Franklin Vets Blog

Coughs & knocks

December 18, 2019

As we’re heading into summer, the days (and time for riding!) are getting longer and the ground is getting harder. Horses carry 60% of their weight on their front feet and 40% on their hind. Riding on hard ground can increase the risk of your horse having foot problems associated with the concussive forces of their foot hitting the ground, especially in the front feet.

Common problems include inflammation of the pedal bone, coffin joint, flexor tendons, and navicular bones. Horses with thin soles or underrun heels are especially prone to problems.

So what can you do to help minimize the risk of these injuries?horses in dusty conditions

Where possible, try and do fitness or fast work on softer surfaces. If that is not an option, try and ride your horse with shoes or put hoof boots on your horse if it is normally barefoot. For horses that have thin soles or are especially prone to issues, your farrier can put pads or other cushioning materials under the shoe. Using hoof oil, and ensuring your horse is on a balanced diet with the right minerals can also help them with the quality of their hooves. If your horse’s feet continue to be a problem, consult your vet or farrier for a more individualized plan.

As the ground is drying out, the environment is also getting dustier, which can make your horse prone to respiratory problems. Respiratory problems are very common in horses.

The easiest signs to look for are coughing or increased breathing rate or effort. However, horses can also have inflammation in their lungs without coughing, and the only noticeable sign on some of these horses is apparent lack of fitness for the level of training they have been in. A normal horse takes 8-16 breaths per minute. You can watch your horse’s flank move and count the number of breaths they are taking.

Things you can do to help minimize dust in the environment include wetting down the hay, wetting down bedding if they are boxed, or wetting down an arena prior to riding if it is particularly dusty.

Feeding your horse omega-3 fatty acids has also been shown to help combat inflammation related to respiratory problems. Contact your vet if you have any concerns as they can perform tests to determine if your horse has inflammation in their lungs and prescribe treatment accordingly.

Dr Melissa Sim DVM