I wrote the following in comments on another blog ad i have been meaning to post it here for a while:
I can't get Smartpak here (Sydney Australia) but I still did the wizard thing to see what they would recommend for my horse. She is a 4 yo, lightly ridden arab warmblood that is just being a baby and getting started. They recommended a pack that cost $170 a month! Wowie! Some people have too much money to waste...
I give (in the way of suppliments/additives) mostly raw minerals:
1 Tablespoon dolomite
1/2 tablespoon yellow dusting sulphur
5 mils cod liver oil
10-15 mils apple cider vinegar (15 mils is about half an ounce)
Every second day
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon linseed crushed (flaxseed you call it)
1/2 teaspoon copper sulphate
Course of 3-5 days of psyllium husks
PLENTY of turnout with no rugs for vitamin D
Mare herbal calmative mix (for the crazy mare)
Seaweed meal (sometimes they eat huge amounts of this, sometimes none at all. I like to always have it out if I can).
Himalayan pink rock salt (this stays out in the weather really well!)
Honestly, this doesn't cost me much at all. The dolomite came in a 25kg (55 lb) bag that cost me about $15, and it will last me probably 3 years. 3 kg of yellow dusting sulphur lasts me about 1 year. I have only ever had to by coper sulphate once about 4 years ago, and I have only used about a third of it. The seaweed meal is probably the most expensive to be hinest, but it is still only about $30-40 for 5 kg. Honestly, best way to suppliment.
I read a great book called Natural Horse Care by Pat Coleby (it's an aussie book, but still worth a read). I have been supplimenting her way for about 5 years now and I have never had a problem. She really advocates keeping vitamin B12 shots on hand in case of emergencies.
• For calcium and magnesium (safest form to feed calcium, as there is no chance of a magnesium reduction). Ca and Mg must be kept in balance at all times, can be fatal if they get out of balance.
• Apparently in the US, feed is grown on land that has levels of Mg higher than Ca. In Australia, it is the opposite.
• Ca and Mg can only be absorbed when there is enough boron, copper and vitamin A and D in the diet.
Copper Sulphate (bluestone)
• Copper (for bones, hooves and hair) – darker horses need 6 times more copper (and tolerate over feeding of copper better) than lighter horses. Needed for general health and immunity, especially with fungal problems. And yes, I feed it to help with worms as internal parasites are only found in animals with insufficient copper! (I also worm them, just to make sure, but I use a 12 week wormer so that they don’t get wormed so often. I don’t like over dosing on wormer.) Dark horses with a bleached coat are low in copper. Without copper, iron cannot be used properly in the body. Most animals with an iron deficiency usually have sufficient iron and not enough copper (especially in Australia where iron levels in the ground where feed is grown are usually quite sufficient). Iron supplements will not work without copper. My old gelding had battled with anaemia for about 12 months (with regular iron supplements) until I started supplementing copper. He recovered very very quickly and never had an issue again. I feed blue copper sulphate once a week to make up for any shortfalls, but it is also found in seaweed meal. This is just a habit because of my old (chestnut) gelding, and as my new horse is a very dark bay, she can tolerate higher levels anyway. The grey we are careful to not over supplement with copper.
• Also good to mix with a carrier agent (like petroleum jelly) and rub into the underside of the hoof to destroy thrush infections.
Yellow Dusting Sulphur (Sulphur), also known as ‘flowers of sulphur’ and ‘milling sulphur’
• Amino acids, amino acids, amino acids!! Including but not limited to:
o The amino acids in YDS assimilate selenium, which is needed for healthy muscles, and is especially important in growing animals (my horses are both still growing). Selenium deficiencies can lead to muscular dystrophy and white muscle disease. Once my horses are fully grown, I will probably reduce the amount of YDS I supplement.
o Amino acid cysteine for keratin – for healthy hooves and hair (along with copper, see bleached coated dark horses above).
• To keep external parasites at bay.
• A horse with skin problems will often have sulphur deficiencies. Can be used externally (rubbed into the skin) for this as well as internally.
• I have not had a problem with sulphur affecting calcium.
• To answer your biotin question, I couldn’t tell you. I have never supplemented biotin. Sorry! :)
• Potassium which if deficient can cause constriction of capillaries which can be a contributing factor in navicular disease, and also is important in breeding horses and pregnant mares (which neither of us needs to worry about lol!). Potassium must also be in correct levels with sodium.
• Yes, I do feed it internally to discourage biting insects.
Cod Liver Oil
• Vit A for vaginal, eye, skin and hair health. If your horse is kept underneath electrical overhead power lines, than he may not be able to synthesise his own vitamin A. My first pony was kept under power lines for a few years and his general health during that time was quite poor. Once moved from the power lines, he returned to robust health!!
• Vit D for bones and calcium absorption. Horses can synthesise their own vitamin D if they have sufficient sunlight, but reduced daylight hours in winter and rugging makes this impossible for them. I feed more cod liver oil in the winter, and I try not to rug them at all if they don’t absolutely need it. Properly fed horses will not get a bleached coat from the sun in summer! (My horse’s coat bleached badly last summer, and I think general ill health from injury and poor appetite (not eating all her supplements) contributed to this.
• Omega 3, as you said.
• Natural anti-biotic.
• Contains natural sulphur.
• Helps with internal parasites, and is thought to discourage biting insects.
• I am just getting rid of the rest of the linseed that I had bought, once it is finished I will discontinue it because everything else I feed is making up any shortfalls that linseed helps with.
Seaweed Meal (amazing stuff!!)
• Boron for proper utilisation of calcium and magnesium. Needed in only small amounts, will damage liver if fed too much (that’s why I feed seaweed meal ad-lib). (You could also feed Borax for boron if your horses diet is especially deficient).
• Cobolt for bones and healthy red blood cells. If deficient, can cause death within 4 days, with the animal displaying only a general listlessness and lowered temperature at first. Vitamin B12 injection will turn the animal around. Cobolt only needed in very very small amounts, and can be toxic if over fed. Again, this is why sea weed meal is fed ad-lib.
• Iodine for healthy thyroid gland (which controls all the other glands too). All other minerals etc. Will not be assimilated properly without iodine. Australia is particularly iodine deficient. A scurfy (dandruffy) horse will be iodine deficient.
• Selenium – SWM is the safest way to supplement selenium, but requires certain amino acids from sulphur to be assimilated (see above).
• Sodium – correct levels essential. Needs to be in balance with potassium. Horses generally don’t need extra salt if the other minerals are in balance, and will generally ignore a salt lick if they don’t need sodium. Best to feed salt ad-lib. If they are wanting to eat a lot of salt, ensure they are getting enough potassium, by feeding ACV in the diet. In excess, sodium suppresses potassium, causes fluid retention and can be a factor in some cancers.
• Zinc for healthy reproductive systems (the grey mare needs help with her cycles, even though we will not breed from her). Too much zinc can suppress copper. Ad-lib supplementation is best.
• Phosporus (which needs to be balanced with calcium and magnesium) will look after itself if the rest of the minerals are in balance. Supplementation is generally not required.
• Vitamin B12 injections – should be kept on hand at all times and always given with antibiotics and if the horse has any ill health at all.
• Vaccinations deplete vitamin C which can be fatal.
• Too many different vitamins to list in a comment, but there is a lot of literature about to read and if all the minerals are in balance and the horse is being fed properly, then the vitamins will generally look after themselves.
I hope that answers most of your questions!! :)