Grand Meadows Cares Series: Read Your Equine Supplement Label Two Ways to Optimize Horse Safety

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

The chemistry of your horse supplement and its efficacy hinges on one major factor. You take the time to read. Throwing money on pots of equine supplement gold, often expensive products that make claims of fixing everything from your horse’s nose to tail (even ailments you didn’t know he had), is not a good route to follow for best equine health care.

While reviewing the product’s specifications published online and intended uses is an obvious necessity, it is amazing to think that perhaps despite our better judgement many of us simply opt for a quick fix and follow along with whatever is touted as fact being indeed, fact. Snake oil sales folks are still out there in various guises. Shopping is still a buyer beware situation and making a good decision on what to buy rests squarely on your shoulders.

After all, your horse cannot talk. He cannot tell you if he’s actually feeling better after you religiously disguise the pellet or powder and add to his feed, or apple sauce flavor the medication paste to get him to swallow it without a fuss. Your horse cannot explain if he’s experiencing blurry vision, if his metabolic levels are out of balance, or if he is has a pounding headache or feels depressed or anxious.

Read The Label Two Ways

Many horse supplements include a long list of ingredients. The amount and quality of each ingredient contained in one recommended dose can only accomplish the results-driven, evidence-backed research that showcases its efficacy if those ingredients actually exist in the mix.

As an experienced horse breeder, horse trainer and advanced level equestrian competitor I’ve learned, when in doubt ask a professional. That person may be our team vet, our team farrier, a nutrition expert, an alternative or holistic therapy provider, or a fellow competitor. To understand the problem the horse is experiencing in the first place and then to figure out how to not just solve it but resolve it permanently, is often not an easy task.

When it comes to trusting what my horses ingest as part of their daily diet, it is essential I know what I am putting into the feed mix. Thankfully, there are some manufacturing companies owned by individuals that lead with integrity and where transparency is truly exhibited.

Leading the ‘first flight’ in working with The Association of American Feed Control officials {AAFCO}, the Food and Drug Administration {FDA} and helping to establish the National Animal Supplement Council {NASC} to ensure quality controls and safety protocols governed animal feed supplements, was Grand Meadows’ owner and C.E.O., Nick Hartog. He helped shepherd the lucrative and previously unregulated and sometimes dangerous industry practices into some form of accountability and control. The National Animal Supplement Council (, an organization that has a profound impact on the safety, transparency, and legitimacy of the animal supplement industry, is an agency that conducts strict audits of all companies that gain its seal of approval, to help ensure that what manufacturers claim is in their supplements actually is contained therein, and in the quantities and qualities claimed.

“Prior to the introduction of the checks and balances that were introduced with the NASC systems the horse supplement market was essentially like the Wild West. In 1999 I tested 32 joint supplements to see if they matched the label claim and only two passed – clearly the industry had major problems,” explains Nick Hartog.

While certain elements of the formulations in supplements are not tested, due to the expense or legitimacy concerns of present-day testing availability, the majority of formulations are examined and tested in each product that receive the NASC seal are validated as being present and correct. This gives the consumer some level of protection against companies that simply have no clue what they are doing, are simply out to make a quick buck or execute nefarious or safety ignorant business practices.

Today there are many companies that operate under the umbrella of the NASC seal, and the necessary self-regulation of the industry that was spearheaded by a few visionaries has without question benefited horses and the human contingent that love and care for their health and well-being.

So great. Well done. You’ve read the supplement label and see the seal stamped on the tub or packet and feel happy you’ve made a good choice. Well, that’s a good start for sure.

The second important part of reading the label is following the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for dosage and timeline for use. We all know that if our doctor prescribes us a course of antibiotics it is important we finish the course (given we have no allergic response to it) to avoid the targeted bacteria becoming resistant to the drugs being administered or the health issue returning. So as responsible horse caregivers, we will likely complete any prescribed course of treatment. But then we often take things into our own hands don’t we? Wrongly believing we know better than our vets and the medication or supplement manufacturers. The more is better thought process.

Not following instructions or recommendations can have terrible consequences, and learning to follow the professional guidance we are provided rather than take things upon ourselves is a good lesson to learn vicariously rather than to experience first-hand.

It may seem obvious to some, but giving a horse more of something than the manufacturer recommends because you figure more is better, is likely a recipe for long term health disaster. Amazingly many horse trainers and caring equine owners give horses in their custody a myriad of supplements without much clue as to any contraindications, long term use benefits or quality of ingredients. When you add the frequent use of products for the wrong purpose and the likelihood of long-term damage to the horse’s health as a result to this equation, it is logical to assume that the poor horse is going to suffer unnecessarily.

Consider veterinary prescribed medications that are designed to treat a malady like equine gastric ulcers for example, will do nothing to support the horse’s long term gut health if you combine brands or dish up cocktails of them with long term use because that is not what they are manufactured to do. They are a treatment.  It’s not just a waste of money, it puts your horse’s long-term health at risk. It is far better to adopt a postbiotic support product and fix the problem that caused the ulcers in the first place once they are resolved, rather than consistently treat the symptoms of the disease or worse treat the horse for something he no longer exhibits further undermining the health of his digestive system.

Following the herd is not always the best idea. Sometimes it is better to take a hard look at where we are going and what track we are following. Doing something because it seems better than doing nothing doesn’t really make sense does it?

The reality is there is always a better and best solution to any problem. You may not necessarily always manage to find the best solution even though it may exist. But one thing is for sure, you won’t find the better one either unless you look for it and action it.

Making the best decision with the information you have at the time, really comes down to what information do you have? When you have confidence in what is actually in your horse supplement and follow the guidance the manufacturer provides as to its use, you’re a good way toward making that best decision.


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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

About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
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Grand Meadows, Orange, CA
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