SmartPak Joint Health: Keeping Your Horse’s Joints Healthy is Key to Maintaining Soundness and Performance

By APRIL BILODEAU

With show season in full swing, finding ways to maintain your horse’s joint health may be one of the most important elements to your horse care routine. While the additional work is to be expected when preparing your four-legged partner for show season, the added exercise and stress can put your horse at a higher risk for injury, stiffness, and pain.

The team at SmartPak Equine has found a number of ways to help your horse stay in tip-top shape all season long. With a goal to support your horse’s joint health this show season and beyond, SmartPak offers a number of supplements that can be tailored to the exact needs of your horse.

Understanding Joint Health

Overall joint health is crucial to making sure horses are able to move freely without pain or being compromised.

The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis. While there are several different types of arthritis, the term is used generally to refer to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. Arthritis is relatively common in horses, however the degree to which it impacts a horse can range from mild to debilitating.

The most common areas arthritis may occur are in the hock, pastern, fetlock, knee, navicular, coffin, and spine.

Show horses commonly receive routine injections either from or prescribed by a veterinarian to maintain or help with joint function. These can range from intramuscular injections, such as Adequan, to intravenous injections, such as Legend. Veterinarians will also directly inject the joint (also known as intra-articular). The benefit of an intra-articular injection is that you’re placing the medication directly in the spot where the horse needs additional support. The hock, stifle, and spine are just some of the frequently injected areas.

While injections can be seen as regular maintenance, supplements are often used in conjunction to help support joints, tendons, ligaments, and/or soft tissue.

SmartPak formulates each joint supplement with key ingredients and in proper daily doses. With dozens of supplements to choose from, you can pick exactly what your horse needs.

SmartPaks are customizable to meet your horse’s needs

For a comprehensive supplement, SmartPak recommends SmartStride Ultra Pellets, which is backed by research.

A 28-day study at Texas A&M University showed that SmartStride Ultra Pellets significantly increased the range of motion in the hock at the walk and increased range of motion in the hock at the trot.

The well-known supplements classified as the SmartFlex “family” are loved by horse owners as the products provide different levels of support depending on what your horse needs. Most recently, SmartPak has come out with the SmartPerform Advanced Gastric and Joint Liquid. This novel formula takes a science-first approach, using ingredients (such as MHB3® Hyaluronan and hydrolyzed collagen) shown in research to play a role in the body’s preservation, protection, and healing of gastric tissue and joint integrity.

Key Ingredients

Whether your horse is an aged, retired Thoroughbred or a young, actively competing Warmblood, every horse can benefit from taking joint supplements. When comparing products that may work best for your horse, you should put glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid (HA) at the top of your list. These ingredients, which SmartPak refers to as “Mother Nature’s Big Three,” have been shown to help nourish and protect joint tissue and fluid.

Glucosamine is a type of polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, otherwise known as a GAG. Glucosamine increases the production of new cartilage and it works to prevent cartilage from breaking down.

Chondroitin sulfate increases the production of hyaluronic acid. Much like glucosamine, it also aids in producing new cartilage while preventing the breakdown of it as well.

The last of “Mother Nature’s Big Three,” hyaluronic acid, is another type of GAG that is created in cartilage and by cells in the joint lining. It works to create lubrication for the horse’s joints, which help with shock absorption, a necessary factor in horses that frequently jump.

Outside of these nutrients, SmartPak recommends horse owners use products for joint health with MSM, Vitamin C, Glutamine, Collagen, Resveratrol, Turmeric, Devil’s Claw, Boswellia, Jiaogulan, Super Oxide Dismutase, Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables, Green Tea Extract, and Silica.

Keeping your horse’s joints healthy is key to maintaining soundness and performance

No matter what products you choose, it’s important to not only know what support your horse needs but to also know what main ingredients are in your chosen supplement as some are crucial to a horse’s diet. 

SmartPak Equine is committed to helping horse owners choose the best supplements for their horse—they even have a “Horse Owner’s Guide to Joint Supplements” on their website. Visit www.smartpakequine.com and search for this guide in their Horse Health Library under Supplement Education.

You can also find additional information on the array of supplements that SmartPak has to offer on their website. SmartPak also offers a Customer Care department equipped with Horse Care Experts to answer all of your supplement related questions, or consult with your veterinarian.