Like any athlete, horses require specialized care to stay in peak condition. A major part of this is ensuring that their joints are healthy and free from pain. Unfortunately, age and injuries can take their toll on a horse’s joints, leading to inflammation and reduced mobility.
Horse supplements are a multi-million-dollar industry in the U.S., and there are literally hundreds of over-the-counter horse joint care supplements available; you can buy them on the Internet or at any tack and feed store.
But many people question their effectiveness. There is evidence that joint supplements may help horses with arthritis, but it’s unclear whether they work for other purposes like injury prevention or performance enhancement.
Many people seem to question whether joint supplements actually work, or are they another supplement to waste money on? There is no definitive research that shows one supplement works better than another. However, research done by Kentucky Equine Research shows that “Products containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid … help decrease inflammation through multiple pathways and provide molecular precursors to cartilage cells to help build new, healthy cartilage in arthritic joints.”
Joint supplements for horses can reduce symptoms of arthritis and other joint-related problems, but they’re not a cure for the disease. These supplements can reduce the amount of inflammation in the joint making your horse more comfortable. However, horse supplements are not all the same, and some don’t include effective ingredients and are a waste of money.
Why do equine joint issues happen?
There are 5 common contributors to an unhealthy joint. Proactive care through proper diet and supplements is essential to joint longevity. The top 5 contributors to joint issues are as follows:
- Continual excessive inflammation
- Excessive free radicals produced by the body
- Degradative enzymes causing cartilage breakdown
- Overuse and exercise-related injuries
- Natural aging process
It’s common for horses to develop arthritis and other types of joint pain from overwork, age, or genetics. As a horse grows, time and use can take a toll on its body, and often its joints start feeling the effects of wear and tear. The use of joint supplements is a common way to combat arthritis and other types of joint pain in horses. Use the guide below to see which joint supplement may be best suited for your horse:
How to Treat Equine Joint Problems?
- Normal Synovial Membrane
- Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, cetyl myristoleate, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and botanical compounds such as Boswellia help support healthy levels of inflammation
- Healthy Synovial Fluid
- Antioxidants help offset the damaging effects of free radicals
- Hyaluronic Acid helps maintain synovial fluid viscosity and normal joint function
- Intact Collagen
- Omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the expression of degradative enzymes
- Glucosamine is a building block of certain cartilage components
- Normal Cartilage
- Silicon helps maintain strength of bone and soft tissues
- MSM provides sulfur, a key component of cartilage and other connective tissues
Almost all horse joint supplements contain three vital ingredients
- MSM – Methyl-sulfonyl-methane
The most common ingredients in joint supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve joint function.Scientists have discovered that as horses get older, the production of chondroitin and glucosamine slows down. There is a theory that feeding supplements with these ingredients could reduce inflammation and slow down the wear and tear of the cartilage. There is also evidence that MSM – Methyl-sulfonyl-methanes can play a role in reducing joint pain. MSM is a sulfur-containing compound with the same exact goal: it helps slow down the wear and tear of cartilage, improve mobility, and prevent pain to better your horse’s quality of life.
In addition to Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, you can also look for supplements with ingredients like collagen, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid, as well as herbs like devil’s claw Boswellia and yucca.
*Some Horses may have allergies or other medical conditions that make certain ingredients unsuitable. Your vet can help you choose a supplement that will be safe and effective for your horse.
Using Bute for Joint Pain
It’s not uncommon to hear that people use bute for joint pain. While it does ease the pain, it may cause more harm than good with its side effects when used too often:
- Liver damage
Looking for a bute alternative for inflammation? Try Absorbine ButeLess!
Here is our list of the best joint supplements
1. Majesty’s Flex Wafers
We’ve developed a unique wafer to give your horse five critical joint support supplements in one easy-to-use, palatable Majesty’s Flex XT Wafer. With powders and liquids, many horses often drop top-coated feed on the ground, or simply do not eat it. This results in less than optimal nutrition for the horse, as well as wasted product that you’ve already paid for. Majesty’s Flex XT Wafers deliver joint support nutrients to the horse and at a competitive cost!
“My 18 year old Quarter Horse has arthritis in his back legs therefore he had a hard time when the ferrier would come but after 2 months on Flex XT he’s so much better! My ferrier can tell a huge difference. Will continue to use daily!” – Verified User
2. Acti Flex Cox Veterinary Lab Joint Compound
Acti-Flex 4000 has an advanced, fast-acting, liquid formula of Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Superoxide Dismutase. These ingredients occur naturally in the body, serving the function of repairing joints and many other tissues. In Acti-Flex 4000 they, and other key ingredients work together to improve performance by increasing the horse’s supply of joint-lubricating synovial fluid, which repairs and strengthens stressed body parts.-MSM adds a powerful ability to improve sulfur bonds, which are an essential component of all connective tissue. -Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is a key to optimizing bio availability of the other ingredients, as well as being an essential antioxidant. -Boswellia Serrata is an herb that is proven to reduce inflammation. -Hyaluronic Acid (HA) plays a critical role in maintaining healthy joint synovial fluid and preventing the deterioration of aging, over worked joints. HA has a high daily turnover so large amounts are needed to maintain proper levels within the joints. HA is also shown to influence cell movement, blood vessel formation, critically involved in healthy wound healing and serves as an antioxidant. By supplementing what a horse produces for itself, Acti-Flex 4000 speeds the body’s self-repairing processes. Guaranteed Analysis Per oz. Glucosamine Sulfate 8,000 milligram. Chondroitin Sulfate 4,000 milligram. MSM 3,000 milligram. Ester C (Ascorbic Acid) 1,000 milligram. Yucca 150 milligram. Hyaluronic Acid (HA) 125 milligram. Feed 2 ounces per day for the first 5 to 17 days then reduce to a maintenance dose of 1 ounce per day. Mix into regular feed or administer via a dosing syringe. The gallon size provides up to a 128 day supply for one horse.
“So I’ve been trying this stuff because Platinum is obscenely expensive and dare I say I’m seeing better results with this product. My older horse in particular has more energy and an improved strike off in his weaker hind leg. Will not be going to Platinum, so glad I found this cheaper yet better alternative.” – Verified User
3. Manna Pro Rapid Flex
Active Ingredients: Glucosamine HCl (5,000mg), Mucopolysaccharides (porcine; source of chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid) (1,025mg), Yucca Root (500mg), Alfalfa (500mg), Devil’s Claw (100mg), Nettle Leaf (100mg), Turmeric Root (50mg), Celery Seed (25mg), Black Cohosh Root (25mg), Ginger Root (25mg), Cayenne Pepper (5mg) Inactive Ingredients: Anise Flavoring and Yeast Culture.
“Use it on a 20 year old rescue Halflinger mix and 2 – 30 year old ponies and wow , what a difference it made, wish I would have taken a before and after video. My Halflinger mix was stiff legged and stumbling when she arrived here, she was getting better as she was getting exercised and got better nutrition but when I added this to her diet she made a huge comeback , she has been on it for 10 days now and she started to run with a bounce in her step , trotting around in the pasture . My two old ponies also benefit from it , one was already active , old age was showing and they also are showing more bounce in their steps. Love it . I gave it to them the first 7 days every morning, the Halflinger the whole scoop, the larger pony half a scoop and the mini-pony 1/4 scoop and now they get it every other day and I probably give to them every 3 days and keep them on it . Love this stuff . Thought at first it was a little pricey but it’s worth it and the bucket last longer than expected.” – Verified User