I'm fairly new to this forum and haven't really figured out how it works yet, so I don't know how much this issue has or hasn't been hashed over. But I'd love to have a discussion.
My stable owner's youngster gets brewers' yeast every day, and I'm considering putting my horse on it as well. I don't know much about it, but it seems like an enticing way of getting all that vitamin-y goodness into the horse - right? It's so easy getting charmed by these labels.
Looking for brewers' yeast on eBay, I came across magnesium, which I've been wanting to look into for a while. My horse is an ex-racehorse who gets pretty hot in the head sometimes; I've been wondering whether MagO could be of interest (it's the main ingredient in most calmers on the market). We also have a cultural difference here - I see a lot of marketing for fancy shiny pelleted calmers in the British market, while they are virtually non-existent in my home country of Norway.
And then I digressed even further and got looking at bulk supply of cracked linseed. Vegetable oil isn't exactly the best thing to give with horses - so much Omega-3 and so little Omega-6.
Of course linseed can hardly do any damage, but how do you guys feel about stuffing the horse full of do-gooder supplements without actually knowing they need it? Here in Norway where I live, the more "natural" horse community is moving more and more toward the stance that you shouldn't give supplements unless a blood test from the vet actually states the horse needs them. I'm a bit torn to be honest.
Before you give your hard earned money over to the hype the shiny labels, figure out whats in your feed now. Read the labels and have the hay or the pasture tested. If there is anything missing or too low then supplement for that. If you are feeding baled hay, the nutrient and sugar values change with the times they were cut. Pastures are the same, the grass quality will depend on the soil and what stage in the growing season the grass it in.
I think common sense is a good approach and evaluating each 'latest and greatest' individually and with your specifics in mind.
The omega fatty acids are important, and can help with inflammation be it arthritis, allergy, etc. Both small and large animal vets have been using them in treatment plans long before they became popular mainstream supplements.
MSM is another basic that I think many people find useful, although I opt for the omega 3 instead if I had to chose.
The rest IMO is a waste, including joint supps, I go for adequan instead.
I will admit, I've been sucked into the glossy promises, most recently trying a metabolic pellet. But a week later I woke up amd realized I would be spending a lot of money the stuff for no reason, so I cancelled it. I want to believe it works because I want the best for my horses. But the best in most cases is to throw that magazine in the trash.
I think most supplements are a waste of money, so many aren't even bioavailable! If it's not chelated, it's a waste of money. The only one I'll feed durin show season is SmartCalm, it does calm my hot tb down, but since this will be a light show year, I'll be experimenting with different foods.
I do a whole food diet for my guy, it's normally used for IR/cushings horses, but I liked the idea behind it. He gets hay ontop of it, since he's fine with hay I do what's in season, I go to farmers markets and buy up. I alternate with dehydrating staples (orange peels and kale), and raw or cooked for other things. He gets sea vegetables, and I'll alternate teas for him. I had done a LOT of nutritional research though, and I write everything out to make sure it's fairly balanced, which takes a lot of time. (goal in 2013 is to start a blog detailing this...)
Plus side: way cheaper then any supplement plan out there. However I live in California which is rich in produce, sea vegetables, herbs, etc. A person in Alaska during the middle of winter might have an impossible time with such a diet.
Vegetable oil isn't exactly the best thing to give with horses - so much Omega-3 and so little Omega-6.
FWIW this is backwards... Veggie oil is full of Omega 6 and not much Omega 3. Omega 3's have been proven as a natural anti inflammatory and Omega 6 promote inflammation. Good sources of omega 3 are flax seed, black oil sunflower seeds and rice bran or you could do a fish oil supplement such as wellpride. But you are correct that veggie oil isn't the best thing to supplement with but is a cheap way to help put on weight without making the horse crazy.
I too feel that many horses are over supplemented but there are cases where it's needed, such as a horse that's in a selenium dificient area may need to be supplemented with E/Se for proper muscle function, etc.
Boyle Heights Kid 1998 OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason "Once you go off track, you never go back!"
So the sellers of chelated minerals/nutrients insist. Not everything we ingest is chelated, and the term is not even relevant for most nutrients. Generally speaking our bodies do a fine job of extracting what we need out of all manner of nutrient forms. If a chelated mineral (for example) is 25% more bioavailable but costs 5x as much . . . it's more economical to feed the non-chelated form for most people.
And sorry, I should have been way more specific in what I said :/ Yes, some can utilize cheaper supplements, and that's a great deal. But, and I should have said this, some can't and that's when you start adding ontop, trying to get that "healthy" thing, when either A) you need to feed something higher quality or B) look at the digestive system and do some work there.
It's the same reason, why does my friends qh live fat off 3 flakes/day, but my gelding needs free choice hay to stay fat? Same hay, same exercise level, same barn and same shelters, it's a bit frustrating