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14 February

What Joint Supplement for my Competition Horse? (how do I know its FEI legal?)

author image Kate Jupp Kate Jupp
What Joint Supplement for my Competition Horse? (how do I know its FEI legal?) image

Our competition horses and ponies have the same basic needs as any other, they require access to clean water and good quality forage at all times. On top of this we can tailor their diet to support any additional nutritional requirements they have due to a higher workload. A degree of this will be with suitable high-quality concentrates for a balanced diet which we can add supplements to.

1. Joint and muscle supplements

Our competition horses are likely to put their Musculoskeletal systems under great stress and will benefit from additional support. 

On the supplement shelf you’ll find a vast array of products containing: 

  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a bioavailable source of sulphur. Initial studies have shown that MSM can help reduce the inflammation and degradation of cartilage. Indeed, it acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mediator.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are often used together to support cartilage and the synovial fluid health. It is worth noting that glucosamine and chondroitin are not absorbed by the horse’s body very well and it may be necessary to feed a large amount for it to be effective. Feeding it alongside sulphur can improve effectiveness. 
  • Hyaluronic acid is a component of the synovial fluid, the lubricant of the joint. It also contributes to the health and elasticity of cartilage.
  • Omega 3s or fatty acids. You may be familiar with these especially if you’ve read our blog on supplements for the skin’s health. In addition to the beneficial effect on skin, they help support the joints thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

On your traditional herbalist’s shelf, you will find many herbs to support the joints and muscles: 

  • Boswellia: contains boswellic Acids which has been shown to have anti-inflammatories properties. Boswellia serrata: A real “PLUS” in the herb world.

  • Turmeric: a tuber rich in curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. It is often paired up with black pepper containing pipeline to improve the uptake by the body.

Note: Devil’s claw is an herb traditionally used to support the musckuloskeltal system, however it’s active principal the harpagoside is on the FEI list of ban substances.

Our Multi-Flex PLUS supplement has herbs to help support blood circulation (hawthorn, nettle) muscular and joint aches and pains (Black cohosh, curcuma & black pepper, meadowsweet, Boswellia) energy and recovery (Siberian ginseng) and Liver support (Milk Thistle).

Regular treatments from a registered physiotherapist or similar practitioner can also help to keep muscles and joints supple and functioning fully.  

Useful Reading:

 Siberian ginseng in human athletes

2. Vitamins and Minerals 

Vitamins, minerals and amino acids are essential for the horses’ bodies to function efficiently.  They are the building blocks for repairing micro damage that occurs in muscles, tendons and joints during hard work. There are many broad-spectrum supplements designed to ensure the correct amount is received. Many good quality horse feeds contain the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals, so for horses in hard work they may receive the majority of the vitamins and minerals that they require from their hard feed. 

If you’re looking for a natural source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, Seaweed is the herb to look for. The Seaweed combined with rosehips (a great source of vitamin C) in Hilton Herbs Hoof & Health can provide a valuable supplement for those on lower quantities of hard feed and competing at low levels.

3. Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals dissolved in the blood and tissues of the body. They carry a positive or negative charge and can bind with another ion to make a salt. In this way they help keep a correct balance of fluids in the body’s cells essential for muscle function and the processing of waste products produced during exercise.  Poor muscular function can lead to damage in tendons, ligaments and even joint pain.  The main electrolytes are: Sodium (Na+), Chloride (Cl-), Potassium (K+), Magnesium (Mg2+) and Calcium (Ca2+). Horses loose electrolytes thought sweating, urine and faeces. Competition horses often sweat more due to the increased amount of exercise, this increases the need to replace the electrolytes by adding them to the horses feed or water. A lack of electrolytes can lead to dehydration and aggravate issues such as exercise induced rhabdomyolysis (tying up). Electrolytes can be fed by adding one of an array of powders and pastes on the market. Alternatively, you can make your own using table salt (NaCl) and Low-Salt (KCl) in a ratio of 2:1 to supply the 3 key elements. 

You can provide a Himalayan salt lick for free feeding however horses are not the best at self-regulation so during periods of intense training and competition additional supplementation and regulation is advisable. Himalayan granules can be used instead of table salt, this salt provides trace minerals, calcium, potassium, and magnesium that aren’t in table salt but with slightly less sodium provided you will need to feed about 1/3 more than regular table salt. 

Helpful reading:

Castle Horse Feeds - Electrolyes for Horses 

4. How do I know if a supplement can be use in competition ?

There are many supplements available on the market and it can be hard to know if they are competition legal. First and foremost, always to check the rule book of your chosen discipline as it may vary from one governing body to the next. 

Our PLUS products have been independently tested for NOPs and are FEI clean sport compliant. For your piece of mind, you can find all the test results on the product pages. 

For most herbal supplements that are not NOPs tested we recommend they are withdrawn 24-48 hrs prior to competition.  For withdrawal periods when feeding herbs such as Devils Claw that is not FEI legal please contact the helpline for further information Contact Us

Our Product Suggestions:

author image About Kate Jupp Kate Jupp

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