Is it time to consider an all-in-one multi-system supplement?
Do you find yourself adding scoop after scoop of specialty nutritional supplements to your horses daily feed rations? Is your feed room storage solution bursting at the seams? If you are using 3 or more supplements, perhaps it is time to consider a multi-system supplement for your horse.
Not to be confused with multi-vitamins or ration balancers. All-in-one supplements are nutritional supplements that are formulated to cover more than one of your horses specialty needs. The greatest benefit is being able to feed a single supplement that contains all of the ingredients for joint support, gastric health, strong hooves, a shining coat and more! No matter if you keep horses for business or pleasure, any change in your supplementation routine should be met with facts and figures. Will the change be of benefit to your horse, your wallet or both? Let’s take a look at how to evaluate a change in supplements with some choices available at Big Dee’s Tack.
The efficiency of feeding time is reliant on how well organized and accessible your grain and supplements are stored. From a small back-yard barn to the largest boarding facilities the ultimate goal should be the same: ease of use, maintaining feed quality, accuracy of feeding and minimizing unnecessary footsteps. I hope to offer some great ideas on how to handle feed room storage and feed room organization.
Having a safe and secure feed storage area will aid in ensuring the overall health and well-being of your horse. While we never wish for a horse to get loose, it is always a possibility and as such all grain should be kept in an area off-limits to horses. If your facility does not have a separate stall or room that can be secured from the threat of a loose horse you will need to source feed storage containers that horses are unable to break into. Do not be fooled by that reassuring click of a trash can, horses can get into them successfully and the results of a horse overeating can be devastating.
Grain stored in bags can be susceptible moisture and rodent damage and could easily be damaged by a loose horse. Grain maintains it freshness best in cool, dry conditions. An ideal feed storage container should offer a tight seal to keep the freshness of the feed in while keeping pests, contaminants and moisture out. Continue reading Horse Feed Room Storage and Organization→
Deciding on an adequate nutrition program for one’s horse can, at times, be a frustrating endeavor. There are so many differences, from types of feed to the amount one needs to feed to ensure all of your horse’s nutritional needs are being met. Combine that with differences in the quality of hay from field to field. First to second cut, and nutrient loss over time – one can really struggle to provide the best possible diet for one’s horse. Feeding a general multi-vitamin can help ensure that your horse is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Multi-vitamins are going to include a wide range of vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins. Most horses can meet their requirements of vitamin A simply by grazing. However, especially here in northeast Ohio, horses are unable to graze year round. As we switch from relying on pasture for our horses forage requirements to relying on hay, we need to consider the impact storage has on vitamin content.
What Should You Look For
Hay, no matter what quality, will lose vitamins, especially vitamin A over time. The hay we are feeding in February, March, and April is of significantly lower quality than the same hay that was fed last September or October. Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, horses are capable of storing it for a certain amount of time. This can somewhat offset the content lost in hay over time. However, towards the end of winter it may be a good idea to look for alternative sources for vitamin A.
Vitamin D is readily available, especially during summer months, as horses can obtain all they need from the sun. Again though, not all of our horses are turned out all day during the winter months. Some show horses are kept stalled and turned out either for short amounts of time, or in indoor arenas only. For these horses, vitamin D supplementation is important as well.
Horses in strenuous work during the winter months have and horses suffering from muscular system disorders need extra help. Supplemental vitamin E and the mineral selenium can be very valuable and help prevent certain disorders. Continue reading Multi-Vitamins for Horses→
How Can You Keep Weight on Your Horse in Winter Months?
While this winter has so far been quite mild here in Northeast Ohio, it is usually very common for some horses to drop weight during the winter months. Freezing temperatures can place quite a demand on the horse to burn calories simply to stay warm. Horses also lack the benefit of lush pastures, and have to obtain a majority of their calories through hay intake. One of the best ways to keep weight on a horse during the winter months is to increase hay intake. However, not all of us have a barn full of hay that will allow us to do this. If you have ever tried to purchase additional hay in January and February, you may have noticed it is a bit more expensive than in June and July. Additionally, boarding facilities typically run on a tight budget, and may not be able to increase hay rations to the levels needed to maintain horses in optimal condition. So, what can you do to supply your horse with the calories needed to stay warm and fit?
I recommend looking at a fat supplement to supply the extra calories. Increasing the fat content of your horse’s diet can be beneficial not only for weight gain, but for skin and coat health, and a host of other reasons as well. For weight gain, fat contains a substantial amount of energy or calories. In fact, it contains more than twice the calorie content of carbohydrates or proteins! When looking to add weight to a horse, look no further than fat sources. Horses can absorb about 20% of their diet as fat, but most experts will recommend roughly 10-12% of the total diet be constituted from fat sources.
You hear quite a bit about omega fatty acid content in horse supplements, specifically, omega 3’s, omega 6’s. There are huge differences between how these fatty acids interact with a horse’s body. In order to give your horse the greatest benefit from a fat source, you must consider those effects when deciding which fat source is the best fit.
Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory in nature. They help balance the immune system, protect joints and ligaments, reduce skin allergies, improve heart and vascular health, and have many other beneficial properties. Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and tend to aid in blood clotting. It is important to note, both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, meaning horses cannot produce them on their own. They must come from external sources, and horses need both of them. The important component to consider is the ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s.
Vegetable oils, especially corn oil, tend to be high in omega 6, and low in omega 3 content. Adding corn oil will add calories to your horse’s diet and improve coat luster, but certainly will not benefit an older horse with creaky joints or a horse subject to seasonal skin allergies. To start, I look for a product that is higher in omega 3 content than omega 6, so that I can be sure my horses are getting the added benefits omega 3’s provide.
If you are feeding fat simply for the weight gain factor, I would recommend choosing a product such as Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 100 or Cool Calories 100. Both of these are 99% fat and are designed simply to add weight. They are not as engineered for Omega 3 and 6 ratios, but are excellent for bulking up that thin horse. Another option would be to go with an oil like Coca Soya, Rice Bran oil, or FSO (which is a flax seed and soy oil mix), or Equine Omega’s Mega Gain. Typically oils are in the 98-99% fat range and are great at adding weight. However, palatability can be an issue with an oil, especially if fed in large amounts.
If you are looking for a product that will help with weight gain, but has been designed with Omega 3 and 6 ratios in mind, take a look at Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 40, Gain Weight, or Weight Builder. All of these products are roughly 40% fat, with 14% protein. They do a good job of putting weight on while providing the benefits of a higher Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Currently, I have one horse on a fat supplement, more for the anti-inflammatory and coat benefit than for a weight gain. I am using Equine Omega Complete, which is one of the best on the market.
Hopefully, this has given you some good options to consider when choosing a fat supplement. Remember, to introduce fat slowly to the horse’s diet, and consult with your veterinarian if your horse has a history of liver issues before deciding on a fat supplement.
Most of us horse owners recognize the value of electrolyte supplementation during the hot summer months. After working one’s horse hard, or coming back from a long trail ride, or even bringing horses in on a hot day, we can see the sweat marks that indicate a horse may need electrolytes to replenish the lost salt and potassium. However, electrolyte supplementation is at least equally important during the winter months.
Those of us who have access to an indoor arena are able to ride and work our horses year round. During periods of hard work, regardless of temperature, horses will sweat and lose electrolytes. By using a supplement such as Buckeye Nutrition’s Perform ‘N Win or Perfect Balance by Peak Performance, we can help our horses stay healthy by replacing valuable electrolytes lost.
A second reason to use electrolytes during the winter months is to encourage water consumption. Many horses’ water consumption drops dramatically during the winter, and this can easily lead to impaction colic. During the spring, summer, and fall, horses are able to graze and have access to fresh grass. During the winter, when fresh grass is not available, horses have to rely on hay for their forage requirements. The water content in grass is significantly higher, around 5 times higher, than that of hay. Therefore, horses are able to ingest a good amount of their required water intake just by grazing on fresh grass. Horses’ water consumption also declines when their water is cold. So, during the winter, we have a situation where our horse is not getting water from forage, and is not inclined to drink as much from water troughs or buckets. By adding a good, salt or sodium based electrolyte to their feed, we can help increase thirst, and improve water consumption, and hopefully avoid impaction colic issues.
When choosing an electrolyte, I tend to look for the ones that are low in dextrose or other sugars, and gravitate towards those that are sodium based. If you have a horse with HYPP, you have to be careful about potassium intake, so look for an electrolyte that is specifically designed for horses with HYPP.
Other ways to encourage water consumption include filling water buckets with warm water, or using heated buckets or water heaters if you are using a trough. Ideal water temperature is around 40 degrees. This year, I am making use of Eccotemp’s Horse Washer, which is a portable hot water on demand system. I do not have access to hot water in my barn, and after a few years of lugging buckets of hot water down to the barn every morning and evening, I decided to make life a little easier on myself. This system connects to my hydrant and to a propane tank. I simply turn it on, and have instant hot or warm water to fill my water buckets with.
Combining these steps with electrolyte supplementation will hopefully lead to a healthy and happy horse this winter. Most electrolytes can be added either to your horse’s feed or water. If you add an electrolyte to water, you should also remember to put a second bucket of just plain water up as well.
* MuscleMx– a natural dietary supplement to support muscle growth!
Building muscle can be a tricky business.
A horse’s body tends to add new muscle cells at its own pace, which is sometimes slower than horsemen would prefer. Even young, growing horses receiving plenty of exercise often need a little help to pack dense muscle onto their limber frames. And as horses mature—especially horses recovering from the trauma of injury, disease, or severe stress—growing new muscle becomes an uphill battle.
Feeding extra protein—even protein rich in essential amino acids—does little to correct the problem, since you can only push so many nutrients through a series of progressively constricted metabolic pathways. To continue to add muscle mass, a way has to be found to retool the metabolism to remain in, or return to, muscle-building mode.
This is the rationale behind MuscleMx: to encourage the body to do what it already knows how to do with remarkable efficiency. To accomplish this feat, we’ve combined four natural nutrients that work synergistically to encourage the metabolic reactions required for muscle growth and development.
Lysine, the most essential of the 11 essential amino acids, lays the foundation for the formation of muscle-building proteins. Gamma oryzanol, a natural plant extract, assists in weight gain and muscle formation in all classes of the horse. Creatine, a naturally occurring organic acid, helps supply energy to muscle cells by stepping up production of ATP, the body’s energy-transport molecule. And Ornithine Ketoglutarate (OKG), an organic salt based on the amino acids ornithine and glutamine, bypasses the inhibitory metabolic processes preventing new muscle development. For all horses challenged in the task of adding or simply maintaining muscle mass, MuscleMx is the real solution for real results.
* Weight Gain – Safe, effective weight gain for underweight horses
Use to achieve and maintain a healthy weight in horses of all ages
Some horses are hard keepers. No matter what or how much you feed them, they have trouble keeping on weight. Often the problem can be traced back to the first stage of digestion, the teeth. If the teeth have grown uneven, it’s just a matter of “floating” them back to a uniform height to facilitate mastication. For other horses, however—horses with good teeth and no other digestion-related ailments—failure to maintain a healthy weight can be a combination of genetics, age and workload.
Anyone who raises performance horses is familiar with the problem of keeping weight on their horses. Intense exercise and the stresses of boarding, hauling, and competing all take their toll. Feeding more hay and grain is not always a satisfactory solution. That’s because healthy weight gain is intimately tied to energy metabolism, which in turn is dependent upon the availability of certain nutrients. It’s not enough just to feed more calories if the calories being fed are not properly utilized.
Formula 707 LifeCare Weight Gain is a highly palatable, calorie-rich supplement specifically formulated to help all types of horses gain and maintain weight. Vegetable fat provides concentrated and easily digestible calories in a form that also increases a horse’s overall energy. High-quality protein provides all the essential amino acids a horse needs to rebuild lost muscle, and fiber keeps the digestive machinery working smoothly. Calcium and phosphorus have been added to assist in the important task of skeletal maintenance and, along with zinc and copper, energy metabolism.
Does it work? In informal studies, Formula 707 Weight Gain was shown to have a visible effect on underweight horses in just a few days, and a return to normal weight within weeks.
* Restore Paste– working horses need a balanced electrolyte to restore lost minerals after workouts
Human athletes have come to understand the importance of replacing electrolytes to restore minerals lost in a vigorous workout. Because the same is true for equine athletes, we designed Formula 707 LifeCare Restore to replace the sodium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium lost in a liter of sweat. Use Restore electrolyte paste during intense workouts, when you are travelling, or when feeding isn’t practical.
* PerformanceMX Paste– A powerful iron-rich supplement for peak performance in equine athletes
Performance horses are burdened with demands that nature never intended. The nutritional demands of a performance horse can be several times those of a horse grazing in the pasture. Apple flavored Formula 707 PerformanceMx Paste provides quick energy and supplies nutrients that are readily available for the equine athlete, even under demanding performance conditions. The easy to administer oral syringe provides an energy boost when feeding isn’t practical.
It’s hot. You’re sweating, your mouth is as dry as the Sahara desert. You just whizzed around a course in the heat of the day. You reach over grab a Gatorade and sloshes down like you are barreling down a luge in the Olympics. So here’s the thing. By taking that swig of Gatorade you replenished most of what you lost while cooking in the sun… But, what about your horse?
What is an electrolyte?
Electrolytes are positively and negatively charged ions that are formed when minerals and other salts dissolve in water. Similar to the ocean, the body’s fluids (blood, plasma, saliva, etc.) are full of salts and minerals. They are important because they are what the cells use to maintain voltage stability across cell membranes. Electrolytes carry electrical impulses such as muscle contractions & nerve impulses across themselves and to other cells. Without electrolytes, the cells in the body couldn’t properly communicate with each other and perform essential functions.
How do we lose electrolytes?
Electrolytes are typically lost through sweat. The three main salts that need to be replaced are sodium, chloride and potassium. Calcium and magnesium can also be lost through sweat but typically on a much smaller scale than the other three. Each salt plays an important role in the body. Sodium helps to maintain blood pressure and balance water levels in the body. Chloride balances the alkalinity (acids and bases) of the body fluids. Potassium helps balances the cellular fluid and is vital for optimal muscle, heart and kidney function.
When should I use electrolytes?
Electrolyte supplementation is not necessary for every horse, every day. As long as the horse has access to fresh water and free choice minerals/salt, the horse’s electrolytes should be in balance. Conditions in which you would want to consider the use of electrolytes would be:
Heavy workload/training in which the horse sweats considerably much
Long trailer hauls (especially in the heat)
Endurance events such as racing, cross-country/eventing, competitive trail or other long riding/driving events
Ideally, if you know you and your horse will be engaging in activities like those mentioned above electrolyte supplementation would occur before, during and after the event. However, there are times when those activities are not foreseen.
There are typically 3 types of electrolytes on the market. The recommended time of administration on these electrolyte supplements can vary greatly, so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to find the one that is right for you.
Powder/Granules: Electrolytes that come in the form of powder or granules are typically given as a top dressing to feed or put in the horse’s water. Oftentimes these come in flavors appealing to the horse such as apple, orange or cherry. This form of supplement would be ideal for those horses that are less picky of eaters.
Liquid: This form of electrolyte is often put directly in the horse’s drinking water or as a drench. Drenches are ideal for those horse owners that are practiced in drenching. Otherwise, we recommend contacting your veterinarian regarding the correct procedure. The liquid that is given through the horse’s water is good for a horse that will still drink water, but needs an electrolyte boost.
Paste: Paste electrolytes are administered to the horse orally. By giving the paste, you know that the horse is getting most, if not all, of the electrolytes.
Fabio Fabulous is a 13 year old miniature horse gelding that is owned and loved by Big Dee’s employee, Mary. His events include halter, showmanship, in-hand trail, jumping, being spoiled and snuggled. Mary has used Cocosoya as a supplement for various horses over the years, but has been giving it to Fabio a year and a half. As you can see in the pictures below, Cocosoya has greatly improved Fabio’s mane, tail, coat and overall body condition.
Cocosoya, manufactured by Uckele Health & Nutrition is a fatty acid horse supplement. This supplement provides Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids. Horses, as well as humans, that are deficient in essential fatty acids may show hair loss, skins problems, and impaired immunity and reproduction issues. This supplement helps with coat, hair and hoof strength and shine. The increase fat in the horse’s diet may also help build and maintain weight. Cocosoya is also highly palatable – which is great for a picky eater or if you want to mask the taste of other supplements or medications. Cocosoya horse supplement is recommended for all ages, breeds and disciplines of horses.
What are essential fatty acids?
Alpha-linolenic acid, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
Improved skin and hair coat quality
Decreased joint pain in arthritic individuals
Improved bone formation
Prevention of gastric ulcers
Pro-inflammatory (needed to fight infection and repair tissue)
Produce steroids & hormones
Regulating pressure in body fluids, cell division and smooth muscle activity
Oleic acid and Erucic acid
Supports the function of Omega 3 and Omega 6
Nonessential fatty acid because the horse can produce it
Enter to win a gallon of Cocosoya! A $23.00 value.
Do you have a horse that is tense, on-edge or unfocused? Perhaps a calming supplement would be the right choice to bring out the best behavior in your horse without sacrificing performance.
Typically, there are two types of horse calming supplements. The first is a top dressing for feed that will help with everyday handling, work and training – this usually comes in the form of a powder or pellets. Second are “day of” supplements given before an event – these most likely come in the form of a paste. Calming supplements can be given anywhere from 1 hour to 5 days before the event – each supplement has its own specific time frame.
While the types of calming supplements greatly vary, there are a few common ingredients that can be found in products on the market today:
Vitamin B1/Thiamine: This is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in the horse’s body – as a result, it must be supplied by the horse’s diet. This vitamin is used in metabolizing carbohydrates and fat. Horses with a deficiency of this vitamin often appear stressed and nervous – the reason for its inclusion in a lot of calming supplements.
Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency in a horse is characterized by nervousness, irritability, muscle tremors and incoordination. This mineral plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions – including cellular energy generation and genetic information decoding. It also works in part with calcium in nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Vitamin B12: This vitamin aids in nervous system regulation, metabolism and red blood cell production. The recommended usage of this vitamin is for a horse in a stressful situation or to help increase appetite. A calming supplement with this ingredient would be ideal for situations such as long trailer rides or moving to a new location.
Tryptophan: This is an essential amino acid from which the horse is unable to product itself. This is used to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, which in turn creates a calming effect in horses. This includes increased sleepiness, reduced aggression and reduced fearfulness.
Valerian Root: This natural herb is used to reduce anxiety and excitability without reducing the horse’s mental function. Valerian can also be used as an antispasmodic in cases of colic or muscle spasms. This calming supplement would be recommended in stress-inducing events as opposed to competitive events.
If competing, it’s important to make sure that your association or registry accepts the use of the calming supplements you are using. This can usually be done by taking a look at the rule book or calling the office of the association or registry. If the supplement is not approved, be sure to give it time to leave the horse’s system before competition.
Other considerations for an edgy horse would be the horse’s diet. If the horse is being fed a grain that is high in sugar – they will react the same way as a human who has had too much sugar (hyper & unfocused). Consider switching to a grain lower in sugar or consult with a nutritionist or veterinarian to find the best way to reduce sugar in the horse’s diet. Another thing that can affect the horse’s attitude would be an overabundance of calcium. Like we mentioned earlier, calcium and magnesium work together – too much calcium means too little magnesium. Rich grass and alfalfa hay are often the culprits when it comes to a surplus of calcium. More exercise and turn out time can also reduce the amount of excitability and anxiety within a horse.
Looking for a joint supplement for your beloved horse can be tough – there is a variety of options out there and a lot of questions you have to ask yourself (powder, liquid or pellet? MSM or HA? Budget?). We’re going to go over a few key factors in making a decision on a joint supplement for your horse.
First, you want to look at what active ingredients the product offers. While there can be a variety of ingredients found in equine joint supplements, there are a few key players in most supplements found on the market today. Keep in mind that a joint supplement can contain one, a few or none of these ingredients – it’s important to research what the supplement offers.
Glucosamine Sulfate: This is a naturally occurring chemical found in the fluid surrounding joints – it’s responsible for the manufacturing of cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It’s been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and is crucial to the development and maintenance of joints. Glucosamine Sulfate is the most readily absorbed ingredient in joint supplements due to the small molecular size.
Chondroitin Sulfate: This compound is found in the cartilage surrounding the joint – it acts as a flexible connector in cartilage. It also helps neutralize destructive enzymes in the cartilage. Where glucosamine helps build the cartilage, chondroitin helps to slow the degradation of it. However, due to the large molecular size chondroitin is harder for the body to absorb.
Hyaluronic Acid: This is found in the fluid surrounding the joints. HA helps to thicken the fluid to around the joints for added protection and lubrication. A joint supplement with HA would be beneficial to a senior horse, since natural HA production slows with age.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): A readily usable form of sulfur which is necessary for the production of collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin as well as the formation of the connective tissue. MSM is proven to be beneficial to horses with arthritis but it can also helps in preventing scar tissue from forming so horses with injuries might find this beneficial as well.
Yucca: Plant that is found in The Southwest US and Mexico which is believed to have natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. This product isn’t specific to joint supplements, but is still often found in many of those on the market today.
It’s also important to consider why you are looking at putting your horse on a joint supplement. Is it because of arthritis, injury, age or a combination of factors? Or are you trying to take a preventative step towards the care of your horse’s joints? Most companies target their supplement to a specific cause – so be sure to look for that.
Joint supplements also come in a variety of substances – all of which have their benefits. The biggest factor that I consider when choosing between different formulas is how good of an eater the horse is. If your horse will eat pretty much anything, then you could go with any of the options. However, if the horse is a picky eater, going with a liquid or powder would most likely be the best option. All of the supplements are easy to feed as a top dressing to your horse’s grain. If your horse doesn’t receive a grain ration on a regular basis, the pelleted joint supplements would be a good option because they can be fed on their own.
As always, we recommend consulting with a licensed veterinarian about your horse’s specific case before starting them on a supplement.
What joint supplement do you use? And what do you like about it? Let us know!
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