Let’s take a minute to talk supplements.
I have never really considered myself a supplements person. Growing up, none of my horses received supplements. They didn’t really even receive much feed. They ate well-kept pasture for most of the year, good grass hay in the winter, always had fresh water and a mineral block, and got grain when I was riding them regularly. This worked perfectly well for them. But I secretly pined for supplements, especially those in sleek little SmartPaks. I remember receiving their catalog in the mail and being awed by pages after pages of products guaranteed to make my horses shiny or flexible or calm or fat. I really liked the neat little packages they came in. (Hey, I was 12.) But my horses simply didn’t need extras; they were fit, healthy, and happy.
Fast forward to college. Moe arrived after a miserable, horseless freshman year. I boarded him with a group of friends at a variety of facilities. The moves were not kind to my delicate Thoroughbred. He lost weight, and the more grain I fed him, the more excitable he got. (I still think he lost the weight just running around the pasture.) I decided Moe needed supplements. First, I tried corn oil. It was cheap, and I’d heard it’d add weight and shiny hair coat to a horse without adding excess energy. This was somewhat true; Moe was shiny. But he didn’t gain much weight. A friend suggested I add apple-cider vinegar to his feed to help his digestion and keep away rain rot. It did seem to help with his chronic rain rot; whether it helped with digestion, I couldn’t say. But Moe ate it happily, with his corn oil, sweet feed, and soggy beet pulp. And though he didn’t gain much weight, he didn’t lose any, either.
Let’s talk about a month ago. When I was rifling through the trunks in the horse trailer, I came across a whiteboard with Moe’s college-era feed chart still scrawled on it. I stared at it as if it were written in another language. Moe’s feed chart read:
AM Feeding: 3 pounds sweet feed, 1 pound beet pulp, 1 cup corn oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
PM Feeding: 3 pounds sweet feed, 1 pound beet pulp, 1 cup corn oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 scoop weight gainer powder, 1 scoop hoof powder, 1 scoop joint powder, 1 can beer
WHAT? I don’t remember that at all, but sure as I’m alive, I was apparently feeding my horse a can of beer every day. I also don’t recall having powdered supplements, either, but there they were, crusty tubs of 4 year old supplements. For what purpose I fed him the beer, I don’t know.
During the first couple of weeks he was in Oklahoma, I noticed Moe was a bit creakier and stiffer than usual. I wasn’t overly concerned- he was coming off a three year retirement and was now a senior citizen at 17 years old. For the second time in my life, I decided Moe needed supplements.
This time, instead of taking folksy advice from vaguely horsey people and friends, I did some research. I ordered Moe MSM for his joints, BioFlax for his hooves, and a digestive supplement to support his aging gut. The senior horses at my workplace receive a similar combination and I knew what a success it was.
After less than a week, I noticed Moe was moving smoother, had more energy, and was much more himself. After a month, I haven’t noticed any real weight loss or signs of digestive upset, and even in this awful drought his hooves are holding up well.
And the best part of all? I finally have my tidy, organized SmartPaks.