Friday, February 19, 2010

Joint Injections

How do people feel about these? I was reading a magazine recently (Horse & Rider?) and ran across an article where Cleve Wells briefly mentioned that he will inject a horse whenever it needs it (this was pertaining to young horses). Based on my recent dives into conformation books, I have found the actual facts to back up what we already all know – the necessity for joint injections are the result of joints being over-stressed and over-worn, particularly on a horse who is too young to be doing what is being asked of him. What actually happens is the horse’s joints fail to produce adequate lubrication to the horse’s joint, resulting and stiffness and soreness.

I have to admit my knowledge of joint injections is rather limited. I have seen them done on the racehorses at the track and understand that there are a great many on the market that perform their jobs differently and affect the horse differently. I guess I am currently operating under the belief that joint injections can be greatly beneficial to a horse (depending on the type of injection) and that they can allow a horse to be much more comfortable than he would be otherwise…and I am always all about the horse. On the other hand, I struggle with the concept of a horse being given joint injections without other options being considered (such as supplements) and for the purpose of continuing to compete on that horse (perhaps allowing a rider to continue to push a horse past its capabilities). I think that supplements (etc) should definitely be pursued prior to turning to joint injections, but I think too that the purpose and use of a horse receiving joint injections must be evaluated and decided on a case-by-case basis. I think it can be easy to forget about the best interests of the horse (for example, why not compete a horse who is receiving injections if he/she is sound and comfortable doing so? On the other hand, could such use have detrimental effects on the horse in the long-run?) but that we must always be careful to pursue the best for our horses. It certainly is not black-and-white!

I think thought the huge thing to always keep in mind with joint injections is why they are necessary for a particular horse. I think it is likely rare (if possible?) for a horse to be unable to produce sufficient joint fluid on a natural basis (ie. the horse in a natural setting, without human interference), so then we have to take a step back and recognize that if a horse requires joint injections, it is likely due to said horse being pushed beyond its physical maturity and capabilities. If that be the case, then the next obvious realization is that perhaps it is necessary to re-evaluate our methods and work differently, in the best interests of our horse(s).