Resolving Equine Hock Sores and Elbow Issues with ComfortStall Flooring

ComfortStall Flooring by Haygain has a healing effect on top dressage horse's hock sores and unusual skins issues on the elbow.

Kim F Miller
Equestrian writer

At a certain point in an ambitious amateur dressage rider's career, there comes a time to get a "real" horse: a horse that brings its experience to the rider's entry into the FEI levels.

For Christina Morin-Graham, that horse was Grand Prix schoolmaster DP Weltmeiser, a 2018 World Equestrian Games mount for Australia. Their partnership, however, was tragically cut short when Weltmeiser sustained an aortic rupture late in 2019.

Early in 2020, Christina found another "real" contender in Laurencio, Tina Irwin's 2019 Pan Am Games Team Gold Medal winning partner for Canada and Dressage Canada's 2016 Horse Of The Year.

"He became my schoolmaster," explains Christina, who juggles high-level riding with parenting two teens, being Chief of Investor Relations for Graham Partners and serving on the Dressage at Devon Board of Directors. "I have him to learn on and grow with."

COVID cancellations nixed their hoped-for CDI debut in 2020. The USDF Bronze and Silver medalist's first test with Laurencio did not actually happen until Dressage at Dunmovin this past April. Their 66.912% score at Prix St. Georges earned an impressive reserve finish.

ComfortStall Flooring by Haygain, a solution for equine hock sores and elbow issues

In the competitively quiet interim, Christina was happy to resolve hock sores and what she describes as "elbow corns" on the 14-year-old Oldenburg by Laurentio and out of the Donnerhall dam, Pasadena.

At Christina's private stable in Malvern, PA., Laurencio loves to lie down and roll in his stall. Hock sores are common for stabled horses. They often occur when the horse lowers to or rises from the floor.

The elbow issue is not so common. Laurencio had quarter-size callous-like patches on his elbows. One got so bad it began oozing and had to be drained.

Flooring Is The Fix

While hock sores or the elbow issue don't lead to lameness, Christina knew they couldn't be comfortable for her horse and they could become infected. They were certainly unsightly. Additionally,FEI level competition has a "no blood rule" that could be broken if even a small trickle of blood emerged from an unhealed blemish breaking open during the ride.

All of that inspired the horsewoman to find a solution for the hock and elbow issues. She found it in Haygain's ComfortStall Sealed Orthopaedic Flooring. It consists of a layer of orthopaedic foam covered by a durable, one-piece top cover that is sealed to the stall wall. This unique flooring system offers cushion for joint health and deep rest. The soft surface has give and traction for easy ups and downs.

ComfortStall was installed for Laurencio last fall. His hock and elbow sores cleared up quickly and have not recurred, Christina reports. Her stable manager Laura Murphy is thrilled about how ComfortStall eases stall cleaning and reduces bedding needs. Because of its built-in cushion, bedding is not needed for the horse's comfort or joint support. Just enough to absorb urine is required.

Most stall bedding is a top contributor to breathable particles floating around in even the best kept barn: reducing these is a big step in improving barn air quality.

As in people, equine respiratory health is greatly helped by breathing air with minimal amounts of inhalable dust, irritants and allergens.

Christina considers ComfortStall a two-for-one benefit: solving the hock and elbow sores for Laurencio and reducing airway irritants in the barn.

Better Barn Air

Another Haygain product, a Haygain Hay Steamer, has been a big help on the respiratory health front for Christina's horses. The high-temperature steaming process eliminates up to 99% of the respirable dust found even in hay of good nutritional quality. This "dust" includes inhalable particles of mold, bacteria and other allergens that are another leading cause of respiratory problems in horses.

Christina purchased a steamer for one horse that is allergic to mold spores. On seeing the benefits in that horse, all her horses now enjoy steamed hay. "I can't say that we started steaming to address any existing respiratory issues, it's more of a preventative measure," she comments.

Laurencio enjoying his comfortable stall, thanks to ComfortStall Flooring

Statements reflecting that kind of proactive stable management are music to veterinarians' ears. In their early stages, respiratory conditions can have stealth, sometimes non-existent, symptoms. Intermittent coughs seem harmless, as they usually are in people. However, in horses their occurrence often indicates there is already some inflammation in the airways. These first stages of Inflammatory Airway Disease are the easiest to prevent or reverse by cleaning up the horse's environment.

Impressed with the impact of Haygain's core products on her horses' health, Christina is excited to see how that translates to their performance as the show world edges toward post-pandemic normalcy.

She and the rest of the Dressage At Devon crew are working to build a spectacular return for the late-September circuit fixture. If things go as planned, she and Laurencio will be among the top pairs gathering "where champions meet." And the venue's famed Dixon Oval will set off Laurencio's gleaming, blemish-free coat and a graceful dressage performance supported by the relaxation that comes with optimal respiratory health.

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