Joint Structures

Every joint has the same basic design. Learn the different structures within a horse's joint.

This joint structures article is part of our Joint and Hoof Health Awareness Month brought to you by Cosequin Joint Health Supplements.

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Simply put, joints are the connections between bones that allow for movement. Every joint has the same basic design made up of the following structures.

Every joint in your horse's body has the same basic design made up of several structures.
Your horse’s joints are made up of several structures, learn what they are and how you can care for his joints.
Photo by cpdprints/

Joint Capsule. A fibrous layer that encloses the entire joint, it contains blood vessels and nerves that help supply nutrients and maintain joint function.

Synovial (joint) membrane. A thin layer of tissue that filters blood and produces synovial fluid.

Synovial Fluid. Fluid released by cells of the synovial membrane that helps cushion the joint. It also provides nutrients to the cartilage and lubrication that facilitates joint movement.

Cartilage. A fibrous, white covering over the ends of the bones that makes up the actual gliding surface of the joint. The cartilage also has shock-absorbing properties that help distribute stresses placed on the joints during movement.

Subchondral Bone. The layer of bone directly below the cartilage that helps absorb shock, and carries nutrients and waste to and from the joint.

Periarticular support structures. Tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint that help maintain stability. Most joints have a pair of collateral ligaments on the medial (inside) and lateral (outside) that provide support, in addition to various other small ligaments that contribute to the joint’s function.

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