Horse products are great, aren’t they? We can clean, shine, heal, dress up, shave off and just about anything you can think of with a horse product for sale out there. But let’s face it, even with all the products out there, the best way to get a shine on a horse is from the inside out!
As with humans, nutrition is what makes the body healthy. With that comes recognizing what is healthy and what is not. Let's be honest here, most feeds on the market are made with minimal nutrition and are full of fillers and items that are used more for profit margin than because they are healthy. Wheat middlings, soy hulls, cane molasses…none of these things are actually healthy nutritionally rich food sources. They are by-products and in order to make up for what they lack nutritionally, the food producers must put in chemical nutrients to balance out the feed. While these “complete feeds” make our lives easier, they don’t give us the healthiest horses possible.
In order to have a shiny horse, we first need a healthy horse and that only comes from good nutrition. As with us two-leggers, a healthy diet is one with variety. First and foremost is forage, which most horse owners understand. Good clean hay and grazing when possible is always the “base of the pyramid” when it comes to feeding horses. Add in your HEALTHY fats (use omega 3 rich items like flax, camelina, coconut, etc. which are anti-inflammatory) vitamins and minerals mixed with a basic grass pellet and you are on the way to having a healthier horse without adding all the by-products and chemical “nutrients”.
The best mineral mix to buy? If your horse is still lacking minerals after a varied diet, and a mineral block like Redmond Rock or Himalayan Rock, the best mix of minerals is one made locally that can make up for the nutrients you have missing in your area. Don’t know where to find one? Talk to your local cow farmer or extension office. They are usually “in the know” of where to have mixes made. Please note, if your horse is going through a salt block like there is no tomorrow…your horse is NOT lacking salts but minerals! Too much salt is as bad in a horse’s diet as it is in a human’s diet and causes excess water retention that can cause joint pain and heart issues. Using loose salt in their feed bucket and offering a mineral block is the best way to find balance.
For vitamins, nothing beats adding herbs and fresh fruits and veggies to the diet, especially if your horse gets no graze time. If your horse is sugar sensitive, stick more to veggies as they will be lower in sugars and will provide a host of vitamins. Herbs not only add nutrition to the diet but also help reduce pain, detox, help protect joints, balance hormones…herbs should be a normal part of any equine diet on a daily basis.
Most people spend at least SOME time thinking about their own diets and being healthier. Most people know variety is part of a healthy diet and eating all our meals out of a single bag of “complete” meals is not healthy. It is the same with our horses. So in the end, having a shiny horse is not about products, or complete feeds but about putting some thought, effort, and education into keeping your horse healthy.
Your horse will thank you for it.