Wednesday 12 July 2017

Supplements Blog Hop

There has been an unofficial blog hop floating around about supplement use (e.g. Dream Big, DIY Horse Ownership). Normally I'm not a big supplement feeder, but Kachina is actually on a couple things right now so I figured I would chime in.

First off, a little about my attitude towards feeding horses. I feel like lots of good quality forage and good water supply are the foundation of what's needed. I only add in extra stuff when I see a hole or have a specific reason to do so. This means that Kachina was fed no supplements until the start of June, I wasn't against them, I just didn't have a specific need. Also, my current barn doesn't feed supplements so it's on me to source and feed them myself (which I absolutely can, but it was easier when I didn't have to). 

Here are the two extras that I have added into Kachina's diet recently and the reasons for them:

1. Hi-Pro Feeds Step 5

Dose: 1 scoop (about 2 cups), every time I'm at the barn (so about every second day). 

I don't know if it's this common everywhere, or just here because many of their mills are in Alberta, but Hi-Pro Feeds Step program is readily available and extremely popular. They have 8 steps of feed for different needs and different life stages of horses. I fed their senior mixture to a past horse. 

Kachina is a good keeper, not too easy, not too hard. I have been happy with her energy levels and general body condition pretty much since I got her. However, I have struggled with developing her topline. It's improved since I got her, but very very slowly. First I worked on the side of correct work, and tack fit, but eventually I decided I needed to look at the nutrition side of things to make sure that wasn't holding us back. After consulting with a few people and a very knowledgeable feed store in town, I decided to try the Step 5 horse feed. Step 5 is advertised as a maintenance feed. It's not supposed to do anything crazy, but just has a balanced combination of things, with protein (10%), fat (4%), fiber (10%) and a mix of vitamins and minerals. The theory is that this won't give Kachina too much excess weight or energy (hot horse needs no help), but will help fill in any gaps from her forage so she can develop some more muscle and pad her topline. There are several other things we can try depending on how this works so I will assess in another few weeks. Bonus: The kibble shape and size makes it work well for me to put a handful in my pocket and use them as treats. Other bonus: this is very affordable feed especially at the low amount I am feeding. 

2. Magnesium Oxide

Dose: 10g every time I'm at the barn (about every second day), top dressed onto Step 5 feed. 

We all know Kachina can be a hot and tense horse. My trainer Sandra suggested I try MgO, as she knows a few other horses like Kachina who have been greatly helped by it. Magnesium is used by the body to help contracted muscles relax. Also, while there isn't much supporting science, it has been used in calming supplements for quite a while with many anecdotal success stories. The MgO I bought isn't part of any brand name mix, just a simple white powder of MgO. I wish it had more research behind it, but everything I read suggested that while it might not help, this dosage of magnesium shouldn't hurt anything either. After the very un-relaxed clinic, I figured it was worth a try. I don't know if the MgO is the reason why, but I have had some super excellent rides since I started feeding it in early June. I am going to keep her on it for a while (at least until after my next show), but at some point I'd like to take her off it to test whether I see a change in her behavior or not.

Some links related to Mg in horses for anyone interested (I had more but I didn't save them)


  1. I tried MagOx on one of my mares, but our issue ended up being ulcers. I do know lots of people who have had success with it though! Hopefully you find it helpful ☺

    1. Ulcers has been suggested for Kachina as well, though her diet and turnout should make her low risk so we're trying this first

  2. I really like the step 5 for the same reason. B is sadly too fat for anything but the tiniest scoop of minerals as an extra right now, so I'm using some of the little sample bags of step 5 we get at horse shows for treats only!

    1. B has been looking good in her photos lately!

      I do like that Kachina's body condition gives me more flexibility on what I can feed. Some extra calories won't hurt her but I don't need to cram them down her throat either.

  3. I've used Magnesium in the past. Thankfully all of my current horses don't need any extra (they get a tiny amount in their ration balancer).