Equine Arthritis (from the Greek Arthro - meaning joint) is inflammation of one or more of the horse's joints and is a common veterinary problem in older ponies and horses.
The cause of arthritis in a pony or horse or can be a combination of factors - but the main cause of equine arthritis is continued stress on the horse's joints through activities such as working or jumping on hard ground.
Specialised equine joint supplements added to feed can help a horse or pony with arthritis, ease the pain and keep the horse comfortable and give it a longer working life.
There are several different types of equine joint supplements, such as Glucosamine, Cortaflex, Premier Flex, Joint Flex and Grand Flex available to buy which claim to ease stiffness and improve freedom of movement in a horse or pony with arthritis.
Most of these equine feed additives contain herbal supplements or are based on glucosamine or Omega 3 oils for their main ingredients
When choosing an equine arthritis joint supplement to feed it is advisable to research the more specialised supplements and check which ingredients they contain .
If you intend to compete with your horse, then check that the supplement does not contain any substances banned by the FEI or any other equestrian governing bodies.
A combination of all or some of the following ingredients should be present in a good joint supplement for a horse that is suffering from the pain associated with arthritic joints, as these have all been shown to have some benefit to a horse with arthritis:
Adding Chondrotin Sulphate to a horse's feed can help to inhibit destructive enzymes and aid production of cartilage and so help to improve the health of the joints of a horse with arthritis .
Chondrotin is derived from processed animal products that contain a high cartilage content.
Glucosaminefed to a horse or pony with arthritis on a regular basis can stimulate production of cartilage. Glucosaminecan also control inflammatory processes.
Glucosamine is also found in cartilage and connective tissues.
Minerals such as manganese, zinc and copper are important for cartilage formation.
Vitamin Cs an anti-oxidant - which is good for inflammatory control. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals before they can do damage to a horse's body tissues.
Bioflavinoids are antioxidants that enhance the effect of vitamin C of improving arthritis in an equine supplement.
Essential fatty acids are naturally found in unprocessed oils such as extra virgin olive oil and marine fish oils such as cod liver oil.
These oils can be added to a horse or pony's feed to help to control arthritis as the fatty acids help to lubricate the horse's joints and ease the pain of arthritis.