When it comes to the well-being of your equine companion, ensuring that they receive the proper nutrition is paramount. Just like we take nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, and probiotics) to improve our wellbeing, our horses can benefit from similar supplementation. Horse supplements play a crucial role in maintaining your horse's health, addressing specific needs, and supporting overall performance. However, the supplement market can be overwhelming, making it essential for horse owners to have a clear understanding of what their equine friend truly needs. In this guide, we'll delve into what you need to know before buying supplements for your horse, including types, ingredients, and factors to consider.
Equine Nutritional Needs:
Proper nutrition influences everything from a horse's energy levels to the strength of its hooves. As responsible horse owners, it's essential to comprehend the nutritional requirements of our horses and be aware of common deficiencies that can impact their well-being.
Forage – The Foundation:
Horses are designed to graze; thus, forage (hay or pasture) should be the primary component of their diet. Quality forage provides essential fiber for your horses' digestive health.
Protein is vital for muscle development, tissue repair, and overall growth.
Carbohydrates for Energy:
Balanced carbohydrate intake is crucial to support a horse's activity level.
Essential Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids promote a shiny coat and support overall skin health.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Vitamins and minerals support bone and joint health, immune function, insulin and blood glucose levels, as well and calmness and overall vitality.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies:
Horses evolved to eat small, frequent meals. In the wild, horses will spend up to 18 hours each day grazing. Today, domesticated horses are often stall kept, are fed two to three grain meals a day and have limited access to turnout and forage. While our horses may enjoy their well bedded stalls and consistent "room service", this change in their natural nutritional intake has led to certain nutritional deficiencies. Being aware of the prevalent equine nutritional deficiencies will help you ensure that your equine friend thrives.
Can result in poor muscle development, a dull coat, and reduced immunity.
Vitamin and Mineral Imbalances:
Inadequate intake can lead to issues like poor bone development and weakened immune function. Vitamin and mineral imbalances can also affect insulin and blood glucose levels, skin and coat condition, as well as excitability and hoof growth.
Can lead to dehydration, muscle cramping, colic and decreased performance in horses engaged in strenuous activities.
Lack of sufficient forage can cause digestive problems like colic and ulcers.
Can result in low energy levels, elevated heart rate, poor coat quality, depression and loss of appetite.
Active Ingredients in Horse Supplements
Horse supplements contain a variety of active ingredients designed to support the overall health and well-being of your equine friend. These ingredients can include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbal extracts. Vitamins such as A, D, and E are commonly included to support various physiological functions, including immune function and bone health. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are essential for maintaining proper bone density and muscle function. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, play a crucial role in muscle development and repair. Additionally, herbal extracts such as garlic, valerian and turmeric may be included for their potential anti-inflammatory and calming effects. The combination of these active ingredients in horse supplements aim to address specific nutritional needs and promote optimal health for horses engaged in various activities, from competitive sports to leisure riding.
Types of Horse Supplements:
- Contain ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid to support joint health.
- Ideal for horses with arthritis, joint stiffness, or those involved in rigorous activities.
- M & M Tack Shop carries quality joint supplements including Arenus Animal Health’s Steadfast Equine and Steadfast Equine Performance, Equithrive Original Joint Powder and Ramard Total Joint Care.
Digestive & Gastric Aids:
- Promote a healthy digestive system.
- Common ingredients include antacids, yeast, psyllium, probiotics and prebiotics
- From Arenus’ Assure Guard line which offers multiple options for a variety of equine digestive need to UlcerGard for treatment and prevention of equine ulcers, and Probios’ Crunchy Chewable Treats, M & M Tack can help you find the best digestive supplement for your equine friend.
Hoof Care Supplements:
- Enhance hoof strength and growth.
- Ingredients may include biotin, methionine, and zinc.
- A customer favorite, M & M Tack Shop carries both regular Farrier’s Formula Original Hoof Supplement and Farrier’s Formula Double Strength. We also carry alfalfa-based Hoof Secret Biotin Supplement.
Muscle & Weight Gain Supplements:
- Aid in providing healthy fats for weight gain and targeted ingredients for muscle development and recovery.
- Protein-rich supplements with concentrated energy and amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis.
Vitamins and Minerals:
- Ensure a balanced diet, especially for horses who don’t require a full serving of grain leaving them deficient in key nutrients.
- Key vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, E, C, calcium, omega-3, and selenium.
- Our selection of vitamin and mineral supplements include Arenus’ cutting edge vitamin mineral balancer, EQ-Well and Elevate’s vitamin E Maintenance Power and vitamin E & selenium SE supplement .
- Support healthy metabolic function and normal insulin responses.
- Often include resveratrol, chromium and magnesium.
- M & M Tack Shop proudly carries Ezium's Ezium Metabolic, a groundbreaking supplement for insulin resistant, obese, laminitic, and magnesium/chromium deficient horses.
- Help to manage stress and anxiety, allowing horses to concentrate on the job at hand.
- Herbal ingredients like chamomile and valerian root may be present.
- M & M Tack Shop carries a variety of calming supplements including the Perfect Prep line, Total Calm & Focus and Ezium with chelated magnesium.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Supplements:
Your Horse's Specific Needs:
Assess your horse's health and any specific requirements.
Quality of Ingredients:
Opt for supplements with high-quality, easily absorbable ingredients.
Form of Supplement:
Choose between pellets, powders, liquids, or flavor based on your horse's preferences.
Research and choose reputable brands with a history of producing reliable supplements.
Consultation with Veterinarian:
Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new supplements.
Potential Risks & Side Effects of Supplements:
While horse supplements can offer significant benefits for your equine friend, it's essential for horse owners to be aware of potential risks and side effects associated with their use. One common concern is the risk of over-supplementation, which can lead to nutrient imbalances or toxicity. Some supplements may interact negatively with medications that your horse is already taking, potentially compromising their health. Additionally, individual horses may react differently to certain ingredients, causing allergic reactions or digestive upset. Owners should carefully monitor their horse's response to supplements, and any abrupt changes in behavior, appetite, or overall health should be promptly addressed. To mitigate risks, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before introducing new supplements, ensuring that the chosen products align with your horse's specific needs and existing diet, and are administered in appropriate doses. Regularly reviewing the horse's nutritional requirements and adjusting supplement regimens accordingly can help strike a balance between reaping the benefits and avoiding potential adverse effects.
Investing in the right supplements for your horse can contribute significantly to their health, happiness and longevity. By understanding the various types of supplements and considering individual needs, you can make informed choices that positively impact your horse's well-being. Always remember to consult with your veterinarian and prioritize quality to ensure you're providing the best possible care for your equine companion.
As always, M & M Tack Shop will gladly answer any questions or help you find the ideal supplement for your horse. Please email questions@mmtackshop or call 919.851.0102