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Vegetable Oil for Your Horse: What Are You Really Buying?By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 8, 2015

Feeding oil to horses increases the calorie density of a diet, and because oil is entirely fat, it typically benefits the skin and coat. Those advantages provide enough support for its use, but when you reach for that bottle of vegetable oil for your horse, do you know what it’s actually made of? Corn oil or safflower oil? Soybean oil? Maybe canola or flax? Perhaps a blend of two or more of these?

Chances are, if you’re feeding from a bottle labeled “vegetable oil,” it is pure soybean oil, sometimes simply referred to as soy oil, and this product is a safe, economical way to add calories to a diet. Few horses refuse to eat soybean oil, so feed manufacturers frequently use it in formulations that require added fat, such as those intended for performance horses or seniors.

If the product you picked is not pure soybean oil, it is likely a soy blend that includes one or more of the following oils: corn, canola, coconut, cottonseed, palm, peanut, safflower, sesame, or sunflower. Manufacturers are required to list the ingredients on the label in order of prominence, though exact percentages are not mandatory. Because most of these other oils command a higher price in the marketplace, they are seldom used in blends.

Horses that have a confirmed soy allergy should be offered another oil as a calorie-booster, and careful attention should be paid to the ingredient list of other feeds and supplements to ensure soy is not inadvertently added to the diet.