Gelatin supplements are commonly fed to horses and are purported to have multiple benefits for both equine health and performance. Anecdotally, gelatin is said to improve hoof health, hair and coat quality, skin health and joint function.

Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen, which is a key component of connective tissues found in the horse’s bones, cartilage and skin. [1] Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in animals, making up about 30% of the body’s total protein content. [2][3]

Feeding gelatin to horses could increase the dietary supply of amino acids, such as glycine and proline, thereby conferring health benefits. However, only a limited number of studies have examined the effects of feeding gelatin to horses, and not all of the purported uses are supported by available research. [4]

Before adding a gelatin supplement to your horse’s diet, it is important to take a closer look at the research into this ingredient. This article will explore the purported benefits of feeding gelatin to horses, potential mechanisms of action and considerations when adding gelatin to your horse’s diet.

Gelatin Supplements for Horses

Gelatin is a protein derived from animal collagen. It is composed of a mixture of peptides or small chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein molecules.

Gelatin consists of more than 85% protein, with an imbalanced amino acid profile. [6] Glycine, proline and hydroxyproline represent about 57% of the amino acid content of gelatin. [2][3] These amino acids are considered nutritionally non-essential because the body can produce them internally. [3]

This ingredient is famously responsible for providing Jell-O with its characteristic gel-like texture. A 3 oz pouch of Jell-O typically contains approximately 7 grams of gelatin.

Gelatin has been used as an ingredient in human and pet supplement formulations for years due to its supposed benefits for joint health. Recently, there has been growing interest in the use of gelatin among the equine community.

What is Gelatin Made From?

As a dietary supplement, gelatin is obtained from hydrolyzed collagen by breaking down the bonds that hold collagen together. [2] Collagen, which is a by-product of the meat industry, is commonly sourced from pig skin, bovine hide, and pork and cattle bones to produce gelatin. [1][5]

While there is a common myth suggesting that gelatin primarily comes from horse collagen, it is not accurate. In reality, the vast majority of industrial gelatin production does not involve the use of horse collagen.

Mad About Horses
Join Dr. Chris Mortensen, PhD on an exciting adventure into the story of the horse and learn how we can make the world a better place for all equines.
Apple Podcasts Spotify Youtube
Mad Barn Equine Nutrition Consultants

Nutrition Composition

The following nutrition composition data is based on a 100-gram serving of dry, unsweetened gelatin powder. [15]

Nutrient Amount Unit
Water 13 g
Energy 335 kcal
Protein 85.6 g
Crude Fat 0.1 g
Ash 1.3 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Calcium 55 mg
Iron 1.11 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Phosphorus 39 mg