The rehabilitation process is more important than you might think
When a horse has suffered from joint inflammation, it is usually not detected until the horse begins to limp, by which time the inflammation has already reached a fairly late stage. A low-grade inflammation has been smouldering in the joint for some time and has now progressed to the point where it is very painful, resulting in lameness. We take the horse to the vet and one or more joint injections are given to lift the inflammation. After the treatment(s), a return visit is made and when the horse is clinically clear, it is deemed healthy and rehabilitation can begin.
At this stage, it is important to have an open mind and really give rehabilitation time. There may be low-grade inflammation left in the joint, the kind that is not active enough for the horse to show lameness but can easily flare up again if the horse returns to normal work too quickly.
Keep your stomach on ice during rehabilitation - there may be a little residual inflammation that needs to heal.
Conquest can help bring down the "silent inflammation"
As mentioned earlier, a silent stage of low-grade inflammation may persist even after the horse has appeared unrestrained. Veterinarians therefore recommend giving the horse a course of Conquest (2 months of treatment) as a supportive supplement during the rehabilitation process. The high molecular weight content of Conquest hyaluronic acid and Boswellia Serrata has a strong synergistic effect acting to suppress any underlying inflammatory activity. You can read more about Conquest here.
Straight - Straight - Straight
We can't talk enough about the role of the script in rehabilitation. Most of us know that we should walk a lot, but do we know why? We overlook the important aspects of getting our bodies moving, building fitness, etc. We focus on what happens in the joints when we ride. There are more slag products than usual produced in the joints in the inflammatory stage and these need to be removed. At the same time, the joint needs all the nutrition it can get right now.
When the horse walks (marches - not plods), the joint is gently activated without the overload that other gaits can cause. The movement first compresses the joint surfaces and drains out the waste products from the inflammation. Then, as the bone is stretched, lots of nutrients flow in.
In other words, it's a gentle way to keep the machinery running, removing harmful debris and replenishing essential nutrients from the joints. Once again, we're in favour of # skitters. Help us spread the word about how we can easily create healthier horses for the long term!
Have a regular dialogue with your veterinarian
Now your horse is cleared and you have an agenda for how to proceed with rehabilitation. It is still important to maintain a regular dialogue with your veterinarian about the progress of the process. If something feels different and you become unsure during the start-up process, it is important to contact your vet and ask how to proceed. When you think sustainability, you should also think team - your vet is one of the team.
The substrate can be a culprit!
There are plenty of good surfaces to ride on. We don't want to advocate one over the other. Our simple and important message is that you should vary between different surfaces. There are modern and good surfaces that give a great feeling when competing. But if you ride on these surfaces every day, the joints will be overloaded. Try to think variety as best you can. Of course, everything depends on the conditions you have, but the most important thing is to do the best you can with the variation you have.
Vary the surface as often as you can
Please read this month's veterinary tips! Veterinarian Fredric Spångs tips on how to get started after a joint injury in our topical post Tips on getting back on your feet after a joint injury