What do I feed my horses?

I work in the animal nutrition industry (R&D), so I often get asked about what to feed horses and why and my answer is often “it depends”. My two horses are polar opposites, and their diets reflect that.


Marcus

Marcus is a tough one. He is a hard keeper most of the year, and he is a bit high strung. This combination means I have to really carefully keep an eye on his body condition score (BCS) and adjust what he eats year round. I also recognize its not a one BCS fits all for him year round-during the competition year I tend to keep him a tad on the thinner side of ideal. This is because he is an 18 yo who is serviceably sound and I don’t want him to carry any extra weight that can put more wear on his already arthritic joints.During the fall, going into winter I don’t mind if he gets a bit chubby. As the days get colder, I up his concentrate and cut his work down a bit.  Starting next month, I plan to switch him to the new Equine Senior Active-its got a bit higher fat content and a bit higher trace minerals. I think this may help maintain his weight on during the winter.

Currently Marcus gets:

Purina Equine Senior: 5 to 7 lbs/day (this is 1-1.5 scoops/AM and PM)

electrolytes (mix these myself, AM and PM)

canola oil (1/4c  AM and PM)

2-3 flakes of orchard grass mix AM and PM plus ad lib access to round bales outside

Cosequin ASU


Frankie

Frankie is my easy keeper. He loves food and since hes in light work he is easy to keep weight on. He is on a ration balancer  (M30) and a small amount of textured feed to basically just make him feel like a real horse that gets grain

He gets

McCauley’s Top 10: 2 lbs a day (this is roughly 1/2 scoop AM and PM)

McCauley’s M30: 1 lb a day

Farriers Formula Double Strength

Electrolytes

Canola Oil (splash)

2-3 flakes of orchard grass mix AM and PM plus ad lib access to round bales outside


Those who know me know I am not a big supplement fan. I do keep Marcus on Cosequin ASU because I feel like it helps and I feed an electrolyte year round to help with water intake. Frankie came to me with pretty awful feet, so after I got his diet fixed I put him on FF since it was inexpensive and at the least, provides several micronutrients.

Canola oil is a cheap source of added calories and it has a better omega 3:6 profile than corn. Marcus gets it for calories and Frankie gets a splash for his coat. There is research out there that oil fed at meals can help reduce formation of ulcers, so I try to give them some at each meal.

I have not sent my hay to be analyzed, but I do plan to do that this winter.Both horses get about 12-15 lbs of hay in their stall and have round bales in their pasture when forage is low. I prefer to keep food in front of mine at all times, so often we will go out at night if the horses are in and give them another 2 flakes.

Nutrition is a fluid thing-my horses diets change season to season and sometimes month to month. I constantly monitor my horses BCS and see where I need to make adjustments.

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