If you think your horse is a good candidate for some added oil, consider adding soybean oil, or at least compare its advantages versus other oil types. It is easy to purchase in any grocery store. Knowing whether your horse needs oil added to his diet is the first step.
What It Is
Soybean oil is extracted from whole soybeans, so it’s classified as a vegetable oil. It is one of the most commonly sold consumer vegetable oils and in fact, if you pick up a bottle of “vegetable oil,” you are likely to find that it’s actually soybean oil. It contains the good, unsaturated fats, with omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamin E. These omega-3 essential fatty acids, or EFAs, balance out the omega-6 EFAs your horse gets from other food sources. Too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation, so a healthy balance is important. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that bolsters your horse's immune system..
There is no way to give your horse soybean oil except in oil form. Consumer-grade oil that you see in the grocery store is fine for horses; some companies package and sell it specifically for equines, but unless these products include additional nutrients, it doesn't help to pay more. Vitamin E acts as a stabilizer to help the omega-3 EFAs from going rancid but it’s still important you store the oil at room temperature and away from heat if you don’t use it up quickly.
Soybean oil is an economical means of adding fat to your horse’s diet for weight gain without increasing his feed. Start with a quarter cup to help him get used to it and then increase as needed; you can feed him up to 2 cups per day. In addition to the omega-3 benefits, fat is a cool energy source, meaning your horse does not generate additional body heat when burning it. This is particularly beneficial for hard workouts in hot weather. Another benefit of fat is that it can calm excitable horses.
Soybean Versus Other Oils
Other oil sources contain omega-3 EFAs: canola, flaxseed and fish oils are all good sources and all highly digestible. Corn oil is another vegetable oil but it has a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs, so even though horses seem to prefer the taste, the imbalance can create inflammation. Fish oil may not be as appealing to your horse, and it is not an economical method of adding fat, although it is high in Omega-3 EFAs.
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Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.