5 Common Health Problems Among Equines And How To Prevent Them

5 Common Health Problems Among Equines

5 Common Health Problems Among Equines And Tips On How To Prevent Them

Horses may look tough, but they can also suffer from diseases and health problems. In fact, your equines may be susceptible to digestive tract problems or other contagious diseases at any point in their lives.

As an owner, you wouldn’t want your horse to suffer from any sickness. Similarly, it’s crucial to know the signs when something’s off. If you’re worried that your equine may be ill, read on as we provide you with information on the most common health issues to watch out for and tips on how to prevent them.

This article is meant as a brief guide and is in no way a replacement to veterinary advice. When in doubt of your horse’s health, we strongly recommend you contact a registered equine veterinarian.

  1. Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS)

Like humans, the horse’s stomach lining can be susceptible to lesions, abrasions and other forms of damage, primarily from overtraining and stress. This condition, also known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome or EGUS, can occur when the stomach secretes too much gastric acid, damaging the animal’s stomach walls.

This syndrome is a common cause of worry among horse owners who may observe changes in their equine’s appetite, temperament and performance. The solution is to prevent stress and change the horse’s diet. For instance, increasing forage  and reducing grains can help minimise the risk of gastric ulcers in horses. If your veterinarian has diagnosed your horse with this health issue, they may administer any of these treatments for gastric ulcers.

  1. Arthritis

A horse’s body structure and activities can make it vulnerable to developing a degenerative joint disease that often afflicts humans: arthritis. As with humans, this disease is caused by worn-out cartilage. It also develops over time and impacts an equine’s movements, particularly along the joints.

Your horse’s joints may look more prominent, indicating the presence of inflammation, for example. The horse may also suffer from lameness. Reducing the risk of equine arthritis involves proactive measures such as providing enough preparation and resting periods before and after an activity. Keeping your equine’s weight manageable and avoiding riding it constantly on hard surfaces or uneven ground is also necessary, particularly if you want to keep racing horse breeds in top shape. Supplements can also be used to help ease and/or minimise the severity of the condition.

  1. Colic

Colic is most often a symptom indicating digestive problems in horses. The causes may be minor, and adjustments to diet can be made. However, colic can also be fatal and more often than not requires treatment from a registered equine vet. Colic can be caused by, but not limited to, parasite infestation, accidental consumption of sand, too much feed immediately after exercise, stress and, in rare instances, other severe abdominal problems.

A painful abdomen is one of the most telling signs of this common equine health problem. Your horse may also become restless on the ground, roll/thrash around, sweat and turn to look at its abdomen frequently.  Look out for if the horse has passed faeces and remove other feed from the stable area, including hay.


As a preventative matter you may be advised to change the horse’s diet, this should be done gradually and under advice from a nutritionist or a vet. Preventative measures include, but are not limited to, abstain from feeding immediately after exercise, monitoring grass intake, regular parasite control, do not make hard and fast changes to a diet and minimise high sugar feeds. Also, ensure that your equine doesn’t have oral issues by scheduling regular dental checks.

  1. Herpes Virus-1

As the name implies, this highly contagious disease is caused by a virus and can manifest in many forms. Complications from this affliction may cause a respiratory illness called rhinopneumonitis, death in unborn horses and equine neurologic disease.

Only equids are susceptible to this disease, and it can’t be passed on to other animals or humans. However, it can stay dormant in young equines and become infectious later, especially if the horse experiences too much stress.

Preventing this disease in horses demands observing biosecurity, similar to preventing infections in humans. For instance, proper hygiene is crucial, so wash your hands before and after handling animals. Disinfecting equipment and close contact with the horses’ noses must also be prevented. If you’re keeping several thoroughbreds in the stable, isolate those that have traveled outside the area and monitor their health conditions frequently.  

  1. Laminitis

Laminitis occurs when the horse’s soft tissues of the hoof, or laminae, become inflamed. It causes debilitating and persistent pain in affected horses. Your equine may experience lameness and increased digital pulses on the affected legs when this happens. In the worst cases, the animal loses its ability to stand. At least 7% of deaths among equids are attributed to this condition.

Depending on the cause, laminitis can be prevented. For sepsis or inflammation-related laminitis, ice packs to cool the equine’s affected hoof may be done before addressing the potential cause of infection. For conditions that abnormalities in the endocrine system may cause, going to the vet for medical intervention and reducing the intake of certain carbohydrates may help. Using frog or frog and soles support may also reduce the risk of occurrence. In addition to a equine vet, a farrier is an excellent source of information surrounding the matter and should be able to assist with corrective trimming during and after an episode. To learn more about laminitis in horses visit our article here.


Apart from keeping the environment clean and practicing proper hygiene, monitoring your horse’s diet and keeping your horse stress-free can help maintain its health. Additionally, knowing the symptoms, most of which are discussed in this article, can help alert you to call your vet for medical intervention. Knowing your horse’s health history and records as soon as it arrives at the stable and learning how to monitor signs can also help save lives.


News, magazine articles, event reports, horse health, classifieds, competitions & more! Join Everything Horse, and you'll never miss a hoofbeat (and it's all free)...

We promise we’ll never spam! Take a look at our Privacy Policy for more info.


News Team

Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email: contact@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.