We all want our horses to be happy and healthy, and supplements are an excellent way to achieve that. However, sometimes horses can be a bit particular. Here are some tips to get your picky eaters to take their supplements.
Originally published in the SmartPak blog. Written by SmartPaker Sophia Hall.
My first horse Toby was the world’s pickiest eater. Okay, so he was the pickiest horse I had met up to that point. I like to think that there is a picky or sensitive one in every herd and I somehow always get blessed to call that one mine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Over my years of horse ownership, I like to think that I have acquired some tricks in making the most suspicious of eaters give me their hooves of approval. At the end of the day, we want our horses to live their best, happiest lives, and supplements are an excellent way to obtain that. However, sometimes horses like to make us work for their supplement approvals!
Toby was never the best water drinker, so by soaking his grain for his meals, I was able to ensure that he was getting some added hydration. Toby was also on some powdered supplements, so soaking the grain made the powder stick to his grain pellets and form into a mash. He was a horse that would lick his bucket clean if he really liked what he was eating, so even if the powders got left at the bottom, I knew he’d slurp them up!
Splitting up the supplement doses into AM and PM
What’s great about getting supplements from SmartPak is you can easily split up multiple supplements into AM and PM doses. So, you can give a certain supplement in the AM and the other one in the PM or split up the doses evenly, so your horse is getting a partial dose in the morning, and the remaining amount in the evening. Being able to make your SmartPaks so customizable is a huge plus, and it also makes making changes from shipment to shipment super easy too.
Slowly introducing it over a week period
While supplements can be given immediately in most situations and you don’t have to slowly transition the horse onto them like you would a new grain or amount, sometimes slowly increasing the desired dose over a week long period allows one to outsmart the horse. I had to do this before with Toby and it worked out perfectly. He would also go through moments after being on medication where everything was poisonous, including his treats and supplements, so I would stop them all cold-turkey and then re-introduce them like this. Eventually he was back to eating the full dose, no problem.
Adding in some soaked hay cubes or beet pulp
While we always recommend reaching out to your veterinarian when making grain changes or diet changes, Toby was a super hard keeper. Through his years with me, he had been on beet pulp and/or hay cubes, especially in the winter to maintain his weight (lucky boy got fed lunch too!). Because I would soak the beet pulp, it helped to mask any supplements that Toby might have questioned. Even when he wasn’t on hay cubes, I could add a handful on the bottom of his grain, making him eat his grain first to get to the true treasure at the bottom of his feed bucket.
Trying different supplements
While having so many different supplements to choose from can be overwhelming, what’s wonderful is that, depending on the category I was looking for to support Toby, I had plenty of options to work with in finding one that worked well for him. Sometimes an option for a liquid version to coat on top of the grain would be best, other times opting for the pelleted version over a powder instead. SmartPal also has Product Specialists on the phone to help you work through possible options, to make the selection process easier if you’re dealing with a trickier horse.
Topping the feed with some Equi-Sweet
A product SmartPak sells that can assist with making palatability better is Equi Sweet, which comes in both peppermint and molasses flavors. This amazing product adds palatability to any feed without packing in the sugar, since it’s made with Stevia. Stevia is a natural sweetener. This product is like a maple syrup-y consistency. Toby enjoyed molasses the most!
I hope these tricks can provide some assistance if you’re dealing with a picky eater. Horses always have a fun way to keep it interesting! Let us know what your favorite tricks are below.
You can find this and more on the SmartPak blog. Go SmartPak and go riding!