Why supplements are important in the modern equine diet is a question I am often asked.
If you go back in time a hundred years, horses were living on large areas of pasture with a rich combination of grasses, herbs and other beneficial plants that provided them with a rich source of nutrients. Today the vast majority of horses are confined to small areas, many having no access to pasture whatsoever and are sustained by grass and legume hays and grain products.
On top of this, due to intensive farming practices, soils have been depleted of many key nutrients, causing the nutritional profile of hays to drop dramatically. This has made it imperative that horse owners look for alternatives to keep their horses in peak condition—especially high performance horses. This dynamic has caused a dramatic growth in vitamin and mineral enhanced grain products. However, these grain products shouldn't be over-fed and are not the single solution to the lack of nutrients in forage.
If you want to meet your horse's nutritional needs, don't take chances with his diet. The inherent problem with using excessive cereal grains as the sole means to supplement horses' diets is that a horse's digestive system is not designed to breakdown large quantities of cereal grains. We now see gas colic, in particular, reaching epidemic proportions as partially digested starches enter the large intestine. It is rare to see colic cases in horses on pasture grass.
The real scoop is that using supplements on their own or as an addendum to a moderate portion of grain is a more practical, effective and safer way to maintain and improve your horse's health. By using supplements to fill the gaps left by nutrient depleted hays, we are providing the missing ingredients, all the while not asking the horse's digestive system to work overtime.
Whether your horse is grazing on a lush, green pasture (doubtful in our drought stricken state) or being fed just one or two types of hay forage, most working horses, pregnant or lactating horses, require additional nutrients in their diet. Supplements are designed to provide a complex blend/ratio of chelated minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, pre-probiotics and amino acids to fill the gap between hay based forage diets to ensure your horse's best overall performance, health and long-term vitality.
For more information on Grand Meadows supplements visit www.grandmeadows.com.