Vitamins are needed in much smaller amounts than other nutrients, but they are just as important, with each vitamin having a different role to play in the horse’s body.
Depending on your horse’s diet, a multivitamin supplement may or may not be needed. If your horse has access to high quality grazing or hay it may be receiving a sufficient balance. Some commercial feeds formulated for the appropriate stage of life or activity level can provide the needed additional vitamins.
However if straight feeds are being fed, targeted supplementation, such as Aviform’s Ultravits EQ, can be given.
It has also been widely researched that the horse’s capability to apply nutritional vitamins diminishes substantially with age. Also, broodmares, youngsters and horses recovering from illness or experiencing stress often require supplementation.
Decreased vitamin content in horse feed can be caused by several factors.
• Some vitamins are sensitive to sunlight, heat and oxidation (especially vitamin E & A) • Hay stored for 1 year or more • Hay that has been rained on
The Most common vitamins added to horse feed:
• Vitamin A – important for reproduction • Vitamin E – a natural preservative/antioxidant helping optimum function of the reproductive, muscular, circulatory, nervous, and immune systems • Vitamin H – Biotin which helps improve hoof and hair quality
Minerals important to the horse are:
• Iron • Copper • Phosphorous • Calcium • Magnesium
Iron helps the blood carry oxygen to the body cells, whilst Phosphorous and Calcium helps bones and teeth form properly
To minimize the risk of a harmful imbalance or excess, learn the nutrient values of your horse’s current forage and feed before choosing a supplement.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING JOINT SUPPLEMENTS
As horses age, they lose some of their ability to repair and regenerate connective tissue and cartilage. The result is sore, stiff joints, typical of the symptoms of arthritis.
Extensive scientific testing and clinical trials both in the United States and Europe have shown that maximum strength supplements can help rebuild healthy cartilage and increase the comfort and natural joint health of all horses and ponies, including working horses and professional racehorses.
When Choosing your equine joint supplment, check the level of ingredients per gram (or percentage) carefully. Pay particular attention to levels (and source) of the costly ingredients such as chondroitin. If the correct ratios are not given, the benefits are greatly reduced.
Many supplements contain low levels of chondroitin, as this makes the product much cheaper to manufacture, but compromises the efficacy.
The role of each ingredient
Glucosamine HCI - assists in the body's manufacture of cartilage.
MSM - rich in organic sulphur which help sooth and maintain joint mobility
Chondroitin - assists in maintaining the lubrication of the joints
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) - helps lubricate moveable parts of the body such as joint and muscles
Many products do not contain Hyaluronic Acid (HA) - so why is this so important?
Hyaluronic acid acts as a cushion for bones as it resists compression and allows the joints to bear weight and oppose tension. Joints are lubricated by synovial fluid. Hyaluronic acid is a primary component of synovial fluid. This is a lubricating function, much like oil is used to lubricate moving parts in a machine.
With age, your horse products less and less HA and it becomes more and more difficult to replenish it. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage and other structure of the joint begin to break down the HA so that proper lubrication is lost. Joints become stiff and movement is painful.
HA is also being extensively studied in relationship to cartilage and bone formation and natural regeneration processes.
It is advisable to consult your vet before adding any supplements to your horses diet, especially if they are on a prescription mediation or if your mare is in foal or lactating.