Raising a horse puts you on high alert to anything that could negatively affect their health. You’re constantly inspecting them for abnormalities and being ever-watchful when it comes to where they’re wandering to and what they’re eating. So it’s only natural that when you have the chance to look into adding something to their diet that can improve their overall health, you’d probably jump at it, right? Well, have you been regularly feeding your horse flaxseed? Here’s why you should consider doing just that.
The benefits of flaxseed are pretty numerous. In humans they do a lot of simple good, such as reducing the risk of heart attacks or blood clots, but in animals and specifically horses, coats get shinier, the immune system gets a boost, and digestion is aided, among other things. Probably one of the best features though is the reduction in inflammation to joints and such. Horses deal with a lot of high-impact work, and even their usual mode of transportation- galloping- can provide some definitely wear and tear. When eaten regularly, flaxseeds has the bonus of reducing that inflammation and helping alleviate even arthritis, to a certain degree (it’s no miracle cure).
Much of the positives from flaxseed come from its high Omega-3 fatty acid content. This oft-praised nutrient is vital to a healthy diet, but the only real natural source in a horse’s normal environment is fresh grass, something that can be difficult to come by especially in winter months, plus it can be difficult to maintain a high enough quality on said grass. With flaxseeds, you get that same Omega-3 additive without needing to rely solely on grass.
Figuring out exactly how you’d like to feed your horse flax is where it can get tricky. A lot of people seem to believe that horses can’t properly digest whole seeds, or that when eaten the nutrition is utterly lost. This is false as horses can easily eat, digest, get benefits from, and eventually pass whole flaxseeds. Still, some believe that the benefits are greater from ground, boiled, or soaked flaxseeds, though that’s entirely up to your best judgment.
One thing to consider though is that flaxseeds and horses do have a tricky balance to figure out as the seeds are high in phosphorous but not calcium, a definite need for horses. As a result, you’ll definitely want to supplement your horse’s diet with either calcium additives or other foods rich in calcium.
Also, flaxseed has been rumored to contain the ingredients necessary for making cyanide, which is true to some extent. Oddly enough, the process of soaking the seeds brings the two ingredients together, increasing the risk of cyanide poisoning quite a bit. Boiling will convert any cyanide into gas, but it also destroys the Omega-3 fatty acids, taking away one of the basic reasons for adding flaxseed in the first place. The best way to feed is still either raw grains or ground up.
You’ve got to stay on top of your horse’s nutrition, otherwise you could be saddled with a sick pony. If you’re looking for a simple way to supplement a horse’s diet though, seriously consider adding some flaxseeds to their feed. You- and your horse- certainly won’t regret it.
Stable Building Tips
Bedding Pros and Cons
Mucking Out Your Horse's Stall
Feeding Your Horse
What To Feed Your Horse
Giving Up Your Horse
Do Horses Need Shoes?
Teeth and Horses
Winterizing Your Barn
Preparing to Travel With Your Horse
Winter Care for Horses
Preventing Barn and Stall Boredom
Tips for Traveling with Your Horse
Stable Requirements: Building the Space to Meet Your Horses' Needs
Preparing Your Horse for Hot Weather
Tips for Maintaining Your Horse Trailer
Proper Hoof Care
Why Braiding Horse Hair is Beneficial to Their Health
Tips for Taking Care of an Older Horse
How to Keep Your Horse Fed on a Budget
Transitioning Horses from Winter Feed to Spring Feed
Why You Should Feed Your Horse Flaxseed
Dealing With an Unhappy Horse in Their Stall