Why it is imperative to rest your horse at the first sign of inflammation

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Have you ever noticed your muscles becoming tired and sore after performing a more rigorous than usual task?  Whether it be at the gym, working in the yard or even walking a long distance – most people have experienced athletic discomfort.  It takes the form of a dull ache that may increase in intensity when replicating the movements that caused the exertion.  It typically does not last long and remedies are simple – hot or cold packs, gentle massage and rest will heal those strains.  Now consider your horse as also being prone to athletic discomfort, even when they are in peak physical condition – let’s consider the implications of not ensuring adequate rest when your horse is displaying signs of inflammation.

Regardless of whether your horse is an elite athlete or an occasionally ridden pleasure horse, the detriments of working through inflammation greatly outweigh anything that could be achieved otherwise.  While horses certainly can have their performance affected by their mood or mindset, it is wise to ascertain the underlying causes that triggered those changes.  Whilst an acute injury may or may not be present, inflammation can occur throughout many bodily mechanisms such as ligaments, tendons or joints.

Presence of inflammation may become noticeable via behaviour or mobility irregularities, and as many horse owners can testify – they know almost immediately when something “isn’t quite right”.  Whilst it is at the owner’s discretion to decide whether the change in their horse is significant enough to warrant veterinary attention, in almost every instance rest is utterly crucial.

In the instance of a joint that is compromised with inflammation, the potential for permanent damage is often overlooked, with the chance of this occurrence being more prevalent in horses that are subject to work of greater intensity and duration.  This is due to an increased amount of synovial fluid build-up in the joints, causing pressure whilst the joint moves for vital separation of the opposing cartilage surfaces.  When inflammation occurs, mediators are released in a form that causes degradation of the cartilage – resulting in pain, loss of mobility and can lead to irreversible osteoarthritis.

Resting gives important tissues the time to commence and carry out the all-important healing process, allowing mediators to disperse and cells to reform.  Even the smallest traumas can multiply the damage sites of inflammation caused by seemingly the most minor injuries and over-exertions – so be sure to make resting your first resort when it comes to inflammation management.

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