Supplements, Do Our Horses need them?
I have just seen a very good debate on one of the barefoot horse groups about Seaweed? However, Maybe we should ask why do we feel we need to feed supplements in the first place. Seaweed is cheap, but that does not mean that it's not good for some horses. I give my horse garlic and blue-green algae because I believe they promote a healthy immune system among other things. Do I feed minerals? Sometimes, but this is more out of fear than logic. This area is a complete minefield and only your horse knows what it needs and they can get mixed up sometimes as well.
Instead of arguing what mineral and supplements we should use for our horses we should look at the actual problem. Maybe our horses would be better off if they went back in time because at the end of the day this is about our incompetence in managing food at source. In an ideal world, our horses would self-medicate and just roam where they wanted, foraging for the food they need. However, we know better now don’t we? The answer to feeding our horses correctly is in the land we grow our horses food. We need to put the minerals back into our soils so the food we grow has more minerals in it. Mixed grasses instead of modified cow grass is important because they will have different nutrients at different times. We should stop poisoning our land by using chemicals which stop ours and our horses mineral uptake. We should grow things like Rosehips, Hawthorn, Brambles, Mint, Wild Garlic, Chamomile, Meadowsweet, Comfrey, Cow Parsley, Thistles, Burnet, Yarrow, Rosebay, Willow Herb, Cleavers, Nettles, Dandelions in our pastures instead of killing them and treating most as weeds! In this way, our horses can look after themselves.
Every horse’s environment is different, every horse’s immune system is different and every horse has had different diseases and illnesses. Also most horses have chemical wormers which expose our horses to toxins and deplete their immune systems. EVERY HORSE IS DIFFERENT therefore, needs different food or treatment. When it comes to supplementing minerals and vitamins we do not know what our horses need and sometimes what is good for one is not good for another. So what can we do? For the price of one bag of blue-green algae, you could buy the seeds for these herbs above and put them in our pastures. For a few hundred pounds we could plant hedgerows instead of putting up fences which will last for hundreds of years. It will be cheaper, but just take a bit more effort at first to keep animals off until it’s established. Let’s make this world a better place for our horses and treat their needs first. Let’s try and give them 24/7 turnout. Let’s find out what our land is deficient in and put it back. Let's buy hay or make our hay chemical free. Let’s look into our hearts and give them an environment and life where they will thrive, not poisoned by it!