Joint Problems in Horses

Do we have the whole story?

The January 9th, 2014 edition of UK, Horse & Hound contained an article discussing joint problems in horses and whether joint problems in horses are on the rise. The article was intended to bring experts together, help decide whether joint problems are on the increase and inform owners of ways to protect against excessive joint wear.  VIP subscription members can find the article here.

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Georges Dewez of Carreg Dressage in North Wales felt strongly that vital emphasis on correct training and preparation of the horse had been omitted from this article.

Georges trained with riders from the Spanish School at Lippica in Slovenia, which was origionally the stud of The Spanish School of Vienna. As a young boy he rode with the Guardians of the Camargue in the South of France. However, the greatest influence on his riding and training methodology remains the great Maestro Nuno Oliveira, with whom, Georges was fortunate enough to train in Portugal. Greatly inspired by The Maestro’s quest for ever greater lightness and balance and the artistry of his riding, Georges returned to Wales to establish Carreg Dressage with Jane Lloyd Francis in 1990. Georges now trains horses and riders from Novice to Intemediaire 1 and teaches at clinics in the UK and Portugal. Many years of the training of hundreds of horses, of every breed and type has informed and influenced the training philosophy at Carreg Dressage.

Horse joint problems, do we have the whole story about prevention?Click To TweetGeorge Dewez - Carreg Dressage

Georges wrote the following letter to Horse & Hound regarding joint problems in horses but they chose to print only a small portion of it.

Georges feels strongly that the horse owning public should be led to understand that correct training of the horse is the foundation of a strong and healthy body, and that where problems occur, training should be looked to rather than a reliance on remedial techniques. Forageplus re-prints his letter here, in full,  for the benefit of all those who visit our website.


Dear Sir,

Your article last week regarding joint problems in horses was very thought provoking and hopefully will ignite much interest and debate, however, it did not seem to address the fundamental issue of correct training – by this I mean the proper muscular, skeletal development of the horse as an athlete.

Unless the back of the horse is properly lifted and aligned, distributing the force of movement throughout the whole frame of the horse, any attempt to either swing or take weight back will inevitably place undue stress on the limbs.

Proper lift and alignment creates core stability and strong abdominal muscles to support gymnastic movement, negating any possible inequality in the shoulder action of the horse and any torsion in the pelvis.

Modern performance horses are now so talented they are able to achieve many advanced movements in any balance but an inadequate training regime will still eventually take its toll.

A disconnected, hollow back will inevitably put undue pressure on the hocks and the fetlocks and the tendons and ligaments that link them thus leading to joint problems in horses.

Perhaps, we as riders should remind ourselves that the basic training of any horse ”dressage” is meant to improve and progress the athletic/gymnastic ability of the horse and that we should possibly question our increasing reliance on remedial treatments?

Georges Dewez