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When searching for a joint supplement for your horse, what should you look out for? Pilot Equine is on hand to help you sift through the information.

In a market saturated with products and different information coming in left, right and centre, it can feel overwhelming to decide on the best joint supplement for your horse. That’s why we’ve stepped in to help you get the inside scoop and break down the ingredient list. Here are our top tips to guide your decision on the next horse joint supplement you purchase.

Check the label

When choosing a suitable joint supplement for your horse, it’s so important to read the ingredient list, not only so you know what you’re feeding him, but also for the effect it should be having. The following ingredients should be on your radar…

  • Glucosamine

An essential ingredient to promote joint health in horses, glucosamine occurs naturally in the tissue and fluid surrounding joints. It works as a building block for lots of different processes in the body. However, the substance is most effective at maintaining cartilage between joints.

Cartilage is an essential part of the musculoskeletal system, assisting in smooth movement and reducing concussion of joints. However, cartilage can take a hit from day-to-day activities. Therefore, glucosamine presence in a joint supplement for horses can help to ensure your horse is getting adequate amounts to care for their cartilage throughout their working life and beyond.

Recommended levels of glucosamine for a 500kg horse are 10,000mg (10g) per day with one study suggesting this dose in veteran horse’s increased joint range of motion, stride length and freedom of expression in the stride.

  • MSM

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a natural compound that can be found in very small quantities in the cereals and grains already included in your horse’s diet. Suggested to possess anti-inflammatory properties, MSM can support easing muscle aches and pains, whether that’s after a hard schooling session or due to age-related wear-and-tear. In one study, it was shown that MSM supplementation could have a protective effect against some forms of exercise-induced injury.

An effective equine dose of MSM is said to be at least 1,200mg per day, however inclusion rates vary greatly from product to product.

  • Chondroitin sulphate

Also a naturally occurring substance within the horse’s body, chondroitin sulphate works alongside glucosamine to support all-round joint health. This compound has been found to show an increase in the cartilage turnover rate meaning it effectively repairs damage much quicker with the addition of supplementation. Some studies have also suggested that chondroitin sulphate plays a vital role as a moderator for osteoarthritis, with appropriate levels supressing cartilage degeneration.

Chondroitin sulphate is believed to be most effective in servings between at 1,250–5,000mg per day.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a complementary vitamin for horse joint health. It’s an essential component in the normal production of collagen. Collagen gives strength, structure, and elasticity to the entire musculoskeletal system, which is vital for a horse’s ability to cope with the physical demands of riding and recovering from exercise. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help support immune health and general wellbeing.

The doses of vitamin C will vary widely from horse to horse and the recommended dose is anywhere between 4–20g per day – 14g is usually a good guideline.

  • Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that’s naturally produced already by the horse’s body. It’s widely used for reducing heat, pain and swelling and can be particularly helpful for horses that suffer from chronic arthritic symptoms. This ingredient is known to help with lubricating the joints as well as maintaining healthy cartilage and connective tissue.

Although recommended dosages will vary greatly, you should expect the daily dose for a 500kg horse to be about most products will have doses upwards of 100mg of HA.

Other factors to consider

Once you’ve whittled down your selection by ingredients in joint supplements for horses, what else should you be looking for? For a supplement that’s safe and effective, make sure your chosen joint supplement…

  • has a good brand reputation Brand reputation is a key factor to look out for when hunting for the best joint supplement for your horse. Keeping an eye on customer and website reviews of products, as well as asking those in the equestrian community on their opinion, is a sure-fire way to find a great quality product
  • offers quality production With a good brand reputation, you can almost be certain of quality production and storage, which is vital to ensure your horse is reaping the benefits of the joint supplement. The best joint supplements are produced and stored in hygienic conditions. Look out those produced in UFAS and BETA NOPS certified labs
  • provides good value for money Value for money may also be on your mind. To make sure you’re getting as much bang for your buck, check that your supplement of choice contains the key ingredients for joint health. Then, check for the levels of each ingredient per serving. Remember, feeding a larger quantity of one ingredient doesn’t mean it’ll work more effectively – stick to scientifically-backed levels of ingredients

Additional extras?

When choosing your horse’s joint supplement, you may notice a few added extras among the usual suspects. While most additions to supplements don’t cause great harm – herbal blends being especially popular – it’s important to be aware that some ingredients are banned from competitive environments, the most prevalent being devil’s claw. While there’s been comparatively little research into devil’s claw, some studies suggest that it can be a useful addition to joint supplements. However, it’s a banned substance under the FEI and Jockey Club rules, so best avoided if you compete.

Other ways to protect your horse’s joints

As well as choosing a suitable joint supplement for your horse, there are a couple of other great ways to support his mobility and joint health…

  • turnout When horses move, it allows the transport of vital nutrients in and out of the tissues between joints. While daily activity is vital for the health of your horse’s joints, intense, repetitive movement can be detrimental – this is why it’s recommended you allow your horse access to as much turnout as possible, to limit the amount of time he spends stationary
  • dynamic stretches Performing dynamic stretches, otherwise known as ‘carrot stretches’, with your horse can help support flexibility. Extending and flexing muscle and joint structures, performed in a controlled manner and speed, they’re believed to support your horse’s muscle strength and the joints along his back

On the shelves

Have you heard of Pilot Equine Freedom? Scientifically supported for peace of mind and efficacy, it contains glucosamine HCL, chondroitin sulphate, MSM, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Supplementing with Freedom is a safe and reliable way to support your horse’s joints. Mobility, longevity, and freedom during every activity are what this product stands for, and it’s suitable for every horse, whatever his activity level.

Key points…

  • Manufactured for Pilot Equine by a BETA and UFA NOPS registered company
  • Formulated with mobility and movement in mind – contains glucosamine, MSM and vitamin C
  • Supports joint and joint tissue health 

The bottom line

We all want what’s best for our horses, but with horse ownership costing no less than a small fortune, it’s important that we make our money work smarter and make sure that the products we choose justify the expenditure. So, when it comes to buying a joint supplement for your horse, for ultimate efficacy and safety it’s important to keep these key pointers in mind…

  1. Active ingredients.
  2. The brand’s reputation.
  3. What you can do assist joint health.

Consider these and you can’t go far wrong!

For more information, visit pilotequine.co.uk

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