Talking about supplements could easily be a 3-hour endeavor. There is so much to know…and not enough time! Seriously, supplements are one of the most complex things (at least in my brain). That’s because about 485950484 companies make supplements that all kind of do the same thing..or at least they all say they do.
So let’s start at the beginning. Supplements are, obviously, made to supplement a horse’s diet. If your horse is in moderate or heavy work, they probably would benefit from a supplement. There are different areas that supplements affect. If you log onto SmartPak right now, you’ll probably see at least 10 different areas that they support. But are they really all necessary?
This is where it gets complex. Determining if you need supplements honestly depends on the horse. I put Raven on a joint supplement and a multi-vitamin. It helps her with get the minerals and vitamins, taking the guesswork out of determining if she has enough nutrients from her hay. While I was heavily competing, though, I had her on more. She was on a moderate to heavy joint supplement, one for gastric health, a calming supplement, a multi-vitamin, and electrolytes.
This is my experience, but how do you know what your horse needs? Honestly, consult a professional nutritionist. I was talking to my barn owner today about nutrition when I discovered a harsh reality. Most (I say this generally, but I know you’re not in this group!) don’t understand thought that equine professionals with years of experience may not always have the best outlook on nutrition. To really understand what your horse needs, you have to take your horse’s digestive system into consideration, along with their environment. Who is the best at this? You guessed it, equine nutritionists.
Don’t want to spend a ton on consulting an expert? Even if you don’t want SmartPak products, their supplement wizard is a great tool! It can help understand areas that you might need to feed for your horse. The main areas that supplements can give something extra to are joints, muscle, hoof, skin/coat, and digestion. If your horse lives in a barn, is in moderate to heavy work, and competes, they probably need a supplement that targets these areas.
If your horse is in a stall with little turnout, they will need a digestion supplement. Most horses will get anxious if they are locked up in a 12×12 and cannot graze freely. If your horse jumps, does pretty things in the arena, works cows, or goes over obstacles, it probably needs a joint supplement. If your horse lives in California, where the hay doesn’t have all the nutrients that hay in South Carolina has, they might need a vitamin/mineral supplement that covers all the bases.
The bottom line is that your horse may need something extra in their diet. Using supplements could improve their game, and make them happier/more comfortable. Remember to just take changes one stride at a time, because too much at once could be detrimental.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below! You can also always contact me. Nutrition is a secret passion of mine and I’d love to help 🙂