I have 3 young horses (3 yo Irish Sport, 5 yo TB and 7 yo Appendix) that I use for hunter / jumper showing. Although there are no indications of joint problems now, I am concerned about the long term impact of jumping on their joints. Is it advisable to provide a joint supplement as a prophylactic measure in these young horses or wait to see if problems develop in the future before adding a joint supplement? – BS
I commend you for thinking ahead to the long-term welfare of what sounds like three incredible young horses! Although there have been many studies demonstrating the safety and bioavailability of joint supplements in horses and other species, up to now most have relied on adult horses with pre-existing soundness conditions to demonstrate positive effects. However, a study just published in 2016 was able to demonstrate benefits of daily joint supplement administration to yearling horses prior to the development of joint problems: Leatherwood JL, Gehl KL, Coverdale JA, et al. Influence of oral glucosamine supplementation in young horses challenged with intra-articular lipopolysaccharide. Journal of Animal Science 2016 94:8294-3302
One way to look at oral joint supplements is as an “insurance policy” for your horses’ lasting soundness. Arthritis develops because of wear and tear of joints over years of relatively moderate work. Of course, trauma, poor conformation and other issues can increase the rate at which the tissues in your horses’ joints break down. As a concerned horse owner, why not “stack the deck” in your horses’ favor by providing the building blocks of healthy joint tissue so that when they need these ingredients to support cartilage, synovial fluid and other joint components, they are already on board.