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Posted on Dec 20, 2020 in Articles

7 things to know when choosing your horses supplements.

7 things to know when choosing your horses supplements.

The range of equine supplements is ever growing, making those critical decisions even more confusing and difficult. 

Additional supplementation with high quality equine supplements will help to ensure your horse’s diet is balanced and will help minimise the risk of ill health associated with nutritional deficiencies. They will also provide extra support for your horse’s joints, tendons, muscles, gut health, and overall wellbeing.

Every horse owner strives to provide the best support for their horse whilst also saving those pennies. So, Synovium’s vets look at the 7 most important factors to watch out for when choosing the right supplement for your horse. 

  1. ACTIVE INGREDIENTS – Unfortunately, there is no legislation that regulates what goes into horse supplements and no legal requirement to show the levels of active ingredient. Madness, we know as this means anyone can make a supplement, put a label on it and advertise it for horses. So, we recommend choosing a brand you trust, and look for those that clearly state the amount of each active ingredient per typical daily dose. 
  1. INEFFECTIVE LEVELS – We often see two tricks here by supplement brands. Firstly, what is present in the supplement is exceptionally low compared to the stated amount on the label. This can only be known by lab testing, which is time consuming and expensive, no one lab tests all the supplements they purchase for their horse. 

So how would you know? Again, choose a brand you trust, or one you have been recommended and you can see results with. Have you ever had a supplement work well to only stop working months, years later? This is often the case when companies drop the ingredient levels to save on costs. 

Secondly, we often see it when ingredient levels are made to look better than they are by using different measurement units. This is when a label shows 20mg instead of 2g (20,000mg), it is common practice to use the smallest figure unit, for example grams instead of milligrams. However, companies often use the larger figure units to make the ingredient levels look higher at a glance than other brands. We recommend taking a bit longer to look at the levels per typical dose to get a true comparison. It will of course save you pennies whilst making sure your horses is getting the most effective levels. 

  1. COMPOSTITION – By legal requirement ingredients should be listed in descending order, so if a label does not state the actual level of ingredients, you can still understand what the supplement has in it from most to least. Look out for the most important ingredients being listed first. 
  1. PERCENTAGES – Misleading marketing and you should avoid brands that only use percentages to inform their buyers of the levels of ingredients in a supplement. Unless it is 100% which is clear to understand. Percentages are usually given per the tub size so the actual ingredient level can differ depending on daily dose. For example, 50% Glucosamine when fed at 20g per daily dose equals only 5g of Glucosamine. Whereas 20% when fed at 50g per daily dose equals 10g. The 20% provides more Glucosamine that the 50% supplement. If being a supplement that uses percentages, take a little time to work out the daily levels for correct comparison. 
  1. QUALITY – A hard one to judge as only the company knows the true quality of their ingredients. We recommend choosing a brand you trust and that has a reputation for quality. But it is often said cheap supplements equals cheap ingredients which are less effective or not absorbed at all by the horse.
    Often there can be several forms of one ingredient to choose from, especially organic or synthetic. Synthetic ingredients are cheaper but less likely to be absorbed by the horse. For example, synthetic Vitamin E is commonly used in horse supplements (dl-) which the horse finds hard to absorb and use. Whereas organic Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is highly absorbable and more effective to the horse. Always check this on the label, if it is not stated then contact the company who should provide you with this information. 
  1. BESPOKE SUPPLEMENTS – The idea sounds great but often the necessary requirements to provide an effective bespoke supplement are not met. To be done effectively, a large amount of research, accurate information and testing on the horse needs to be carried out. Often this is not the case because it would be too time consuming and costly. Always seek veterinary advice when considering personalised supplements. 
  1. ILLEGAL INGREDIENTS – Watch out for inclusion of ingredients which have not been legally approved for inclusion in horse supplements in the UK. One example is live bacteria used as probiotics and some live yeasts often found in gastric supplements. There are no live bacteria species which have been approved for horse consumption. You can check out live yeast status on the Feeds Material Register. Due to the lack of clinical studies and trials carried out on horses for live bacteria probiotics, we advise to feed at your own risk.
    The few trials that have been done have been inconclusive, showing little or no benefit to the horse. We recommend avoiding brands who use illegal ingredients because either they do not carry out enough research to know they are illegal, or they do know and chose to ignore it.
    If you are looking to support your horses’ gut, then choice a supplement with Prebiotics, which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to the horse. Also look for supplements which include essential amino acids and natural antiacids. 

Synovium’s team of FEI and Olympic vets understand the importance of feeding your horse the best supplements which are high quality with the correct levels of active ingredients to be effective according to the latest scientific research. 

Synovium’s vets carry out extensive trials not only in the laboratory but on horses competing at the highest level to ensure they are effective, and that they comply with FEI and Jockey Club anti-doping rules. Synovium’s supplements are clearly stated with a tick for anti-doping check or a cross if they contain an ingredient which is listed on the prohibited substances list. Trusted by many vets and professionals, including the World Class Dressage family, the Eilbergs, who said “The modern-day sport horse competing at top level can only benefit from extra support given through feeding supplements like Synovium. One must be careful when feeding a new supplement. We can be confident that Synovium products have been thoroughly tested to comply with clean sport.”

It is important to trust what you feed and take a little more time to evaluate and research the brand and supplements you use. It could not only make a huge difference to your horses’ wellbeing and performance but save you money in the long run. No one wants to waste money feeding a supplement which is ineffective or even worse causing other long-term damage. Always seek advice from you vet if you are unsure or contact Synovium vets to help you decide on the right supplements for your horse. 

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