A lot of companies are persuasive with making a horse owner think they need to buy a mineral/vitamin product that has everything in it. Many nutritionists including Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD disagree. The better approach is feeding what horses are most likely to need. If your horse is on a high fibre/forage intake (not crazy high amounts of grain), then these mixes are ideal. Rather than being an all singing, all dancing smorgasbord of nutrients (everything but the kitchen sink) in tiny amounts per serve, these mixes target what is most likely too low in the intake, using premium mineral sources backed by research, in quantities that make a difference. All the Balanced Equine mixes contain significant amounts of copper and zinc, all the mixes are designed so the amount fed per day can be increased if needed if there are high levels iron or manganese in the intake. Minerals compete with each other, one example is copper and zinc. Would like to learn more? Mineral Interactions
Equi Horse +Se (formerly known as Hoof Rescue +Se) is generally recommended for most situations. Equi Horse +Se contains high levels of copper and zinc, the two minerals most likely to be too low plus iodine, some calcium and phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. It’s not unusual for horses to be too low in selenium. Grass and hay grown in the most common type of soils; acidic to neutral pH are documented to be too low in selenium. Soil conditions, especially pH influence plant uptake of selenium. Equi Horse +Se has a very conservative amount of selenium, 1 mg per day for the standard feeding rate.
Don’t need selenium?
When selenium isn’t needed: Equi Horse
If the intake is providing sufficient selenium then Equi Horse (formerly known as Hoof Rescue) mix may be more appropriate. The only difference between Equi Horse and Equi Horse +Se is that Equi Horse doesn’t have selenium. It’s important to not overdo selenium as too much can be toxic, even fatal. However it’s also important to not have too little. This article by Dr Eleanor Kellon is very helpful: Selenium Paranoia
Don’t need selenium or magnesium, need a mix that is all about copper and zinc: Best Guess
If your horse is not likely to be magnesium or selenium deficient, then Best Guess mix is the best choice; copper, zinc and iodine. Best Guess mix in addition to any of the Balanced Equine mixes is ideal if you do need to increase the level of copper and zinc without the other nutrients: magnesium, selenium and so forth being increased. Or it might be another product that has the typically low levels of copper and zinc. We know from the many thousands of pasture and hay tests that all are too low in copper and zinc.
If you would like to feed your horse additional biotin, HoofXtra vitamin and mineral mix (formerly known as Laminitis Rescue) is the one. This mix was formulated with insulin resistant (IR)/EMS horses in mind to support a low sugar + starch intake but would be beneficial for any horse. HoofXtra has copper, zinc, magnesium, selenium and the B vitamins biotin, folic acid and pyridoxine.
If you would like to feed additional biotin on it’s own, Biotin can also be purchased on it’s own, along with other minerals and vitamins sold with no other additives.
I would like my IR/laminitic horse to have a mix based on Dr Eleanor Kellon’s recommendations: HoofXtra
This mix was formulated with insulin resistant (IR)/EMS horses in mind to support a low sugar + starch intake but would be beneficial for any horse. HoofXtra has copper, zinc, magnesium, selenium and the B vitamins biotin, folic acid and pyridoxine.
You will notice that there are not a huge range of nutrients as it’s simply unnecessary. Would you like to read more?
Why are Balanced Equine mineral mixes NOT the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ type?
Equine Amino is designed to be fed along with any of the above mineral mixes. If you have a muscle building/topline or hoof quality (shelly) hoof issues, consider Equine Amino with the essential amino acids recommended by Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD. If the mineral mixes like Equi Horse +Se contained amino acids, it would make the cost of the mix a lot more expensive, and even more expensive if you needed to trial a higher amount for a high iron or manganese intake. I chose not to make a product that contains minerals AND amino acids as not ALL horses need additional supplementation of minerals AND amino acids. There are many examples of products that are a combination of both, they either have poor levels of minerals or too low levels of amino acids or both. If your horse is on a high quality protein intake (pasture improved grasses, actively growing) it’s far less likely you need additional amino acids.
If you are feeding hay or significant amount of supplementary feed, I would also recommend 100 g freshly ground linseeds for omega-3 fatty acids and 1000 IU vitamin E, may need more for a higher workload. Vitamin E needs to have fat/oil with it. Read more about vitamin E (near bottom of page).
When adding the minerals and salt to a feed I find it easier to add the minerals to the soak water and mixing well so that when the beet pulp/soybean hulls/lupin hulls or whatever you are feeding hasave absorbed the water, with a good final mix, the minerals ‘disappear’. Always feed a wet feed to prevent choke and minimise dust, less chance of respiratory issues and compaction colic. This video demonstrates one way of adding minerals and salt to a feed.
What should I feed to ensure my horse gets what he really needs?
Only way to really know what nutrients need to be supplemented is to look at the whole intake and do the job properly, based on data. It’s a bit of an effort at first but pays off handsomely in the long run. The easiest and best way to know what your horse’s intake is deficient in, or what is excessive and out of balance, is to test what your horses eat. It’s not an exact science but the best approach we have in terms of accuracy. Labs like Equi-Analytical can test the bulk of the diet, whether that be pasture or hay. For small amounts of hay I use estimates though I am a data addict. For my own horses, I always test, I like to know. Then, if a feed product or supplement is required, it’s chosen on the basis of correcting the deficiencies/imbalances in the bulk of the intake. It’s a paradigm shift for many people, rather than looking at the products available for what is the most persuasive for helping horses without knowing what the nutrient levels are in the rest of the diet, choose what to feed and supplement on the basis of what they are already getting.
Plenty of companies will tell you what your horse or horses need but this is misleading advertising. They can’t possibly know without data (and know what to do with the data. This applies to feed calculator programs that claims they can *balance* a horse’s intake on made up data.
What does a balanced diet actually mean? Read here: What is a Balanced Diet?
To learn how to balance mineral ratios for horses, consider enrolling in Dr Kellon’s NRCPlus course.
Links may change over time. If a link doesn’t work, search the title in your search engine.
Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD Balancers Can’t Balance
Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD Selenium Paranoia
Mayland HF, Gough LP and Stewart KC. (1991) Chapter E: Selenium mobility in soils and its absorption, translocation, and metabolism in plants