A Preliminary Investigation Into the Effects of Cortaflex on Equine Mobility
Field Study by Jill Firth - PGDip AM(Dist)
There is no doubt that horses are living longer these days. According to Dr. Kathleen Crandell (2000) from the Kentucky Equine Research Centre, just 100 years ago the horse’s useful working period was between the ages of 5 to 10 years old after which time it was considered aged. These days it is not unusual to find horses in their twenties and even thirties still enjoying a reasonably active life.
Until quite recently, very little research into geriatric equines existed, but a team led by Karyn Malinowski, PhD, at Rutgers University in New Jersey has spent several years investigating older equines, the primary focus being to help the horse lead a longer and healthier life. (Briggs, 1998)
It is generally accepted that older horses move more slowly and their joints, particularly in the limbs, are stiffer (Kamen, 1998). Although very little documented research exists into the effect of ageing on equine mobility, Malinowski’s research found that arthritis was a common condition and the major factor in reducing an older horse’s mobility and enthusiasm for exercise.
The purpose of my study was to investigate whether an orally administered joint nutraceutical could improve mobility in riding school horses and ponies 9 years old or over, some of which were suffering from arthritis.
The study investigated whether Cortaflex®, an orally administered joint nutraceutical, could actually improve mobility in horses and ponies aged 9 years and over, particularly if they were suffering from arthritic conditions of the lower limb.
Twelve horses and ponies aged between 9 years and 25 years (average, 17 years), were chosen to take part in the trial. They ranged between 12 hands and 16 hands and all suffered from varying degrees of stiffness due to age, previous accidents and lameness-producing conditions previously diagnosed by a Veterinary Surgeon.
Stride length was measured for each horse and pony at the start of the study, they were assessed and graded for lameness by a Veterinary Surgeon, and six of the twelve were selected to receive Cortaflex.
Stride length was re-measured at 7 days, 14 days and 28 days, which marked the end of the study, and they were all re-assessed and graded for lameness, by the same Veterinary Surgeon, at 28 days. The results were statistically analysed using the Students’ T-test and considered significant if the p value was less than 0.05.
Within 7 days stride length was significantly improved in the Cortaflex group (p=0.005), with an overall significant improvement throughout the 28 day period of the study (p=0.001). There was also a significant difference in pre-treatment and post treatment lameness scores (p=0.01).
Oral joint nutraceuticals represent a relatively new innovation in the management of degenerative conditions of the joints of horses, dogs and humans yet the concept is quite simple. All the components found in the joint supplement are building blocks in the formation and maintenance of normal articular cartilage and supplementation of these components may be necessary to combat joint degeneration if adequate amounts are not available to the animal.
By supplying more building blocks the body should, in theory, be able to repair itself. These building blocks, namely glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, are termed chondroprotective agents and have been shown to promote the repair of cartilage by stimulating anabolic metabolism of chondrocytes and inhibiting the destructive enzymes found in the osteoarthritic joints of human patients. In addition, glucosamine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in different animal models and it has been proposed that it enhances synovial fluid hyaluronate (joint lubrication). (Hanson et al, 1997)
The benefits felt by the horse, dog and human appear to be less pain and better mobility.
The results of this study are conclusive in that Cortaflex did increase the stride length and reduced the lameness in the adult and elderly horses and ponies taking part in the trial.
© Jill Firth PGDip AM(Dist) 2000 - this article may not be partly or wholly copied, reproduced or quoted without prior written consent of the author