Dietary additives could help protect young quarter horses from arthritis

mare and foal walk side by side in green field

Early intervention is the best solution to prevent arthritis in young quarter horses, research at Texas A&M University suggests.

Josie Coverdale, associate professor in equine science, and Jessica Lucia, a former Texas A&M graduate student who is now an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University, found use of anti-inflammatory aids mixed with daily rations can help decrease joint inflammation in young horses.

“Arthritis is one of the most common reasons we retire horses, and this study shows that prevention of joint damage in early training may be possible through diet,” Coverdale said. “It’s pretty clear the damage comes during early training and that damage often leads to arthritis later in life.”

Coverdale said they used the horse production herd at Texas A&M to develop the model and test several diet additives, including anti-inflammatory dietary supplements such as glucosamine, which is commonly used by runners to aid in building back damaged cartilage.

The research “confirmed that intervening during times of early growth and training with some of these dietary additives is worth it,” Coverdale said. “Waiting on down the line as the horse ages is probably too late. Most people are waiting until they see symptoms in these adult horses and by then it is too late.

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