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Lets Talk Joint Supplements

Let’s Talk Supplements, Part III

I will admit to being a very overprotective and worrisome horse owner. Miles definitely inherited some baggage when I became his owner, which includes paranoia about arthritis. My old horse, Visa, was mostly retired a few months before he passed due to severe ringbone and just general arthritis in his hocks and back. I was at the “evaluate his step every day” phase, and sometimes I catch myself doing that with Miles too. It’s a hard habit to break.

Just about every horse owner has dealt with arthritis, and the consequences thereof, thus it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular supplements are joint supplements. I had Visa on SmartFlex Senior by SmartPak, as well as Adequan when he got into his mid-teens; and the stuff worked wonders. But most of my research (which I now cannot locate, so maybe I’m making this up. Someone please call me out if I’m crazy!) shows that joint supplements are more effective when used as preventative measures rather than after the fact.

Of course, I want Miles around for a really, really long time. And I want to preserve his awesome joints for as long as possible. I wanted to wait through part of the winter to see if Miles got stiff or sore, but he really didn’t, for the most part. He was previously on MSM, but I’m not crazy about using that supplement by itself. I’ve read that join supplements are more effective when certain ingredients are combined (again, let me know if I’m wrong!). So I’m currently looking into SmartFlex I Maintenance by SmartPak.

It combines MSM and Glucosamine, while still being relatively cheap. Of course, part of my motivation for ordering this supplement is SmartPak’s free shipping for over $40 (which, if I also get a coat supplement, Miles’s “Pak” will fall at right about $40). Damn you, marketing strategies!

Of all the supplements I’ve discussed for Miles so far, this one seems to be the biggest stretch. There’s not a problem I’m trying to solve; so am I just throwing away money?

Do you feed a joint supplement? If so, why?


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

21 thoughts to “Let’s Talk Supplements, Part III”

  1. I’ve got Red on Dumor flex (I believe that’s the name!) for his arthritis. His isn’t bad at all but he gets stiff in the winter and he was acting awful when I had to get him to move off, the Dumor helped within a couple days and the difference is INCREDIBLE! I was going to put him on a more expensive supplement but this one is cheaper and works even better so I’m stickin’ with this. :)) Supplements won’t hurt, but unless he needs it,I would save my money and put it towards something he genuinely needs.

  2. I am starting my guy on pentosan injections as a preventative measure. Hopefully it works and I am not throwing my money away every month either…

  3. I have had Henry on SmartCombo since the beginning- I too agree that it’s better to prevent if possible. I want him to last as long as possible!

    1. For me, it’s a bit cheaper to give each supplement separately rather than do a SmartCombo, but I think it’s something I really need to keep in mind for the future!

  4. Your research is correct – even my vet agrees. Joint supplements are better used as a preventative measure. Once a horse has arthritis, it will always have arthritis. Joint supplements can help ease the pain/slow the process, but they are more effectively used to keep joints well ‘oiled’ before any arthritis even occurs. That is why I have Fiction (almost 6 yrs old) on a comprehensive joint supplement – I want to keep arthritis at bay for as long as possible!

  5. Ohhhh now you’re right in my wheelhouse. Yay.

    Lex is on Cosequin. It’s the only feed-through joint supplement with research showing that it is more effective than feeding nothing. None of the other feed-through supplements have any research to show that they work, and in some cases, they’re shown to NOT work. Also, Cosequin is routinely tested to be sure that what the label says is what’s in the jar. But when other joint supplements are independently tested, they often have LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT of the active ingredients that the labels say. I’m Evidence-Based Medicine Dude, so I’d go with Cosequin if you’re going to spend your money. Supplements from Nutramax Labs in general do actually contain what they say they contain. (Remember, horse owners will sometimes experience placebo effects of the drugs they put their horses on.)

    One thing to remember in ALL of these discussions of supplements is that oral supplements don’t need to be approved. I could put salt in a bag and call it Perfect Jump Magic Powder and sell it for $100 and that would be legal. It is true that they’re best used as a preventive measure. They’ll never be as effective as parenteral or inter-articular therapies.

    If you’re going the parenteral route, Adequan is good. Pentosan is good too if it’s used correctly, but people try to administer it like it’s Adequan when in fact it has a different protocol. Legend and Adequan are both FDA approved and the only FDA approved drugs of their type (it boils down to: Legend is IV and Adequan is IM and they have different active ingredients). They’re both very well tested. They do what they say they’re going to do. They’re only approved as treatment, though, not as prevention (but at this point, nothing is approved as prevention). There’s more research on parenterals than feed-through and about 75% of people who use them are using them as prevention. That isn’t necessarily good or bad; it just is. If Lex starts showing even slight minor lameness that parenterals could help, I will switch to Adequan. Of course, to use Adequan you have to be okay with giving IM shots regularly and some people don’t want to do that or they don’t do it on the correct intervals, but Cosequin is easy to feed daily. Ease of use matters because the Adequan won’t help if it’s in the tack trunk!

    Inter-articular injections, of course, aren’t supplements. Those are for diagnosed disease processes. I did give Lex an inter-articular Legend injection after her stifle surgery and it helped a great deal in reducing inflammation.

  6. I agree joint as preventative. Interestingly enough, my human chiropractor who also does roping, had me start taking hyaluronic acid for my knee pain. And now I don’t have any pain unless I sit on an airplane for hours on end (but that happens to most ppl!). And now I won’t stop taking it, cuz I don’t want it to come back, haha!

  7. My Lady already has some issues with arthritis and joint pain, and I’m sure with preventative supplementing, she would have been much better, but she was a big-time competition horse before I got her and there’s nothing I can do about that now.

    Saying that, however, to keep Lady comfortable and working well, I feed her a combination of herbs. She gets Nettle Leaf, which is just a basic good health tonic. She also gets a fairly high dose of Celery Seed (which I leave whole, but some people crush), and I recently started her on a small amount of White Willow Bark, which is a natural pain-reliever. Right now she is doing amazing, but I can easily increase the dosage of any of these supplements and she will be fine. I also add a pinch of Comfrey to her feed every so often – absolutely great for the bones.
    Side note, I can no longer take regular pain killers, and white willow bark has become my new best friend. Not quite as fast acting as pharmaceuticals, but very effective. 🙂

    Just my two cents. 🙂

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