Katie Hennessy

Making Sure Your Horse Gets All His Nutrients, Part II

Last month we addressed protein and carbohydrates as important factors in equine nutrition. In this month’s column I’m going to discuss two more elements that play a role in your horses’ health. Let’s talk about vitamins and minerals:[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]


Vitamin deficiencies or excess vitamins can lead to several health problems. There are two categories of vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins (Vitamin C, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, B12, B6, pantothenic acid) pass through the horse’s body and excess amounts are excreted in the urine. Fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) are absorbed and stored in the horse’s fat tissue, so when there are excess amounts it can lead to toxicity. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a balance of high quality roughage (hay and grass) combined with a manufactured grain (Ex: Purina, Nutrena…), then your horse should be getting the appropriate balance of vitamins in their diet.


Minerals make up a very small portion of your horses diet compared to carbohydrates, protein and vitamins but they play a critical role in keeping your horse healthy. They play a role in everything from digestion, muscle use and contraction, blood clotting, to nerves. Minerals can be broken down into two categories called macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. Microminerals are cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc. Minerals can’t be produced by your horse’s body like vitamin C and B-vitamins and therefore must be supplied in the diet. You can find mineral supplements in many feed and tack stores, but as with vitamins, a high quality diet will provide the necessary minerals your horse needs.
If you have any questions about your horse’s diet, please contact your veterinarian or a nutrition specialist. And be sure to come back next month for the conclusion of this series.
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an Associate Veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine. [/emember_protected]

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