Just like human beings and other animals, horses are prone to certain health conditions that intensive care or regular grooming cannot prevent. This is true for almost all breeds of horses. Whether it is a domestic (farm) horse or a racehorse, some of these conditions come with age, while others come due to genetic predispositions.

Here is a list of the top 5 illnesses that horses suffer from, other than injuries that you need to be aware of. Most of these conditions are unavoidable even in the thoroughbred beasts we see on TVG racing. However, you will be able to defer the diseases for a long time with the right knowledge.


Arthritis and its different forms are prevalent among almost all mammals. Sadly, horses have not been able to evade this degenerative condition where the synovial fluid dries up and causes the degeneration of the cartilages of the hinge joints. Arthritis can affect the knees of the front legs, shoulder joints, necks and the hind legs. It restricts the mobility of the area.

Taking time to cool down after a thorough exercising session, monitoring the horse’s weight strictly and providing nutritious diet help to delay the onset.

Abdominal pain or colic

This is again very common among mammals. It usually occurs in horses when the drink infected food and water, or when they suffer from stress. Flank watching, unexplainable fluctuations in temperature, frequent urination attempts and restlessness can be signs of colic. It can start with mild stomach ache and distention, and lead up to emergency surgeries to restore the intestine structures.

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Gastritis and gastric ulcers are very common. They usually result from continuous stress, anxiety, in combination with poor distribution of food. A restless, reluctant, disobedient horse with pickiness about food, a dull coat, and pain in the back can be signs of gastric ulcers. Your vet can easily detect gastric ulcers using a gastroscope. They are treatable and curable in early stages.


No hoof, no horse. This is sadly a true proverb from the ancient times. Laminitis is a painful condition that affects the horse’s feet. It is an infection that can cause the hoof or hooves to heat up and cause difficulty in walking and trotting. If your horse has signs of laminitis, always test him/her for Cushing’s disease as well. Monitor their health, weight, and diet very carefully to reduce their chances of catching laminitis.


This is thankfully not as common as the other four ailments in horses. It is the inflammation of ligaments. This is the most common cause of lameness among horses, and it can affect the check ligament, suspensory ligament and the ligaments of the coffin joint. You will need a good vet to treat your horse after this diagnosis. Horses often require corrective surgery and special shoeing for reversal of the damage. Usually, regular straight walking on hard surfaces and right foot balance reduce the chances of desmitis.

None of these diseases can be fatal if you keep a keen eye on your best friend. You need a great vet on speed dial and a good insurance policy to cover the costs of all kinds of treatments that your horse might need during their lifetime.

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