Joint Problems in the Off-the-track Thoroughbred
Thoroughbreds experience a lot of stress on their joints starting at an early age. Daily wear and tear, injuries, conformation, and aging all contribute to damage that causes joint inflammation and pain. There is probably not a Thoroughbred coming off the track that couldn’t benefit from a joint supplement. In healthy joints, the ends of the bones are coated with a thin layer of friction-reducing tissue known as articular cartilage. The articular cartilage contains synovial fluid, a thick liquid that serves two primary functions: (1) as a source of nutrients for the articular cartilage, and (2) as a lubricant and shock absorber for the bones that form a joint. Lameness can result when damage occurs to any joint tissue, whether it involves the bones, articular cartilages, or synovial membranes. Supplementing with a high-quality glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid supplement minimizes inflammation and aids in the repair of damaged or stressed joints. It is essential that enough is provided so adequate levels can be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the joints.
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce swelling and pain in the affected joints of horses with arthritis. When research horses were fed omega-3 fatty acids their length of stride increased, which indicates improved soundness. Horses evolved to exist on a grass-based diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6 fatty acids. The modern equine diet tends to include ingredients that are high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids, throwing the critical 6 to 3 ratio out of whack. Omega fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be provided in the diet. The omega-6 series typically has a pro-inflammatory effect in the body, whereas the omega-3 series tends to promote an anti-inflammatory response. A healthy diet will provide omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the proper ratio. When a horse is recovering from an injury, it is critical that the proper 6 to 3 ratio be maintained to support low inflammation levels that speed healing.
Training an off-the-track Thoroughbred is a rewarding experience. OTTBs have shown they are versatile among all the disciplines. In this series we tackled some of the common nutritional problems seen during the transition of off-the-track Thoroughbreds to a new career and beyond. Our mission at Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is to simplify your search for research-proven supplements that meet the challenges your off-the-track Thoroughbred may face.