Equine supplements can be a controversial subject, and it seems that every equestrian has their own opinion about them. Some love them, some hate them and others fall somewhere in between. Personally, I fall into that last category: “somewhere in between.” I think that many horses, especially the ones I come into regular contact with at boarding barns and on the show circuit, receive their nutritional requirements from the grain, hay and grass they eat. I also know from my equine nutrition class in college that you can make a horse very, very sick by over supplementing, especially minerals such as vitamin A and Selenium.
However, as a discerning horse owner, I always want to do what’s best for my horse. The first thing I did when I bought Miles was take him off all of his supplements; I wanted to know if he needed them, or if he was on them just because. Now that I’ve owned Miles for six months, I feel like I have a much better handle on what he needs nutritionally, but I still have some decisions to make.
In this short series, I’m going to discuss three areas of supplements that I’m currently using or considering for Miles: digestive, skin & coat and joint. I’d love for you to chime in with your opinion and hear about what supplements have or haven’t worked for you.
When I purchased Miles he was on a maintenance dose of SmartGut from SmartPak, and we speculated that it was his previous owner’s way of treating him for possible ulcers. Miles was never scoped by a vet, or put on treatment (such as GastroGuard) for ulcers; so I pulled him off the SmartGut.
After a few weeks I noticed that Miles had loose stool, and it stuck around for a while. It wasn’t diarrhea, but it did get all over his back legs and let’s face it, that’s just gross. So I consulted with my vet, and decided to put Miles on a digestive supplement: ProBios. ProBios contain Lactic Acid Bacteria and other direct fed microbials. In animals, direct fed microbials can restore the normal balance in the gut and improve overall health.
Miles started the ProBios supplement in November 2013, and since then he’s had loose stool twice. Overall, I’m quite happy with the product. I feel confident that this type of supplement was something Miles needed, and that it has improved his overall health, which is always my goal when considering a supplement. Plus, the cost is relatively small. I was able to find the 5lb can of granules on Amazon for $35 plus shipping. Considering the first 5lb tub I bought lasted about four months, that’s only 30 cents a day – not too shabby!
What do you think about digestive supplements? Do you use one for your horse?