Your Horse Supplements FAQ: Horse Supplements Facts You Need to Know

Horse Supplement Facts You Need to Know

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. Water is essential to every aspect of your horse’s health including temperature regulation, digestion, and nutrient absorption.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  • Age
  • 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:

  1. NASC Quality Seal
  2. Science-Backed
  3. Quality Ingredients
  4. Clear Labelling
  5. Strong Brand Reputation
  6. Responsive Customer Service
  7. 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.

What is the National Animal Supplement Council?

National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) 20 Year Celebration

Learn why you only want to feed your horse NASC approved supplements

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) works to promote the wellbeing and health of companion animals and horses that are given health supplements and works to protect and enhance the animal health industry.

You care about your horse. You want to give your horse the best quality supplements. You need to have peace-of-mind that the horse supplements you buy are safe, tested, and adhere to manufacturing guidelines.

This is exactly how I feel. I believe that you need to know what you’re giving your horse and why you’re giving these ingredients to your horse. You could say, this is why the NASC exists today.

Nick, Grand Meadows, and The Origins of the NASC

Way back in 1997, the horse supplement business was exploding. There were so many new brands and formulations on the market – it was impossible to keep track of.

Me, being me, I was a bit suspicious about how companies were able to roll out new horse supplements so quickly. So, I decided to do some testing. I tested 32 different horse joint supplements – I wanted to know if their labels matched the actual ingredients..

Guess what? Only 2 of the 32 tested brands had ingredients that matched their labels. Not only was I ticked off, but I was also worried about what this meant for the horse supplement industry and the health and safety of horses.

Back in the late 1990’s there was very little regulatory oversight in the horse supplement business. In fact – product labels were anything but transparent. What was in the product? No one knew. How much active ingredient was in each serving? Your guess is the best guess.

So, I decided enough was enough. Time to do something about this.

Grand Meadows started the National Association of Equine Supplement Manufacturers (NAESM). Our goal with the NAESM was to raise the standards in the equine supplement industry.

Interest from manufactures was slow to start, but quickly picked up when the President of the Association of American Feed Controls Office (AAFCO) (regulatory body for feed in each state) decided to put a stop to the sale of horse supplements containing unapproved ingredients.

In 1999, working with other like-minded pet supplement manufacturers, we created a plan to engage with the regulatory agencies – AAFCO and Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM). We created and presented a Compliance Plus document aimed at bringing transparency and accountability to the animal health supplement industry.

Ultimately, in 2001, a group of animal supplement manufacturers created the NASC. And in 2003, the NAESM joined forces with the NASC.

The National Animal Supplement Council is a non-profit trade organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals and horses throughout the United States. Founded in 2001, NASC is an all-industry association of stakeholders concerned with the issues surrounding the supply of health supplements for animals not intended for human consumption, such as dogs, cats and horses.

NASC members include manufacturers of the finest animal health supplements, who are committed to the highest standards of quality and safety in the industry today, as well as raw materials suppliers, distributors, veterinarians, retailers, pet professionals, and animal friends.

What Does the NASC Do?

The NASC works to improve the consistency and quality of animal health supplements around the world.

The organization is united in ensuring any health supplement products sold to consumers for their horses, cats, dogs, and other companion animals adhere to industry, state, federal, and international standards.

NASC member companies, including Grand Meadows, work to create a legislative and regulatory environment that provides a framework that is fair, reasonable, responsible, and nationally consistent. Such an environment of safety, accuracy and quality serves the interests of NASC members by ensuring ethical manufacturing and labeling practices are complied with throughout the industry.

What is NASC Quality Seal?

The NASC Quality Seal identifies products from companies that are committed to quality, vigilance, and continuous improvement to promote the well-being of companion animals and horses.

There is an NASC Quality Seal on every single Grand Meadows product.

The NASC Quality Program provides strict guidelines for product quality assurance in written, consistent raw material sourcing and manufacturing standards, adverse event reporting, and labeling and claims requirements that are within the guidelines provided by the regulatory agencies.

To display the NASC Quality Seal on our products and marketing material, we need to pass an independent third-party audit every two years and we need to prove our continued compliance with NASC Quality Seal criteria:

The NASC and Your Horse Supplements

Please, please, please only buy and feed horse supplements that display the NASC Quality Seal.

You need to know that you’re giving your horse safe, tested, and quality horse supplements.

The NASC is a voluntary membership and I’m proud to be a founding member. Grand Meadows has the highest rating with the NASC for compliance with rigorous manufacturing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

For us, this includes strict raw material testing, independent lab tests on all finished products, and ensuring our formulas are consistent from the first scoop to the last.

I am adamant about maintaining our high-quality level of standards in every aspect of our business – especially with formulations that are clinically researched with the world’s most respected nutritionists, biochemists, and veterinarians. Because of this, you know your horse always gets optimal nutrition and supplementation with Grand Meadows.

Our mission at Grand Meadows and the NASC, as I continue to serve on the Board of Directors of the NASC, is to continue to police our industry and to constantly strive to ensure that the animal health supplements produced by our member companies are safe and effective.

My final word on the NASC and your horse: make sure your horse supplements carry the NASC Seal. This is the proof you need that the animal supplement is manufactured to a very high standard.

Read more about my leadership with the NASC:

To learn more about what the NASC is doing now, visit the NASC website and browse the 2023 NASC Annual Conference agenda. This gives you great insight into the issues and hot topics in the animal health and wellness industry.

Your Equine Microbiome and Digestion FAQ

Equine Microbiome and Digestion FAQ

Learn the facts on the equine microbiome and horse digestion

Your horse cannot live without its microbiome. The equine microbiome is essential to horse digestion, immune system health, and vitamin synthesis.

A healthy equine microbiome is core to your horse’s overall health.

In this blog Nick answers your questions about the equine microbiome, horse digestion, and postbiotics.

What is The Equine Microbiome?

The equine microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms that live in your horse. The bulk of the equine microbiome is found in the small and large intestines. The microbiome is also present and active in your horse’s lungs, skin, and nasal passages.

A healthy and balanced equine microbiome is essential to healthy digestion. The microbiome has a critical role in breaking down feed, nutrient absorption, and immune system support.

Your horse’s microbiome is unique and influenced by DNA, diet, supplements, environment, and medication.

What Does the Equine Microbiome Do?

The equine microbiome is essential to healthy digestion, immune system support, and nutrient absorption.

Researchers at the Department of Pathology at the University of Guelph Veterinary College believe the equine microbiome does the following:

  • Boosts the horse’s immune system
  • Ferments fiber in the hindgut to produce short chain fatty acids that your horse uses for energy
  • Inhibits the development and absorption of toxins
  • Produces antimicrobial elements that help limit the development of disease-causing microbes

Where Does My Horse’s Microbiome Come From?

Your horse’s microbiome starts with your horse’s DNA and the birth process. During birth, your horse was exposed to a microorganisms in the birth canal, from mare’s milk and colostrum, and environment.

As a foal, your horse is exposed to more microorganisms as they graze, nurse, and eat carbohydrates and faeces (coprophagia). At 60 days of age, your horse has a stable microbiome.   

This base microbiome changes based on environmental factors, diet, supplements, and stress.

What are Postbiotics?

Postbiotics are bioactive compounds. They are produced by a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in the hindgut.

Postbiotics are shown to increase blood oxygen levels, reduce recovery times from lactic acid accumulation, act as a barrier to harmful bacteria, and support intestinal health. 

Why Does My Horse Need Digestive Support?

Your horse needs digestive support because the health and function the digestive system impacts your horse’s health and well-being. In fact, the digestive system is the most critical component in the overall health of your horse.

The horse digestion process relies on fermentation for maximum absorption of nutrients and energy conversion from feed and supplements. This occurs in the hindgut, primarily in the cecum and large intestine.

The fermentation process is powered by the bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms – the equine microbiome. During fermentation, fiber and short chain fatty acids are converted into carbohydrates, providing energy to your horse.

The stomach and small intestine are responsible for the breakdown of food. 80 – 90 percent of the fats, amino acids, and vitamins are absorbed through the small intestine. It takes 6 – 8 hours for feed to pass through the small intestine to the large intestine.

Even though horses have not evolved to digest large amounts of grain, horses are still routinely fed grain-focused diets. This has resulted in high levels of metabolic problems, leaky gut, and other digestive challenges.

How Can I Help My Horse’s Digestion?

To help support your horse’s digestion, these strategies can help:

  1. Minimize grain: because grains are high in starches and sugars, they can cause digestive issues including colic and laminitis. Do not feed your horse large amounts of grain.
  2. Hay first: feed your horse hay and then grain, this can enable a more complete digestion process. When your horse eats grain first and then hay, food moves through the stomach and small intestine too quickly, resulting in compromised digestion.
  3. Constant feeding: your horse’s digestive tract is designed always be working. Horses on restrictive feeding schedules of one or two meals a day, are prone to gastric ulcers due to the acid accumulation in an empty stomach.
  4. Priority on high quality forage: the quality of the forage you feed your horse has impacts on every aspect of your horse’s health.
  5. Pasture turnout: your horse’s digestive tract is designed for grazing. The more time your horse can spend in the pasture, the better their overall digestion and health. 

As a general recommendation, we suggest horse owners look at alternatives to grain.

At Grand Meadows, we believe in a forage first diet using fat instead of grain for calories and a well-balanced supplement to help ensure your horse meets optimal nutrient levels for overall health.

To learn more about your horse’s digestive process and how you can support it, start with our Digestion Primer:

Followed by our other videos in the series:

How Do I Know If My Horse Needs Postbiotics?

The following characteristics may indicate your horse needs postbiotics for digestive support:

  • Dull coat
  • Weight challenges
  • Behavioral challenges
  • Stress and demands of training and competition

Always contact your veterinarian with any questions and concerns about your horse’s health and well-being.

If you do decide to use a horse postbiotic supplement, make sure it contains Dried Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Postbiotic Fermentation Product.

The benefits of Dried Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Postbiotic Fermentation Product include:

  • A fully fermented, stable yeast culture that works as a perfect digestive aid, supplying a long list of beneficial enzymes and bacteria to the small and large intestine.
  • Boosts the breakdown of fibrous feed digestion and stabilizes pH to safeguard the stomach lining against excess gastric acid.
  • Provides mannooligosaccharides which are crucially important in bacteria scavenging in the small intestine.
  • Boosts the efficient function of the large intestine and is therefore critical in helping support the immune system as B vitamins are produced in the large intestine.

To learn more about postbiotics and your horse – make sure you read our Postbiotics for Horses FAQ.

Always contact your veterinarian with any questions about your horse’s health and well-being.

Topical Joint Support for Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, and Small Pets

NANOFLEX - Dog & Cat Joint Support

Learn about our topical joint support for your small pets

A little less than a year ago we launched NANOFLEX and now we have more NANOFLEX news…

We have a new size of NANOFLEX specifically packaged for your small pets.

Learn all about NANOFLEX and our newest offering of this ground-breaking non-invasive topical joint support product.


NANOFLEX is a non-invasive topical joint support product. NANOFLEX acts quickly to help restore joint flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.

Using biolubrication and nanotechnology, NANOFLEX gives joints relief from friction, rubbing, stiffness, and restrictions. Biolubrication and nanotechnology combine to lubricate joints, allowing your horse, dog, or cat to move freely and easily.

What is the Latest NANOFLEX News?

We are excited to announce we have a new 4oz NANOFLEX product, specifically for your small pets.

Use pet sized NANOFLEX on your pets including dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and more. Pet sized NANOFLEX is ideal for any mammal with articular joints.

How Do I Apply to Pet Sized NANOFLEX to My Dog, Cat, Rabbit, or Ferret?

Apply NANOFLEX thinly twice a day by spreading the gel around the joint.

For short-haired animals there is no need to rub NANOFLEX into the skin. The nanotechnology based delivery function of this joint support product means you do not need to rub it in.  

For longer-haired animals try to get NANOFLEX as close as possible to the skin either by clipping the area around the joint or parting the haircoat and then applying it around the joint.

You only need to apply a small amount. More is not better when it comes to NANOFLEX!

When Should NANOFLEX Be Used?

NANOFLEX should be used when your pet starts exhibiting mobility issues. Additionally, if you have a pet breed with systemic joint challenges, NANOFLEX may work to protect joints from mobility concerns.

NANOFLEX offers a fascinating and dynamic new approach to joint support for any animal. The unique nanotechnology delivery system allows you to target a specific joint and the action inside the joint.

How Does NANOFLEX Work?

NANOFLEX works by providing enhanced biolubrication inside the joint capsule and protecting the cartilage surface.

NANOFLEX is a gel that when applied to an affected joint, acts to restore lubrication in the joint. This biolubrication process provides a “slippery” surface ensuring when the joint is compressed, the two cartilages surfaces can move freely.

What Makes NANOFLEX Different?

NANOFLEX is different from other joint products due to its technology and non-invasive restorative action:

  1. NANOFLEX is topical and made of Ultra Deformable Sequessome™ Vesicles (UDSVs). UDSVs are specially engineered fatty lipids, that with nanotechnology, change their shape to penetrate the skin and synovial membrane of the joint where NANOFLEX is applied.
  • Once inside the joint capsule, millions of UDSVs give the joint’s cartilage surface a new source of biolubrication. This creates a slippery surface when the joint is compressed, helping the joint move freely with increased flexibility and mobility.

What are the NANOFLEX Ingredients?

The NANOFLEX ingredients are:

  • Aqua, Phosphatidylcholine, Glycerin, Alcohol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 80, Disodium Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Metabisulphite, BHA

How Can I Learn More About NANOFLEX?

To learn more about NANOFLEX, watch these videos:

And read these articles about NANFOFLEX:

Highlights from our NANFOLEX Q & A

Q: What is nanotechnology?

Nick: Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

Q: What is biolubrication?

Nick: Biolubrication plays a crucial role in assisting the sliding contacts in many organs in the human body. Notable examples are the joints, the skin surface, the eye, the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, and red blood cells.

Reduced lubrication leads to increases in friction and adhesion between the surfaces in contact, which may lead to the surfaces becoming stuck and wearing, ultimately leading to irritation, pain and trauma.

Joint lubrication involves a complex and adaptive set of lubrication mechanisms:

  • The smoothness of the cartilage lining of the bone surfaces.
  • Synovial fluid – a lubricating hydrogel of collagen fibrils.
  • Hyaluronic Acid.
  • Glycoproteins (lubricin) and water.
  • A weeping mechanism by which joint pressure releases synovial fluid into the interspacing liquid film separating the cartilage surfaces.

Postbiotics for Horses FAQ: Answers to Your Questions About Postbiotics for Horses

Postbiotics for Horses FAQ

Postbiotics are bioactive compounds created when the probiotics in your horse’s gut consume and digest fiber (prebiotics).

Postbiotics are shown to increase blood oxygen level, reduce recovery times from lactic acid accumulation, support intestinal health, and act as a barrier to harmful bacteria.

Learn more about postbiotics and horse digestion with this Q & A with Nick – the chief of everything at Grand Meadows.

What are Postbiotics?

Postbiotics are produced by the combination of prebiotics and probiotics in the hindgut. Postbiotic horse supplements may provide a broad spectrum of nutrients affecting a multitude of functions in the horse.

The support of a healthy hindgut function hinges on whether there are sufficient probiotics and prebiotics.

Continue reading