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What is the most effective joint supplement for horses?

What is the most effective joint supplement for horses?

All horse owners know that joint and tendon degradation is a common occurrence. No matter what activity the horse is involved in, lameness from these two issues is extremely common. 

While most people assume horse racing would place the most stress on a horse’s joints and tendons, other equine sports are equally as challenging and in some cases more so. 

Sports such as cutting , barrel racing and show jumping place a large amount of pressure on a horse’s joints continually. There is a lot of loading of weight and  transferring of weight while changing direction in these sports. Dressage, while more controlled and steady movement still places the horses joints and tendons under prolonged stress. 

For older horses, arthritis is an all to common problem. So with so many horse joint products on the market it’s important to know what are the ingredients to look for and the amount needed to actually assist the horse. 

With horses weighing in excess of 900 pounds and in some cases heavier than 1200 pounds its vital that you find a product that contains the correct ingredients at a level that works. 

The big three ingredients that have been heavily researched and are generally accepted to offer benefit to a horse are Chondroitin , MSM and Glucosamine.  

So lets take a look at these ingredients. 


Chondroitin sulfate is a major structural component of cartilage, bone, and tough connective tissues such as the whites of the eyes. Chondroitin sulfate has been studied much less extensively, but early results show that it also seems to work as an anti-inflammatory and reduces pain. Some laboratory studies suggest that chondroitin sulfate may slow cartilage breakdown associated with osteoarthritis and even stimulate cartilage growth.

An effective dose is between 1,250 and 5,000 mg/day


Glucosamine sulfate functions are the primary building block for proteoglycans, large molecules in cartilage that give it viscoelastic (buffering) properties. When taken orally, glucosamine sulfate is absorbed readily into the system and can be traced to cartilage as soon as four hours after consumption.

Similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine sulfate has been shown to have unique anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, in some laboratory tests, the glucosamine supplement demonstrated a protective effect on the cartilage as well. These studies suggest that glucosamine sulfate may inhibit the breakdown of cartilage associated with osteoarthritis and may have the potential to help build-up cartilage.

It has been shown in many studies Glucosamine HCI is very effective if given at the correct dosage.

Glucosamine-3-sulfate consistently inhibited cartilage degradation in a manner similar to glucosamine hydrochloride . Our results indicate that glucosamine sulfate also has the potential to prevent or reduce articular cartilage degradation similar to glucosamine HCl in vitro. (1)

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is 34% bioavailable sulfur, thereby making it in an exceptionally rich source of easily metabolized sulfur. Sulfur is the 8th most abundant substance in a horse’s body.

Metabolically, sulphur is contained in hormones, enzymes and antibodies. It helps to facilitate the transport of oxygen across cell membranes, is involved in cellular regeneration, assists with a body’s bacteriostasis via increased production of immunoglobulins which boost immunity, and is an important component of insulin and, therefore, the energy generating Krebs cycle (Evans et al 1993). Sulphur is also thought to keep muscles healthy (and properly rested when not contracting) by helping to transport oxygen and remove toxins.

The highest concentration of elemental sulfur in horses is found in the skin, nails, hair and joints. Many of MSM’s benefits have links to its anti-inflammatory action. 

Inflammation is a factor in many health conditions, including arthritis, allergies, and skin conditions. By reducing inflammation, MSM may be able to reduce or eliminate certain symptoms.(2)

MSM has a variety of benefits for horses, including its ability to: 

  • Maintain flexibility and permeability in cell membranes. In other words, this allows for cells in the horse’s body to efficiently and effectively exchange waste and nutrients. It is useful to think of cell membranes as porous borders that control the transfer of a variety of compounds into and out of the cell. 
  • Support the health and strength of connective tissue and the production of collagen. This keeps horses active, athletic, and limber well into their older years. 

A detailed study by Riegel (2001) compared the difference between daily supplementation of 10 and 20g of MSM and found that Standardbreds supplemented 20g of MSM daily showed faster race times, quicker muscle recovery (measured thermographically), better appetite and faster hoof growth than those given 10g.

Many equine joint supplements now combine these three ingredients (among other things). What you will often find, though, is that a product may contain all three ingredients, but the dosage of one, or all three, is low compared to what studies have shown to be effective. Products may claim-or imply-that when the ingredients are combined, you can lower the doses and get the same effect. But this has never been studied or documented.

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin seem to work better together than separately.
  • Combination products work best when they contain the recommended therapeutic dose of each ingredient.
  • MSM is an effective anti-inflammatory when fed at a dose of 20,000 mg/day.

Open Nutrition’s Pro Joint contains all three of these key ingredients at the dosages that have been proven to have an effect on the horse. Pro Joint offers the highest quantity of these three proven ingredients  per serve. Pro Joint is 100% pharmaceutical grade amino acids, there are no fillers only what your horse needs. Pro Joint is the most affordable and effective horse joint formula available. 

Pro Joint Per Serve 1.34oz (38G)

MSM                       20 000mg
Glucosamine HCI   14,000mg
Chondroitin              4000mg  

(1)The effects of glucosamine derivatives on equine articular cartilage degradation in explant culture J. I. Fenton, K. A. Chlebek-Brown, T. L. Peters, J. P. Caron* and M. W. Orth Departments of Animal Science and *Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A. Summary Objective: To determine whether glucosamine-3-sulfate, glucose-3-sulfate (control) and N-acetyl glucosamine inhibit experiment.

(2) Methylsulfonylmethane inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation

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