As the age-old saying has taught, the measure of true hunger is one’s ability to eat an entire horse. But what does a horse eat when it is starving? Well, hopefully your equine friend will never experience such need. If you are up on your horse care knowledge, then you can rest easy that your horse will be healthy and happy. And if you have any doubts, perhaps you can read a bit about how to supplement the diet so that your horse health knowledge is top-notch.
Horses are front digestive animals who must graze all day long in order to obtain the nutrients and calories for optimum performance and maintaining high health. You are certainly aware that your horse requires a specific diet. According to the University of Kentucky and the department of equine sciences, your horse requires a diet high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fat. A horse’s diet is crucial for daily functions, a healthy appearance, and a strong immune system. Dr. Clair Thunes, an animal scientist who researches equine nutrition, claims that a horse’s dietary needs will be particular to the specific animal with large influences on the breed, size, and duties of the animal. She claims that forage should be sufficient (and is the best source of most nutritional requirements) for most horses. There are instances when horse supplements may be a necessary, or ideal, addition to your horse’s dietBrisbane.
When should I give my horse supplements?
Some horse owners may be unsure if or which supplements are ideal for horse health. The first step in diagnosing the appropriateness of horse supplements is to complete a dietary assessment of your animal. Horse supplements can be an ideal way to introduce particular deficiencies to your horse so that your horse’s diet can match the horse’s needs. (You do not want to rely on horse supplements to correct large dietary deficiencies.) In general, you want to add horse supplements after consulting an equine professional who can rule out alternative issues and match the correct horse supplements to your horse’s diet.
Are horse supplements safe?
The general consensus regard horse supplements as generally safe for horses as most of these dietary supplements mirror naturally occurring components of a horse’s diet and improve horse health. The National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the National Research Council, and the Food and Drug Administration have all conducted research on the safety of horse (and dog and cat) supplements and concluded that if used properly then these can be harmless (and beneficial) additions to your horse care.
The important consideration in the safety of horse supplements is in the proper introduction and selection of the particular type. Dr. Clair Thunes argues that you want to consult an expert because a horse supplement can mask or obscure additional or larger health concerns. For example, a hoof supplement will provide zinc while masking deficiencies with copper and Vitamin E that will sometimes accompany a diet low in zinc. An equine professional will be able to develop a proper dietary plan (with appropriate horse supplements) to improve horse health.
Types of horse supplements:
There a number of different horse supplements on the market. You will want to study the conditions (or more ideally consult a professional before altering your horse’s diet) for the use of any of these horse supplements with your horse. Below is a brief description of just some of the horse supplements available to improve horse health:
Horse Joint Supplements. This is the most controversial class of horse supplements so you will want to consult a professional before introducing a horse joint supplement to your horse’s diet. (Particularly because these supplements can contain substances banned from some equine competitions.) Horse joint supplements typically rely on a mix of naturally occurring sources (e.g., Yucca or devil’s claw) with targeted ingredients (e.g., glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, or Methylsulfonylmethane). Horse joint supplements are also controversial in terms of the extent to which they are effective. You will want to consult an expert when deciding if and which horse joint supplement to use.
Horse Hoof Supplements. This can be an ideal supplement if your horse is experiencing hoof issues even on an optimal diet. These supplements are typically a blend of zinc (for keratin formation…the protein responsible for hoof hardness), Methionine (or some other idea sulfur containing amino acid to help with water content and hoof pliability), and biotin (a long-term supplement for hoof care). You will need to be patient as most horse hoof supplements take a considerable amount of time before improvements will be observable.
Iron Horse Supplements. If correctly diagnosed, horse supplements for iron deficiencies (such as anemia) can be quite effective. You will want to consult an equine expert because anemia is more often misdiagnosed than properly concluded according to experts at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. A diagnosis of anemia can actually be any number of alternative issues, including parasites, poor exercise regimen, or improper testing. Iron horse supplements pose no danger when taken unnecessary, but in order to save money and energy, you will want to consult with a veterinarian before adding this horse supplement to your horse’s diet.
Horse Vitamin Supplements. In most instances, a horse will receive all of the necessary vitamins in normal grazing. There are instances when a particular horse vitamin may be needed. Because vitamins and minerals are so crucial to your horse’s daily functions, you do not want to assume that your horse is getting all of the recommended in-take of vitamins. For example, Dr. Frederick Harper identifies that your horse may have seasonal declines in vitamin A which can be linked to night blindness, respiratory infections, poor growth, and rough hair coats. A seasonal horse vitamin supplement could be the fix for this problem.
Biotin Horse Supplements. The addition of biotin to your horse’s diet (to supplement the naturally produced biotin in the stomach of the animal) can be important beyond hoof repair. Extensive research shows that biotin can also help with Vitamin B deficiencies and the improvement of a horse’s coat. Rutgers University’s Equine Science Center argues that biotin poses no threat for a horse, even in surplus, because biotin is water soluble and any excess is flushed from the body. An equine expert can help you identify the appropriate type and amount of biotin for your animal.
Horse Calming Supplements. This is an increasingly common horse supplement typically made of: magnesium, tryptophan, and thiamin. There also herbal substitutes for the traditional horse calming supplements, such as valerian or red raspberry. These supplements are good (when they do not other caloric inputs in the horse’s diet) for combatting nervousness or anxiety. You would want to consult a professional or veterinarian before using one of these horse supplements to make sure that the addition is appropriate for the diet and to rule out alternative anxiety appearing issues such as poorly fitting tack, joint pain, or ulcers.
Horse supplements can be the ideal ingredient to your horse’s diet to improve horse health and guarantee strong horse care. You care about your animal. You care about your investment. And you care about your equine friend. For all of those reasons, you should consult a professional about which horse supplements are ideal for your horse…so that he or she does not get so hungry that (s)he could eat a whole horse.