August 3, 2015

Once you go black... want your horse to stay black!

October 2014...All Black - Winter Coat Coming In
Gentry is black. Specifically smokey black. He is not black-bay. There is no brown on his muzzle or other tell tale spots. I haven't DNA tested him for sure, but his daddy is a palomino and in his baby pics he looks like a dark dun/buckskin with a dorsal stripe. So, I am 99% positive he is smokey black. However, he fades terribly in the much that you might think he is dark-bay...except for that black muzzle.

August 2015...Faded Black - Summer Coat in Full Bloom

Though it may just be a genetic aspect of the smokey black coat and a dilution gene that I will have to learn to accept, I am basically certain that Gentry's fading is more so due to a lack of copper in his diet. Of course you can't just feed copper and get the results you want, you have to balance it with zinc. I used to feed my horses LMF Supper Supplement G, which seemed to keep them from fading and must have had the right balance of copper/zinc among everything else. However, it has a lot of molasses in it which is not so great for the easy keeper type. Since noticing Gentry was a bit foot sore and started standing camped under while on the LMF last fall, I switched him to Triple Crown 30%. He's doing great on it and is not getting as fat as he was on the LMF. Bonus. However, with the lack of copper, and hot sweaty summer sun, he's faded, and faded bad.

Supplement Options

This is a road that I have been down before. This time around I wanted to try something different. There are a few pelleted supplements out there for coat color that I assume taste good and are easy to feed. However, being rather thrifty, I have never tried them, but since I have researched them I will will give you my two cents.

1. The big one that everyone always throws out there when it come to dark horses is Ceval's Black as Knight (BAK). Runs about $0.62/per day. Surprisingly, not horridly expensive when you compare products, however, it is basically just paprika.

2. I have never tried BAK, but did try feeding 1Tbs/day paprika (capsicum annuum) to Rose once upon a time, and I do think it worked fairly well (click here to read the way-back post from 2010). Running about $0.09/day, it was inexpensive and she loved the taste. However, it is MESSY and red. Everything that touches it turns red. No thank you, despite the affordability of it, I am not going there again. Also, paprika tests positive for capsicum (pepper), so if you are showing on the circuit you won't want this in your horse's system anyway.

3. SmartPak has a supplement that is similar to BAK called SmartDark & Handsome. Runs about $0.71/day. It is a paprika based supplement as well and a bit more expensive than BAK. So, yeah. Not going there either.

4. Grand Meadows makes a product called Grand Coat, which seems to have a good copper/zinc balance, and does not have paprika in it, so it is safe for competition horses. At $0.81/day, it is the most expensive option I've looked ad. Regardless, if all else fails I would certainly like to try it out, for convenience sake.

5. Uckeley Health & Nutrition, Poly Copper & Poly Zinc
I found various mentions about their products around horsey internet forums, and at $20 total for a 150-day supply, which is $0.13/day, I figured it was worth a try before going a more expensive pelleted route. I picked up one tub of the Poly Copper and one tub of the Poly Zinc powder (since ordering it...I have discovered that they also have pelleted versions of both of these, for a slightly higher cost, but still not bad).

My First Impression

Holly goodness they stink! The second I opened the first container I knew that it might be a struggle to get any horse to eat this stuff. I should have expected that they wouldn't smell good. Hello, copper and zinc. It's not like I ordered carrots and apples for goodness sake. I just didn't really think that one through, and internet forum fanatics generally never mention the downside of something they swear by.

Gentry likes his food though, so I thought that there was hope. The stuff is really easy to scoop out of the container and add to the food. Not messy at all. So, big win there at least. I decided to mix the two containers together for the ease of just measuring one scoop instead of two half-scoops. This also minimizes the amount of time that I have to handle, and thus smell, the stuff. Pee-yew!

It took three days of Gentry trying to eat everyone else's grain, and me chasing him off,  before he gave up and ate his own grain again. I figured if I had to add apple sauce or molasses to get him to eat it, I should just switch back to the LMF grain and be done with the supplements. Not necessary though. We are one week in now, and although he doesn't seem as stoked to eat his food as in the past, he is eating it all.That is good at least. Now it will just take time for his new coat to grow in (winter and then summer) to tell if it is working. Since he's eating the powder now, I will just stick with it for the winter, and then be a bit less frugal and try the pelleted version of the copper & zinc once I run out.

Stay tuned until August 2016 for an update. Will I have wasted my time and money, or have a black horse that stays black? What do you think?



  1. Fortunately that is one thing I don't need to supplement for! I hope it works for you though!!

  2. Ok this is going to sound silly, but why not put something on him like fly sheet and neck cover with uv protection, or a sunscreen spray vs putting something in him? Just curious! Is it that hed turn color anyway because its a gene thn prmarily? i had a black mare as a kid & we did the black as knight stuff, but my parents were footing the supplement bill at the time :). Those were the days!

    1. Perfectly good suggestion! He takes his fly mask off immediately. In the winter he is fine with his blanket on sub zero days, but I question being able to keep a fly sheet on him especially with his current herd mates. I guess, feeding a supplement, if it works, seems easier to me. If it doesn't work, then maybe I will try a fly sheet the next year. After that...I guess I'll accept defeat and just let it be!

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  3. I'm curious to see your results! I do know someone who follows Nicku's suggestion and has great results.



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