Getting Horses to Eat Supplements
Horses, like people, have varying dietary requirements. What keeps one horse healthy and happy may not keep your horse healthy and happy. A big part of ensuring that your horse is receiving the proper daily nutrients is to supplement their diet. However, this is not as simple as it may seem! Many horses are picky eaters and will refuse to eat their feed if they can taste added supplements.
So, how do you get your horse to eat supplements? There are many ways to introduce supplements to your horse. By experimenting with various forms of the supplement, and even additional add-ins, you can create a concoction that your horse will truly enjoy. Providing your horse with a supplement routine is the best way to keep them healthy and in optimal shape.
In this post, I am going to share a few tricks that I have learned over the years while introducing supplements to my horses. I hope you are inspired to think outside the box as you strive to keep your horse healthy by feeding them a well-balanced diet.
How to Get Your Horse to Eat Supplements
Some horses tolerate supplements added to their feed, they are not phased by the taste or texture and continue to eat as normal. This, however, is not always the case. More often than not, I’ve found that horses can become finicky after a new supplement has been added to their feed.
Not only will this limit the possibility for them to ingest the supplement, but it can also create a situation in which they are not eating properly because of it. Thankfully, there are many ways to encourage your horse to eat their supplements without hesitation.
Start Introducing Supplements Slowly
One of the most useful tips I have learned for starting your horse on supplements is to introduce new supplements slowly. Starting out with a minimal amount added to their feed, and gradually increasing the amount until you reach the desired amount.
By adding supplements slowly, you will allow your horse to become accustomed to the taste and texture of their new diet. In most cases, they will hardly notice a difference! Each time a new supplement is added to their diet, follow this same procedure.
Hide the Taste of the Horse Supplements
Just like humans, horses can become picky and avoid their feed due to a strange taste. It’s no surprise that supplements sometimes come with an overwhelming taste. Luckily, there are many ways to hide the taste of the supplement and easily solve this dilemma.
The individual taste preferences of your horse may differ. However, there are several tastes that have proven to be favorites of most horses. Below are some of the most common ingredients that help to mask the taste, and sometimes the texture, of equine supplements.
Perhaps the most common addition to supplement regimens, molasses is highly effective as masking the taste of horse supplements. In addition to improving the taste, molasses will also help powdered supplements to stick to the feed. This prevents your horse from separating feed from supplements while they are eating.
Similar to molasses, vegetable oil both masks the taste and texture of added supplements. For horses that require a more low-sugar diet, this can be an excellent option!
Although it may seem like it wouldn’t influence the taste of the supplement that much, adding a bit of water is sometimes all it takes! Adding water will allow the supplement to stick to the feed, eliminating the powdery texture that many horses despise. The greatest benefit of using water is that it does not add anything extra to your horse’s diet.
Here’s my article for getting your horse to drink water if you have trouble in this area.
Fenugreek is a strong natural herb, and many studies have found it to be a horses’ favorite flavor! The taste and smell of fenugreek do an excellent job of disguising the added supplement.
There are many other flavors that horses love that may help to mask the taste or smell of a supplement. Honey, applesauce, carrots, apples, bananas, cherry, peppermint, and others can be added to the feed mixture in an attempt to disguise necessary supplements. Don’t get discouraged if you have to try several flavors before you find one that works. Horses have unique taste preferences just like we do!
If you’re having trouble getting your horse to eat supplements using the methods above, then the problem might be your horse’s appetite in general. Here’s my article for helping your horse gain weight.
Try Different Forms of Supplements
There are many forms of equine supplements. Although most supplements come in powder form, some horses refuse to eat feed that has powder added. Thankfully, there are other options. Many supplements also come in liquid or pellet format, something your horse may be more open to trying.
Disguise the Pill in a Treat
In some cases, your horse may be required to take medicine to treat a certain condition or illness. Many of these medications come in pill form which your horse may avoid. The best way to encourage your horse to eat their medication when it is a short-term situation may be to disguise the pill in a treat. You can usually accomplish this by hollowing an apple or a carrot and hiding the pill inside.
Feeding Horses Different Types of Equine Supplements
There are many types of supplements for your horse. It is important to carefully research which supplements would be most beneficial for your horse. Not only can excessive supplement use quickly becomes expensive, in some cases, but it can also actually harm the well-being of your horse. When deciding on a supplement regimen for your horse, it is wise to consult an equine nutritionist or veterinarian.
In this section, we will cover some of the most common types of equine supplements and the types of horses that could benefit from their use.
Feeding Horses Mineral Supplements
Vitamin and mineral supplements are similar to the multi-vitamins we take. Depending on the type of feed you use for your horse, they may already be getting appropriate amounts of their daily vitamins and minerals.
Horses that eat a diet that is primarily hay may benefit from the use of mineral supplements. However, in any situation, it is important to carefully research the vitamins and minerals that your horse may be lacking. An excess of certain vitamins can harm your horse in the long-run.
Feeding Horses Weight Gain Supplements
If your horse struggles to gain weight, yet is completely healthy otherwise, it may be wise to consider a weight gain supplement. The high-fat content of these supplements provides calories that your horse may not be getting through their daily diet.
Feeding Horses Digestion Supplements
Many horses struggle with proper digestion and other issues with their digestion system such as gastric ulcers. Providing your horse with supplements to prevent discomfort in this way is beneficial in many situations. Probiotics are often used to support proper digestion and can help to prevent colic.
If your horse suffers from gastric ulcers, it may be wise to add an antacid supplement to their diet. Other supplements that can help prevent ulcers include fiber, collagen, aloe, licorice, and others.
Feeding Horses Skin, Coat, and Hoof Supplements
You may think that supplements designed for skin, coat, or hoof care are simply to improve the appearance of your horse. However, this is not the case! Hoof care supplements are especially helpful for horses with brittle feet.
Skin and coat supplements often include some of the same ingredients as hoof care supplements or even weight gaining supplements. For this reason, your horse may not need to take this type of supplement. A few of the common ingredients for skin, coat, and hoof care supplements include biotin, amino acids, MSM, and zinc, to name a few.
Feeding Horses Calming Supplements
Some horses struggle with anxiety or excess energy. Although proper exercise can help mitigate this energy, there are times when a calming supplement can prove helpful. Ingredients such as chamomile, magnesium, and vitamin B1 are often included in this type of supplement.
Feeding Picky Horses Supplements
As you can see, the addition of supplements to your horses’ diet can prove to be incredibly beneficial. Even if they’re picky at first, it’s well worth the time and effort. By learning how to get your horse to eat supplements, you can provide them with better health and overall wellness.
It is important to have patience when introducing this new aspect to your horses’ routine. You may have to experiment with various tastes, textures, and supplement forms before finding a supplement that your horse enjoys. However, by working your way through this list of tips, you will eventually find a supplement system that works for both you and your horse.
What treats can I feed my horse? There are many treats that are safe for horses to eat. The treats you feed your horse will greatly depend on their unique tastes and needs. However, some of the most common horse treats include apples, carrots, bananas, strawberries, melons, pumpkin, and most other fruits and vegetables. It is important to watch your horse when you provide them with new treats to make sure that they do not choke.
You should avoid treating your horse with any vegetables belonging to the nightshade family such as potatoes, onions, cabbage, and others. As you continue to learn your horses’ personalities, you will begin to discover their favorite treats.
Thank for reading! You can read more of my latest horse articles here.
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