Editor’s note: We at The Horse are horse owners like you. Certain equine-care products have impacted how we manage our own animals, and we want to share our experiences with you. These select products are ones we use and love every day.
Going into this past winter, I was looking for a way to help support my off-track Thoroughbred’s (OTTB) energy, weight, and skin as the pasture grass went dormant and the temperatures dropped. Happy is 16, and I’m typically able to maintain his weight well throughout the year on high-quality forage, pasture, a non-GMO balancer—on account of his sensitive hindgut, to avoid sugars, etc.—with the addition of beet pulp during winter. My veterinarian recommended Wellpride fish oil for the task.
Why Fish Oil?
Fish oil is packed with omega-3s, which support coat and skin health, promote weight gain in horses that need it, and help manage a variety of inflammatory issues, such as osteoarthritis. (Corn oil and some processed oils can be pro-inflammatory.) Out of convenience—I was stopping at a local business on my way home—I purchased a gallon of an off-brand fish oil.
Typically, Happy does not have a picky palate; one time he ate SMZs out of my hand like they were treats. He generally has a very good appetite, as well. But when I introduced a bit of the off-brand fish oil with his balancer, he stuck his nose in the feed bucket, rocked back away from it, and swung his head to look at me with giant, questioning eyes as if to say, “What is this? Why?” I had to scrub and rinse his feed bucket a few times before he would consider his dinner again.
I started over, researching the Wellpride fish oil, which my vet said is the only fish oil supplement her clients’ horses reliably eat. I learned oxidation is what causes these oils to take on that fishy odor (Does anyone besides a harbor seal like that aroma?), which is why Wellpride designed a bottle with a squeeze mechanism that releases the correct dose into a well at the top of the bottle without exposing the rest of the fish oil to oxygen, keeping it fresh. The manufacturer also recommends you finish the 30-ounce bottle within six weeks.
I reached out to Wellpride, and a company representative sent me some product that arrived quickly and well-packaged (no leaky bottles). When I introduced the Wellpride fish oil, using just a half-ounce at first, Happy sniffed his meal (probably because he noticed I was watching him for a reaction … ah, the power of suggestion) then dove in, gobbling up his dinner and licking the bucket—the citrus flavor was a hit. I was able to increase the amount to the recommended 1 ounce, twice a day, and have maintained him on it for five months.
Energy, Focus, Stamina
My regular veterinarian, my chiropractic veterinarian, and the farm manager/business owner where I board were all super pleased with Happy’s condition coming out of winter. He has been bright, energetic, and ready to tackle work, showing up in a big way for dressage, show jumping, and cross-country lessons with the enthusiasm and fluid movement of a much younger horse (most people I encounter who’ve met Happy believe he’s not a day over 8).
Omega-3s are something I’ve taken for brain support and focus, and Wellpride mentioned the fish oil can have these results in horses, too. Happy is usually a very “chill,” sensible OTTB, but take any horse into gale-force winds in early spring and ask them to focus, and you might have some aerial antics. Last week I longed Happy in said weather, and he was responsive, engaged, and calm—even standing ground-tied as jump standards fell over, pastured horses ran around, and I collected my equipment, which was blowing about in my hands.
People have always commented on Happy’s soft coat, but it’s become even softer during his time on the Wellpride fish oil. Sometimes I just stand in the barn aisle after I groom, petting his neck and marveling at his coat—and I haven’t given him a soapy bath in months! At one point in January, I noticed his unclipped winter hair (he was trace-clipped in November) was shiny, something I rarely notice in horses that time of year. I can’t wait to see his spring coat once he’s finished shedding … it’s sure to be a stunner this year.
While horses in our region are constantly battling rain rot and other skin funk with the roller coaster of changing temperatures and precipitation, we only had a touch of it after one particularly dank, muddy week, and it resolved quickly. Happy hasn’t experienced scratches (aka dew poisoning) on his pasterns this year. His hoof wall continues to be healthy and strong, despite Central Kentucky’s dry/wet/dry cycles.
Support During Travel Stress
It’s important to mention that the oil is also helping us over a hurdle. This month Happy lost some weight after an 8.5-hour trailer trip to and from South Carolina, where I flipped his turnout schedule. He’s typically out at night year-round in a huge pasture, for at least 16 hours a day, and for this trip he had day turnout with his usual alfalfa and grass hay and the addition of soaked alfalfa cubes to support his hydration and gut health. Happy continued to consume his Wellpride oil despite the stress of travel and is back home on pasture and gaining the weight back quickly.
While we were in South Carolina, we had several days of longer-than-usual rides in sandy footing, a cross-country lesson, and quite a bit of jumping over logs and small fences in the Hitchcock Woods (70 miles of wooded trails). Happy recovered well, never seeming muscle sore.
I’m certain the Wellpride fish oil helped reduce stress- and performance-related inflammation in his body and helped boost his immunity during our trip.
Wellpride just sent me some of its new anise-flavored fish oil to try, and I look forward to seeing how Happy likes it—researchers have proven anise is a flavor horses prefer over some other flavorings.
I’ve been pleased with the results of the Wellpride fish oil and plan to keep it as part of Happy’s nutrition regimen going forward. And I’ve learned that when my veterinarian recommends a specific product, I need to follow her advice and not seek a cheaper substitute!