Hock arthritis worse in cold weather - what can I do?

TotalMadgeness

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My IDx (10 years old) was diagnosed with bone spavin in both hocks this time last year. He had a steroid injection which lasted a few months. Then the injection was repeated and this lasted about a week. After that he was put on 2 x Danilon a day. This appeared to help him and he's gone from strength to strength but over the last week or so with the cold wet weather he's started to display signs of discomfort. He's not going as forward as he was and is generally looking a bit sorry for himself. Thankfully he hasn't gone completely back to the mess he was in last year so it's not all doom and gloom, but he's simply lost some of the sparkle he had a few weeks ago.

He's currently on Equimins Flexijoint as well as the danilon, his weight is managed successfully and he is exercised daily (hacking, equicore schooling, ridden schooling). I don't jump him and any polework is only done in hand & in walk as part of his warm up. He is rarely lunged on a circle and he is never trotted on the road. He is regularly seen by a physio & is due next week for his next session.

No supplement has helped him - e.g. tumeric, boswellia etc. I now have to include Flexijoint in that list too!

He wears magnetic hock boots when in the stable (he is stabled a maximum of 12 hours a day 365 days a year).

So my question is... assuming this is his hocks bothering him again - what else can be done for him?
 

LaurenBay

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Don't hose his legs down in winter. Brush the mud off when its dry.

If the steroids no longer work and the bute is not as effective then I'd be discussing other treatments with your vets.
 

MyBoyChe

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Following with interest. I have a pony who doesnt need massive amounts of rugs even when clipped as he is quite a warm chap and never loses condition through winter. Would using a warmer rug be the right thing to do for his slight hock arthritis, he would be too warm really but would the increased body heat work through to his hocks and so outweigh the disadvantage? He is out every day and in at night and also has the magnetic boots on whilst in.
 

ForbiddenHorse

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Can he stay out 24/7? That will help keeping him moving.

My gelding has neck arthritis as you may know, hes now significantly stiffer as its getting colder. I do notice hes more free if hes kept out 24/7 and If I bring him in he looks much stiffer.
 

Nudibranch

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Turned out as close to 24/7 as you can get, well rugged. I used to use thick travel boots on mine while grooming and tacking up...not sure if it made a difference or not.

Bear in mind some vets use overnight stabling on a horse who lives out as a diagnostic tool for arthritis as it makes them stiffer.
 

teddypops

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My pony had cartrophen injections which made a massive difference to him. Maybe needs to go onto Danilon again for the winter. Speak to your vet.
 

Goldenstar

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I think you just have to try things .
Not mentioned so far is a diet get his weight right down not easy to do when they are restricted in want they can do but it will help .
I kept Fatty out most of last winter it was a mistake he was miserable and stiff in late Jan / Feb I snapped and brought him in with just a few hours turnout in the worse weather ,result a much happier horse .
There lots of other pain relief options and if I where you I would repeat the steroid jabs at the beginning of December .
 

Ceifer

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I think you just have to try things .
Not mentioned so far is a diet get his weight right down not easy to do when they are restricted in want they can do but it will help .
I kept Fatty out most of last winter it was a mistake he was miserable and stiff in late Jan / Feb I snapped and brought him in with just a few hours turnout in the worse weather ,result a much happier horse .
There lots of other pain relief options and if I where you I would repeat the steroid jabs at the beginning of December .
Echo this. Turnout is obviously better to keep them moving. But my old WB Was miserable mid winter. So I had him in overnight and he was much happier. I lightened his workload off - still rode him 4/5 times a week but kept schooling easy. Rode him as soon as he came in from the field then put him to bed.
 

littleshetland

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Keeping them warm helps massively. I'm just about to buy some lovey soft strap on knee pads from the garden centre to use on the boys knee when it starts to get really cold. They're neoprene with a memory foam pad on the front to stop your knees hurting when you kneel down for gardening......but they look like they'll keep his arthritic knee nice and warm over winter!
 

TotalMadgeness

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Thanks everyone! Interesting point about the riding - he's in what I'd call light work. So he's ridden in the school twice a week for 30 mins (flatwork) Tues & Thurs and hacked out in walk twice a week (about 1 to 2 hours) if the weather behaves - usually once during the week and once at the weekend. He is loose schooled in an equicore for 20 mins once or twice a week depending on whether or not I can hack him out. He gets a day off. All his work is preceded by physio stretches and walking in hand (which he seems to enjoy probably because he is rewarded with low calorie treats!). He is always a lot better after exercise has been started. He is ridden by my instructor currently and she says that when she is working him she finds lateral work really helps to loosen him up.

He's on two danilon a day but isn't turned out 24/7 because of his propensity for weight gain. However I did notice as soon as the weather started to warm up a bit he became distinctly much happier & less stiff. So I think the cold snap we had was the culprit and that's what I'll need to watch out for.

He's now in Back on Track hock boots when he's stabled instead of magnetic ones (which kept slipping down).

I'm going to discuss this with the vet because clearly if the danilon doesn't help when its cold we may need another strategy. Last time I spoke to the vet (July) he was adamant the horse needed daily exercise and not to reduce this. But this may have been more to do with the concerns of summer grass = weight gain.

Thank you!
 

Summit

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Maybe he finds the schooling too much? It’s probably just a case of trial and error. Cut out something for a couple of weeks and see if it improves.

The vet said to exercise every day but perhaps this strategy doesn’t suit your horse. Each horse is different and I think each situation should be assessed individuall
 

Ossy2

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If he’s already on 2 Danilon a day and struggling and the injections don’t work i would not be pushing him on to continue with schooling without discussing treatment options with the vet. I would though still do lots of walk hacking to keep the legs moving and Maybe it’s just time to think about whether he needs a quieter life instead of being buted twice a day to do what you need him to do.
 

ester

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I'd be discussing other medical interventions with the vet, there are a few other than steroids (though I have also seen some horses react to one steroid and not another). He definitely needs some follow up of the current situ at least.

While I do think that keeping everything else strong helps them, particularly at early stages maybe the schooling/equicore is getting a bit much for him (particularly if they start recruiting the wrong muscles to do it) and he would be better just hacking.
 

annagain

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Mine is pretty much retired now - he hacks once a week in walk to keep his mind active - but before that I found any more than once a week in the school would make him worse. I'd cut the schooling back to no more than once a week - both ridden and loose and see if that makes a difference. He has coffin joint arthritis in his front feet rather than hocks though.
 

southerncomfort

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With mine I used to hack out 2 or 3 times a week and that seemed about right. I think it's a case of trial and error but I agree with the others, that at this stage schooling might be just a bit too much.

If he's still not comfortable on 2 danilon a day then I would say it's definitely time to reassess, especially this close to winter.

In fact, when I thought my old girl's arthritis had worsened it turned out to be something else altogether so definitely worth having your vet out for another look.
 

TotalMadgeness

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Unfortunately with the dark nights coming in hacking is rapidly becoming confined to weekends... and we can only hack out in reasonable weather (our roads are dangerous enough never mind in heavy rain/high wind!). I rode him last night in the school - lots of walk and then some trot on straight lines - and he seemed comfortable with that but the weather was mild yesterday and he'd been in hock boots all day.

Good news is though the vet is booked and we'll see if we can get him to a level where light ridden work / loose work in a school is comfortable for him when we can't hack. I can easily cut back on the harder work - as there are no plans for any competitions - but I'd rather keep him moving than no work at all.
 

ester

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TBH that's mostly why I ended up with a sharer as she was available in daylight a couple of times a week, I could hack early doors one day and school once.
 

ForbiddenHorse

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he's in what I'd call light work. So he's ridden in the school twice a week for 30 mins (flatwork) Tues & Thurs and hacked out in walk twice a week (about 1 to 2 hours) if the weather behaves - usually once during the week and once at the weekend. He is loose schooled in an equicore for 20 mins once or twice a week depending on whether or not I can hack him out. He gets a day off.
Being lunged twice a week I would say is quite a lot and not ideal for a horse with arthritic hocks. My previous vet told me to not lunge my mare who had bad arthritic hocks and advised to long line if I had to, he said lunging was the worst thing for a horses hocks let alone a horse with issues there already. 30 minutes flat work twice a week is a lot as well. Maybe reduce it to once and see how he gets on. Good luck!
 

TotalMadgeness

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Being lunged twice a week I would say is quite a lot and not ideal for a horse with arthritic hocks. My previous vet told me to not lunge my mare who had bad arthritic hocks and advised to long line if I had to, he said lunging was the worst thing for a horses hocks let alone a horse with issues there already. 30 minutes flat work twice a week is a lot as well. Maybe reduce it to once and see how he gets on. Good luck!
Thank you! I never lunge him - my vet gave me the same advice. He is only ever loose schooled usually once a week, twice maximum, which is preceded by stretches and in hand walking exercises to loosen him up. I would definitely prefer hacking for him though (which he absolutely loves bless him) but its starting to get problematic with dark nights/bad weather. I've repeatedly tried to get sharers to hack him out during the day but no luck so far. Anybody that turns up is usually put off by the road we need to use to get to a safe track (or rather the road users!). I just need to win the lottery and buy somewhere with miles of off road hacking on my doorstep!!
 
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