Most of the horses I see are deficient in Selenium. My clients are loving, caring horse owners who have their horses on the “best” feed and supplements. But…none of them have enough selenium. Why not?
Because there is no selenium West Coast soil. And farmers don’t add selenium to the soil. (Yes, I have seen the government maps that indicate some counties with adequate selenium. I, and several naturopaths and homeopaths, disagree that there is "adequate" selenium.)
Now there are three countries whose governments recently mandated farmers amend their soil with selenium. They insisted on this because there were many selenium-related diseases. Nevertheless, they were shocked to find that the rates of three different cancers dropped significantly.
But wait, no, I’m not saying that horses are getting cancer. What they are getting is STIFF. Their muscles are too tight, hard, and firm without enough selenium. And guess what? If the muscles are tight, then the tendons and ligaments are tight. And that makes the joints too tight.
Let me tell you a cool story.
Deann and the Failure
Deann was selling an eight-year-old Quarter horse gelding. Great horse. I had seen him regularly for chiropractic maintenance, and had never noted a joint problem.
Well Deann called me because her horse had failed the pre-purchase flexion exams. She was quite shocked because he had never had a problem or lameness whatsoever.
I asked her a bunch of questions and the only thing that popped up was selenium. Deann had run out of selenium a few months ago and then completely forgot about it. To get her gelding back up to normal, Deann did a 30-day loading dose of selenium.
Conveniently for my story, around the end of this 30 days, a different buyer for this horse had a pre-purchase done by the same vet. And the horse passed the flexion exams with flying colors!
This is such a clear example of what selenium can do for horses joints. Nothing else had changed except for the selenium.
Selenium deficiency can make horses lame on pre-purchase flexion exams.
What the naturopath said
In another related story, my naturopath told me to take selenium. Why? Because selenium is not in human food either. So I did. I took selenium faithfully for a year. And I didn’t buy a cheap brand either.
But the next time I saw my naturopath, she said, “You need to be on selenium.” I was shocked! “No way!" I said. 'You told me last year and I did what you said.”
She replied, “Well, that brand is not absorbable. You need to get brand X”
Geesh. I wish she had told me that a year ago.
So I got the better, absorbable brand. And — I’m not kidding — I could tell a huge difference in three days. My sacroiliac joint stopped aching and I felt like I could actually stretch my muscles.
By the way, humans can eat 5-6 Brazil nuts every day to get adequate selenium. Personally, I don't like Brazil nuts. Ick. The recommended Selenium for people is Biotics Research Se-Zyme Forte™– Whole Food Selenium Source (1 tab per day).
Don't ask your vet!
Hey just kidding! You should always ask your vet.
I wrote that heading because LOTS of people tell me their vet did a blood test to find out how much selenium to give.
But here’s what happens: the horse’s body prioritizes the bloodstream (where the vet takes the blood sample from).
“Prioritize” means that every last drop of selenium is sucked out of the muscles to go in the bloodstream. Why? To keep the heart pumping!
Therefore, the blood selenium levels will be “normal” — even if the muscle selenium level is close to zero.
Blood tests for selenium are close to a complete waste of time. (except if Tying-up)
DO consult your vet to find out if your area has high selenium. If you live near the Potomac River Valley in the United States, this is a concern.
Do not get a shot of selenium
Selenium shots are necessary and good for horses that are Tying-up (Equine Azuturia).
But I do NOT recommend shots of selenium for normal horses. Why?
Because that shoots the selenium levels up WAY too fast. I have known horses that got selenium sickness from injectable selenium.
Do not use a mineral block with selenium
Please don’t give your horse selenium blocks. Or any other block. Blocks are not made for horses (even though there is a horse on the label). They are made for cows whose rough tongues can get the minerals easily.
These mineral blocks are also over-processed. That's bad. And the minerals tend to “settle out” during the process. Ever had a horse eat part of a block rapidly, and then leave the rest of it?
It’s not because he or she didn’t need any more of it. It’s because they got all the good stuff out. Nothing good remains when a horse or cow doesn’t finish it.
Whenever I tell people about this, most everyone wants to know what brand to buy. Fact is, I used to think it didn’t matter. I mean, it’s a mineral, right? How can that be messed up?
Well, it can be messed up. You’ve got to get a brand that is absorbable.
Here are the brands of selenium that I personally know are absorbable for horses:
1) Balanced Eco Solutions
This Selenium with Vitamin E is very pure. It absorbs extremely well. It doesn't have any fillers. Because of this, you use a tiny scoop! Please do not buy this if you other people supplementing your horse who may make a mistake and use a different size scoop.
Their link is here: www.balancedecosolutions.com
Dynamite sells their products through distributors. You will not find Dynamite products at a feed store. If you have a local Dynamite distributor, please buy through them.
If you do not have a Dynamite distributor, you are welcome to use my distributor number of #8155: www.dynamitespecialty.com. The selenium is in alphabetical order under "P" for “Premium E-Selenium”.
3) Free-choice Sea Kelp
Another option is to allow your horse to choose (or not) to eat sea kelp. Sea kelp has a high amount of selenium. Typically, horses will eat a lot initially, until they're body has normalized it's selenium level. Then they will eat less and sporadically, as needed.
At this time, I'm afraid I don't have a list of sea kelp to buy.
Other brands of selenium will help to some extent. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many, many horses on other brands not get the awesome improvements that you can get when the selenium is absorbed completely.
Best of luck!
For more information on Selenium listen to our podcast here: :Lameness that Hides: Stiffness