Feeding guidelines for supplements

By Admin

The foundation of correct feeding is a balanced diet, so do ensure that you balance your horse’s diet first, before you choose a supplement to support their health. If your horse is fed less than the full recommended amount of a vitamin and mineral-fortified compound feed, or none at all, you should always feed a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. UK pasture grass is always short of minerals for horses, and preserved forages including hay and haylage are short of vitamins and minerals.

All horses should have access to electrolyte salts e.g. from a block, and all working horses should be fed electrolytes in their feed. Compound feed and vitamin and mineral supplements do not supply enough electrolyte salts and they should always be added depending on how much the horse has sweated during work. Adequate amounts of salts are not added to compounds and vitamin and mineral supplements because the amount is variable depending on how much the horse sweats, and because they could degrade vitamins in the feed or supplement product.

Offer all horses access to salt.
Offer all horses access to salt.

Select your supplement or herbal product with care, ensuring that it is appropriate for your horse. Check that it is compatible with your horse’s feeds, and check that the supplements and/or herbs are compatible with each other.

Supplements and herbs will be even more effective if you make appropriate management changes. For example, horses who need respiratory support should have an environment free of dust and mould-spores, and horses who need nervous system support should have plenty of turnout and consistent handling and training.

Read the product label in full, and follow the feeding directions carefully. If you are not sure of the bodyweight of your horse, use a weightape or a weighbridge to ensure you select the correct amount for your horse. Some products will have a standard daily serving for all horses, but most will be fed according to bodyweight.

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When introducing a new supplement or herb, start with a small amount and increase gradually over several days to the full recommended amount to ensure that the horse eats it. Some supplements, however, should be fed at the full dose from the first day, and those do tend to be palatable. Read the feeding directions and if in doubt, increase up to the full amount gradually.

Most supplements do not need to be fed in a loading dose and instead a more appropriate long-term amount would be more useful.

Horses are often suspicious of new tastes; a function that serves them well in the wild, because it helps them avoid eating poisonous plants. Such suspicion can make them refuse new supplements or herbs for the first couple of days. If you keep feeding them, however, most horses will get used to the taste and accept the supplement or herb.

For best results, split the supplement or herb between 2 feeds approximately 12 hours apart. Some supplements may be better fed in one meal, so check the feeding directions with care.

Herbs sold as tinctures are concentrated and only small quantities are required. Exceeding the recommended ration will not benefit your horse, and will cost you more money. Follow the feeding directions with care. Rations can be scaled back over time during long-term use. Assess your horse weekly and adjust the amount of herbal tincture accordingly.

Mix supplements and herbs into feeds thoroughly, especially if adding several supplements and herbs, and wait for hot feeds to cool before you add the product. Dampen the meal just before feeding. Do not mix supplements or herbs into wet feeds and then leave them sitting for long periods before feeding.

Treats can be useful in training and to encourage a horse to come to you to be caught. They should be offered with care, because the behaviour the horse offers directly before he receives a treat will be rewarded and therefore reinforced. If a horse pushes on you or crowds you before receiving a treat, he will do so more and more. The healthiest treats are not sugar based. Sugar based treats should be fed in limited quantities and should not be fed to overweight horses or those with equine metabolic syndrome or laminitis.

Pegasus Health herbs for horses are carefully cleaned and tested. Stones and dirt are removed before a process of compressed air and sieving removes unwanted stalks. Magnets remove any metal fragments and if the herbs test positive for harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli, they are subjected to a high temperature steam-cleaning process to remove all contaminants without damaging the active ingredients or nutritional benefits of the herbs.

Pegasus Health source all herbs from a limited number of trusted suppliers. You may detect slight variations in colour and density from time to time as a result of different growing and harvesting conditions in the country of origin. For example, Vitex agnus-castus from Morocco is slightly lighter in colour than the same herb grown in Spain. However, you can be assured that the quality of the herb and its active ingredients are never compromised by these minor cosmetic differences.

99% of the supplements and herbs available to buy from Pegasus Health are approved for use under BS, FEI and JC competition rules. Please see individual product pages for further information. It is, however, your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to the rules of your specific competition so please do check.

When comparing products, be sure to find out the cost per day or per month, and the amount of active ingredients per daily serving. Comparing one tub to another is not helpful because one tub may last a month and one may last two months. Each product has a different daily serving in grams per day, even if they have the same scoop.

Please store containers with the lids or caps firmly on, in a cool dry place. Keeping lids on is important because some ingredients may draw moisture in, which could result in clumping or moulding.

Horses and ponies require a regular worming programme that no supplements or herbs can replace – please consult your vet.

Supplements and herbs available from Pegasus Health will support your horse’s natural health and wellbeing but are not expected to cure specific illnesses and conditions, because they are not medicines. Always obtain veterinary advice if your horse is ill or has a medical condition.

If your horse has a medical condition, or if you have a pregnant mare, please seek the advice of a qualified medical herbalist, equine nutritionist or veterinary surgeon.

For advice on the suitability and application of all supplements for sale from Pegasus Health please freephone 0800 080 7770, 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday.