Switching the Supplement Plan

Switching the Supplement Plan

It’s hard not to want to “supplement all the things” when you go to a supplement manufacturer’s website and they have all these amazing claims about different ways to fix your horse.  I recently cancelled my SmartPak and decided to switch strategies a bit, only to find myself back again to SmartPak… but let me back up and go to the beginning.

When Simon came up lame in January 2013, I decided a joint supplement was in order.  I knew that he had pre-existing issues and would require more maintenance than some horses, so I decided now was a good time.  I put him on Flex n Motion at a friend’s recommendation. Since SmartPak ships free at $40 for their SmartPaks, I would save more money in the long run by adding a 2nd supplement to get my order over the $40 threshold – so I also added SmartLytes since electrolytes are always good for your horse.


Eight months later, money was a bit tighter and I was starting to question my $45 a month SmartPak.  A lot of people, including my vet, do not feel that feed through joint supplements make any difference.  Since I started Simon on this supplement when he was lame, I really had no before and after to compare.  A lot changed from December 2012 to May 2013 when I started riding him again, and I had no idea if the supplement actually worked.  Plus, a barn mate told me that she just fed her horses table salt instead of electrolytes and the vet said it was just as good, if not better, than an electrolyte supplement.  Huh.

So I cancelled my SmartPak.

And then SmartPak emailed me with a 50% off a new SmartPak coupon.  Touche Smartpak, touche.

So I started pondering supplements again.


As I have now found 2 sarcoids on Simon, I started researching symptoms of a weak immune system.  Runny nose… check.  Goopy eyes.. sometimes check.  Tail rubbing… a very recent check.  Poor coat (we have tons of fungus issues)… check.  Okay, these were enough red flags that have been consistent for the time I’ve had him – I was going to try an immune supplement.

Since I don’t think it’s simply a vitamin deficiency, I went with SmartProtect. Once again, I wanted to beat the $40 threshold for free shipping (damn you SmartPak and your marketing!) so I investigated other options. After checking with a SmartPak rep that giving two supplements with low doses of Vitamin C was okay, I also put him on SmartOmega3. L. Williams has had a lot of success with this supplement. Also when I was working at SmartPak when SmartOmega 3 was being developed, the supplement manager had nothing but overwhelming positive things to say about horses and Omega 3’s.


I’ll report back and see if there is any difference in 30 days of these supplements.  It’s worth a try.  I’ll be specifically looking for reduction of fungus, any sarcoid shrinking or no new sarcoids developing, the status of his runny nose, and if his various bites/scrapes heal any faster.  We’ll see.  It’s a bit ambiguous but I feel like something is slightly off with his overall health.

Have you had any overwhelming success (or failure) with a specific supplement?  I’m curious if they all just “kinda” help or REALLY help.

27 thoughts on “Switching the Supplement Plan

  1. I had definite success when I put my older pony on MSM and Glucosamine. I did a lot of research on different brands and strengths to find what I personally thought was best. I found it a lot cheaper to buy tubs of my supplements rather than SmartPaks. I’ll also NEVER shop with SmartPak again after one of their customer service reps blatantly lied to me, but that’s an unrelated issue.

      1. When I got married, I ordered a custom painted farm sign for my parents as their thank you gift. It said satisfaction guaranteed. When I got my order, which was supposed to have a leopard Appaloosa on it, the horse looked more like a fleabitten gray. I was so upset, and called SmartPak to see what could be done. The rep said she would call me back. When she did, she told me that she spoke with the manufacturer, who said nothing could be done to fix the sign. And that since it was custom, SmartPak would not offer a refund. All this despite the claim of satisfaction guaranteed. I was so upset that I called the manufacturer directly, and she told me no one from SmartPak had ever contacted them regarding my order. They ended up completely replacing the sign for me.

  2. You already know I like the Omegas.. defi noticed a difference on Carlos. Also noticed an improvement on Carlos after putting him on SmartCombo. SmartB1 was a total flop.

  3. I love SmartPak for many reasons, their supplements being just one. I used SmartFlex Senior and SmartShine previously, and while I really can’t attest to SmartFlex (I was also injecting Adequan at the same time), SmartShine did work as advertised. It was cheaper than Ultimate Finish, easier for my boarding barn to feed and overall improved the quality of my horse’s coat.

    Plus while they do have sneaky marketing to get you to the $40/mo threshold, the benefits of the system for me (convenience and cost-savings in shipping) were well worth it.

  4. I have Dino on DMG and it has been awesome for his muscle tightness issues. He has not tied up once since he’s been on it, and it’s cheap, so he’s staying on it! I’m a believer. BUT that said it’s important to do your research in order to not be throwing your money away, and look for supplements that have clinical research backing the results.

  5. Junior is on a joint supplement for his degenerative joint disease. Cosequin Optimized. It has worked wonders for him!

  6. Lauren! I have been through researching stuff like this and I have some suggestions:
    MSM- cheapest and BEST feed-through joint supplement on the market. Mainly for it’s anti-inflammatory (NSAID like effects), and it has antihistamine like properties as well.
    Omega3–I actually found that BioFlax20 (advertised on SmartPak as a “hoof supplement”) actually has the same, if not more, Omega 3’s than SmartOmega3, and is much cheaper. I have Ricky on both of these. 🙂

    I’m a bargain shopper even when it comes to supplements, so I understand!

  7. I recently switched out SmartBug-Off in favor of a different one because the Psycho Mare – I mean, Fancy Pony! – didn’t like to eat the SmartBug-Off. It has been 2 1/2 weeks. I think the flies are bugging her more now. However, she actually eats this supplement instead of trying to spit it out. Is it that the flies have recently gotten worse with the rising temperatures? Or is it just that this supplement is less effective? I’ll give it the rest of the season just to see what happens, but I may just be right back to the SmartBug-Off come next year.
    Assuming she doesn’t belong to someone else by then… Have I mentioned that she is for sale? 😉

  8. I’ve had Fiction on Platinum Performance for more than half a year now. It was recommended to me by my trainer and I have seen an amazing increase in muscle/energy/condition with it. I very recently switched him over to Platinum Performance CJ, which is insanely expensive, but has some of the most comprehensive joint supplements out there. I’m all for taking preventative measures rather than treating problems when they appear, and I’ve heard wonderful things from people both in testimonials and online that say CJ has worked wonders for them. Although there are no effective studies that prove joint supplements actually work, there is no incredibly strong evidence against them and testimonials from real people are enough to motivate me.

    I also have him on DuMOR hoof, but it hasn’t been long enough to tell a difference in his feet; and I just started him on SmartOmega3 to ease his girthiness and so far it seems to be working.

    I’ve explored Smartpak’s options, but I don’t feel they give the same quality/comprehensive support that Platinum does. Plus, when I picked out the items I wanted for Fiction, it always came out more expensive at SmartPak than with Platinum.

    1. I have to admit I have *never* looked into Platinum Performance. From working at SmartPak I had a natural distaste for the company since they are a direct competitor, but there’s really no reason not to explore them now. I should do a price shopping comparison for what I just got for Simon and what I could get for him through PP.

      1. I use Platinum Performance as well and LOVE it! I still use smartpak for “bug off” but I have had a lot of success with PP Equine. Once I start the show season next year I will upgrade Varro to the PP CJ.

  9. SmartBug Off has never worked for any of my horses. SmartTendon was AMAZING for Red. UGard worked really well on Storm, did nothing for Bobby. Cool Calories was a flop for Bobby, as was SmartHoof. The Princess is now on Fat Cat and Recovery EQ and I think both work amazeballs. Definitely hit and miss with what I’ve used.

  10. For a year I had Sam on three Smart branded supplements. Joint, vitamin & coat (SmartDark & Handsome). He has preexisting chances in front feet, so he immediately went on joint when I bought him. Vitamins are good for you and I wanted to keep his dark coat. One day, I actually fed him his supplements which are dumped on top of a scoop of rice bran daily. I watched him grabs mouthfuls and spit them out to the side of the bucket so he could get to rice bran! I later tried hand feeding him said supplements and he wouldn’t take them from me. AHHH!!! At $100/m, I was literally throwing my money away!

    I decided to switch brands, tho still in SmartPaks and had to compromise on ingredients and dosages. Over the last year he’s been on Daily Omegas Plus™ (vita,coat,hoof, joint) & Matrix 5+H/A (joint) and it’s about $10 more a month. And I did check that he doesn’t spit it out (I should probably reconfirm). Everything is pretty status quo as far as his health. I don’t have any measurable success since he’s been on supps since day 1. But I also don’t have any problems – and that’s what keeps me paying it every month, even though I’ve had a huge cut in pay.

    The moral of this story is, make sure your horse is actually eating his supplements.

  11. One of the vets I work with is an equine-only sports med guy who is also a life-long eventer. All of his horses get joint supplements and, because they live in the northeast, selenium. That’s all. As for nutritional supplements, that is a whole different ball game. Unless you do some kind of feed analysis, you are probably throwing your money away. A hay test costs less than $40 and with that and the label on the back of your fed bag, I could do an analysis. Once you have that info, you could take it to a local feed mill and have a custom supplement made for you that would probably cost a fraction of what you are paying now. I am going to be writing about this quite a bit on my own blog in the next few weeks. If you want some help figuring out your feed, get in touch with me at aerissana at gmail dot com. I went to school for this stuff years ago, have a degree in equine science and another in Ag. sci so when I say the only way to really know what to do about supplements is to test, I’m not just making it up:)

  12. Ah, supplements are so tough…are they working or not? So hard to tell… Every time I go on the smartpak web site I spend waaay too much time reading up on everything. Spencer is on smartcalm or smartcool – forget what it is called. Since winter is coming and we are almost out, I’ll let it run out and see if he gets crazy on me…lol

    Interesting about the immune support though – Spencer has had some similar issues – sounds like I need to do some reading! (see – I already want to order more supplements!) I actually have to drive to the US to pick stuff up, since they won’t ship supplements to Canada yet.

  13. I’ve had Henry on Smartcombo since pretty much day 1.

    He looks worlds different then the day I got him but I don’t think that has everything to do with the supplements. 🙂

  14. The joint supp hanging on DC’s stall is the one that our vet recommends. Though he likes injectibles best, that is his second choice after I forced him into doing some research. I find it to be cost effective, and have seen that it works well for both DC and TJ. But it has to be ordered through a vet, if you call or text him he will order for you.

  15. I put Wiz on Dumor Ultra Shine (http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/dumorreg%3B-ultra-shine-20-lb) from Tractor Supply. One bag is about 30-45$ I think (no more than 45) and lasts 60-90 days. I saw a difference in his feet and coat, and I wonder if the immune support and anti-inflammatory protection the supplement gives him is what caused him to be so latent in his EPM symptoms- he showed symptoms a lot later than the other horses, and his symptoms weren’t as severe. However, when I have more money, I will probably upgrade him to the similar but higher-quality Smart Pak versions, such as what you posted here 🙂

  16. Oh the supplements! I did a bunch of research when I got Shy to see what would help with her jumpiness. The “calming” supplements, if you actually read the ingredients, have some of the same stuff the energy drinks have. . .weird. I put her on magenesium and B1, plus red raspberry leaves and flaxseed. It seemed to work real well. Then I added a multi vitamin. Then I took away the B1 and flaxseed, but kept the magnesium due to its help with reducing the chances of laminitis. I buy the tubs and make my own baggies up for the barn and I get the raspberry lead from a local herb store. I think it is hit or miss with supplements, so hard to tell!

  17. Disappointing that Simon’s got more sarcoids. I’m watching Aero closely – what was left under his jaw after the Thuja hasn’t changed and seems to be dead, but he still has the flat one. He also has a runny nose and goopy eyes. You are making me think I need to research immune boosters here in France. Maybe I will just put him on a course of echinacea….

  18. Sorry about commenting so late. Dee is a regular sarcoid factory. It really depresses the heck out of me. I swear the darn things can pop up in a matter of days. Because none of them have been in locations that might interfere with tack our vet has recommended a “wait and see” approach. But in the meantime I’ve also gone with the supplement angle. Back in the spring we had two new ones pop up, then another tiny one, then another tiny one. WTH right? Anyway, this was right around the time of our spring show where the judge tore us to pieces so I decided to switch up my SmartPak for something with a bit more joint juice. While trying to figure out how to do that and keep what I had and not give my Husband a heart attack, I ran across SmartCombo. Joint, Hoof, Digestive, Shine stuff. And maybe it’s just a coincidence. Sarcoids seem to do whatever they want whenever they want. But I swear they have all got smaller. One of the biggest ones is nearly flat now. I almost don’t want to say anything in case I jinx it but that’s the way it went down. New SmartPak and perhaps 2 months later we had shrinking sarcoids. I hope hope hope it continues, whether the SmartPak is responsible or not! Bonus prize, the new growth on her feet is super nice, too! As for calming I liked Quiescence but have had to drop it from my SmartPak since the cost was getting a bit silly with all that other stuff.

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