And yep, the array of them available...mind numbing. One thing I've always wondered about it is what about different supplements reacting badly with others? Or cancelling out others? There don't seem to be any warnings or literature on those possibilities and I have a hard time believing that 50 billion non FDA approved pseudo-meds never ever react with other ones.
Also lack of testing creeps me out.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
And yet SmartPak is asking people to "share their stories" so "you too can star in a SmartPak catalog!", as if people needed MORE incentive to buy and swallow whole the mystique and cult of polysupplementation.
I myself use joint supplements on those that need it, electrolytes, and probiotics/prebiotics (again for those that need it that have a history of digestive upset). There are a lot of things out there that can easily be improved just by correct feeding, shoeing and just grooming! I hate it when people believe that just because there horses coats are as shinny as a new penny they need to try every coat supp there is! Elbow grease goes along way...
Wanted to post on this since a friend and I were just talking about this yesterday. Many horses don't need anything beyond a basic vitamin/mineral supplement that fills in the holes and known deficiencies. However, horses that have diseases, injuries, or are otherwise compromised can definitely benefit from carefully selected supplements.
After testing all of my hay, I found out that every load of hay, regardless of type and the farmer I bought it from - had deficiencies in multiple areas. All of them are void almost completely of selenium. Some were low in water soluable vitamins. Even premium quality "prime" hay was tested and found low in multiple areas. And there are many micronutrients we can't or don't test for because it is cost prohibitive or the tests are not reliable/accessible.
When I was growing up, the average horse was usually considered OLD at 20 and usually didn't live much past 25. Today horses that are 20-25 are still able to compete or at least still do trail rides and pleasure work. I think this is due to better nutrition, exercise programs, and medical advances. About 5 horses that I trim are in excess of 30 years old and are still being pleasure ridden.
Horses that have injuries or diseases, or are in some way compromised can be supported with certain supplements that the average healthy horse might not need. My foundered/cushings horse gets SmartControl IR. Within a week of being on the supplement, she lost the remainder of her thick/hard neck crest. She's now been on it about 4 months and she's lost weight, and her chronically "goopy" eyes have cleared up completely. Her appetite settled down so instead of scarfing down feed and hay like her tail's on fire, she just casually chews. Nothing else changed except to add the supplement.
The Appendix mare gets 10,000 mg. MSM daily and if I should skip it for a few days, she stiffens up again. That horse also needs additional selenium that my others do not need. She was getting a supplement that supplied 1 mg. a day, which supposedly was adequate but she became deficient. She's now on a supplement that provides 2 mg. a day plus an extra 1,000 mg. of Vitamin E beyond her normal vit/min supplement, and she's doing wonderfully.
After contracting anaplasmosis in the fall, the arab mare developed all sorts of "weirdness" in her body, including poor haircoat, and achey hocks. A couple of months ago I started her on extra antioxidants, omegas, and changed her vitamin/mineral supplement to one that provides significantly more of "everything". I also put her on Source to provide micronutrients. She went from looking like a crabby, sore, roughed up cow pony back to the shiny fit, sassy little thing she's always been. The old dead hair is shedding off and what's coming in looks light years better. Her lovely black/bay color lightened up to a brassy brown/orange over the last few months. What's coming in new is back to the same wonderful dark color.
The stallion is healthy, fit and vibrant in every way with no issues so he just gets a basic vitamin/mineral supplement and 5,000 MSM as prevention since he's 9 and in full work.
You have to look at each horse individually and see if there are issues that might be addressed with specific supplements. But certainly not every horse needs $60 worth of supplements a month. But some DO unfortuantely.
I HATE supplementing. I feel like a mad scientist mixing formulas. But what are you going to do when your horse doesn't need to/shouldn't eat fortified grain and your vet makes recommendations? And of course, there is no ideal supplement even for what I "know" AND/OR "think" my horse needs, and I don't know squat anyway.
I think I have things figured out for now. Mr. Horse has always been, and continues to be healthy, energetic and happy so it probably STILL doesn't matter. Oh Well. We do what we can.
I don't define "adding nutrients that are missing" as "supplementation". That's just meeting their needs.
Adding the latest concoction because someone saw something somewhere on Google that this ingredient helped with chronic health problems (that often get better and worse on their own anyway), well, that's probably a waste of money. But maybe not, and if one has the money and the desire, one ought to go for it. We like to feel we are DOING SOMETHING, and we like to take credit for the "good" phases in the natural progression and regression of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
But in the end, a happy horse and a happy owner are the goal. Doesn't matter how someone else gets there, as long as we're happy with the four-legs-and-a-tail standing in OUR barn.
I myself have become a minimalist in the supplement department, but I do use them from time to time. I just can't imagine trying to be a newbie horse owner with all these things to choose from.
Shoot, I've owned horses since I was 10 years old and I still can't make heads nor tails of it. I don't supplement my guys. I tried a couple of joint supplements over the years for my arthritic old guys but none of them seemed to make a difference at all, so I quit wasting the $60 or whatever each month. I've also given various vitamin supplements when I had to feed lower-quality hay due to shortages in order to make sure the ponies got what they needed, but like deltawave I don't really consider that supplementing in the usual sense.
I'm glad the options are out there for those horses that need them, but I do think people go way overboard sometimes.
I consider anything beyond the basic HWG to be supplementing, and I do it if the horse needs it. Actually, I kind of enjoy browsing through the catalogs to see who is offering what, and if it is for real or is only snake oil. However, once the horsey really needs something, then sleuthing becomes serious business! I start with the Smartpak catalog because it has that handy dandy comparison chart in each category, which speeds up separating the wheat from the chaff. Then I check to see if the product holds a NASC seal (I kinda like that), and check back here to see who has what to say about it. Finally, it is off to the price comparison search. Usually by the time I get it all sorted out, Dobbin has recovered from whatever it was that was bothering him, so now I can put my credit card back in my wallet. If not, well, at least I'll get the latest and greatest whizbang technology for the cheapest price possible!
Chief, great minds thinking alike again! That is what I do when I do have to shop for supplements. I also like that Smart pak will send you a sample so you can see if the darned horse will even eat it before shelling out the cash for a full bucket.
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams