EHAA a test for horses that's worth doing  

EHAA is an elemental hair analysis where a sample of the material is tested for nutritional and toxic elements. Once available only for humans, today also for horses. EHAA is an innovative test on a global scale that you will perform only in the Pets Diag laboratory. If you are one of the friends of the Baborówko Palace - you can also do it through its agency.

Elemental analysis of horse mane is a non-invasive test used to detect health problems long before their symptoms appear. The team of Pets Diag laboratory and the University of Agriculture in Krakow was the first and only to develop the norms for minerals necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the horse's body. Today, the EHAA test is successfully used by growers around the world.

Why is it necessary to check mineral levels in horses?

Elements are part of every living organism, and their correct levels are responsible for the proper functioning of the body. Unfortunately, a horse doesn't make them, and so they must be provided with food and, importantly, in the right amount. That's why it's so important to check the level of individual elements in the body, including in horses. The skin, hooves, coat, as well as immunity, breeding activity and smooth functioning of all processes taking place in the body all depend on its biochemical process needs being met.

How can you know the needs of your horse? 

Checking if you're providing your horse with everything it needs to enjoy good health and form is not simple. Especially since a deficiency in some elements can't be seen with the "naked eye". Often, like for example in the case of chromium, deficiency symptoms are not even fully understood. Unfortunately, the absence of strong signals in the body doesn't mean that it's not lacking an element, which in the case of, for example, chromium, can lead to a disturbance in metabolic processes and insulin action, as well as a decline in endurance and resistance to stress. What's more, the need for macro- and microelements is not the same for all horses. Even in one horse, it's not constant and depends on:

  • age, sex and breed – this is different in stallions, mares, geldings, and different again in foals and young horses;
  • the level of physical activity and training intensity – depending on whether you're dealing with a recreational, working or sport horse;
  • the breeding season – in stallions with an intensive mating programme, the need increases by up to 20%;
  • pregnancy or lactation – the need for minerals is greater in pregnant mares during the building of the skeleton of the foetus, and immediately after delivery in connection with the production of colostrum and milk;
  • the general form of the body, and current or past diseases;
  • the time of year and temperature of the environment.

An assessment of the biochemical needs and to what degree they're met is, therefore, not easy, but it is possible. The EHAA result can show you that.  

What is EHAA?

EHAA is an effective and non-invasive diagnostic test that provides a picture of the patient's biochemical balance, which is the state of their health. The test determines the level of 21 elements in the horse's body. It helps detect many health problems, and defines the crucial proportions between elements, enabling the elimination of dietary mistakes and the introduction of beneficial changes to the diet. There's also a test description that comes with the results – it shows the possible consequences of the specific mineral deficiencies and excesses, and recommends how to restore balance in the horse's body. Thanks to this, the EHAA allows you to find and counteract many diseases when they're in the pre-symptomatic stages of development in the body.

The test is carried out using the ICP-OES technique – inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry on the Avio 200 PerkinElmer spectrometer. The EHAA results have a description section. The information it contains provides a better understanding of the EHAA results and allows you to introduce the right changes to the diet of the horse being tested. 

EHAA - what you will learn from the result


Thanks to the EHAA test, you will find out if your horse has disorders of specific elements responsible for the condition of the hair. Depigmentation, dullness, as well as falling out and loss of shine are symptoms that can occur due to an excess of or deficiency in specific nutrients, including copper, zinc, selenium and sulphur.


Dryness, keratosis, as well as hindered wound healing and many other problems are largely the result of mineral deficiencies, including zinc, calcium and phosphorus. The EHAA result will answer the question of whether your horse's skin is in the best possible condition.

Bones, joints and hooves 

Both a deficiency in and excess of minerals, including selenium, calcium and zinc, as well as an excess of heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, may lead to problems related to the osteoarticular system and, consequently, hinder the horse's movement. EHAA deepens the diagnostics in this area, which allows you to choose the optimal diet aimed at improving the horse's musculoskeletal system.


The quality and condition of muscle tissue is also largely dependent on the right amount of nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, etc. The EHAA test shows their level and thus assesses the condition of your horse's muscular system.

Immunity and form 

The strength of the immune system also depends on the level of supply of the horse's body with nutrients such as zinc, selenium and iron; this can and should be strengthened thanks to an appropriate diet and supplementation. The EHAA result will help you achieve this goal in an optimal way.


Proper weight gain at various stages of a horse's development also depends on a well balanced diet, which means satisfying the horse's needs for nutrients such as selenium, manganese, copper and iron. You should also note the level of heavy metals, a poisoning by which leads to inhibited growth. EHAA controls the level of all the necessary elements.

Functioning of the digestive system 

Problems with appetite or correct stool can also be a direct or indirect result of an imbalance of sodium, potassium, chromium, etc., as well as the presence of toxic elements, such as lithium or vanadium. The EHAA test, assessing their level, highlights possible causes of digestive system problems and enables their elimination.

Breeding activity 

Only healthy horses should be used for breeding. In order for mating to be successful, the horse must be provided with the right amount of minerals, including zinc, manganese and magnesium. The EHAA test assesses the nutritional status of the horse's body and enables it to be effectively improved, increasing the efficiency of mating.

Temperament – the horse's diet can also influence its behaviour. Excessive nervousness, anxiety or vice versa – apathy and lethargy – may indicate not only disturbances in the concentration of nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, but also the burden placed on the horse's body by toxic elements, such as lead, which causes hyperactivity. The EHAA result helps you find out the source of changes in your horse's behaviour.

Toxic elements

Another important part of the EHAA results is information on the toxic elements found during the test. If your horse has significant levels of toxic metals, they can block the absorption of elements needed for correct development, and consequently cause serious diseases. That's why it's equally important to determine the level of toxic elements.

Aluminium (Al) – in small amounts, it doesn't pose a danger to horses, because it's excreted from the body through the kidneys. However, an excess of this element can lead to liver damage.

Cadmium (Cd) – it's poorly excreted by the body, and that's why it's important to avoid sources of it. Cadmium poisoning leads to kidney damage, digestive problems, reproductive problems, osteomalacia (a metabolic bone disease) and poor growth.

Lithium (Li) – the symptoms of poisoning are depression, diarrhoea, and ataxia (impaired body coordination).

Nickel (Ni) – an excess can lead to kidney damage, hyperglycaemia, respiratory disorders, and poor growth.

Lead (Pb) – lead poisoning is one of the most common types of poisoning in animals. The effects of long-term contact with lead are: neurological problems, reproductive issues, kidney damage, osteoporosis and vision impairment. In the event of acute poisoning, e.g. as a result of the ingestion of a lead element, excessive salivation, blindness, hyperactivity and convulsions may occur.

Vanadium (V) – a very toxic heavy metal. Vanadium poisoning leads to poor growth, diarrhoea, dehydration, extreme exhaustion and haemorrhages.

Mineral ratios

In addition to the level of nutrients and toxic elements, the EHAA results also show the proportions that are important for the horse's health. The description section contains information on the proportion of, for example, calcium to phosphorus or zinc to copper, as well as valuable advice on how to restore the equilibrium of the horse's body by appropriately modifying the diet.

Ca:P – the proportion of calcium to phosphorus is one of the most important dependencies for the body. An incorrect ratio between these two macroelements leads to a disturbance of calcium and phosphorus metabolism, and results in the development of diseases of the skeletal system.

Mg:Ca – another important proportion is the ratio of magnesium to calcium. Its disturbance can cause problems with the relaxation of tense muscles and, as a result, soreness, tremors and cramps.

Zn:Cu – copper and zinc contribute to the development of bone tissue, and maturation of articular cartilage, and strengthen the body's immunity. The correct supply of these two microelements helps prevent OCD, which is a disturbance of the growth of articular cartilage in horses. 

Fe:Cu and Fe:Zn – both copper and zinc are very important elements. However, their excess can have a negative effect on iron absorption, thus leading to iron deficiency. An overly low level of iron in the body can result in anaemia, decreased endurance and low immunity.

Cu:Mn – a disturbed ratio of copper to manganese may result in thickening of hocks as well as lameness.

Na:K – electrolyte concentration has a significant influence on the regulation of the homeostasis of body fluids. A disturbance in this balance can lead to many different diseases. 

EHAA 100% non-invasive, effective examination that you can perform without leaving your home.

It's good to carry out an EHAA if:

  • your horse has specific problems: obesity, allergies, deterioration of the condition of the skin and coat, hoof problems, dental problems, digestive problems, diseases of the locomotor system and others;
  • you suspect health problems that require additional detailed diagnostics;
  • infertility or another disease has been found that requires appropriate dietary changes;
  • you want to prophylactically check whether the horse's diet provides it with what it needs;
  • you have pure-bred, sport or show animals and need them to be in peak form and look beautiful;
  • you want to tangibly improve the quality of your horse's life.

What else is worth knowing?

  • EHAA is a 100% non-invasive test – you just collect a sample from the mane, so the horse is not stressed.
  • The test is carried out remotely. The sample is sent to the laboratory, and the result is made available online. 
  • As the horse's owner, you receive online access to the PetsDiag panel, which gives you the opportunity to have regular contact with an expert, and to have personalised dietary advice and your horse's medical documents in one place.
  • Anyone interested can take advantage of a consultation with a horse nutrition expert. The consultation takes place via Skype or over the phone.

A change in the diet or the addition of supplements recommended based on the EHAA results can help resolve many health problems in horses. Thanks to these changes, you'll be able to see, among others, a visible increase in energy; improvement of mental and physical condition and the appearance of the coat, skin and teeth, increased immunity and an increase in the effectiveness of treatment of individual ailments and diseases.

 EHAA – a test worth doing. HODOWCA i JEŹDZIEC, spring 2021, pp. 50-54.


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