And finally, we reach the framework of the body – the skeleton and the muscular system. We have already established that horses’ internal systems slow down but by the very nature of domesticated confinement in Winter, Horses physically do less and spend more time in small spaces. The body continues to protect its internal organs by pulling blood and nutrients from all extremities and this means that joints can start to suffer because they have less oxygen and nutrients circulating around to replenish these areas and so up goes the levels of inflammation and metabolism. A balance of nutrients is always important - things like Calcium and magnesium work together to contract and relax the muscles but at this time of year we start to see levels falling out of balance. A lack of magnesium for example, puts a horse on high alert “flight mode” and this can then start to affect the neurological systems which in turn leads to metabolic disturbances and we see episodes of things like laminitis, starting to increase. A decrease in physical movement can also cause the levels of synovial fluid to lessen, joints become stiffer, and inflammation increases. Is it any wonder that our horses find this time of year as tough as we do.