My Supplement Story: The Beginning

I have always been a little skeptical of supplements. Meaning I wasn’t really sure if they worked. I knew that some with certain minerals and vitamins did their jobs and that everyone was using them, but I didn’t trust all those weight gain, joint health, and other concoctions claiming to do something. That isn’t to say that none of my horses weren’t on supplements, because they were. Both of the mares have been on SmartPaks for almost as long as we have had them.

So why was I so doubtful if both of our horses were on them? It started with Angel. When we first bought her, she was a bit of a wild child to say the least. My mom ended up choosing a calming supplement to help ease her nerves and anxiety along with a coat health supplement. I am not really sure how much good it did, but my mom thought so and she stayed on it for a while. As the years went on and I began showing more, the calming supplement was riding the blurry line of being “show legal”. We decided to take her off of it to be safe and see how her disposition would change. It didn’t. That was when I realized that I wasn’t too sure if it was worth the hype. Strike one.

Flash forward to when I started leasing Ax. His previous owner had him on Horse Health Products Joint Combo Hoof & Coat supplement. After talking with someone whom I greatly value their opinion, I decided to take him off of the supplement and see how he was. If there was any negative reaction to being off of it, I would put him right back on. I wasn’t surprised when there was no change. Strike two.

Now, two years later, I am waiting to see if I hit a third strike by putting Ax on a new supplement. I started to notice this fall that he was coming out a little stiff compared to his usual springy gaits. Since he is getting into his mid-teens and were starting to do more over fences work, I was kind of expecting it. After a few months of contemplation, comparing, researching, and a SmartPak Academy session, I decided to try a supplement. I settled on SmartFlex® Senior Herb-Free and he began his maintenance dose the first week of January.

It has been over a month now and I am not ready to give my final verdict, yet. I know these things take time and the reaction may not be huge and immediate. As I enter month two, I am feeling pretty confident with my decision and Ax seems to be happy. So far, so good.

To be continued…

-TC

22 thoughts on “My Supplement Story: The Beginning

  1. SprinklerBandit says:

    I’m not a real supplement believer. Don’t have a problem with other people using the, but other than very specific scenarios, I don’t see the benefit other than “it makes me feel good to think I’m doing something”.

    So eh. Whatever.

  2. stampyandthebrain says:

    I’m kind of meh about supplements myself, although I do think if you know there is a specific missing vitamin based on blood testing, or a specific issue that is proven to be helped by a certain vitamin it makes sense.
    That said, I did a lot of reading on joint supplements and the results pretty much said that while a good supplement may help a horse have healthy joints longer, a supplement cannot undo joint damage. I think in your case with a stiff horse you would be better off going for an injectible joint product like Adequan, pentosan, or ichon. If you are interested in more reading, I know several of the articles were on thehorse.com that included testing of joint supplements in varous groups of horses.

    Neither of my horses is on a joint supplement (in fact Stampede only gets salt with his grain) but I give them both monthly Ichon shots. I can say for certain that I felt a change in Phoenix (who turns 26 next month) with the monthly shots. Not to mention that the monthly shots are cheaper than the unproven joint supplement I was using.

    There is certainly a lot of pressure to supplement horse’s diets without a lot of backup. Smartpak in particular is very good at selling people on thinking their horse won’t be healthy if they don’t. Even I sometimes feel the pull, but I try hard to avoid overthinking their diets. That’s why I buy them a well balanced pelleted grain.

    • Terise Cole says:

      I’m not a fan of injecting at all, hence why I wanted to go the supplement route first. I’m more worried about preventing any future deterioration than reversing the present.

      • stampyandthebrain says:

        I should specify, I’m not talking about injecting the joint, I’m talking an IM shot (or IV in some cases). I guess I figure if your horse has symptoms it’s kind of a damage already done scenario and our job is to help keep them comfortable so they can keep moving. I think the main helping part of joint supplements is likely MSM, just because it reduces inflammation, so if you don’t want to do anything injectible at all, that’s probably a go to ingredient.

      • Terise Cole says:

        That makes more sense. I just wanted to try a supplement before jumping into any type of injectable. He is comfortable, he just doesn’t take him nice long strides coming right out of the stall and it has only been an “issue” since the temperatures hit freezing so it is nothing too surprising. I do have the ideas of injections in the future.

  3. emma says:

    my leased mare is on a gastric supp (calcium and magnesium, primarily) following an ulcer problem… but that’s it. i do worry about her joints tho… and if she were mine she’d probably be on an injectible like pentosan… but idk. i kinda have really limited experience with these things haha.

  4. L. Williams says:

    I know with myself I can feel the difference when I take my multi-vitamin versus when I don’t. My iron levels aren’t great so I get fatigued. Usually I think with most supps it definitely takes a bit to see an overall difference. Fingers crossed!

  5. Tracy says:

    I will say that I’ve noticed a marked difference in both my horses when on coat supplements. Miles lost the genetic lottery when it comes to skin and coat quality, but SmartPak’s Omega supplement has REALLY helped.

  6. nbohl says:

    I am a doubter of oral supplements, especially for a picky horse like my TB, so I opted to put him on Legend injections instead, this way I know my money is definitely getting into him! He has been on them for five months and definitely feels great.

  7. vanessajean says:

    I’m interested to see if you notice a difference in Ax. I am considering starting my guy on a joint supplement but can’t seem to find any research that points towards a positive (or any) result. I may purchase a 3 month supply and see what happens.

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