Did You Know? January is Joint Health Awareness Month!

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A horse’s joints power his motion, and keeping them healthy is key to ensuring that he can move comfortably. Unfortunately, research has shown that joint problems are a normal part of the aging process in horses, and other factors such as the stress of training may increase a horse’s risk even further. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing horse owners can do. The best way for horse owners to keep their horses going strong is by understanding the risk for joint problems and the ways they can support their horses’ joint health. That’s why SmartPak is excited to announce that January is Joint Health Awareness Month.

“Joint Health Awareness Month was created to spread the word about the importance of joint health and share how horse owners can help keep their horses moving comfortably for years to come,” said Sarah Mann, SmartPak’s VP of Equine Health and Brand. “There are many ways that horse owners can proactively support their horses’ joints, and we want to help ensure they have the resources they need to take advantage of them.”

To celebrate Joint Health Awareness Month, SmartPak is sharing the latest information about how horse owners can support their horses’ joints, starting with the top three facts that you might not have known about joint health:

1. All horses, even wild mustangs, are at risk for arthritis.

A 1999 study in the Equine Veterinary Journal identified arthritic changes in a herd of wild mustangs. The researchers concluded that the osteoarthritic process was naturally present in horses. This means that all horses, no matter their workload, are at risk for progressive and permanent joint damage. In fact, 60% of lameness problems in horses are related to osteoarthritis. 

2. Injectable medications and oral joint supplements can be used together.

Two ways that horse owners can support their horses’ joint health are injectable joint medications and oral joint supplements, which serve different purposes. Injectable medications are designed to help reverse the effects of arthritis, while oral joint supplements provide key ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and HA to offer ongoing, daily support for healthy cartilage and joint fluid. To learn more about whether joint medications are right for your horse, talk to your veterinarian.

3. Joint supplement ingredients are backed by research.

There is work being done in the key area of joint health research. One area that has been researched is the absorption of ingredients. Several studies have shown that all the major joint supplement ingredients – glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid (HA), and MSM – are absorbed from the digestive tract and available for use throughout the body.1, 2 Another study provides objective evidence that oral HA reduces joint swelling after surgery to remove an OCD in the hock.3 An eight-year study demonstrated that consistent use of an oral glucosamine / chondroitin supplement resulted in a decreased need for hock joint injections to maintain soundness in a group of show hunters/jumpers.4 Finally, a group of researchers in Europe showed that MSM exerts a protective effect on oxidative and inflammatory exercise induced injury in the horse.5 These are just a few of the many examples of research on joint supplements.

Given all of these facts, it’s no wonder so many horse owners choose to support their horses with daily joint supplements. No matter what your horse’s age, discipline, or workload, the best time to start supporting healthy joints is now. Joint supplements help ensure your horse always has a steady supply of the ingredients he needs to cope with the stress of exercise and maintain healthy joints. Some of the most common ingredients to look for in a joint supplement include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, and hyaluronic acid (HA).

To find the perfect joint supplement for your horse, visit www.SmartPak.com or call 1-800-461-8898 today. For more joint health information, check out Facebook.com/SmartPakEquine to see what else SmartPak is sharing in honor of Joint Health Awareness Month.

1. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2004 Apr;25(3):109-16. The bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate after oral and intravenous single dose administration in the horse. Du J, White N, Eddington ND.

2. Proc 17th Equine Nutr Physiol Soc:141-2. A study of the absorption of methylsulfonylmethane in horses. Pratt SE, Clarke AF, Riddolls L, McKee S.

3. Equine Vet J. 2006 Jul;38(4):375-8. Oral hyaluronan gel reduces post operative tarsocrural effusion in the yearling Thoroughbred. Bergin BJ, Pierce SW, Bramlage LR, Stromberg A.

4. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. Vol. 4, No. 2, 2006. Effects of oral glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation on frequency of intra-articular therapy of the horse tarsus. Martha R. Rodgers, VMD.

5. Acta Vet Scand. 2008 Nov 7;50:45. The effect of methyl sulphonyl methane supplementation on biomarkers of oxidative stress in sport horses following jumping exercise. Maranon G, Munoz-Escassi B, Manley W, et al.

From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness. With the success of this simple and convenient feeding system, SmartPak has continued to expand its offering of quality products, including its own line of more than 55 supplement formulas called SmartSupplements, and a wide variety of tack, equipment, and supplies. The company has grown rapidly each year and is now the largest retailer of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak’s success has been powered by a passion for delivering an unbeatable customer experience, and the company has been recognized with a Bizrate Circle of Excellence award five years in a row, as well as receiving an “Elite” rating from STELLAService. A nine-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree, SmartPak is the only equine company ever named to the Inc. 500 list.