We all want our horses to have sound joints but due to the nature of modern riding and competing, joint health isn’t always guaranteed. Repetitive action places unnatural stress on bones and joints, which can lead to degenerative diseases and sudden traumas.
Poor joint health can be the result of many things, from unbalanced shoeing and improper saddle fit, to over-working young horses and the simple wear-and-tear of old age. Quite often inadequate nutrition has a part to play, which is why supplementation can be beneficial.
Joint supplements are developed to provide targeted nutrition that supports healthy, functioning joints and easy mobility. While not all joint problems can be prevented, supplements may help reinforce the integrity of the joint capsule and the process of repair. But with so many on the market to choose from, how do you know which ones are worth buying?
If you are at all unsure, have a read of our ‘top tips’ for choosing the right equine supplement and email us if you need any further advice: [email protected].
- Ask yourself whether you’re looking for a joint supplement to help maintain long-term joint health or to reduce inflammation and ease stiffness in an existing complaint. If it’s the latter, look for a supplement containing Green Lipped Mussel which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is widely recognised for its anti-inflammatory properties. Methylsulphonylmethane (MSM) has also been shown effective in relieving inflammation and associated pain.
- For everyday supplements formulated to help support long-term joint health, look for the inclusion of Glucosamine (hydrochloride or sulphate) – a key structural component reported to support the repair of cartilage, increase elasticity and thicken synovial fluid, Chondroitin sulphate with its vital shock-absorbing properties, and Hyaluronic acid for lubricating and cushioning the joint.
- Other ingredients to look out for include Manganese, known to activate enzymes involved in tissue repair and maintenance, Turmeric (its active ingredient is curcumin which provides a rich source of antioxidants), and Boswellia serrata, traditionally used in herbal remedies for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- If you intend to compete on your horse, make sure you aren’t inadvertently ‘doping’ him with a supplement containing prohibited herbal substances e.g. Devil’s claw is one such ingredient that competition horses should avoid. If you are unsure about the suitability of an ingredient, please refer to the Beta NOPS Scheme.
- Avoid following a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to giving your horse a joint supplement. Nutrient requirements will vary from horse to horse, so always consider its age, weight and the severity of the problem (if one exists).
- The quality of ingredients will also vary hugely between supplements, along with their quantities. Sometimes it’s a case of ‘you get what you pay for’ but always compare ingredient weights and percentages before deciding which one to choose. VioVet sells a number of tried-and-tested joint supplements, available in liquid, powder or tablet formulations.
Before choosing an equine joint supplement, do your research and ask your vet, farrier and friends for their recommendations. If your current joint supplement doesn’t appear to be working, try something different! Sometimes variety can really help, as well as distinguishing the supplements that work from the ones that don’t, which will ultimately save you money. If you have any joint supplement recommendations, please share them with our other readers!
Written by: Hannah Dyball