Keeping Your Performance Horse Sound

Keeping Your Performance Horse Sound

When soundness counts, concentrate on conformation, correct shoeing and proven joint therapy.

close up of dirt flying as red roan reining horse performs a sliding stop (Credit: Alexis J. O'Boyle for Journal)

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From AQHA Corporate Partner Adequan®

As anyone involved in the performance-horse business knows, keeping horses sound and competitive is an ongoing challenge. Trainers, veterinarians and horse owners all agree that performance depends on the sound legs of the horse athlete.


Whether a horse is a high-performing athlete or a recreational companion, the most important factor for soundness is conformation. Starting with a structurally sound individual is critical.

According to Dr. Fred Gardner of Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Garnett, Kansas, “Nothing straightens a crooked leg.” He routinely advises clients to pass on horses that are not structurally correct.

The wear and tear of the training regimen is toughest on horses with conformation issues, which may affect the way the horse travels.

Learn more about how form-to-function conformation affects American Quarter Horses.


The stress of movement due to poor conformation adds wear to joints, but poor shoeing also can make a horse sore.

“A lot of lameness comes from poor shoeing or the horse doesn’t travel correctly to begin with,” Dr. Gardner says.

“Soundness is easier for a structurally correct horse with feet that are in good shape. A farrier can make or break a horse,” he continues. “Good farriers keep feet balanced and horses traveling right, which in turn keeps joint issues to a minimum.”

Joint Health

But even with horses that are structurally sound and properly shod, joints still can become sore during the training regimen. Dr. Gardner studies the horse’s movement and administers Adquan® i.m. if diagnosed with degenerative joint disease (DJD). The use of Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) for treatment early in disease is valuable in keeping horses sound and helping them to perform at the highest level of their capability.

“As you go into training with high amounts of stress on joints and get close to competition, we would implement therapeutic treatment regimens to treat even subtle changes,” Dr. Gardner says.

Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)

By the time the clinical signs of non-infectious degenerative joint disease appear, joint damage may have already begun. That’s why Dr. Gardner and other equine veterinarians recommend a treatment regimen that treats both the symptoms and causes of the disease.

Detecting and treating joint dysfunction before cartilage and/or bone damage occurs can prolong the working life of the performance or pleasure horse. Treating with tried and proven products can produce consistent results.

The Adequan® i.m. Difference for Joint Health

Using medications with FDA approval assures that a product is:

  • Proven safe and effective in controlled studies.
  • Manufactured following FDA purity and potency guidelines.

Unlike corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which may ease the source of pain and decrease inflammation of the synovial membrane, or sodium hyaluronate, Adequan® i.m. breaks the destructive disease cycle associated with osteoarthritis.

Adequan® i .m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan or PSGAG) is an important first-line treatment for DJD due to its ability to produce disease-modifying effects.1 Adequan® i.m. is the only FDA-approved PSGAG proven to help improve joint function by reducing inflammation, restoring joint lubrication, repairing cartilage and reversing the disease cycle.2,3

The demands on show horses, particularly at the top performance level, require attention to detail and a solid plan for maintaining soundness. Soundness programs like Dr. Gardner’s are built upon structural correctness of the horse, great farrier work and Adequan® i.m. to stimulate cartilage repair and restore joint health in traumatized joints.


Discover if Adequan® i.m. is the right choice for your horse. Visit and

Adequan® i.m.
Brand of Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG)

Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is recommended for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses.

There are no known contraindications to the use of intramuscular Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan. Studies have not been conducted to establish safety in breeding horses. WARNING: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. For full prescribing information, click here.

1    McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE. The horse as a model of naturally occurring osteoarthritis. Bone Joint Res 2012; 1: 297-309.
2    Burba DJ, Collier MA, DeBault LE, Hanson-Painton O, Thompson HC, Holder CL: In vivo kinetic study on uptake and distribution of intramuscular tritium-labeled polysulfated glycosaminoglycan in equine body fluid compartments and articular cartilage in an osteochondral defect model. J Equine Vet Sci 1993; 13: 696-703.
3    Adequan® i.m. Package Insert, Rev 1/19.