If your horse is an athlete (if you ride them you should think of them as an athlete), it’s important to have support for his body when it comes to nutrition, postural development and strengthening, hoof care and relief from tired or sore muscles. But a horse who is in good biomechanical alignment and a program that builds gymnastic strength in a healthy timeline does not degenerate as quickly. Supplements, joint injections, corrective shoeing, chiropractic, massage, etc – all these can be helpful to a horse who needs them, but working in balance should prevent degeneration of soft tissues, joints, and the horse’s mind.
What if your horse has already been damaged, and you are rehabbing? Breaking the cycle of pain, discomfort and imbalance is crucial. A horse in pain will not change their posture- so making them comfortable is key, but don’t let their new freedom from pain trick you into working in frames they aren’t ready for. Break pain cycles, and rehab slowly, so joints and muscles have time to adjust.
A healthy posture involves equal flexion in both hind limbs through the hip, stifle, hock and pastern, core stability and strength enough to lift the back, and a neck and shoulders that are free and supple. A horse in pain will almost always tighten their neck and shoulders to compensate, so eliminating the source of pain, not just the symptoms of pain, is essential.