Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Do these 3 things before you click PURCHASE on that new supplement!
How do you know that a new supplement is working or not? I get this question weekly along with; do you recommend this or that [insert category here] supplement? What do you think about brand x,y,z? Is this supplement worth the cost? I am generally a severe sceptic when it comes to supplements- especially ones that promise a long list of cures and preventions. BUT! And this is a HUGE but...I am also always open to experimentation. If you are curious about the new fad supplement going around on social media then put it on trial, but FIRST I have 3 steps for you to tackle before you click PURCHASE.
The most frustration fact about current supplement knowledge is how conflicting it often is- even for things like joint supplements that we assume we know a lot about. Facts are fuzzy and research results are open for interpretation. Most of us don't have access to the latest and greatest in equine nutrition research. We don't have the time to slog through the human, equine or animal science journals looking for efficacy of ingredients. We do not think to contact the supplement company for safety and quality control standards. We mostly rely on marketing and our friends to know what to try.
The God honest truth about 99.9999% of supplements out there is that they probably help the minority, not the majority. Let me say this another way; most supplements won't work for most horses. But, sometimes they do, and we hang on to that maybe with fierce tenacity to the detriment of our pocket books and sanity. So, how do we save our pocket books, sanity and possibly our marriages from unnecessary feed room costs? I have one very special tactic for you. It's not a new or even novel idea, but it is powerful. It's gonna sound so simple, you'll think it's silly, but it works. Journal it. Let me say it again, so you don't miss it.
Step #1: BEFORE YOU CLICK PURCHASE on that new sexy supplement, I want you to write down 3 very specific things that you want that supplement to do for you! Those 3 very specific things need to be a) measurable and b) they must have a time line attached. Here are some examples.
The Moody Mare Supplement: I want supplement x to decrease girthiness when tacking up and and tail swishing when riding by 10% within 4 weeks.
The Joint Supplement: I want supplement y to limit by need for joint injections to 1x per year.
The Digestive Aid: I want supplement z to decrease symptoms of fecal water syndrome by 50% within 3 months.
The Immune "Booster": I want supplement x,y,z to prevent seasonal allergies/hives within the next 6 months.
The Hoof Supplement: I want my horse's new hoof growth to contain NO cracks within one year of using the supplement.
Step #2: Also, before you click purchase, check out that supplement's return/refund policy. I have found that a supplement company's return policy is a sneak peak into their methods.
Step #3: Calculate the daily cost? Write down what will make that cost worth it to you. What else could you be spending that money on? Be honest with yourself. Besides cost, are there any other negative externalities; annoys your barn manager, takes too much time, hard to get, or your horse doesn't particularly like it?
I have one last tidbit of advice. Do this one supplement at a time! If you start too many supplements at once, there is no way to know which or what is working? I wanted to share with you the results of my Supplement Wizard Quiz from SmartPak to make this point. I literally said that there was nothing wrong with my performance horse, yet they still suggested no fewer than 6 supplements for a total of $190 a month!!! This is sickening to me. How am I supposed to know if any of this stuff really works when I use them all simultaneously? I don't! I can only guess, hope, and keep paying month after month. But that's exactly what they want me to do, right!?!
With all the misinformation, half truths, and wishy washy research out there, this method is quite literally the ONLY way that you can know if I supplement is right for you or not. Journaling your own experience with supplement helps you stay on track and focused on measurable results; not feelings. If you haven't seen the results you wanted in your timeline, then chuck it! It's probably not doing a darn thing.
*OCEN's pet project, Rate My Horse Supplement, is a product review website for people who feed horses and want to do the right thing in their nutrition program. It’s a method. It’s not advertising. Learn Natalie’s unique process for evaluating feed and supplement products refined over 15 years in the equine nutrition industry. She puts the hard work in for you reviewing publicly available data, interpreting research studies, interviewing product companies, weeding through marketing claims, and calculating all those numbers. Stop guessing about what’s in your horse’s diet and start gloating about the results!