Last updated on September 25, 2023
Arthritis is just as common a problem in horses as it is in humans. In general terms, arthritis is a progressive condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints. If left unchecked, it can lead to permanent joint deterioration resulting in lameness. There are several different types of arthritis, but all of them start with inflammation in the joint and then continue to break down the cartilage between the joint bones. This causes decreased range of motion, pain, stiffness, and more inflammation. Performance horses are highly susceptible to arthritis due to the high-impact nature of their rigorous exercise. According to a study done in Canada on 50 Thoroughbred racehorses, 30% of the two and three old racehorses in the study had osteoarthritis. 
Help for Horses with Arthritis
But much like humans, arthritis can also set in as the horse gets older and the cartilage starts its natural deterioration. Even aging wild mustangs have shown signs of arthritis, as found by a study in 1999 in the Equine Vet Journal.  Arthritis is not reversible or necessarily totally preventable, but there are some things that you can do to stave off the damage and progression of the disease.
1. Reduce Inflammation
- Regardless of the type of arthritis, inflammation is the driving factor behind damage, swelling and pain.
- You can keep inflammation at bay with feeding a high-quality feed, detoxing your horse of heavy metals and other toxins, and making sure they have a healthy gut.
- Being free of heavy metal toxins allows the body to do what it needs to do, and many chronic problems disappear. Detoxing improves the circulatory system and allows blood to flow better, which is key to performance, stamina, and recovery.
- Foundation Daily Detox and NuTrack Digestive Support are the top two supplements for horses with arthritis because they keep your horse’s body healthy and help prevent inflammation. They work to flush the body of all harmful toxins, and allow the gut to properly digest and absorb nutrients.
- FDD and NuTrack are full of vital nutrients, as well as naturally anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote healing and reduce pain.
- FDD contains methylsulfonylmethane which promotes collagen productions, and hyaluronic acid which helps keep the joints lubricated.
- If your vet thinks it’s appropriate, arthritic inflammation can also be treated with corticosteroids and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), among other prescription treatments. 
2. Keep Up on Exercise
- Gentle exercise on soft ground has been proven to help condition the joints and prevent a decrease in range of motion in arthritic horses. Exercise also keeps the muscles around the joint strong enough to prevent instability or poor posture.
- Make sure to have a slow warmup (about 15-20 minutes) before increasing to a trot and canter. Give walk breaks as needed and pay attention to proper movements. 
- Regular exercise also helps maintain a proper weight, which reduces the stress on joints.
3. Give High Quality Joint Supplements for Horses with Arthritis
- Oral joint supplements for horses with arthritis give your horse key nutrients that help prevent further joint damage and support healthy joint and cartilage function.
- Look for hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and methylsulfonylmethane which help keep joints lubricated.
- Animal Element’s Finish 1st Advanced Joint Supplement is specifically designed to increase the health of performance horses joints with the ingredients of Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Cetyl Myristoleate, Hyaluronic Acid, Methylsulfonylmethane. Also included is a handful of herbs and vitamins with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Cissus Quadrangularis is a succulent plant found in India and Southeast Asia renowned for its ability to heal fractured bones and support joint health. Animal Element has formulated it as a joint supplement for horses because it inhibits cortisol from breaking down muscle and bone when bodies are under stress. It also increases collagen production that can lead to faster injury recovery time. As the best joint supplement for horses, cissus has also been known to aid in pain management and connective tissue regeneration.
- Ultra Pure MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic source of sulfur. This mineral is found naturally in plants and protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs and legumes. It’s used as a joint supplement for horses with arthritis because sulfur is necessary for the production of collagen. Collagen is the main structural component of cartilage and connective tissue.
Work with Your Vet to Make Game Plan
It is important to remember that every horse will show symptoms, manage pain, and react to treatments in a way that is unique to them. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to consult with your veterinarian on diagnosis and treatment. We are not veterinarian professionals, but do believe in offering all-natural products to help give your horse their best life. All of our products are blended with specific ingredients to target inflammation, boost the immune system, and increase the overall health of your horse.
For a comprehensive list of ingredients used in Animal Element products, please visit our ingredients page. If you have not tried it yet, we recommend you start feeding Foundation Daily Detox and NuTrack. This will lay the foundation of health and start reducing inflammation immediately. If your horse needs more help in the joint health departments, Cissus Quadrangularis and Finish 1st Advanced Joint Supplement are the perfect supplements for horses with arthritis.
Content is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your veterinarian. Proudly written by the team at FaithHanan.com for Animal Element.
- Kaneps, Andres J. “Arthritis in Horses-Treating and Maintaining Healthy Joints.” SmartPak Equine, February 3, 2023. https://www.smartpakequine.com/learn-health/arthritis-in-horses
- Cantley CE, Firth EC, Delahunt JW, Pfeiffer DU, Thompson KG. Naturally occurring osteoarthritis in the metacarpophalangeal joints of wild horses. Equine Vet J. 1999.
- Bazay, Casie. “Arthritis in Horses: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Management.” MadBarn, November 9, 2021. https://madbarn.com/arthritis-in-horses/#:~:text=Osteoarthritis%20(OA),cause%20of%20lameness%20in%20horses.
- Larson, Erica. “Conditioning Arthritic Horses: Do’s and Don’ts.” The Horse, April 22, 2022.https://thehorse.com/187286/conditioning-arthritic-horses-dos-and-donts/