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Arthritic Horse....stabling issues

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  • Arthritic Horse....stabling issues

    I hope someone can shed some light on an issue of what is best for an older horse with arthritis, navicular disease and a chronic abcess. I have a boarder whose horse has all these issues. It's a fjiord, so under normal winter conditions this breed does just fine with PA winters living out with a run-in. But this guy is 25 and is on isox, 1/2 bute a day, plus cosequin and BL pellets. He moves slow and gimpy but is in good weight, is happy with the mini he goes out with daily, has a large stall to move around in at night. He does like to lie down at night several times and sleeps on his side, flat out. Now owner wants to move him to a field boarding situatiion because she thinks the moving around all the time will help his arthritis. I worry he won't be able to rest adequately, and won't escape the cold that will be tough on his arthrits.

    What would you suggest? PS my vet says he should stay in the situation he's in, not upset the apple cart going into winter.

  • #2
    Movement is the best thing for a horse with a mild arthritis (obviously making a horse move with debiliatating arthritis won't be good for them).

    Is there a way at your facility to offer him an in/out choice, so if he wants to stay in and sleep he can, and if not, he can go roam around?

    My gelding (young, not arthritic, but as an example) will lay down flat out and sleep in the field, even in the winter. It's possible that your boarder's gelding may feel perfectly comfortable laying down outside.

    In/out choice really is the ideal.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


    • #3
      I think that if he's lying down a lot, flat out and has navicular, you need to take that into consideration, along with the arthritis.

      My vote would to give him a place that he felt safe lying down and sleeping.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • #4
        Well, the choice really isn't up to you.

        Apparently the horse's owner has already contacted the vet who advised against the change. If she still wants to put her horse on 24/7 turn out, there is nothing you can do. And I'm guessing going to her and telling her a bunch of people you"talked" to also advise against it won't do any good.


        • #5
          My older arthritic gelding lives in/out 24/7. He has a bedded stall where I often find him sleeping at night, but he can get up and move around whenever he wants. IMHO, it is the best option for the older guys.


          • #6
            I cannot say what's best for this particular horse, but just would add that the retirees here, some of which are arthritic, do very well with turnout 24/7 (and yes, they lie down flat out in the field, with one or two standing sentry).

            If this horse feels comfortable lying down in the field, then I think being out 24/7 is much better for him. However, I also agree with the vet that this is a tough time of year to make a change. And I further agree with those saying an "in/out" situation is ideal for this horse.
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            • #7
              I agree with you & the vet. It is NO time to change in the dead of winter. You see the horse morning, noon and night and have a better feel as to what is working. Customizing to the horse, its needs and what is working, is so good to see. The owner is right, but her timing is wrong. And I believe, her information is limited to 1 issue vs several. The feet walking on hard cold ground will not help the horse move more.... Getting enough SOLID rest to meet each day is important and it sounds like he is getting just that in his current routine.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for all your thoughts. I contacted my vet, the boarder didn't. She is sorta "window shopping" for options for her horse's boarding situation. He's been with me a long time and I'm friends with the owner (who is equally old and arthritic as am I) We both want what's best for the horse and I don't have an "inside outside stall" here, nor am I set up for a field boarding situation. We went to my friend who is offering the field boarding and talked with her and it seems we have a solution for the now. He's staying with me through the winter, then moving to the other farm in the spring when he can adjust without being stressed about not coming in at night.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for your responses. I'm the one who talked to the vet, not the owner. She was "window shopping" for options for the horse's health benefits. After talking about it she has decided to keep everything the way it is until spring and then reconsider the field boarding. She and her horse have been with me a long time and I want what's best for him. I thought he should stay through the cold muddy winter on my farm and move to my friend's farm in the spring, where he could adjust in the milder weather.


                  • Original Poster

                    oops...I didn't think the first post went through...sorry I'm repeating myself...I'm old. (never thought I'd be using my age as an excuse!)


                    • #11
                      I think it go either way with this horse. It sounds like this horse is used to and likes his stall time, but horses with arthritis and navicular disease usually benefit from the constant slow movement that 24/7 turnout provides, and common sense says that the same would be true for his chronic foot abscesses. So it makes sense to try the field board situation, but only if the horse can stand the change, mentally and physically, and that depends on the individual. He's an aged horse, but not very, very old, and only you know if he is the sort that can adapt to a new home with new herd and a new lifestyle without an unreasonable amount of stress/distress. And really, if he's been the same place with the same routine for a long time, without a change to show how he handles these things, then the only way to find out might be to try it. They can surprise you! He might react very differently than expected, either way, even if you feel like you know him very well and can predict his reaction. Of course, if he is very painful in his feet, and needs to be down more than normal, and/or is the type that can't or won't relax outside with the herd to do it, then he might physically need to be stalled for part of his day, despite whatever is theoretically best for his ailments.

                      Since his owner will ultimately decide what to do for him, all you can do consider all the the perspectives and then advocate for whatever you think best for the horse. For his sake, if he does end up being moved somewhere to get 24/7 turnout, then I hope you are in a position to offer to take him back, for his sake, if it doesn't work out. He's very lucky to have someone like you that is sensitive to his needs, knows him so well, and so obviously cares for him!


                      • #12
                        Sounds like a good resolution for all!
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                        • #13
                          Sounds like you and the owner have come up with a very good solution. Best of luck to all.


                          • #14
                            I have found that the older my horses get, the more comforts they want. My oldest lived til 36 (TB) and preferred more time napping in his stall where he was warm and comfortable then being outside. He could not tolerate cold wind or biting insects. I have another in his early 20's that loves being outside but looks forward to his stall comforts. The other older horses that have long since passed...also wanted comforts. Each horse is different and will thrive best if you let them 'tell' you what they need and want. I would suggest you try different situations and see how he responds to it.