Ask Horse Journal: MSM, Turnout Injuries, Wasted Supplements

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MSM

Horse Journal is my go-to publication for all supplement questions, but I have not found an answer to this. The lesson mare I ride is more than 20 years old and has had a hard life. I've been buying supplements to help alleviate her arthritis. She has been on? 35,000 mg MSM daily plus joint/Omega 3 supplements and one to balance the mineral profile.

Today my trainer said MSM caused liver damage and joint lock-up in horses. Are there any documented reports on this' I read that a maintenance dose of MSM is listed at 10,000 mg/day. Does this mean I should drop to this when all the symptoms have been alleviated'

?Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller DVM responds: Quite ironically, MSM has been shown to be beneficial for horses?with liver disease.? Isn?t that always the case in the horse world?people pass on what they think they heard'?I am not sure what you mean by ?joint lock-up,? but MSM is instrumental in reducing joint inflamation by scavenging free radicals.?At a dose of 28,000 mg per day, it will numb nerve endings, making it a useful painkiller.? Vets routinely tell horse owners to give this dose to horses? daily. There are no articles linking it to deleterious side-effects.

TURNOUT = INJURY

At the age of 2, my now 4-year-old horse went from a fancy Arabian breeding facility to the backyard of (no-joke) a rock star, where he was spoiled for two years. Every time I try to introduce him into the pasture at the boarding facility, he gets kicked and put back in a stall so I can tend to his leg injuries. I would prefer for him to be at pasture, as I firmly believe in a more natural horse setting. Can you suggest anything I can do'

Performance Editor John Strassburger responds: I think your horse has a classic case of social ineptitude, because He's never learned how to properly?and safely?interact with his own kind.

I'd bet that his lack of education started at the breeding farm. Probably, in the name of preventing injuries that might mar his beauty, the only horse he ever shared a field with was his mother. And likely he was alone during his ?rock star? phase too.

So he never learned to live within the mechanics of the herd and never learned to automatically read the body language of other horses?ears back, a raised foot, barred teeth. He's probably surprised when he blunders into another horse or tries to eat their hay and gets kicked, bitten or slammed into the fence. We've had a few horses like this, and one of them never did fully understand horse language.

You may never be able to completely overcome his social ineptitude, and keeping him at a boarding stable, where your options are limited, will make it more difficult. But here are some suggestions:

Start by turning him out in a paddock near other horses, if the fences are separated by an aisle or topped with electric fence, so that no horses can accidentally get caught in the fence if they kick at one another. If you can't do that, try putting him in a medium-sized paddock with one other horse, preferably a horse who is not aggressive but is no-nonsense. (No hind shoes on either horse!) Perhaps this horse will teach him enough of the ways of horses to move forward.

Then, after a month or two, try introducing him and his companion to a larger group (again not with horses wearing hind shoes). And if those horses get fed together, ask that he be removed at feeding time, as that's when his social ineptitude will be the biggest problem.

Then just keep slowly trying to help him adjust, understanding that he may be limited to a life of isolation, for his own good. You can't continue to risk injury.

WASTED SUPPLEMENT

I give my horse a powdered joint supplement, but there is usually some residue left on the sides and bottom of the bucket. I wonder if I am wasting my money. Is it better to feed a liquid joint supplement that would soak into the grain' Or is there a way to feed the powder that ensures it isn?t lost in the bottom of the bucket'

Contributing Farrier Editor Lee Foley responds:? This is a common problem, especially as We've all learned that the moist sweet feeds we used to use aren?t always the best choice. Certainly, you can choose a liquid supplement. Stir it up well, so it doesn't just pool at the bottom of the bucket. You can also choose a pelleted product.

If you want to stick with a powder, add a small amount of water to the grain, making it damp. That will help the powder adhere better. We used that method for years before we added a liquid coat supplement, which also made the grain damp.

Other ?sticky? additives include applesauce or chopped carrots or apples. You can also add a little wheat bran or beet pulp mixed with water (use twice as much water as bran or pulp), then mix the concoction into the horse's grain. Feed immediately.