Omega 3 oils, alpha-linolenic acids, essential fatty acids or EFAs such as linseed, flax, sunflower, soya bean and fish (especially cod liver) oils are excellent supplements to feed to maintain equine joint flexibility and provide other health benefits to horses and ponies.
There are several different sources of omega 3 oils available to add as a supplement to your horse's feed.
As the name suggests, these nutrients are essential addtions to the equine diet as they can?t be synthesised by the horse himself.
The health benefits of feeding an equine omega 3 oil supplement mean that your horse may remain active and working well into his 20s or even 30s, without the need for pain relief medication.
Some experts claim that the best source of omega 3 oils for horses is linseed (or flax) oil, whilst others maintain that marine oils are the best type to feed to a horse or pony.
Although cod liver oil and other fish oils are widely available, horses are naturally vegetarian and it is thought by some experts that fish oils are an unnatural food for horses; the Omega-3 found in cod-liver oil is a different type to the Omega-3 in Linseed Oil. Sunflower oil is also a popular equestrian EFA supplement.
Fat is scarce in an equine's natural foods and it might not seem natural to feed it to horses, but it has been proven that a horse must obtain "good fats" or "healing fats" in order to be healthy. Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids or oils are good fats.
The Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have nowbeen linked to a wide-range of health benefits. Research has indicated that increased levels of EPA & DHA supplied in Omega-3 oils may help to maintain pain-free, supple and mobile joints in horses and ponies.
These two important nutrients have also been identified as being extremely beneficial in helping to maintain a healthy heart and good circulation.
Linseed has been fed to horses for centuries in the form of linseed jelly - so perhaps the old ways are the best.
Evidence suggests that many horses on high-grain diets, with joint problems, dull coats or with allergic skin conditions are likely to benefit from a supplement of Omega-3 oil in their feed.
Horses have been shown to be able to digest and use up as much as 20% or more of their diet , by weight, as oil. Oil should be gradually introduced as a feed supplement into your horse or pony's diet over a 2 or 3 week period.