Coming-27 (eek) horse had a hard weekend here in the mid-Atlantic. On Friday afternoon it was around 50 and sunny; on Saturday it snowed 4 inches and then blustered with gale force winds and a real feel of 0; and Sunday dawned sunny and chilly. Horse was out in his three-sided shelter with his 4 buddies and 2 hay rolls between them. But he came in quite sore in his hocks. Barn staff mentioned that he walked in stiff, and when I got to the barn about an hour after turn-in and breakfast, he was subdued and didn’t want to move around his stall. He nickered for his treats and did his carrot stretches with gusto, was very insistent about getting his neck scratched, and had licked his breakfast dish clean, but when I went to muck his stall he was reluctant to move about the cabin and preferred to pivot on his back legs rather than articulate the hocks.
I put his magnetic hock boots on for about 20 minutes, did some massage over his haunches and gaskin, and gave him a good full-body curry and brisk brush. This encouraged him to walk around his stall and start eating his hay, and was also enough to let him pick up his hind feet comfortably. I applied diclofenac gel liberally and left him to demolish his hay pile. I came back again in the afternoon, applied more diclofenac gel, and hand-walked for about 20 minutes, punctuated by levitation and impromptu longeing when snow came off the roof of the indoor… which did flex the hocks, so there’s that.
Granted that the conditions were pretty miserable but this is the first time he’s had such a pronounced reaction to cold and damp. I’m not sure if he did not lie down overnight because his hocks hurt, or he did not lie down for another reason and that made his hocks hurt, but I don’t think he went down on Saturday and that needn’t become a habit. Although I hope we’re done for the season, I’d like to have some better options in my back pocket for next time to help him spend a more comfortable night. Thinking preventatively, I’m not sure if Surpass is the right answer to ward off pain- knowing that the trigger is cold/damp, I think I want to promote blood flow, not inhibit it. Am I thinking about that the right way? Liniment gels offer a temporary heating sensation but it always seems very short-lasting.
So: I’m seriously considering using Elastikon to tape a ThermaCare patch to my horse’s hock the next time it’s 0 degrees. Somebody has to have a better idea. What has worked for you to ease arthritis pain in difficult conditions?
Horse’s abridged life story: turns 27 on Thursday this week, serviceably sound but semi-retired, working walk hacks 3x/week and 20-30 minutes light flatwork 2x/week. Turnout 12-16 hours/day in winter, 4 congenial friends, unless weather keeps them in the shed they all move around in a big rolling field. Hocks fused around age 18. Lives on Previcox, MSM, and SmartStride Ultra, W3 oil for omega-3 support, IV polyglycan as needed. Has a phenomenal farrier, DVM chiropractor as needed, owner reasonably competent at amateur horse massage. Wants to know why I won’t get on winning the lotto so he can summer in Vermont and winter in Southern Pines!