Preventing Joint Injuries in the Performance Horse
By Purina Canada
Though powerful, horses are also fragile. Since we are consistently pushing their limits, performance horses are the most vulnerable of all. The saying, “Illness comes on horseback but departs on foot,” could easily be referring to the joint injuries that afflict far too many of our horses. Unfortunately, these injuries are quite difficult to treat. Our best option is to use nutrition as a simple and effective prevention strategy.
First off, all horses must be provided with a food program that is able to fulfill all of their nutritional needs. This includes sufficient quantities of water, energy (calories), fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Each of these nutrients must not only be served in adequate quantities, but also according to the correct ratios.
Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, and manganese may act as cofactors in the production of the tissues and structural materials required for building joints. Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of collagen (Duren, 2005). Collagen is a family of fibrous proteins. The fibres in collagen allow cartilage to resist forces of tension; collagen’s effect might be compared to a sort of glue. As for vitamin C, we require more research to determine its precise role. During the first years of life, before your horse reaches performance age, ensuring adequate nutrition will prevent any developmental orthopedic problems caused by dietary deficiencies. By age two, foals are ready to gradually begin to train in preparation for their intended discipline. The equine advisers at Purina would be happy to help set you up with a complete and balanced nutritional program that meets your young horse’s needs.
Sport horses typically have higher nutritional needs, especially when it comes to vitamins and minerals, whose minimum requirements increase with exercise. Compensatory supplements such as Equilizer and Optimal are excellent products which help balance your horse’s ration and promote optimal health and performance.
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