One of our favourite things to do here is research and read up on different supplements and how they can help our horses. Sometimes it's more than just grain and hay that your horse needs to work through something but it's below the need for veterinary intervention (in terms of surgery, injections, etc.). We are not brand specific here and each of our horses is often on a mixture of brands depending on the supplement that they best need for their diet! Today we will talk about why you might look into giving your horse supplements - as well as we will look at some of our go-to brands/products and cost them out for you too. Supplements can be daunting to see the price, but when you cost it out and realize what you are getting ... most of them are worth it!
GUT HEALTH & THE DIGESTIVE TRACT
A healthy gut means a happy horse. Without a healthy gut, it could mean that your horse suffers a lot of secondary deficiencies, loss of energy and metabolism, and a much higher risk of potentially catching disease because their body is not operating at optimum health. Some of the most well known diagnosed gut issues are colic (this is an immediate veterinary emergency so we will not touch on it directly however, some of these supplements can help alleviate the risk of colic), ulcers and hindgut acidity. Nutrition is the most important component when you are battling gut health struggles. What you feed your horse and how you feed can make major differences, especially because horses have such extremely sensitive digestive systems. Diet and routine changes can cause upset in your horses gut health, so no matter what you do when introducing new feed or supplements - ensure that you do it as a slow and gradual pace. Never, ever shock your horses system with feed or supplement changes. Abrupt changes (especially in concentrated feeds) can kill off the beneficial bacteria living in the gut, and if those bacteria are killed off, harmful bacteria are released in the system and increase the risk of gut problems.
If your horse is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms then you are likely looking at a digestive tract issue:
* Lack of Appetite * Flatulence or Bloating * Constipation * Lethargy * Weight Loss or Poor Body Condition (ribby or sometimes wormy looking) * Girthiness or Abdominal Sensitivity
* Poor Skin and Coat Quality
* Irritable Mood
Supplements for gut health often are made to introduce live bacteria and microbes to the digestive system to maintain the healthy bacteria needed for the digestive tract to work properly and happily. Probiotic style supplements are created to include microorganisms, fungus and yeast - all are beneficial to aid in digestion. Prebiotic supplements contain additional substances that are preferred food sources for the healthy bacteria that lives in the digestive tract. Happy bacteria means happy digestion!
OUR FAVOURITE GUT HEALTH SUPPLEMENTS
OMEGA ALPHA BIOTIC 8 PLUS
Pre & Probiotic Digestion Formula.
Fed @ 1 scoop 2x daily.
My only struggle with this product is that I have a lot of horses extremely picky about eating it - even if I mix it in or soak it in their feed. It works extremely well on those that will eat it though!
$90.00 per 1kg container (50 day supply)
= $1.70 per day.
OMEGA ALPHA GASTRA-FX
Stomach Support Formula.
Fed @ 30mL 2x daily maintenance serving.
$140.00 per 1Gal container (60 day supply)
= $2.33 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES PURE DRIED SEAWEED MEAL (DSM)
Dried seaweed meal is rich in polysaccharides that have prebiotic effects.
Fed @ 1 scoop daily.
I use this product as an automatic 'maintenance' for all horses coming into our barn. Even if they don't show signs of gut issues - you want to be ahead of the game, especially when there is a change because they are stepping into a new environment. It's much safer to be proactive than get behind!
$80.00 per 5kg container (250 day supply)
= $0.32 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES PROBIOPLUS
Contains pre and probiotics to improve digestion and promote a healthy gut.
Feed @ 2 scoops daily for first 10 days then 1 scoop daily maintenance.
$90.00 per 2.5kg container (150 day supply)
= $0.56 per day.
MADBARN OPTIMUM PROBIOTIC
5 strain blend of probiotic bacteria.
Fed @ 1 scoop daily.
$20.00 per 60g container (60 day supply)
= $0.33 per day.
MADBARN OPTIMUM DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Optimize hindgut health, increase nutrient absorption and enhance immunity.
Fed @ 1 - 1.5 scoops per day.
I just want to say that I LOVE that MadBarn offers a subscription opportunity - you never have to worry about forgetting to re-order when you're getting low!
$85.00 per 5kg container (60 day supply)
= $1.37 per day.
PAIN RELIEF / ANTI INFLAMMATORIES
Supplements can help to support a horses musculoskeletal system and help to encourage healing from injuries. You can add supplements to a horses diet who is on a layup due to injury, that is uncomfortable due to arthritis, or has had an injury in the past and you want to encourage their body to strengthen up the ligaments and connective tissues to avoid re-injury.
A horse struggling with a lack of Vitamin E often deal with immune, nerve and muscle function; which can slow healing if they have suffered an injury, or can cause injury due to the lack of strength in their system. Vitamin E is not something that horses produce naturally and is considered an essential nutrient for their system. Horses most often get Vitamin E from green grass, but as the grass dries out, it becomes less potent with Vitamin E. When a horse is on stall rest due to an injury, it becomes necessary to find other ways to ensure their Vitamin E intake is sufficient for their system.
You can also use supplements to help reduce inflammation. There are many drugs out there that also aid in reducing inflammation, however diet and supplements can play a very important role. Horses that are often on stall rest are being fed a lot of processed fibre sources (hay, pellets, cubes, etc.) to keep their gut working happily. Many of these are high in omega-6 fatty acids, but low in omega-3s. These are both very important essentials for your horses diet. Omega-6 promotes pro-inflammatory effects on the body, where the Omega-3 promotes the anti-inflammatory response to the 6s. It is super important that you keep the 6 to 3 ratio at a proper level to encourage and promote anti-inflammatory response during healing. Always remember to consult with your veterinarian around injuries, healing and the best course of action for the situation - however always remember that supplements are there to provide additional support for your equine getting back to their best possible health!
OUR FAVOURITE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SUPPLEMENTS
PURICA EQUINE RECOVERY EXTRA STRENGTH
Helps prevent injury, reduces pain, inflammation and spasms.
Fed @ 1/2 scoop per 300lbs body weight.
Can reduce to 1/4 scoop per 300lbs after 60 days of use.
We use this product for a horse that has had severe muscle soreness and pain. It has made an immense difference in allowing him to feel comfortable and heal.
$400.00 per 5kg container (approx. 200 day supply)
= $2.00 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES OSTEOAID
Natural alternative to bute. Reduces inflammation and pain.
Fed @ 0.5 - 1 scoop per day. Safe to double dose if needed.
$80.00 per 2.5kg container (75 day supply)
= $1.07 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES MOBILITYPLUS
Herbal arthritis formula for horses.
Fed @ 2 scoops daily.
$350.00 per 6kg container (200 day supply)
= $1.47 per day.
MADBARN NATURAL E/ORGANIC SE
Used to support muscles and reduce inflammation.
Fed @ 1-2 scoops daily.
$70.00 per 2.5kg container (125 day supply)
= $0.56 per day.
MADBARN MILK THISTLE
Potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects for horses.
Fed @ 0.5-1 scoop daily.
$30.00 per 1kg container (220 day supply)
= $0.13 per day.
I have started using this product on a horse that is sound but has had a lot of wear and tear from a hard working life, and it has made an immense difference in his general comfort as his body adjusts from working hard every day, to living a fairly retired lifestyle. No joint soreness!
ANXIETY / NERVOUSNESS
There are chemical tranquilizers out there to relax a horse in an emergency, however if you have a horse that is simply struggling with a life change, or is getting used to going off property - you can look at supplements that are made to help a horse retain their focus in a situation that they may be uncertain about. If you have a horse that is struggling with being stuck on stall rest, these supplements may also be beneficial to help keeping them calm so they can heal up. These supplements are not the "be all that end all" to fixing a horses anxiety - you have to ensure you evaluate the reason for the horses nervousness, and the environment they are in, horses are "fight or flight" animals and will react using their most basic instincts when in a stressful situation for them.
Magnesium is often a go to product that you will find in calming supplements. It is a necessary component of a horses diet to encourage proper muscle contraction and nervous system transmission signals. If your horses nervous system isn't working properly, they will appear irritable, nervous and reactionary to new situations. Magnesium is found in some feeds, so ensure you talk to a nutritionist before adding it to your horses diet - they may already be getting their suggested daily intake!
B vitamins are also often used to work together to encourage a healthy nervous system. High-starch diets, stress and antibiotics can reduce healthy microbial populations in the digestive system, which lowers a horses vitamin production. Tying in with the healthy gut above, you can look at adding pre and probiotics, or supplements with individual B vitamins to help counteract the lowering of vitamin production due to one of the issues above.
Always remember that if your horse's stress is due to going off property - make sure you try any supplements at home first to make sure you evaluate how it works on your horse before sending them into a stressful situation with a brand new product to try. As with any of the supplements recommended, make sure you ONLY add one new product at a time to ensure your horse does not have a negative reaction.
OUR FAVOURITE ANXIETY REDUCING SUPPLEMENTS
MADBARN MAGNESIUM OXIDE
Supports proper muscle function and a healthy nervous system.
Fed @ 1-1.5 scoops daily.
$7.00 per 1kg container (30 day supply)
= $0.23 per day.
Supports healthy hormone and mood balance.
Fed @ 3-5 scoops daily.
$35.00 per 1kg container (50 day supply)
= $0.70 per day.
I know many who have used this with great success on mares and on geldings too! We use it on a moody mare that struggles with hormone balance and it makes a big difference in her comfort level during her heat cycles!
HERBS FOR HORSES CALM & COLLECTED
Rapid metabolized calming supplement.
Fed @ 25 ml 1 hour prior to event. Safe to double dose.
$45.00 per 1L container (40 day supply)
= $1.15 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES SERENITY WITH VALERIN
High strength reduction of ill temperament and anxiety.
Fed @ 1 scoop daily. Safe to double dose.
$350.00 per 5kg container (160 day supply)
= $2.11 per day.
This product was an essential aid when we first got a horse who was extremely anxious and fearful of humans. It allowed him the opportunity to relax and give us the ability to treat his injuries and help get him on the right track, without causing further fear for him. It made such a difference and we were able to wean him off of it slowly without him reverting back to his original fearful nature!
OMEGA ALPHA CHILL
Helps focus the mind on the task at hand.
Fed @ 30 mL-100 mL 1 hour prior to event.
$160.00 per 1Gal container (120 day supply)
= $1.33 per day.
DULL COAT / CHIPPING HOOVES
Coat supplements are one of the most common-to-find supplements out there. They can help promote silky coats, reduce dry skin, rain rot and can help with horses who are prone to chipping their hooves. Often all of these have a root cause by lacking protein, acids and certain minerals in their diet. By giving your horse these added nutrients that are most commonly found in fish oil, flaxseed and rice bran. All of these products are an excellent source of fatty acids and essential vitamins that promote healthy hooves and coat.
Biotin is often a popular product found in supplements that encourage healthy coat, because often vitamin B deficiencies impact hair growth. Biotin is also well known to be an excellent support for hoof health.
You know your horse best since you care for, ride, groom and look at them every day, which means you will be the first to notice any changes in your horses appearance from dulling of their coat, rashes on their skin and their hooves chipping abnormally.
OUR FAVOURITE COAT SUPPLEMENTS
CANPRESSCO CAMELINA OIL
Offers a balanced Omega-3 to Omega-6 profile.
Fed @ 30 mL 2x daily.
$80.00 per 4L container (60 day supply)
= $1.25 per day.
OMEGA ALPHA EQUIBODY GLO
Beneficial for hoof quality, immune health, post-exercise, respiratory health.
Fed @ 60 mL 1x daily.
$120.00 per 4L container (66 day supply)
= $1.80 per day.
HERBS FOR HORSES HERRING OIL
Herring Oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fed @ 25 mL 2x daily.
$55.00 per 4L container (160 day supply)
= $0.35 per day.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT IF YOU ARE IN COMPETITIVE EQUESTRIAN SPORTS THAT TEST - SOME OF THESE PRODUCTS MAY TEST. CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN AND YOUR COMPETITION RULES.
There are so many supplements out there now that this doesn't even touch the surface of what is available - what are your favourite's and why? Do you have a favourite brand? What supplements have changed your horses life?