I explained my skepticism and past experience with supplements in my first post about my supplement story. I also stated that I chose to try again and put Ax back onto a joint supplement, but I left you hanging as to why I chose SmartFlex® Senior Herb-Free.
To back track slightly, when I first started leasing Ax he was already on a joint/hoot/coat supplement combo, but we weren’t sure he needed it and decided to take him off of it. He was fine for two years and then I started to notice a little stiffness in the hock that he had surgery on years before I got him due to OCD. The combination of the old injury and an increasing workload was showing itself, especially with the cold weather. He wasn’t in pain and he wasn’t lame by any means, his gaits just weren’t as fluid at the start of our ride. After a long and low warm up, he would work out of the stiffness and be back to his normal self.
I know that one of the principles of joint neutraceuticals is to start early as a preventative measure and some may think that I have made my decision to start back up a little late, but I still want to take action before it gets worse. I am not a fan of injections because, as many know, once you start injections you can’t stop. I chose to go with the less invasive route and try an oral supplement before jumping into injecting. And so began my search for the right supplement.
I am not by any any means an expert on this kind of stuff, so I started out by doing research on what one should look for in a joint supplement. I attended a SmartPak Academy session on joint supplements that was extremely helpful to my decision-making. After a few weeks, I complied a list of everything I wanted:
- Hyaluronic Acid – An essential component of synovial fluid and articular cartilage.
- Glucosamine – Combats cartilage breakdown and supports new cartilage growth.
- MSM – Builds and repairs cartilage.
- Chondroitin – Encourages HA production and fights cartilage breakdown.
- Pellet form – He tends to be a messy eater and pellets are more likely to be fully consumed.
- Relatively in-expensive – I need to be able to afford it on a monthly basis.
- Available in SmartPaks – We move around a lot throughout the year and “one scoop” can mean different things to different people. This one is essential.
Next came lots of researching and comparing different supplements. I started by looking at what he previously on, Horse Health Products Joint Combo Hoof & Coat, and comparing it to other supplements offered by SmartPak. I had taken the SmartFlex Finder and was suggested the SmartFlex® III Resilience Pellets, but wasn’t sure Ax needed that much supplementation to start out with. I used their comparison tool to look at some of the SmartFlex products side by side including I Maintenance, II Support, III Resilience, IV Ultimate, and Senior Herb-Free.
I quickly eliminated SmartFlex I Maintenance and SmartFlex II Support due to their lack of Chondroitin and HA. I chose not to consider the regular SmartFlex Senior as it has devils claw, a USEF-banned substance. I then took the remaining SmartFlex products and compared them to his old supplement.
I knew that I was not going to go back to the Joint Combo Hoof and Coat supplement since it is missing HA and is still just as expensive as some of the others. I decided to use it as a baseline for the amount of each component in the others in order to choose a more effective supplement.
Because there was no HA in the joint combo, anything that contained HA would be better and I found most to have between 50 – 150 mg. The joint combo had only 1,800 mg of glucosamine while the SmartFlex III and IV has 10,000 mg, that is five times as much, and the senior had a little less at 8,000 mg. The amount of chondroitin was a little closer with 600 mg in the joint combo, 700mg in the senior, and 1,000mg in the II and IV. The biggest difference between the combo and the smartsupplements is the amount of MSM. With the joint combo only having 750 mg of MSM while the III and IV have 10,000 mg, that is over thirteen times that in the joint combo, and the senior has 12,000 mg.
Now came the time to decide what components of the supplements I felt were more important to have a larger amount of and what I was going to be overpaying for. I also did not want to jump into an overbearing supplement that had high numbers in case I would have to up the amounts of the components in the future. AKA, it it easier to start low and work your way up as opposed to starting at the top and having nowhere to go. I was content with the amount of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM in any of the smartsupplements, so I was mostly looking at HA.
So why did I choose SmartFlex® Senior Herb-Free if it contained less than the others? Because even though the majority of the amounts in the senior were lower than those in the III and IV, the levels were comparable. I chose to start Ax on the supplement with slightly less quantity so there will be room to “upgrade” to a more intense supplement in the future. So far I am extremely happy with my decision.
To be continued…