Question: We have a 12yo 16.2h quarter horse; she is built like a thoroughbred, long and lean. Since age 5 she was used strictly as an eventing/hunter/jumper. Two years ago she went from year-round work; to no winter conditioning and still being expected to perform in the 3-4 mo summer. She had no supplementation and was fed on local hay/grass which is an extremely deficient forage.

When she arrived her hooves were terrible but hair was in good condition. Within a short time she started to relax and previous injuries surfaced. The most significant was her lumbar area; muscle tone there was depleted and she was able to put her back out just by rolling. She has responded well to massage and supplementation, but now has pulled the sensory ligament on her foreleg.

Right now we have icy condition and cold temperatures. Her hay comes from Washington, but there is no hay analysis because it comes from different suppliers. We are going to do a hair analysis, but in the meantime I know she needs collagen building and anti-inflammation along with a better overall supplement. This is an iron rich area, so most horses are copper and zinc deficient. Initially, I was going to use Devil's Claw Plus with Lubrigen but noticed they both contained equal amounts yucca and boswellia – I also considered Cell Mass for collagen building.

Any input would be appreciated. I would love to see her on a program to support relief and strengthening.

Dr. Kellon: The first thing  I would do is get her started on U-Balance Foundation which is formulated specifically for high iron and manganese/low zinc and copper areas.
Copper deficiency has a very negative impact on connective tissue/tendon and ligament integrity. Copper is required for function of the lysyl oxidase enzyme which forms the strengthening crosslinks between collagen strands.  The most abundant amino acids in collagen are nonessential, meaning the body can manufacture them and they don't have to be supplied in the diet.  However, lysine, threonine and methionine are also needed (for hoof integrity as well) and you can supplement these with Tri Amino to boost the levels already present in U Balance Foundation.

 

Vitamin C is also essential for connective tissue but supplementing must be done cautiously in an iron overloaded horse because it can be pro-inflammatory in those conditions.  The horse's body manufactures enough vitamin C to avoid full blown deficiencies, but not necessarily enough for optimal health. Supplement no more than 4 to 5 grams/day, in divided doses.  For antioxidant and muscle support also supplement with liquid E-50, 2 tsp/day for 1 month then 1 tsp/day.

 

Once the nutritional base is under your horse, her own antioxidant defense systems will be operating and you may not need further inflammatory support, but if you are looking for something to combine with that for joint support the, most potent product is Arthroxigen.