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.

This edition is sponsored by the W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine) of East Longmeadow, Mass.

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

Q: My farrier says one of my horses might benefit from being fed a joint supplement. How do I decide which one to use?

By Eleanor Kellon

A: The majority of horses will need joint support at some point in their lives, and heavily worked horses are virtually guaranteed to need support even earlier. However, with all the joint supplement options available, it's difficult to make a choice. 

As a general guide, upper-level athletes and horses working on hard ground or over difficult terrain are good candidates for a more extensive approach to joint support. Any horse known to be prone to joint issues or one that does not respond to the basic joint nutrients should also take a more targeted approach.

Bone, whose framework is connective tissue, can lose density around joints. Ligaments, tendons and synovial membranes play critical roles in maintaining the stability of joints by controlling their motion. Inflammation is a normal part of day-to-day tissue maintenance. It is the clean-up crew that removes old or damaged cells and participates in tissue remodeling and strengthening. A healthy joint has the tools it needs to keep a balance between the forces of breakdown and repair.

However, normal weight bearing and exercise generates free radicals, which in turn can trigger a damaging inflammatory response in connective tissue.

The following key nutrients provide hard working joints with added support to maintain healthy, strong structure and function:

  • Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is the basic substance of all types of connective tissue. Research has shown that hydrolyzed collagen supplements can strengthen bone and strengthen the amount of stress that tissues can withstand while being stretched or pulled.
  • Egg shell membrane is a thin, translucent membrane attached to the inner surface of (chicken) egg shells. It is composed of 25% collagen as well as hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, chondroitin and other connective tissue proteins that help support joint health and movement.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural form of sulfur that supports the reduction of free radical formation and the stress that can take a toll on joints.

Dr. Eleanor Kellon, a staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, is an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years. She is a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.


Click here to read Part 2 of the December 1, 2016 installment: Do I need to do anything different during the winter months in regard to footcare for my horses?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.