Product Review: Elevate Natural Vitamin E for Horses
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.
Vitamin E is one of the most important and potent antioxidants for horses because it destroys excess free radicals in the body that can damage tissue and compromise immune function. It’s an essential nutrient, meaning horses cannot make it themselves and must get it in their diets—whether that’s in fresh green grass, in feed rations, or as a supplement. We have many stories and even a podcast episode devoted to vitamin E on TheHorse.com; it’s been a very popular topic among our readers the past few years. Little did I know, the subject of vitamin E supplementation would become important to me and my horse, too.
Last fall, my Thoroughbred, Happy, who typically sports a muscled physique even in light to moderate work, lost quite a bit of condition over his hindquarters—appearing a bit angular. Although he’s a dressage, low-level eventing, and all-around horse who usually marches energetically everywhere he goes, he also became a bit sluggish under tack—kind of like his gas tank was empty.
I maintain Happy, who is now 17, on an all-forage diet due to his sensitive hindgut, so addressing the condition loss wasn’t a matter of just upping his calories with concentrate. He eats high-quality grass and alfalfa hay, lives on a large pasture 17 hours a day, and consumes a GMO-free balancer. I couldn’t add more calories via fats; he’s already on two types of oil.
Mild Hindquarter Atrophy and Sluggishness
My vet came out to the barn in mid-November to see what might be going on with Happy. She conducted a physical exam and ruled out lameness. She was uncertain about why he was looking weaker and had muscle loss, so she conducted some diagnostic testing, then recommended we add the Kentucky Performance Products (KPP) water-soluble vitamin E product, Elevate, to his regimen. Here in Central Kentucky we experienced a severe drought last summer and fall, and my vet said some horses in her practice area weren’t getting the levels of vitamin E they typically would from pasture.
She reminded me that vitamin E levels drop rapidly in hay and other preserved forages, and horses that are experiencing vitamin E deficiency can seem sluggish, experience muscle atrophy, and in some cases even show neurologic signs.
We started Happy on Elevate W.S., which my veterinarian recommended; she explained that this natural, liquid form, which is given orally, is readily absorbed and would elevate his blood vitamin E levels quickly. Then, after we saw some progress, she wanted me to switch over to Elevate Maintenance Powder, which is also natural vitamin E.
Using Natural Vitamin E in Horses
The care team at the farm where I board top-dressed Happy’s balancer with Elevate W.S. for about two months. The muscling over his hind end began returning after about a month and a half; all the while, we were hacking and doing our wintertime light ringwork three to five days a week as the weather permitted. In mid- to late January—two months into our regimen—I began noticing just how balanced, stable, and purposeful Happy’s movement felt under tack, compared to the somewhat languorous steps I felt in November.
In February I spoke with Karen Isberg, president and founder of KPP, who explained it’s very important to measure Elevate W.S. with a syringe at each feeding because the product loses its potency quickly outside the specially designed bottle. She said to also be sure to work with your veterinarian to give the correct amount based on the horse’s blood vitamin E levels. Testing his baseline levels in November is something I wish I’d done prior to starting the vitamin E, but I had decided to address the atrophy and lack of energy right away rather than test first.
That said, as I prepared to switch Happy over to the Elevate Maintenance Powder, my veterinarian and I tested Happy’s vitamin E levels. They were about 200—which Isberg said were normal (unsurprising since he had been on the Elevate W.S.), though she recommended reaching for 300 in the performance horse. To this end, she suggested we try to get his level up to 3,000 IUs a day. The natural vitamin E provided in Happy’s ration balancer is 750 IUs/pound, so he was already consuming 1,500 IUs a day in his ration. We transitioned over to the Elevate Maintenance Powder, giving him 1,500 IUs of the product, bringing the total amount to 3,000 IUs. She recommended we test again after two months.
The Elevate Maintenance Powder was especially easy to incorporate into the farm team’s feeding routine—all they must do is add the powder over his balancer once a day.
Progress and Outcome After Supplementing Natural Vitamin E
Happy enjoyed two weeks off from work in late February while I was out of town. He stays quite active during turnout, however, playing with his buddies and traversing the pasture’s undulating acreage.
I returned from my travels in early March to a strapping, energetic athlete. I commented to my trainer and vet that on my first ride back, when I picked up the contact after our usual 15-minute warmup hack, it felt as if I was riding a second-level dressage schoolmaster (Note: We’ve only shown through first level!). I don’t know how else to describe it; it’s as if every footfall feels very “decided,” firm, even, stable, and bolstered by muscle.
Another month and a half later, Happy feels even better, and I have received many comments on just how balanced and muscular he looks so early in the season. Today we’re a little over the two-month mark on the Elevate Maintenance Powder, and my vet drew blood for another follow-up test to see where his blood vitamin E levels are. I look forward to sharing those results with Isberg and determining next steps, keeping in mind the spring grass is returning, along with its ample vitamin E.
I’m no stranger to the magic of nutrition, but the transformation Happy experienced while on the vitamin E products was stunning. I encourage horse owners grappling with issues like those I encountered to talk to their vets about testing vitamin E levels and determining whether Elevate W.S. or Elevate Maintenance Powder would be right for their mounts. Many performance horses—especially those only on pasture for short periods a day, on less-than-lush grass, or on a heavy travel schedule—need vitamin E support.
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