10 Tips On Choosing Joint Supplements for Horses [Domestic vs. Sport]

Ageing can be a real drag.

You get slower, less flexible, and your body starts to ache. Especially your joints. For horses, it’s no different.

An ageing horse is in danger of developing joint issues that could adversely affect its stride length, mobility, and overall performance.

The risk is even more pronounced for sport horses. Why? Because intense training can lead to more aggressive joint problems or far earlier degeneration. This means both ageing domestic horses and equine athletes need a hand to stay healthy.

But luckily for your beautiful animals, you’re already on the right track by researching joint supplements for horses. Pat yourself on the back; it’s a great idea that can help them enjoy longer, more active lives!

To make your learning journey easier, this blog post will:

  1. Give you a brief overview of horse health.
  2. Explain the differences between domestic horses and sport horses in terms of joint health.
  3. Introduce you to the five best equine joint supplements for each category.

Now saddle up, and let’s get going!

Introduction on Horse Health in General

horse health

The well-being of our horses is our number one priority as loving owners. Everything else is secondary, no matter how much we want to win that upcoming high-stakes event. But it isn’t easy. Taking care of horses is a huge responsibility that requires knowledge and experience.

A simple formula explains it correctly:

More expertise = better horse health, less pain, and lower veterinary expenses

So before we deep dive into horse joint supplements, it’s worth investing a couple of minutes to examine a few of the most common health issues. It’ll make you a better horse owner.

1. Muscle Issues

Horses rely on their muscles for basically everything. From running to jumping to grazing, they’re one of the most important parts of their bodies. Especially when your horse looks like the equine version of The Rock:

horse muscle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source

No matter how indestructible they look, horses suffer from various muscle health ailments that can slow them down or even fully sideline them.

Common problems include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies (i.e., a lack of vitamin E and selenium)
  • Exertional disorders (i.e., sporadic exertional rhabdomyolysis)
  • Muscle infections (i.e., abscesses)
  • Intoxication (i.e., poisonous plants like Sycamore seeds)
  • Breed-specific diseases (like myopathy)

The best ways to manage these risks are:

  1. Regular exercise and riding
  2. Proper warm-up routines
  3. Massages
  4. Joint supplements (more about these later on)

2. Injuries and Inflammations

Horses, and in particular equine athletes, are remarkably active creatures. And all that cantering and galloping on potentially uneven surfaces come with a chance of injury and inflammation. You can do everything in your power to minimize this risk (and you should), but sometimes the unexpected happens. Don’t beat yourself up; instead, learn what to look out for so you can catch it early!

Common problems include:

  • Laminitis — an excruciating and very dangerous inflammation that affects the laminae (tissues) that attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall
  • Desmitis — a condition that characterized by the inflammation of ligaments and that is a common cause of lameness in sport horses
  • Back injuries like “kissing spine” — the agonizing illness where some vertebrae are too close together and rub during movement
  • Bone bruises, fractures, and cracks
  • Tendon injuries (like inflammation, tears, and ruptures)

There’s one more health concern we need to cover:

3. Joint Issues

A horse’s joints are its most precious physical attribute. Without them, a horse simply wouldn’t be a horse.

And given how much weight and pressure joints need to bear, it makes perfect sense that they’re also one of the most delicate equine body parts.

You try carrying a human around every day of your life and see how your knees do.

Horses are primarily prone to osteoarthritis (chronic inflammation of the joints, also commonly called arthritis) and locked stifle joints (an issue that makes it hard to move the rear legs). Arthritis, in particular, is a serious problem with life-changing effects. Just think, this painful condition causes 60% of lameness in horses!

A horse’s occupation is crucial for better understanding joint health and taking the correct preventive measures. The critical question to ask is:

Is he/she a domestic horse used for companionship and general riding or a high-impact sports star?

Your answer is important because of three key differences. Let’s discuss them.

Differences in Joint Health Between Domestic and Sport Horses

domestic vs sport horse

Sport horses live for performance. Domestic horses live to be our best buddies. That’s the difference in a nutshell. But it’s a bit more complex than that when it comes to joint health.

There are three key points that you need to know:

  1. Sport horses are more prone to injuries and overexertion.
  2. Sport horses are at greater risk of developing arthritis.
  3. Domestic horses are more likely to be overweight and out of shape.

We’ll cover each point in detail, but first, we’ll list the major symptoms of joint pain as these are the same regardless of occupation. After all, they’re all still horses.

Common signs of trouble include:

  • Abnormal gaits (particularly at high speeds), transitions, or postures
  • Swelling and heat in the afflicted joint
  • Morning stiffness
  • Obvious displays of pain
  • Grinding teeth or refusing a bit
  • Sudden changes in behaviour and temperament
  • Shifting weight off the affected leg

Now back to the differences.

1. Sport Horses Are More Prone to Injuries and Overexertion

All horses can get injured. It’s just part of life.

But no horse faces a more significant threat of injury than a performance horse, regardless of their discipline.

Showjumpers, thoroughbreds, and western performance horses are among those affected by the constant stress and toil of their roles. The rapid accelerations, the hard turns, the abrupt stops, the jumps, the pressure to perform, the competition. Day in and day out.

It’s no surprise that they live far closer to the edge than your domestic horse.

Prevention and Care

Nothing matters more than preventive care if you have sports horses. Here are a handful of good suggestions (which also work nicely for pre-existing or current injuries):

  • Regular trips to a qualified equine veterinarian
  • Hoof care from a skilled farrier
  • Massages to relax muscles and tension
  • A warm, comfortable environment with enough space to roam
  • A proper diet complemented by quality horse joint supplements
  • Physical therapy

2. Sport Horses Are At Greater Risk of Developing Arthritis

sports horses arthritis

Unfortunately for performance horses, overexertion and injuries are two principal causes of arthritis. And that means they’re also more likely to develop this painful, incurable disease than regular horses.

Not fun.

But luckily, there’s a bit of good news too.

We can take steps to manage this disease, lower pain levels, and keep our horses active well into their senior years.

Prevention and Care

Here’s what we recommend for your arthritic or at-risk horse (you’ll notice a lot of similarities to the routine for preventing injuries!):

  • Visit the vet regularly.
  • Feed them a nutritious diet that keeps them at the right weight.
  • Always balance exercise and rest.
  • Drop by an expert farrier frequently.
  • Embrace lengthy warm-ups.
  • Ice your horse’s painful joints after a workout.
  • Add joint supplements to their meal plan.

3. Domestic Horses Are More Likely To Be Overweight and Out of Shape

Sorry to burst your bubble, domestic horse owners, but it isn’t all smooth hacking for you!

Despite being less susceptible to injuries, overexertion, and arthritis, your loving equine pets also face a duo of severe health problems: muscle loss and weight gain (up to the point of obesity).

And there’s more bad news.

An unhealthy horse has an increased chance of developing arthritis, stiffness, locking joints, and a host of other bone and joint issues. Both are primarily caused by overfeeding and long layoffs, periods when horses don’t exercise enough and spend too much time in their stalls.

Definitely not a hazard sport horses face.

Prevention and Care

It’s easy to prevent both obesity and low fitness levels.

Don’t overfeed them, stick to a regular exercise schedule year-round (especially during winter), and give them joint supplements preventively such as TRI-ACTA.

However, if your horse is already out of shape or overweight, you’ll need to work hard to get them back into tip-top condition.

You’ll need to change their diet and slowly and steadily increase their exercise regime, paying particular attention not to overwork their already overburdened bodies.

Picking a Horse Joint Supplement

horse joint supplement

There’s one thing all horses benefit from, regardless of their occupation, age, or current health. You might have already noticed it pop up in every “Prevention and Care” subheading.

It’s premium joint supplements. They’re fundamental because they provide equine bodies with the appropriate nutrients for keeping joints well-oiled and fully functioning.

However, the exact supplement you pick depends on whether your sweetheart is a sport horse or a domestic one. And by now, you already know precisely why — the differences in training intensity and lifestyles. Guess what that means?

You’re ready to consider products and make the right choice for your horse.

But before you block all of next Tuesday for researching supplements, take a look at what’s mentioned below. Two lists containing ten solid recommendations for joint products split out by horse occupation.

We’ve done the hard work for you; you just need to read, put your new knowledge to good use, and select the perfect one!

By the way, we’ve also included this handy table explaining how we made our ranking if you wanted to do a bit of your own research and due diligence.

Critical FactorsWhy They’re Important
Health benefits, a.k.a. the presence of key active ingredients
  • Supplements should contain effective active ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid (H.A.)
  • Too many fillers can diminish the effectiveness of the product
Quality and source of ingredients
  • Ingredients should be ethically sourced and all-natural — your horse and the environment deserve the best!
Backed by scientific research
  • Science provides evidence that the supplements work
Dosage at therapeutic levels
  • Quantity matters! Not enough nutrients make for weaker products and worse value for money
Approval status
  • The stamp of an industry authority (i.e., Health Canada, FEI, EC, AGCO, and IFHA) is a signal of a superior product
  • It’s also a sign of a reputable company with integrity
The manufacturer’s commitment to horse health and happy customers
  • People deserve the best possible experience and horses the best possible supplement

Now let’s introduce you to the top 10 joint supplements for horses, starting with the ones for our domestic buddies.

The Top 5 Joint Supplements for Domestic Horses

1. Integricare | Equine TRI-ACTA

Integricare TRI-ACTA

Integricare, that’s us. Modestly speaking, we’re a pretty cool supplier of premium health supplements for horses, cats, and dogs.

But don’t even think that we’re just placing our product first for the sole reason it’s ours.

No way, José!

It’s because we’ve set out to make the best joint supplements for horses in North America, and we think we’ve succeeded.

What makes TRI ACTA so unique?

  1. High-quality active ingredients (two types of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM)
  2. No fillers
  3. Therapeutic dosages that are easy to feed due to tiny 20 g serving sizes
  4. Ethical sourcing and manufacturing
  5. Health Canada approved

Price: $89.99–259.99* as of 20th April 2021

*10% off for first-time buyers of TRI-ACTA Equine with the promo code CAN10

2. Ramard | Total Joint Care Performance

Ramard

Ramard, a leading American manufacturer with a strong emphasis on “Made in the USA” products, is another good pick for a domestic horse joint supplement. Their Total Joint Care is an excellent blend that’s entirely made up of active ingredients, including the big four: glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid.

There’s really only one reason it falls behind TRI-ACTA.

It has significantly less glucosamine (4000 mg) and MSM (4500 mg) per serving size, making it a less potent supplement.

Price: $65.21–101.19 (smartpakequine.com) as of 20th April 2021

3. Cosequin | Optimized with MSM

Cosequin is one of the biggest names in the world of pet supplements. And for a good reason. They manufacture a wide range of veterinarian-recommended products, optimized with MSM powder.

It’s a solid option for domestic horse owners due to its ingredients, affordability, and tasty flavour.

It only comes with two drawbacks: the presence of fillers (albeit few) and fewer active ingredients than the leading product.

Price: $109.99 (chewy.com) as of 20th April 2021

4. Majesty’s | Flex XT Wafer

The only wafers to break into our list are Majesty’s Flex XT joint supplements for horses.

They are a very affordable option if your horses aren’t picky eaters and love snack time. Otherwise, you might struggle with this product!

Alongside decent (but not perfect) levels of glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin, Majesty’s has also included Yucca Schidigera in these wafers. This plant is suggested to have natural anti-inflammatory effects and could be beneficial for joint pain.

Price: $64.95 as of 20th April 2021

5. Mojo Joint | Horse Supplements

Mojo Joint

Last in our selection of domestic horse joint supplements is Mojo Joint. And it’s more than just a catchy name!

This is a quality product with a ton of potential, but, unfortunately, it falls short in a couple of important departments (which is why it’s just fifth).

  1. It doesn’t contain chondroitin, glucosamine’s best friend, and partner in healing.
  2. It features too many extra ingredients (like vitamins) and a mystery substance called a “binder.”

Price: $55.00–475.00 as of 20th April 2021

The Top 5 Joint Supplements for Sport Horses

1. Integricare | Equine TRI-ACTA H.A.

Integricare TRI-ACTA H.A.

TRI-ACTA’s big brother TRI-ACTA H.A. is the gold standard for maximum strength joint supplements for horses in North America.

Why? Because it takes a fantastic product and makes it even more potent and effective!

It’s perfect for horse athletes (and working horses) for the following reasons:

  1. It includes a special form of hyaluronic acid that’s ideal for replenishing the joint capsules with synovial fluid.
  2. Its strong dosage of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM helps stop joint deterioration, stimulate cartilage regeneration, and relieve pain and inflammation.
  3. It’s approved as a Low-Risk Veterinary Health Product by Health Canada.

But don’t just take our word; see what our happy customers have to say! Many of Canada’s top equestrian riders and trainers, (including Olympians) supplement their horses with TRI-ACTA H.A.

Price: $119.99–349.99* as of 20th April 2021

* 10% off for first-time TRI-ACTA Equine buyers with the promo code CAN10

2. Absorbine | Flex+Max Joint Health Supplement

Absorbine

Absorbine’s Flex+Max takes home the silver medal for joint supplements for horses in the sporting category.

These pellets were a close contender for first place and only missed out by a neck!

We love that they’re made with the four key building blocks for joint health (like glucosamine) as well as Boswellia serrata and flaxseeds.

But despite its impressive components, Absorbine Flex+Max loses points in the final stretch because it contains rice bran (rich in starch) and lower levels of MSM and chondroitin.

Price: $54.68–94.68 (smartpakequine.com) as of 20th April 2021

3. Cox Veterinary Lab | Acti-Flex Liquid

The bronze medal goes to the best budget supplement for sport horses.

For an attractively low price, Cox Veterinary Lab has formulated an impressive product with terrific ingredients, including:

  • Glucosamine sulfate
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • MSM
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Green-lipped mussels
  • Yucca
  • Boswellia serrata
  • Ascorbic acid

So what stops it from ranking even higher? Two things — it comes in liquid form, and it has a pina colada flavour. Both sound great to humans, but some horses think otherwise!

Price: $33.57–126.35 as of 20th April 2021

4. Cosequin | ASU Plus

Cosequin is back as the only other brand to feature two products on this list — a testament to the fine work taking place in South Carolina.

ASU Plus has a couple of unique attributes that set it apart:

  1. Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (with long term health effects)
  2. Green tea extract
  3. A super high dose of a trademarked form of glucosamine

However, the extra glucosamine (14,400 mg) isn’t necessary as 10,000 mg is the recommended maximum dose. It’s not harmful either, though.

Its major drawback is the presence of artificial flavours and dextrose on the label.

Price: $144.99 (chewy.com) as of 20th April 2021

5. Grand Meadows | Grand H.A. Synergy

The very last product we’ll discuss in this post comes from the Californian company Grand Meadows.

Like all the other performance joint supplements for horses presented in this article, it contains the four key active ingredients: glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid.

Just one problem.

There’s too little glucosamine and chondroitin in the recipe, meaning this supplement doesn’t pack the same punch as the other options.

It’s best used as a less potent alternative for lower-intensity sport horses that only need early preventive support.

Price: $94.50–419.95 as of 20th April 2021

Recap of the Top Equine Joint Supplements Canada

We’ve just been through a lot of quality joint supplements for horses. Things might be getting a little hazy in your memory.

Which supplement was in which place? And which one cost how much?

Don’t sweat it; information overload happens to the best of us! But on most posts, you’d have to scroll back up and find the answers to your doubts yourself. Not here.

We’ve made your life simple with two little summary tables.

They’ll remind you of the rankings and show you the approximate daily dosage and cost of using each supplement.

Enjoy!

Summary for Domestic Horses

RankSupplementsDaily DosageApprox. Daily Cost
1Integricare | Equine TRI-ACTA1 scoop (20 g)$1.73
2Ramard | Total Joint Care Performance1 scoop (17 g)$2.17
3Cosequin | Optimized with MSM1 scoop (16.5 g)$1.31
4Majesty’s | Flex XT Wafer1 wafer$1.08
5Mojo Joint | Horse Supplements1 scoop (c.57 g)$1.53

Summary for Sport Horses

RankSupplementsDaily DosageApprox. Daily Cost
1Integricare | Equine TRI-ACTA H.A.1 scoop (22 g)$2.57
2Absorbine | Flex+Max Joint Health Supplement1 scoop (75 g)$1.82
3Cox Veterinary Lab | Acti-Flex Liquid1 ounce (30 mL)$1.12
4Cosequin | ASU Plus1 scoop (17 g)$2.38
5Grand Meadows | Grand H.A. Synergy2 scoops (57 g)$2.36

Note: The dosages and costs presented above are based on long-term maintenance because this best depicts typical amounts used by horse owners day in and day out. However, most products will require a double dose during the first couple of weeks of use.

Conclusion: How To Start Preventing Horse Joint Problems

horse joint problems

Enough reading.

You’ve learned everything you need about joint health, the differences between sport horses and domestic horses, and the supplements that promote healthy joints.

It’s time to take action — either consult your vet or trust yourself and order one of the top equine joint supplements Canada has on the market!

Your horse will neigh in thanks.

P.S. Did this article trigger any additional burning questions? Get in touch with our friendly Integricare team; we’d be happy to help further in whatever way possible.

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