Question about arthritis management - How often do I need to ride to keep him going?
My horse has arthritis. He is a bit older so its not unexpected. I am at a busy stage of life and can't ride quite as often as I used to, but I want to keep him moving so the arthritis doesn't pick up speed. I would give him the winter off, but I am not sure he would come back into riding in the Spring being sound. Right now I am riding 2 - 3 times a week, for 20-25 minutes of light hacking. That works for me, and so far it seems to work for him, but what is the "recommended" amount of work to keep an arthritic horse from stiffening up?
Janet - How old was yours when you decided it was time to stop riding?
With regards to maintenance, just Cosequin in the Smartpak. We have no plans to compete so I have not been more aggressive nor has the vet recommended anything else yet. I will consider prevacox if this winter is hard on him. He doesn't need to be up to a real performance level, just comfortable for hacking.
My gelding is "around 20", arthritic hocks and we think generalized arthritis elsewhere too. I ride him 3-4 times per week. Riding varies but I do try to do every other day which works with my schedule. Rides are usually 1/2 hour lesson once a week, with 1/2 hour hack after. Other rides during week might be 15 mins. in field ring (w/t/c, maybe trot poles) and some days just a hack up to an hour. Our hacks include sloping hills and sometimes we trot them. I have built up his fitness quite a bit over the last 6 months. Just took him on a 1.5 hour trail ride on steep trails and he did way better than I thought.
On days when time is crunched, even if I only hop on 10-15 minutes bareback, I try to do it vs. missing 4-5 days in a row of riding. When we have bad weather, and even the snow last year, I hand walked him when I could get through the snow, and even walked him up and down the barn aisles when they were confined a few days due to the blizzard.
That said, he is on a good arthritis management program which is which I think is equally important. Previcox (which I may reduce dose as he is doing so well!), very good joint supplement. Also long warmups at the walk really help.
He is recently turned out with a mare, colt and filly vs. 2 older retired geldings. I was worried about this but he is actually doing better. He is more active, fields have some "interest" a.e. not completely flat. They run and play alot and I have actually seen an improvement in his energy and hind muscles!
Turnout is key, however I will say we are an odd case in that he does better in a stall at night in winter and in very hot summer days, daytime. He rests, rejuvenates and has just done better in/out 12/12. When he was field boarded he was not as happy and we had more trouble keeping weight on.
Be willing to try different things. I remember my vet saying just like people, horses with arthritis have good days and bad. Try to read your horse. If he is feeling good, go for it. Other days just a light hack around the property are fine. Good luck!