B-vitamins play a vital part in the metabolism of a horse or pony's energy. They are a group of vitamins which are water soluble and are needed by a horse for the metabolism of nutrients.
A horse can generate its own B vitamins, which occur as micro-organisms that populate the large intestine. If a horse is fed a healthy diet these micro-organisms can supply all the B vitamins that he needs. Surplus B Vitamins cannot be stored by a horse or pony.
B vitamins are only required in small amounts - but if demand for these vitamins exceeds the available supply, or if the horse or pony's hindgut isn't functioning effectively, supplies of vitamin B can be scarce.
If there are not enough B vitamins available for a horse he can become easily fatigued, lose his appetite or have problems with poor quality hoof.
However Vitamin B deficiencies are not often found in healthy horses fed on a well-balanced, high-fibre diet and receiving moderate exercise. Competition horses in hard training may benefit from being fed a supplement containing a B vitamin complex.
Veteran horses with poor teeth that are unable to chew well, or horses recovering from surgery or an illness may also benefit from B vitamin supplements.
It is difficult to feed too many B vitamins - because they are water soluble any excess vitamins are passed out in the horse's urine.
B Vitamins can be found in commercially prepared horse feeds and equine supplements.
Provide adequate amounts of fibre - more than 1% of the horse's bodyweight per day, which micro-organisms in the hindgut will process to supply B Vitamins.
An injectable prescription B vitamin complex for horses usually contains thiamine, cyanocobalamin, niacinamide, riboflavin, pyridoxine and d-panthenol.