Supplements for Horses

August 11, 2008 (published) | November 23, 2015 (revised)

When you walk into the feed store or open a horse magazine, you are probably overwhelmed with the number of supplements available and some of the questionable claims made by their manufacturers.  You can find supplements that claim to make every organ in your horse’s body better and help increase speed while curing any problem of the joints, hooves, immune system, or skin.  So how do you tell which of these supplements your horse really needs and which ones are not needed? 

First of all, ask the manufacturer for scientific information that their product performs as they claim.  Unfortunately, most don’t have any scientific information, and their claims are made on theories and not fact.  And because these products are all called nutraceuticals, not drugs, and as such are not regulated by the FDA, proof of efficacy is not required.  All the manufacturers have testimonials about their products, but testimonials are the lowest form of proof because they are not scientific. 

Asking your veterinarian is probably the best method to determine if your horse really needs a supplement.  As a general rule, I believe at least 75% of the supplements used on today’s horses are not needed and yet many people spend hundreds of dollars a month on products that have not been shown to be effective or even absorbed in horses.  So even though some equine supplements may be helpful, many are not needed so carefully examine the supplements you are feeding. You may find you are giving some supplements your horse does not need and you may save some money in the process.  

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.