Which supplements have the research to back up their claims?

Market survey reports indicate half of all horse owners feed some form of nutritional supplement to their horses, and many even offer two or more nutritional supplements per day. With products on the market touted to treat virtually every ailment under the sun, from metabolic and joint issues to insect control and behavior problems, surely they work … and my brother’s friend’s cousin’s horse proves it!

The truth is, nutritional supplements might very well be valuable additions to your horse’s diet; however, there are two main challenges with using these products. First, a lack of scientific evidence exists to support many supplements’ use, even after decades of promotion; and second, poor-quality supplements are widely available that do not actually contain the ingredients they claim to. Together, these two issues make it difficult to know what product/ingredient really is or is not working.

In this article we’ll look at some of the most popular nutritional supplements, their primary ingredients, and what science says about them. We’ll also discuss the importance of avoiding oversupplementation.

Types of Supplements

A recent market survey of veterinary nutraceuticals reports that the five most popular classes of equine nutritional supplements are those targeting joints, digestion, hoof care, skin/coat health, and relaxation. The list of "other" supplements is extensive, including products for insect control, anhidrosis (the inability to sweat), mare-specific issues, metabolic conce