The competition horse is a true athlete, and regular jumping places high level demand onto the tendons, ligaments and bones and muscles especially in the sensitive equine limbs. For this reason supporting healthy joints is fundamental to performance. 
 

What does the joint do?

Where two or more bones meet within the body it creates what is considered as a joint. Joints allow the limbs to bend and the equine back to flex. The joining bones are covered by cartilage which is smooth in texture thus enabling the joint to move without friction. The joint itself is stabilised by an array of interconnecting and surrounding ligaments. The most mobile of the joints in the body are the synovial joints which are filled with synovial fluid in a surrounding joint capsule. An example of this type of joint is the hock joint. 
 

What can we do to support the Equine Joints? 

Wear and tear on joints can occur at any age; however performance animals, such as those jumping, are often particularly susceptible to joint issues simply as a result of regular use and over exertion.
Firstly, where possible horse owners should take precautions to avoid undue trauma to the competition horse’s limbs. This may mean choosing not to compete on certain surfaces, avoiding any hazards and always keeping the show jumper's feet correctly trimmed and regularly shod. It is also essential to allow each and every horse sufficient periods of rest between workloads in order for the body to recover from each session.  
 
When schooling, the rider should refine their own and their equine’s techniques especially when jumping to avoid the horse developing any bad habits which can cause a heavy mechanical load resulting in excessive stress on the joints. In addition it is vital to vary the activities the equine takes part in and offer a variety of work including hacking, lungeing and flatwork as well as jumping to avoid repetition of stressful movements. 
Excellent nutrition is vital for the show jumper and a balanced diet which is rich in quality nutrients is required. It may also be beneficial to provide the horse with a joint supplement, even from a young age, in order to support healthy joints throughout their career.