The hocks play a major role for the horses movement. They are the driving mechanism for their hind end. The Hock is the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia.
What happens to the hocks?
When the horses cartilage starts to thin in the middle join spaces, pain is evident as it is the actual bone grinding when moving. Therefore, horses will start to develop bone spurs along the edges which is the starting process of bone fusion. This affects not only the back legs, but also the the hips, croup and hindquarters.
To help relieve pain during the degeneration process, an injection is given to the lower and middle joint spaces until the process of fusion is complete. Fusion is a good thing in this case as they don’t slide, and therefore they don’t hurt anymore.
This happens to many athletic horses. The injection consists of corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory agents that according to studies and performance, help with pain relief and inflammation. Some vets combine corticosteroid with hyaluronate (also known as hyalruonic acid, or HA) to help lubricate the joint. Tofino got his hock injected within the first few months of having him. His X-ray showed that he has arthritis between the joints and started to develop bone spurs (see pic below).
- Type of riding
- Genetics (play a role in arthritic degeneration)
- Movement, or lack there of (horses in stall, standing still will be a lot stiffer)
- Joint Supplements: Adequan, Legend, Pentosan, glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, NSAIDs are some of many suppliments that can aid in joint lubrication and pain.
- Weight management & Exercise: If your horse is overweight it can put a load of pressure on the hocks. If not then just continue to work them normally, and keep the outside of their box as much as possible.
- Therapy: To help relieve stiffness and pain.
- Surgery: Only in extreme cases, surgical drilling of the hock joints or chemical fusion of the hocks may be an option.
- Injections: Cortisone injections provide somewhat of a long term anti-inflammatory effect and pain relief. Depending on discipline and intensity, the injection may last somewhere between between 6 and 15 months.
Within the 5 years that I have had Tofino, I have only injected him 3 times so far. As soon as I start to notice when he’s in pain in that area, I give our vet a call. I found that the Turmeric treats help SO MUCH with the fluidity of his movements, and his diet, being on Reverdy Feed has given him the right nutrients, without adding supplements, to hold off on the injections, therefore, not needing them as much.
We are not sponsored by Reverdy Feed anymore, but I still stand by the product as I have noticed a great deal of positive change with Tofino’s performance and body.
Grooming your horse not only allows them to be clean, but also allows you to better understand their personality and behaviour.
I have an essentials to keeping your horse clean post written a while back which may help you if you wish to have a sparkly pony!
Naturally in the wild, horses groom each other. Domesticated horses that don’t have that option specifically need more attention in that sense. Horses are social animals and love the contact.
Here are some dot points as to why grooming is beneficial:
- Increase blood flow around your horses body
- Increase the bond between you and your horse
- Helps to decrease skin conditions
- Helps you to notice any changes in your horses body or any injuries
- Increases your horses comfort
- Remove sweat stains
- Your horse looks great after
- Great exercises for you!
Grooming doesn’t take so long on a daily basis, but I would recommend at least once a week to treat your horse to a “spa day” and really take your time with them.
Make sure you always brush your horse after they are dry from a ride in order to avoid sweat stains that allow their coat to clump up.
Here is a video of how to groom your horse if you are not sure what steps to take:
Hope this helps 🙂
“You’re crazy for getting back on!” …
“You still ride after what happened to you?” …
“Just give up already”…
“How do you still do it?”
These are only a few comments I get every now and then when it comes to riding. I was asked a couple of days ago how I got the courage to continue riding after my major accident from back in 2012. Even though the pain is still there, my passion conquers my fears and pain.
Although it may seem so, Tofino has not been an easy horse to deal with, especially when it comes to show jumping. This, even prior to my accident was difficult to overcome.
Being my first horse, I was nervous to even canter. I took the time however, to sit with him in the paddock, in the stable, observe his actions and reactions to his surroundings to better get to know him. That in turn helped me understand his behaviour for riding.
Confidence is not consistent. You will gain it and it will disappear at times, whether from a fall, a buck, an injury, a spooky horse etc. The key, as I wrote in a post previously, is to keep moving forward. When you are scared but do it anyway, that is when you become brave. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity however. If your horse is dangerous to ride then don’t do it yourself, ask for help.
To this day I get nervous going over obstacles but as soon as i’m over the first, my adrenaline kicks in and I get eager to continue and go further. Here are some tips that help me, and hopefully help you:
- Start slow
- Observe and get to know your horse
- Talk to your horse
- Make sure you’re physically capable of riding
- Breathe. It may sound simple, but we all tend to hold our breath a lot while riding.
- Relax your body and mind but always keep a contact
- Ask for help
- Keep learning
- Every step counts, even baby steps, so don’t take it hard on yourself
- Don’t slack off either, try to push forward
- You will have fallbacks and that’s okay
- Nothing is perfect, just do your best
- It’s never too late, whether you decide to get back on after a year or even 10, this sport has no age limit
- Find inspiration in other riders that have overcome difficult situations, and don’t be afraid to speak to them
- Don’t compare yourself to others
- You are not alone
- You will be okay
- You can do it
- Just do it
Your horse can only be as brave as you are.
p.s. If your horse is spooky and hot make sure they’re on a proper diet as it can have an affect on their temper. (This may help) We personally use Reverdy feed from our generous sponsored Cavalos UAE.
Hope this helps 🙂
Summer in the middle east is completely different than that of the rest of the world. It is not only hot, but humidity levels are insanely high, making it difficult to continue regular riding sessions.
I have a few tips below to help get though the summer, along with some signs you should watch out for with regards to heatstroke:
1. Water 24/7: Access to clean cool water for your horse is so important in order to avoid dehydration.
2. Fan/AC: Keep the air moving round by placing a fan or having your stable Air Conditioned to avoid overheating.
3. Choose cooler turn out/ riding times: Make sure you check the weather forecast on a daily basis to insure temperature and humidity levels.
4. Electrolytes: You can use a lick, powder or liquid salt form. If your horse is sweating too much, you can place some electrolytes in their water. (importance of salt in your horses diet).
5. Clipping: Even though the coat tends to adjust to the seasons, it would be cooler to clip your horse short (clipping machine review).
6. Sunscreen: For those who have horses with pink skin, make sure you apply sun screen lotion or spray on those areas in order to avoid a sunburn.
7. Less work: Your horse won’t be able to continue regular exercise in the heat so make sure you lower your workload and extend the after riding cool down time.
8. Reduce feed: Due to less exercise, it is best to reduce your horses feed to avoid weight gaining and overheating.
Tofino is sponsored by Reverdy feed from Cavalos UAE ❤
9. Hose down: Run water over the horse’s chest, the jugular grooves of his neck, and the lower legs. These areas have many superficial blood vessels that can be rapidly cooled by the water and will carry the cooled blood to the interior of the horse.
10. Go for a swim: Take your horse to the beach or lake, but again, make sure you check the weather forecast to insure humidity levels and wind.
Some horses take a while to adjust to the summer heat and therefore, it is crucial to know your horse and the signs of heatstroke.
When your horse can’t handle exposure to heat, their body starts to sweat, their breathing becomes heavy, and their pulse increases. This can happen at while riding, turn out, stall rest, or even in a trailer too.
SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE:
- An elevated heart rate that does not return to normal in a reasonable period of time;
- Excessive sweating or lack of sweating;
- Temperature that persists above 39°C / 103°F;
- Depression and/or lethargy; and
- Signs of dehydration: dry mucous membranes, poor capillary refill, and poor skin turgor.
Knowing the horses vital signs range: Adult Horse (resting values):
- Temperature: 37.2-38.3°C (99-101°F)
- Pulse: 28-42 beats per minute
- Respiration (breathing rate): 8-16 breaths per minute
- Mucous membranes (gums): Moist, healthy pink colour
Hope this helps 😀
Every summer, Tofino has an issue with swelling on his hind legs, without causing lameness. This mostly happens to older sport horses, or those on stable rest.
In general, I would say with any swelling, always contact the vet or stable manager to make sure it is nothing serious. They will most likely check for heat and tenderness in the area, to rule out any injury.
Even though it looks pretty bad, he moves without pain or discomfort. I did get him checked, confirming that it is stocking up.
If there is no heat or pain with the swelling, it is most likely what they call “stocking up” which means excess fluid accumulation due to an impairment of lymphatic system. This happens mostly to inactive or older horses where fluids naturally tend to accumulate in the lower hind legs where the body fails to pump fluid efficiently back to the heart the same way a pregnant woman would have swollen ankles.
In most parts of the horse’s body, the lymphatic system’s job is literally an uphill battle. To push the fluids against the force of gravity, the system relies primarily on the pumping motions of the digital cushion in the hooves, and secondarily on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints in the legs. When confined to a stall, though, a horse doesn’t move as much, leading to the impairment of the lymphatic system pumping mechanism.
– Steve Soule, VMD
Even though the leg is swollen, movement is not compromised and therefore, it is crucial to keep your horse exercising and moving to aid in the drainage of the fluid. By staying consistently active throughout the day and night, a horse maintains a healthy equilibrium between fluids entering and exiting the body tissues.
- Turn out
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- Magnetic Therapy
You can also bandage the legs but it is safer to use a wrap in order to prevent uneven pressure.
Hope this helps 🙂
Some horses, like Tofino, roll on a daily basis. As strange as it may seem for non-horsey people, this is something very normal. It is actually a sign of good health if they are able to roll 180 degrees. It can be dangerous at times, depending on the surface, or during a colic episode, or, while still having tack on.
You can tell the difference when a horse is rolling for “fun” or when they are doing so for “pain” or “discomfort”.
When a horse is rolling normally, they will circle around and check the ground a few times. They are able to stretch their body and spine. It helps to maintain their flexibility and health, as well as keep them cool.
Generally, horses tend to roll for these reasons:
- Pain relief
If a horse drops down suddenly and rolls vigorously, this is a sign of discomfort. If your horse has musculoskeletal pain, it is a lot harder for them to lay down.
Naturally, when horses feels safe and secure, they will allow themselves to roll and lay down. As they are prey animals, lying down is a more susceptible position for them so give them time and space to do it at their own pace and pleasure.
Things to remember:
- Never allow a horse to roll on a hard surface (concert, asphalt, wood)
- Never allow your horse to roll straight after exercise (wait until after they cool down)
- Never allow your horse to roll with tack on
- Never rush a horse while rolling
- Keep your distance
- Allow them access to a paddock daily so they have the freedom to stretch and roll
Does your horse like to roll?
For many years now, I have been looking for a saddle that not only fits me, but also Tofino. I looked into a number of brands trying to narrow it down and finally ended up with a great one just this year. It was such a hassle so I am hoping this post will at least help a few out there who need a new saddle.
There is another post I wrote a while back on saddle fitting tips which is something I will not cover on this post.
- Type of Saddle: There are so many types of saddles depending on your discipline, and even then, there are other styles and seat types (deep, semi, flat, close contact, etc.)
- Budget: Saddles can be pretty expensive, but you can also get them for a lower price depending on material and technology.
- New/Used: New saddles take a while to break in, but shape naturally to your horse. Used saddles may have faults but may have options of re-flocking or adjusting tree.
- Saddle Fitting for Horse: Try to get a saddle fitter to measure your horse and explain how your horses shape is. This would narrow down options for you, as for example, Tofino is short, stocky, and wide and there are certain saddles especially made for his body. (saddle fitting tips)
- Saddle Fitting for Rider: As the saddle fitter to also measure you to better know the length of flap, knee roll, blocks and seat size you need. There are saddles that are suited for taller people, for women, for men, for the type of style you ride with too.
- Adjustability: Make sure to check whether the saddle is adjustable (tree & panels). Prestige Italia makes saddle trees adjustable up to 3 or 4 times, and panels can be re-flocked, however, I personally chose Latex panels which cannot be changed but naturally adjust to your horses back. I personally would always go for adjustable tree as your horse will change shape as they grow older, and to keep a close contact, it’s best to not use too much padding.
- Material: Saddles can be synthetic or leather, and within those, there are further options such as waterproofness, lux leather, carbon etc. This isn’t super important, it depends on your budget and what you personally prefer.
- Technology: I personally love Prestige Italia as they are always innovative and come up with new technology to improve your horses motions and the riders seating. My saddle has honeycomb tree and shoulder free technology which makes it flexible and allows your horse to move without friction, and not to mention how light the saddle is!
- Brand: Make sure you read about the brands reputation and also ask around and see people’s experiences or reviews with saddle brands for not only quality, but customer service too.
- Try: Ride in multiple saddle options, brands, sizes, to make sure it fits both you and your horse well. Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial period. That’s what tester saddles are for.
- Store: Depending on where you are, there may be a few store options. Make sure you look into the ones available in your area and compare prices. Sometimes it may actually be cheaper to order overseas and get it shipped rather than buy locally, but warranty and check ups are a lot easier if purchased within the country.
I ended up going for the Prestige Italia X-Michel Robert Anniversary saddle from Horseworld UAE.
Hope this helps 🙂 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.