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Joint supplements are a key element to maintaining your horse’s health. You shouldn’t wait until they begin going lame to start utilising them. As your horse gets older or they become injured, the damage to their joints can become irreversible. It’s vital to start using supplements early on as they can be extremely beneficial and can prolong the efficiency of their joints. For younger horses this will prevent damage and for older horses it will aid the relief of osteoarthritis.
There are 5 main ingredients found in joint supplements that contribute to the regeneration and strengthening processes. Most of these are natural elements already present within the working body, but some are herbal remedies found in fruitful places, that are used to enhance the body’s performance. These 5 ingredients are Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Hyaluronic Acid, Methylsulfonylmethane and Devils Claw. All of these ingredients aim to reduce pain and inflammation, strengthen cartilage and tissues, and increase natural levels of certain minerals in the horses body.
Your horse’s joints undergo extreme pressure, especially when training and competing. This will initially cause the cartilage to rip and tear. Following this, synovial fluid will begin to thin and there will be damage to the protective cartilage layer which will start the process of joint breakdown. The first symptoms of joint damage will be undetectable, however they’ll continue to build until your horse is unable to use them effectively. It’s vital to use supplements before it reaches this point.
When shopping for supplements it can be very difficult to know what you need. There are a wide range of products on the market, all with different ingredients and with different purposes. What do all these different ingredients mean? What can they do for our horses? How do we know if they will help?
To help make everything a little clearer, we’ve compiled a guide to take you through the ingredients list step by step, explaining what each ingredient can do for your horse. Understandably, not everything will work for your horse and products may offer varying degrees of success. This can mean there’s an element of trial and error when finding what works best for you.
Glucosamine is a well known ingredient of joint improvement supplements. It’s a scientifically proven aid in joint recovery. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring type of sugar molecule which is found within cartilage and all other connective tissues. It has been successfully shown to be effective in pain relief and is known to show an improvement in as little as 10-14 days. As well as dealing with pain, it also helps with prevention: slowing cartilage breakdown and encouraging repair of existing problems.
To easily introduce glucosamine into your horse’s diet, we suggest Equilibrium Fleximunch, a hay block that has ingredients that assist obesity and laminitis.
Glucosamine has been found to work most effectively in combination with chondroitin: a structural component of cartilage, bone and tough connective tissues. You can see chondroitin in action with NAF Superflex Liquid Joint Supplement. This chondroitin based substance has less obvious pain relieving effects as in glucosamine however it’s much stronger as a prevention in further breakdown.
Both of these elements are combined within the supplement Superflex. The liquid is constructed with a scientifically balanced ratio of each molecule. This formula has been proven to promote the health of both cartilage and synovial fluid.
Hyaluronic Acid is a natural form of supplement that is also beneficial to your horse. It’s found within the cartilage itself and is present in the joint fluid. It was first discovered for use with horses in the 1970’s as an injectable drug, however it’s now readily available as an oral supplement. It aids the joints as it controls the pain, heat and swelling that may arise from joint deterioration.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is utilised in many supplements and is an effective anti-inflammatory. It is currently unclear how the supplement works or if there is long term side effects. As a result of this, it’s only usually added in small quantities alongside other ingredients.
Devils Claw, otherwise known as ‘herbal bute’ is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic aid discovered in Africa. As it is herbal and natural, it gives no side effects. This means that it can be effectively substituted in for equine medicines such as phenylbutazone and cortisone. It has shown a substantial improvement consistently in improving joint and muscle movement, as well as aiding stiff joints and minor bumps, soreness, bruising and strains.
Horse’s can reap the benefits of Devils Claw within NAF Devil’s Relief. This formulation does not simply target stiffness but also stimulates the digestive system. We suggest that this supplement is great to use with elderly horses who need a little more help with digestion.
When planning to administer your horse with Devils Claw, it’s necessary to check with any competition authorities that it’s not a banned substance within your chosen discipline.
Hopefully this knowledge will make shopping for supplements a little easier and you feel more informed about what you are giving to your horse!
Joints are not the only issue supplements are available for! Take a look at the full range on our sister site Equine Superstore here.