Mixing Horse Supplements

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My horses are on Buckeye’s Grow & Win, Vita Flex Equinyl CM and Source. I also give them garlic, as an antioxidant and because I do use less bug spray in the summer because of it. They get a teaspoon of plain table salt, non iodized, to encourage drinking and selenium without vitamin E (because it’s cheaper). I only feed a little, to follow up in the blood SE testing I do on my horses once a year. At my new barn, the manager won’t feed more than 1 supplement. I could use SmartPak, of course, but it’s a little cheaper to mix my own. I read that you can’t mix supplements together, so putting them all in one bag seems out of the question. Do you have a suggestion'

Horse Journal Response

You’re fine mixing these supplements together (assuming your Equinyl is powdered). The rules of thumb are:

• Don’t premix liquids and powders/pellets/meals.

• Don’t mix vitamin E, vitamin C or B vitamins with supplements containing inorganic mineral forms.

• Don’t mix vitamin E or vitamin C with supplements containing added fat.

If you have incompatible supplements, you can just put them in separate baggies and put them inside a single food storage bag. It’s only a tiny bit more work to open two baggies instead of one.

We do want to suggest you consider adding vitamin E when your horse isn’t on pasture. E has many important functions, particularly protecting muscle, lung and the immune system. Most horses will eat human soft gelcaps of E in oil with no problem and they are an economical choice. Another option is Uckele’s liquid E-50 (www.uckele.com, 800-248-0330). You could put a preloaded syringe (4 to 5 cc) into a separate baggie for them to squirt on top of his feed.

Foot Pain And Bone Scans

In your January issue, there’s a short article about bone scans and foot pain in horses. I found the article a bit confusing. I have a horse that is currently being diagnosed for foot pain, which as been a difficult process. I’m wondering if I can do one expensive test for foot pain, would it be better to go for the MRI or the bone scan' The tentative diagnosis is solar margin fracture, but my vet is still not convinced based on films that this is a true fracture and the source of my horses problem.

Horse Journal Response

Diagnosing the source of foot pain is often a frustrating adventure. Local anesthesia blocks pain from multiple areas simultaneously. Conventional X-ray abnormalities do not necessarily correlate with pain. Long story short is that positive scintographic (bone scan) findings correlate well with both pain and abnormalities detected on MRI.

In other words, bone scans don’t lie. Their major weakness is in detecting soft tissue problems such as collateral ligament damage. In your specific situation, since a bone problem is already under consideration a bone scan might give you more information than MRI with specific reference to how much of a problem that area actually is. With respect to that area, MRI could only confirm the presence of the X-ray findings, not tell you how active the problem is. On the other hand, if your vet strongly suspects a soft tissue problem is the real cause of the pain, MRI would be your best choice. Hopefully this background will help you discuss the situation in more detail with your vet.

How Much Salt'

I use Triple Crown feeds and am very happy with the fact that I don’t have to supplement. The only problem I seem to have is my young mare occasionally likes to eat dirt or manure. I discovered putting loose salt (actually it’s the red mineral blend for horses) in her feed stopped this behavior. She has 24-hour access to a block of mineral salt, too. How much salt is too much, though' Should I be concerned that she’s eating too much of it' I was wondering what the experts thought'

Horse Journal Response

Commercial feeds do add salt but they can’t fully meet a horse’s salt requirements and are meant to be fed with salt. There are a lot of horses that don’t free choice enough salt from a block. You can (and should) add 1 oz of iodized table salt (2 tablespoons) in the winter, 2 in the summer, even more if working heavily and sweating a lot. A horse won’t voluntarily eat enough salt to actually cause them any harm. The only consequence is increased water consumption and more urine production. Too little salt on the other hand leads to marginal dehydration, increased impaction risk, poor exercise tolerance, poor heat tolerance, inadequate milk production in mares.

If you are feeding the recommended minimum amount of a Triple Crown feed, you shouldn’t use a mineralized salt. Just use plain white table salt. The red salts have excessive iron (it’s how they get that color.)


I read with interest the article on colic in the February issue of Horse Journal. As a horse owner for 35 years, and as someone who, like many other horse owners, has treated many mild colics myself, I need to share a recent experience with your readers as a cautionary tale.

My Thoroughbred mare Annabelle, a chow hound if ever there was one, came in one morning almost two weeks ago and did not go to her grain. She rolled instead. I got her out, listened for gut sounds, heard none on her left side and some on her right side. She seemed just mildly uncomfortable, so I gave her a dose of Banamine paste and walked her until she produced manure.

I continued to walk her until gut sounds returned to my satisfaction. She seemed quite normal until midafternoon when she lay down a few times and seemed uncomfortable again. I called my vet and started walking her again. By the time my vet arrived, her symptoms had only mildly worsened. Still thinking I had only a treatable mild colic, I was shocked when my vet did a rectal exam and found what I now know is left dorsal displacement of the colon.

Luckily, I live only 90 minutes from the Virginia/Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Blacksburg, Virginia. My vet referred us there immediately, so off we went, expecting Annabelle to need surgery. We were lucky--the condition, which involves a section of colon stuck in the cleft between the spleen and left kidney, was treated with a drug to shrink the spleen so the colon can return to its normal position. Timely action, drugs, exercise, and IVs for mild dehydration prevented surgery.

My point in writing is this: Horse owners cannot assume colic is treatable without professional help if the symptoms are mild, as was Annabelle’s case. Giving a routine dose of Banamine can mask or delay the seriousness of the situation. I have learned that any future tummy ache will require a call to my vet at the beginning.

Anita Claytor

Grain And Horses

I’ve heard that the old standard ”grain products” are bad for my horse, and I’m not sure of how much ”grain products and processed grain by-products” my horses really need, if any at all. What should we be feeding our horses' Every feed website gives you a different answer, and I’d love to find a website or journal that gives me unbiased answers. Even veterinarians are often paid by the feed companies. I just want what is best for my horses and what will keep them healthy with a glossy coat.

Horse Journal Response

Grain is not poison, but the idea seems to be coming from the initial understanding of insulin resistance in horses and metabolic syndrome. However, not every horse is insulin resistant. It’s probably safe to say that most horses in this country receive at least some grain in their diets and they do just fine. When used responsibly, to maintain weight on horses that cannot maintain with hay or pasture alone, grain is a useful ingredient in a horse’s diet.

However, feeding bagged feeds is not necessarily the answer to nutritional problems like coat issues. Heavily fortified grains may provide minimum requirements for some nutrients, but only if you feed them at the recommended minimum feeding on the bag. This is around 5 pounds per day, which is too much for horses not being worked. If you feed less than the recommended feeding to keep weight in control, it’s like cutting a one-a-day vitamin in half or quarters and not taking the full amount.

Even more importantly, many common issues like coat problems or hoof quality have just as much to do with nutrients not being in correct balance as they do with total amounts. Many minerals will compete with each other for absorption, so that excess levels can lead to deficiencies of other minerals even if it looks like all the total amounts meet or exceed minimum recommendations.

Your feed may be correctly balanced, but there’s very little chance that your hay or pasture is. Feeding a balanced grain mix, or mineral/vitamin supplement, on top of unbalanced hay or pasture does not correct the problem. Your problem may also lie in the essential fatty acid composition of your horse’s diet. Fresh grass is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, low in omega-6. The omega-3s are very fragile and are quickly lost when grass is cut and baled as hay. Grains and all the commonly used vegetable oils in feeds are either high in omega-6 fats or contain no essential fatty acids at all.

Try supplementing ”good” fats and also have your hay analyzed for mineral levels. If you don’t buy hay in large enough amounts to keep a steady supply of the same hay, regional hay mineral analysis figures are available. A call to your local agricultural extension agent’s office should get you that information. You then need to work with a nutritionist or perhaps even your local ag extension office to come up with a supplement plan that actually meets your needs.

This approach is more ”work” that most people want to invest, but it really isn’t as difficult or daunting as it may seem at first. When mineral imbalances are corrected, the difference in the coat can be obvious within two weeks. As a bonus, you’ll spend less on feed when you target specific needs.

Editor’s Note: We rated feeds a number of years ago, and we’re preparing to do so again. In fact, you can help by telling us what brands you’d like included. Send us the name of the feed, manufacturer and your state, either by phone at 315-468-0627 or email at hjeditor@twcny.rr.com).