If you have taken the first steps towards feeding your horse a balanced diet that includes a concentrated mineral and vitamin supplement, there’s a chance that your horse may turn its head up when first introduced to it.

But don’t be alarmed – horses don’t like change! 

With some encouragement and patience, however, your horse will come to realize that you only mean the best for their health.

We at Mad Barn have learned a few tricks along the way to help ease the process of giving a new supplement to your horse. Here, we present some strategies and protocols for introducing it and what you can expect with the process.

Why Are Horses Like This?

Horses are naturally very cautious when it comes to new feeds.  When you add on to this an extremely heightened sense of smell, you have yourself an animal that can be very difficult to feed, especially if those feeds don’t taste as good as what they’re used to eating.

Feed refusal can be extremely frustrating as a horse owner, especially if you have spent a lot of money on a supplement that you know will benefit your horse’s health. Sometimes what is best for your horse’s health may not be the tastiest at first.

This can be a real problem because no horse owner wants to deprive their horse of tasty food!

Although a concentrated equine mineral and vitamin, like Omneity or AminoTrace+ contains high levels of ingredients that can really stand out to a horse (like copper and zinc), almost all equine diets need to be supplemented with these minerals. Getting these nutrients into your horse is imperative for optimal health and performance, and so here are some ways to expedite delivery:

Start With a Very Small Amount

The first step when trying to introduce a new mineral and vitamin to your horse is to start slow. Try one pellet at a time and gradually work up to the full recommended feeding rate.

This may take a week or two, but your horse will end up getting used to it.

Mix it With Other, Tastier Feeds

If gradual introduction isn’t quite doing the trick, your horse may eat the mineral & vitamin more readily if it is disguised with a tastier feed. If you already feed any of these feed ingredients, then it shouldn’t be anything new to your horse:

  • Plain Beet Pulp
  • Forage Pellets or Cubes
  • Apple Sauce
  • Molasses & Oats
    • Mix 1 tablespoon of molasses with a handful of oats.
  • Oil (Vegetable, Flax, w-3 Oil)
    • Adding a small amount of oil (assuming your horse likes oil) does a good job of covering up any smell and making powders stick to any other feeds you may be giving.

An easy trick for speeding the process up is to feed a very small handful of oats mixed with molasses a couple of times, and then slip a small amount of the supplement in your palm under the oats and molasses. Don’t be alarmed if your horse spits the whole thing out (remember – you just introduced something foreign to them).

Once you do this a few more times, generally the horse knows you’re not trying to kill it and it’s drive to eat the tastier feed overrides the foreign supplement underneath. After a few repetitions, the new supplement is no longer foreign!

Soak The Feed

If the supplement is in a powdered form, it may be helpful to soak the feed mixture with water. The water will help the powder stick to the rest of the feed, which will discourage any sorting of the feed and may further expedite the process of getting the horse to eat the supplement.

If you are feeding forage cubes, forage pellets or beet pulp, it may already be soaked and so mixing the supplement into the feed is easily done.

Patience is Key

When all is said and done, horses can get used to anything if you’re willing to persevere through some temper tantrums in the early stages of introducing a new supplement.

Remember, horses are creatures of habit and they are going to be very cautious of anything different or foreign.

It can take a week or two to get your horse fully accustomed to a new supplement. Although the process may take some trial and error, you can rest assured that your horse will be getting a fully balanced diet by incorporating a well-balanced supplement.

 

Do you have any tips or tricks for other horse owners introducing a mineral and vitamin to your horse? Let us know in the comments!

For a full nutritional evaluation of your horse’s diet and advice on equine nutrition, contact Mad Barn today.