Supplement Selection

EQUUS Medical editor, Matthew Mackay-Smith addresses a reader's concerns about equine supplements.
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EQUUS Medical editor, Matthew Mackay-Smith addresses a reader's concerns about equine supplements.

Question:There are so many vitamins and supplements out there today for horses that I'm confused about which one is right for my horse. Most of the ingredients listed on the packaging don't mean anything to me unless they specifically spell out what they are going to do for my horse. Then again, do I really need to be giving a supplement in the first place?

Answer:Healthy horses in moderate work can live a long, useful life on quality pasture. When grazing is insufficient to provide all nutrition, good grass hay or "light mixed" hay (20 to 30 percent clover or alfalfa and 70 to 80 percent grass) is the only "supplement" necessary.

Vitamin and mineral mixes are not required by any horse except in areas that are clinically deficient for a particular mineral. Selenium is the most commonly deficient mineral, but only in certain parts of the country. Your veterinarian or agriculture extension agent will know of any local deficiencies you need to be aware of and can help you make a decision about what supplement to use, if any.

This article first appeared in EQUUS magazine.