Horses are grazing animals and therefore many people think they can get by perfectly easily just by eating grass or hay. This is a view often expressed by non-horse owners who struggle to understand the requirement for hard feed, let alone supplements. Indeed, many horse owners also wonder why horse nutrition is so complicated.
When people removed horses from the wild, they took them from a free-ranging existence to a contained one. When owners restrict their horses to a single field, paddock or stable, then they remove from them the ability to forage at will. They are therefore duty bound to provide them with the optimum nutrition to promote good health and appropriate energy levels.
Horses are required to perform difficult movements which put a strain on their joints, muscles and tendons. From dressage to show jumping, people ask their horses to stretch their athleticism to the limit. Providing optimum nutritional support means the horse’s body can withstand the stresses and strains caused by people’s demands on their bodies.
Even the humble hack can benefit from supplementation from time to time. The summer months often see a surge in pleasure rides, pub rides and picnic hacks, requiring your horse to produce sufficient energy to cope with the increased workload. Even something as simple as a splash of oil in his feed could help him.
It’s not just physical issues which can be helped through nutritional support. There are a number ofequestrian supplements which have been proven to help dramatically with behavioural issues. Most horse owners will be aware of the often miraculous-seeming calming effects of magnesium, which has transformed the life of many an unhappy animal.
The Complex World of Nutrition
As with the subject of hard feed, the world of nutritional supplements for horses is vast and complex. Get it right and you can transform your horse’s life immeasurably, but get it wrong and you can find yourself facing a snorting, prancing creature where you formerly had a plod-along type. Ask friends, other horse-owners, your vet, farrier and other horse professionals so that you get as much advice as you possibly can.
The internet can be incredibly helpful for researching information about equine supplements, but try to steer clear of scaremongering stories, of which there are many. Read as much as you possibly can and take a measured approach. Read other people’s reviews of supplements and products and try to take an informed view rather than rushing headlong into trying products as soon as you first hear of them. Supplements can be expensive so it really does pay to get it right first time.
Among the best sources of information are the helplines set up by all of the major feed and supplement companies. They are always knowledgeable and helpful and there is no obligation to buy their products.
Carol Price has been riding since childhood and has maintained her passion for horses since then. She writes for a number of magazines, websites and blogs and never stops reading, studying and learning about equines. The topic of equestrian supplements is so important that she strongly recommends all horse owners should investigate the subject further.