Performance Horses 4 of 9

Horse Joint Care in 3 Simple Steps

When it comes to horse health care, joint care can be one of the most confusing issues for horse owners. It can be difficult to decide how best to prevent joint problems, cope with existing joint issues, and provide pain relief when needed.

When it comes to holistic horse health, I follow a three step process. I like to focus first on a solid nutritional foundation and preventative care. If a horse does develop joint issues, either because of age or lifestyle, the next step is to provide conservative care for pain relief and prevention of further damage. Finally, for the most advanced stages, I will consider joint injections and more aggressive methods of pain relief.

Step #1 in Joint Care: Preventative Supplements

At the basis of healthy horse joints is a strong nutritional foundation that provides plenty of digestive and antioxidant support. To build this nutritional foundation, I most often use the Simplexity APA Blend or, and then add supplements as needed to address the horse’s specific joint care issues.

Specifically, I have found feeding naturally-occurring antioxidants as well as components of joint cartilage to be effective.

  • Antioxidants: blue-green algae, noni juice, mangosteen juice, super oxide dismutase (in wheat sprouts), vitamin C (in Citrus C/Q), vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, omega-3 fatty acids (in chia seeds), and certain minerals such as sulphur.
  • Components of Joint Cartilage: chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine, and MSM (products that combine some of these components include Equine Mobility by Standard Process or Cosequin ASU).

Step #2 in Joint Care: Pain Relief Supplements

Two natural herbs have proven very effective for pain relief and are also non-invasive. These are Devil’s Claw and Yucca. Devil’s Claw reduces inflammation without being as irritating to the horse as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Yucca contains organic steroidal saponins, which can limit inflammation. Be wary of feeding Devil’s Claw to horses with ulcers, and feed Yucca to performance horses only after ensuring that this herb is not against medication rules in performance situations.

Step #3 in Joint Care: Pain Relief Injections

If both the above joint care steps do not provide total relief, injectable solutions can help. These solutions included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as joint components.

  • NSAIDs: Bute or Banamine
  • Joint Components Injected into the Joint: Adequan or Hyaluronic Acid
  • Joint Components Injected Intravenously: Legend

About the Author

Madalyn Ward, DVM, owns Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She is certified in Veterinary Homeopathy and Equine Osteopathy.

Memberships include American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

She has authored several books and publishes at her blog.

Madalyn Ward DVM