Inflammation and swelling around the growth plates of various long bones in young horses is known as physitis. As with other developmental orthopedic diseases, the causes of physitis are not completely understood.
If a young horse’s legs are subjected to too much exercise that twists the legs, ligaments that hold the small splint bones in place one either side of the cannon bones may become stressed and sore. Known as "splints," these blemishes can cause acute unsoundness.
Management of steady growth in young horses is important for proper bone development. Careful coordination is required among the many functions that end in growth to a body size of five times the human in about one-tenth the time.
Skeletal lesions in young horses usually occur in specific joints such as the stifle, shoulder, hock, and fetlock. Usually, only one or two joints are affected and if two are affected, they often occur bilaterally in the same joint.
If the bone formation process is disturbed or interrupted, the result is usually some type of developmental orthopedic disease, which could affect future soundness and performance.
Older riders and older horses share something in common: both groups are frequently plagued with the pain, stiffness, and limited range of movement caused by arthritis. Not surprisingly, the same management strategies—keep moving, stretch, take pain medications—have been used with some success for humans and horses.
A study designed to investigate the effects of oral glucosamine supplementation in young horses was recently conducted at Texas A&M University. The study set out to determine if glucosamine HCl could affect joint inflammation and cartilage metabolism after an inflammatory insult.
A short, choppy stride; standing with one foot pointed ahead of the other; forefoot lameness that’s easily seen on hard ground or when the horse is moving on a circle; increased stumbling. These are all common signs of navicular syndrome.
In the same way that ordinary treadmills can be used in exercise and conditioning programs for horses, water treadmills are part of the rehabilitation schedule for some horses recovering from joint injuries or surgery.
A study was carried out to assess the effect of the weaning process and weaning age on foal growth and bone density. Researchers hypothesized that the growth and bone density of foals weaned at six months should be affected less by weaning than in foals weaned at a younger age.
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