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January 2020 SmartPak SmartTip of the Month: Omega 3-Omega 6 Balance

Photo by Gina Cioli

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are both essential to your horse’s diet because they support everything from individual cellular health to your horse’s overall wellbeing. Though your horse needs both types, maintaining the correct omega 3 and omega 6 balance between the two is critical. Because omega 3s support an anti-inflammatory response and omega 6s support a pro-inflammatory response, it’s generally recommended that your horse have two to four times more omega 3s than omega 6s.



Unfortunately, the typical diet of a modern horse can make achieving that omega 3 and omega 6 balance challenging. Fresh grass contains omega 3 fatty acids, but most horse owners turn to hay because year-round quality pasture is hard to come by or because their horses are easy keepers who can’t be on pasture. In addition, many horse owners feed grain because it’s considered a traditional horse feed or to provide extra calories.

This can be problematic because, as you can see from the omega 3 to omega 6 ratios of common feedstuffs listed below, the combination of a low-pasture, high-grain diet can lead to an imbalance in the omega 3/omega 6 ratio that sets the horse up for a chronic state of inflammation.

  • Fresh Grass: 5 omega 3s to 1 omega 6
  • Hay: 0 omega 3s to 0 omega 6s
  • Commercial (Fortified) Grain: 1 omega 3 to 8 omega 6s
  • Corn Oil: 1 omega 3 to 84 omega 6s
  • Flaxseed: 4 omega 3s to 1 omega 6 (ideal ratio!)
  • Fish Oil: ALL omega 3s

Add More Omega 3s to Your Horse’s Diet

A daily supplement like SmartOmega 3 & E Ultra is an easy way to provide high levels of omega 3s from flaxseed and fish oil so your horse’s good health can shine through. For more information, visit www.smartpakequine.com/ps/smartomega-3-and-e-ultra-14436.

Read more tips from SmartPak.

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Horse Illustrated is the magazine for people who are passionate about horses. Each issue offers advice on horse health and care, plus user-friendly training tips for both English and western riders and engaging lifestyle features for horse lovers.

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