Glucosamine for Horses Explained


Glucosamine is a name that you may be familiar with as it is an ingredient regularly used in horse joint supplements. There are many types of different ingredients used to formulate supplements, but Glucosamine can almost always be found as the first ingredient.

Here, we take a closer look at what Glucosamine is, the types available, how it works, and the overall benefits of taking this ingredient.

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a natural amino sugar. It can be most commonly found in and around the fluid and tissue (cartilage) that cushion the joints. This substance is present in the hard covering of shellfish which is often harvested to be included in supplements. More often than not you will find supplements that include Glucosamine to contain shellfish, but it isn’t always naturally sourced and can also be made in a factory.

What are the benefits of Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is probably an ingredient name you may recognise, as it is used so widely in horse joint supplements specifically. It helps to build cartilage around the tough connective tissue that protects the joint. Ultimately this helps to protect the joint for much longer.

It aims to reduce arthritic pain and might help to decrease the frequency of joint injections your horse needs. Its lubricating properties act as a shock absorber which effectively cushions the joint during exercise. It is a fast-acting ingredient that can relieve pain sometimes as quickly as 10-15 days.

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Much research has been carried out on Glucosamine for horses. It has been praised for its soothing effects and reduction in arthritic pain. This is a key ingredient in most joint supplements and is proven to be one of the most effective ways to combat joint pain.

What does Glucosamine Work Well With?

You will quite often find that supplements contain other ingredients in addition to Glucosamine. MSM, Chondroitin, and Hyaluronic Acids are all ingredients pretty common to find. Glucosamine works particularly well with all of these ingredients, in particular Chondroitin. It’s true to say it isn’t a pain reliever in its own right, however, it is known to be very effective when working closely together Glucosamine. Together, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are a very effective pain reliever and are designed to take the edge off. It helps to delay the cartilage deterioration rate, whilst still managing the pain associated with arthritis, which can be particularly troublesome for horses.

Types of Glucosamine

Glucosamine comes in several forms and it is fair to say that these variants have different effects when taken as a supplement. The three main forms found are:

  • Glucosamine sulfate
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride
  • N-acetyl-glucosamine

Glucosamine Sulfate is the most common type and used regularly in supplements taken orally. It can be taken in a powder form which is ideal for mixing into horse’s feeds, but can also come in a tablet form too.

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Glucosamine hydrochloride can also be seen regularly in horse joint supplements but contains a much higher content of the ingredient compared with the later (around 99% compared with 60%).

What Types of Horses Can Benefit From Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is known to be particularly effective for horses that suffer from joint problems and arthritis. This is why it is regularly used in horse joint supplements as the main ingredient. There are many reasons why you would choose to supplement your horse with Glucosamine. This usually boils down to the type of work your horse does or the time of year. Some types of equestrian activities take its toll on joints more than others and some examples of horses that may highly benefit from Glucosamine are:

  • Dressage – extension and precise movements take its toll on joints
  • Jumping – the impact of landing can have a massive effect on horse’s joints
  • Cross Country – the combination of landing heavily from jumps and hard ground (grass)
  • Endurance – The impact of rough terrain for long periods
  • Driving – Hock and Stifle issues are common from wear and tear through intense competition
  • Horses on poor surfaces – this would apply to horses that do lots of road work on hard tarmac surfaces
  • Older Horse’s – As horses age, arthritis is a common and painful condition that requires management


Research has shown Glucosamine to be a very effective ingredient in many supplements, in particular for those related to joint issues. It is an extremely powerful, fast-acting ingredient that works well together with Chondroitin to create a maximum effect. This is one of the reasons why it is so frequently used in horse joint supplements to assist with pain, inflammation and help build cartilage around the tough connective tissue that protects the joint.

Overall, the effects of using Glucosamine for joint related issues are very positive which is why so many manufacturers choose to include this ingredient in their formulas.

Check out our full review of Best Joint Supplements for Horses here.

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