Three Supplements All Horses Need

Three Supplements All Horses Need

Do you live in a horse utopia?

Do your horses spend their days grazing upon boundless pastures of lush grass?

Is your barn stacked with bales of fresh, second-cut hays and forage?

Are all of your horses 'Goldilocks keepers'-- as in, not too easy, not too hard, but just right?

If you answered 'yes' to all (or any) of these questions you are probably living on a yet-to-be-discovered enchanted island where things like mud, drought, boarding barns and Insulin Resistance don't exist. So...congrats on all that.

But for the rest of us, as wonderful as life with horses may be, the next potential crisis is always right around the corner. Truth is, no amount of time, resources and TLC can truly prevent many incidents and accidents, but for the aspects of horse health within our control, it's important to be as proactive and prepared as possible.

Let's talk about food!

When it comes to nutrition, horses can get most of what they need from fresh forage. However, chances are your horses do not have 24/7/365 access to perfectly lush pasture or freshly cut hay. Fortified feeds and supplements can help fill the gaps, depending on the specific needs of a particular horse. But, as nutritionist Eleanor Kellon, VMD explains, there are three supplements that should be a part of every horse's program:

  • Salt
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids

    “Even if your horse is on a supplemented feed or a balancer you are probably not meeting requirements [for these three components],” Dr. Kellon notes.

    Pass the salt

    The equine diet is already salt-deficient, but especially so for horses in training. Horses should always have access to salt, but to truly compensate for sweat loss, you will need to replenish electrolytes. Horses lose key electrolytes and proteins through sweat at a much higher rate than humans. These depleted minerals can throw off the entire balance of the metabolic system, negatively impact performance and cause dehydration. Don’t go down that road. 

    Electrolyte supplements replenish key electrolytes and support healthy hydration.

    Easy E and Omega 3

    Of all the key vitamins in the alphabet soup, E is perhaps the most critical to the overall wellness of the horse. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that protects muscle, brain and nerve tissues from oxidative stress that occurs during exercise and metabolism. Horses need full access to fresh forage to absorb adequate levels of vitamin E, so the majority of horses will need supplementation at some point in the year.

    Unlike other essential fat soluble vitamins, E is not synthesized by the horse, thus, horses with restricted access to fresh forage--like athletes and easy keepers--are highly susceptible to vitamin E deficiency, which can have a profoundly negative impact on the horse’s health and performance. 

    Omega-3 essential fatty acids support a healthy inflammatory and respiratory response in horses, and have also been proven to boost the immune system. Like vitamin E, omega 3’s play a role in healthy neurological function and are aplenty in fresh forage, but must be supplemented into the diet when grazing is limited. 

    Many aspects of horse health and nutrition can seem overly complicated, but this one is easy: salt, Vitamin E and Omega 3. You might not live in an actual utopia, but a field full of healthy, happy horses? Sounds like paradise to us.

    Content is for informational purposes only. Contact your local veterinarian if you have any questions regarding the health of your animals.

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