Fats or oils in horse feeding
27 October 2021
Gastric ulcer in horses
25 January 2022

The wellbeing of the horse’s joints

articolazioni del cavallo

The horse’s joints are complex and rather delicate structures. The units that make them up, such as cartilage, ligaments, joint capsules and bone tissue, must work together to resist stress and impact with the ground. Let’s find out more about how to maintain their normal function. The horse’s joints are complex and rather delicate structures. The units that make them up, such as cartilage, ligaments, joint capsules and bone tissue, must work together to resist stress and impact with the ground. Let’s find out more about how to maintain their normal function.

Why is articular cartilage the most important component of the horse’s joints?

Every structure that makes up the horse’s joints is involved in the correct function of the joint and consequently in maintaining its integrity. Cartilage in particular is fundamental: as long as it remains trophic, elastic and covered by a smooth surface, it is able to absorb the stresses of fast gaits and resist friction without injury.

As it degenerates, however, it loses its typical elastic properties and becomes rough on the surface, opening the door to serious degenerative processes that quickly involve the other structures.

When should the horse’s joints be cared for?

Joint health, from the earliest moments of growth, directly influences the general wellbeing of the horse and its competitive performance. At no time in the life of a sport horse can the joints be considered safe from degenerative processes.

The most problematic phases are growth, training and competition. At these critical times, it is rational to try to protect the horse’s joints with specific complementary feeds designed and formulated by experts in equine nutrition. In colts and fillies, during the training period, growth and work requirements overlap. It is at this time that young horses, having left the paddock, begins to carry out an activity of stress on the joints. This is why it is recommended to use a complementary pellet feed that meets these needs and also contains 5000 mg/kg Glucosamine and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) as Training.

Which substances are useful in supporting the wellbeing of the horse’s joints?

Several clinical trials confirm the usefulness of regular oral administration of Glucosamine, which participates in the formation of joint cartilage, tendons and ligaments and, if administered regularly, allows an increase in joint motility and a reduction in pain. Glucosamine sulphate is an amino sugar absorbed by the intestine only in its sulphurised form and is involved in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. The bioavailability of Glucosamine therefore regulates the biosynthesis of hyaluronic acid.

Can the horse produce Glucosamine?

The endogenous production of Glucosamine decreases with age, leading in the medium term to a loss of cartilage turgidity, elasticity and hydration due to the reduced amount of hyaluronic acid produced. A study shows that the sulphate form of Glucosamine is more absorbable and more effective than Glucosamine hydrochloride.

Do minerals support joint function in horses?

In order to form and protect joints, minerals such as Copper and Manganese are of paramount importance. Manganese helps the horse to develop and repair collagen and is important as a cofactor in the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and hyaluronic acid. It is also involved in the repair and maintenance of cartilage and is involved as a cofactor in the formation of collagen.

Is MSM only useful for supporting the joints of the elderly horse?

MSM is an organic compound containing sulphur. Sulphur is involved in the synthesis of collagen and keratin, which are essential for the formation of tendons and ligaments. But sulphur is useful for all sport horses as it is involved in the synthesis of glutathione, a detoxifying substance that provides the kidney and liver with energy to metabolise toxins produced during exercise.

How does Chondroitin Sulphate help the horse’s joints?

Chondroitin Sulphate is a normal constituent of cartilage and when administered orally is able to influence the metabolism of both normal and worn cartilage. Its function is to maintain cartilage elasticity and counteract degradation due to wear and tear. Studies show that, to have a beneficial effect, it should be administered in association with glucosamine, thereby significantly improving joint mobility.

What are Equiplanet’s proposals for maintaining the normal physiology of the horse’s joints?

Joint Flex Plus

Joint Flex Plus is a complementary feed containing Glucosamine sulphate (15%), MSM (30%) and Chondroitin sulphate (10%), fundamental substances that act directly in the synthesis of joint cartilage components, as well as manganese and antioxidants such as vitamin C. Joint Flex Plus is particularly useful in adult horses under intense physical activity.

Artro Gag

The growth and training period is a time of particular joint stress for colts and fillies it begins to perform work to which it is not accustomed. Artro Gag is a complementary feed containing Glucosamine sulphate (50%), MSM (30%), manganese, copper and antioxidants, recommended for young horses. This is why lysine, one of the essential and limiting amino acids for the horse, has also been added to its formulation. It is useful for supporting and nourishing the joints during the development of the osteo-cartilage apparatus.

MSM 99

Older horses, horses of riding school with particular joint stiffness, need a source of sulphur to assist with normal function of the joints, but also respiratory and gastrointestinal function. MSM 99 is the simple feed of first choice for the elderly horse to enable them to do daily work while contributing to the wellbeing of the osteocartilage system.

In case of great physical activity, it is essential to make available to the body sufficient quantities of the substances that stimulate cartilage formation.

Periodic cycles of complementary feeds containing Glucosamine, MSM and Chondroitin sulphate are helpful in supporting joint function and promoting athletic longevity. For more information contact us at info@equiplanet.it.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook.


  • Plasma Concentration of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate in Horses after an Oral Dose. Courtney Ann Welch MS, 2012
  • How exercise influences equine joint homeostasis. Nikae C.R. te Moller, 2017
  • The Effect of Glucosamine and Chondroitin on Stressed Equine Cartilage Explants. R.S. Harlan, 2012
  • Oral Treatment With a Glucosamine-Chondroitin Sulfate Compound for Degenerative Joint Disease in Horses: 25 Cases. R. Reid Hanson, 1997
  • The role of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in treatment for and prevention of osteoarthritis in animals. Kirsten M. Neil, 2005
  • An Analysis Of Glucosamine And Chondroitin Sulfate Content In Oral Joint Supplement Products. David W. Ramey, 2002
  • Effects of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulphate, alone and in combination, on normal and interleukin-1 conditioned equine articular cartilage explant metabolism. J. E. Dechant, 2005
  • Effects of Oral Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfates Supplementation on Frequency of Intra-articular Therapy of the Horse Tarsus Martha R. Rodgers, 2006
  • Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Matthew Butawan, 2016
  • Methylsulfonylmethane is effective against gastric mucosal injury. K Amirshahrokhi, 2017
  • The Effect of Supplemental Lysine and Threonine on Growth and Development of Yearling Horses. P. M. Graham, 1994
  • Comparison of pharmacokinetics of glucosamine and synovial fluid levels following administration of glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. M. Meulyzer, 2008