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A Guide to Horse Supplements: Does Your Horse Need Them & Do They Really Work?

Guide to Horse Supplements

 

There's such a huge range of horse supplements available that it can seem impossible to know which ones work and which are best for your horse. The following guide is designed to give you all the information you need to decide whether your horse needs additional vitamins and minerals and if so which is the best option for your horse or pony. We also discuss some of the conditions that can be alleviated through the targeted use of top quality supplementation including:

Why do horses need supplements?

Why Do Horses Need Supplements?

 

Many horses are fed additional vitamins and minerals in the form of horse supplements. These are added to a horses diet for three main reasons: to ensure nothing is lacking from the horses diet, to address a specific health concern or to enhance performance.

Modern horses are reliant on grazing and hard feed to fulfill their nutritional requirements. In the wild horses would graze thousands of acres of land with different types of grasses, herbs and soil types. This variation of diet ensured they ate everything they needed. Modern grazing is often less diverse and can lack the vitamins and minerals required to keep a horse healthy. Supplements bridge this gap, providing a balance of nutrients to ensure nothing is missing in your horses diet.

High performance horses, or horses regularly undertaking strenuous exercise may also benefit from supplements to quickly replenish nutrients lost to the body whilst exercising. These can include stamina boosting supplements, electrolytes and supplements designed to aid quick recovery of muscles and joints.

Supplements can also be used to help address a specific health concern, for example weak hooves, laminitis or reduced flexibility in older horses. There are a huge range of horse supplements available, some providing very targeted, specific nutrients and others that contain a wider spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Many are herbal horse supplements or natural horse supplements containing herbs your horse would naturally seek out whilst grazing.

Does my horse need a supplement?

Your horse may be getting everything it needs already from its diet. It’s important to make sure that any supplements you feed your horse are benefitting their health, and there are a few useful questions to ask yourself: Does my horse have a condition I need to treat? Is my horse getting old? Is my horse on a restricted diet and therefore missing out on essential nutrients? Is my horse being exercised heavily?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be worth considering supplementation for your horse. Before adding or changing a supplement we recommend speaking to either your vet or an equine nutritionist to ensure you’re feeding the best option for your horse. All horses are different and what works for one horse may not work for another.

It can take some time to find the best solution for your horse. Whether your horse requires calming supplements, something to aid digestion, help maintaining healthy hooves or assistance for ageing joints it’s essential to monitor your horse to see how they respond to their supplemented diet. It’s best not to regularly change your horse's diet but at the same time there is no point continuing to feed a supplement that is having no beneficial effect.

There are a huge range of horse supplements on the market, available in numerous forms including powders, liquids, tablets and pellets. Some provide an instant boost whilst others are designed to build up in the horses system over time.

What can supplements help with?

What Can Supplements Help With?


Horse supplements can assist with a huge range of health concerns and performance needs as well as supporting a healthy balanced diet. At Houghton Country we stock a comprehensive range of supplements including horse calmers, joint health solutions, digestive health supplements, options to support peak performance and nutrition for healthy hooves. 

Horse Calmers

At certain times in a horses life it may be necessary to use horse calmers whether as an instant boost to keep them calm during times of stress or to make them more manageable and happy on a longer term basis. Finding horse calmers that work for your individual horse can take some time, so it’s important to work out what is causing the initial stress when seeking a solution. We carry a comprehensive range of equine calming supplements that target multiple causes of tension, including hormonal and diet related issues. They are all designed to help reduce stress in your horse, helping your horse to maintain an even temperament and hopefully resulting in good behaviour all day long!

Horse calming supplements are available in a variety of forms. Instant horse calmers help a horse respond to a situation they find stressful, for example being loaded onto a horsebox, having their teeth checked or being shod. They are sold as calming syringes, tablets and gels that can be administered easily with or without food.

If you own a mare you’ll know there’s certain times they can be a little more testing than others! Horse calmers for mares help to address hormonal changes that can result in mares becoming difficult to ride and handle. These calmers support a mares natural hormone cycles by encouraging regularity and providing extracts from herbs useful in supporting hormone balance. These help your mare relax and feel more comfortable.

Some horses are naturally nervous and simply need a little extra support to keep them happier in their daily life. Feeding an everyday calmer that helps to calm worry and nervousness can be the ideal option if you’re looking for horse calmers for spooky horses. They are available in both powder and liquid form with the liquid option often more palatable for fussy horses.

At Houghton Country we offer a comprehensive range of horse calmers so you’re sure to find a solution that works best for your horse.

Joint Supplements for Horses

It’s incredibly important to look after your horses joints and look out for signs that your horse may be uncomfortable. There are numerous reasons you may need to feed horse joint supplements, including, specific health conditions, to support an ageing horse, or to maintain comfort and performance in a sports horse.

Joint supplements for horses contain nutrients that are proven to support joint flexibility. For performance horses these focus on recovery of tendons and ligaments to ensure the horse is comfortable after strenuous exercise and limit any long-term damage to the joints.

Supplements for the joints can also be used to keep horses comfortable as they age as well as targeting specific health concerns found in older horses. Joint supplements for horses with arthritis for example focus on soothing the joints ensuring comfort and reduced pain whilst also helping to restore tendons and ligaments so that your horse can move more freely again.

Our range of joint supplements for horses include leading brands NAF, Global Herbs, Animalife and Equine America so you’re sure to find the best solution for your horse.

Hoof Supplements

Hoof Supplements

 

Keeping your horse’s hooves healthy is vital. The quality of a horse’s hoof is heavily influenced by genetics and diet, whilst climate and care of the hooves can also have an impact. Your horses diet can have a significant impact on the quality of their hooves, and both farriers and nutritionists agree that supplementation can help to vastly improve hoof quality.

Poor quality horn, cracking in the hooves and slow growth can all be indicators of a nutritional deficiency in your horses diet. The good news is that feeding targeted horse hoof supplements can help to address this, and improvements in the quality of the hoof will be evident. Addressing the issue from the inside first and then supporting this with external hoof care using creams or oils will ensure your horses hooves are healthy in the long run.

At Houghton Country we offer a huge selection of hoof supplements as well as external hoof care products ideal for daily use during your grooming routine.

Digestive Health

Good digestive health is the key to a happy, healthy horse. Digestion supplements assist with a range of needs including providing a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals for a healthy gut, probiotics for gut stability, ensuring good do-ers have all the nutrition they require, and keeping senior horses in perfect condition.

Your horse’s digestion system impacts upon everything else in the body, so horse gut supplements are the perfect place to start if you’re looking to improve your horses overall well-being. Balancing the good and bad bacteria in the gut will support digestive function and efficiency and many digestion supplements can be fed alongside more targeted supplements for other areas of the horse’s body.

Our range of horse gut supplements at Houghton Country includes leading brands Equine Products, Protexin and Dodson and Horrell.

Breathing

In the wild horses would roam on wide open plains, which is quite a contrast to the comparatively enclosed spaces they now live in. This can put strain on the airways, particularly through dust and pollen in the atmosphere. Management can make a huge difference to the health and integrity of the respiratory system but nutritional support can also help your horse cope with these stresses. At Houghton Country we offer horse respiratory supplements to help keep your horses lungs and respiratory tracts as clear and healthy as possible.

Performance

Horses that perform at high levels or have heavy exercise regimes can require additional nutritional support to keep them performing at their best. Horse performance supplements provide the nutritional support needed by equine athletes, whether that’s an energy boost or horse electrolytes to aid recovery and replenish lost salts.

At Houghton Country we offer a comprehensive range of energy supplements and electrolytes for horses that can help to improve performance, support energy levels and promote natural recovery.

Horse Skin Supplements

Throughout the year your horse’s skin can become prone to seasonal conditions that can cause discomfort, itching and bumps. Skin supplements help support your horse from the inside to reduce the impact of seasonal variations on the skin, coupled with external applications they can ensure your horse is comfortable and healthy throughout the year. Skin supplements are perfect for horses that display lumps or itchy and flaky skin as a response to insects, mud or hot weather. Our comprehensive range includes mud fever supplements and supplements designed to repel flies, keeping sweet itch and summer itching to a minimum.

What to consider when buying horse supplements

Buying Horse Supplements

 

The main thing to consider before adding anything to your horse's diet is whether your horse or pony requires additional vitamins and minerals in the first place. If your horse is already receiving everything it needs from its diet then there is no need to add anything else. If your horse has a particular health condition or there is a certain area that you believe requires targeted support then supplements may be the ideal choice.

To find the best solution for your horse we recommend speaking to an equine nutritionist. Many feed providers and horse supplement brands offer free helplines that you can call and discuss your horse's individual needs. These are a great place to start. It can be useful to call a couple of different brand helplines as this will give you a better idea of the products on offer and the specific, targeted support they offer.

When thinking about supplement use be honest about your horse's weight and level of exercise. Think about their age and the environment they live in. Supplementation should be considered in conjunction with their wider diet, management and daily care routine, and this will ensure you horse is happy and healthy throughout the year. Many supplements have complementing ointments and grooming sprays that are perfect to use alongside them for a complete approach.

Always choose a reputable brand when feeding a new supplement. This ensures full traceability of all the ingredients used and guarantees everything in the supplement is of the highest quality. Not all horse supplements are legal for competition use so if this is a concern always ensure you check the regulations and ingredients you are using carefully to be sure you are compliant. We stock a huge range of health and supplement brands at Houghton Country as part of our wider horse care selection, so you’ll always be able to find a product that suits your horses needs.

 

We hope you’ve found this guide to horse supplements useful. If you’re interested in learning more about wider horse care you can also check out our guide to horse grooming and browse our range of horse grooming products.

If there’s any more information you require please don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team who can assist in advising the products we have available or provide you with the details for numerous feed and supplement helplines to aid you in your research.

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