Be warned: you shouldn’t wait until your equine is lame to start using horse joint supplements. As they get older or injuries worsen, changes can become irreversible. Supplements can be beneficial throughout their lifetime. They help younger horses to prevent joint damage and older horses to aid osteoarthritis.
Horses’ joints have to cope with extreme forces especially when competing. It is commonly the cartilage that is the first part to show wear and tear. Thinning synovial fluid (joint fluid) and disruptions to the protective cartilage layer starts the process of joint breakdown. Initially, the signs are undetectable, however, over time they will build until the horse can no longer work effectively. The difficulty when shopping for horse joint supplements is that there are a lot of products on the market. Without a degree in pharmaceuticals, the ingredients list can be a confusing place to be. How do we know what these chemicals are and if they are going to help our horse? To help ease the confusion, we have compiled a list of ingredients that can be the key to improving your horse’s health. As with anything, what works for one horse may not be as effective in another. In some ways, it is trial and error to find what is best for your horse. However, some ingredients have been proved to show marked improvement across the board.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine is the most reputable and scientifically proven aid in joint improvement. It is a type of sugar molecule that naturally occurs within joint cartilage and all other connective tissues throughout the animal kingdom. Glucosamine has been shown to be effective in relieving pain and should show improvement within 10 to 14 days. Alongside this, it helps to slow cartilage breakdown and encourage healing within existing injuries. The molecule can be found within Equilibrium Fleximunch, a hay block that assists with obesity and laminitis. Glucosamine works best in combination with chondroitin. You can see this in action in the NAF Superflex Liquid Joint Supplement.
Chondroitin is a structural component of cartilage, bone, and tough connective tissues. The pain-relieving effects are not as obvious as in glucosamine, however, it has a much greater benefit in preventing further breakdown. Both of these elements are combined within Superflex. It is mixed to a scientifically balanced ratio that is proven to support the health of both cartilage and the thick synovial fluid that oils the joint.
Another natural form of supplements is Hyaluronic Acid. It occurs as a component of the cartilage itself and within the joint fluid. When first used in the 1970s, it appeared as an injectable drug. More recently however it has become available as an oral supplement. This is found to be particularly good for controlling pain, heat, and swelling.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is an effective anti-inflammatory used in many products. However, it is unclear how it works or if there are long term side effects. Therefore it is mainly only added in small quantities to combination supplements.
Devils Claw, or the ‘herbal bute’, is an analgesic and anti-inflammatory aid native to Africa. As it is herbalistic, it gives no side effects. This makes it an effective replacement for equine medicines such as phenylbutazone and cortisone. It is consistently shown to make a measurable improvement in joint and muscle movement. It provides comfort to stiff joints and minor bumps, soreness, bruising, and strains. Horses may especially benefit from Devil’s Claw within NAF Devil’s Relief. This is because not only does it directly target stiffness, but the bitter action of this formulation also helps to stimulate the digestive system. This would be particularly helpful to horses of an older age. However, you should confirm with the competition authorities before administering your horse with Devil’s Claw as in some events it has been banned. Joints are of course not the only thing there are supplements available for! Take a look at our full range here.