11.23.2010

Feeding horses optimally and Supplementation

Healthy from the inside out!
I would like to offer some ideas about nutrition and supplementation as people seem to have a hard time navigating this subject with their horses. As someone who feeds myself well, it makes common sense to me to use similar guidelines in food choices for my horses. I eat as much unprocessed whole food as I can and that's how I feed my horses and dogs.

What is whole unprocessed food? It is food that has literally been unprocessed or minimally processed. An Apple or Carrot raw is an unprocessed food. So is a steam crimped, rolled or whole oat. A hay pellet or Alfalfa pellet has been processed into meal and pressed into pellets so there is some processing but you are getting a relatively pure product in Alfalfa pellets. With Hay pellets you need to be label savvy to make sure your not getting a lot of uneccesary ingredients especially if your feeding them to Cushings or Insulin Resistent horses as they can have high molasses content. Chopped Dengie and other brands of bagged hay often have molasses added as well and you need to be aware of that if your horse needs to avoid it. Molasses in itself is not the worst thing but it is not a necessary ingredient and is over used as sugar is in human food.

Diets should be clean and simple not too fancy. If supplementation is needed for balancing vitamin and minerals, a free choice set up is nice so horses can pick what they want and in what amounts as they would in nature. For specific supplementation issues, such as Joints, Real mineral deficiencies, Probiotics, and specified health issues (allergies, respiratory, immune weakness, hoof) you want to pick high quality hand crafted mixes that cater to your horses needs. Most big name supplements have a lot of leeway in how much they put of actual therapeutic amounts for their dosing. I will repeat be a SAVVY label reader. Do the math. How much per scoop not per bucket of the so called active ingredient is in the supplement. Also, what kind of other fillers and artificial flavors are in there. Make sure the dosing is to the weight of your horse not just a scoop AM and PM. You may have a Mini or a Draft and the amounts will vary a huge amount. I find that you get what you pay for a lot in supplements so you may say "wow that supplement is expensive!" And buy the cheaper one. I can almost guarantee the cheaper one is of lower active ingredients and quality. Again check labels against price. It goes up as active ingredient amounts go up which is what makes them effective. You could be wasting you money on the cheaper one.

To close I am going to give you some recommendations on some resources and feeds that are in my program. Also remember to consult with your vets before making changes in feeds and make any changes very gradually.

Typically I feed:

Free choice high quality hay is the main source in my horses diets and or grazing
Whole oats, crimped or rolled oats
Alfalfa Pellets (if my hay has no alfalfa mixed in it)
Hay Pellets
Ground Flax seed
Kelp or Seaweed powder or pellets
Free choice Minerals
Whole Apples, Carrots
Treats made from good ingredients

The Supplements or companies I swear by from experience are:

GlC: I give my young sport horses as a preventative and for maintenance in arthritic or "sticky" horses. It just plain works and it is very pure. Horses after 30 days are moving much more freely and with more elasticity. I also use higher doses for rehabing soft tissue injuries as it helps repair and regenerate.

Gem Country Equine: Owned by my friend Angela Morlan who is a supplement genius at making custom supplements for your horse and their needs. She goes by weight and uses organic and pure ingredients no fillers. Her prices are incredibly competitive for a superior product. You tell her the problem, she'll make it for you. Also if you want a blend for a couple of issues you can get that too. Totally custom! How cool is that. Her email is gemcountryequine@gmail.com

Advanced Biological Concepts: For free choice supplements and feeders. They also have and extensive line of quality products.
http://www.a-b-c-plus.com/index.html

Happy Natural Horse: Hyland's Big Sky free choice minerals http://www.happynaturalhorse.com/shop.html

Standlee Hay company: Huge selection of pure hay pellets of all varietys and mixes http://www.standleehay.com/ViewProduct.aspx?type=sh&id=ogp