Horses kept for their athletic abilities are at high risk of musculoskeletal problems, and injuries and diseases of the joints are a common problem. One survey has showed that approximately 60% of lameness problems were related to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a complex condition that involves a breakdown and degradation of joint cartilage, with associated pain and dysfunction. Osteoarthritis can affect horses of any age, and although it is common as horses age, it may develop in young growing horses as a results of injury, trauma or overtraining.
Joints are junctions of bones that allow movement, and they are designed to absorb shock, bear body weight and allow smooth, comfortable movement. Synovial joints are those that allow most movement and they consist of two bone ends covered by a smooth layer of resilient articular cartilage. In the horse, the limb joints of the fetlock, knee, elbow, hock and stifle take a great deal of wear and tear throughout the animal’s working life.
Cartilage consists of cells called chondrocytes and collagen fibrils within an extracellular matrix of aggrecan (proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid) molecules and water. Cushioning and protecting articular cartilage within the joint capsule is synovial fluid, which helps with shock absorption and reduces friction during movement. Cartilage does not have its own blood supply and relies on healthy synovial fluid for its nourishment. During inflammation and other damage, joint cartilage and synovial fluid are detrimentally affected, leading to a cascade of inflammation, degradation of cartilage and loss of synovial fluid.
Joint supplements are the most popular nutritional supplements bought by horse owners. Supplementation can be an effective way to support the joints of working and older horses, especially those showing signs of wear and tear. Joint supporting supplements can also be used prophylactically i.e. to help support good health and function before any problems occur. Both hard working and older horses will benefit from supplementation as will young, developing horses with joint challenges. Supporting the healthy performance horse with supplementation before any wear and tear is evident is prudent.
Joint supplements contain ingredients that act as building blocks of cartilage, aid the body’s natural anti-inflammatory and pain mechanisms/responses, and support the formation of healthy cartilage matrix, all of which have been confirmed in laboratory research.
A plethora of joint supporting supplements is available, but the key is to ensure adequate levels of active ingredients. Many of the useful ingredients are expensive, and some products simply do not contain enough. Pegasus joint supplements are formulated to supply horse, not human level doses. They contain no bulkers or fillers like dextrose or other sugars, or alfalfa, and are free from colourings, flavourings and preservatives. If you look at our ingredient lists, there are no additions of tiny amounts of essential nutrients like manganese or vitamin C, which will come from a balanced diet. We only add ingredients that will have an effect, based on evidence to date. For this reason, at the present time you will not find hyaluronic acid in our joint supplements. There simply isn’t enough evidence that is it useful when fed as a supplement.
Pegasus takes care about the sources of their product ingredients. For example, chondroitin is obtained from avian sources, not sharks or other non-sustainable sources.
Pegasus has a policy of clear, informative labelling information, with no misleading claims. Where grams of an ingredient are included, we will use grams rather than milligrams, to make it clearer how much of an ingredient is supplied. 1 g is equivalent to 1,000 mg so 20,000 mg is simply 20 g and should be written as such.
Neither do we recommend loading doses, because we believe that the standard dose should be the effective one. You can try reducing the dose of some of our joint supplements after you see effects or if your horse’s problem lessens. You may, however, have to feed the full dose long term if your horse needs ongoing support.
Our products offer exceptional value for money. Choose a joint supplement with the highest levels of active ingredients, which will help support your horse’s musculoskeletal health now and for the future.