Joint Injections

Wouldn’t it be helpful if a horse could say “Help! Something hurts here!”? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Galloping, leaping and sliding to a stop all can put an overwhelming amount of stress on a horse’s legs. Joints are made of up bone, cartilage, soft tissues and protective fluid- all of which can break down as joints absorb shock by bending and giving.

Sliding strains joints.

Running strains joints.

Jumping strains joints. pc: Practical Horseman

There are several reasons why equine veterinarians may need to inject medicine into a horse’s joint. One is to assist in lameness localization by anesthetizing, or blocking, a joint. In this case, the vet will inject a local anesthetic inside the joint cavity and then assess whether or not the joint is a source of pain to the horse. Another common reason is to administer medicine directly into a joint to make it feel better, or as part of proactive management to help a horse be comfortable and maximize his performance.
The former helps to diagnose a lameness. The latter helps to give relief to a painful joint condition.

The two most common conditions that are often treated with joint injections are acute arthritis and osteoarthritis. Acute arthritis implies that the injury and pain happened recently, and can usually be helped by joint injections by reducing inflammation.
Osteoarthritis involves bone and is generally chronic, meaning it has gone on for a longer period of time. Osteoarthritis can’t be cured, but can be helped. This recent study showed that with joint injections, 90% of the horses studied had improved within 3 weeks. Horses can expect to get a few months of relief from a joint injection, but most likely it will not be a long term fix.

Outside of joint injections, there are three types of FDA-approved injectable joint therapies used in horses. Intra-articular (IA), intravenous (IV), and intramuscular (IM). Examples of these might include Adequan and Legend. Your veterinarian may prescribe one, none, or a combination of these types depending on your horse’s use, soundness problems, and which joints are affected. There are also various supplements, oral medications, and therapeutic treatments that can help ease the painfulness of joint problems in horses.

It is important to note that a complete lameness exam, likely to include joint flexions and joint blocking (described above), should be performed prior to administering joint injections. This can help to rule out other causes for the pain which would prevent unintentionally aggravating a non-joint related underlying injury. Also, there are risks of infection and long term side-effects which must also be evaluated prior to injecting joints. In some cases, veterinarians prescribe a course of less invasive therapeutic medicines (like Adequan and Legend) or therapeutic treatments to help horses feel comfortable without undergoing joint injections. If you do pursue joint injections for your horse, it is important to remember that adequate restraint is absolutely essential for a safe joint injection, and therefore only an experienced handler should be allowed to perform a joint injection.

Stable Secretary makes it easy to track a complete history of joint injections, as well as therapies and medications, for every horse in the barn. This enables owners, veterinarians, trainers, and barn managers to form logical conclusions about the best treatments for each individual horse.


Rider of the Month: Amanda Steege

In December, we talked to New Jersey based trainer, Amanda Steege. Amanda is the owner and head trainer at Ashmeadow Farm. She and her students have won tricolors at all of the biggest shows in the United States – and they also have a lot of fun in general! Ashmeadow nurtures a wonderful feeling of camaraderie for the customers and staff in the barn, and it also provides the very highest level of care for the horses. Honestly, I’d love to be a horse in Amanda’s barn!

Amanda has been using Stable Secretary since 2014. We sat down with her to find out about her, her barn, and how Stable Secretary helps her care for her horses and run her business.

Amanda with Duvall, one of the horses in her stable.

Q: Why does your barn use Stable Secretary?

Amanda: We use Stable Secretary to help us stay organized, and it also saves me time and money!

Q: What do you love about Stable Secretary?

Amanda: I love that it keeps track of when my horses are due for the farrier, vaccinations, worming, etc, and that it sends me notifications. I also love that I can enter in my services right from my iPhone in the moment before I forget what I have done. Before Stable Secretary, I did everything by hand and I think that I lost a lot of money because there were a lot of things that I forgot to bill for. I also love that through Stable Secretary I can accept credit cards.

Q: What would you say to other trainers considering subscribing to Stable Secretary?

Amanda: I would highly suggest Stable Secretary for any size business. In fact, I have recommend it to several of my friends.

Q: What types of horses and riders do you have at your barn?

Amanda: We have 12-16 horses in our barn, and we focus primarily on hunters. We mostly work with young hunters and with amateur clients.

Q: We have noticed that you’re particularly talented at developing young horses. What are some techniques you use with young horses that you could share with our readers?

Amanda: The most important thing with young horses is being consistent. We spend a lot of time working on flat work and gymnastics and giving our young horses the tools and confidence they need to enter the show ring.

Q: Could you share any health and wellness practices for horses that you think are the most important?

Amanda: We have a team of people at Ashmeadow that spends a lot of time making sure our horses are happy and healthy. It all starts with our barn manager, Tim Delovich, who creates an individual Feed and supplement program for each horse based on their needs. We also rely on our vet, farrier, chiropractor, massage therapist, and dentist. By working together, we keep our equine athletes at the top of their game.
Also, I am a big believer in the mental health of the horses, so they spend quite a bit of time eating grass outside in our pastures, and going for rides on our trails and in our hayfields to balance out their training time in the ring.

Amanda with Tim and their newly adopted dog!

Q: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding thing about being a trainer?

Amanda: The relationships we build with the animals.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing about being a trainer?

Amanda: The fact that it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no downtime.

Q: What would you say is your biggest strength?

Amanda: I think that my biggest strength is being able to listen to the horses and to make relationships with horses.

Q: You have had a lot of success in hunter derbies. What is the most challenging aspect of doing hunter derbies?

Amanda: I love the derby classes… I love how each one is different and has different challenges built into the course. That is probably what makes them the most challenging – you’re never quite sure what to expect from class to class!

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