Trusted answers to your questions about horse supplements
You have questions about horse supplements and we have the answers.
Our goal at Grand Meadows is to make sure you are informed about horse supplements so you can make educated decisions about your horse and their needs. Of course, we always want you to talk to your veterinarian and horse trainer about your horse’s diet, exercise, and supplements.
We have compiled the most frequently asked questions you have about horse supplements. If you don’t see your question answered here, email us and we’ll help you out.
What are Horse Supplements?
Horse supplements are additional vitamins, minerals, or nutrients designed to support your horse’s health. Horse supplements may help fill gaps in your horse’s diet and provide support for different health conditions.
The horse supplements you choose should be based on your horse’s unique needs, age, existing health conditions, diet quality, and exercise level.
What are Horse Supplements Used For?
Horse supplements are used to support your horse’s nutritional and physical needs. Horse supplements may be used to support joint health, digestion, skin and coat care, hoof health, immune system support, and deliver specific nutrients for senior horses.
Like human supplements, horse supplements help fill nutritional gaps and provide the extra support your horse needs to feel their best. It is challenging to give your horse everything they need through diet alone.
Always discuss your horse’s nutritional and overall health needs with your veterinarian. It is possible to over-supplement your horse. This is something we do not want to happen to your horse!
What are the Different Types of Horse Supplements?
The different types of horse supplements include:
- Joint Supplements: joint health supplements are specially formulated to naturally support your horse’s defense against normal joint wear-and-tear that happens with age, activity, and breed. Common horse joint supplement ingredients include glucosamine, hyaluronic acid (HA), MSM, sulfate, and collagen type II.
- Horse Hoof Supplements: it is challenging for your horse to create the nutrients they need to support their hooves. To support horse hoof health, your horse may benefit from supplements with key ingredients like copper, zinc, fatty acids, biotin, methionine, and other vitamins and minerals.
- Horse Digestion and Immune Supplements: all horses can benefit from digestive and immune system support. For those horses undergoing feed changes, taking antibiotics, or under heavy training and competitive loads, digestive support may make a big difference in your horse’s overall health. Protecting and enhancing your horse’s natural digestion process is one of the most important things you can do to support your horse’s overall health.
- Horse Skin and Coat Supplements: your horse’s coat and skin can give you direct feedback on how your horse is feeling inside and out. A glossy, shiny coat and skin free from blemishes and sores are good indicators your horse is healthy. Your horse is not able to produce all the nutrients required for a healthy skin and coat. Horse skin and coat supplement ingredients like omega 3 and 6, heat stabilized flax meal, biotin, lecithin, and Diamond VTM yeast, may fill nutrient gaps.
- Horse Calming Supplements: these supplements may help nervous, stressed, or on-edge horses feel more confident, focused, and more at-ease. Do your research on horse calming ingredients – not all ingredients are approved for competition in rated events. Ingredients that may help support your horse’s nervous system include theanine, thiamine, vervain, valerian, chamomile, and magnesium. Before using horse calming supplements, it’s important to rule out contributing factors including underlying health problems, dietary challenges, and how you ride and behave around your horse.
- Horse Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: your performance horse is under a lot of pressure and this places extra importance on ensuring your horse is getting everything they need to feel their best. Remember that the nutritional demands of performance horses can be several times those of a horse grazing in the pasture. Horse vitamin and mineral supplements may encourage wound-healing, support connective tissue growth, encourage energy transfer, support enzyme production, provide antioxidant properties, and more.
- Topical Horse Supplements: these horse joint supplements are absorbed through the skin, directly into the joint capsule, providing a slippery surface when the joint is compressed. This process is called biolubrication and functions to provide joint lubrication, helping to relieve stiffness, restrictions, and friction. Topical horse joint supplements are non-invasive and easy to administer directly on the impacted area.
What Nutrients Does My Horse Need?
Your horse needs 6 core nutrients for overall good health and well-being:
- Water is essential to every aspect of your horse’s health including temperature regulation, digestion, and nutrient absorption.
- Carbohydrates are a key energy source for your horse. Horses need two types of carbohydrates – structural and nonstructural. Structural carbohydrates are the fiber your horse consumes when eating grass and hay. Nonstructural carbohydrates are the starches and sugars found primarily in grains and other feed concentrates. Because your horse’s digestive system is designed to digest a high-roughage diet, you should not overfeed your horse nonstructural carbohydrates. Work with an expert in horse nutrition to learn how to correctly feed your horse nonstructural carbohydrates.
- Protein is critical to horse bone growth and support. Your horse’s protein needs are based on age, current health status, and activity levels. Generally, pregnant and lactating mares and growing horses have additional protein needs.
- Fat is a crucial nutrient for your horse, but it’s important to understand how to feed fat and balance it with your horse’s overall nutrient intake. For horses with high calorie needs, fat does fill gaps, but it should never come at the expense of essential nutrients.
- Vitamins are required by your horse for almost every aspect of their overall health. Vitamins have a key role in healthy tissue growth, immune system support, energy production, antioxidant support, wound healing, vision, fertility, bone growth and support, and much more. Essential vitamins for your horse include vitamins A, B (including folic acid, biotin, cyanocobalamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine), C, D, and E.
- Minerals are essential to your horse’s skeleton growth and function, enzyme production, energy transfer, soft tissue health, hormone production, and more. Essential minerals for your horse include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and selenium.
Why Might My Horse Need Horse Supplements?
Your horse may need supplements to help balance nutritional demands, performance support, support overall health and well-being, or to support an underlying health condition.
Just like us humans, your horse may not get everything they need from diet alone – particularly when they are under extra stress, doing lots of activity, or have a health condition.
Your horse may need supplements for these reasons:
- Diet quality and gaps
- Intense activity levels
- Health status
- Joint and bone support
- Immune system and digestive support
- Skin, hoof, and coat health
- Pregnant or lactating mare
Your horse is unique – what works for your friend’s horse may not be applicable to your horse.
How do Horse Supplements Work with Forage?
Horse supplements work with forage to fill in nutritional gaps, keeping your horse active, healthy, and strong. Forage (hay and pasture) should be the foundation of your horse’s diet, providing a reliable nutrient source. To benefit from forage, your horse needs high-quality forage that is free of chemicals, pesticides, and irritants.
Before feeding your horse supplements, assess the quality of your horse’s diet, forage, and overall health. It’s important to feed the right supplements for the right needs. We recommend working with a horse nutrition expert before supplementing your horse’s diet with supplements.
In general, your horse should be eating a forage-heavy diet and taking supplements to support and manage overall health, activity, and age-related concerns including joint, hoof, digestive, immune, skin, and coat health.
Just as you prioritize a high-quality forage – you need to do the same for your horse supplements. Focus on giving your horse the best possible supplements, backed by science, and designed to support their unique needs.
What are the Typical Ingredients in Horse Joint Supplements?
When researching horse joint supplements, look for these typical ingredients:
- Glucosamine: this is the most widely researched joint support ingredient and is a fundamental building block of articular cartilage. Glucosamine supports the growth of new cartilage and helps support cartilage health, limiting break down.
- Hyaluronic Acid (HA): is critical for joint lubrication and shock absorption, along with blocking inflammatory responses. HA is an important component of joint cartilage and joint fluid.
- Chondroitin Sulfate: this ingredient works with glucosamine to help support healthy joints, promoting the growth of new cartilage and slowing cartilage break down. Chondroitin sulfate is key to your horse’s ability to produce HA and proteoglycans.
- MSM: supports healthy joint function and is a source of organic sulfur.
- Collagen Type II: is the primary structural protein in the connective tissue found in skin, cartilage, tendons, bones, and ligaments.
What is a Quality Horse Supplement?
A quality horse supplement has these key features:
- NASC Quality Seal
- Quality Ingredients
- Clear Labelling
- Strong Brand Reputation
- Responsive Customer Service
- Purpose Specific
When researching horse supplements, take the time to read the company’s website, especially the customer testimonials and research and science sections.
What Can’t Horse Supplements Do?
Horse supplements are not a replacement or substitute for a poor-quality diet. Horse supplements are based on science to support, aid, and supplement your horse’s diet.
Many people make the mistake of overfeeding supplements while neglecting the quality of their horse’s forage. It’s important to remember that horse supplements cannot fix a poor diet.
Many people over supplement their horse out of the very best intentions – remember, to focus on your horse’s specific needs and discuss any supplements with your veterinarian and expert in horse nutrition.
As always, we are here to answer your questions about horse supplements. We are here to help you understand the science behind horse supplements, so you can make informed and educated decisions about your horse and their supplements
Email us with any questions you have about horse supplements.