Does my horse need extra vitamins?
How often are we told “you are what you eat”, and this is as true for horses as it is for humans.
A typical horse will eat 10-12 kg in total of feed and forage per day. This is broadly the same weight as all the tack etc, we put on them – and just think about the amount of consideration we put into deciding if that part is correct!
A good quality diet of fibre and hard feed is usually sufficient to meet your horse’s daily nutritional needs. There are times however, when your horse may face stressful situations which can cause disruption to their dietary needs, such as:
- Increase in work levels
- Change in routine
- Change in social environment
- Illness or injury
- Limited turnout
- Breeding season
But what additional vitamins does your horse need and when?
Balancers and Multi-Vitamins
We believe that a good quality diet of fibre and hard feed is sufficient to meet your horse’s daily nutritional needs. There are times however, when your horse may face situations which can cause disruption to their dietary needs, such as
• Increase in work levels
• Change in routine
• Change in social environment
• Illness or injury
• Limited turnout
• Breeding season
Simplysunshine is a unique blend of vitamins and minerals has been made into a handy pellet. Suitable for all horses & ponies to help support a balanced diet & promote radiance & shine all year round. A convenient way to help provide missing nutrients for:
- All horses as a top up their diet
- Good doers on a restricted diet
- Horses & ponies prone to laminitis, due to low sugar and starch content
- Horses on cereal or forage based diets
- Horses stabled for prolonged periods
- When access to sunlight is curtailed by rugs or poor weather
- When your horse loses condition
- Horse & ponies on poor grass or limited grazing
Vitamin B12 is the least abundant of the vitamins found in nature – plant products contain essentially no B12. The main source in the body is microbial fermentation on the hindgut. B12 fulfils important roles in the production of blood cells and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein, where its role as a pick me up is no doubt derived from. In the hindgut of the horse it is also important in the conversion of fibre to energy sources that the horse can use.
- Your horse needs a pick me up, when your horse feels tired or lethargic
- Before an event to boost energy to aid performance
- Your horse has gone off its feed or forage
- After a period of high intensity exercise
- After any digestive challenge, such as after antibiotics or an episode of loose droppings
- Post-event as an aid to recover energy
Naturally present in fresh green forages, but low in most dried feedstuffs. The horse can synthesize (make) some of its own vitamin C, but this natural supply can be overcome in times of high demand or stress. Vitamin C has many important biological functions; antioxidant, involved in the response to infection, mineral absorption, metabolism of vitamin D and the synthesis of collagen. Effectively additional vitamin C helps a horse adapt to increased stress – be it from being stabled, to extreme temperatures, immune challenge or intense effort.
In spring and early summer it is often necessary for horses and ponies with laminitis or cushings to have restricted access to fresh grass because of its richness, particularly the amount of sugar it supplies.
Restricting access to fresh grass can have a negative impact on the level of vitamin C in their systems as fresh grass is a source of Vitamin C.
Supplementing Vitamin C in the diet is therefore beneficial for horses and ponies on a restricted grass diet.
Naturally present in fresh green forages, wheat germ, and some oils, Vitamin E content declines in dried forages over time. Vitamin E has many important roles in the body: antioxidant, free-radical quencher, immune function, regulation of gene expression and development of reproductive function. Its principal benefits to horses is in helping maintain muscle health in working horses, as a component of the immune response or during breeding season preparation. Additional vitamin E fed prior to foaling has been shown to increase immunoglobulin levels in a mare’s colostrum, which helps to give the foal the best start possible.
When would my horse need Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are responsible for the correct function of nerves and muscles. They also help maintain normal hydration and are integral in maintaining the functioning of the digestive system, and the other vital organs.
Sub-optimal electrolyte status can lead to muscle problems and poor performance. Since electrolytes cannot be stored in the body, the amount available to the horse is dependent on electrolyte intake compared to natural losses through sweat, urine and faeces.
Electrolyte loss is closely linked to exercise, but they are also lost in urine and faces.
Simplyboost™ ELECTROLYTE can help maintain hydration, support optimal muscle function & prevent fatigue in horses. Simply add to feed
- all year round, whenever your horse works hard
- before and/or after competition
- before, during and after travelling
- before and during moderate to intense work
- if your horse is on a restricted or low forage diet
- in hot weather or following sweating.
Within that 12kg daily feed intake, many factors need to be considered such as the type of forage, hard feed, and supplements to use. That said, there is no such thing as a standard diet for any horse as they are all so different in for instance temperament, condition, age and the level of work or competition.
However there are some good principles worth adhering to:
- Use supplements tactically.
- Forage should comprise at least 50% of the daily diet. If less than this, some other forms of fibre will be required for digestive system health and to prevent boredom;
- Try not to let haylage or soaked hay dry out before feedings as they can then become dusty again – exposing your horse to the dust you have been trying to avoid;
- Hard feed is most likely to be low or medium energy depending on the individual horse, and up to typically 3kg per day;