Depending on your horses’ weight and the exercise they are doing, diets need to be customised to ensure their nutritional requirements are being met.
The most common reasons for supplementing a horse is either treat an ailment or nutritional imbalance or to help improve the horse’s performance. The following ailments are examples of conditions which may require the need for a nutritional supplement:
- Metabolic issues
- Ulcers or gut disfunction
- Recovering from injury or surgery
- Breeding or growing
- High-Performance Horses
- Lacking body condition
- Poor quality coat and hooves
All the above horses have different requirements in terms of nutrition which is why the use of Supplements can be introduced to treat a nutritional condition and ensure there are no dietary deficiencies.
How do we know when to supplement?
Be Guided by the horse. Any horses competing at high levels generally need additional supplementation. Your horse should maintain weight/muscle mass and recover from the work being done, exude a good healthy coat and have a healthy appetite.
It is also important to remember that it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. Most vitamins and minerals have a wide margin of safety, but if they’re overfed, it’s possible to overdose your horse on the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Special care must be taken with regard to two minerals, selenium (which we mentioned previously) and iodine, both of which have low toxicity thresholds in horses. Do not feed a supplement containing selenium if your grain ration contains added selenium. Be careful to feed iodine-rich supplements (usually based on kelp) only in areas where the soils are iodine-deficient, and only in combination with feeds that are not iodine-supplemented. Iodine toxicity can be particularly difficult to diagnose, as it produces symptoms almost identical to those for iodine deficiency!
It is far better to analyse your diet before you supplement than to figure out where you have gone wrong later when your horse is suffering symptoms of a nutritional imbalance. Ranvet offers a complimentary online nutritional service which you can use to help determine if your horse needs a supplement added to their diet. Complete our online form here: https://www.ranvet.com.au/nutrition-centre/diet-evaluation/
The best advice we can offer is to buy products that list all the active ingredients and levels on the label. The reason for this is that Animal Health companies should always display a full list of active ingredients because they are governed to do so by rules and regulations set out by the APVMA.
It is also especially important for those riders competing under FEI regulations or relevant racing bodies to ensure they know exactly what they are feeding their horse.
And remember if a supplement sounds too good to be true it probably is!