Back to training, introducing the curb bit, and trying ginger against arthritis.

It looks like I can finally start training Nazir again! We had to take a break because of the arthritis in his right stifle, something I was quite scared about. I basically didn’t ride him since the end of September when I noticed that he seemed to have a sore back and very much tired to avoid putting weight on his right hintleg. The right side has always been his bad side, so I didn’t think much of it and tried to find out what’s wrong with his back. Whatever I tried his back didn’t get better, and my friend Julia suggested to call her vet. I’m really glad that I did. He suspected that a problem with the right hintleg was causing the back problem, which an ultrasound of the stifle that another vet did confirmed. An older injury of the patella tendon  has probably caused the arthritis.
Until the diagnosis at the end of December I mainly did groundwork and lounging, but then I followed the advise of the vet and also stopped with the lounging. Nazir got some shots in his stifle, I started him on Flexadin (an aminoglucose supplement), and we were supposed to just go for walks. The joint improved quickly and Nazir got a second shot at the beginning of January. I started with groundwork again, mostly on big circles. It was a good time for us after all, we improved communication and the little things that you overlook in daily training. When the vet saw Nazir a week ago she was amazed by how much Nazir had improved, he even seemed to use his back muscles a lot better. “Whatever you do keep doing it”, she said. I was really happy to hear that! His joint had improved so much that he didn’t need the third shot.

There is a bit of spring in the air this week. The horses are quite antsy, but their paddocks are still half-frozen, so they cannot run and play as much as they would like to. I let Nazir run loose in the indoor arena yesterday, and what a show he put on! I could see that he was very confident about his leg again, otherwise he wouldn’t have managed the curves in this speed…so I decided to ride today. It felt wonderful to sit on him, it was like everything was back to normal. He didn’t forget anything! I really had to watch the time so I don’t overdo it. Of course he lost some of his strength and his muscles need time to grow again. Still, I’m really happy about this development! (knock on wood…)
I thought I’ll use the time that I still do a lot of groundwork to introduce him to the curb bit, something that I already wanted to do last autumn. Yesterday was the first time he had a curb bit plus snaffle in the mouth and he wasn’t so enthusiastic about it. I waited until he stopped doing acrobatics with his tongue, gave him a candy and took the bit out again. Today I already went to the indoor arena and did five minutes of groundwork with the curb on and I think it went quite well. I want him to feel comfortable with so much metal in the mouth before I get on. It’s also easier to introduce  the bit from the ground. I want to make sure he understands what this is all about before I use it for riding. Although he is still not quite sure about it he loves doing new stuff and is very eager to do it right.
There was another premier yesterday: I started feeding him dried ginger. I’ve read so many positive reports on the internet about ginger and arthritis that I wanted to give it a try. Dried ginger is very spicy as you might know, even a little bit of it. I’m supposed to feed up to 40g! Horses can be quite particular about their food and are not exactly fans of strong tastes. Yesterday I hid 5g in grated apples, today 10g. He didn’t complain at all and ate it. So far so good.

Well, maybe spring really is on the way, and we have lots to do as you can see 🙂

2 Comments on “Back to training, introducing the curb bit, and trying ginger against arthritis.

  1. Hello, very interested in reading your blog about your horse and arthritis and glad that he is making steady progress with you. My horse has been on and off lame for 15 months and after a lot of x rays and nerve blocks, he has been diagnosed with coffin joint arthritis on the outside of his right hoof (the side he fractured as a 3 yo) along with kissing spines. My vet agrees with me that this maybe as a result of the original trauma but also he has mild spavin in his hocks and perhaps several years of compensating has resulted in him being asymmetrical – which I began to notice. He is about to start IRAP for his coffin joint and osteopathic treatment to treat the whole of him and get him straightened over time. I was doing ground work but stopped due to him being lame but think I will resume as I don’t want him to lose his core muscles and fitness. Good idea about the ginger. I will try a tiny pinch in grated carrot and see if he will take it. He is a sensitive suspicious horse!

    • They can compensate a lot before they show any signs of pain or illness. Horses are flight animals, showing weakness means that you are more likely to be picked out as prey…

      With us it also started with me noticing his increasing asymmetry, then back stiffness, then back pain. Eventually, it lead us to the arthritis in the right stifle joint, then to cartilage fragments in the joint. Nazir just had his second arthroscopy, unfortunately they didn’t get all the pieces in the first one. And he’s lost most of the muscles we build up already, due to 6 weeks of box rest. I can start working with him in two months again, I guess I will have to build him up slowly.

      Ginger works for a lot of horses, some owners don’t give their horses anything else for the arthritis. If I remember correctly, you need to give 3g per 100kilo weight. First, you give very little, like in grated apple, to get them used to the taste. Then you increase slowly until the right dosage (with Nazir, that is 18g). If you don’t see an improvement, increase a little more until the horse is pain free. Sometimes it’s just a matter of one gram. Nazir got 20g daily and it worked out very well. I fed him soaked hay cobs in the evening, you can hide medicine very well in them. Later I decreased the dosage to 12g and added devils claw (20g), MSM (2g per 100kg) and Glucosamine (1g per 100kg). He also got nettle (50g) and rose hip (150g). This combination killed the inflammation and he was lame free, although he had three big chips in the joint. As soon as I knew about the chips, I didn’t train anymore and scheduled the operation.

      I plan on writing something about all these arthritis supplements, lots of horses have problems with it and I’d like to share my experience. The ready mixed stuff is often very expensive and has too many additive you don’t want to put into your horse.

      I wish you and your horse all the best and really hope you find a way to help him!

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