arabian horse running freely across a paddock with the sun setting behind its head

Transporting a horse with arthritis

Unless you’re taking a horse to a veterinary appointment it’s usually advised not to transport a sick horse.

But what about a horse with a condition like arthritis? Whether or not it’s in the horse’s best interest really has to come down to the individual case. As their owner you know your horse best but it’s always wise to obtain veterinary advice to be certain.

If you do decide to make the journey then always check you’ve the best horsebox insurance in place. Undertaking pre-journey safety checks is also vital for a successful journey.

Remember there are many potential risks when transporting your horse. No matter how short the distance you could be involved in a collision. For example, skidding on wet roads or swerving because of high winds, or even a blown tyre.

An accident could result in damage to your horsebox or, worst still, your horse. Horsebox insurance can help cover any financial costs of repairing your horsebox after an accident.


Safeguard your transport with Equesure

From 3.5 tonne horseboxes to large HGVs up to the value of £750,000, the horse-loving team of insurance specialists at Equesure can help you find the right cover for your needs.

With over 60 years of experience in the insurance market, our extensive knowledge of the products and services we offer makes finding the best cover easy and straightforward.

We provide cover for popular models by Equi-Trek, Empire, Ifor Williams, Tristar, Alexanders, Ascot and many more. We also provide cover for trailers.

Arranging horsebox insurance through Equesure can give you a range of benefits including breakdown cover and horse recovery, so you never have to worry about getting stranded.

Other benefits can include:

  • Comprehensive and third party, fire and theft
  • Cover for social, domestic and leisure
  • Business use cover
  • Windscreen cover on comprehensive policies
  • Roadside rescue including horse recovery

Get a quick quote for horsebox insurance from Equesure today.

Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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