What Are The Most Common Horse Health Problems And Their Treatments?

Posted on
October 28, 2020
a horse wearing a blanket stands in a snowy field
Instagram Logo Fauna Care
Follow us on Instagram for the latest news, promotions, and pet pics.
Follow Us

To maintain the health and wellbeing of your horse, the first step you can take is learning what are the most common problems and injuries for horses, the symptoms you would look for, and how to treat it. Prevention is always preferable and easier when you know common problems your horse may experience. Just knowing these common inflictions will make you a better horse owner who is always prepared to notice and identify symptoms and get your horse help right away. 

Fauna Care healing sprays can help you with the small injuries that your horse may experience such as cuts and burns. This article covers:

  • Colic
  • Arthritis
  • Desmitis
  • Gastric Ulcers
  • Laminitis


Colic is one of the most common horse health problems and refers to digestive problems and abdominal pain. It can range from mild to serious, and is the most common cause of death for horses. It may be caused by a blockage of intestines due to an improper diet or your horse consuming foreign objects. It may also be caused by excessive gas in the intestines, possibly due to a rapid change in diet, or Colic can be caused by the intestines twisting or a gastrointestinal parasite. 

A horse rolling in tall grass
If you see your horse frequently rolling, they may be experiencing abdominal pain that needs to be addressed immediately. 

Any form of Colic can prove fatal and therefore must be treated immediately once you notice symptoms of it. If your horse is experiencing Colic, they may paw their hoof against the ground, and/or turning frequently to watch their abdomen. They may be restless, shown by frequently getting up and down, and may be rolling. Other symptoms include frequent attempts to urinate and increased high pulse and high temperature.

Prevention and Treatment

Colic can be prevented by regularly worming your horse. You can also feed your horse a proper diet, and if you need to introduce a new diet, transition to it gradually. Your horse needs constant access to clean drinking water. Prevent your horse from ingestion sand, dirt, and other materials they shouldn’t be consuming. If you see any signs of Colic in your horse, contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment. If you are waiting for the vet and want to distract your horse from the pain, you can walk your horse and let them roll when they want to. 


Arthritis isn’t just common in horses, but also in many other animals including humans. It develops slowly and gradually as the joint tissues become inflamed. The joint cartilage becomes damaged and worn down, making it very painful for your horse to continue certain ranges of movement. Symptoms include stiffness, swelling and heat of affected joints, and lameness. 

A horse lying on the ground in a field
Keep an eye on your horse for any stiffness or swelling of the joints.

Prevention and Treatment

Arthritis happens over a long period of time, and you can prevent it from getting too bad by taking proper time to warm up and cool down after exercise. You can also ride on varied surfaces so a certain joint isn’t overused exclusively. You can also monitor your horse’s weight and determine how much pressure their joints are being put under. If your horse is suffering to the point that they need treatment, unfortunately there is no cure but there are methods for preventing further pain. You can consider an oral joint supplement or a direct injection to the joint paired with anti-inflammatory drugs. You can also get the advice of your vet on an appropriate exercise routine. 


Horse owners may be less familiar with Desmitis, but many horses suffer from it. Desmitis is when a ligament gets inflamed Usually that ligament is in the limbs that would cause lameness, meaning either the suspensory ligament, the check ligament, or the collateral ligament of the coffin joint. Desmitis can be difficult to spot, as symptoms are subtle. Lamess may not be as obvious. Your horse’s behavior or performance may change which can hint to something wrong.

Prevention and Treatment

You can strengthen your horse’s ligaments with regular straight line work on hard ground. This should be done in regulation however, as too much of it also puts your horse at risk. You can also talk with your farrier about your horse’s foot balance and if it needs to be altered and corrected. To treat desmitis in your horse, you can start with a box rest with a walking out program that should last from six to eight weeks. Any foot imbalance issues need to be resolved.

Gastric Ulcers

Gastric Ulcers can impact your horse’s appetite, appearance, demeanor, as well as riding experience. They are small erosions in the lining of the stomach, causing a lot of pain for your horse. There are many symptoms you may observe and they are varied. Your horse’s appetite may be inconsistent or reduced. Their coat can become dull and the horse’s temperament can change to one of subdued or bad-tempered. While riding your horse, they may experience pain that you could interpret as lameness, back pain, or bad behavior.

A horse eating a carrot out of the owner's hand
Has your horse’s appetite changed? This may be your first sign of gastric ulcers. 

Prevention and Treatment

Gastric Ulcers is associated with psychological stress, so to minimize that would be to prevent this. To accomplish that, you can make sure to keep your horse well fed and well exercised. They should be turned out on a field with other horses they get along with. Your vet would diagnose gastric ulcers once they performed a gastroscopy. Once diagnosed, you should adjust your management and feeding and your horse will get a daily dose of Omeprazole. In four weeks this treatment could completely cure your horse. 

There are a lot of conditions your horse at some point may suffer. With great care of their diet, exercise, and daily routine, you should be able to prevent much of anything serious. When you do see signs of something wrong, knowing what the common ailments are should help you in determining the health problem and its seriousness. Make sure to contact your vet if you are unsure of anything or are convinced your horse has a condition that needs immediate treatment.

Questions? Interested in being featured on this blog? Email us >
Posted on
October 28, 2020

You Might Also Like

Enjoy this article? We've covered more topics like this one on the Fauna Care pet care blog!