Horse Nutrition 101

posted: 05/15/12

Wild Horses

In the wild, horses are natural foragers and consume a variety of grasses and plants. This diet allows them to get most of the vitamins and minerals they need for basic survival. Because their bodies are not strained by the demands of servicing humans, wild horses typically do not need advanced nutrition beyond what Mother Nature provides.

Unlike their wild relatives, domesticated horses frequently spend much of their time in a stall or paddock and have limited access to natural forage. To compensate for this lifestyle, domestic horses are fed hay and grain meals at various times throughout the day, and their nutritional needs vary depending on their job in life.

Pleasure Horses

Horses that are ridden for pleasure, like those found in Trail MIX, usually require basic grain and hay meals. Caloric needs are met first and foremost, with concentrated, formulated grains, or simply oats or corn, combined with hay. However, as soon as the horse is asked to do more serious work, problems can arise… luckily, nutritional management can help!

For example, some horses are prone to poor quality hooves, have very dull coats, or can be lethargic. Fortunately, there are nutritional supplements that can stimulate hoof growth, keep coats shiny, and help keep a horse energetic in spite of lugging people around all day!

Competition Horses

Elite competition horses, the very best of the best, have the greatest nutritional demands.

Horses like the stars of Horse Power: Road to the Maclay and participants in the Animal Planet Sport Horse Cup, might typically receive a diet of hay and grain, and most require additional supplements to keep them at their peak performance. Competition horses face problems with their joints, hooves, energy, muscle development, weight maintenance and digestive health.

For example, joint supplements for horses contain similar ingredients as joint supplements for people, including Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid. Flax -seed based supplements offer the benefits of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, an extremely high-quality fat that can help horses with energy, soft tissue function and maintaining the gleaming coat of a true champion. Sometimes competition horses run a little "hot" and benefit from supplements high in B vitamins that can take the "edge" off, or help manage undesirable nervousness. About SmartPak Equine SmartPak Equine markets leading name brand supplements custom-packed for individual horses in a patented unit dose package, the SmartPak™. SmartPaks are individually labeled and sealed packs that contain one day's dosage of supplements. They also protect supplements from the harmful effects of oxygen and moisture, thereby ensuring maximum potency. SmartPaks are automatically shipped every four weeks and can be sent to a home, office or barn. The SmartPak supplement feeding system was officially launched in June of 2000, and to date has provided more than 50 million custom-packed supplements to horses in every state in the country. SmartPak Equine was founded by riders and horse owners who ride and show Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Polo, Equitation, Eventing, Reining and have logged many miles trail riding. In addition to the SmartPak system, the company offers a broad line of horse health and rider items, dog supplies, and equine and canine pharmacy items sold through the company's catalog and website. For more information about SmartPak, go to or call toll free at (800) 461-8898.

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