Blog Post 11: Supplements; are you feeding a fad to your horse?
Ok, so here is one that is going to be either very popular or unpopular. I will exclude the pain relief supplements such as MSM, Bute based, Herbal based etc for this one as my main focus here is Multi Vits, One Specific Vit or ‘’Lone Vits’’ and the ''Head to Toe Supplements''.
I get a lot of customers, nice customers who come in asking for a Multi Vit or the Head to Toe (HtT). They tell me that the horse is looking somewhat lacklustre or perhaps could perform better as his job and they just want to do right by them. Whilst this is such a lovely thought, and the owners genuinely give a hoot about their four-legged friend, most of the time, you point them the first supplement on the shelf, tell them how long it lasts and the price. All works out, they buy it, the customer goes away happy now believing the horse to be better off and the retailer makes a sale. It really does sound wonderful, and if only buying something could always be that easy!? There's more hassle with buying saddles for God's sake!
Still, most of the time, unbeknown to the retailer AND the owner, what has just been bought, is a load of rubbish, wrapped in a pretty label and sold above the 40/50€ mark. You've just spent 50€ for feeling good, but your horse won't likely notice.
The thing is about these brands that make these HtT supplements, they are all packed with vits that the horse should already be taking from their quality hay and hard feed. So, if you are feeding quality or the horse is being fed quality, why do you feel you need it?
Going on the basis that you are on Full Livery here in Spain, and you are unsure IF your horses are being fed a quality feed (They should ALWAYS be fed quality feed, which would save you this WHOLE hassle of reading this, but let's be real). Fair enough, then perhaps a HtT supplement could be worth the investment. But then, do you know what you are looking for? Most supplements will advertise to be BRAND NEW! NEW AND IMPROVED FORMULA! Or your local retailer gives a very pushy and well-rehearsed speech as to how it's new to the market and is a MUST have! Did you, take the time to research the analysis or table of content and vit spec on the back? Your local retailer should be ready for such a question and have all this info to memory or to hand, so that YOU as the owner, can analyse if the supplement is worth feeding, or if it will just be poop-ed out in Euros.
I visited 10 BRAND websites (not retailers) to see if I could find detailed analysis of their Multi Vitamin products - 2 had their full analysis available for public information.
After investigating, the brands without the analysis available, were either not as fabulous as they had advertised, basically being as normal as a average feed, making no difference whatsoever or even more worryingly, unbalanced. Meaning that their levels were not evenly balancing out with each other.
So, when buying Multi Vitamins, take a good few days to research each active ingredients and elements. Should you get stuck, talk to an equine nutritionist, ideally an independent one.
Now, the more disturbing. The ''lone vits''.
This genuinely worries me as usually, with the purchase of the Lone Vit, comes with the intention of fixing a problem. Bad feet or cracked hooves = Biotin. Bad skin or low immune system = Vit C. Feeling Low = Vit E.
Each vitamin or trace has a function, but it also has a counterpart, and therefore needs to be matched. So, when feeding Vitamin C, you need a decent amount of Iron for it to first be absorbed into the system. Most bestselling Vit C's don't have the desired amount of Iron if any at all.
A genuine deficiency in Vit E is rare, and to have been diagnosed, would have been discovered by a Veterinarian or Professional who would then prescribe the adequate treatment of such.
Lone Vitamins should ONLY ever be purchased at the recommendation of a veterinarian after having diagnosed a deficiency.
So, the next time your local rep, local retailer or the internet tells you about this ALL NEW VITAMIN C or MULTI VIT without a table of contents, don't fall for the fad.
Take your time reading if it is worth the time, the money and the headache, as a REAL Multi Vit, has everything there for you to read, are developed by professionals not brands, and are honestly recommended. They sell themselves.
So, there you have it. I will most likely get some backlash, but I am sorry, I have developed an albeit small, but honest reputation of not selling poop to my customer base. So, if the truth treads on dodgy toes, so be it. I refuse to sell rubbish or misleading my clients!
Until next time,
P.S. Before anyone asks, I am under training to become a qualified Equine Nutritionist, but before then, as a horse owner, I have taken countless hours, weeks and months to research and know the biological and nutritional aspects of the modern horse.