Who or what animals need minerals, vitamins and trace elements? The simple and complete answer is all of God’s creatures need minerals, vitamins and trace minerals in order to sustain life and to prosper as a well being as opposed to a healthy being. Many people think that well and healthy are the same thing, they are not.
Healthy is generally thought of as an absence of symptoms, no bleeding and the ability to breathe with ease. Healthy people die everyday given this definition. Reflect on your own life experiences and relationships. Wellness on the other hand is the organism functioning at individual capacity.
When horses are removed from their natural roaming nature they can begin to slowly decline and some quickly decline given the human stewardship they may be bound by. Horses left to their own desires may travel between 10-12 miles a day in order to graze on necessary plants to meet their dietary needs.
The soil in which horse food grows varies in mineral content, nutrient content, elevation, sun and water availability therefore the quality and quantity of forage will vary. Grass/oat hay and alfalfa quality or lack of quality of feed is controlled by these same conditions. If the soil is depleted, anything grown on it will be poor. When is the last time you saw an alfalfa field rotated?
Most horse owners will agree to the last few sentences with respect to how and why things grow on planet Earth. Many times there is a subtle disconnect when one’s horse is failing to thrive or more importantly begins to suffer decreased performance or function. Typically, we think “Oh, $#!t” when the Vet tells you the cost of repairing or getting your horse back to that “healthy” state. Think of anorexia, it can not be just black or white but rather it is varying shades of gray. People begin to fail due to anorexia long before it becomes apparent to the casual observer. They are not eating therefore they are not getting the needed proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats, vitamins, water…which are the body’s building blocks.
It is without a doubt, cheaper or less expensive to manage a horse day to day in a reactive mindset, and it is more expensive economically and emotionally to care for a horse episodically in this reactive mindset. Conversely, it is cheaper or less expensive to manage a horse in a proactive mindset with fewer expensive episodes short of accidents.
Many horse owners rely on trust when buying equine supplements for their horses, due in part to a lack of confidence in education or background in
nutrition, brain freeze with so much information with so many products, or monkey see, monkey do, everyone else does it that way, It’s not a performance horse,” etc…
When picking a horse supplement, it just might be important to recognize the differences between grass/oat hay and alfalfa forage. There are differences besides availability and cost. Is your horse supplement forage or diet specific for your horse?
Alfalfa is high in calcium (magnesium, potassium, protein and calories) content which the horse’s body will wash out by binding it with phosphates, making it difficult for the gut to absorb magnesium and Vitamin D. Simply put, when feeding alfalfa, the horse gets too much calcium, loses phosphates and therefore decreases its ability to absorb magnesium or Vitamin D. What does this mean with respect to the performance of your horse? Phosphate/phosphorus regulates the controlled release of energy (ATP-ADP), and facilitates the absorption and transportation of nutrients.
The ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate) molecule holds the cellular energy, when the third phosphate bond is broken to form ADP (Adenosine Di-phosphate) the high energy bond is broken releasing energy to supply fuel for many body reactions.
Magnesium activates ATP and all changes of ATP to ADP therefore magnesium holds the keys to energy. It stands to reason if you decrease the availabiltiy of magnesium, you decrease the availability of energy to the horse on a cellular level. With lower levels of magnesium it will be manifested as irritability, nervousness and an increase in muscle contractions or tetany (tying up) due to increased stimulation of nervous tissue, if the nerves do not relax the muscle will not relax.
Therefore a forage or diet specific horse supplement formulated for alfalfa will prove valuable when feeding alfalfa, and a forage or diet specific horse supplement formulated for grass fed horses will prove valuable when feeding any of the grass or oat forages..
Is your horse supplement balanced in such a way that the minerals, vitamins and trace elements work together for the benefit of the horse as opposed to over working the kidney, liver and gut? The lack of balance will force the body to deplete other resources to help in the elimination of the excess or non-absorbed contents of the supplement and the organs will work harder or be over stressed processing this imbalance.
These are very basic concepts relative to the application of a mineral, vitamin and trace element supplement for your horse.
Can your horse absorb with ease the minerals, vitamins and trace elements contained in the supplement you provide? All vitamins, minerals and trace elements have more than one form and that is a difference with a distinction, that can make all the difference in the world when being absorbed by the gut of the horse. Many times manufacturers may use the less expensive form of a vitamin, mineral or trace element which is difficult for the horse to use and some times use the more expensive forms to raise the price of the product, but once again the vitamin or mineral is difficult to absorb. For an example, minerals in the form of an oxide are difficult to absorb, minerals in a sulfate form are easier to absorb, yet can lower the Ph of the system making it more acidic. Using minerals in a chelated form (which is a mineral wrapped around an amino acid) are highly bioavailable.
There is little point in putting a mineral, vitamin or trace element in a supplement if it is difficult for the horse to absorb…..it will cost in more ways than at the cash register, it will also be at the expense of the horse’s liver, kidneys, immune system, gut, muscles and nervous system.
Balancing of the vitamins, minerals and trace elements is very important…there must be a synergy within the supplement so the individual components work together in harmony to the benefit of the animal or organism.
There are vitamins, minerals and trace elements which are not stored by the body which are necessary in maintaining the wellness of the horse and the performance of the horse. Performance horses by definition require greater high performance nutrition. One does not expect a street vehicle to perform well in a NASCAR sanctioned event nor would your street vehicle run on the fuel used in a NASCAR vehicle…it would burn out very quickly.
Does your equine supplement contain viable Pro-biotic? What is a Pro-biotic? They are beneficial bacteria or microbes which support the immune system. When you have an infection which has overwhelmed your immune system the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to fight the bad bacteria but this antibiotic kills good and bad bacteria. This is why most females will get a yeast infection when taking many antibiotics….too many good bacteria have been killed and the yeast takes over. Probiotics for horses boost and maintain a more robust immune response and your horse is less likely to become sick.
The horse being a hindgut fermentor requires great quantities of bacteria to break down or digest it’s food in the cecum. Anything which will destroy this bacteria such as antibiotics, steroids, vaccination, deworming protocols, injury, depression, disease and such, will have a negative impact on the efficiency of the gut and the immune system, therefore Probiotics play a very important role in the overall well being of the horse.
When speaking of trace elements……Selenium is near the top. Its importance can not be underestimated. Selenium assists in protecting the red blood cell membranes and hemoglobin against oxidative changes, and provides anti-oxidant protection against free radical cellular damage especially with the increased metabolic stress consistent with performance horse activities to include gestation, lactation and semen production for breeding. Inorganic selenium is difficult to absorb in the gut and can be more toxic, yet organic forms of selenium which is biosynthesized by yeast is much more readily absorbed by the gut and is more available to the horse without the toxicity of inorganic selenium.
Equine Challenge Supplements provides you with forage specific horse supplements that are formulated to be forage/diet specific supplements which will address the needs of your horse whether it is a pleasure horse or a highly trained equine athlete. Horse owners or trainers, if your horse or horses are not performing up to your expectations regarding hoof production, controlled energy, endurance, stamina, calmness, coat production, ease of training, attitude etc…, if you are one of those trainers who must carefully pick shows with enough interval for your horses to compete because your horse or horses do not have the get up and go, I encourage you to read the nutritional analysis of what you are currently using. It may be as simple as the fuel your animals are getting or not getting as the case may be.
Your horse should be getting a forage specific mineral, vitamin, trace element and probiotic supplement to augment the grass/oat hay or alfalfa diet. Equine Challenge Supplements™ is a Flax-seed based forage specific supplement for horses, highly bio-available daily vitamin, mineral, trace element and digestive probiotic supplements. Equine Challenge Supplements™ are synergistically proportioned to provide the nutritional building blocks and maintain the metabolic balance of your horse, regardless of whether you feed alfalfa, grass or oat hay.
If you have questions concerning your horse’s performance and would be interested in comparing what you are currently using with Equine Challenge Supplements™ or are interested in designing a custom feeding program for your horse, please call us at (559) 905-7528.
By Dr. Mackie Hartwig, D.C., C.V.C.P. Copyright © M.K. Hartwig, D.C., C.V.C.P. All rights Reserved