For hundreds of years horses have been admired for their unrivalled strength and agility.
One moment our breath is ripped away as the snorting bulk of thundering muscle and bone hurtles across the open countryside, leaping hedges with ease; the next we witness these sleek creatures floating effortlessly in extended trot down the arena…
Then, we rock up to our fields early in the morning and watch as our sleepy beasts heave their hairy carcasses up out of the mud- all hooves and legs at odd angles while they clamber grunting to their feet.
So, how do they do it?
The answer is all in the articulation of the joints. Horses have over 200 bones in their bodies and each of these bones has a joint at one or both ends. Not all joints are able to move, but those that do will be either synovial or cartilage joints.
Let’s take a moment to consider how joints work, the importance of horse joint care and how horse supplements for joints can make all the difference in helping our horses stay flexible for longer.
Joints are incredible when we think about them, they work in two ways:
Firstly, they act in much the same way as hinges on doors do, they allow the free movement of two solid objects without them ever having to touch. As we all know, if hinges on doors are not maintained and greased occasionally their range of movement becomes limited until they eventually grind to a halt and cease to move at all.
Secondly, these joints perform the same job as shock absorbers on cars, absorbing the impact and smoothing out the ride. Though we can draw parallels between the functions of hinges and shock absorbers, we can all agree that horse’s joints are far more fascinating to us than those on doors and cars!
To make free movement of the joints possible there sits a spongey cartilage cushion between each bone, this cushion is full of lubricating grease known as synovial fluid. All joints are subjected to wear and tear and, over time, they too can grind to a halt. As with most structures in the equine body they have a limit and, unfortunately, they are not regenerative, so horse supplements for joints can be beneficial in keeping those hinges moving freely.
Why should we bother about horse joint care?
As responsible horse owners we must acknowledge the part we play in contributing to the wear and tear on joints caused by strenuous training, repetitive movements, and concussion from hard ground. We ask far more of our trusty steeds than would be expected from any horse living in the wild.
It is not all bad news though, we know far more these days about the merits of good nutrition and the benefits of horse joint care and supplements for joints, meaning we are able to ease some of the problems associated with everyday wear and tear.
Unlike muscles, cartilage and synovial joints are unable to repair and replenish themselves, meaning any damage is likely to be permanent. Rest assured, we are not wholly to blame here; the ageing process has a lot to answer for! In younger horses the cartilage is white and full of bounce, but with age it gradually changes to a yellow colour, thins and loses its elasticity. For this reason, adding horse supplements for joints into the daily feeding routines of our senior horses makes complete sense.
Knowing what we know now about the movement, fragility and stresses of the joint, it will not come as a surprise to hear that Osteoarthritis is amongst the most common causes of lameness in horses.
How can we help with horse joint care?
Here are some simple suggestions to help minimise the agony associated with arthritis, aging and accidental damage using non-invasive methods and specially formulated horse supplements for joints.
#1 Trust in the healing powers of rest
By nature, horses are constantly in motion and rest is not something they do well. It can be difficult to keep horses still, but joints take a long time to heal because tendons and ligaments do not have a good blood supply. It can take an average of around 4 to 6 weeks of immobilisation for a joint to heal properly. Should swelling be evident, it is important to understand that internal healing may still be taking place once the swelling decreases. There
are things we can do to make horses restricted to box rest more comfortable and encourage the natural healing process.
Heat therapy is an excellent option for many reasons. For starters, it is comforting, but more importantly it will help to reduce swelling surrounding an injury by dilating the blood vessels surrounding the area and increasing the oxygen flow which is vital to the healing process.
Whilst cooped up in stables, horses are unable to browse the hedgerows as they would do when they are turned out so a supplement, like Herb Power, could go some way to ensuring your horse still has access to herbs with anti-inflammatory qualities such as, nettles and rosehip shells. Such herbs are beneficial in any horse supplement for joints.
Herb Power is a dry supplement containing herbs such as nettle, cleaver and kelp, all carefully chosen for their high vitamin and mineral content. Nature provides a plentiful array of seasonal plants which many horses and ponies naturally graze such as springtime cleavers and autumn hawthorn berries. Due to the way in which more horses are kept now, access to such plants is limited, so our Herb Power is the natural choice to get your horse back to nature
#2 Take extra care of your golden oldies
Although we do not possess any magical powers to stop the aging process completely, there are certainly things we can do to make those twilight years more comfortable. It is inevitable that joints will have undergone years of gradual deterioration; although, we cannot restore or rejuvenate joints to their former glory, we can definitely ease the aches and pains associated with aging.
Increased humidity, colder weather and the effort of trudging through knee deep mud are all bound to aggravate joints. Now may be a good time to consider adding Senior Horse Gold supplement to your horses diet for a quick pick me up, followed by Senior Horse added daily to assist in keeping those joints supple over the coming months.
#3 Watch the weight!
We have had to spend the Summer watching our horse’s weight and now, as Winter approaches, we are well advised to adapt our feeding regimes accordingly. Nevertheless, it is important to keep a close eye on our horse’s weight all year round. Carrying excess weight adds unnecessary stress and strain to joints. Our Multiflex Gold horse supplement for joints is specially formulated to help maintain joint mobility in horses of all ages.
#4 Finally, focus on the feet
We’ve all heard the phrases ‘No hoof, No horse’ but it is so true. If the horse’s hooves are not correctly balanced, it can knock everything else out of balance. This means unnecessary pressure is likely to be placed on joints further up the leg and may force them to move unnaturally. We can encourage healthy joints from the inside by adding a specific horse supplement for joints to our horse’s diet, but we also need to pay attention to external factors as the weather becomes wetter.
By cleaning our horses hooves out regularly and applying a natural germicide, such as Bio Hoof, we can keep hooves healthy and deter bacteria and fungus which left to their own devices are likely to lead weakened the hooves and the development of thrush.
Discover our range of joint care supplements
As you’ve now realised the importance in horse joint care, you may be looking for some supplements or products to keep your horses joints in tip top condition. If so, click the button below to shop our range of supplements. If you’re not sure which one will be right for you, just get in touch with us!