Comparing Mineral Types | Does My Horse Need Probiotics?

Comparing mineral types, does my horse need probiotics?

I often receive emails or calls wanting or requesting a comparative analysis between Equine Challenge Supplements and the current product a potential customer is using. As an example, some will want to know how much copper is in Equine Challenge? It is easy to say …”there is 50 mg of ZinPro Amino Acid copper in a 4 oz serving of the Equine Challenge Grass”.

The difficulty begins when one realizes that 50 mg of ZinPro Amina Acid Complex is much different than 50 mg of Equine Challenge Horse SupplementsCopper Oxide, different once again from 50 mg Copper Sulfate and different once again with 50 mg of a Copper chelation. The reason is the degree or level of Bioavailability of these 4 forms of Copper.

Copper oxide is by far the most common form of copper used in horse feed/supplements. It is also by far the least bioavailable to your horses and is the very cheapest which is why it is so commonly used.

Copper Sulfate is widely used in horse feed/supplements, it is a bit more expensive and it is more bioavailable than copper oxide and has a tendency to make the Ph of the horse a bit more acidic.

Copper chelation has a good bioavailability relative to both the copper oxide and copper sulfate and as one might imagine it is more expensive than the oxide and sulfate forms of copper.

ZinPro Amino Acid copper is very highly bioavailable and as one might expect it is not cheap or inexpensive.

If the point of buying mineral supplement is to maximize the amount of copper absorbed by your horse with out taxing the Organ Reserve of your horse unnecessarily, then using a ZinPro Amino Acid Complex Copper would be a wise choice.

If on the other hand you want to make a mineral fortified manure or urine by taxing the Organ Reserve of your horse processing a mineral form which is very difficult to absorb effectively, this would not be a wise choice for your horse.

Train your eye to see more than just zinc, copper, manganese, etc… You want your eye to know the difference between the forms of minerals you feed your horse or horses, it is a Difference with a HUGE Distinction!

Oxides – Most common, least bioavailable to your horse, least expensive.

Sulfates – Widely used in horse feed, more expensive and more bioavailable than oxides, can make the PH of the horse a bit more acidic.

Chelations – Good bioavailability, a bit more expensive than the oxides and sulfates.

Amino Acid Complexes – Highly bioavailable to the horse and is not cheap or inexpensive.

Hopefully, it is more clear why trying to compare amounts of ingredients such as minerals can be difficult insofar as you might be comparing apples to ping pong balls.



​Another common question is regarding the use of probiotics.  The horse is a hind gut fermentor which means the vast majority of his food is broken down or digested in the hind gut by bacteria. This means if the horse does not have sufficient bacteria in his hind gut (cecum), his digestion is going to be less than ideal.  If the gut environment is such that this bacteria or “bugs” are destroyed, such as when using antibiotics, steroids, wormers, vaccinations, etc…. or if the horse is stressed due to injury, depression disease, poor living conditions, not enough feed, poor quality feed…then the need for increased probiotics or bacteria would be necessary.

​All of the Equine Challenge Forage Specific Horse Supplements contain a 7 strain viable probiotic package.  If you are feeding any of these forage specific supplements your horse is receiving this 7 strain probiotic package with each ounce of product used so you might ask when do you need to ADD Equine Challenge Probiotic or Equine Challenge Probiotic Blast to your horses feeding program.

As previously discussed, when bugs are destroyed with the use of antibiotics, steroids, vaccinations, wormers, etc…that is when you would

Equine Challenge Vitamins & Minerals Alfalfa Horse Supplement

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want to add Equine Challenge Probiotic or Equine Challenge Probiotic Blast in addition to your Equine Challenge Vitamin & Minerals forage specific supplements.  In addition, if your horse is injured, depressed, has a hay belly or if you are bringing on a rescue horse, this would also be a good time to increase the probiotics to your horse.

What physical signs and symptom would indicate a need for probiotics?  There are many indicators of a need for increased probiotic use.  It can be as simple as a hay or grass belly.  A more telling indicator would be diarrhea or scours.  Horses with a very poor overall appearance, eyes are not bright, lack of energy, loss of vim and vigor, allegic reactions ….. these are all indicators of a poor or lacking immune response.  If you think your horse could use more probiotics, you are probably correct.  Giving your hind gut fermentor more pro bacteria can never be a mistake.

Across the United States there are certain organisms such as Potomic Fever, Pigeon Fever, Strangles, etc….which become active during certain months of the year.  This would be a perfect example of when you might want to increase your horse’s immune system with increased probiotic use.  ​If you hear there are any of these type diseases happening  in your area, it might be a good idea to bump up the use of probiotics.  This is not a 100% guaranteed prevention of your horse not becoming sick but it is a reasonable pro active response to a known pathogen in your area.  The game of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” can be expensive and heart wrenching.

Equine Challenge Vitamins & Minerals Grass Horse Supplement

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Equine Challenge Probiotic Horse Supplement

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Equine Challenge Probiotic Blast Horse Supplement

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Thank you for choosing Equine Challenge Supplements!


Kathy Hartwig

Mackie Hartwig, D.C.

“You’re never wrong when you do the right thing”