There are numerous reasons why a
horse needs weight gain supplements. Horses under a heavy workload or hose used
for breeding are often fed supplements to round out their diet. Age and time of
year, as well as dental health and stress levels can affect a horse's
conditioning. Many horse owners are concerned with choosing the right weight
gain supplement for their horse. Here are some tips how:
Why Horses Are Underweight
A survey conducted by animal rights organizations in California came to the
conclusion that horses are often underweight due to owner ignorance. Unfortunately,
many horse owners are unfamiliar with the body conditioning necessary for their
horse to perform at its best. Horses are often underweight or too lean without
their owners realizing.
Why Body Conditioning Is Important
Dr. Don Henneke developed the body condition scoring scale for horses while he
was at Texas A&M University. The Body
Condition Scoring System for Horses measures the amount of fat located
where horses typically store body fat - the neck, withers, back, tailhead, loin
and ribs. Scores range from 1-9, which 1 being malnourished and 9 being
A horse's ideal body conditioning score is based on its age, workload, and
training. Most experts suggest a body conditioning score of 5, which is ideal. This
level of rating means the horse has small deposits of fat but is in no way
fleshy. This is a good method for horse owners to judge if their horse is
getting enough nutrients.
If Your Horse Needs Supplements
To determine if your horse needs supplements, you must first figure out what nutrients
it is already getting. Take note of feed bags; nutrients, vitamins and minerals
are listed. It will also help to know the quality of hay the horse is being
fed. If a horse is feeding on grass most of the day, a soil sample is in order.
All this will tell you if your horse’s diet is lacking any nutrients.
Think of supplements as just one element of your horse's diet. Feeding
supplements will not make up for a horse's poor diet, but they will be valuable
additions to a horse that already has nutritious eating habits. You will need
to change the type of supplements you use throughout the year. For instance, a
horse entering a heavy show season or one used for breeding will need to have
more nutrients in its diet to perform optimally.
every other part of your equine care, please consult with your veterinarian.