Do My Horses Need Supplements?

Jan 15, 2015

Just like humans, horses need essential minerals to remain healthy and productive. With the introduction of agricultural fertilizer and pesticide use in the early 20th century, the mineral content of soil has deteriorated rapidly. As a result, the best way to provide minerals is with the addition of a balanced supplement to your horses’ diet.

What minerals do horses need?

Essential minerals horses need include:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Sulfur
  • Trace minerals such as iron, zinc, and copper

Mineral requirements vary based on weight, age, physiological condition (i.e. pregnant, lactating) and activity level. Minerals play a vital role in the development and maintenance of structural components including muscles, bones and ligaments of the horse. In addition, they are an integral part of energy transfer in the cells as well as immune system health. Proper supplementation is essential to the long-term health and well-being of your equine.

What happens if horses don’t get enough minerals?

When horses don’t get enough of the essential and trace minerals their bodies need, they may become nutrient deficient. This results in increased risk for problems with growth and development, as well as sickness.

Nutrient deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are not always obvious, and many health issues that result from them can be mistakenly attributed to something else. For example, you may believe front-end lameness was caused by exercise or an accident, when the real cause may be an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the horse’s diet. Nutrient deficiencies are most common in high-level performance horses, pregnant and lactating mares, growing horses up to two years old, and horses on an all-hay diet.

Equine metabolic syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a disease typically caused by obesity. The older a horse gets, the more difficult it is for its body to process food high in starch and sugar, resulting in risk of insulin resistance and laminitis. Laminitis is a painful disease that affects hoof growth. Evidence of laminitis includes dropped soles, unusual growth lines, and separation of the hoof at the white line.

The best way to combat EMS is by preventing its onset as much as possible. A diet and exercise program suitable for your horses’ age and physical activity is key. Avoid overfeeding while your horses are young to prevent the habit of overeating as well as the development of fat within the abdomen, which increases susceptibility to the disease. Additionally, exercise helps to not only keep horses in good shape, but to prevent insulin sensitivity later on. For horses already showing signs of EMS, no medication is available that’s suitable to treat the syndrome. However a quality ionic mineral supplement such as BioVigor® is very effective in managing EMS.

Reproductive health

Sufficient mineral consumption is very important for pregnant and lactating mares. If mares aren’t getting enough, overall milk production will decline and will lack essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and copper. This in turn will affect the health of the foal.

What if horses get too much of certain minerals?
While it is possible for mineral concentration to become too high, it’s highly unlikely if horses are fed correctly. Feeding the minimum recommended amount of essential minerals is just as effective as feeding the maximum amount.

It is important to understand which minerals work together in order to ensure all minerals are absorbed. For example, calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) are both essential for the growth and repair of healthy bones but should be present in a 2:1 proportion (Ca:P) for a grown horse. The acceptable ratio for growing horses is 1:1 to 3:1 for mature horses. If the level of P exceeds the level of Ca, P will interfere with the bioavailability of Ca. This could result in orthopedic problems or bone disorders, especially in young horses.

Do horses get enough minerals from forages?

Unfortunately, the concentration of minerals in feedstuffs is not enough to provide horses with the quantity or quality of minerals they need. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides have destroyed the healthy balance of minerals in our soils. Because mineral-depleted soils yield mineral-depleted grasses and grains, horse feed must be supplemented to eliminate the risk of any deficiencies.

Is a salt block enough?

Though salt blocks are typically recommended as a way to supplement horse health, they are not enough on their own. Salt blocks usually provide only a fraction of the trace minerals required and don’t provide any of the major minerals. Because it only offers one essential mineral (salt), a salt block is not the most convenient or comprehensive choice for supplementing horses’ diets. Further, a horse cannot consume the block quickly enough for the minerals to be absorbed into the body, therefore the salt block is a very inefficient source of minerals.

A comprehensive, mineral supplement

For more than 20 years, Mineral BioSciences® has been providing brand-enriching solutions on a domestic and international basis, with nutrient-rich minerals as a signature ingredient, that have proven nutritional and biological health benefits based on their bioavailable properties.

One such solution is BioVigor®, a comprehensive supplement that provides all the minerals your horses need. The specially formulated BioVigor product line is distributed through licensed veterinarians and is complete with individual products specifically targeted for the development and health of horses, swine, poultry and dairy cows. This ionic mineral supplement is composed of organic compounds with major, minor and trace minerals using plant-derived, active soil complexes. When applied to equine health, BioVigor Vet has been proven to enhance hoof growth, strengthen the immune system, and improve reproductive health, glucose and carbohydrate metabolism, collagen production, bone and tendon strength, blood values and bolster the management of Equine Metabolic Syndrome. The minerals are extracted from the patented Mineral BioSciences process—the world’s premiere mineral extraction facility. Through our exclusive mineral extraction process we are able to provide all-natural, highly bioavailable minerals for improved health in both humans and animals.


An ionic mineral supplement is essential to assure your horses’ continued growth, health, and performance. Essential and trace minerals in appropriate proportions support many of the major functions of a horse’s body. Because these minerals are not available in feed, forage, or mineral blocks in large enough quantities, a balanced supplement such as BioVigor Vet is the most effective way to provide the nutrients your horses need.

For more information regarding the benefits of minerals, read our article “How Do Minerals Impact Health?