How to Choose the Best Supplements for Your Horse
Whether you have a competition horse or a pasture pal, good nutrition is essential for any horse to feel their best. With all the different types of grains, feeds, hays, and supplements, deciding which are best for your horse can feel overwhelming. Sometimes horses can get all the vitamins and minerals from their daily feed. But in some cases, they may need supplements.
Why Use Supplements?
Supplements can help your horse stay healthy by providing a well-balanced diet and adding extra support. For example, competition horses with intense training and performances often benefit from joint support and electrolytes. Older horses often require additional dietary support to maintain optimum health.
What to Consider When Choosing Supplements
When looking for a new supplement, first be sure it’s specifically designed for horses. Many supplements marketed to humans or other animals can harm horses.
Next, you’ll want to consider the horse’s age, activity level, and diet. Each of these factors can all change the necessary supplementation and dosage. Finally, only choose the supplements that fit your horse's needs and ensure it comes from a trustworthy manufacturer.
As you’re choosing a new supplement, be sure to look for the following:
- A clear list of ingredients
- The amounts of each ingredient
- Good customer service with readily available contact information for the company
- A batch number somewhere on the packaging
Tips for Choosing Supplements
- Before you purchase any supplement, it’s essential to do your research. A quality supplement and reputable brand will have published studies proving its efficacy. It can also be helpful to look at customer testimonials and reviews. Additionally, a reputable company should have a well-staffed customer support system.
- You should talk to your veterinarian before starting your horse with a new supplement. They have expert knowledge of whether your horse needs a supplement or if there’s a reason it might not be safe.
- Be sure to closely follow the supplement directions and evaluate your horse’s progress. Many supplements have loading and maintenance doses, which must be given correctly. Some supplements can take time to be effective, and sometimes you might not be able to notice their effects right away.
Signs Your Horse May Need Supplements
Sometimes, the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in your horse’s diet can become apparent. Here are some signs that your horse may need supplements:
- Poor coat condition
- Poor hoof quality
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramps
- Low energy level
The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
As we’ve discussed, horses sometimes require extra vitamins and minerals to make up for what they're not getting in their hay or other feed. This can be highly dependent on where you live. For example, in dry climates, the soil is often poor in nutrients, so horses may require supplements to make up for that.
Supplements can improve overall health, including joint, hoof, skin, and coat health. Supplements can also aid digestion and reduce behavioral problems caused by a diet imbalance. For example, some horses may be nervous and spooky from an imbalanced diet. Adjusting their feed could make a big difference in their demeanor.
So, give your vet a call if you think it’s time to try a new supplement. They can give you the best supplement recommendations and discuss a plan for you and your horse.