Grand Meadows Cares Series: Does Your Horse Wear His Best Coat?

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

The importance of a healthy equine skin and shiny coat goes more than skin deep. The horse’s skin forms an important protective barrier to infection and bacterial invasion.

The task of grooming a horse is beneficial for the myriad of reasons that knowledgeable horse folks appreciate. Brushing the horse effectively moves oil from skin to hair to create a shine. Grooming tools remove dull dead hair improving evaporation. The massage action of brushing improves circulation and offers relief to tight soft tissues. Time spent grooming provides a great opportunity to bond with the horse and evaluate it for any injuries. But no amount of grooming action or special brushes can take the place of providing the proper nutrition to feed the health of the largest organ of the horse, the skin.

The health of the horse’s skin and coat directly correlates to the overall health of the animal. Horses that don’t shed out properly in Spring or have unwieldy thick coats are often showcasing signs of metabolic disease. Rain rot and other fungal or bacterial invaders can quickly diminish the health of the horse. Ticks, lice, bots, and other nasties may set up home in the equine coat causing a host of health issues.

Somewhat amazingly the equine body does not itself produce the necessary constituents, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, that are required to optimize a healthy coat and skin. Relying on their diet, the horse is subject to the availability of these essential ingredients and their own digestive ability to uptake them and put to good use.

A balanced approach to include a sufficient quantity and quality of these fatty acids in the right formulation is a good protocol to follow. The ratio of the components is as important as how they are provided. Other ingredients must also be added to the mix to ensure the horse is able to uptake and utilize the fatty acids provided to maximize their health benefits.

Back in the day, adding corn oil to the grain ration was the norm. It seemed a good idea at the time. But in reality, aside from making some horses rather irrational in their behavior or ‘hot’, feeding corn oil was a bad idea. Apart from its proclivity to become rancid when exposed to oxygen that posed a health risk, corn oil is very high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Feeding Omega 6 fatty acids alone, has a negative impact on the health of the horse on a cellular level as they cause inflammation. To counterbalance this action Omega-3 fatty acids are required as they are anti-inflammatory.

The right ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3’s matters, and scientifically backed evidence suggests the optimal ratio is 1 to .75.

Flax meal offers a great source of Omega 3’s. But it’s stability and thus shelf life can be compromised if it is not manufactured to the highest standards. Stabilization techniques are required during the manufacturing process to ensure it works, and also importantly, to help mitigate any risk of it causing harm to the horse’s health.

When resourcing the right product to add to the horse’s diet to ensure its coat and skin are kept in optimal condition, it is important to educate yourself as to which products on the market offer this important quality factor.

Grand Meadows, a leading producer of horse feed supplements, has long taken seriously the matter of stabilized ingredients in all of their products and incorporating an antioxidant antidote is just one of many methods that their manufacturing process includes to ensure their supplements offer the utmost safety for the horse to ingest.

Antioxidants are added to feedstuffs that contain fatty acids to help prevent the horrid taste and odor that emanate from a rancid product developing over time and to mitigate the likelihood of it becoming contaminated for use. If the Omega-3 is broken down, it will not secure the benefits to the horse’s health it has been formulated to provide. But the stark reality is that antioxidants cannot totally prevent lipid oxidation occurring in a product, they can only slow it down.

The feedstuff manufacturer that seeks to cut corners or is simply ignorant of the importance of adding the right antioxidant in the optimal quantities from a safe source (clean-label) is doomed to having the mighty Omega components suffer degradation. This lack of attention will necessarily negatively affect both the nutritional benefits and safety of the product. A chain reaction of lipid oxidation results in free radicals bombing about that can do all sorts of damage to the horse that ingests them.

Clean-label ingredients generally include Vitamin E (tocopherols) and the secondary metabolites found in high-phenolic plant extracts. To help bind free-radicals that are rendered when sourcing from ingredients for Omega-3’s that contain high ash content, the manufacturer may add natural chelating agents such as citric acid or ascorbic acid.

Worries about the bioavailability of the valuable Omega-3 component and whether the antioxidant is properly performing in a compound are real. Not only does the right antioxidant need to be applied to the source of the Omega-3, but it must also be added at the right time during the manufacturing process in order maximize its effectiveness. Notably, as early as possible during the process, continually throughout the process and for extra protection sprayed on at the end of the process.

Additionally, there is a concern as to whether other elements in the feedstuff are negatively reacting with the most commonly used source for Omega-3 in horse feed supplements and feedstuffs, the flax meal or flax seed.

The takeaway message from this information for the horse owner is the importance of selecting a trusted, top-quality feed supplement to provide Omega-3 fatty acids that is not only well researched and formulated, but also safely manufactured. This is essential for a horse owner that wants to do the best by their horse.

The balanced approach to how Omega fatty acids are incorporated into the horse’s diet includes (as mentioned above), ensuring formulations include all the necessary components to enable proper uptake by the horse. Grand Meadows product Grand Coat, covers these factors with this formulation:

  • Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids prevent moisture loss in skin cells that lead to dry and flaky skin. Omega 3 helps control skin inflammation and gives coats a bright, glossy appearance.
  • Biotin: Biotin is an essential requirement for the health of dermal and connective tissues.
  • Heat-Stabilized Flax Meal: A digestible source of flax meal, high in Omega 3 that will support the structure and function of skin cells. Normal flax meal has a very short shelf life and can quickly turn rancid, particularly in the Summer. Grand Meadows use a special heat stabilized flax meal that has a 2-year shelf life.
  • Dried Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Postbiotic Fermentation Product: Is a true, fully-fermented prebiotic yeast culture that supplies a potent combination of nutrients to support effective digestive function and to enhance nutrient absorption in both the small and large intestine. Remove phospholipids, a vital requirement for helping support healthy skin and a deeper improved coat color.
  • Lecithin contains phospholipids, a vital requirement for helping support healthy skin and a deeper improved coat color.

Aside from buying horse feed supplements that have the essential NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) seal, that indicates the product has undergone stringent and regular auditing of its ingredient quantities, reading labels for stabilized ingredients particularly in this category is a ‘must do’. Look for a heat stabilized flax meal, with a good shelf life (2 years). And don’t be shy to contact the manufacturer with any questions you may have about their products meeting these criteria. Though manufacturers will usually proudly proclaim the stability of ingredient in the label, where it can be readily identified if we take the time to look. Together with the NASC seal of approval, this makes it a lot easier to sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’.

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 About Grand Meadows: Founded in 1989 by visionary Angela Slater, Grand Meadows is a leading horse health product and equine supplement manufacturer driven by the guiding principle of providing affordable, extremely high-quality science-backed horse products to help ensure horses look and feel their best.

For the past 35 years the company’s mission has been honored and developed further, by President Nick Hartog, who among other accomplishments is one of the founding members and current board member of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), an organization that has a profound impact on the safety, transparency, and legitimacy of the animal supplement industry.

Grand Meadow products are widely used and trusted across the entire horse community from Olympic medal winning competitors and successful horse racing trainers to backyard horse owners. Their equine supplements are highly regarded for their excellent quality resourced ingredients and completely accurate labelling and effective formulations. Learn more at

Grand Meadows, Orange, CA
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Tel: 607 434 4470

Photos are available on request.

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