Nov 05, 2023

Does Your Horse Lack Nutrients by Eating Hay?

USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Pasture Grass vs. Hay for Horses - Filling Nutritional Gaps

Your horse was designed to spend his days roaming and grazing, thriving on the nutrients found in fresh grass. But since acres of pasture can be hard to come by, most horse owners turn to hay to meet their horses’ forage requirements.

Key Nutrients in Fresh Pasture Grass

If your horse isn’t one of the lucky few that has year-round access to fresh pasture, there could be gaps in his diet that need to be filled in.

Omega 3s

Fresh grass contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to your horse’s well-being because they help support cellular health and a normal response to inflammation. They’re also important because they balance out the omega 6 fatty acids in your horse’s diet. Though your horse needs both types of omega fatty acids, maintaining the correct balance between the two is critical. Because omega 6s support a pro-inflammatory response, it’s recommended that your horse have 2 - 4 times more omega 3s than omega 6s.

Unfortunately, by the time that grass is cut, dried, baled, and stored, hay contains virtually no omega 3s. Even worse, fortified grain is high in omega 6s, so the combination of a low-pasture, high-grain diet can lead to an imbalance in the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio that sets the horse up for a chronic state of inflammation. That’s why if your horse doesn’t have access to plenty of fresh pasture, supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids is a smart choice.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your horse’s body from the oxidative stress of exercise, illness, and certain medical conditions. While vitamin E is found in high amounts in fresh pasture, the potency starts declining the moment pasture is cut for hay. Therefore, any horse that doesn’t have access to grass may need vitamin E supplementation to fulfill their daily requirements.

Vitamin A

While vitamin A is most well-known for its role in maintaining healthy vision, it’s also needed for reproduction, immunity, and normal skeletal development. Horses need to satisfy their daily requirements for vitamin A with their diet, but only horses with access to fresh green pasture or high-quality alfalfa are likely to meet that requirement with their forage alone.

Filling the Gaps

Luckily, there are easy ways that you can help your horse get some of the nutritional benefits of grazing even when your fields are barren. SmartOmega 3 & E™ Ultra provides high levels of omega 3 fatty acids from flax seed, chia seed, and fish oil, as well as vitamins A and E.

The Benefits of Grazing Don't End with Nutrition

Along with providing the nutrients your horse needs to meet his daily requirements, grazing is also beneficial for these three key areas:

1. Digestive Health

A slow, steady intake of forage is essential for a healthy digestive tract. Read this article on supporting healthy digestion to learn more and find out what you can do to help your horse.

2. Joint Health

The constant mobility that comes with grazing can also be beneficial for your horse’s joint health. In addition to providing daily turnout and exercise, a joint supplement is a smart way to help keep your horse going strong. Visit SmartPak.com/SmartFlexFinder to find the joint supplement that meets your horse’s needs.

3. Hoof Health

Proper circulation can have a big impact on hoof health, and the first step to promoting good circulation is to promote activity. Read this Q&A on hoof circulation with SmartPak’s Hoof Health Consultant, Danvers Child, explaining how keeping your horse on the move affects hoof health.

About SmartPak

From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness. With the success of this simple and convenient feeding system, SmartPak has continued to expand its offering of quality products, including its own line of more than 90 supplement formulas under the SmartSupplements, Leg Up and Smart & Simple brands. The company also offers a wide variety of tack, equipment, and supplies. SmartPak has grown rapidly each year and is one of the largest retailers of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak’s success has been powered by a passion for delivering an unbeatable customer experience, and the company has been recognized with a Bizrate Circle of Excellence award eight years in a row, as well as receiving an “Elite” rating from STELLAService.

About the United States Eventing Association

The USEA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization committed to providing eventing enthusiasts with a competitive level suited to their individual skills. By assisting and educating competitors, event organizers, and officials; maintaining responsible safety standards; and registering qualified competitions and clinics, the USEA offers a strong and continuous training opportunity for an ever-expanding field of world-class competitors. Just as importantly, the USEA provides a means for all riders, regardless of age or ability, to experience the thrill of eventing. To learn more, visit www.useventing.com.

Apr 21, 2024 Eventing News

How to Watch the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event

It's one of the biggest weeks in eventing, and while thousands of eventing enthusiasts have flocked to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, for the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, thousands more will be tuning in from across the globe will be watching from home. Are you one of those who will be watching from afar? We've got the all the info you need to watch the livestream

Apr 20, 2024 Eventing News

Klugman's Returning to Kentucky on a Special Mare

Ema Klugman completed a fairy tale story in 2021 at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event when she made her five-star debut with the Thoroughbred/Saddlebred Bendigo, who she came up the levels with from Pony Club to Advanced. As Ben was heading into the later years of his career with Klugman, she purchased Bronte Beach, a Zangersheide mare (Verdi TN x Dalphine), in 2017 as a 5-year-old to follow in his footsteps.

Apr 19, 2024 Membership

Top Tips for Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event First-Timers from USEA Members

The 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is truly an eventing lover’s paradise with four full days of competition, vendors galore, opportunities to meet some of the sport’s greatest riders face-to-face, and so much more. For a seasoned Kentucky veteran, hopping over to the Kentucky Horse Park for the fun feels easy enough, but attending Kentucky might feel a bit overwhelming for first-timers. We chatted with USEA members from all over the country to get their favorite Kentucky tips to share with you. Check them out here!

Apr 19, 2024 Eventing News

Meet the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L Field

There are some familiar names and new faces on the five-star roster for this year's Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event. Which horses have had recent top placings? Which riders have seen success at the Kentucky Horse Park in previous years? Which horse is called "Grandpa" by his rider and which one was purchased for $1?

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA