Oral Joint Supplement Efficacy Tested in Senior Horses

Researchers found that oral supplementation of glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, and MSM did not improve stiff gaits in one senior horse population.
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Oral Joint Supplement Efficacy Tested in Senior Horses
The team found that the group receiving the oral supplement showed no significant improvements in stride length by study’s end compared to the control group. However, they said the control group did exhibit improved carpal flexion, and both groups displayed positive changes in fore fetlock extension. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Keeping aging equids comfortable and sound is a top priority (and, often, a challenge) among senior horse owners. To help their older horses along, many owners reach for one or more of the available supplements designed to alleviate joint issues. But just how effective are these products?

Researchers at Utrecht University’s Department of Equine Sciences in the Netherlands recently sought to find out, as they investigated the efficacy of one oral supplement in improving gait stiffness in older horses during a three-month, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study.

The researchers separated 24 senior horses, ranging in age from 25 to 34, into two groups: one received the manufacturer’s recommended dose of a compound oral supplement comprised of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), while the other received a placebo.

The team used a kinematic gait analysis system to objectively measure locomotor characteristics on a treadmill at walk and trot, before and after treatment. They focused primarily on the horses’ stride length, but also measured carpal (knee) flexion, fore fetlock extension, and tarsal (lower hock) range of motion

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Freelance journalist Natalie DeFee Mendik is a multiple American Horse Publications editorial and graphics awards winner specializing in equestrian media. She holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and an International Federation of Journalists’ International press card, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists. With over three decades of horse experience, Natalie’s main equine interests are dressage and vaulting. Having lived and ridden in England, Switzerland, and various parts of the United States, Natalie currently resides in Colorado with her husband and two girls.

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