here is an aged old saying, ‘a working joint is a healthy joint’. Less mobile joints can be just as susceptible to stresses and strains developing as those joints in work. COVID has meant for many horses and ponies a reduction in their workload, which for some may jeopardise their potential for flexibility as they return to full work. Therefore, as we start to plan our competition schedules, should we have any concerns about their joints?
- Supports circulation, and strong, healthy joints.
- Builds muscle strength, supporting skeletal stability
- Burns calories to avoid weight gain
- Cultivates cell growth
With the lack of work throughout the lockdown period, we now have to establish and fine-tune their programmes to get them back to fitness.
Dependent on your discipline, and what you and your horse have been able to do over lockdown, will impact joint health, and how you structure that fitness programme. Horses who have hacked will have been using the tarmac to gradually strengthen joints, but may have had less access to deep sand school surfaces, which can challenge tendon health. Conversely, dressage horses and showjumpers may have spent longer on a school surface through lockdown, which has benefits in terms of consistency, but lacks much of what good roadwork can offer for strength. Getting the right balance as we go forward will be key for all combinations.
Supporting with targeted nutrition is well-established and increasingly researched in horses, with good evidence for the use of key nutrients. Glucosamine is, perhaps, the best known of these, but do check the type you are using. Research shows that Glucosamine sulphate is more effective in horses than the more widely used Glucosamine HCl (hydrochloride)*. However, no matter how good glucosamine is, a single ingredient is never going to answer such a multifactorial question like joint health. Finding the right combination of joint nutrients, and, importantly, a blend suitable to you, your horse and your level of work, will help you support your horse’s soundness through every life-stage.
* Meulyzer M et al (2008) Comparison of pharmacokinectics of glucosamine and synovial fluid levels following administration of glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 16, 973-979