Managing the ‘Creaky’ Performance Horse

Seasoned sport horses often need a little extra TLC to continue performing well into middle age.
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Managing the Creaky Performance Horse
Stretching exercises before riding can help horses with joint and/or muscle stiffness. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett / The Horse

Seasoned sport horses are invaluable, but they often need a little extra TLC to continue performing well into middle age.

Older, experienced performance horses are worth their weight in gold. They’ve been there, done that and have amassed skills that literally take ages to learn. Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, these horses are living and remaining active longer.

But, years of training and many miles in the show ring mean these horses need a little extra TLC to stay sound. Depending on the horse and the discipline, that might mean more time warming up or periodic joint injections when he starts to have a hitch in his giddyup.

Finding the Source of the Creak

Early in the summer of 2016, Tracy Bartick-Sedrish, DVM, and Steve Sedrish, MS, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, owners of Upstate Equine Medical Center, in Schuylerville, New York, experienced the same disappointment many of their clients struggle with. Their aged Western performance horse, Spoon, went lame. Lower limb radiographs came back clean, and ultrasound revealed nothing out of the ordinary. The couple opted for an MRI, which revealed subtle changes in the navicular bone, which is at the back of the foot, and the impar ligament attached to it

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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