Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 8:53 am
Please can you tell me if there's anything I can give my horse to help his stiff joints. He's already on Cortaflex, but my vet says my horse is stiffening up in the lower joints - ie, pasterns, fetlocks. He's 18 and an ex-Grade A showjumper now doing a bit of dressage and hacking. Thank you.
Re: JOINT SUPPLEMENTS
Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:10 am
The choice of joint support for our horses can sometimes be bewildering, but if you remember a couple of simple points it should get easier. Essentially we can split joint supplements into two groups, those that support the integrity and action of the joint itself containing so called "chondroprotective agents", and those that we'd look to use to maintain comfort, perhaps in the older horse.
I would recommend starting with the support group, and these are a good idea for all horses as we tend to ask more of their joints than nature ever intended. For example, every time they land over a jump pressures of around 1.5-2 tonne per square metre can be put through a single foreleg (depending on size of jump, horse etc). The principle joint support nutrients are Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin sulphate and Hyaluronic acid. Check the label of your daily joint product and ensure that these are included. Also check the levels per day in milligrams (% can be quite misleading), and make sure you're getting what you're paying for. It's worth remembering that, by law, ingredients need to be listed in inclusion order - so just read the label and make sure what you want to feed comes well up the ingredients list, and it's not being bulked out with fillers. If the right chondroprotective nutrients are not there then it might be time to consider changing your daily support product.
That said joint wear is a progressive condition and certainly your horse, although not old, is no longer in his first flush of youth, and his joints have certainly worked hard through his life. Therefore we might be looking at easing his movement simply by supporting comfort. While it won't help joint integrity in the way the chondroprotectives do, something like the herb Devil's Claw is enormously useful in supporting relief from painful conditions. Combining Devil's Claw with some element of joint support, such as MSM, will maximise it's efficiency. Oils rich in omega 3 fatty acid can also be useful in this respect.
So for your horse, my initial advice would be to look carefully at what you're currently feeding and ensure it meets his daily joint support requirements. If it doesn't then try changing to an alternative brand that does tick all the boxes. If, after a month or so, you feel the change is not working then you should look at introducing a herbal or oil based comfort supplement. By doing it this way you'll know which is working, and what stage your horse is at, and hopefully will save yourself a few pennies too!
Hope this helps, any further questions please do get in touch again, and please let me know how you and your horse get on.
Kate Jones, Snr Nutritionist, NAF