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Friday, March 22, 2013


According to Smart Pak, using their Supplement Wizard Farley should be getting:

"Comprehensive support" = $5.78/day

Gastric ulcer prevention supplement ($1.39/day)

Joint supplements ($2.11/day)

Multivitamin ($0.68/day)

Insect control ($0.71/day)

Essential fatty acids ($0.98/day)


"Enhanced support" = $4.17/day

Gastric ulcer prevention, joint supplement, multivitamin


"Basic Support" = $3.50/day

Gastric ulcer prevention, joint supplement


So how does my routine stack up?

Joint supplement: Not fed

Gastric supplement: Not fed

Ration balancer (multivitamin): $0.61/day

Oil (fatty acids): $0.31/day

Vit E (not suggested): $0.36/day

Selenium (not suggested): $.08/day

Electrolytes - Not suggested, but would have been because as part of the survey to determine Farley's needs I answered that I did feed electrolytes, which is why they didn't add to the recommendations above - cheap feedstore elytes or salt adds pennies a day to my supplement costs.

My current Total: $1.36/day

What I don't feed: Joint and gut/gastric supplements. This is interesting because (aside from the feed through insect control) I cover all the other bases suggested in the more "comprehensive" package, but ignore these 2 which are considered "basic" by smartpak. Why?

- the joint supplements that work usually test positive in the drug testing done by the organization that I compete within (AERC endurance). I would use Legend or Adequan if I was concerned, both of which are legal to give prior to rides and validated to work in horses.

- Although Farley is only fed 2x a day (which according to smarkpak is a risk factor) she doesn't often have absolutely no food in front of her, and she has no other significant risk factors (besides being a horse!).

How about the vit E and Selenium?: Smarkpak probably thinks that feeding their multivitamin will provide sufficient levels of vit E. However, because handling (exposure to heat and light is no bueno) matters so much on whether the vit E in a product is available to the body, I prefer to feed it seperately. Especially to a horse that isn't getting any natural vit E in it's diet (Farley isn't on pasture). Selenium supplementation is controversial and without absolute confirmation that the horse is low, AND considering that the multivitamin probably contains the maximum allowed selenium content in it (which is not enough to elevate Farley's blood levels to what I consider adequate for endurance) smartpak probably errors on the side of NOT recommending it.

How does smartpak stack up?

I was pleasantly suprised that smartpak, in general, seemed to be recommending an appropriate level of supplementation. I got the idea for the post after reading another blogger comment on how smartpak's supplement wizard recommended a ton of potentially unnecessary supplements for their horse, something that would not suprise me based on a SUPPLEMENT company's recommendation. However, for Farley, who is still in work (not retired) the recommendations seemed appropriate.

According to Smartpak I'm covering most of the bases, including a ration balancer/multivitamin, essential fatty acids, and electrolytes. What I am NOT covering is joints and ulcers. However while I think these are important issues in my horse management plan, I just choose to manage them in some other way than supplementation.

Have you used SP's Supplement wizard? What did you think of their recommendations?




  1. For one thing their hay selection is flawed... Maybe the rest of the country doesn't feed oat/forage hay?? Other than that I like how they break down into basic/enhanced/comprehensive.

  2. My internalized assumption is that horses ought to be just fine with hay, skip all the grain and pellets and supplements. I'm not actually sure that's even the right answer in my case, that's just where my head instinctively goes. I'd love some opinions on what the best options for my mare would be, what I can safely leave off, and why.

    17 year old Haflinger mare. No history of health problems - previous owners had her since age 8, so at least back that far. Stalled (mare motel) unless ridden / turned out in the arena. Fed twice daily (one grass/alfalfa flake, one forage flake), approx 12 hours apart. Ridden at least 4x/week, 2-4 hour trail rides typical on 3 days. One 25-mile LD last year, several more tentatively planned for this year.

    The fact that she's automatically considered in the senior category throws me off - is that solely age-based? Should it be? I know some old, semi-retired 25-year-old horses. She's not even close.

    Does it make sense to supplement with the assumption she has ulcers? Should I be feeding salt/elytes year-round? Am I totally screwing things up by doing nothing most of the time?

  3. Great post, thanks! Haven't used their wizard before. I thought their recommendations were pretty reasonable.

    They recommended for my 20+yo gelding:
    Basic: Joint Senior = $1.28/day
    Enhanced: + Multivit Senior Grass = $2.21/day
    Comprehensive: + Insect + Electrolyte = $3.42
    I currently feed a vitamin/mineral supplement and a joint supplement (I wish I could get one as cheap here as the one they do). I do apply fly repellent (and mask) every day in season and also sometimes feed garlic, so can see where they're coming from with the insect control. But hadn't considered electrolyting him, as he is only in light work (but does sweat a lot).

    They recommended for my 5yo mare:
    Basic: Calming + MV Maint Grass = $1.68/day
    Enhanced: + Muscle Dev + Joint Maint = $2.99
    Comprehensive: + Mare + E-lyte = $4.20/day
    I currently feed a vitamin/mineral supplement only but was also deciding whether to add a calming (magnesium) supplement too. I have also considered mare herbs, but hadn't considered a muscle development supp, a joint supp or electrolytes.

    So basically they have recommended the basic things that I think they should for each horse. I really liked their 3 levels and the break-up of the cost. I think I'd consider getting them (if I could), as they're cheaper than what I'm paying! (Without the convenience of the pre-measured smartpak... or the convenience of one supplement purchase, rather than several individual products). It re-inforced what I'm currently using, but gave me some ideas to consider too.

  4. This is interesting you did this post. I am in the middle of reanalyzing Maggie's feed program. I have my hay being tested right now and did a post about the process and some of my suspicions on Maggie's diet issues. I suspected Maggie is Magnesium, Copper and Zinc deficient. These are actually pretty common defiencies in horses but are difficult to balance. We are also selenium deficient in our area. We are also high in iron in our hay. I recently used Smartpak's wizard. Their program confirmed my suspicions , along with a few other surprises.I have also been using the program MYFEEDXL. This program seems good but it does not take into consideration how some trace minerals affect I am not usre how accurate this site is.. Have you used it and what are your findings with it? I am thinking of sendign off hair samples for hair analysis mineral levels in Maggie but from the research I have done, I am still not sure it's going to reveal accurate results. Thoughts on hair analysis??

    1. I haven't used myfeedxl service. Regarding the hair analysis, I have no personal experience. A quick search of the literature suggests that there is increasing evidence that it is useful for drug testing, especially presence/absence, but I'm not convinced it is as effective for something that is more variable in nature and are in interested in quantification of levels are certain things....

  5. that is kind of what I am finding as well, yet others I have talked to that are of a non clinical background and more into "homeopathic" remedies think it has some validity...I will keep researching.I think Kentucky Research had an article about it and if I recall, they felt it had promising results but I would have to re read it to be sure..Let me know if you come across any other articles.. I am going to do a piggy back post on my blog on my findings with smartpak's wizard. I will link back to this post of yours! THanks Mel!

  6. I saw the Kentucky research paper pop up in a google search near the top so that paper should be easy to find. Looking forward to your post!


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