Testing Equine SupplementsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 3, 2011
An entire industry centers on dietary supplements that purportedly alter metabolic pathways to improve the utilization of nutrients, ultimately enhancing performance.
Many of these products are accompanied by advertising that leads consumers to think scientific research supports the claim made by the manufacturers. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The most common issue seen in product marketing is reliance on anecdotal information gleaned from testimonials.
Controlled field trials to test the performance of animals receiving the product have a great deal of experimental variation and require large numbers of subjects to determine if there are beneficial effects. Instead, most equine research involves experiments conducted using smaller representative populations or studies conducted in a treadmill lab where experimental variation can be minimized.
So how can horse owners determine if a new supplement improves performance or has true potential to improve athletic capacity?
Horse owners interpreting scientific results should consider the parameters researchers used when designing a study. These questions are outlined in Advances in Equine Nutrition III.