The best joint care options for your horse!
It’s not as simple as just giving a supplement and crossing our fingers. It starts when you consider your horse’s whole body and his health, then you can analyze the individual joints, and then you can develop a plan with your vet.
Your horse’s overall health contributes to his joint health.
- Are your horse’s conformation, weight, and fitness level suited for his job?
- What sort of injuries has he had?
- And lamenesses in the past that were either mysterious or connected to a joint?
- The first step to understanding your horse’s joints is to establish a baseline. Have you had flexions done? X-rays? These give you and your vet a place to compare to future exams and x-rays.
Before we dig into all of your options for joint care, know that each of these options depends on what’s going on inside a joint.
- Is it degenerative joint disease (DJD, also known as arthritis)?
- Or is there an injury?
- Ligament damage?
- A bone issue?
- Before you spend all of your money ordering all of the things, figure out what’s happening inside your horse. If all systems are GO – talk to your vet about supportive and preventative care.
That’s a lotta moving parts!
What can you do to keep your horse’s joints healthy and comfortable?
- There’s a lot to choose from! A few notes on supplements that you may want to consider. Supplements are not regulated. There is one association, NASC, which supplement manufacturers can join to certify that the ingredients they use are quality ingredients. An independent facility inspection is required for this as well.
- However, it’s up to you to do the actual research into actual science (not marketing, not anecdotal evidence) to find a supplement that may work. Many have lots of real science to back them up! Many have fancy labels and slick marketing campaigns.
- Also, know that many many many supplements have common ingredients that may “overdose” your horse if you use more than one supplement. An Equine Nutritionist can help you sort things out, and probably save you some money.
- Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and chondroitin are common in joint supplements, and most major brands have joint-specific specifications!
Delicious joint supplement!
You can also consider non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs).
- These act to reduce the swelling in your horse’s joints. NSAID’s can be delivered topically, orally, directly into the joint, intravenously (IV) or intramuscularly (IM). Again – look for science when you are researching a product! Also, many of these NSAIDs may not be appropriate for your horse’s joint situation.
Explore new technologies such as IRAP, PRP, and stem cells.
- All of these use your horse’s own blood to propagate new cells, which are then injected into your horse’s injured tissues. Surgery may be an option, too, depending on your horse’s specific diagnosis.
Daily help for hard-working joints
- You can work on memorizing your horse. Not only what his joints feel like as you inspect them daily (you do that, don’t you?!), but how they look. And how they sound. A discerning ear can pick up on subtle differences in the sound of your horse’s footfalls. Also, consider what he feels like under saddle! If you keep a riding log or journal, you can determine patterns of work that make your horse feel good, and also not so good.
Modern technologies let you ice your horse anywhere on his body!
- Then add in some leg and joint care. Icing relieves pain and reduces inflammation! Heat can warm up stiff joints and muscles before exercise. Liniments are easy to use and your horse may appreciate them. For more on icing and inflammation, read this!
- Be proactive about regular lameness exams and vaccinations. Some diseases, like Lyme disease, often rear their ugly heads in the joints.
- Farrier care is critical, too! There are volumes of science about how hooves can affect your entire horse’s body – all the way up! Regular, quality care is a priority. Have your vet and farrier collaborate and maybe do some regular hoof X-rays to be sure everything that you can’t see is the way it’s supposed to be.
Keep a regular farrier schedule!
- Keep your horse on a regular and kind exercise schedule. A super hard workout twice a week with lots of lolly-gagging around does not a fit horse make. And let your horse have tons of safe turnout! It’s not the same as exercise, but at least he will be moving around.
- And speaking of moving around – footing is key! Avoid the extremes – too soft and too hard are not ideal for working your horse.
- Make sure his diet is the best it can be. Pay particular attention to his Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. Ideally, the ratio of omega 6:3 is about 4:1. Your Equine Nutritionist can help you here, but I can tell you FOR SURE that corn oil is not the way to do this. Also, talk to your Equine Nutritionist about Vitamin E and its role in helping joints and inflammation.
It’s a lot to take in – but it really just boils down to knowing your horse, and being unbelievably proactive about his overall health.
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Cosequin ASU Plus Equine Powder (1050 Grams) – a proven joint supplement.
MSM – the good stuff!
Ice Horse Pair Hock Wraps for Equine Therapy – Comes with 6 Ice Packs
Ice Horse Pair of Stifle Wraps for Equine Therapy – Comes with 4 Ice Packs
These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves. They last for hours.
This tall boot can be filled with ice or ice packs.
Thank you! Your horse will appreciate it, also!