Balanced Mineral Supplements for Horses

I had stopped at one of my large training barns to check on their horses diets, as they had just returned from a recent show circuit. The owner said the horses were doing well, but he was going to tweak their diets just a little. He had purchased a bag of selenium from a local milling company and just wanted to top dress a little extra.

Mineral Interactions in Horses

Unfortunately for him, the truth is that more is not always better. I explained how vitamins and minerals need to be kept in certain ratios and levels in order to keep horses healthy, and random adding of supplements can endanger their health.  For example, copper and zinc must be kept in a 3:1 t 4:1 ratio for proper bone growth, development and maintenance. In young growing horses, having this ratio out of balance could lead to Developmental Orthopedic Diseases. I also noted that not all are horse feed supplements are created equal.  In the case of minerals, organic complexed trace minerals (minerals that are tied to an amino acid) have increased bioavailability over the oxide or sulfate forms.  

Horses have mineral requirements which are broken down into Micro and Macro. Macro minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sulfur. These are required in gram amounts in the diet. Micro, or trace, minerals include copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc, iron and selenium. These are required in much smaller quantities in the diet, and are measured in “parts per million”, or ppm. A part per million is equivalent to one drop of water diluted into 50 liters (roughly the fuel tank capacity of a compact car). Micro and macro minerals play an important role in bone development, muscle, hair coat , appetite, as well as skin and hoof integrity. The key is that they must be balanced in the horses diet.

6 Replies to “Balanced Mineral Supplements for Horses”

  1. What would you add to horses that reeve no feed, but live on good quality alfalfa hay, and one hour 8 grass per day?

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      A horse that is on good quality alfalfa hay and one hour of grass per day would benefit from an alfalfa balancer product, like Empower Topline Balance (fed as directed based on weight), salt available free choice and fresh clean water. The balancer would add amino acids to support muscle along with trace minerals and vitamins that may not be adequate in the forage diet.

      Best of luck!
      Roy

  2. My horses are on pasture and hay . I felt like they were not getting the vitamins and minerals they need . So I started them on clovite and ordered selenium plus E. After I read about selenium I’m afraid to give it to them for fear of an overdose.Should I return it?

    1. Hi Roberta,
      A much easier and safer solution would be to provide a ration balancer such as Nutrena Empower Topline Balance. This product is low calorie, low starch and sugar, fortified with minerals including appropriate levels of Se, vitamins including vit E, amino acids, pre and probiotics formulated to compliment the forage and balance the total diet. Additionally, our online Topline Balance tool is very helpful with product selection and feeding rate recommendations.

      Best of luck!
      Emily L.

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