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If You Are Worried About Vitamins - Don't Be

What Vitamins Do Horses Need and How Do They Get It?

As horse owners, we want nothing but the best for our equine companions. Nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of horses. If you're worrying about vitamins, don't.

Short answer, most vitamins are synthesised in the body, and those that aren’t are abundant in pasture. As long as your horse has some fresh pick, they should not need extra supplementing.

Let's explore the important vitamins and how horses obtain them naturally:

Vitamin A

This vitamin is like the night-vision goggles for your horse. It helps them see better when it’s dark and also helps their cells grow and heal. Their body makes it from green pasture and stores the extra in their liver. If your horse doesn’t get enough, they might have a dull coat, weak bones, and poor liver and kidney function. But don’t go overboard with the supplements, too much can be toxic.

Appaloosas are notorious for eye problems, so if you have a spot horse maybe feed carrots routinely, which are high in A.  Or, if your horse has limited access to pasture, you can use carrots for stretching and this should provide enough A support.

Vitamin B

(Thiamin): Think of this as the energy drink for your horse. It helps them break down carbs and get energy from their food. It’s made by the good bacteria in their gut, but they also get it from fresh and dried green leaves and cereal grains. If they don’t get enough, they might feel tired, lose their appetite, and get nervous. These are also signs of a magnesium deficiency. If my horse showed these signs I would be more likely to increase salt and magnesium before adding B. Too much B, usually from injections, can make them overly excited and cause breathing problems and convulsions.

Vitamin C

(Ascorbic Acid): This vitamin is like the builder of your horse’s body. It helps make collagen, which is a big part of their connective tissue. Their body makes it in the liver. They don’t usually run out of it because their body controls how much they make. Vitamin C helps them absorb iron, which is usually already in excess in Australian grasses, so we don’t recommend supplementing.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. Horses primarily obtain vitamin D through sunlight exposure. However, horses kept indoors or in areas with limited sunlight may not produce enough, but - why is your horse indoors? Better to give your horse access to sunlight than to supplement.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells and muscles from damage. Horses can obtain enough vitamin E from fresh forage, particularly spring grass. The only time you would need to supplement is at the end of winter when grasses are dormant or if your horse is not on any fresh pasture at all. You can supplement with a small amount of soybean meal.  

Bottom line, a horse eating some green grass in the sunshine should be receiving enough vitamins. Mineral deficiencies are a much more common problem than vitamin deficiencies. Extra vitamins can be supplied in vitamin-rich feeds rather than supplements.

The most common mineral deficiencies in horses are copper, zinc, iodine and magnesium. You can supplement them affordably with our Sound Advice Calm Mix and Trace Mix.


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