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  • April 06, 2023 3 min read

    Equine joint supplements have become increasingly popular over the years as a way to help maintain joint health and prevent the onset of joint related issues, such as arthritis. However, do these supplements actually aid in the maintenance and prevention of joints, or are we just throwing away good money? Well, the truth is, there is very little science, in the equine space, that proves joint supplements actually help and are of benefit. But, there has been some evidence to suggest that certain ingredients are in fact effective. In today's article we will take a look at these ingredients along with some other common joint supplements.

    In 2017, a study published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science* found that a joint supplement fed to 24 horses, was associated with "less lameness and improved physiotherapy scores, ridden/groundwork scores, and pasture “ease of movement”". Horses were also less responsive to flexion tests and showed improved mobility and comfort during peak loading. The supplement used in the study contained (among other things) chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, vitamin C and methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) as the main ingredients.

    Joint supplements will commonly use glucosamine and chondroitin as the two main ingredients. Glucosamine is a natural compound found in the body that is believed to help support joint health by promoting the production of joint cartilage. Chondroitin is another natural compound that is thought to help maintain healthy joints by providing cushioning and lubrication to the joints. Some evidence further suggests that both glucosamine and chondroitin may be effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness.

    MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is also a natural compound that is found in small amounts in some foods and plants. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may help reduce joint pain and stiffness in horses with arthritis.

    Probably the most surprising ingredient that was included in this joint supplement was Vitamin C. Vitamin C actually plays a role in collagen synthesis, which is the main protein found in joint tissue. It is also thought to prevent inflammatory arthritis and maintain healthy joints.

    Other ingredients that are commonly found in joint supplements for horses include hyaluronic acid (HA), and omega-3 fatty acids. HA is a natural compound that is found in the body and is important for maintaining healthy joints. It acts as a lubricant and shock absorber, helping to cushion the joints and reduce friction between the bones. HA supplements are also believed to help support joint health by replenishing the body's own natural supply.

    Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are important for overall health and well-being. They are found in high amounts in certain types of fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and other plant-based sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce joint pain and inflammation in horses with arthritis. Whilst both HA and Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help support joint health, the evidence for their effectiveness is not always clear.

    It is also important to note that in general, joint supplements for horses are not regulated by government bodies, which means that there is no guarantee that they will be safe or effective. However, many horse owners and vets do report seeing positive results from these supplements, particularly when used in conjunction with other treatments such as exercise and various physical therapies.

    Ultimately though, whether or not joint supplements for horses work will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific formulation of the supplement, the individual horse's health and medical history, and other factors such as diet, exercise, and overall management. As with any supplement or medication, it is important to speak with your veterinarian before starting your horse on a joint supplement regimen.

    *Rachel C. Murray, Vicki A. Walker, Carolyne A. Tranquille, Jo Spear, Vicki Adams, A Randomized Blinded Crossover Clinical Trial to Determine the Effect of an Oral Joint Supplement on Equine Limb Kinematics, Orthopedic, Physiotherapy, and Handler Evaluation Scores, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 50, 2017, Pages 121-128, ISSN 0737-0806, (

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