My horse doesn’t need a supplement…. Or does he?

A common misconception is that your horse doesn’t need supplements, as he is fed a balanced feed.  It’s true, there are many good quality complete feeds on the market, such as nuts or mixes, which are nutritionally balanced. However, this only applies if fed in the exact quantities for the requirements of your individual horse. You’d also need to check that all his other intake, such as forage, is nutritionally balanced.  

Another common theory is that horses manage in the wild without supplements.  Correct. But wild horses enjoy a varied diet by grazing on many types of grasses, trees and shrubs across thousands of acres. The opposite is true for domestication and the way horses are now kept. Many have limited turnout in small paddocks – some may have none at all.

There are so many factors which affect a horse’s requirements including age, breed, weight, exercise, forage. All of these can “unbalance” their diet, and an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies which, over time, can cause problems. 

Supplementation helps bridge the gap and ensures that your horse’s daily nutrition needs are catered for. 

Three of the main reasons for feeding your horse supplements are:

1. To help calm over-stressed/nervous horses or hormonal imbalances

Horse grazing in field

If horses are limited to little or no turnout, feeding a calmer can become an essential part of their diet to help ease their “fight or flight” reaction.  Calmers have been formulated to contain nutrients which are required for the nervous system, such as magnesium, or which have calming properties, such as chamomile.   

Some calmers are fed daily, such as NAF Five Star Magic, or NutriScience AnxiKalm, whereas others are for ad hoc use, and often come in a syringe format such as Synovium Calmingard. Syringes are perfect for one-off stressful situations, such as travelling, clipping or farrier visits.

2. To support joint health

The chances are, your horse is ridden on a variety of surfaces, subjecting his joints to heavy forces. Hacking on roads, jumping and performing school movements all add extra strain. 

If you want to lend a helping hand,  choose a joint supplement which helps maintain a healthy joint such as Equine America Cortaflex or NutriScience’s ArthriAid. Alternatively, you can help ease joint strain by nutritionally supporting the circulatory system with a supplement such as Global Herbs Alphabute Super.  Glucosamine supplements such as Omega Equine Glucosamine Extra also provide a cost-effective option to maintain joints.

3. To maintain a healthy digestive system

Adding horse supplements to feed

Maintaining a healthy gut is vital for all horses.  Without a fully functioning digestive system, your horse can’t absorb other nutrients to their full availability. Stabling and domestication cause further issues as your horse’s gut is naturally much better when he is moving and foraging.  Concentrated feeds and stress can lead to problems, particularly gastric ulcers. 

Lowering the acidity levels, by feeding a supplement such as Protexin Acid Ease, helps to maintain a healthy stomach, whilst the pre and probiotics in Protexin Gut Balancer encourage normal digestive function.

If you have questions about any of the products we sell, or if you are just looking for advice on how your horse could benefit from supplementing his diet, do contact us.