Not to be confused with multi-vitamins or ration balancers. All-in-one supplements are nutritional supplements that are formulated to cover more than one of your horses specialty needs. The greatest benefit is being able to feed a single supplement that contains all of the ingredients for joint support, gastric health, strong hooves, a shining coat and more! No matter if you keep horses for business or pleasure, any change in your supplementation routine should be met with facts and figures. Will the change be of benefit to your horse, your wallet or both? Let's take a look at how to evaluate a change in supplements with some choices available at Big Dee's Tack.
Can and all-in one supplement work for my horse?
My horse is in full work and eats a well balanced feed that provides optimal levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. He is on grass turnout a minimum of 14 hours per day. Due to his unique needs his vet recommended a joint supplement and digestive aid that contains saccharomyces. In addition to joing and digestive health he gets a daily calming supplement, wheat germ oil in the spring and electrolytes in the summer. This summer he has been experiencing some significant chipping and cracking in what has historically been super healthy hooves (A lot of local horses are struggling this year). Both his vet and farrier have recommended adding a hoof supplement. Adding a hoof supplement this late in the summer will not show visible improvement for months to come, starting now could ensure better hooves for next year. However, adding yet another scoop to my horses feed has caused me to pause and rethink my strategy. Is it time to switch to an all-in-one solution? Is there one that will meet my horses unique needs? Can I do so affordably?
A Strategy for Comparison
I begin my evaluation by taking a look at the active ingredients in my current year-round supplementation routine (not considering the electrolyte and oil). For this comparison I focus on the the base items plus those that I would like to add. It may not be possible to get everything, but I list those key ingredients that I find most important. I also list some that I feel are a bonus but not absolute deal breakers. Keep in mind that there is A LOT science to this and sometimes the labels are not easy to decipher. The supplement companies put way more time, effort and research into this, They also have expert nutritionists on staff to advise what ingredients in what amounts are optimal for both proper absorption and utilization. Take what you know and feel with a grain of salt and be open to a bit of compromise.
TIP: It's not about how much of the active ingredient per ounce – it'’'s all about how much per daily serving! Don't be surprised if your all-in-one supplement choice has a whopping 4 ounce serving size – you are after all, attempting to combine all of your other supplements into one. Focus on comparing how much is in the daily total serving, not which has more or less per ounce.
I find the easiest way to sort all this out is to draw a table – or if you are handy with a computer go ahead and stick it into a spreadsheet program! Either way the goal is to organize what you want and compare to what you can get. Place your wish list ingredients down the left side, pick a supplement to compare and list that across the top. You can make this as simple as just check marking whether or not the ingredient is present or as complex as actually calculating out the daily dosage and comparing if the new supplement has more or less to help you decide. I've done both so you can see how my decision process looks.
TIP: Crunching the numbers – some manufacturers will use different units that require conversion before you can compare a product apples to apples. Take advantage of the web or the conversions app on your phone to help make this a bit easier. I used these two to sort out the parts per million equation on the Formula 707 labels: Metric Conversion & Online Conversion
Narrowing Down the Results
For the purpose of this comparison I started with 6 different multi-system supplements and narrowed it down to just the ones that covered at least 3 out of 4 systems. After organizing my comparison table, I counted the number of wish list ingredients and gave each option a score out of the total ingredients I was hoping for. I then compared my current dose to the amounts that were in the new servings to confirm my scores. The products that made it into my final evaluation were the Exceed 6-Way by Med Vet Pharmaceuticals, Horse Logic Training Packs by Formula 707, and Pro VM by Peak Performance Nutrients.
This horse was moving in ways I have NEVER seen him go. From turnout and acting like a 3-year old colt to his stamina improving under saddle, within 2 weeks I already knew there was something brewing – and it was definitely a good thing.
By the end of the 30 days, his coat and skin condition and majorly improved (the weird fungus on his neck disappeared!), his body condition had filled out, and his muscle mass was noticeably improved. Even the unevenness of his hind end was significantly better! While the scratches didn’t completely go away, they definitely lessened in size, and are easier to manage. Plus, on the days I didn’t get to ride, when his ankles would get a little puffy, they didn’t get nearly as stocked up and with a 5 minute walk would minimize in inflammation.