It might be the worst feeling in all of horse ownership — your horse is lame and you don’t know what’s wrong. As you wait for the vet to finish the exam, there are countless questions running through your head and knots of worry forming in your stomach.
While you can’t safeguard against every accident or avoid every injury, you can invest in the future of your horse’s joint health. A joint supplement can provide ingredients that support your horse’s joints, helping your horse perform his best.
Horses are natural-born athletes. They’re built to run, jump and turn on a dime. But they weren’t designed to do all of those things all of the time. In their natural state, horses spend most of their time standing, walking and generally “taking it easy.” Sure, your horse occasionally throws a playful buck out in the field, but have you ever seen him practicing his lateral movements or perfecting his headset?
The fact is, most of what we ask our horses to do goes beyond what they would be doing in their natural environment. That’s not to say that the work itself is intrinsically harmful, but it does put a great deal of additional stress on your horse’s joints. If that stress and daily wear and tear are not properly managed, they can cause progressive and permanent damage to the joint structures.
Signs of Joint Disease
A horse suffering from joint disease may show a variety of signs depending on the joint affected, the severity of the condition, and his workload. Horse owners usually notice problems like stiffness, shortness of stride, and uneven gaits, as well as reluctance to pick up, keep or change a lead in the canter or lope. Horses that work at speed such as jumpers, reiners and barrel horses, may become unwilling to stop or turn.
What You Can Do
Whether your horse is young and still feeling great, or you’ve already started to notice signs of joint problems, joint supplements are an invaluable tool in keeping him comfortable and performing his best. Why? Research shows that the major ingredients found in oral joint supplements can promote cartilage production and slow cartilage breakdown. Some ingredients even protect joint tissues against the damaging effects of inflammation. In short, joint supplements are an insurance policy for his career and welfare that you can’t afford to pass up.
Your horse’s body already makes the nutrients needed to keep cartilage healthy, but his body can only produce a certain amount. Performance horses, recovering horses or those with poor conformation are subject to additional joint stress. Their joints don’t always have adequate nourishment to recover from stress or fight off inflammation. Oral joint supplements are an easy, practical way to replenish your horse’s supply of these vital ingredients. Think of feeding these products as a regular oil change for your horse’s joints.
With the sheer number of products on the market and the variety of active ingredients, choosing a joint supplement can be a daunting task. To help make it easier, we’ve identified the most popular joint supplement ingredients, and explained how they work.
Glucosamine: Research suggests that Glucosamine supports the production of new cartilage and inhibits cartilage breakdown.
Chondroitin Sulfate: Stimulates the production of Hyaluronic Acid and appears to work with Glucosamine to support cartilage by stimulating production and inhibiting breakdown.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA): An integral component of joint cartilage and joint fluid, providing both lubrication and shock absorption. It also blocks inflammatory reactions.
MSM: A naturally occurring compound best known for its ability to fight inflammation. Research has shown that MSM protects tissues against the damaging effects of exercise and stress. MSM is also a highly usable form of sulfur, which is necessary for the formation of connective tissues vital to joint health.
Vitamin C: A potent antioxidant, Vitamin C protects tissues throughout the body and is vital in the production of connective tissues, including cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
Devil’s Claw and Yucca: Herbs used extensively to fight discomfort and inflammation of bones, joints and other tissues.
Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD): The most effective antioxidant in the body. SOD is the first line of defense against free radicals that can damage the cells in joint structures.
Collagen and Silica: Provide soft tissue support. Collagen is the main structural protein found in connective tissues, like tendons and ligaments, and supplementing with it may help those tissues remain strong and resilient. Silica is required
for cartilage formation and is thought to help maintain the strength of tendons and ligaments
The Right Joint Supplement for Your Horse
First, consider your horse’s age and workload. If he is young or in very light work, choose a joint supplement that has a few key ingredients at low to moderate levels. For horses in intense work, those recovering from injury and senior citizens, select a product with a more comprehensive panel of ingredients, at higher levels. Lastly, if your horse is a picky eater, pelleted supplements are generally the best option.
Choosing the Right Joint
Supplement for Your Horse
The number of joint supplements available can make selecting the right one for your horse difficult. Consider his age and workload, then use this diagram to help you get started choosing a product that suits his needs. Questions? Call our Supplement Experts at 1-888-423-0250 or get a free customized supplement recommendation online at SmartPak.com/Advisor.
Young or Generally Sound Horse
Your Goal: Maintain healthy joint tissue to prevent future problems
What to Look For: Glucosamine 2,500–5,000 mg, also consider Chondroitin Sulfate
Products to Try:
Your Goal: Support joint health, avoid discomfort and stiffness
What to Look For: Glucosamine 5,000–10,000 mg, Chondroitin Sulfate up to 2,000 mg, Hyaluronic Acid 50–125 mg, MSM 10,000 mg
Products to Try:
Your Goal: Minimize inflammation, alleviate discomfort, support recovery
What to Look For: Glucosamine 10,000 mg, Chondroitin Sulfate up to 4,000 mg, HA 100–200 mg, MSM 5,000–10,000 mg, Antioxidants
Products to Try:
Your Goal: Ease stiffness and discomfort, support joint and digestive health, provide antioxidants
What to Look For: Glucosamine 5,000–10,000 mg, Chondroitin Sulfate 500–2,000 mg, MSM 5,000–12,000 mg, Hyaluronic Acid up to 100 mg, Vitamin C up to 5,000 mg, Prebiotics and Probiotics Herbs like Devil’s Claw, Yucca, Boswellia or Bromelain
Products to Try: