Calling all supplement gurus - young horse joint supplement as a precaution?
We just bought a new horse today for our daughter! Yeah! Our 2 day trial period was awesome, the vetting went great, x-rays were great, and we are already so in love with our new big boy! He is just precious!
He is a 6 year old TB, ridden H/J, regularly schooling and showing at 2'6", but we will start his training to at 3' within the next year. (His former owner/trainer was already schooling him at 3')
Given our training schedule (1-2 lessons weekly, plus 2-3 rides per week - just flat work), would you start this young horse on a joint supplement? I already have my favorite joint supplements for my other horses...the question is - when to start them?
What would you do? Or for those of you with younger H/J horses, what have you done?
It's not bad to have them on a low dose of something as a "prevention". But, who knows if it really works? Me, I'd feel better having them on a low dosage of something... like 5000mg glucosamine, 5000mg msm and maybe some chondroitin and HA thrown into the mix. Probably not needed, but shouldn't hurt them . Heck, it may just make some expensive urine, but I know I'd feel better about everything.
ETA: I'd only do an oral joint supp for a young horse though... not IM/IA/IV injections. Those aren't needed or warranted (IMO) with a young horse unless diagnosed with something. Sure Legend and Adequan are good at what they do (never had Adequan actually work for me, Legend has) but in a young horse who should have good joints, a good oral supp should be just fine if you want to give them something. FWIW, my young guy (who is only pasture sound) has been on MSM for a few years. It's cheap and seems to help him with his "bad" days... nothing else touches his pain, so I don't give it.
The 5 y/o Appendix I currently have is on MSM and glucosamine... does he NEED it? No. But I have it so he might as well get it as a precaution.
MSM also benefits other things: MSM is an excellent source of sulfur for horses offering excellent bio-availability. Equine professionals, veterinarians, and horse owners report excellent results obtained from the use of MSM including:
* Immune System Support
* Connective Tissue Support
* Joint Support
* Management of pain and inflammation associated with normal daily activity and exercise
It's also supposedly good for the skin and coat. I like it because its inexpensive and when the horse doesn't actually NEED it... it's just kind of a nice "buffer".
I've had my now-5-year-old on a joint supplement since he began training at age 2 (being ponied off another horse). It certainly isn't going to hurt to put him on a preventative, but I agree with Appychick-oral only.
I would, and did with my own current horse. Your aim is to protect cartilage, and the optimal time to do that is when the cartilage is still healthy. By the time they are showing signs of arthritis, there is already damage, and there is a limit to how effective joint supplements are going to be at that point in time.
When I got my gelding at 6, I immediately put him on Cosequin because my old mare had to be retired at 15 due to severe hock arthritis. My gelding is now 17 years old, has done lower level eventing, jumpers and now is schooling second level dressage and is still incredibly sound. He's had various X-rays taken in the past couple of years (radiology lab at school, banged his knee in the trailer last winter) and he has little to no arthritis. Would he have been the same without the Cosequin? It's impossible to say, but if you can afford it, I would definitely start joint supplements now.
Arthritis and other degenerative conditions do not come out of the blue, they are often the result of cumulative damage. Limiting the capacity for this damage in the early years is a great step towards keep your horses joints healthy. CarolinaGirl's post has some great info regarding MSM; it is great for many reasons, most importantly (to me) the "management of pain and inflammation associated with normal daily activity". Regarding glucosamine, there is a lot of literature to suggest that its role is in preventing arthritis, not as a "cure" once joint problems have already started. Both of these can be supplemented relatively inexpensively, and IMHO are worth it.
That being said, I think that before you decide on supplementing, you should start with a good hard look at your feeding program. (not that I am implying that anything is wrong, but it is always a good place to start and learn more about the needs of our horses)
After dengerative arth. in my retired ones knee, and a pony with some in the hocks now (got both when they were older) and all our trips to UGA and the lameness specialist up there I'd go with something with HA in it also. HA will help to keep the joints lubed and the more lubed they are the less friction and the less likely for arth. issues. Again they have said cosequin and cortiflex with HA is the best and have proven results.
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole
Have had my 20 yr old now retired 3'/3'6 hunter on a Glucosamine/msm supplement since he was 5 yrs old. He showed rated until age 15 when we bought a project and semi retired him. Only now is he showing stiffness. 15.2 TBx.
Good genes? Luck? Good management? Supplements?
Maybe all of the above
I just had to get Cortiflex liquid for my pony, it has all your looking for and most of the liquids have 100mg of the HA in each serving. At tractor supply its 40.00 and that should last you a month or so, At first you have to do a higher dosage for a week, double the regular amount and after that its once a day.
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole
SmartFlex (from Smart Pak) Maintenance I. Great joint supplement for the money. 4000 glucosamine and 5000 MSM for around $20/mo. If you don't want to go the Smart Pak route, there is Cosequin, Grand Complete, and Recovery EQ that have good maintenance amounts of the glucosamine and MSM and won't break the bank.
My senior gelding is on the SmartFlex Senior (I swear I don't work for SmartPak!) which has 7000 glucosamine, 10000 MSM, and 50mg HA. For just over $1/day I think it's one of the less inexpensive supplements that does have HA in it. There are several supplements that do have HA that don't the MSM, etc in it.. some that have higher amounts of HA and the others are $$$. I think the Fluid Action HA powder, Hy-Flex, and HylaRx Complete are nice options too if you want to include the HA plus the MSM, etc.
My 6yo mare has been on Cosequin for two years now for exactly your reasons... prevention. I put her on MSM for a couple months but she had an awful reaction to it, made her VERY spooky and a bit monsterish. She's already looky but she was leaping out of her skin at things she sees every day. After taking her off the MSM and putting her back on Cosequin my quiet responsive, and slightly looky horse is back.
I start any horse any age on joint supplements the day they start schooling over fences of any height. I also do not start over fences work with any horse until age 7, but that's just me and i know i'm not the norm these days.