How to Feed Your Horse Vitamins Properly

Supplements for your horse are important to keep your horse happy and healthy. Depending on your horse's activity level, he or she should receive proper nutrition. Here are some supplements that you should consider. Be aware that consulting your veterinarian for the type and quantity of feed/vitamin supplements is your best bet for setting diet!


  1. Image titled Feed Your Horse Vitamins Properly Step 1
    Consider the following vitamins that your horse may need. Many of these vitamins (like those in human diets) are provided in their everyday foods, i.e. the standard feed/hay that your horse is receiving. What sort of supplements your horse needs is determined by its age, activity level, whether you want to breed him/her, your horse's condition, feed given (pellet, 10/10, oats, first/second cutting hay), etc. Your veterinarian will help you select what to add to your horse's feed (be it squirts of vegetable oil, ground orange peel, glucosamine, bute...)
    • Vitamin A (found in Carrots, Colostrum Milk, Fresh Grass and Herbage)
    • Vitamin B1 (Alfalfa)
    • Vitamin B12 (Cod Liver Oil, Soybean Oil and Fresh Grass and Herbage)
    • Vitamin B3 (Peas and Beans)
    • Vitamin C (Carrots, Apples, Fresh Grass and Herbage)
    • Vitamin D (Colostrum Milk, Fresh Herbage, and Sunlight)
    • Vitamin E (Alfalfa, Cereal Germ, and Fresh Herbage)
    • Vitamin K (Alfalfa, Fresh Grass and Herbage)
    • Biotin (Fresh Grass and Herbage, Maize, Rose Hips, Yeast)
    • Calcium (Alfalfa,Limestone Flour, Seaweed, Sugar Beet)
    • Phosphorus (Bran, Dandelions Oats, Barley, and Maize)
    • Protein (Alfalfa, Cereals, Fresh Grass and Herbage, and Linseed)
    • Manganese and Zinc (Alfalfa, Bran, Cereals, Fresh Grass and Herbage, and Yeast)
  2. Image titled Feed Your Horse Vitamins Properly Step 2
    Administer the supplements.
    • If your horse is in a stall during feeding, this is relatively easy. If your horse isn't picky, you can just take his feed bucket, add pellets (or whatever he gets) and sprinkle the vitamins on top (give a spritz of oil, whatever,) then give him the bucket. If your horse is slightly pickier, you can add about half of his feed, sprinkle the vitamins on top of that, then cover with the other half. Generally, by the time he gets down to the vitamin bits, he's already too in the swing of things to stop because of the vitamins.
    • If your horse is being rough boarded (i.e. he's in a pasture, most often with a few other horses), you might have a bit more trouble. It is difficult (to put it mildly) to feed only one horse in a pasture if they're all hungry, unless your horse is the dominant one. See about what the regular feeding time is for the other horses in that pasture, and feed him then.
      • Let's assume then that all of the horses in a given pasture are being fed at once, and one (or more) of them need a specific set of vitamins. Buckets should be set on fences at about six to twelve feet apart, minimum, and when feeding, you should go down the line, from the bucket closest to the feed stores to the bucket furthest away.
      • Generally, it's best to have in a large carry bucket enough of the feed you're using to feed all of the horses in a given pasture at the start of feeding time. Which ever horse is waiting at the first bucket, put about half of the food he'd normally eat at meals in the bucket. Move on to the next, put half in, and so on, watching the line of horses behind you as they settle in. Sometimes they'll vie for buckets, claim someone else's, etc.
      • After a minute or so, each horse will start to settle on its bucket. Head back to the first horse in the line's bucket, and fill your scoop with the remaining half of his food, and on top of that, sprinkle his particular vitamins for the day. Dump in bucket, move to next. Be aware, this has to be done relatively quickly, as horses tend to finish their feed fast. Sometimes, the first horse in the line (generally, the largest/most dominant in that pasture) will finish the first half of his food before I get back to him, and will jockey another horse off of his bucket. To avoid this, sometimes a zig-zag feeding approach helps - feed the first horse, then the next, notice that the first has really settled on his bucket, go back and add the second half and vitamins, go feed the third, notice the second is settled, etc.
      • After a while, you'll start to know the horses' pecking order, and this will get easier, because if you know that Horse A will always win a bucket vying contest, you can just give him his full feed at once. In these cases, you should probably still (in the scoop) put 1/2 feed in, sprinkling vitamins, then put the other 1/2 feed in - so that the vitamins don't end up at the bottom of his bucket, uneaten, after you've dumped the scoop in there.


  • Many vitamins (butes, for example) need to be ground up before feeding! If you own or can obtain a mortar and pestle for doing this, you're set. Otherwise, most of vitamins that require crushing are relatively soft, so you can do it with your hand (preferably gloved, as you probably don't want bute particles under your fingernails later.)
  • Often, if you have several vitamin supplements to give your horse in a given meal, it's a good idea to invest in SmartPaks for them. This makes feeding much easier, if you can just pull the cover off a bunch of pre-measured vitamin supplements and dump them straight onto your horse's food. Especially if you have multiple horses to feed at once, or if you're trusting your barn to feed/give vitamins to your horse, this is a good idea, as it's overall faster, easier, and less open to variation and over/under administration.


  • Do not overfeed your horse!
  • Don't choose your vitamins or supplements based on what your friend is giving her horse. While that Wheat Germ Oil, or "magic supplements" to stop your horse from chewing wood may sound great when you're friend is describing it, you definitely want to talk to your vet before adding anything new to your horse's diet. Each horse is different, and even very similar horses may have different dietary needs based on minute differences in build, condition, and temperament. Even though it's easy to order vitamins online, unless you're fairly experienced, you shouldn't assume it's safe to just add vitamins as you see fit to your horse's diet.

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Categories: Horse Feeding