Once upon a time, horses graze upon fresh, healthy pasture.
With the variety of grasses and legumes in rich soils, old folks could say neigh to the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement.
But times have changed.
According to Dr. Lydia Gray, Medical Director at SmartPak even with a good quality forage-based diet, horses may still need supplements.
Australian Equine Nutritionist, Elizabeth Owens blames this for the lack of nutrients in the soil.
“Australian soils are deficient in a number of minerals and so it is beneficial to the horse’s health for these deficiencies to be corrected through the use of a mineral supplement. This may be delivered via a fortified feed, a mineral block or a powder,” Owens shares to the official Horse Magazine.
That said, you might be looking to supplement your horse for a particular purpose:
- It’s either you feel the grain or hay your feeding isn’t of good quality.
- You think your horse could jump from 90% to 100% with the best horse vitamin and mineral supplements.
- You’re worried about your horse’s weak hooves, dull coat or achy joints.
The truth is, individual needs may vary. It depends on your horse’s needs, level of activity and what else is being fed.
What are you hoping to achieve anyway?
In most cases, horse owners have a particular supplement in mind targeted to solve a particular problem.
A recent market survey of equine dietary supplements reports the most popular classes of supplements are those targeting joints, digestion, hoof care, skin/coat health, and relaxation.
Whatever your needs, we’ve rounded up three of the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement types, from what research says to the bestselling brands.
All in, these are what you need to know to help you solve your horse’s pain and go the extra mile.
1- Joint Supplements for Horses
Joint disease remains to be the leading cause of discomfort. This makes joint supplements the most popular.
The good news is, there’s Science to why they work.
The bad news is, some supplements work better than the others.
Your best bets are products containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid.
“Studies show that these ingredients help decrease inflammation through multiple pathways and provide molecular precursors to cartilage cells to help build new, healthy cartilage in arthritic joints,” noted Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).
Popular Joint Supplement Brand: Cosequin for Horses
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Cosequin claims to be the #1 veterinarian recommended brand, with different formulations to meet specific needs, from light to heavy workers.
Their claims are research-backed. Every variant also has amazing Amazon reviews and a strong recommendation from blogs and forums.
Now, if you’re looking for a list, Allivet shares their top 10 great joint supplements for horses which include:
- CONQUER Powder
- Joint Combo Hoof & Coat
- Bute Less (B-L) Solution
- Total Joint Care Performance
- Phycox Max EQ Joint Support Granules
- Welactin Equine Omega 3 Liquid
- Cosequin ASU Plus Equine Powder
- Equine Corta-FLX RX 100 Ultimate Solution
- Equine Corta-FLX Solution
You can also compare popular supplements and check out their active ingredients.
2- Best Digestive Supplement for Horses
We’ve all heard of prebiotics and probiotics.
Live microorganisms? Sure.
These are the same two groups that keep a horse’s digestive system on track too
But, does Science support the benefits?
Sadly, there is no strong evidence backing the use of probiotics to help absorb more nutrients or maintain a healthy gut in horses.
“While research does not yet have a solid recommendation for probiotic supplementation in the equine diet, it cannot be disputed that an owner might see a benefit from offering probiotics to their horses in a real-life setting,” says Kelcey Swyers, head nutritionist at Ranch-Way Feeds in Fort Collins, Colorado, and a PhD candidate at Colorado State University.
The Equus Magazine furthermore stresses that it has become a widely accepted practice to supplement probiotics in the following ways:
- To give young digestive systems (foals) a head start.
- To aid recovery from illness or infection in horses who have received oral antibiotics.
- To compensate for the effects of stress. Dietary changes, travel and/or competition can put stress on a horse’s system.
- To reduce digestive upset in horses like bloating, diarrhea and/or mild colics.
- To help old or horses better utilize nutrients.
Popular Probiotics Brand: Probios (fine powder)
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Probios is “the most widely recognized, researched and used brand of Probiotics”.
The powder variant contains a source of naturally occurring microorganisms. It can be blended with feed rations or top dressed.
If you go to Amazon, you’ll likely find scores of positive reviews. It’s also the brand that people talk about in forums.
Of course, it’s not the only one.
Others vouch for their own brands. Manna Pro Opti-Zyme is also gaining popularity as a digestive supplement use specifically for older horses.
These two names come to mind in online reviews for the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement for a healthy gut.
3- Best Hoof Supplement for Horses
Chances are, you’ve heard the saying “no hoof, no horse”.
Cracks, bruises, abscess, thrush—a horse’s poor hoof is a common headache among sports horses. That makes hoof supplements a big business.
In fact, in a survey conducted among 501 participants, 50% said their horses were under a kind of hoof supplement.
But does it work?
Studies have shown that biotin levels of 15-20 mg per day have positive effects on hoof strength and quality. It’s not a quick fix though, it may take up to 9 months for changes to manifest.
Meanwhile, a study performed by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, proved that horses which suffered from a variety of hoof problems improved by adding this supplement.
It’s called the Farrier’s Formula.
In addition, according to Life Data Labs, these nutrients influence hoof health in horses.
- Amino acids crucial for protein production (Tyrosine, Iodine, and Methionine)
- Vitamins A, C and Biotin
- Minerals like copper, zinc, calcium phosphorus, sulfur, and selenium
Before diving into the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement, make sure you know the best practices in Horse Hoof Care. Here’s a handy Checklist to know if you’re horse’s hooves are happy:
Happy source: blue cross
Then again if your vet decides to put your horse on a hoof supplement, bear these three tips in mind:
No supplement can entirely fix a hoof.
The growth of a new hoof takes two things: stimulus and time.
In conclusion, supplements may help provide the stimulus, but give it time.
Popular Hoof Supplement Brand: Farrier’s Formula
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The world-famous Farrier’s formula is a concentrated source of biotin, zinc, copper, amino acids and other key ingredients.
Based on reviews and testimonials, this looks to be the gold standard in hoof supplements.
4- Healthy Coat Supplement for Horses
But a healthy coat means the horse is healthy, inside and out. Plus, that outrageously brilliant luster is worth showing off.It takes more than a good shampoo to make a horse’s coat shine.
How do you make your horse shine with supplements?
Experts agree that some nutrients are necessary in improving a horse’s coat as:
- Protein – amino acids
- Fats – essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6
- Vitamins – Vitamin A, vitamin E, and biotin
- Trace Minerals – silicon, zinc, and copper
Popular Coat Supplement Brand: Horse Tech Glanzen 3
The bottom line, horse lovers from SmartPak love it and experts recommend it. Glanzen 3 relies on omega 3 fatty acids for coat health. But it’s more of a broad-spectrum supplement with all other nutrients involved.
Another highly-rated all-in-one best vitamin mineral and supplement is the Uckele Tri Amino Supplement. From the keyword amino itself, it provides lysine and methionine in good amounts.
When should you give the best horse vitamin and mineral supplement?
While it’s a case-to-case, horse-to-horse basis, there are instances where extra vitamins and minerals are necessary, according to your guide to equine health care, the HORSE such as:
- Your horse may be on a high-grain, low-forage diet. Topping off nutrient requirements is a common purpose.
- Your horse engages in moderate to heavy training. Horse shows and racehorses do so.
- Your horse is under antibiotic treatment for illness or infection.
- Your horse is a poor feeder.
The Best Horse Vitamin and Mineral Supplement: Words to the Wise Horsemen
Don’t decide for yourself whether your horse needs a supplement.
Let your vet or nutritionist rule out causes of the problem you want to solve first.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to supplementing but whether it’s for humans or horses, we know this to be true: “Give only what one needs.”
Especially with vitamins, minerals or any other supplement, there’s a risk of over supplementing.
That comes with adverse reactions as nutritional imbalances. An overdose could also be toxic.
Safety first is the best rule.