Nutritional Magic Bullets

The link between problems like insulin resistance, hoof quality and anemia is real, but there is no one-size-fits-all supplement solution for these issues. that’s because the horses involved and the starting points are all very different. Unfortunately, veterinarians often recommend that you feed this supplement or that ? depending upon their personal preferences ? without a lot of thought about the entire dietary picture of your individual horse, including his hay.

Like vitamins and calories, minerals need to be fed in adequate amounts. However, minerals also need to be fed in balance with each other, as they compete with each other for absorption.

Think about balls bouncing around in a machine for a lottery drawing and imagine that they are minerals. If 90% of them are black versus 10% white, what do you think the odds are of a black ball vs. a white ball making it to the chute’

Although concentrate feed mixtures and supplements are usually carefully mineral balanced, the hay your horse eats is not. And hay makes up the majority of your horse’s diet ? or at least it should.

Hay and pasture grass vary tremendously from region to region, which means the nutrient levels vary as well. One formula feed or one supplement cannot possibly match all the different mineral levels found in all the different forages.

A product label may guarantee your horse gets the minimum daily recommendation of this mineral or that, but the product can’t correct the effects that high levels of other minerals can have on how well your horse can absorb those minerals.

The treatment for Cushing?s is the drug pergolide, but this alone often doesn’t control the usually accompanying insulin resistance and laminitis. Diet is the only thing that will.

Just a few years ago, a horse with a high-insulin level was considered to have a poor prognosis. We now know that careful attention to diet and mineral balancing can change the outlook. But a veterinarian?s recommendation to ?feed grass hay and supplement XYZ? won?t always cut it. He has to look at the horse’s entire diet.

Nutrition is a specialty that receives little attention in vet school. Much of the information available to veterinarians comes from marketing done by manufacturers who set up booths at veterinary professional meetings and seminars.

Obviously, feeding your horse a supplemented grain or ?balancer? product is better than nothing at all. Just remember that it’s not optimal. For that, you need to look at the levels your horse receives in his entire dietary intake.