Have your forage (hay and grass) tested for nutrient content (and for NSC's while you are at it to
determine founder factors for obese horses). If your forage is short of anything, then a supplement can be selected to compliment
the shortages. Aside from that, what is best? That depends.
your horse really need a supplement? Signs of deficiency include:
- chronic grass cracks or dry appearance, regardless of environment and anti-fungal treatments
- Shelly, flakey walls with black crud in every unnnatural crevice
- Sun burned hair coat
- Cracks and splits
Some of those symptoms
can indicate other problems. Biotin is not the cure-all that was previously thought. Usually horses are lacking in more zinc,
copper and methionine than biotin. In my area, the supplements that seem to work well (when blindly supplementing without
the recommended forage test) include Horseshoer's Secret, Grand Hoof pellets with MSM, and Focus HF. An interesting note,
adding MSM (labeled a joint supplement) will help with absorption of the key nutrients and helps contribute to hoof quality
#1 ingredient to avoid? Selenium.
Unless your horse has been tested, as well as his feed, and proven to have a definciency of this nutrient, DO NOT FEED SELENIUM!
Horses have a very small need for it, and a little too much can cause some nasty results like hoof slough (the foot founders
and the hoof itself comes off) and even death. Mild ovderdoses can cause the symptoms of a deficiency. And the levels it takes
to reach toxicity are very small, we are talking parts per million! Most places in the US have plenty of available selenium,
so do not give unless prescribed!
to avoid, but not as dangerous: IRON. Horses don't need supplemental iron. Unless yours has had a massive bleeding trauma,
he isn't likely to need it. It blocks absorption of the nutrients needed for good hooves. It's present in most soils and in
poorly managed pastures and hay fields is more available in the forage than other nutrients. Most horses are not kept on well
maintained pastures, so iron is high in the diet, so no need to supplement it. So supplements to avoid include Red Cell, unless
you have a bleeder. Red salt blocks are red from IRON, so use the white or yellow blocks instead.