News & Guides

20th September 2023 by Rowen Barbary

Managing your horses joints

Managing your horses joints

One of the main causes of lameness in horses is osteoarthritis, estimated to be responsible for approximately 60% of lameness cases.

Previously commonly known as degenerative joint disease it can affect any joint where two cartilage-covered bones meet – called an articular joint such as the hock, fetlock, pastern, coffin, stifle and knee.  In some case it can also involve the horse’s neck and back.  Classic signs include heat, swelling, lameness / pain, stiffness and deformation caused by bony changes.

Not just limited to older horses is can also commonly occur in young, active performance horses.

The Use of Joint Supplements

Although we know conditioning, shoeing, nutrition and overall health all play a key role in managing horses with osteoarthritis oral joint supplements are also very popular in helping to manage symptoms.

With such a wide array of joint supplements on the market it can be hard to choose the right one, so the best approach is to read the product label to make sure the product contains appropriate ingredients in effective amounts.

While joint supplements can contain an array of ingredients to support joint health we are going to take a closer look at the five components: Glucosamine HCL, Chondroitin Sulphate, MSM, Hyaluronic Adid and Vitamin C.


Glucosamine is one of the most studied ingredients used in joint supplements. An essential building block of all connective tissue, including cartilage, with studies showing that it can slow cartilage breakdown and may encourage healing.  An effective dose is 6,000 to 12,000 mg/day, with the higher dose recommended for horses being worked.

Chondroitin Sulphate

Chondroitin Sulphate is a major structural component of cartilage, bone and tough connective tissues and has been extensively studied. These studies indicate that chondroitin sulphate reaches synovial fluids and cartilage and has effects on the joint tissues, as well as having anti-inflammatory effects.  An effective dose is between 1,250 and 5,000 mg/day.

Recent research indicates that for best results a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin should be used, rather than using either product alone. 

Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane (MSM)

Although studies on the use of MSM are sparse, with data generally gathered from a combination of products, it is used in many supplements because it has two very important properties.  Firstly, MSM is a source of Suplhur which is essential in the maintenance of repair of many structural tissues within the body like skin, hoof and cartilage.  Then secondly, MSM has anti-inflammatory properties which make it ideal for use within joint supplements. A recommended dose is 10,000 mg/day.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

HA is an essential component of both the cartilage and joint fluid, and is available to horses both as an oral supplement but also as an injectable form. Particularly useful for controlling pain, heat and swelling. If combined with glucosamine and chondroitin as little as 20mg can help, but dosage of 100mg/day can be used to feel the full benefit.

Vitamin C

Essential for the health of cartilage and other connective tissues, Vitamin C is a natural water soluble anti-oxidant. A horse can produce its own Vitamin C but its gut did not adapt for efficient absorption, so it is important to use a form such as Ascorbyl-monophosphate which can be absorbed efficiently. When used along suitable feeding rates would 5,000 – 10,000 mg/day.

Rowen Barbary Horse Feeds offers ‘Supple’, a product that contains Glucosamine HCL, MSM, Chondroitin Sulphate, Hyaluronic Adid and Vitamin C.

About Rowen Barbary

All manufacturing at Rowen Barbary is carried out in a state of the art mill located in the heart of the Shropshire countryside. We use only the highest quality ingredients sourced, where possible, from local farms before they are blended by our dedicated team in our UFAS audited mill.

Rowen Barbary also conforms to BETA NOPS guidelines with raw materials & finished feeds regularly laboratory tested to ensure that every bag of feed continues to meet not only ours, but also your high standards.

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