Remedies For Arthritis In Older Horses

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Older horses suffer from arthritis

As all horse owners and trainers will tell you, it is not an uncommon occurrence for old horses to get affected by arthritis. The causes can be plenty and they can range from a sedentary lifestyle to simply old age. Nonetheless, as someone who cares for and loves your horse, there are certain remedies and treatments that you will be able to provide to alleviate the pain. Do bear in mind though that every horse should be treated differently so don’t take the remedies too generally. A remedy that works for one horse might not work for another so it is best that you understand your own horse well enough so that you can apply the best form of treatment.

In many cases of arthritis, the horse gets swollen joints which in turn cause it great pain. This condition can make horses easily irritable and hurt them when they walk on hard ground. Vets often advice a 24 hour confinement period to allow the swollen joints heal up a little. On your part, you can do everything in your ability to ensure that the horse gets the best recuperation place possible. Set up an area for it that has a lot of soft, cushy hay on the ground together with a small turn out pen with soft grass. Do also take note that horses can get very bad tempered when they are separated from the herd and start throwing a fit. If this occurs, simply put the horse’s buddy somewhere close. You do not want the affected horse to frantically prod around and aggravate the condition even further.

In addition, try to use a flexible ice pack or even a bag of frozen peas tucked in a towel and apply it to the swollen joint. Apply it directly for about 5 minutes then remove it for 15 minutes. Repeat this process 3 times in a row. You can also wrap the joint up or try a standing bandage to attempt to reduce the swelling and inflammation. Other alternatives to reducing the edema and inflammation include Neo-Ice Equine bandages or an ice gel.

It is also essential that you take your horse out for a short stroll in order to keep his joints from getting all stiff. Keep the intensity low and the duration short as the main purpose of this walk is not training and should not push the horse too hard. Remove the bandage prior to the walk and gradually increase the exercise period as the days pass. You can do this for up to 4 times a day and the more you do it, the less your horse stays confined, which is good for its general well-being. If the swelling comes back at any point of time during or after the exercise, slow down the walking speed or stop the exercise completely.

Essential oils that can be used for arthritis mixed in a carrier oil are:

  • Cypress
  • Sweet fennel
  • Juniper
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Eucalyptus
  • Niaouli
  • Black Pepper

Mix up to 60 drops of one oil or a combination of the above oils into 100 ml of 1 part of olive oil and 1 part of Lindseed oil. Gently apply on joints up to 4 times a day. Do not massage or rub too hard.


Bryona, Apis, Arnica, Ledum, Rhus Tox

As always, check with your vet if you are unsure of any routines to make sure that you do not cause your horse more hurt than help.

6 thoughts on “Remedies For Arthritis In Older Horses”

  1. There is no need for pain. Do some searching on the web for photonic therapy to learn how an Australian veterinarian surgeon is using red light and acupuncture to reduce pain in animals. Some of the stories are amazing!

    1. Hi there, I am well aware of photonic therapy as I use it for my clients and for my own horses. It is excellent and provide good relief. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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