Please enable JavaScript to access this page. Medicine And Fitness: Equine Bone And Joint Support

Equine Bone And Joint Support

By Marci Nielsen

Horses are magnificent. They seem to fly over the ground, they can carry heavy burdens, and they can leap over things higher than their head. However, they have relatively delicate legs and feet for their size and power. An equine bone and joint support supplement can mean the difference between pain and lameness and continued health and usefulness.

Equine supplements range from single nutrients like biotin to formulas that supply essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing from regular forage. Horses once ranged freely over miles of territory, eating a variety of plants that gave them everything they needed. Now they live in stalls, eating hay that is at most composed of a few types of grass, or else they graze in fenced fields.

Pastures are routinely mowed and seeded to look great and be palatable, but pretty paddocks can't provide all the nutrition found in a mix of what we call weeds. Even mowing is a nutritional negative. Seeds contain valuable nutrients like vitamin E which are not found in grass stalks. This is why most feeds designed for horses are grains with added vitamins and minerals.

Horses under heavy work are also under added stress. Their legs and feet carry enormous weight, withstand great force, and absorb a lot of shock. This may cause bones and joints to deteriorate. Targeted nutrition can help off-set this unnatural stress. Among the most familiar nutrients are hyaluronic acid (a component of joint fluid), MSM (sulfur, a naturally-occurring mineral essential for health and strong bones), and glucosamine and chondroitin, which are building blocks of cartilage.

There are other nutritional substances that have been proven by research and use to help off-set the unusual amount of stress equine athletes are under. Consider the jumper, for example. It thrusts off to gain height needed to clear an obstacle. The hind legs must pack a lot of power into lifting that massive body from the ground and giving it the momentum to soar over a jump that may be both wide and tall.

Often the entire weight, force, and shock is on one foot. A jumper pushes off with both hind feet, soars over the obstacle, and lands on one foot on the other side. This single foot carries the entire weight of a large animal, as well as the force of coming down from a height, and then must push that weight off as forward motion continues. It's amazing that these animals can do this, and they do it over and over.

To help prevent damage and perhaps career-ending lameness, owners and trainers can provide the extra nutrients these athletes need. Specialized formulas are designed to handle daily wear and tear on tissues and keep bones and joints healthy. Some formulas help horses under other stresses, like aging. Arthritis develops in older horses just as it does in humans, but we know now that nutrition can help prevent or delay its development.

Aging is another form of stress that requires extra nutrition. There are all sorts of formulas designed to make your horse more comfortable and keep him sound and healthy longer. Manufacturers of specialized formulas are able to help owners choose the perfect supplement for the level of activity of each horse. Trainers all have their favorite products, too, so look for professional endorsements.

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