It's no secret that horses and ponies need good nutrition to perform at their best. In fact, providing the right supplements is often one of the most important things you can do as a horse or pony owner. Not only will supplements help your horse or pony stay healthy, but they can also improve performance in competitions or just make daily life easier for your animal.
In this article, we'll discuss why horses and ponies need supplements and which supplemental needs are most common. Then, we'll look at some of the best horse and pony supplements on the market today.
Reasons to Supplement Your Horse’s Diet
Horses and ponies need supplements for a variety of reasons. Horses and ponies who exercise intensely during training or competition and older animals often require extra dietary support from supplements to boost performance and create ideal health.
Broodmares generally need extra nutrition during pregnancy as well. Horse owners who want to improve their animal's appearance for the show ring by adding a glossy sheen to the horse's coat may also need some assistance in the form of coat supplements.
What to Look For in a Horse Supplement
If you're looking for a good horse or pony supplement, there are a few things to consider. First, make sure the supplement is specifically designed for horses or ponies. Many supplements marketed to humans can be harmful to equines, so it's important to choose one that's specifically made for them.
Second, consider the animal's age, activity level and diet. These factors can all change the necessary supplementation and dosage.
Third, choose the horse supplement or supplements that fits your animal's needs and make sure it comes from a trustworthy manufacturer with good customer support. If you have multiple horses or ponies, please keep in mind that each one will likely have different dietary considerations.
What Is the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority?
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) regulates agricultural chemicals, veterinary medicines and pesticides. The guidelines for registration vary, and while many horse supplements require registration with the APVMA, it’s not always necessary. Some unmedicated supplements, for example, that are voluntarily ingested and only meant to supplement an animal’s diet where levels may be low don't require registration.
Supplements that are administered, include medications or make claims to improve performance or a health condition typically require registration. Horse owners can search the public database of registered products on APVMA’s website to ensure supplements requiring regulation are appropriately registered.
In The USA, The Equivalent Is The National Animal Supplement Council
The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) is a non-profit organization that provides the public with independent information on animal supplements. The NASC reviews and monitors available scientific research and evaluates products to give shoppers accurate, unbiased findings about supplements for horses, dogs and cats.
The U.S.-based NASC is committed to promoting the health of animals around the world through safe and responsible use of nutritional products. You can be confident that products that display the NASC Seal of Quality have passed a third-party audit and have been thoroughly evaluated for quality. As such, it can be helpful to look for the NASC seal when searching for supplements if you're worried about quality or safety.
Other Things to Look For on Packaging
When perusing horse supplements, we recommend looking for a few keys things:
- A clear list of ingredients
- The amounts of each ingredient
- Good customer service with readily available contact information for the company
- A lot / batch number on the packaging
Most reputable products will have all of the above information available to the buyer, which builds trust and ensures you don't feed your horse anything questionable or unwanted. Searching for products with clearly marked and detailed labels can help you weed out products that may not meet you or your vet's standards.
Commonly Needed Supplements for Your Horse's Health
When choosing a supplement, it's essential to address the animal's specific health needs. However, there are few supplements that most commonly benefit equine competitors, seniors and younger horses.
Vitamin E: Vitamin Eis essential for horses and ponies because it supports a healthy immune system. It may also increase circulation, decrease inflammation and renew keratin, which is great for the skin.
Biotin: Biotin is a vitamin that's important for hoof health. It can also help improve the quality of your horse or pony's coat.
Omega-3 fatty acids These are important for joint health and can also help reduce inflammation. That said, you will see omega-3 fatty acids in many joint supplements. Omega-3 also strengthens the membranes in the hoof wall.
Magnesium: Magnesium is vital for muscle function and can also help prevent cramping.
Probiotics: Probiotics can help improve digestion and gut health. They may also help reduce stress levels, acting as calming supplements.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for immunity and can also help reduce inflammation.
Electrolytes: Like humans, equine athletes need a proper balance of electrolytes and typically must have electrolyte supplements when sweating profusely.
Iodine: A healthy horse needs adequate iodine, which contributes to hoof quality and a healthy coat.
Vitamin A:Most horses get plenty of Vitamin A from fresh grass, which is rich in it. However, stabled horses may need a Vitamin A supplement to maintain a good immune system and healthy skin.
Zinc: This mineral, which plays a role in immune function, coat health, and hoof strength, is vital to any horse's diet.
As you can see, there are a variety of supplements that can be beneficial for horses and ponies. With the right supplement, you can provide your horse or pony with a nutritious diet that helps them feel and perform at their best.
The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Often, horses require extra vitamins and minerals to make up for what they're not getting in their hay or other feed. This is especially true if your animal lives in a dry climate or one where the soil is poor in nutrients.
When your horse can't gain the necessary nutrients from its environment, a vitamin or mineral supplement is needed to keep the horse healthy and strong.
In addition to other benefits, vitamin and mineral supplements can improve joint, hoof, skin, and coat health. Supplements can also aid digestion and eliminate or reduce behaviour problems caused by a diet imbalance. For example, some horses may have excess energy due to an imbalanced diet that causes the animal to be fractious and engage in bad habits.
Don't Overdo Supplements for Horses
We urge you to discuss supplements for horses with a vet before embarking on a treatment plan. Receiving too many vitamins and minerals can be just as bad for your horse as receiving too few. Overuse of supplements can cause serious health problems.
Signs Your Horse or Pony Needs Dietary Supplements
If you're not sure if your horse or pony needs a supplement, there are a few signs to look for. Some common indications that your animal needs extra vitamins and minerals include:
- Poor coat condition
- Poor hoof quality
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramps
- Low energy levels
If you notice any of these signs, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about the best supplements for your horse or pony. A simple dietary supplement can change an equine life for the better.
The Best Horse and Pony Supplements
Now that we know why horses and ponies need supplements and some things to look for in a good supplement let's take a look at six of the best horse care manufacturers and supplements on the market today.
With the wide range of Cavalor Horse Care and Supplement products available to horse owners, those who prioritize optimal health can adequately feed and maintain the fitness of almost any equine companion.
If you're looking for a good horse supplement, Cavalor is an excellent option. Their products are specifically designed for horses, and they offer a variety of different supplements to meet your animals' unique needs.
Cavalor's supplements are made with quality ingredients, which vary depending on the product. The company offers different horse supplement types designed to achieve a balanced diet and optimal health, including ones for joint health, hoof quality, performance, immunity and stress relief. Cavalor's digestive supplements also encourage a more efficient gut.
While some products are somewhat expensive to the average horse or pony owner, many Cavalor products are reasonably priced, and they can be found at many retailers and animal supply shops across Australia. They're also available online.
EAC Animal Care in-sideout horse Pre & Probiotic, Nutraceutical & Gut Health Supplement For Horse & Ponies promotes a healthy gut for optimal digestion and a robust immune system.
The holistic supplement contains yeast cultures, digestive enzymes and various fermentation solubles and products to help your horse's digestive system.
Your horse's gut health affects the horse's body in many ways, and good gut health may change things about your horse you didn't even realize were possible. With a balanced diet and intestinal soundness, a horse owner may see an improvement in an animal's coat health and appearance, manure quality and behaviour in a reasonably short amount of time.
As with many horse supplements, this product seems relatively high-cost upfront, but it can reduce overall feed costs and make your horse healthier, potentially requiring fewer vet bills.
A horse's gut health is extremely important, as the gut is responsible for digesting food and extracting nutrients from that food. When the gut isn't healthy, it can lead to various problems, including poor digestion, weight loss and even colic.
The Plant Science Moulin Blend supplement is designed to help improve gut health in horses. It's made with unique and high-quality fibre and protein ingredients, including Australian-grown hemp seeds, which are great for digestive health.
The Moulin Blend supplement can help reduce stress levels, helping your horse or pony enjoy a calmer and more even mood. Digestive supplements of this nature also aid in better digestion and support gut health, increasing the horse's healthy appetite, coat quality and overall wellbeing.
This supplement is especially good for horses who have experienced colic, ulcers, anxiety or joint problems. It's also incredibly easy to use. Simply add it to your horse's regular feed.
The price point for this product may seem relatively high, but a 2k portion of supplement should last one horse a little over three months, according to the manufacturer.
Horses are prone to a number of joint problems, including arthritis, joint inflammation and ligament tears. These problems can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for the horse and make it difficult to move around.
There are many supplements available that manufacturers have designed to help horses with joint problems. Some of these supplements contain ingredients that reduce inflammation, while others lubricate the joints to facilitate movement.
The TuffRock PJF horse supplement is a horse supplement that focuses on giving equines ideal joint support for easier movement, alleviating problems like stiffness, clicking joints, and locking symptoms, especially in the patella or stifle areas. As such, it's an excellent choice for horses that need holistic dietary support that promotes healthier joints.
The vitamin-rich supplement includes energized volcanic minerals, antioxidants and calcium.
It's a fantastic supplement to pair with joint injections. In some cases, it may also be used as a natural alternative to joint injections, though you should always use such options under veterinary guidance.
It's a fairly costly supplement compared to some other brands and supplemental aids. Still, it's the perfect dietary addition for horses who need good joint supplements to encourage flexibility and smooth movement.
Electrolytes are minerals found in the body. They play a critical role in keeping the body functioning correctly. They help to regulate fluids, nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
Horses and ponies lose electrolytes through sweat, and it's crucial to replace them after exercise or in hot or humid weather. Electrolyte supplements typically come in powder, paste or liquid form and can be mixed with water or feed. The Troy Electrolyte Replacer 3kg comes in powdered form and is mixed into feed or dissolved into drinking water.
This electrolyte supplement is made with a well-balanced formula of ingredients, including salt and magnesium, that promote a healthy electrolyte balance. It's a critical supplement for active horses and ponies because it replaces lost electrolytes, which are essential for healthy muscles and nerves. It's perfect for use after hard work or competition or when your animal suffers from dehydration.
Horse owners should remember that it's not only competitive horses who need a supplement product to prevent dehydration. Any horse who sweats enough will lose electrolytes. Even horses who aren't active on sweltering days may sweat significantly and need increased attention for hydration and electrolyte balance.
The Troy Electrolyte Replacer is the perfect product for any horse or pony that needs extra assistance with staying fully hydrated and energized for top performance and overall health.
Horses participating in rigorous activities need to have good electrolyte balance. As mentioned above, when horses work hard, they lose electrolytes through their sweat. If these electrolytes are not replaced, the horse can become dehydrated, leading to health problems. Electrolytes are also important for proper muscle function.
Ranvet Salkavite 2kg is an electrolyte and Vitamin B replacer for horses. It is a powder that is mixed with water or feed and given to horses to help them recover from illness or dehydration or to help them maintain their health during times of stress or heat.
Ranvet Salkavite 2kg contains high levels of Vitamin B and Vitamin E, along with minerals such as sodium, potassium and chloride. This product is also a good source of energy for horses.
Ranvet Salkavite 2kg makes an excellent supplement for ponies and horses who take part in competitions or those under stress. It is also a good choice for animals prone to dehydration or those that live in hot climates, like Australia.
The electrolytes and vitamins in this product help horses convert energy from feed efficiently, stay healthy and function at the top of their game.
Making the Final Choice on Horse Supplements for Your Mount
Again, before supplementing your horse's diet, we highly recommend discussing your horse's health and diet needs with a vet. Discussing dietary supplements for horses with your vet is critical because your vet can help you determine if your horse needs supplements and, if so, which ones would be best.
Does your horse need a shiny coat, more hoof growth or a calming supplement? Or maybe a single supplement that addresses all three issues? Your vet can help you decide.
Additionally, a vet can help you create a plan for administering horse supplements correctly and safely, especially if you're using several supplements or addressing several health issues concurrently.