Horse Joint Health Supplements Guide

"No horse is perfect - brittle hoofs, overly excitable, problems with digestion or weight loss. But with supplements, nearly all horses can be brought to optimum health and performance. One of the most common supplements used by many horse people are joint supplements. They are used for a variety of reasons - from simple stiffness to degenerative diseases. And there's a variety of supplements to choose from. Joint supplements can help support the health of the structures between bones, like cartilage, and keep the joints lubricated with synovial fluid between the joint spaces. 

 First of all, evaluate your horse's joint condition. Does your horse come out of his stall stiff? Does he work out of it with some warm-up? You may want to work with your veterinarian on this with x-rays or ultrasound to define the problem. Additional factors will be your horse's age, the type and amount of riding you do and whether there have been past joint or tendon/ligament problems. Even young horses may benefit from a joint supplement as it may prevent future problems. 

 Not all joint supplements are created equal. Joint supplements are technically known as ""nutraceuticals."" According to the American Heritage Medical Dictionary, a nutraceutical is a food or naturally occurring food supplement (nutrient) thought to have a beneficial effect on human health. Nutraceuticals are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration so the amount and type of ingredients can vary. Results can also vary from horse to horse. One nutraceutical may work wonders on one horse, but not so well on another. So be willing to experiment with different products and different combinations of ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients are: 

 If you're on a budget, finding a supplement with adequate doses glucosamine and chondroitin should be your first priority. They are also especially good as maintenance for horses without any clinical signs of joint problems. 

 There are several other ingredients that you may find in a joint supplement. Two of the most common are: 

 Many joint supplements contain Vitamin C. It is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is needed to synthesize collagen and connective tissue. However, unlike people, horses can produce adequate amounts of vitamin C so beware of oversupplementing your horse. 

 In addition, there are several herbal products with potent anti-inflammatory properties available today. Two good examples of this are devil's claw and yucca. Other herbs containing anti-inflammatory properties include: astragalus, boswellia, cayenne, chamomile, dandelion, licorice, marshmallow, slippery elm, turmeric, white oak bark, willow and more. Using these products alone or in combination may reduce or even eliminate the pain and inflammation of joint problems. 

 Finally, to keep your horse comfortable and in shape while waiting for joint problems to resolve, consider installing stall mats (like those from Classic Equine Equipment) to cushion his joints and using a treadmill like Classic Equine Equipment's FullStride Treadmill. Horses run on a stable, padded surface that reduces stress to bones and joints."

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