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. Unfortunately, many of the key nutrients found in fresh pasture are lost as soon as it’s cut and dried for hay. 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.
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 two to four times more omega 3s than omega 6s.
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.
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.
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.
Filling in 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 flaxseed, chia seed, and fish oil, as well as vitamins A and E.
Along with providing the nutrients your horse needs to meet his daily requirements, grazing is also beneficial for these three key areas:
A slow, steady intake of forage is essential for a healthy digestive tract. Go to SmartPak.com/ColicRisks to learn more about supporting healthy digestion and find out what you can do to help.
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.
Proper circulation can have a big impact on hoof health, and the first step to promoting good circulation is to promote activity. Check out SmartPak.com/HoofCirculation to read a Q&A with SmartPak’s Hoof Health Consultant, Danvers Child, explaining how keeping your horse on the move affects his hoof health.
Five-star eventer Kim Severson taught a show jumping clinic in January at Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, Virginia where she instructed riders on the importance of forward riding for successful jumping. In this exercise, which Severson progressively adds additional pieces to, riders are instructed to focus on the quality of their canter.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.