KY Performance Products: Joint Problems in OTTBs

Are you an OTTB lover or looking to transition your first horse off the track? Kentucky Performance Products’ six-part series on health and nutrition considerations for the OTTBs is your go-to source!


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.

Read part 1: Transitioning the OTTB to a new career

Read part 2: Ulcers and digestive tract imbalances in the OTTB

Read part 3: Meeting the energy requirements of the OTTB

Read part 4: Muscle problems in the OTTB

Read part 5: Hoof and coat problems facing the OTTB

Article written by KPP staff.

Copyright (C) 2016 Kentucky Performance Products, LLC.   All rights reserved.

When health issues arise, always seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian who can help you choose the correct course of action for your horse. Supplements are intended to maintain healthy systems and support recovery and healing. They are not intended to treat or cure illness or injury.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC: Since 1998, Kentucky Performance Products has simplified a horse owner’s search for research-proven nutritional horse supplements that meet the challenges facing modern horses. KPP horse supplements target specific nutritional needs and are formulated to complement today’s feeds, thus safeguarding against over-supplementation. Each product is scientifically formulated and made with high-quality ingredients at certified manufacturing facilities. Kentucky Performance Products is proud to offer a quality assurance promise backed by a money-back guarantee. Kentucky Performance Products brings you horse supplements you can count on because the horse that matters to you, matters to us.

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