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Supplement costs vs actual needs

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  • Supplement costs vs actual needs

    How do you really KNOW if your horse needs a supplement? Or, if you are giving a supplement, how do you know your horse is actually receiving a benefit?

    I know by looking at the catalogs that they are indeed the rage. But after looking at my supplement bill from last year, I want to make sure I am spending my money wisely.

    Food for thought....

  • #2
    I test my hay to start with and see what the mineral levels are at and then I do a mineral panel on my horse and I supplement what is needed.......in my area that is selenium and I also do Vitamin E in the winter when we have no green grass.

    Dalemma

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks Dalemma, that is a great place to start. Forage as always should be the base of any horses diet!

      Comment


      • #4
        Read the back of your grain bag to see what the minimum daily amount of grain is in order for your horse to receive the amount of nutrition he needs. My horse receives only half the daily recommended amount of Ultium, so his fortified grain isn't providing every vitamin and mineral he needs.

        Since our hay supply is variable, I put him on the SmartVite vitamin/mineral supplement that best matched what he was missing. If you're having trouble figuring it out, FeedXL is really a great program for this.

        Other than that, I put him on a joint supplement because it makes me feel better. He's going over a year between hock and stifle injections, so I think its helping.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by outfoxem View Post
          How do you really KNOW if your horse needs a supplement? Or, if you are giving a supplement, how do you know your horse is actually receiving a benefit?

          I know by looking at the catalogs that they are indeed the rage. But after looking at my supplement bill from last year, I want to make sure I am spending my money wisely.

          Food for thought....
          Evaluate your horse by standing him up and really looking at him: Is his coat slick and shiny? Are his eyes bright? Is his energy consistent? No recurring, nagging problems? Is the quality of his feet good and consistent, with regular growth?
          Is his weight in a healthy place, 4.5 to 6.0 on the equine body mass index scale the vets use? No nagging allergies?
          Does he keep affordably & consistently? Chew wood or eat dirt? Does he shed his winter coat on time every year?

          Now ride him: Is his attitude good? Agreeable, interested, forward? Is he willing & able to do the job you want him to do without becoming sore, sour, or leaving the scene when he sees you holding a halter? Not hot, spooky, inconsistent?

          Passing those tests, I'd say his diet was just FINE--but you can always get another opinion from your vet. If BOTH of you think all's well, I wouldn't start buying supplements just because it's the "done thing" these days. NEVER underestimate the power of marketing! Many of these things are products in search of a "problem." Ask yourself if you'd sit down and shovel down several tablespoons of paprika, cinnamon, ground-up cartilage or seaweed at each meal for no good reason; then why should your horse?

          SOME things can work; I've had good luck with Super 14 for coats, but you can do the same thing with corn oil. MSM is good for "elders" who are a little stiff or to support those with collagen disease; Evitex is The Bomb for laminitis--I had an astounding success with that. I use these things only as needed, for a specific condition, and hopefully temporarily.

          I'm going to start a war here by saying it; but having read a number of studies done by the big veterinary teaching hospitals, I do not believe that ORAL glucosamine/chondroitin supplements have any benefit at all--they are not even absorbed in that form by a horse and if digested at all, it's as egregiously expensive sugar! Legend & Adequan, however, are proven therapies and I like both when indicated.

          An awful lot of the supplement craze is driven by the phrases "natural," "green," "herbal," "beneficial," "supporting," all the hot buzzwords of warm marketing fuzzies. BUT--there is just about jack-spit evidence to support most, and even less knowledge of unintended consequences. Feeding "stuff" just to feed "stuff" IS throwing away money.

          I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
            Evaluate your horse by standing him up and really looking at him: Is his coat slick and shiny? Are his eyes bright? Is his energy consistent? No recurring, nagging problems? Is the quality of his feet good and consistent, with regular growth?
            Is his weight in a healthy place, 4.5 to 6.0 on the equine body mass index scale the vets use? No nagging allergies?
            Does he keep affordably & consistently? Chew wood or eat dirt? Does he shed his winter coat on time every year?

            Now ride him: Is his attitude good? Agreeable, interested, forward? Is he willing & able to do the job you want him to do without becoming sore, sour, or leaving the scene when he sees you holding a halter? Not hot, spooky, inconsistent?

            Passing those tests, I'd say his diet was just FINE--but you can always get another opinion from your vet. If BOTH of you think all's well, I wouldn't start buying supplements just because it's the "done thing" these days. NEVER underestimate the power of marketing! Many of these things are products in search of a "problem." Ask yourself if you'd sit down and shovel down several tablespoons of paprika, cinnamon, ground-up cartilage or seaweed at each meal for no good reason; then why should your horse?

            SOME things can work; I've had good luck with Super 14 for coats, but you can do the same thing with corn oil. MSM is good for "elders" who are a little stiff or to support those with collagen disease; Evitex is The Bomb for laminitis--I had an astounding success with that. I use these things only as needed, for a specific condition, and hopefully temporarily.

            I'm going to start a war here by saying it; but having read a number of studies done by the big veterinary teaching hospitals, I do not believe that ORAL glucosamine/chondroitin supplements have any benefit at all--they are not even absorbed in that form by a horse and if digested at all, it's as egregiously expensive sugar! Legend & Adequan, however, are proven therapies and I like both when indicated.

            An awful lot of the supplement craze is driven by the phrases "natural," "green," "herbal," "beneficial," "supporting," all the hot buzzwords of warm marketing fuzzies. BUT--there is just about jack-spit evidence to support most, and even less knowledge of unintended consequences. Feeding "stuff" just to feed "stuff" IS throwing away money.

            I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple.
            Bravo. This should be a COTH sticky

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
              Evaluate your horse by standing him up and really looking at him: Is his coat slick and shiny? Are his eyes bright? Is his energy consistent? No recurring, nagging problems? Is the quality of his feet good and consistent, with regular growth?
              Is his weight in a healthy place, 4.5 to 6.0 on the equine body mass index scale the vets use? No nagging allergies?
              Does he keep affordably & consistently? Chew wood or eat dirt? Does he shed his winter coat on time every year?

              Now ride him: Is his attitude good? Agreeable, interested, forward? Is he willing & able to do the job you want him to do without becoming sore, sour, or leaving the scene when he sees you holding a halter? Not hot, spooky, inconsistent?

              Passing those tests, I'd say his diet was just FINE--but you can always get another opinion from your vet. If BOTH of you think all's well, I wouldn't start buying supplements just because it's the "done thing" these days. NEVER underestimate the power of marketing! Many of these things are products in search of a "problem." Ask yourself if you'd sit down and shovel down several tablespoons of paprika, cinnamon, ground-up cartilage or seaweed at each meal for no good reason; then why should your horse?

              SOME things can work; I've had good luck with Super 14 for coats, but you can do the same thing with corn oil. MSM is good for "elders" who are a little stiff or to support those with collagen disease; Evitex is The Bomb for laminitis--I had an astounding success with that. I use these things only as needed, for a specific condition, and hopefully temporarily.

              I'm going to start a war here by saying it; but having read a number of studies done by the big veterinary teaching hospitals, I do not believe that ORAL glucosamine/chondroitin supplements have any benefit at all--they are not even absorbed in that form by a horse and if digested at all, it's as egregiously expensive sugar! Legend & Adequan, however, are proven therapies and I like both when indicated.

              An awful lot of the supplement craze is driven by the phrases "natural," "green," "herbal," "beneficial," "supporting," all the hot buzzwords of warm marketing fuzzies. BUT--there is just about jack-spit evidence to support most, and even less knowledge of unintended consequences. Feeding "stuff" just to feed "stuff" IS throwing away money.

              I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple.
              ^^^ALL OF THE ABOVE!

              As long as your horse is getting the necessary vitamins and minerals, good quality forage (whether it be grass pasture or hay), and can move about naturally to keep him/her from getting stiff, you're good to go.

              Add calories later if he's in work and needs them to maintain weight.

              Keeping it basic really is the best thing you can do for your horse; until he indicates otherwise based on the guidelines outlined in the quoted post above.
              "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

              Comment


              • #8
                Yep, great post Swamp!
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                Comment


                • #9


                  My vet once said to me, "Any time you can get them to 20 years old, you're doing it right."

                  I said, "Any time they don't see 30 I think I've missed something I should have seen!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I love that Swamp!

                    My TB gelding SHOULD have lived well past the age of 20 when a strangulating lipoma took him. He was lively, shiny, did have arthritis which retired him from jumping but on good days he was a great flat horse. I pegged him for 30 easily.

                    To me, 20 is the LEAST you should be able to do with good nutrition and management these days
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In addition to Swamp's comments, most of the supplements are so poorly regulated that there is no guarantee that they actually contain what they claim to contain, or that what is in them actually helps the condition they say they treat.

                      So until there are more well-controlled clinical trials, there isn't really a way to know if your horse needs one or if a supplement helps or not....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Keep in mind too that I don't think ANY of those supplements are technically allowed to say they treat or prevent anything, as they aren't FDA-regulated as animaldoc said. So run from any product that does any of those things.
                        ______________________________
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by animaldoc View Post
                          In addition to Swamp's comments, most of the supplements are so poorly regulated that there is no guarantee that they actually contain what they claim to contain, or that what is in them actually helps the condition they say they treat.

                          So until there are more well-controlled clinical trials, there isn't really a way to know if your horse needs one or if a supplement helps or not....
                          Exactly--it could just be the dust somebody dug out from between their toes over there in China!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Personally I like evidence. Lots of it, and the GOOD kind. I can tell the difference. If there isn't any, I don't buy it. Pretty darn simple.
                            Click here before you buy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                              Exactly--it could just be the dust somebody dug out from between their toes over there in China!

                              Or dead babies dried and chopped up
                              ______________________________
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by outfoxem View Post
                                How do you really KNOW if your horse needs a supplement? Or, if you are giving a supplement, how do you know your horse is actually receiving a benefit?

                                I know by looking at the catalogs that they are indeed the rage. But after looking at my supplement bill from last year, I want to make sure I am spending my money wisely.

                                Food for thought....
                                If your horse is lame on the reasonably priced joint supplement, go for a more expensive one. If that doesn't work go for the most expensive one, hold your breath and keep all fingers and toes crossed.

                                JK, sort of.

                                To head off the inevitable "Call your vet" we are trying other treatments as well, joint injections and Pentosan
                                I wasn't always a Smurf
                                Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Repeating my earlier assertion about "joint supplements":

                                  An herbivore's digestive process converts glucosamine/chondroitin and whatever other pixie dust they throw in there to SUGAR. Very Expensive SUGAR. Humans and dogs can process it because we are carnivores.

                                  The fact that it has a marvelous "placebo effect" on many horse owners has NOTHING due to with this process. I've used the stuff over the years, before I found out the truth, and am using it still when boarders have it prescribed by the vet. I have never seen the slightest difference in any of these horses due to the presence or absence of any brand of this stuff, including the Cosequin I used to use.

                                  If a $50 "joint supplement" is digested as sugar, in what way does THAT change if it costs $200? The most expensive one out there is Cosequin--and they claim to have "proof" that it works. But if you go and read the fine print of the "proof," it's a minor study on young racehorses that only "proves" about a 3% relative effect (get scientifically educated enough to know the difference between "relative" and "absolute") when used in the presence of CARPITIS--an active traumatic inflammation of the knee! That's it! And in a horse that's still growing, not a 20 year old with set arthritic changes. The very miniscule difference could easily be accounted for by uncontrolled factors in the study, which is most of 'em. Remember, too, that any "study" paid for by the manufacturer of a drug or supplement or device is by definition suspect as to whether the data was rigged to support their marketing assertions. Human nature, folks!

                                  I tell my boarders that when they buy "joint supplements," they are standing naked in the rain ripping up $100 bills.
                                  Just. Don't. Bother!

                                  The REAL problem is that 90% of all "joint problems" are the result of no turnout, intermittent riding, bad farrier work, and the fact that many of our competitive disciplines today immensely exceed what the equine body was evolved for. I like to think I've got a pretty good perspective on this since I see what stumbles off the "bus" after the owners have decided they're done. Little do they know I'm about to make them comfortable for another 10 or 15 years! "Dr. Green" does that pretty darn well.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                                    Evaluate your horse by standing him up and really looking at him: Is his coat slick and shiny? Are his eyes bright? Is his energy consistent? No recurring, nagging problems? Is the quality of his feet good and consistent, with regular growth?
                                    Is his weight in a healthy place, 4.5 to 6.0 on the equine body mass index scale the vets use? No nagging allergies?
                                    Does he keep affordably & consistently? Chew wood or eat dirt? Does he shed his winter coat on time every year?

                                    Now ride him: Is his attitude good? Agreeable, interested, forward? Is he willing & able to do the job you want him to do without becoming sore, sour, or leaving the scene when he sees you holding a halter? Not hot, spooky, inconsistent?

                                    Passing those tests, I'd say his diet was just FINE--but you can always get another opinion from your vet. If BOTH of you think all's well, I wouldn't start buying supplements just because it's the "done thing" these days. NEVER underestimate the power of marketing! Many of these things are products in search of a "problem." Ask yourself if you'd sit down and shovel down several tablespoons of paprika, cinnamon, ground-up cartilage or seaweed at each meal for no good reason; then why should your horse?

                                    SOME things can work; I've had good luck with Super 14 for coats, but you can do the same thing with corn oil. MSM is good for "elders" who are a little stiff or to support those with collagen disease; Evitex is The Bomb for laminitis--I had an astounding success with that. I use these things only as needed, for a specific condition, and hopefully temporarily.

                                    I'm going to start a war here by saying it; but having read a number of studies done by the big veterinary teaching hospitals, I do not believe that ORAL glucosamine/chondroitin supplements have any benefit at all--they are not even absorbed in that form by a horse and if digested at all, it's as egregiously expensive sugar! Legend & Adequan, however, are proven therapies and I like both when indicated.

                                    An awful lot of the supplement craze is driven by the phrases "natural," "green," "herbal," "beneficial," "supporting," all the hot buzzwords of warm marketing fuzzies. BUT--there is just about jack-spit evidence to support most, and even less knowledge of unintended consequences. Feeding "stuff" just to feed "stuff" IS throwing away money.

                                    I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple.
                                    ^^Oh my goodness! I could NOT agree more! In the early days when I first got horses I tried this supplement or that supplement, never saw any difference whatsoever except to my pocketbook. I feel much more strongly about feeding properly nutritious feed, in recommended amounts and recommended intervals. Providing nutritious food for life will benefit any animal way more than supplements added to crap. I now pay close attention to what my horses eat and they all look great and are in perfect health...even the two seniors in my barn, a 26 year old gelding and a 29 year old mare. Nary a creak or a pop amongst them either.
                                    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Actually my mare has a metabolic issue that responds to some of the supplements I am buying. In particular I have a very good response from her with MSM (increased energy = go under saddle) and Vit E/Selenium which I could physically see the difference (cross canter disappeared).

                                      But figuring out her actual diet needs has been a mystery which is still unfolding. Without a clear diagnosis of her real problem, I am left grasping at straws when it comes to selection of, or justification of $$ spent on these items.

                                      Truthfully even the experts are still learning about this field, and there are plenty of people and companies ready to take our money in the mean time. I just want to make sure I am not throwing my hard earned cash out the window!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It sounds like you're on the right track; if it ain't broke, don't fix it just to satisfy some nebulous "experts" out there--remember that often the "experts" are working with very high-end, very highly-stressed horses working at extreme performance levels. Just because they need (electrolytes, ulcer meds, Legend) doesn't mean YOUR average pleasure horse needs them.

                                        Most of us don't need to be on Lance Armstrong's "training" diet, right? If your horse is going to the pasture, not the Olympics, it's perfectly fine to keep things low-key.

                                        It's best to remember that we're living in a nascent Age of Medicalization, brought about by unrestricted advertising--it's become the fashionable thing lately to reach for a pill, powder, potion or procedure for every little inconvenience and imperfection of man and beast, for no better reason than it's oh-so-profitable. I keep thinking about how the LAST round of "Better Living Through Chemistry" turned out--when we were merrily spraying Chlordane and DDT!

                                        Comment

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