Devil's advocate...but NO ONE is forcing people to buy supplements.
You are right. And if people did the research, they would make a choice based on knowledge, not just on hope and a prayer.
This type of marketing is certainly not exclusive to equine supplements. Look at the cosmetics industry!
However, since this is an entirely unregulated industry, you can put floor sweepings in a jar and if people think it works . . .
What bothers me is advertising/marketing that plays on people's desire to do something good.
I had my wakeup call about 7 years ago when I had a equine nutritionist sit down with me at the barn, look at my horse and evaluate what I was feeding. And what I didn't need to feed -- I immediately saved a bunch of $$
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My older QH mare was helped TREMENDOUSLY by the 100mg dose of Grand HA. If you buy the buckets, that's 1/3 of the recommended dose. I noticed a difference with just the trial dose that SP would send at the time. If you buy the bucket and feed that 1/3 dose, it's really quite affordable and will last one horse a long time. I've used a few other joint supps over the years with no results whatsoever. I never tried injections for her though, as the Grand HA worked so well.
CVPeg--I have two TB mares (one 20, one 5) and each of them has been a bit tricky to figure out how to manage, so I've been through a lot of options and will share my thoughts in hopes they'll be useful.
For managing a middle-aged, has-some-arthritis horse on a budget, besides hay and grain (if necessary--more on that below), I'd start with ground flax, MSM, and Pentosan injections (IM). The flax and MSM are good for general inflammation, feet, coat, itchiness/skin sensitivity. Cheap, too. The Pentosan actually works out to less $$ monthly than Lubrisyn, which also worked well on my older mare. Plus, since she can be a feed-flinger, I know she's getting it.
Re feed, what kind of keeper is he? Obviously I like to start with good hay. Mine get a nice peanut mix when I can get it (peanut is a southern thing--comparable to a T&A mix). Like others, I've not had much luck with SafeChoice. Triple Crown Senior is a nice high-fat, low-starch option if you can get it easily. If I recall correctly, it's better than Ultium with regard to probiotics, etc., though not quite as high in fat.
If mine need more than that (as my older one does), I add alfalfa cubes/pellets, beet pulp, rice bran, and/or oil.
Since you mentioned the skin issues, I'll just say that my 5-year-old mare, whom I got at 2.5, was very twitchy, bug-reactive, got giant welts, gassy, etc. I just took her off all soy in December, and she's much better. I'm curious to see how she'll do when the bugs and heat return, but so far am pleased. Since pretty much every complete feed and ration balancer out there now has soy, she gets a mix of beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and oil, with Equipride (a flax-based vitamin and mineral supplement).
If ulcers are a problem, or even suspected to be, you can try the omeprazole granules from abler.com quite inexpensively and see if they work. I don't like to keep mine on them all the time, but after treating them, I keep the granules around for trailering, unusual stress, suspected flare-ups, etc. My older mare also gets SmartDigest, as she has a long history of digestive issues and it does seem to help.
Hopefully this helps a bit! I'll add, in case you really want to try oral joint supps first, that I had noticeable success with both Lubrisyn and FlexForce HA, but had to feed a double dose of the latter to get the improvement I saw on the Lubrisyn.
Adding one more thing: if he does have hock arthritis, I'd talk with your vet about the fusing process and timeline. Then decide from there whether to do intra-articular injections. The options available now are different than they were 15 years ago, so the landscape has changed some.
Once again, thanks to everyone for your suggestions! You should see my Excel document of options!
Still keeping to the idea of basic Gluc/chondroitin/MSM/HA supplement to start, and picking up the first of it tomorrow. Definitely washed my hands of SmartPak. In retrospect, I do appreciate their convenience, and yes, their good prices for many items. But have a hard time justifying the continued business with the hard sell to add more and more. Seems counter-intuitive to me when keeping your horse's well being in mind, as one tries to methodically come up with a plan.
Using up the Isox, and dropping the Naproxen as it gets warmer, and the supplement has had some time to take hold. Will be continuing the Biotin.
Again, overall, my guy is in pretty good health, and just trying to resolve any aches and pains he may have from his racing days, which primarily shows up as needing some warm-up. I have been putting on a Back-on-Track sheet, and spending more time early in the ride at the walk. He does keep his weight well, but not overly so. 24/7 turnout has been great for him - especially this winter in a big pasture, as often enough the ground has been uncovered, yet still frozen so he can keep moving/grazing. Plus they still get the great hay grown at the farm.
Will be a little tougher with mud season. When to get the shoes back on, and he'll be back in a smaller paddock since the big pasture is also a hay field. A couple new horses added, some change in routine - that's the kind of thing I keep an eye out ulcer wise. But it's in the back of my mind as I know he had them at the track, and appeared to when he first came off, and well, he's a TB!
So much of this information has been valuable, and I will be talking to my lameness vet about this in the near future. Already discussing with the BO about feed. Will be seeing how he does on the supplements, and if anything needs to be improved with injections, I'll be discussing that with the vet. Plus having him get a general look over perhaps since it's been over a year now since she's seen him.
We need to get back into a regular routine with the kinder weather (soon, I hope!) and I'm really hoping this exercise helps him in so many ways. This is, as always, the source of the best minds/experienced horsemen and women, and I've learned alot/been brought up to speed about what's out there.
I'm sure he'll be appreciating all of your wisdom!
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes
He's been off the Isoxuprine, etc. now for almost a month. Have kept him on the Biotin.
Started him on Cortaflex, and changed his feed to Triple Crown. Also noted to the barn owner that he was looking a little ribby. She immediately started to up his hay, and I bought a Nibble Net so that it wouldn't fly everywhere, he wouldn't chow it down, and so it isn't shared with his tubby mini buddy - he's pasture boarded so she's hung it in the run-in.
Vet visited last week for spring shots and she agreed with my observations.
Also asked the BO to try Triple Crown. Think he's been on it about two weeks. It is more expensive than the SafeChoice, but I feel so much better giving it, and the vet backed that up as well. BO has a less expensive alternative, but I've told her I'd pay the difference to leave him on the TC.
I've ridden him at least 2-3x a week through this miserable winter. He had been fairly sluggish, and required the Back on Track ahead of rides, quite a bit of warm up time, and even then was a bit stiff and grouchy.
This past week was miserable weather wise, and backed up work wise, so I visited, but didn't ride for almost 10 days. Went there this afternoon, pulled off the blanket, and he looks great! Honestly, he is filling up along his top line. Think he must be moving more freely in turnout.
I took him in the ring, and it was very windy, and finally spring like since temps got over freezing, however had snowed again the past 2 days, so still cold. Even so, he was willing to zing me around and bucked a couple of times in his saddling stall in the indoor. Such a wise guy!
Was full of himself under saddle - we kept to a lot of trotting, and a lot of sitting trot. He feels so much more comfortable, was moving forward more easily, and carrying himself really well. Plus within a week of starting on the Cortaflex he was picking up his hind feet without resistance.
I have a new horse!
Oh, I hope this lasts!
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes