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Keeping Your Horse Loose and Limber in the Winter

All horses require an adequate place to shelter from precipitation and winds in the cold. For the horse prone to cold related stiffness it's critical. Blanketing to preserve body heat and support muscle energy generation and soft tissue flexibility is also desirable. For horses prone to stiffness, don't wait until they are shivering.  If the hocks or knees are known to be an issue, consider Neoprene or lined boots to keep the joint warm when the horse is confined and/or overnight.

Wraps can also be used for the lower legs to protect those joints and the tendons and ligaments. Lined shipping boots with Velcro closures are often a good option because they cover from below the knee to coronary band, are very warm and can't cause problems related to slipping and too much pressure.  Hoof boots with a liner between the bare rubber and the sole are also helpful.

Horses with obvious areas of discrete muscle/tendon/ligament involvement rather than a stiff all over picture can benefit from use of a topical containing capsaicin.  Mint in the formulation will increase the warming effect.

Supplements to support homeostatic defenses against cold-related oxidative stress can be very helpful. Look for ingredients like Devil's Claw, Cat's Claw, Turmeric, Boswellia and Yucca. On the nutrient end, look for MSM, berries, Resveratrol, Quercetin and Grape Seed Extract.

Finally, support joint cartilage with the big three of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronate plus connective tissue support in the form of Green-Lipped Mussel and hydrolyzed collagen.
Our thanks to Dr. Eleanor Kellon and Uckele Corporation for this article.