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Why No Iron or Manganese?

The increasing trend in pastures, hay and feeds in NZ are carrying high levels of Iron and Manganese. Our soils are also often depleted in Copper & Zinc and here in lies the problem. 

Copper & Zinc, Iron & Manganese, have a very close relationship and need to be in the correct ratio to each other.  This ideal ratio is 4:1:4:4 (Iron:Copper:Zinc:Manganese) however up to 10:1:4:4 is tolerable.  The issue is that commonly horses are getting way more than the tolerable level in Iron and often Manganese too (30:1:4:10) - which is when lots of health issues start to appear such as skin infections, skin sensitivity (itching), lethargy, hoof abscesses, white line infections, poor fitness levels, thrush, dull sun bleached coats and weeping eyes. 

You may be feeding a 'good' supplement or commercial feed with minerals but it includes Iron & Manganese and low levels of Copper & Zinc further compounding the overload issue.  Commercial feed often needs to be fed at high rates which isn't helpful for the easy keepers too and IR horses are very susceptible to Iron Overload! 

The most effective way to help manage excessive Iron is blood donations for humans, however in horses this is not a feasible option.  So the next best option is to balance the feed/minerals to help counteract the imbalance.  Remove excess Iron & Manganese where possible and feed a quality supplement with good levels of Copper & Zinc and no Iron & Manganese.  Depending on the severity detox and gentle Iron chelation may be required.  Turmeric is an excellent chelator of Iron, so feeding Golden Paste is a great option along with so many other health benefits.

Iodine & Selenium are also much needed Macro Minerals commonly low (Selenium is best checked via a blood test).  Both Inside Out & Inside Out Plus are free of Iron (including any ingredient that is high in Iron) & Manganese and high levels of Organic Copper & Zinc (and Selenium & Iodine too).

What are typical Iron Overload signs/symptoms?

There is much debate whether there is such a thing as Iron Overload in horses.  Many suggest there is, many suggest there isn't.  It is speculated that when horses consume "Iron" in their feeds it is of an inorganic nature and excess passes right through and out in manure.  My own research and experience in relation to excess Iron in humans (which is a massive issue also - lots of food is enriched with you guessed it... Iron), indicates that this is not the case, that surplus non bio-available Iron ends up in our tissues, muscles and organs causing inflammation and disease.  With the poor health many horses experience and when the imbalance of macro minerals is addressed and their health improves drastically, i can not help but think that it also impacts horses heavily. There is research to support this. Symptoms of Iron Overload and/or Copper/Zinc deficiency may include but not limited to:

  • Dull and bleached coats

  • Frizzy hair follicles

  • Red ends on manes & tails and the rusted look on darker horses

  • Constant hoof issues - abscessing, thin hoof wall, thrush, white line disease, poor hoof quality, shelly hooves, irregular cracks/black lines in hoof wall (not white line)

  • Metabolic Horses - IR, continued unexplained laminitic events, Cushings

  • Skin issues - scurfy/flaky skin, itchy, allergies, infections, sensitivities, rain scald & mud fever

  • Poor immune/health

  • Poor fitness/work tolerance

Are HHIO products palatable?

Yes! Inside Out & Inside Out Plus are very palatable for the bulk of horses.  It's not common feedback to receive maybe 2 in every 100.

​Support can have palatability issues mainly due to the binder, but the Marshmallow & Slippery Elm horses tend to like, so it can go either way. 

Most horses will gobble up in a mixed feed, however if you are feeding in something like plain chaff alone, then you most likely would need to start small and build up, which is good feeding practice anyway.  Let's face it minerals don't particularly taste nice however you sugar coat it.  HHIO products are very concentrated with no fillers and only apple flavor and some dextrose to make them palatable.  More concentrated means you feed less!

Can i feed this to small ponies/minis?

Yes! Absolutely. 

The Inside Out dose rate is 5g for Mini's and 10g for small ponies up to around 13hh.

You can use Inside Out Plus at a half dose rate (normal dose is 34g) for up to 13hh/300g after this use full dose.

To feed lucerne or not?

Lucerne is in hot debate.  Some people and companies swear by it, others not at all.  Like people, horses are individuals and some may go well on it and others not so much.  The thing that i point out with Lucerne is the high calcium, potassium and protein content.  Then if you are adding it with something like Beet which is also high in calcium (and iron) you are increasing the probably already high levels of calcium and potassium your horse is consuming via hay/grass/haylage.  So lucerne potentially may not be the issue but the last straw that broke the camels back in relation to excess calcium and potassium.  Then add in other supplements or premixed feeds and you suddenly have a lot of calcium and potassium intake.  Its really important to feed both salt and magnesium if you are feeding lucerne to help counteract the imbalances. Lucerne hay is not a great idea for your average pleasure horse.  It potentially has a place with breeding and young stock or horses on kikuya - but not just lucerne a couple of slices and the rest in other hay eg: meadow, timothy. 

Another note to mention here is the photo dynamic pigment content causing photo sensitivity issues such as mud fever and head flicking.

If your horse has ANY issues of any kind i do not recommend to feed.  If you horse has any issues and you are feeding it - remove it and see.

Also of note is some wrapped lucerne products have an ulcer healing ingredient, however a huge quantity needs to be fed  to get the amount of medication needed to heal ulcers.  No horse should consume this amount of lucerne per day due to high calcium, & potassium levels! If you suspect your horse has ulcers there are much safer and more effective products available for treatment.  

Why does my horses eat dirt/manure, chew on wood/bark?

When horses eat wood, chew on trees, eat dirt or manure most people will recommend to add copper and/or salt.  Which can be valid and always is a good starting point but of course not adding copper by itself (risking upsetting ratios).  However in my experience its actually phosphorus that they are seeking.  The eating of dirt/manure/wood or strange objects is called Pica.  It is highly recommended to get your pasture and/or hay tested so you know what your levels are especially of phosphorus and calcium.

The next option is to check your feed balance and ensure there is adequate phosphorus. 

Phosphorus is very commonly deficient/low in pasture NZ wide. Phosphorus isn't a super pleasant tasting mineral with a lower elemental value meaning you have to fed lots to get enough Phosphorus and mostly it is paired with Calcium such as DCP which defeats the whole purpose. However, Monosodium Phosphate is a good source of just Phosphorus and has a much higher elemental value meaning feed less.  It is not recommended to feed Phosphorus isolated without knowing EXACTLY what is going in (Pasture and Hay tests.... and don't forget water this is a very commonly hidden source of excess Calcium and also Iron).  There are no "organic" forms (only non-organic) of phosphorus so the next best form is a bio-available form by way of food source.  Feeds typically higher in phosphorus than calcium are oats, barley, wheat bran, rice bran, copra and flaxseed & hemp meal.  Now not all agree with all horses, so please exercise caution. 

Is it safe for Pregnant mares or young stock?


All products are absolutely recommended for breeding and young stock, they will benefit greatly from the high Copper & Zinc. 

The only consideration you will need to factor in is their Calcium & Phosphorus (and Magnesium too) levels.  I recommend HHIO Macro for this purpose.  Or you can also use food sources balanced with calcium to Phosphorus as an alternative.

We have fabulous feed back from studs, breeders and owners of young stock doing so well on Inside Out and Inside Out Plus.

Can i feed this with my premixed/commercial feed?

For best results, no.

Both Inside Out & Inside Out Plus were designed to be fed with plain feeds that don't have added minerals. 

If you are feeding both a premix feed and IO or IOP you risk throwing out the important ratios, adding to the excess Iron, Manganese, Calcium & Potassium issues (all commonly added in commercial feeds).  You also risk doubling up on minerals especially ones like Selenium.  Commercial feeds generally have a high level of feeding, which is often too much for horses, especially those that are easy keepers.  Commercial feeds often have feeds that can pose issues for horses such as Soya, oils high in omega 6's and levels of minerals not suited to NZ conditions.  Commercial feeds tend to have a all but the kitchen sink approach with a little bit of everything and not enough of the stuff that really matters (Copper & Zinc).  Lastly the cost factor - commercial feeds are high in cost (if feeding to recommended levels) and you are literally wasting money by doubling up on everything.  A short  list of feeds that can work with HHIO products are chaff, beet, copra, wheat bran, rice bran, barley, oats, lupins, extruded rice and flaxseed. 

So what do you recommend to feed?

Please find below the complimentary Feeding Guide pdf. This will guide you away from commercial feeds to feeding a horse like a horse.

Whether you use my products of not, i highly recommend making the switch away from commercial feeds and back to plain feeds, and take back control of your horses health, especially gut health.  (Click on the pdf logo below)  This pdf is copyrighted to HHIO and can not be published or replicated with out prior permission.  Please note the guide is a working document as time permits.

Why no Calcium?

There is growing interest and research into the effects of too much Iron/Manganese however too much Calcium is a little heard, understood or recognized issue.  Not unlike the Iron issue, Calcium has an important relationship with Phosphorus & Magnesium, and part of the bigger picture is also the Potassium, Sodium & Chloride relationship - that's a question for another section.  The ideal ratio for Calcium:Phosphorus is 1.1-2:1.  Mature horses get by with this ratio.  Young horses, pregnant or lactating mares require 2-2.5:1 ratio. 

Calcium maintains balance between sodium, potassium and magnesium in the body. It's essential for the proper utilization of phosphorus and vitamins A, C and D.  Phosphorus helps balance iodine, magnesium, zinc as well as Vitamin D.  Making sure your horse gets Calcium is a heavily pushed agenda (just like humans) but be aware that horses can consume too much calcium which excessive calcium interferes with the body's ability to absorb other minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.  The body will also have to eliminate the excess calcium via the kidneys, which can result in additional health issues and stress on the vital organs.  A ratio higher than 2.5:1 Calcium:Phosphorus can potentially produce the following:

  • Poor hoof quality and hair quality

  • Sore back

  • Soft tissue injuries (eg: suspensory tears an bowed tendons)

  • Decreased reproductive ability

  • Over-calcification of joints

  • Kidney stones

This is where it gets tricky and too much Phosphorus is also just as bad. For every gram of phosphorus that enters the small intestine, the body requires one gram of calcium to accompany it before the phosphorus can be effectively absorbed.  If there isn't enough calcium in the horses food to match up with the phosphorus being consumed, the body will use calcium from elsewhere - most likely by demineralising the bones.  A common symptom of too much Phosphorus is big head syndrome. 

Calcium is usually adequately provided in grass/hay and where beet pulp, or lucerne is fed as a concentrate, calcium becomes even more abundant. Phosphorous is usually very poor in grass/hay, (the dairy industry know this - why super phosphate is used prolifically), and needs careful supplementation for all horses and especially for lactating mares and growing young stock.  (The exception is high oxalate grasses such as Kikuya - these grasses bind Calcium and can often have an inverted Ca:P ration - not good. )

As Phosphorus is commonly low and Calcium high, take a look at the symptoms of inadequate Phosphorus levels in the body:

  • Arthritis

  • Loss of appetite

  • Joint stiffness

  • Fragile pones or bone pain

  • Fatigue & weakness

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Decreased bone and tooth development in foals

  • Horses seeking phosphorus can develop Pica - eating wood, tree bark, licking concrete, eating manure and dirt

It is strongly recommended to test pasture and hay to see the levels present of each.  If this is not possible, ensure to feed a balanced diet that has both calcium and phosphorus present ie: Beet & Bran, Lucerne & Wheat or Rice Bran etc to balance each other out.  Be aware that lucerne typically has a ratio of 5:1 or higher - that's way too much calcium for horses in the form of lucerne hay and potentially even chaff.  Most grass hays have higher calcium than phosphorus without having too much calcium, so they are the best choice.  Remember grains (barley, oats, maize, rice bran, wheat bran) are higher in Phosphorus than Calcium.  Feeding guide for more help and information on this is coming.   

​The Calcium:Magnesium ideal ratio is 1-3:1.    Often horses are consuming 10:1 which is where problems arise.  So remember too much Calcium binds Magnesium!  As calcium is generally prolific in pasture i do recommend to supplement Magnesium (and salt) all year round.  

You say no fillers but you have Dextrose & Apple Flavour in your formulas?

Yes, that is correct. Unfortunately minerals aren't very palatable so some form of flavoring is used to enhance this.  No body likes the supplement that their horses refuse to eat!  Apple flavour is pretty self explanatory.  Dextrose is the name of a simple sugar that is made from corn and is chemically identical to glucose, or blood sugar.  There is some concern over whether this is suitable for IR, Laminitic or Metabolic horses.  I have used these formulations for years on my own herd of 9, of which one is prone to laminitis and the other a metabolic type.  When i first started the formula i checked with a vet in the US who specializes in, and is very successful in treating IR, Metabolic, Laminitic type horses; regarding the Dextrose.   Dr Frank K. Reilly DVM is a highly regarded equine vet with 30 years experience.  He said it was fine in the very small quantity it was.

Other than that there are no other fillers - commonly used is salt or calcium.  Salt i figure is cheaper for you to feed than including it in the formula and Calcium - i have covered above why no extra calcium.  My whole goal was to have a formula that was targeted high dose minerals but had a low daily dose rate a) so it was more economical for you and b) your horse would eat it - have been caught out with supplements and having to feed high daily doses of it and horse just wont eat it.