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Degenerative Joint Disease

A veterinarian-guided approach to equine joint health can help prolong your horse’s athletic career.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
October 21, 2013

Hock flexion to determine equine degenerative joint disease, photo by Lindsay Keller

In “Degenerative Joint Disease,” learn how early detection, correct diagnosis and proper treatment all equal worlds of improvement for your horse. (Lindsay Keller photo)

Something just doesn’t feel right. Your horse is not lame, but he just seems “off.” In this scenario, many horse owners and trainers might automatically want to turn to joint injections to help get a horse back on track. But equine joints are a complex system and there is not a one-size-fits-all therapy protocol if a joint problem is behind your horse being “off.” When it comes to equine joints, getting veterinary guidance is crucial. 

Joints provide stability for the horse, while simultaneously allowing for freedom of movement. During normal activity, a healthy equine joint is in a constant “wear and repair” repetitive cycle. This cycle renews joint fluid and regenerates cartilage – keeping the joint functioning properly and the horse sound. 

When an equine joint becomes inflamed, the cycle is disrupted. An inflamed equine joint allows destructive enzymes to attack joint fluid and cartilage, which can lead to equine degenerative joint dis-ease, also known as equine osteoarthritis. Once equine DJD has developed, it can’t be reversed – only managed. 

“Degenerative Joint Disease” in the November American Quarter Horse Journal dives into the necessary steps to fight equine DJD, including:

  • A horse owner’s first line of defense against equine degenerative joint disease
  • Early detection 
  • Correct diagnosis 
  • How to properly treat

“By working with a veterinarian to correctly diagnose, appropriately treat and effectively manage a horse’s joint health; we can prolong the soundness and athletic careers of our equine athletes,” says Dr. Victoria Maxwell in the November Journal.

Dr. Maxwell adds that factors contributing to the development of equine DJD include poor conformation, excessive weight and repetitive motion. And frighteningly, equine osteoarthritis doesn’t always wait to appear in older horses – it can strike a 2-year-old just as easily. 

Learn how to protect your horse against equine osteoarthritis by reading “Degenerative Joint Disease” in the November American Quarter Horse Journal

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