There are many products on the market for horses that suffer from stiffness or joint complaints. Glucosamine products and silicon are the two main options. But which product should you use when? What are the differences? And which supplement works best? We list the information for you.
For joint problems, such as osteoarthritis or joint fluid reduction, you can choose from supplements based on glucosamine (often in combination with chondroitin and MSM), based on herbs or based on hydrolyzed silicon
. In addition, there are some analgesic products on the market, such as the vegetable devil's claw or cannabinoids. However, the herb devil's clauw is not suitable for competition horses, because it is on the doping list. Cannabinoids extracted from clove plants
also have a positive effect on the joints and are anti anti-inflammatory and analgesic. These are suitable for competition horses.
From synovial fluid to bone production
Stiffness and pain in movement can arise in different places. All joints have mucous membranes and synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant. If the mucous membranes become irritated (such as happens with tibia inflammation in runners), it causes pain. As you age, the amount and thickness of the synovial fluid often decreases. That also leads to less smooth movements. In addition, the quality of the cartilage is also important, because cartilage forms a kind of "pad" in the joints. Finally, the bones themselves must be strong. Greater bone density means fewer fractures, cracks and injuries. So when we talk about supplements for the joints, we are talking about a number of different processes.
Difference 1: Operation
Glucosamine is the main building block for cartilage, synovial fluid, tendons and ligaments. Chondroitin is one of the main components of cartilage and MSM fights joint inflammation and has an analgesic effect. When you feed a glucosamine product, you provide the molecules that the body needs, ready to use. Silicon works differently: it stimulates all parts of the joints from "outside to inside" and ensures that the body itself produces the necessary building materials such as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Silicon doesn't have an analgesic effect. Therefore we advise it to combine silicon
with cannabinoids from cloves
to have a high therapeutic level of natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
Difference 2: Completion versus creation
Glucosamine can be made by the body itself. If you give it as a supplement, it must first be transported through the intestines through the blood to the cells of the joints and capsules. That is an indirect route and research shows that a lot of glucosamine is lost along the way in the body. The body's own production of glucosamine is stimulated by hydrolysed silicon. Studies show that this absorbable form of silicon works well. It starts with a greater production of synovial fluid and a positive influence on the tendons and the production of collagen in the connective tissue. Silicon first stimulates the cartilage and coat and then it enters the bones, where bone production is supported. The latter does take a while, by the way, so you really have to give silicon longer to see the full effect. Most of the times you see results in two to three months.
Difference 3: Absorbability
It is thought that only orally 8% of glucosamine and chrondoitin is taken up by the body of horses. This is evident from a number of studies. Solid silicon is not absorbed by the body. But in hydrolysed form, silicon is very easily absorbed. Silicon supplements are therefore always made from this hydrolysed form and therefore liquid. Read more about why liquid silicon is absorbable here.
Difference 4: Proven effects
Due to the differences in mechanism of action and absorbability, there is also a difference in effectiveness between glucosamine and silicon. Studies of the effect of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements show mixed and usually limited results. Studies into the effectiveness of silicon are very positive. Long-term use in particular provides demonstrable reduction in stiffness and joint problems. Studies of dietary supplements of silicon in growing horses show an improved bone quality. Another study concluded that adding bio-absorbable silicon improves the performance and durability of racehorses and prevents injuries.
Difference 5: Positive "side effects" of silicon
In addition to the effect on the joints, silicon has a few positive "side effects". It probably plays a role in immune processes and inflammatory responses. If there is too little silicon in the diet, it gives lower immunity and more violent inflammatory reactions. The addition of hydrolysed silicon also ensures that horses eat less sand and therefore run less risk of sand colic. And finally, silicon is very good for your horse's hooves and coat.
Difference 6: Origin
Glucosamine is often made from shellfish. This is a non-natural food for horses and, moreover, not always obtained from sustainable fisheries. Silicon oxide is made from the mineral silicon, which is found in large quantities in the earth's crust and in sand, but also in plants such as nettle. Silicon is best absorbed by the body in hydrolized form.
Silicon stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans by the body itself. As a result, all these created substances end up in the right place. Only about 8% of the supplementation of glucosamine is absorbed by the body. Hence, the results of scientific studies on silica are more positive than those of glucosamine. Because glucosamine is often fed with MSM and chrondoietin, horse owners do notice a difference. However, these two substances that make the difference, because they have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. Every horse is different. That is why silicon works well for one horse, but cannabinoids or herbs for the other horse. For all supplements, you can only see good results after two to three months. This has to do with the fact that joints are tissues with a slow blood flow and a slow metabolism. To know whether a supplement works well, you must first give it two to three months.
What when to give?
Scientific research has shown that when younger horses are fed silicon, an improved bone quality can be seen. That is why silicon is highly recommended for growing sport horses. Do you have a horse with joint problems? Then the cause is decisive.
- In case of mild arthrosis and stiffness, the mineral silicon is recommended. This makes the tissues of the joints stronger. This is in HELTIE horse® Silicon.
- Is your horse clearly suffering from joint wear or is it an older horse than its cannabinoids a good alternative. This also works as an analgesic. HELTIE horse® Cannabidol is made from various clove plants and is full of cannabinoids.
- For crystallization of uric acid in the joints, we recommend HELTIE horse® Joints.
Please note, joint wear is irreversible. A supplement is not going to change this, but ensures that it is not becoming worse and supports the horse. Every horse is different and reacts differently to natural products. In some cases, a combination of products can provide the best results. All our products can be combined with each other.