Guidelines To Feeding Supplements: Horses

Guidelines To Feeding Supplements: Horses

Posted by Marijke van de Water on 2022 Nov 26th

Herbs, Homeopathic Remedies, Vitamins & Minerals

Herbal Blends

Horses love herbs; in their natural environment they forage for exactly the right plants that they need to heal and stay healthy. In the domestic world we bring dried herbs to the barn. All of Riva’s bagged herbs are in dry form either as powders or cut and sifted making them easy to ingest. 

They can be fed with any kind of feed or mash. If you don’t feed anything aside from hay, you can make a mash from soaked beet pulp and/or wheat bran mash (wheat bran moistened with water). If desired mix 2-3 cups of soaked beet pulp with one cup of wheat bran. The moisture in the beet pulp will moisten the bran. Herbs can also be added to soaked hay cubes of any kind – alfalfa, timothy, or alfalfa-timothy blend.

These feeds make an excellent medium for mixing herbs and are well tolerated by most horses. Herbal tinctures in liquid form can also be added to feed or mash. Or they can be added to a small amount of clean water and syringed.

Riva’s herbal products are very palatable, but some horses have a strong “poison” reflex or are just plain finicky. If that’s the case start with one supplement at a time and add a smaller amount (1-2 tsp) to the feed. Gradually increase the quantity of herbs to the desired dosage. If they object to the higher quantities, either decrease the quantity of herbs again or increase the amount of mash. When horses are initially getting accustomed to a new taste you can add small amounts of some of their favourite foods if necessary to entice them. These foods are not a problem for Insulin Resistant or overweight horses since the quantities are relatively minimal amounting to a small carbohydrate load that does not affect insulin levels.

•Unsweetened apple sauce 

•Grated or cut carrots 

•Small pieces of apples, pears, plums, peaches (no pits), and watermelon. 

•Pure maple syrup (1-2 tsp) 

•Any other fruits or vegetables that they like.

Dosage

For herbal blends follow the directions on the label which will indicate to feed between 2-4 Tbsp daily (there are 4 Tbsp in ¼ cup). Herbal tinctures are given at ½ - 1 tsp daily.

Duration

Like humans, horses are all very unique and can have very different responses to their supplements. The duration of a particular herbal blend not only depends on the specific health condition but also on their immune system and overall health and vitality which determines how quickly they improve on a health program.

For most of our herbal blends it is advisable to feed the daily dosage (as indicated on the label) for 4-6 weeks. If the health condition has completely improved by that time gradually discontinue the product. If after 4-6 weeks, the condition is still gradually improving but not yet resolved, continue feeding the herbs. If the health condition improves before 4-6 weeks, use a maintenance dose of twice per week for the remainder of the weeks.

If you have discontinued the product or your horse is on the maintenance dosage, and the condition or symptoms reappear at any time, then resume feeding the blend daily at the original dose.

Some of our herbal blends are formulated for nutritional purposes and can therefore be given for longer periods of time. The ingredients in the Happy HorseHappy Horse Senior, and Equi-Immune Herbal Blends are blended to provide nutrition from plant food sources. After an initial duration of 2-3 months, these blends can be given in maintenance doses of 1-2 tsp daily or a full dose twice per week.

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Vitamins & Minerals

We have formulated all of our vitamins and minerals using the highest quality forms to ensure superior absorption and metabolism. We also avoid making “multis” because many nutrients compete for absorption making it hard to know what your horse is actually getting out of a multi vitamin or mineral mix.

The Riva’s vitamins and minerals are very palatable and are manufactured as neutral tasting powders. In addition, the dosages are usually small and easy to hide. Add to any kind of feed or mash with added treats if necessary, as described above in the Herbal Blends section.

Dosages

The Specialized Nutrients are fed anywhere between ¼ tsp or 1 Tbsp however, the usual dose for most of them is 1-2 tsp daily. Follow the directions on the labels for the individual product.

Duration

Nutrients are used to correct a specific deficiency or therapeutically to provide the body with the nutritional building blocks required to promote optimum function of the immune system, tissues, and organs.

It is recommended to give vitamins and minerals as a daily dosage for 2-3 months then go to a maintenance dose of twice per week. Maintenance dosages prevent nutrient deficiencies as well as excesses. If the original health condition reappears on a maintenance dosage, then resume the full dosage as recommended. As well, if the horse’s general well-being is obviously improved while taking the nutrient, then it is appropriate to continue at a daily dosage. 

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Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

To determine where your horse’s nutritional status is at, consider having a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) done. An HTMA is a scientific test which accurately measures the mineral content for over 30 different minerals in the hair. Mineral content in the hair reflects the mineral content of the body’s tissues. It can also detect toxic heavy metals.

An HTMA also assesses organ health, stress levels, blood sugar metabolism, thyroid function, and levels of inflammation. Hair analysis is an invaluable screening tool which helps guide diet and feed choices and detect mineral deficiencies as well as mineral excesses.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis More Information

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies are easy to administer, fast-acting, have no taste, and are highly effective. They are safe and gentle for all animals including foals, pregnant mares, older horses, ill horses, or hypersensitive horses. They are also competition safe in that they cannot be detected on any blood test.

However, homeopathic remedies need to be administered directly into a clean mouth without food in it. Remedies also cannot be added to feed or mash. The Riva’s homeopathic remedies are liquid formulations which come in a bottle with a gentle spray pump. Spray one dose (5-10 pump sprays) directly into the mouth. You can follow up with a little treat and they will look forward to each of their dosages.

If your horse has not had his/her mouth handled before (now is a good time to start training them mind you – the more you handle them, the safer they are) you can spray the dosage into a small amount of clean drinking water and then syringe. Or, add the dosage to a small amount of drinking water in a clean dish and let them drink freely.

Dosage

For adult horses, use 5-10 sprays for each dose. For foals, minis, ponies, or small donkeys use 3-5 sprays.

Homeopathic remedies can be given once or twice daily depending on the symptoms. For acute symptoms or injuries give one dose twice daily. For long standing or chronic problems give one dose once daily.

Duration

For acute symptoms, the general rule of thumb is to discontinue the remedy as soon as the symptoms disappear. If symptoms reappear resume the remedy. However, if acute symptoms do not improve within a few days change remedies.

For chronic problems, a well-selected combination formula can be continued for several weeks or longer if benefit is demonstrated, or if symptoms worsen when discontinued. However, if at any time symptoms are aggravated while on the remedies, the product should be discontinued.

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Riva’s Remedies for Good Health

All of our products are formulated to be complementary with one another and can be fed together. Herbal blends can be fed with other herbal blends for example, or with any of the vitamins and minerals. Products can also be used with any of the homeopathic remedies.

As with any supplement or feed, if adverse effects are suspected discontinue the product immediately. That said, barring a specific allergy or intolerance, negative reactions to good quality herbs and remedies are very uncommon and if they do occur, they disappear almost immediately after discontinuing the product.

With the appropriate diet, along with well-selected supplements and remedies, a natural health program will quickly yield positive results. Changes are usually observed within one to two weeks or sooner. However, chronic problems, such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome, immune disorders, chronic inflammation, detoxification, or some skin conditions for example, may take longer. Hoof conditions, including laminitis, respond very well to improved nutrition and supplements but MUST be accompanied by a balanced and functional barefoot trim. Don’t take this for granted – learn what a healthy hoof should look like and then find someone who can help trim your horses into soundness.


Marijke van de Water, B.Sc.,DHMS
Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist
Homeopathic Practitioner
Medical Intuitive & Healer
Educator & Author

Marijke is a life-long horse lover, the author of the best-selling Healing Horses Their Way, and the founder, formulator, and CEO of Riva’s Remedies. She is a gifted healer who helps horses, and their people, from around the world live happier, healthier lives.