What are all of those joint supplements?

Many joint supplements are full of big words and strange sounding ingredients.  Here are the 4 most common and important substances to understand when choosing a joint supplement for your horse.

MSM [methylsulfonylmethane] This natural sulfur helps support healthy connective tissues, like tendons, ligaments and muscles and so is thought to be helpful in controlling or preventing arthritis, muscle pain, ect. It can be used by itself or in conjunction with glucosamine and/or chondroitin.  Some studies have concluded that MSM may help energy levels as well.  My old, but still sound horse is on pure MSM to help keep the creaks to a minimum and it also seems to put a little extra pep in his step at the jumps! He gets VitaFlex MSM, but there are many other MSM products also available.

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in healthy cartilage (the tough connective tissue that cushions joints) and is also found in the synovial fluid between joints.  If there is a lack of glucosamine in the body, the cartilage can get weaker than it should be and can cause arthritic pain in the joints.

Chondroitin helps to keep cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It can also block enzymes that break down cartilage, and it provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage. It is often fed in conjunction with glucosamine.

Hyaluranic Acid (HA) is a natually occurring substance in the synovial fluid, which provides cushion for the joints and other tissues.  Although it is available as a powder, it is most effective when given in liquid form.  It may be used alone or given in conjunction with glucosamine and/or chondroitin.

If you have an older horse who is still in work, it might not be a bad idea to offer a basic joint supplement just to keep your four-legged friend’s body happy.  A basic MSM can do the job for something like this and is usually cheap.  If you have concerns or questions, talk to your vet and see if they recommend a certain supplement for your horse.  They will be able to tell you what kind of supplement is going to be the most useful and effective.

If you want to put your horse on supplements, try using SmartPaks.  They make it fool-proof by pre-measuring everything you want to give your horse so that all you have to do is peel the top off and add it to your horse’s feed. I use SmartPaks and love it because they will automatically send you the next month’s worth of supplements so you never have to worry about missing out on a few days when you run out of (and forget about) your supplement.