How is your horse's nutrition similar to his dressage training?

When you walk down the supplement aisle of your local feed store, a lot of products may catch your eye.  With fancy labels and claims that are typically not backed by studies.  We want the best for our horses and reach for supplements to provide a shiny coat, joint health, or a promise of a more "relaxed" horse.  What is often overlooked is the vitamin and mineral supplements that are needed to balance out the largest part of your horse's diet, his forage.

A good analogy for your horse's nutrition is to think of the dressage training pyramid:

In dressage each level builds upon the previous.  If a level is not mastered, proceeding to the next is impossible.  Each level is interconnected.  The same with your horse's diet.  Creating a proper foundation is key.  Then you build onto it as needed.  Most owners will find that with the correct 1-3 levels, your horse may not need additional supplements such as hoof, calming, coat enhancers etc.

Here is your horse's Supplement Pyramid:

Forage is the foundation of your nutrition pyramid, like rhythm is your foundation for dressage. In order to master this level and proceed to the next, you must know what is in your forage.  The only way to do that is to have it tested.  Aimed with this knowledge you can proceed to the next level; vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and Minerals are needed to balance what is lacking in your forage, or nutrients that are in excess causing secondary deficiencies. The next level in dressage is Relaxation. Which is ironic as one of the most common feedback I receive from clients after their hoses is on a balanced diet, is that their horse is more relaxed.  The majority of horses will not need a hoof supplement once their trace minerals are balanced.

These two levels of nutrition may be all that some horses need.  If necessary, the next step is to provide immune and digestive support.  Supporting your horse's immune system will reduces stress, protects against disease, reduces allergic reactions, and may negate the need for supplements for heaves, allergies, etc.

With a balanced diet, strong immune system, and healthy digestive tract, there are only special situations left where additional supplements are needed.  For example, joint health, electrolytes, etc.

Following this Supplement Pyramid will not only help your horse, it will help your wallet.