Spring is just around the corner and this is the time many people start thinking about sending their young colts to trainers, either to be started under saddle or for more advanced training. Many people send their horses for training with futurities, derbies, and classics in mind … all events catering to young horses.
While I love seeing young horses performing amazing feats of athleticism, I also see the negative effects of such intense training on these horses, especially when it comes to joint health. Horse joints take a long time to develop, and most horses can’t handle a full intensive training schedule they are four to six years old.
Unfortunately, futurities and other such events mean that many colts are in intensive training starting at two years of age. This early training can lead to extensive damage to horse joints, and even older horses can suffer joint damage if not managed with a strong health care program.
Preventing Damage to Horse Joints
To prevent joint damage in young horses, especially those destined for aged competitive events like futurities, there are three separate phases of horse health care:
– care of the pregnant mare before the colt is born
– care of the growing colt prior to training
– care of the young horse in training
The main focus in the first stage is to provide the pregnant mare with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals she needs to provide her foal with strong bones and joints. Blue-green algae is one nutrient-rich source that tends to “cover all bases.”
For growing colts, the nutritional program should focus on providing the same kinds of nutrients as above, but one should also avoid feeding too many calories. Feeding a growing colt too many calories can lead to bone and joint problems like Osteo Chondrosis Dissecans (OCD).
Finally, for the young horse in training, you want to continue with a solid nutritional program and add in antioxidants to counteract the negative effects of a hard training program. Antioxidants are extremely important in supporting a young horse’s joints by preventing cartilage damage. At this stage of the game, it’s much better to use natural antioxidants to prevent joint damage than it is to use joint supplements after the damage has already occurred.
For the full scoop on nutrition for health horse joints, read the entire article by clicking the link below: