Joint Health for Horses Ages 6 and Up
This article is brought to you by Holistic Horsekeeping.
Nutrition is a pro-active way to keep joints from deteriorating
even during heavy work. As horses progress in their athletic
careers, you may need to use a different set of nutrients to
address thinning of the joint fluid or damage to the cartilage
while still providing solid nutrition and plenty of antioxidants
to prevent any further damage.
Depending on whether your horse is experiencing any changes in
their joints, you may need to offer cartilage support in the form
of a joint supplement. Weíve listed some factors you might want
to keep in mind when deciding what kinds of joint supplements and
nutrition to feed your horse.
<><><> Supplements for Healthy Joint Fluid <><><>
As discussed last month, keeping the joint fluid thick is the first step to
maintaining healthy joints. Working horses need access to plenty
of naturally occurring antioxidants to neutralize the free
radicals being produced from heavy exercise. Consider using blue
green algae, Tahitian noni juice, super oxide dismutase, vitamin
C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, omega-3 fatty
acids, and certain minerals such as sulphur (found in the
<><><>Supplements for Healthy Joint Cartilage<><><>
There are three primary components in joint cartilageóglucosamine
hydrochloride, chondritin sulphate, and polysulfated
glycosaminoglycans (PSGAG). Most joint supplements combine
glucosamine with chondritin sulphate, and the best ones also
include micronutrients and antioxidants (which helps your horse
make the best use of the glucosamine and chondritin sulphate).
Remember that nutrition is a complex relationship, and no single
nutrient functions alone in the body. If youíve already been
feeding your horse a diet high in micronutrients and
antioxidants, just add glucosamine. Adequan, an injectable
solution, contains only the third element of joint cartilage
(PSGAGs), and may be a good option if you donít think your horse
will eat oral supplements or absorb them. Keep in mind, though,
that no amount of joint supplements will keep your horseís joints
healthy if youíre not feeding him a high quality diet filled with
micronutrients and antioxidants.
<><><> Anti-Inflammatory Supplements <><><>
If your horse does have arthritis or damage in the joints, you may need to support
him with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like Bute or
Banamine, which helps with the pain. Keep in mind, however, that
horses can experience long term side effects from prolonged use
of these kinds of products. These products do not stop the
degradation of the joint or aid in healing. To assist with the
healing process, try Yucca or Devilís Claw, both of which are
anti-inflammatory nutrients that can actually slow the
deterioration of the joint. Remember that once a joint become
damaged it takes a long time to heal. Thatís why it is so
important to provide your horse with the maximum quality and
quantity of nutrients needed to maintain joint health throughout
<><><> A Final Note on Bodywork <><><>
Amidst all this discussion about nutritional supplements for joint health,
donít forget the bodywork for your horse! This includes chiropractic, Bowen,
Equine Touch, Tellington Touch, massage, and acupressure.
Bodywork keeps the connective tissues in your horseís body supple
and chiropractic work, specifically, keeps the spine straight. If
your horse has tightness or stiffness in the body from sore
muscles or a subluxation in the spine, he can put uneven stress
on his limbs, causing uneven pressure on the joint. This uneven
pressure will eventually cause damage to the joint fluid and
cartilage. In these cases, joint supplements and the best
nutrition canít prevent joint damage because you havenít
addressed the cause of the joint damage. Thatís why bodywork is
<><><> Quick reference guide of Supplements <><><> >>
Adequan: An injectable solution, contains PSGAGs (a component of joint
cartilage), and may be a good option if you donít think your
horse will eat oral supplements or may not absorb them.
>> Antioxidants: These neutralize the free radicals that are
produced from heavy exercise, which can thin the joint fluid.
Naturally occurring antioxidants include blue green algae,
Tahitian noni juice, super oxide dismutase, vitamin C, vitamin E,
coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, omega-3 fatty acids, and
certain minerals such as sulphur.
>> Bute and Banamine: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with
effects similar to aspirin. They offer pain relief but can have
many side effects and interfere with healing.
>> Chondritin Sulphate: This is a single component of joint
cartilage. The body canít effectively use this component by
itself, so look for a supplement that combines glucosamine with
chondritin sulphate, minerals, and antioxidants.
>> Devilís Claw: Supports the digestive, urinary, circulatory
system and has an anti-inflammatory analgesic, sedative and
diuretic action. It is an herb. Devilís Claw can be fed in
combination with yucca in B-L (formerly bute-less) solution, or
individually. Devilís Claw is not as irritating to the horse as
the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, but if the horse has
ulcers it can irritate them, which might be an indication to give
yucca by itself.
>> Glucosamine: This is a single component of joint cartilage.
The body canít effectively use this component by itself, so look
for a supplement that combines glucosamine with chondritin
sulphate, minerals, and antioxidants.
>> Legend: A joint injection composed of hyaluronic acid, which
will thicken the joint fluid and decrease inflammation in the
joint. Legend can be used if your horse is sore after a
particularly hard workout or show. Overall, if you have the
choice, use excellent nutrition and antioxidants before resorting
to joint injections.
>> MSM: This supplement contains high levels of the antioxidant
mineral sulphur, which is generally more supportive of muscles
and connective tissues than joints. However, sulphur is a
component of cartilage and also an antioxidant.
>> Yucca: An herb that contains organic steroidal saponins. A
saponin effect allows a cleansing pentration and dispersal of
digestive enzymes and the steroidal effect limits inflammation.
The feeding of yucca can be against some medication rules in
performance situations. Yucca can be fed in combination with
Devilís Claw in B-L (formerly bute-less) solution, or
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