Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Which joint supplements for horses make the most difference?

By Emily Dickson

A: There are many questions about whether joint supplements are useful. Conducting research that investigates the effects of joint nutraceuticals is challenging to say the least.

While there is always more research to be done, evidence supports the fact that joint supplements provide many benefits — especially if horse owners choose the right ones.

When shopping for a joint supplement for your horse, consider four key nutrients:

Glucosamine. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is a natural component of the horse’s cartilage. It is a precursor to building glycosaminoglycans, which are important players in the proteoglycan network.

Glucosamine is like “joint food,” as it is believed to help prevent cartilage degradation, inflammation and pain in the joint while also supporting cartilage growth.

Chondroitin sulfate. While glucosamine is a precursor to glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate is an actual glycosaminoglycan, which bolsters the strength and resistance capabilities of the joint. Research has found that using a combination supplement of glucosamine and chondroitin in horses with osteoarthritis improved flexion tests while decreasing joint volume and lameness scores.    

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). This is an organic sulfur compound necessary for the production of connective tissue. Perhaps one of the lesser-understood joint nutrients, research in horses has shown that MSM may help protect the body from free-radical damage due to exercise, and it also appears to play a role in the glutathione pathway, which is an important antioxidant in the body.

Hyaluronic acid (HA). This is well-known for its lubrication and comfort-inducing properties as a major component of synovial fluid. HA is also found in cartilage and aids in absorbing shock. Studies have found that HA plays an important role as a protective and anti-inflammatory agent in the joints, decreasing the breakdown of cartilage and synovial fluid.

Emily Dickson is the lifestyle marketing manager for Alltech, with company headquarters based in Nicholasville, Ky.

Click here to read part 2 of the Feb. 24, 2022, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Why is keratin so important to hoof health? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.