UK horse owners mainly purchase horse nutrition supplements to cure or prevent joint problems (including lameness). This was concluded from a survey among 820 horse owners in the UK, who are active in competitive dressage or eventing.
There are many horse feed supplements on the market, hence a number of factors that may determine a horse owner’s choice of nutritional supplement for their horse. The aim of the current survey was to study which types of nutritional supplements were used in dressage and eventing horses, and the reasons that owners used supplements. An online questionnaire was distributed through British Eventing and Dressage websites, to collect data on demographics of owners and their horses, supplements used and their opinion on health and performance problems.
In total, 820 horse owners/riders participated in the questionnaire, and the completion rate for the survey was 80 per cent (656/820). Also, 599 participants met the inclusion criteria, competing in either dressage (441 respondents) or eventing (158 respondents).
Owners/riders of dressage horses identified behavioural issues and energy levels as the most important issue within their discipline, followed by lameness, then back and muscle problems. They also identified behavioural issues as the main problem in their highest performing horse, followed by ‘joints and mobility’. There were different trends for responses from owners/riders of eventing horses. They identified stamina and fitness as the main issue in their discipline, followed by lameness, and behaviour issues and energy levels were the third most commonly identified health and performance issue for eventing. However, the main problem in their highest performing horse was identified as behavioural issues, followed by joints and mobility, which mirrors the response from dressage owners and riders to this question.
Following the questions about which issues are the most important for the different disciplines, the horse owners were asked which supplement they consider to be the most important. For both dressage and eventing owners/riders, joint supplements were named most frequently (57%, n=492). This was followed by behavioural supplements for dressage horses (9%, n=376) and electrolytes for eventing horses (8.6%, n=116). All of the behavioural supplements that were listed by participants were used for a calming effect on the horse. Vitamins and minerals were ranked as the third reason for feeding supplements for both disciplines (dressage 12.9%, eventing 10.2%).
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