Joint supplements! A lot of you use them, and while there is theoretical justification for their use there is still very little science that actual shows a proven benefit in feeding them.
A study just published does however lend some nice information in this area. It is both blinded (i.e. the people feeding the horses, the people assessing the horses for various measures of movement and levels of comfort don’t know if the horses was on the joint treatment or not at the time of assessment so it couldn’t influence what they ‘saw’ and recorded. And the author who analyzed the data was blind to which horse was on what treatment so they too could not be influenced) and is also a crossover study where each horse in the study was on both the joint treatment and the placebo and assessed on both so you could see changes in the same horse as opposed to changes between two different groups of horses where one group is treated and one group given a placebo.
This study also used ‘objective’ measurements of gait using high speed motion capture to assess movement of the hind legs at the trot.
The results are interesting, with significant improvements in lameness scores (less lameness in treated horses), less response to flexion tests and improvements in muscle tone reported (plus many other results).
The full paper is available here for full download for the next week or so (https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/article/pii/S0737080616304749) for those of you interested in reading it.
A good time to remember too that not all joint supplements are created equally as far as the ingredients and amount of ingredient per dose they contain. The supplement used in this study was ‘FlexAbility’, from Science Supplements, UK; it contains chondroitin sulfate 162 g/kg, glucosamine 190 g/kg, vitamin C 80 g/kg, methyl sulfonyl methane 256 g/kg, docosahexaenoic acid 66 g/kg, eicosapentaenoic acid 34 g/kg For those of you who use FeedXL, if you look in the ‘Health’ tab in your results you will see a breadown there of the various joint nutrients and how much of each are in your horse’s diet when you use a joint supplement.