Magnesium is a pretty common supplement to feed horses these days, partly due to the deficiency levels being quite high. Horses generally do not get all the magnesium they need from their regular feeds since roughage such as grass is quite low in this chemical. This is particularly true during the spring months when the grass is growing through periods of strong growth.
Indeed, horses are not very good a storing magnesium which often makes this problem much worse. Many owners choose to provide a supplement to their horse to ensure they are receiving all the right levels of magnesium their body needs.
Let’s take a closer look at what magnesium actually is, what it can do for your horse and the right doses to feed your horse to ensure maximum effect.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium can most commonly be identified by the symbol ‘MG’ and is a chemical element that can present itself in many forms. It usually presents itself in a greyish white powder and is a lightweight metal. It is a fast-acting ingredient that can take some effect within the same day, however, the most noticeable results are usually within a week.
Magnesium sulphate is the most popular form used in supplements however you can also find in the following forms:
- Sulphate (sometimes known as Epson Salts)
The levels of magnesium used in horse supplements vary considerably. However, it is true to say that if your horse suffers from a severe deficiency higher levels of this chemical are recommended. Horses struggle to store magnesium in their body and can absorb anywhere from 60%-100% from their regular feed.
Magnesium helps to bridge the gap between the deficiency and many owners believe magnesium is a great solution for all-round health. As you can see magnesium is vitally important for your horse’s health and wellbeing.
What Does Magnesium Do for Horses?
Many owners use magnesium as a calming supplement. Many horses suffer from severe anxiety and stress which can make them uneasy and very difficult to handle. This is also true for horses that are naturally highly strung such as hot-blooded horses. Magnesium can help to calm nerves whilst still maintaining the horse’s energy levels. This can be particularly important for competition horses where you still require your horse to excel themselves at the highest level allowing them to still be focussed and remaining calm.
A magnesium deficiency is another reason you may choose to feed your horse this chemical. Magnesium helps to reduce nervousness, excitability, wariness and muscle tremors. It is known to play a very important part in muscle and nerve function which can be the starting point for these types of behaviours. Horses with magnesium deficiencies often have a lack of willingness to work. Their muscles tire very easily which is not ideal.
Magnesium can also help horses that tend to suffer from laminitis. This is a painful disease that usually presents itself around springtime when the grass is lush and plentiful.
Dosages of Magnesium
The dosage of magnesium used in your horse’s diet can vary greatly. This usually depends on its use or how serious of a deficiency may be present. Magnesium tends to work well in higher dosages however you will want to look at the amounts you supply your horse with carefully as it is known to have a laxative effect which will not be fun for you or your horse.
There are many pure magnesium supplements for horses on the market that are usually branded as horse calming supplements. These can also be used to help tackle deficiencies. Always ensure you read the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully so you can make sure your horse is neither overdosed nor underdosed. Most magnesium for horses will be in powder form that can be mixed directly into your horses feed. One or two scoops per day is usually the recommended amount. Liquid and tablet form can also be found, but much less frequently.
Magnesium as a dietary supplement, can also be commonly found in a formula with other ingredients. For instance, when purchasing calming supplements you may find it used alongside ingredients such as Tryptophan, Thiamine and Niacin. This usually means that fewer amounts of magnesium is used to work alongside the other ingredients. There may be enough magnesium in combined formulas to help with calming your horse, but for noticeable deficiencies, you may want to opt for pure magnesium.
Why Should You Use Magnesium on Horses?
Magnesium is usually administered to horses for two main reasons; horses that have a magnesium deficiency and those that suffer from anxiety, stress and nervousness and therefore need a calming influence.
Magnesium deficiencies are fairly common with horses since they tend to not get enough of this through their regular feeds. The bulk of the horse’s diet is roughage. This includes feedstuff such as hay, haylage and grass which does not contain large amounts of magnesium.
At certain times of the year when horses spend a lot of time out in the field with their main diet consisting of grass. During the springtime, the grass is going through the growing phase and therefore doses not provide good doses of magnesium.
Unfortunately, the horse’s body does not retain magnesium very easily so it can be difficult to ensure they are receiving the correct amounts. Most owners choose to supplement their horse for this reason.
The second reason you should use magnesium on your horse is if they suffer from anxiety and stress or are hot-blooded and highly strung. Most calming supplements for horses will contain a good dose of magnesium. This ingredient has proven to be very influential in calming nervous, uneasy horses. It works to relax the muscles and nerves which can cause tension and stress.
Some horses that exhibit these types of behaviours can become very difficult to handle when ridden or in hand. This can become dangerous for you and is something that needs some attention. Many owners opt for magnesium-based supplements to help chill their horse out and the results are pretty amazing, to say the least.