As a horse owner or rider you are well aware of the beauty and elegance of the horses you interact with. The grace and ability of horses to move with speed while being able to execute agile maneuvers comes from their unique body structure and build.
In comparison to other grazing animals, horses have a relatively heavy body and long, light limbs. This body structure creates its own set of challenges for the horse owner. The skeletal system needs particular attention.
The Importance of Strong Bones for Horses
The structure that supports the horse’s weight and mass while facilitating its graceful movement is its skeleton. A horse’s skeleton needs to be relatively lightweight to facilitate speed, yet strong enough to support the animal’s weight. The skeletal system of the horse also needs a certain amount of flexibility so that bones won’t break under the stains of movement.
Skeletal bone is in a constant state of remodeling as it works to recover from large and small stresses. Studies have shown that reduced mobility, either due to needing to recuperate from illness or injury, or a general lack of exercise will lead to a reduction in bone density.
Bone is actually able to perceive and react to load (both weight carried and pulling forces exerted on the bone by muscles and tendons) and movement. Load and movement stimulates bone to remodel and can result in increased bone density.²
Many times abnormalities in a horse’s bone health will not be apparent until an injury occurs. Tiny stress fractures or osteoporosis can go undiagnosed until the horse presents with lameness or other issues.
Older horses are more prone to bone loss such as osteopenia which is a loss of bone density that is less severe than that of osteoporosis, but which left untreated will likely lead to osteoporosis.¹
Tips for Improving Bone Density in Your Horse
A high-quality diet with the appropriate nutrients and minerals is the first step in making sure your horse will have healthy bones. Dietary supplements and nutrition alone cannot cure bone issues, but a poor diet will definitely create a problem or make it worse.
Dietary supplements are available to help improve your horse’s bone strength and overall health. The correct ratios of nutrients are vital to good outcomes. Consult with an expert in equine nutrition, or your veterinarian before beginning any supplements or dietary changes.
The key factor for increasing bone density is movement. The old saying “Use it or lose it” is especially appropriate in the case of improving your horse’s bone density.¹ Regular exercise is the top priority for good bone health.
Vitafloor has a variety of indoor and outdoor equine exercise equipment that is designed to improve your horse’s overall fitness and wellness. And don’t forget to entice your horse to play and exercise while in the paddock by providing a toy like a ball to get them moving.
Equine Health and Wellness
Your horse’s comfort and safety are always top priorities when it comes to making sure they are getting enough exercise. Using appropriately fitted saddle pads is important for your horse’s comfort and health. A good saddle pad will distribute the pressure of the saddle and also the weight of the rider. This protects your horse’s skeletal system and keeps his back healthy.
How to Improve Bone Density in Your Horse with Whole-Body Vibration
Several studies have shown that whole-body vibration is an effective intervention to improve bone strength and quality. The benefits are created by the physiological response of the bones to the vibrations which recreates aspects of load and movement. Some other benefits of whole-body vibration are improved balance and muscle strength.²
Using the whole-body vibration technique is a non-invasive method for treating osteoporosis and also helps horses heal more quickly from injuries. Studies have also shown that the Vitafloor whole-body vibration system also helps horses increase mass in their back muscles.³
Vitafloor horse vibration plates have thick rubber padding for comfort and safety as well as a variety of safety features. The vibration frequency is adjustable to accommodate many applications to keep your horse healthy and active. Vitafloor vibration plates use a standard electrical outlet and come with an optional lightweight side bar system.
Human research has demonstrated that in addition to improving bone density, whole-body vibration treatment improves strength and tone of muscles, increases blood circulation, and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. NASA has even used the technology to keep astronauts healthy while on missions in zero gravity settings.³