Horses in the wild spend most of their time grazing, and because they keep moving they can select a variety of grasses as they travel. Moving slowly in herds, they conserve energy by keeping mostly to a walking pace unless danger threatens.
The Horse’s Unnatural Lifestyle
Unfortunately for the horse, domestication has removed his freedom to select his own forage. Penned into a field or stable, our horses are completely dependent upon us to provide their nutritional requirements. Furthermore, we make demands upon their energy levels, asking them to carry us on their backs for extended periods of time and requiring them to be supple, flexible and athletic.
Most of us provide daily turnout in a field, together with a period of time stabled. Hay and haylage provide the bulk of the nutritional intake, but how much are any of us aware of the quality and nutritional value of the dried forage we purchase? There has been a recent rise in companies offering to undertake analysis of your hay or haylage in order to ascertain any specific imbalances which may be impacting upon your horse’s health and this can give a good indication of potential supplementation to keep your horse in the peak of physical condition.
The Stabled Horse
Horses kept in their stables for long periods of time require the addition of hard feeds to supplement their forage rations. Feeds are available in a huge range of combinations according to your horse’s age, health, condition and discipline, but most horses will require some degree of additional supplementation in order to achieve and maintain optimum levels of health and performance.
From hoof supplements to calmers, there is a huge choice for the horse owner. Most feed companies offer helpful advice lines and will talk the horse owner through a range of available options and suggest supplements that may be of use, whether it is to improve joint health or to strengthen a compromised immune system.
The Performance Horse
Horses that compete to a high standard or expend a great deal of energy in disciplines such as hunting or racing require the most tailored supplementation. The performance horse requires sufficient energy to perform difficult or demanding movements but without becoming too excitable to be ridden.
Magnesium is renowned for calming difficult horses but few of us would know the correct amount to give in a feed to achieve the desired effect. Buying magnesium as a feed supplement means that an expert has done all the hard work for you and you simply have to follow an easy dosing guide in order to achieve the optimum effect.
Horses which expend a great deal of energy can also require additional supplements to replace the fluids lost through sweating and electrolytes provide a safe and easy method of achieving this.
From a dull coat to sensitive hooves, there is almost certain to be a supplement which will help your horse to look and feel his very best.