watching for signs of pain in older horses - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-14-2014, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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watching for signs of pain in older horses

My Arabian mare is around 25 years old, she's always been an easy-keeper, she's been ridden for the past 7 years with no issues. She looks really good for her age, and she still has plenty of energy and that "go" attitude when I ride. At one point, she was on MSM in powdered form on her feed as a joint supplement, but I took her off it after realizing she really didn't need it and it was just an extra expense. That was about three years ago, she's been fine ever since - hasn't shown signs of discomfort or stiffness.

The other day I was bringing her in from the pasture to ride and I thought she might have been lagging in her hind legs a little. I felt down her legs, picked out her hooves, poked around on her back with no issues (other than some confused looks from her ). She didn't react in any way that indicated pain, so I went ahead and rode, but tried to keep it light. I try to only ride in the evenings because it's so hot, and we don't do anything too strenuous. I w/t/c, sometimes we go on trails, and last week I worked her over some 6-inch cavalettis.

My problem is, it's difficult to tell sometimes when I'm riding if she's holding her tail that way because she hurts, or if it's just because she's an Arabian. When I trot her on a lunge line or she's running in the pasture, she holds it up, but is there a way to differentiate between the two?

That being said, I don't want her to be in pain, but she still likes to work. I certainly don't want to quit riding, and I don't think she would either but obviously her health and comfort come first; I know that Arabians are sometimes known for having a big heart and wanting to do more than they really can (but why hold her back if she's still capable?).

Part of me feels like this is all dreamt up in my head, but I just want to be aware, as she continues to age. What are some other signs I could be looking for? I don't really notice any stiffness in her joints, although once it starts getting cold again I may put her back on MSM just for good measure. Any help would be appreciated...thanks!
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-15-2014, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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bump - anyone?
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-15-2014, 10:29 PM
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If she isn't showing any signs of discomfort or reluctance to work I wouldn't stress too much.

I would ditch msm though. If you really want a joint supplement I can not rave enough about Omega Alpha SinewX. Its all natural, vegan and its made of products that a horse can actually digest.

BB ~ 2014 Trakehner Bratty Mare ~ 1993 CSHA Em ~ 2007 Standardbred
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post #4 of 4 Old 08-15-2014, 10:34 PM
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I have an older mare myself and she let's me know when she's in pain.

Over the past year, she's been walking stiffer and stiffer, but when she first started getting that way, it was hard for me to see.

I am a good judge by the way my horses walk, if they are in pain or not... well, on the fronts, at least... I look at their neck and head-set and whether or not they are tense in the shoulders (or hips)...

It's sometimes hard to judge... sometimes taking a video and looking back over it helps a lot! I took a video of my mare walking the other day and when I looked back at it, I noticed just how bad stiff and tense she was, and just by watching her, I couldn't hardly tell.

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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