With a high-quality forage, horses may not need concentrates or supplements at all, but all my horses get supplements because I want them to look and feel their best. For the most part, my horses get the same type of health supplements that I take for myself.
Vitamins: I give a general vitamin supplement to all my horses because it helps their coats shine and keeps them healthy. Vitamins are especially important for breeding stock. Vitamin supplements can make-up for certain deficiencies that may be in your forage, so the specific vitamin supplement you use should help balance out his diet.
Probiotic-prebiotic: Many horses are fed a probiotic or prebiotic, for their digestive health, including my own horse, Dually. Horses are “hind-gut fermenters,” making the whole digestive system very fragile, in terms of flora and fauna. In horses, the balance of good and bad bacteria is a delicate one and for many horses, a probiotic will make a huge difference in their over-all health.
Joint health: Research shows that glucosamine not only helps repair joint damage, but also helps prevent joint damage in younger horses. Like humans, the older a horse gets, the more arthritic his joints become. A heavy work load and high-impact activities causes wear and tear on the joints. All my horses, young and old, get a high-quality joint health supplement every day. With joint health, you get what you pay for. I use Cosequin because it is tested to have the highest grade glucosamine.
Fat: Adding fat to your horse’s diet will help you add calories, without adding too much energy. I prefer an Omega 3 fatty oil, because it has cardiovascular and immune benefits. A few ounces of fat added to your horse’s grain daily, will bring a sheen to his hair coat, bring out the dapples and help bind the powdered supplements to his grain, preventing waste.
There are many other nutritional and health supplements on the market, often these are designed for use in special circumstances. Your veterinarian should be able to help you determine what’s best to feed to your horse. Just make sure you don’t go over-board on supplements and give your horse stuff he doesn’t really need—it’s a waste of money and it may not be helping your horse.