Should I give my horse supplements?

Pinpoint what you hope to accomplish before starting your horse on a supplement.

Many people who feel they benefit from taking supplements also want their horses to experience the same positive benefits. Horse caretakers are becoming more aware that supplements may support their equine through every stage of life, by bolstering good nutrition and helping with specific concerns as their horses age.

In some cases, caretakers may start their horses on a supplement simply because another horse in the barn is having good results. However, supplements are not magic bullets, and your horse may have a different outcome than another on the same or similar product.

The best approach to supplementation is to think of your horse’s health and wellness as three-dimensional, with many components — nutrition, exercise, routine veterinary care, visits from the farrier, and supplements — all working together to help create a long, healthy and active life. Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea if your horse has a diagnosed medical condition, as some supplements may contain ingredients not recommended for animals on certain medications.

Pinpointing your concerns will help you identify the specific improvement you would like to see in your horse’s health, performance or appearance. Is his coat dull? Does he seem anxious in the stall? Is he stiff when you warm him up? This assessment will also help you choose the best product for the job, as many supplements target very specific results.

Another reason to consider a supplement is that you want to be proactive. For example, if your young horse is about to begin a strenuous training program, it can be wise to add a joint supplement to help support him as his exercise routine ramps up. Or you may start your performance horse on a digestive support supplement to help him through the stresses of competition season.

There are many scenarios in which proactively adding a supplement could benefit your horse. However, supplements cannot take the place of quality nutrition or a safe and enriching environment in which your horse has daily opportunities to graze, socialize and practice natural horse behaviors.

Be sure to look for the NASC Quality Seal when buying horse supplements. This tells you the product comes from a responsible supplier that has passed a comprehensive facility audit and maintains ongoing compliance with NASC’s rigorous quality standards. Visit for a complete list of NASC member companies that have earned the Quality Seal.