Horses have been humanity’s companions for centuries, and their prominence in our lives has grown immensely, encompassing far more than simply working the farm and being travel companions.
As with any animal, their health is paramount, and for horses, this goes far beyond their well-being.
The state of their health not only affects their day-to-day functioning but also their performance, whether it be on a racetrack or during a training session.
A key element in maintaining their health is horse supplements.
In this guide, we delve deep into the world of horse supplements to understand why they can be such a pivotal inclusion, the different varieties available, and how you can select the right ones.
Why Do Horses Need Supplements
Our world has changed, and the domestication of any animal can often have a significant impact on what they eat.
Much like any other animal, when horses became domesticated, they went from gazing at will as they roamed the land, to being fed grain and hay, while often getting less time to graze in the fields.
This, combined with performance requirements, age, and an overall improvement in our understanding of these animals, has made supplements an important inclusion in many horses’ diets.
The Changing Nutritional Needs of Horses
Not every horse will require the same things, and it can be influenced by a number of factors, such as their:
- Activity level
- Health conditions
- Performance goals
Each of these elements plays a crucial role in your horse’s overall health and well-being, and will influence if and when your horse may need supplements.
For example, a pregnant mare has very different nutritional needs than a growing foal or a senior horse.
Alternatively, if your horse performs in races and competitions, they require a different level of energy and strength compared to trail horses, leading to an increased need for supplements to sustain their energy and muscle health.
Ultimately, the use of supplements is a powerful way to help bridge the gap between regular feed and pin-pointed needs specific to your horse.
Even the best quality hay and feed might sometimes fall short of providing all the essential nutrients a horse needs.
This is where supplements come in, ensuring that the horse doesn’t miss out on any crucial vitamins, minerals, or other essential compounds, ensuring peak health and performance.
Different Types of Horse Supplements
Supplements for your horse can come in a wide range of forms, each targeting specific areas of health and nutrition.
From bone and muscle health to digestion, there’s likely a supplement available to help provide more well-balanced nutrition to your horse.
Understanding your horse’s needs and the selection of supplements is the first step in making an informed decision to better support the health of your horse.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in your horse’s health, having an influence over a wide range of their health, such as:
- Energy levels
- Bone health
- Muscle health
- And so much more
If your horse is deficient in certain minerals and vitamins, you may discover some warning signs, which vary based on what they’re deficient in.
Some deficiencies produce muscle tremors and fatigue, while others could result in weakness or a change to the appearance of their coat.
If you’ve noticed any concerns with your horse that may point to vitamin or mineral deficiency, talk to your vet about getting a blood test done to see what supplements would best support their health.
Joint and Mobility Supplements
Just like any living creature, horses are susceptible to joint issues as they age, and this is especially true for performance horses who undergo rigorous training routines.
For these horses, supplements that support healthy bones and joints would be a great addition to their feeding routine.
These supplements often include ingredients like glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, or manganese sulphate, like Joint Armor from Kentucky Performance products that support the cartilage in the joints and improve mobility.
Your horses obtain most of their nutrition through their food, absorbing the nutrients as it digests.
However, some horses aren’t able to effectively absorb the nutrients in their food, resulting in an increased risk of malnutrition over time.
This is where supplements to support digestion come in handy.
These supplements often work to promote healthy gut bacteria through probiotics and enzymes, ensuring your horse can better break down the food they eat.
Energy and Performance Supplements
If your horse has a strict training regime or competes, energy and performance supplements may be in your future.
These supplements aim to support your horse both during and after any rigorous events, improving performance while simultaneously supporting recovery afterward.
These supplements often come in the form of an electrolyte, paired with a blend of minerals and vitamins, like Mad Barn Performance Electrolytes.
Before adding any performance supplements to your horse’s diet, you should always consult the rules associated with their upcoming competitions, as well as your veterinarian.
This can ensure you’re not giving your horse a banned substance and compromising their participation.
While your mind may automatically envision a sick horse when you read “immune support,” but the reality is, that these supplements can support an array of health concerns, such as:
- Skin or coat issues
- Respiratory function
These supplements can come in the form of a liquid or solid, making them easy to include in your horse’s routine. Best of all, some can be used proactively to support their immune health before issues even begin to arise.
Supplements for Emotional and Behavioural Support
Horses come in all ranges of temperaments, and while some may boast a calm, collected demeanour, others may suffer from anxiety or struggle with the effects of trauma.
This can take many forms, from a tense stance to an edgy, unpredictable attitude, or even a complete lack of focus.
Nutrition is closely linked with behaviour, so it makes sense that supplements can help support the emotional health of your horse.
These supplements help calm your horse, providing their nervous system with the support it needs to help relieve the tension they’re under.
Not only can this help with training, but it can be a powerful tool when dealing with any horse facing an uphill battle after a traumatic event.
How To Choose the Right Horse Supplements
Now comes the challenging part: finding the right supplements for your horse.
Luckily, you don’t have to do it on your own! Here are four easy steps to get you started.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Horses Needs
First and foremost, you need to figure out what your horse requires, which means observing their behaviour and making a list of concerns you may have.
This could include aspects like:
- A dull coat
- Exercise avoidant
- Decreased mobility
- Personality changes
- Muscle loss or weakness
Once you have your list of concerns, you’re ready to move on to the next step: talking to your veterinarian!
Step 2: Consult With a Veterinarian
This is a crucial step and should never be neglected. Your veterinarian will be your primary source of information and is the only person who can truly give you factual information about your horse’s health.
They have the ability to do the tests needed to determine where your horse may be lacking and how you can support that going forward.
Furthermore, they’ll be pivotal in helping you decipher the design requirements needed based on your horse’s current health.
Step 3: Read The Labels and Directions
After your veterinarian has given you their recommendations, you can head into your nearest equine store, such as System Equine, and find the supplements you need.
The professionals at System Equine are well-versed in the supplements we carry and would be happy to explore the different options with you to help you narrow down which one would best meet the needs of your horse.
After you’ve found the right supplements, it’ll be crucial to read the directions included on the label, including dosages, best practices, and any precautionary warnings, should your horse have an abnormal reaction.
Step 4: Always Follow Dosing Instructions
Finally, you’ll want to always consult and follow the dosing instructions prior to giving your horse the supplement.
This can help ensure you’re always providing them with to correct dosage to best support their needs.
Additionally, you’ll also want to keep your veterinarian involved as you progress with this process, especially if the supplement is only to be used short-term, or if dosing requirements need to be adjusted as your horse’s health progresses.
Shop Horse Supplements at System Equine in Rockwood, ON
At System Equine, we’re passionate about helping you find the perfect supplements to keep your horse healthy and happy.
We’ve selected a range of top-quality horse supplements, ensuring each one of our customers can confidently find the right supplement for their horse’s needs.