Treatment for horse lameness is most successful when it addresses the cause of lameness. In general, it helps to reduce your horse's weight and amount of exercise, and have your horse stand on soft flooring, undergo hydrotherapy, receive optimum nutrition, and take appropriate pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Acupuncture, homeopathy, and moxa therapy help many lame horses. Some lame horses benefit from shockwave therapy because it tears the tiny blood vessels in the bone's periosteal lining and stimulates healing of an injury the body was ignoring.
Medications to treat horse lameness include those that fight pain and those that improve the joint. Pain medications for horses include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Banamine Paste and Surpass. Oral prescription NSAID products include Banamine Paste, Phenylbutazone, and Phenylzone Paste. Aspirin Powder is a non-prescription NSAID. The homeopathic T-Relief Tablets may also be used to treat horse lameness. Injectable T-Relief requires a prescription.
Injectable Adequan protects the cartilage in the joint. Products containing MSM are similar to aspirin in that they help control pain, but do not have any side effects (like ulcers and kidney damage) associated with aspirin or NSAIDs. SynoviG3 EQ Granules contain glucosamine, MSM, and creatine which help muscle development.
Husbandry and vaccine practices that decrease illness help prevent lameness. For example, provide about one pound of forage per 100 pounds of body weight per day. Make changes in feed gradually over 2-3 weeks. Limit sweetfeeds. Supplement with vegetable oil (corn, canola, or soy) at the rate of 1/8 to one cup once or twice a day to provide energy rather than using sweetfeeds for energy. Store grain in containers that horses cannot access. Have your horse's teeth floated to keep them aligned normally. Prevent repetitive motion, including stall weaving. Have an exercise routine with time for adequate warm up and cool down. Don't exercise your horse too strenuously one day a week with no exercise the other six days. Climb into the saddle without pulling with all your weight against the saddle horn. These precautions will all help prevent lameness in your horse.
Vaccines can help prevent illnesses leading to lameness caused by loss of balance (ataxia) or stiff limbs. For example, vaccinate to help prevent infection from the herpes virus that causes rhinopneumonitis (rhino). Vaccinate with West Nile Virus Innovator to help prevent infection from West Nile Virus (WNV). Use tetanus toxoid and anti-toxin vaccines.
Protect your horse from disease-carrying flying insects such as horn flies, stable flies, house flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. Use fly spray and ointment, such as and Flys-Off.
Strengthen hooves by supplementing with products recognized as beneficial, such as biotin, zinc, copper, complete proteins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Missing Link Equine is also an excellent supplement and is high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Chondroprotective supplements support normal joint cartilage and joint (synovial) fluid. Research with racehorses has shown that those on chondroprotectives before injury have less severe joint injuries than those not on chondroprotectives. Joints that allow the greatest movement and suffer the greatest concussive forces are most likely to develop pain, swelling, and arthritis. In a horse, these are the joints below the carpus and hock because that is where most concussive forces are dissipated. These joints are protected with a cartilage layer over the ends of the bones, a fibrous capsule that encloses the joint and holds in joint fluid. Joint fluid (synovial fluid) keeps bones lubricated and limits concussive force. Synovial fluid is made within the joint by cells lining the inner capsule, the synoviocytes. Synovial fluid is like sewing machine oil—very light yet able to dissipate pressure and heat. There is no blood within the joint.
Glucosamine and chondroitin found in joint supplements help build normal, resilient cartilage that absorbs shock like a mattress. Glucosamine and chondroitin help synoviocytes secrete thick, slick synovial fluid. Joint supplements are available as prescription injectable medications and over-the-counter oral supplements.