Who knew? Stall flooring can actually help horses with arthritis. ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System complements the medications, therapies and in some cases even surgeries that are recommended by veterinarians. It’s not a replacement for veterinary care – it’s a complementary orthopedic therapy that can help horses 24/7, 365 days a year.
“In my opinion, as a horse owner, I think it is far superior to regular rubber mats for normal stabling,” according to Ann Townsend-Pors, LVT, Anesthesia Department at Cornell University Hospital for Animals, Ithaca, New York, USA, where more than a thousand horses a year recover from surgery on ComfortStall.
At the Equine Sports Medicine Centre at Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, England, Dr. Kate Allen, BVSc, Cert EM (IntMed), DipACVSMR, PhD, MRCVS, agrees, “ComfortStall provides superior cushioning." For horses with arthritis, comfortable cushion and support underfoot can make a world of difference.
First, what is arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term referring to inflammation of the joint and can range from inflammation of the synovial membrane and fibrous joint capsule, to intra-articular fractures and ligament injuries, to osteoarthritis, which is the progressive loss of articular cartilage.
It can be caused by acute trauma such as articular fracture or damage to articular cartilage, or it can result from years of wear and tear. Athletic performance horses can be susceptible to both causes, but arthritis is also found in young and senior horses. Conditions that predispose horses to arthritis are as diverse as genetics, conformation, training, trimming or shoeing, joint infections, fractures and the horse’s environment.
Signs of arthritis can be a sudden lameness, or it can begin gradually with a progression from less expressive gaits to an unwillingness to perform as usual, from stiffness that goes away after warming up to increasing lameness. Diagnosis is best left up to veterinary evaluation, but an old saying that too often proves true is, “If your horse lives long enough, he will eventually get arthritis.”
If your horse is lucky enough to be the exception, count it a blessing. But if your horse is one of so many who suffer from arthritis, now there’s something you can do to complement medical treatment. The best kept secret for helping horses with arthritis is a secret no longer.
How can stall flooring help horses with arthritis?
Horses with arthritis need cushion and support underfoot. Horse owners worry about footing in their arenas, on the trail and in the pasture, but what about the stalls where so many horses spend the majority of their leisure time – up to 23 or 24 hours a day in some cases.
Until recently, the horse owner’s only option was to choose between hard rubber mats that aren’t much softer than the ground they cover, or soft rubber mats that don’t provide much support and quickly wear out – and a deep layer of bedding that provides a dusty environment that creates respiratory problems for horses and humans alike.
That’s old school now there is a stall flooring system that helps horses cope with the unrelenting discomfort of arthritis.
ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System helps all horses – but especially horses with arthritis – achieve greater comfort and quality of life. Thanks to the therapeutic properties of its level surface that “springs” back with every step, ComfortStall supports joints, tendons and ligaments while it aids improved movement, flexibility and hoof quality.
Three elements help horses with arthritis
Three elements – the ComfortStall® IronClad™ TopCover, Precision Foam™ and HDPE Anchor Strips – work synergistically to help horses with arthritis.
Its top layer, the ComfortStall® IronClad™ TopCover, is pliable enough to deliver the therapeutic benefits of the padding it protects, yet tough enough to outlast everything but concrete. Made of three layers of dense, vulcanized rubber with two layers of tough, tightly woven polyester/nylon mesh sandwiched between provides unmatched structural stability, durability and an impermeable, waterproof surface.
Thanks to the IronClad™ TopCover’s non-slip, non-abrasive surface, horses can get up without scuffling, which reduces the stress on arthritic joints – plus hock sores are a thing of the past. The abrasion that creates hock sores never occurs with ComfortStall. Arthritic horses in particular benefit from its flexibility, as the horse’s body weight sinks its hooves down into the padded floor, so it can lie down and get up with ease.
The bottom layer is ComfortStall® Precision Foam™ proprietary orthopedic padding, which eliminates the fatigue many horses experience when standing on traditional rubber mats, which is typically only 3% softer than concrete. Soft and supportive, Precision Foam’s chemically cross-linked polyethylene foam is laminated for structural stability, creating a stall, level surface that also insulates against cold and heat with a working temperature range of -70 to 175°F, absorbs vibration and shock, offers energy return, and is completely waterproof.
The comfort and support of Precision Foam™ not only provides a comfortable and supportive cushion to stand on, it also encourages them to lie down more and take the weight off their feet. It provides recumbent whole-body support for the ‘give’ under hip, shoulder and pastern bones the horse needs for quality rest. It’s not unusual to observe horses sleeping on bare ComfortStall flooring for hours at a time, getting their all-important REM sleep.
The ‘spring’ in this cushioned flooring massages the frog inside the horse’s hooves, which stimulates blood circulation with every step the horse takes – and anything that increases circulation helps arthritic horses. ComfortStall flooring has even been shown to reduce the need for standing wraps, thanks to its circulation-enhancing effect.
Around the perimeter of the stall, ComfortStall HDPE Anchor Strips seal the topcover to the stall walls, which prevents urine from becoming trapped underneath the stall flooring (as typically occurs with individual rubber mats) where it creates urea, bacteria and the ammonia fumes that are harmful to equine and human respiratory systems.
ComfortStall pays for itself in savings
When it comes to investing in your horse’s health, horse owners agree with the old saying “an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.” When it comes to beating the causes of vet bills, ComfortStall is the horse owner’s secret weapon. And it can even pay for itself, so read on!
Because bedding is needed only to absorb urine, not for comfort underfoot, ComfortStall significantly reduces the cost of buying, cleaning and disposing of bedding. In fact, it delivers a remarkable return on investment: Cost savings from using less bedding typically recovers the cost of buying and installing ComfortStall within six months to a year.
While it’s impossible to predict all the savings on vet bills, medication, nutraceuticals and other costs that the ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System can bring, it is possible to estimate your cost savings on bedding, labor and disposal. Click here for the ROI calculator and see what you can save!
Sound management practices
There’s no substitute for good management when it comes to caring for a horse with arthritis. The standard advice – in addition to an array of medications, supplements, nutraceuticals and therapeutic treatment modalities your vet can recommend – typically includes:
- Maintain healthy weight to minimize the impact of overweight on already-compromised joints.
- Monitor fitness to support overall health and immune system functions.
- Provide appropriate exercise, whether that is regular riding and turnout or meandering around the pasture, to increase circulation and naturally lubricate joints.
- Keep feet regularly trimmed or shod to maintain balance, evenly absorb concussion and minimize joint stress.
- Monitor footing, which ideally would be soft and supportive, but ensure it is neither too soft nor too hard as both extremes take a toll on sensitive joints.
Now, thanks to the remarkable ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System, your stall flooring can join these sound management practices to help horses with arthritis live healthier, more comfortable lives.
For more information, visit the ComfortStall page at https://www.haygain.us/pages/comfortstall-flooring