Let's talk supplements.
I'm still up in the air about the effectiveness of supplements. I'd love to hear more opinions on this matter, but I'm going to give you the pro's and con's as I see it.
-accounts of proven results
-shiny coat on your horse
-possible waste of money
-kind of inconvenient at feeding time
I'll be straightforward: I feed my horse a hoof supplement. I started feeding SmartHoof through SmartPak in October, and now I'm feeding Nu-Hoof.
Before I started feeding it, I had many laypeople tell me how well supplements work and that my horse definitely needed it. I also asked three farriers and one vet about it, and they told me the only thing I'd be doing is making very expensive horse urine.
But I don't regret my decision. Even if my horse is peeing away $30 a month, I would rather do everything in my power to make her better than not try an option. I think it is still too soon to see results ... either that or there are no results. But so far, my horse's hooves have not grown considerably faster nor do they looked considerably better (well, they are looking better, but that's probably due to farrier work).
But I will continue to supplement. Call me hard-headed, but I happen to think it's a smart decision because if there is a slight chance that $30 a month can encourage my horse to heal faster or have better hooves, I think that's worth exploring.
Don't get me wrong: I think that supplements can work. There is a lot much evidence to back it up. And often, I think it is a mixture of cures that get our desired result. Who's to say the supplement hasn't helped my horse in a way we can't see?
So, what should you look for in a supplement?
I have heard that horses react to different things in supplements in different ways. One horse may do well on Farriers Formula, but another horse may not. In turn that horse may do well on Nu-Hoof.
Hoof supplements essentially are biotin with a few extras thrown in (Omega-3 and magnesium are popular). Biotin has been lauded to help healthy hoof growth. From what I know, you want at least 20 mg of biotin for maintenance on horses, and 30 mg and up for horses with hoof problems.
Think of this supplement like buying yourself supplements. If you are looking to improve the quality of your skin and nails, you could buy Omega-3 or Vitamin E. Or you could buy the multi-vitamin geared toward helping you have great skin and nails. The same is true of hoof supplements.
Omega Horseshine is a good example of a "multi vitamin geared toward hooves" supplement. But sometimes, you just may want the plain biotin (it is also less expensive).
Some horses do better with different minerals in with the biotin, and you may have to figure out what works and what doesn't.
How far you want to go with it is your choice. Personally, I believe that any horse being adequately fed with a complete feed should not need extra supplements, but anything "extra" will just be passed through urine anyway. Like I said, it could possibly beneficial, with very few downsides, so why not try it?
One thing you want to be careful of is lysine content. If you live in an area with high lysine content in hay and in grass, you can poison your horse. Many supplements contain lysine because it's essential for breaking down protein, if I recall correctly. So make sure you pay attention to what you're feeding your horse.
Anyone have any great stories about supplements and hooves? I'd love to hear them!