I have three more supplements in my feed room this week compared to last week. That's a 200% increase! I compare supplements for a living, and I can't help but leap to the "scoop" when nothing else is working. In this article, I explore the emotional, situational, social and mostly subconscious reasons why supplements get out of control in our feed rooms.
Last week a gentleman scheduled a free discovery call. Before I even dialed, I knew that he was calling to ask if I'd help design a new supplement. How did I know...because first off he didn't take the opportunity to describe his horse in the call notes. Plus, I get half a dozen of these each year and they follow a pattern. Sure enough, he starts telling me about their human supplement success and how they'd like to expand into the equine realm- no particular product in mind- their group is just really great at marketing. My blood boiled over. The last thing my horse friends need is another marketing company getting into the equine supplement business. He was very polite, I was very polite, but I softly begged him to stay away from the equine nutrition industry. He agreed that the "kharma" wasn't good!
But this situation highlights something important- that the marketing world is onto us! Entrepreneurs who are looking to make easy money know that horse owners, and more broadly pet owners, are DYING to buy more products for their animals and they are taking advantage of that and the lack of regulation around the industry.
Perhaps one way to counter this injustice is not to blame the entrepreneurs, but to look inside ourselves. What are our intrinsic motivations? Why are we so quick to add another supplement? Why does it make us feel so good to scoop and mix? I'm going to lay out no fewer than 10 reasons why I think we are so fast to scoop even without proof of efficacy!
The number one reason I think that supplements are out of control, is because we feel out of control. Scooping (aka adding) is an effort to gain jurisdiction in situations where we feel like we have none. This is an idea that has been brewing in my head for quite some time, but after I subconsciously did this EXACT thing last week by purchasing 3 new supplements for my young horse, I realized its power. I've tried all the management strategies and prescriptions to ease his chronic cough, but to no avail, and I feel frustrated and powerless. So, after months of management changes, I bought three supplements to add to his one ration balancer! Where I first began to see this is in the number of supplements that boarded horses get versus the number of supplements that at-home horses get. In boarding, we give up a lot of authority over our horse's daily feeding and management, so we try to gain some of that control back by deciding what and how much to scoop.
The decisions we make around feeding our horses are often emotional. I do it, you do it...we all do it...regularly. We LOVE to "cook" for our horses. How many of you relish the idea of cooking a feast for your family at Thanksgiving or preparing a simple meal for your partner? Food is love and mixing feed with supplements is a sign of our horse love.
Scooping feels easier than changing management. Most people that I talk to would rather add a couple hundred dollars in supplements each month rather than find a new boarding facility or put a buddy in with their isolated horse. For some reason we get "management blind" to the ways in which we may unknowingly be adding stress to our horse's lives, so we scoop instead as an emotional bandaid.
The equine supplement industry is largely unregulated by any third party entity. Many, if not most, of the supplement products are produced in factories that have GMP's (Good Manufacturing Practices) and the ingredients are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), but their marketing claims are rarely challenged- as you for sure have seen on your social media threads! Yea...you know the companies that I'm talking about!
A common mistake made by many is a failure to feed the way that the nutritionist intended. When a performance or senior feed is not fed according to the directions, you have to "make up" the difference by adding additional supplements. In addition, most people aren't aware of the technology added to these feeds, so they double up ingredients.
Human nutrition education from a young age is poor. If you can remember learning anything about calories, protein, vitamins and minerals outside of a high school biology class, then you're better off than most.
The peer pressure to do it ALL is heavy. I've written about this a lot, because it permeates every aspect of horse ownership. We see the horse owners around us getting their horses regular body work, saddle fitting, blankets for every 10 degrees, and a supplement for every day of the week, and think we're doing something wrong if we are not.
Constant advertisement bombardment on social media. It's nearly impossible to ignore the supplement marketing on social media. What else needs to be said there?
The reviews are skewed. Have you ever seen a negative review about a supplement product? I'm positive that I have NOT, and I find that exceedingly frustrating. There's no way that 100% of the people are seeing results, because I talk to you all about them, and you're really not sure that the latest supplement is working or not!
A person with authority told you to. In order to try to "help", we are so quick to suggest one or more supplements to "try". Couldn't hurt right? Well, I would argue that those minor recommendations are collectively hurting our industry a lot.
Well there you have it- no fewer than 10 reasons why we are so quick to add another supplement to our carts. You weren't sure that I really had 10 seperate reasons at the beginning, but now you see. You see that there are many, MANY forces acting upon us to just add another one. The pressure is unbearable, the marketing is so good, and the shipping is free! If you need help weeding through your supplement mess to simplify and gain clarity, schedule a FREE 15 Minute Discovery Call HERE.