Supplements: What do you feed?

Let’s talk supplements. We all know there are basically millions to choose from- and not a lot of quality research to back up most of it. I would really love to get a ton of feedback on this thread, because I am ALWAYS on the fence about supplements. I would love to hear what you feed, and more importantly, WHY you feed it?

I have had Rio on some type of SmartPak supplement basically since I got him, but I am constantly changing it up. I always want to make sure I am giving him everything he needs, which leads to me second guessing myself and changing his supplements basically monthly kinda like a psycho who can’t make up her mind.


Rio says hi to Biscuit the pony

Let’s start with feed. I know a lot of people say that if you feed good quality food that you don’t need supplements. This may be true, but I also have this feeling that it can’t hurt to add a little “extra”. Rio gets Nutrena ProForce Fuel grain (12% crude protein, 10% crude fiber, 13% crude fat) which was picked out by Trainer. All of the horses in our barn look really good on it. He also gets all the coastal he can eat (basically) and alfalfa.

Joint supplements- hoax or real majik?

I do not particularly believe in the effectiveness of expensive feed through supplements for joint issues. I am not saying there aren’t any that work, but being fairly uneducated on such matters I like to hedge my bets and go with what is more proven- aka injectable joint meds. I use Pentosan and feel that it works very well. Rio is only 6, but he does have a bone spur in his left hock and some changes in his right, so I want him to always be comfortable. He also gets hock injections twice a year. Personally, I feel this is a better use of money then feed through joint supplements.  I did have him on SmartPak’s Smart TLC pellets for a few months, which are basically $1/day and I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Then I heard somewhere that magnesium is good for muscle and nervous system support and it’s pretty cheap so I also put him on that. Again, unclear if at all helpful or proven effective, I just figured it couldn’t hurt and it was pretty cheap. Attribute it to my supplement ADD.

Trainer decided to start some of her horses on Equine Omega Complete so I jumped on the bandwagon and started Rio on it too. Their advertising campaign is spot-on btw. It is $60 a month, so at this point I was paying about $100 a month for supplements. Flushing money down the drain? Maybe. Unclear.

When Rio was started in pretty have training (a few months ago) I decided he could use some extra supplements for energy and to support muscle building. I put him on Red Cell and Smart Muscle Mass. At about $50/month total, I opted to take him off the magnesium and TLC, but continued the Equine Omega. So now we are up to $110/month total, not including the Pentosan which I give him 6 ml IM approx. every 2 weeks.

When Rio started down the vet road again a few weeks ago with his right hind issue aka spider bite of death, I again switched up his supplements. Took him off the Red Cell and Muscle Mass, and put him on SmartFlex Rehab pellets and SmartGI pellets  to help him heal quick and hopefully not develop any ulcers. Because I do not fully trust ulcer prevention supplements he is also getting omperazole paste daily. Am I dumb to double up on ulcer prevention? Maybe. But, ulcers also really suck. Those 2 supplements cost $130/month, so I decided to take Rio off the Equine Omega at that time, because money doesn’t grow and trees and all. I also honestly didn’t feel like it was working, or not $60/month working. To me, Rio’s skin and coat looked dry-ish even after being on it for 3 months. Instead, I got a gallon of flaxseed oil from the feedstore for $24 and will see how that works for him.

Between the flaxseed oil and the Rehab and GI pellets, we are not up to $154 a month. Plus the daily omeprazole and probiotics both those are due to him being stall bound and on heavy antibiotics and not meant to be long term. Am I insane? I really want to know. Am I just wasting money? How do you decide if supplements are “worth it”? Rio has been seen by Amazing Vet approx 12 times in basically a 3 week period. I’m sure you can imagine what that bill looks like. I am not complaining about vet costs- I am REALLY glad he is getting better, but I am wondering if I’m wasting money on supplements or if they are worth the benefits. I will ABSOLUTELY do anything for Rio that helps him, but the logical side of my brain wonders if it even helps, or if the money would be better spent elsewhere.

WHY oh WHY is this so HARD?! So what are your views on supplements? If you already have a supplement post please link to it in my comments sections so I can read your views!

This is your reward for making it through this post: Rio nibbling on Ado’s face:



RioAdo6.7.17 from Kelly on Vimeo.

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  1. I have fed a variety of supplements over the years to different horses, and the ones that come to mind as seeming to make a difference are biotin, Red Cell, and a combo of Legend and Adequan for an older horse. I am with you on the joint maintenance– injections work, not sure about feed-through stuff. Eli decided to protest basically all supplements and even some feeds after some sinus procedures, so he gets Purina Senior because he will eat it. I also give him a probiotic and a little flax seed oil at lunch (per a vet recommendation). A lot of senior feeds have stuff added in already & I get a sense from Eli that he is pretty content with what he gets right now, although I may add the Legend and Adequan sometime in the next few years (because I hate money, I guess??).

    1. That is what I would like to do I think, once Rio recovers. Go back to a more minamilist outlook. You should consider Pentosan- get your vet to write you a script and have it compounded . Wedgewood does a 50 ml bottle for around $110. That is about 8 doses.

  2. My personal horse is on smart mass pellets, solitude fly stuff, Apple a day electrolytes, and newly on rice bean oil ((I think)) to help mix the powder supplement into her feed. She gets 4.5 quarts twice a day of equine senior active (trainers rec). The newest supplement that I ordered today is biomane to help with her dinky tail lol. Honestly I saw a big difference with the smartness muscle pellet in her Topline and the flies with the solitude. Not sure if it is all worth the money though ??

  3. What’s in pentosan? We used to do hyaluronic acid injections for Al’s hocks and stifles, and they definitely helped. They’re supposed to be less damaging than steroids. I’ve also had good luck with high doses of MSM. It’s cheap. I never found a probiotic or coat/conditioning supplement that I thought helped much. I think good quality hay and grain and a good trainer (aka one who doesn’t stress the horse out) are key for that.

  4. I used to feed a lot of supplements, but am much more basic these days and really only feed vitamins/minerals and lots of forage. For added calories I use a feed that is basically beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and rice bran with added oil and adjust the amounts as needed. My horses do well on it. I am all about cost effective these days! Oh, for affordable ulcer care check out

    1. Thank you, I will! What kind of oil do you feed and why? I fed corn oil to my old horse but I heard now that that causes inflammation. My trainer suggested flaxseed oil, but I am not sure if one oil is better then another?

      1. Just a vegetable oil for the calorie content. I am sure there are better oils out there health-wise, but for affordable calories it works well…..

  5. I give Biasini flax seed oil and the other supplements he gets are all Omega Alpha products. I’ve reviewed them on horseaddict. I really like their products. The ones I use are for digestion, stomach and hindgut as well as an antioxidant.

  6. I’m little help as I don’t use any supplements. I’ve always figured that with a complete feed, quality hay and pasture she is being covered for all her needs. Now, if a specific problem popped up and a vet recommended a certain product I would be all for it. In my medical practice when people start asking about human supplements the advice I give is to try one thing at a time, take it for a month and then drop it. After a month off, do you notice a difference? If yes, go back on. If not, don’t waste your money.

  7. I had a friend who was feeding her horse literally $250 a month in supplements – hoof, joint, gut, breathing, coat… seriously where does it end?! She was spending more on supplements than the cost of board! I think places like SmartPak and other supplement companies have great marketing techniques – but not always a ton of research backing it aside from customer reviews which isn’t very scientific. I really enjoyed learning about products and methods at Kentucky Equine Research because they are scientifically testing their products on horses in a controlled environment – so you can get true scientific results.

  8. My 3yo OTTB gets Cosequin ASU SmartPaks because I know his knee joints were compromised from racing and Milestone Optimize to try and get weight on him. My 10yo TB and 24yo QH get H.B.15 which is a biotin supplement to improve their hoof quality. My 5yo Warmblood mare just gets feed and hay. My donkey gets feed through wormer because he will try to kill you if you stick the paste in his cute little mouth. I will sometimes feed a calming supplement before horse shows or first time events, but it really depends on the horse. I rely on my vet, my farrier and my trainer for supplement recommendations. SmartPak likes to send me reminder emails about the 29 supplements their wizard thinks my horses should be getting. ?

      1. Most definitely. And since I suffer from a horse acquisition disorder, I can’t justify the $$ of putting them all on supplements that I don’t really know is helping them. 😉

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