Some horses, when left in their stalls for extended periods of time, have a tendency to develop swelling in their legs.? This condition is referred to as ?stocking up,? and can result in discomfort and stiffness.? For most horses, the swelling will subside after ten to fifteen minutes of exercise.
Horses were not meant to stand in stalls all day and this confinement can lead to problems.? In the wild, horses move constantly as they graze and get plenty of exercise.? When they are forced to stand all day in one position, without being able to really stretch their legs, fluid can build in their legs and result in swelling.? Some horses cannot rid themselves of this fluid without exercise.
The best treatment and only cure is, in fact, regular exercise.? Even turning him out into a large paddock or pasture, where he can move around himself, will prevent stocking up.? Riding your horse harder or longer once a week will not remedy the problem ? instead he will need regular opportunities to exercise every day.? Even one to two hours a day might be enough.
If this isn?t possible, or if your horse still has problems, hosing his legs with cold water is the best solution for bringing down the swelling.? You?ll need to hose each leg for ten to fifteen minutes, and it should be done both before and after riding.? Before your ride, you?ll want to reduce any swelling that might be there, and after your ride you?ll want to cool his legs before putting him back in his stall.
Regular hosing will cause other difficulties for your horse, including soft hooves, cracks, and skin fungus.? Be sure to fully dry your horse?s legs and feet before putting him in his stall.? Ultimately, you?ll need to find a way to add exercise to your horse?s daily routine, as you won?t want to continue to hose permanently.