Many clients have use pro- or pre-biotic supplements, psyllium, or other supplements to aid in the prevention of colic and gastrointestinal ulcerations or irritation, and to promote healthy digestion. There are several good supplements on the market that achieve this goal but many clients are looking not only for the supplement, but for the colic insurance that comes with some of these products.
Three supplement companies do this: SmartPak, Platinum Performance, and Arenus.
On the other end of the spectrum, specialized insurance companies offer Equine Medical Insurance. Examples are Broadstone, Hallmark, and Equine Insurance (equine-ins). Most companies underwrite with AEIG and thus have similar policies.
If we evaluate costs, the supplement companies range. You can get Platinum Performance supplement which is an omega-3 fatty acid and antioxidant supplement. It also has some vitamins and minerals in it. It is designed to support the horse, but not digestion in particular. It is $1.56 per day to get the basic supplement that comes with colic surgery insurance. Not medical colics, but surgical colics only. If you add their probiotic formula to the mix, for a general supplement and a digestion aid with pre- and probiotics, the cost is $4.61 per day.
Smartpak has similar pricing. They offer insurance with their probiotic supplement (as well as many other additional supplements,) again for surgical colics. Smart Digest Ultra is the base entry into the ColiCare program. This can be as inexpensive as $1.39 per day and gives you their colic insurance program.
I have worked many times with both Platinum Performance and Smartpak and they pay quickly and readily for clients in the program.
The third supplement company that offers colic insurance is Arenus with their product Assure Guard Gold. Their program differs in that it covers both medical and surgical colics. The difference cannot be understated here. Surgical colics are rare in the colic world. For every 25 colic events I see, on average one will be surgical. Additionally, this is a totally different product that supports digestion very thoroughly. It provides psyllium to nourish gut cells, pre- and probiotics, and is a wonderful supplement for ulcer horses and horses with diarrhea. It is quite expensive at $4.19 per day, but if you look at the cost of psyllium and pre- and pro-biotics, it is a good deal with the colic insurance that comes with it.
Now let’s evaluate medical insurance programs. These are totally different and have huge ranges. Major medical and colic insurance (all of these include medical as well as surgical colic) ranges from $400 to $2000 per year per horse depending on the horse, the company, and the terms. Most have a $250-500 deductible and a $10K- $20K limit. This is a huge range, but can be as little as $1.15 per day for major medical insurance.
If you have a young, healthy horse that does not have need of any particular supplements, major medical insurance will probably be the cheapest and most comprehensive plan for you. For all horses, you should at least investigate regular insurance for your horse to get a quote before deciding.
If you have a horse with, for instance, skin issues than Platinum Performance’s regular supplement is a wonderful choice. Stabilized flax and antioxidants and surgical colic insurance comes with as a bonus.
If you have a horse who is ulcer prone, you can try SmartPak’s Smart Digest Ultra. It helps a lot of horses at a pretty reasonable cost and comes with surgical colic insurance.
Let’s say you have a horse with chronic diarrhea and hind-gut problems. Psyllium is what I recommend as well as saccharomyces (pre-biotic) and a high quality pro-biotic. All of these are found in the Arenus product and it comes with both medical and surgical insurance.