Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Meds & Supplements

As a side trip from our recaps, I'm writing about the various things Penn gets to supplement his training. I've tried a lot, but finally found a mix that I'm actually really happy with.

Is this a dressage move I don't know about? Kicking pirouette into medium trot?

Penn had been on the following for most of the time I've had him: a feed through joint supplement and some kind of calmer to try and combat his stall walking (he walks a ring into his stall that would mean his stall gets stripped almost daily), and also to combat his trailering nerves. I tried a lot of things: Quiessence, Total Calm and Focus, Mare Magic (purchased as a generic, aka a bag of organic raspberry leaves from, Zylkene.

I kept him on Total Calm and Focus the longest because it worked the best on his "stable nerves" (stall walking, nervousness in the cross ties that resulted in diarrhea, etc), but didn't really negate his trailer nerves. I bought the 180 supply from because it was the best price per day I could find.

I should also state that Penn sees a non-local chiropractor every 8-9 weeks. He started seeing this guy in Nov/Dec 2017. He's the only one that has made Penn's hips level at the end of an adjustment. Chiro's adjustments actually hold until the next adjustment now, it's so nice. This guy does adjustments and then vit-B acupuncture type injections into the areas that get adjustments (it helps the adjustments hold).

Hips so even. They're still even now too!

I started Penn on Adequan twice a year starting last year. I buy the 10 dose bottle and give him 5 injections 4 days apart in spring, and then repeat that 6 months later. It's not the 7 doses the company recommends, but Penn is young and relatively undamaged, so I think we can get away with this for now. It make me feel better that I'm doing something to support his joints, and it's cheaper per year than my favorite feed through, Doc's OCD.

Muscle and Gut and Calming: (because they've become intertwined in this narrative)
Upon starting training with GP Trainer, I found Penn had trouble building the strength to do the work. I gave him 4-5 months to build new strength before deciding to see if I could help him out.

SmartMuscle Recovery
He stopped feeling funny up front when I got on. Sometimes he would come out very stiff up front and it took a lap to work out, but with this, no more. I am happy with it. I opted to get it in Smartpaks because there wasn't any price difference to having them scoop it (at least for the first 2 months- I ordered AM and PM doses since they were half off).

I mentioned in passing about Penn's trailering problems- diarrhea and then he goes off his feed while he's away too. GP Trainer is sponsored by Uckele, so she recommended one of their products (with her personal reusable coupon code!)

G.U.T Paste
Love it, love it, love it. I can't express the amount I love this stuff. It stopped 90% of his diarrhea. He still has a little bit, but it's SO MUCH BETTER. He gets a half tube the day before travel, and then a half tube each day of travel. He started eating better while he was away too, yay! The bright side: I use GP Trainer's code to get a discount, and then I bulk order it at one of their bulk order discount rates.

G.U.T. Powder
I loved that paste so much that I decided to put him on their daily gut supplement since he has sporadic diarrhea at home too. I added that to his Smartpaks, only because the Recovery didn't meet their $40 for free shipping once I knocked him down to one dose a day. Paying shipping negated any gain in scooping it myself, so I opted to have them scoop it.

Penn carried on with the above supplements for a while. He was pretty grouchy, he still stall walked despite the Total Calm (though it did help some), and he wasn't holding weight. He has a very strenuous training and travel life.

At this point, I ponied up and got him a round of Omeprazole. Abba Vet Supply compounds their own product at a really fabulous price (I got 45-10mL doses for $224 in 15-30mL tubes). You need a vet RX to get it, and they don't offer it on their website (you have to call), but they're easy to deal with and fast. Before anyone goes high and mighty on me for using a compounded generic, I've heard from numerous human medical professionals that we overdose horses on omeprazole (but of course not enough that it hurts the horse). Abba's product is supposed to have the same 2.28g of omeprazole as brand name, but it also has ranitidine. There was also a study that said horses had the same healing from a full dose, half dose, and quarter dose. This means that even if the full dose of the compounded generic didn't have the full 2.28g, it should still be effective. Plus, if that didn't work, I'd chalk it up to lost money on a failed experiment and just pony up for the real thing. It's not the first time I've used this particular compound, so I anticipated it working. I opted to do 21 days of 10mL (full dose), followed by 21 days of 5mL.

The results: It did work. Very well. Penn started eating all of his hay. He ate his grain better too. 99% of his stable nerves vanished. His stall walking was reduced by day 10, and by the end, it had vanished majority of the time. He still gets worked up every now and then and trashes his stall, but he's so much better. He had a softer look in his eye by day 7. People who didn't know he was being treated said, "Wow, he looks really relaxed now. What'd you do?" He's still grouchy about having his belly brushed, and the saddle/girth, but I think that might just be him.

So this will probably be a yearly thing I do for him, or maybe just when his stall walking dramatically increases. I give 5mL doses the day before travel and each day of travel. Another plus? I dropped his Total Calm and Focus and he stayed relatively the same in personality. He's a little more unfocused under saddle, but that's no problem. He's still considered a green baby, and I can to work through that.

Total Blood Fluids Muscle
Penn continued to just have trouble with strength and stamina. He'd wear out quickly. Not unusual for the amount of work he's doing, but it still bothered me that 6 months in, he wasn't feeling fully better. I decided to try another muscle supplement and really liked the overall idea of this one (muscle-blood builder-electrolytes), and since I just stopped the Total Calm, I could get this instead (since they're both stupid expensive).
I got it from (I am not having Smartpak scoop it- it's WAY too expensive for that). But sadly, Penn would not eat it. In fact, he stopped eating altogether. He eventually started eating again, but then he wouldn't touch ANY powder in his feed, including his GUT powder. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Smartlytes Pellets & Grand Vite
This is where I got mathy. Smartpak has this awesome comparison tool that breaks down everything in the products so you can compare what has what and how much of it. I put the breakdown for Total BFM into Excel and got cracking on how to "make it myself" using other (preferably pelleted) supplements. I put Total Calm and Focus into the comparison as well to see if I could help Penn's focus a bit too.

Adding these two supplements got me super close. Of the 75 various vitamins/minerals/compounds in his original supplement group, I was able to replicate 64 of them at the same or greater value, and only one was missing entirely:

New to the left, old to the right. Not really concerned that the six B vitamins are at a lower value. I'm guessing Total Calm has obscene values for their calming effects. Grand Vite was the best way to put some more of each back into his diet, as well as many other vitamins/minerals.

The one missing entirely, Creatine, is in his Manna Pro Ration Balancer, so I'm not concerned about that. The best part is that the electrolyte and vitamin together are cheaper than Total BFM, and he'll eat both of them! I did put both of them in his Smartpak because the Smartlytes are cheapest in that form, and I didn't want to have to scoop his Grand Vite and G.U.T. powder into baggies (and I loathe powder in baggies). I figured this is already cheaper than what I was doing before, so I'll suck it up and keep the Smartpaks which also let me stagger the cost throughout the year and save time.

He's been feeling full of energy since I made the switch- he's got a lot more stamina, even in the heat. I'm sure that's due to the electrolyte, but he feels physically good too. I'm very pleased with the new combination.


So there you have it.

  • G.U.T. Paste (when traveling)
  • Omeprazole/Ranitidine (when traveling, possibly a yearly treatment)
  • Adequan (10 doses per year)
  • SmartMuscle Recovery Pellets (daily)
  • G.U.T. Powder (daily)
  • Smartlytes Pellets (daily)
  • Grand Vite (daily)

And this is the closest I will get to adding all of that up in a cost per year. Ack!

Funny baby horse gets all the things since I ask a ton of him.

I'm sure some of you are looking at this list going, "OMG she's fucking crazy." So what all do you guys do?


  1. ha i kinda love it! part of me feels like supplements are kinda a rabbit hole, and part of me feels better in knowing i'm giving my horse the best chance at being successful and happy in the work i want him to do. all of my horse's stuff right now is centered on general weight and hoof type stuff. cocosoya oil for added protein and shine; a magnesium/calcium type liquid (basically tums juice lol) for gastric support; platinum performance; and farrier's formula.

    1. They can absolutely be a rabbit hole! I usually go with the, "buy a small size or trial amount and see what happens", then if it is seems to work, take them off it and see if they get worse again. I definitely saw that with the Total Calm- it really helped him focus because his attention slipped when I took him off it. I don't want the crutch, especially since I got it for his stall walking, so he's off of it now. It also makes me feel better that I might be helping him perform at his best.

      I've only heard good things about Platinum Performance (but their probiotic did not work for Penn), and I was going to have to buy a couple products to do what I wanted. I love farrier's formula too. If I needed to help his hooves, I wouldn't waste my money on trying something else first! It sounds like you have a good recipe for weight gain and hoof health!

  2. People's feed and supplement posts are some of my favorites! So interesting too see how everyone supports their horses for different things.

    1. Yes def! Penn's plan mostly revolves around muscle and gut health, where Emma is looking for more weight gain, gut, and hoof health. The focus is so neat to see too.

  3. Not crazy. I make excel charts and compare the costs per supplement with the amount of each ingredient in the supplements. I feed a bunch of different types of supplements. The muscle thing I need to look into; Levi could use some help in the stamina department.

    1. I've always made excel charts, especially when it comes down to finding the lowest price per dose. This was my first time doing it to list out the various ingredients- my focus has generally been on a single ingredient, not matching a huge number.

    2. I've heard great things about DMG for muscle recovery as well and it's a fairly cheap supplement. I've had Katai on it for a long time (she had really tight sore muscles before) but just taken her off. With my new knowledge of how to work her I'm curious what, if anything, will change now that she's off.

    3. I did some poking around about DMG after I read your comment. Of course now I want to try it on Penn!

  4. I tend to feed more supplements when my horse is being good! I just had him on msm and vitamin e pills when he was bad. Then he started to work harder and look dull (and I went to expo and got a buy two get one free deal) so now he's on omega horseshine (not seeing a difference, might put him on a cheaper just-hoof supplement and just add more currying when we run out), muscle up (not been on it long enough to tell but I'm hopeful), and glucosamine (not been on it long enough to tell).

    The next big change is back shoes per the vet's request today. So that cuts into my supplement budget lol! I might think about adequan next year or the year after, probably when he starts showing 2nd/3rd and actually has to maintain collection all the time. We'll see!

    1. Lol, when Penn is bad, I'm like, "Can I feed you something to make you better?!" I think I did one of the SmartShine's with Mikey one year because his skin broke out in some weird hivey stuff. He had a good shine on it though. And darn shoes! Doesn't your vet know you have supplementing to do?! Haha!

  5. Everything you give makes solid Serbs, though! Love it.

    Pig gets 1.25lbs of ration balancer daily to support muscle and exercise needs (gimme dat protein, the extra vit/min is good too). He also gets a buttload of electrolytes in the summer. He regularly sweats extremely heavily. I've noticed he doesn't lose muscle or energy as fast when he's on them, so apple a day gets to stay.

    1. Sense. Not Serbs. Wtf phone.

    2. I donno, solid Serbs? That might be good. ;) I'm glad my reasoning makes sense to other people though!

      I can't believe it's taken me this long to do electrolytes. Mikey got them a little bit, but I don't think I ever really noticed a difference in him.

  6. Not crazy at all! Katai get's Smartvite Perform (Perform because the magnesium is high enough so I don't need to do a separate supplement), G.U.T., SmartHoof Circulate, Raspberry Leaves, and MSM pellets. She also gets Ulcerguard before and after a show.

    1. One of the baby horses at our farm gets Smartvite Perform, and I looked at it for Penn too! I chose Grand Vite over it because GV had more of the things that were in Total BFM. Katai seems to be on a well rounded bunch of things!