From the book THE HORSE LOVER'S BIBLE
There are literally hundreds of supplements on the market that promise a range of miraculous results; the only certainty, however, is a hole in your paycheck! Before diving into the supplement trap there are a few things to consider: • Does your horse really need a supplement? • What exactly is the supplement supposed to do? •What exactly is in the supplement? Any horse that is on a balanced diet and has access to good, green grass and sunlight, and that has no special requirements or problems should, in reality, not need its feed supplemented, other than with salt and calcium (limestone flour) if it is on a diet high in oats.
If you are feeding a compound feed and sticking to the manufacturer's guidelines, then all the essential vitamins, minerals and feed components will be included. Feeding a balanced diet is by far and away the best approach to preventing the onset of diet-related problems.
All supplements take time to really work, so once
you start one, persevere with it for at least two
months. Supplements for hoof growth may need
three months to show any difference.
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS FOR MY HORSE GOLDIE. LIVING IN ALBERTA WE GET A WINTER; SOMETIMES MILD AND SOMETIMES SEVERE. THE BOARDING RANCH HAS WONDERFUL GRASS; GOLDIE HAS SO FAR [3 YEARS - ENTERED 2016] NOT BE INTERESTED IN THE FANCY SUPPLEMENTARY MASH I MAKE FOR HER FROM SPRING TILL THE SNOW COMES. OBVIOUSLY SHE IS GETTING EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS FROM THE GRASSES AT THIS RANCH. BUT COME WINTER SHE ENJOYS THE GREAT MASH I MAKE FOR HER THREE TIMES A WEEK - Keith Hunt
There are, however, many horses that genuinely do require a supplement, and if this is the case with yours, then you need to thoroughly research the product. Find out what the actual ingredients are, not just what it promises to do. The ingredient list is particularly relevant if competing; you must make sure that there is nothing that would be classed as a banned substance.
With herbal supplements, the ingredient list must be approached with even more caution. The herb valerian, for example, contains a compound with the same chemical makeup as Valium, which is a banned substance. A product labeled "herbal" or "natural" is not without side effects and risk, just as synthetic products are not.
Treat product promises with caution. Supplements that offer muscle-building, topline development, increased athleticism, etc., may well help the horse to achieve this, but at the end of the day, nothing replaces work and exercise.
Some supplements are extremely expensive; others share similar-sounding names, so make sure that you are buying what you think you are and not something you don't need or that does an entirely different job.
Try to choose a well-known and reputable company to buy from and, if you are in any doubt about using a supplement, consult either your veterinary surgeon or an impartial equine nutritionist.
One last word on supplements; products that imply that they actually take some action against a condition are often referred to as nutraceuticals. However, since these products don't actually fall under the heading of "medicine," they are not subject to the same rigorous testing and research that medical items are, and are not subject to the same laws.
Most compound feeds will have sufficient salt already added into the mix, but in very hot weather, or if the horse is in hard and fast work and sweats profusely, then 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) of loose salt can be added to the feed. Alternatively, provide a salt lick in the stable and the field.
This can be added to the feed in the form of limestone flour, which is relatively economical. Pure calcium supplements are also available, but are more expensive.
Cod-liver oil is high in vitamin D and produces a good shine on the coat, but does have a strong smell. Corn oil or sunflower oil will also improve the appearance of the coat, although some horses can have an allergic reaction to corn oil.
Unless your horse has a specific requirement/problem, and providing it is on a balanced diet and has access to grass and sunlight, it shouldn't need supplementing.
THAT DEPENDS ON THE QUAITY OF THE GRASS; ALL GRASSES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL - Keith Hunt
Be sure to thoroughly check the ingredients listed on the supplement and make sure they are not considered a banned substance if you are competing.
Herbal supplements are not without their side effects and reactions.
Never overdose on supplements, but feed according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
Give supplements time to work — at least two months, and longer for foot supplements.
Only buy supplements from well-known, reputable companies.
B Vitamins and Iron
This is a useful supplement for horses in hard and fast work; vitamin B12 is
thought to be particularly beneficial. Iron helps horses prone to anemia.
Biotin, Methionine and Sulfur
These will help to improve the condition of the hoof wall and are a useful supplement for horses with poor feet. It takes at least eight weeks to really see any improvement but through continual use, not only will your horse's feet improve dramatically but so, too, will the quality of its hair.
Selenium and Vitamin E
This is a combination to be treated with caution. Selenium is a trace mineral that causes severe problems if deficient or in excess — and it is a fine balance to get the proportions right. Selenium is gained through the soil and plants, so have your pastures tested. Areas low in selenium require supplementation. The benefits of selenium and vitamin E are in maintaining normal muscle function and fertility. This is a supplement that is often given to horses that have a history of azoturia.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
This is marketed under a number of different names and is the new "wonder" product that combats joint inflammation and pain. In my experience, it works well on some horses, and has no effect on others — not the most scientific evidence, but it is worth giving it a try. Check the products carefully; for the supplement to do any good at all, it must provide at least 3,600 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin daily.
I GIVE GOLDIE A TABLESPOON OF MSM in each mash - Keith Hunt
Yeast and Prabiotics
These can be fed in supplement form and are intended to help keep the bacteria in the hindgut healthy and balanced. It is particularly worth feeding these after a course of antibiotics, and in times of stress, such as after a bout of colic or traveling.
SO HERE IS WHAT I GIVE GOLDIE AS A MASH - 3 times a week
Vitamins and Mineral pellets - half a cup
Flax-seed….ground - half cup
Chia seeds…as is…tablespoon
Salt - Himalayan….teaspoon
Oil….third of a cup
Horse cookies….containing Molasses…..put in a blender with hot water, let sit for an hour….mush to a liquid…..a cup full in her mash.
AND THAT IS MIGHTY GOOD DURING THE WINTER MONTHS….SHE LOVES IT. MY HORSE IS SUPER FIT AND LOOKS AND ACTS LIKE SHE'S 8 AND NOT 16 [entered here in 2016]
Some horses require special attention and feeding either due to workload, or because of other problems such as age, temperament or weight.
Horses in Hard and Fast Work
Racing, eventing and jumping incur a much higher energy requirement than moderate work for a horse. They require fast-releasing energy, which is in the form of glycogen stored in the muscles. Glycogen comes from simple carbohydrates, so the horse needs to be on a high-carbohydrate diet. The drawback is that starch produces higher stomach acidity, which increases the chance of ulcers. Ulcers are also related to stress, and invariably the competition horse in this degree of work is subjected to a certain amount of stress as well. To combat the effects, feed a calcium and magnesium supplement, which acts like an antacid.
Fiber requires a lot of digesting, and the digestive process uses energy, which the horse in this type of work cannot afford to spare. Therefore, although it is not ideal for their digestive tract, horses in this type of work should not be fed large amounts of fiber. Beet pulp for example, is highly fibrous, and should not be fed to racehorses or advanced eventers. Their diet must be balanced between concentrates and roughage, and they will need to be carefully monitored for digestive problems. Due to the high requirement of concentrates, the horse in hard and fast work will need to be fed at least four or more times a day, with no one feed exceeding 4 pounds (1.8 kg) in weight. A supplement containing the B vitamins and iron can be useful.
Old horses require special care and attention, especially when it comes to feeding. Invariably their teeth are poor, rocky or in some cases missing, and the effectiveness of their digestive tracts is diminished. They need highly digestible foods, and if grains are being fed, then cooking them first increases their digestibility.
For horses with poor teeth, feed softened foods, wet-chopped hay or soaked hay cubes.
There are several compound feeds available specifically for the senior horse, and these work very well.
Old horses are less able to process protein well so it is best to feed them a small amount of high-quality protein, rather than a lot of poor-quality protein. As horses age, their metabolisms slow down, which means that many old horses maintain their weight well. However, if a horse's digestive system is not working
Placing a large stone (about the size of a brick) in the feed bowl can prevent a horse bolting down its food. The horse has to eat around the rock and work to get its food.
efficiently, it will lose weight. Adding calories to the diet in the form of rice bran, flax or whole roasted soy can be helpful.
Some horses fall on their food and practically inhale it in their enthusiasm. This can be a problem as a horse needs to chew its food properly to start the initial digestive process, and to stimulate the production of saliva. Bolting down food also can lead to choking, which is highly distressing for a horse and its owner.
You need to try to get to the root of the bolting problem. Some horses bolt down their food because they feel threatened, believing that their food will either be removed or eaten by someone else. If you suspect this, separate the horse and
Horses in hard and fast work need a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.
Old horses lose their ability to digest properly; they have a decreased ability to process protein, and often their teeth are in poor shape.
Feed soft feeds to the old horse.
Horses that bolt their food often do so due to stress. Look to the root of the problem and address it. A large rock in the manger can help to slow down a bolter.
Bran mash with molasses, beet pulp, or apple
sauce is a tempting meal for a horse off its food.
High-fiber soaked feeds such as beet pulp, are good for putting weight on thin horses.
Increase the amount of feeds a day to several small ones.
Feed the overweight horse "light" products
Increase exercise - it almost always works!
allow it to eat undisturbed in a quiet environment. Other horses bolt down their food if they think they are going to be left. When feeding in a stable block, make sure that everyone has finished before moving horses in and out of the area. Adding chaff or soaked hay cubes to the feed greatly helps to slow a horse down. Another good method is to place a large rock in the bottom of the manger. Using a small-holed haynet will help to slow down hay consumption.
Some horses are poor eaters, while others lose their appetite due to sickness or stress. First determine the cause of the problem.
Check the teeth to make sure they are in good
condition and that there are no mouth problems
such as pain, infection or blistering, etc.
Address the stress situation and resolve it if possible.
Make sure the manger is clean.
Make sure the food is not moldy, dusty or old.
Call the vet if you suspect there is a medical problem.
To tempt the horse to eat, reduce the ration and try offering small amounts of food more often. Offer the horse a "perfect" bran mash, sweetened with molasses, beet pulp, or applesauce - most horses like sweet food. Sometimes adding chopped up carrots and apples to the feed helps. Allow the horse to see its neighbor being fed; often this will encourage it to eat.
Sometimes a change of scenery peps a horse up enough to want to eat. Providing it is well enough, lead the horse out of the stable for a five-minute walk and on its return offer feed again. Using a new bucket also helps. Decant the feed into the bucket and leave it in the corner of the stable; a horse will invariably go over and investigate.
The Thin Horse
Again address the reason why the horse is thin and first deal with the cause.
An outbreak of hives that may or may not be itchy
and can spread across much of the body can be
caused by an allergy to a specific protein in the
feed. Barley oats and beet pulp are the most
common feeds to cause this.
Does the horse have a nervous temperament?
Is it stressed?
Are other horses keeping it on the run in the field (bullying)?
Are its teeth okay?
Has it been wormed regularly?
Is its conformation poor, i.e., is it herring-gutted,
which would give it the appearance of thinness?
Never make sudden changes to the diet, and introduce new feed slowly, especially if it has a high nutritional value. Increase the amount of feeds a day to four small ones, and feed high-fiber soaked feeds such as beet pulp with boiled flaked barley or oats. Any feedstuff high in fat, such as linseed, roasted soy and milk pellets, are good weight-gainers. Feed the best quality hay you can find on an ad lib basis and add some haylage in with it.
The Fat Horse
Some horses are easy keepers — particularly ponies, warmblood breeds, warmblood crosses and Arabians. Try to restrict the grazing and find a good turnout area with minimal grass. Increasing exercise, if possible, is always the best method of keeping weight down. Exercising twice a day, even if one session is only on a horse walker, can really help.
Feed a high-fiber diet with a low fat and sugar content. It is possible to buy sugar-free beet pulp and unmolassed chaff, both of which are good fiber providers. Make sure that the bedding is not remotely edible — many horses will munch through a straw bed! Use a small-holed haynet to make the horse work for its hay.
An adult horse needs to eat 2.5 percent of its body weight a day. This includes concentrates and roughage, which in turn includes hay and grass. Ponies require 2 percent, and growing youngsters 3 percent. First, work out how much your horse weighs. Use a livestock scale or "weigh station," a weight measuring tape or a weight table. Weight tables are only estimates; some horses vary dramatically from the average weight listed.
how to weigh your horse
with a measuring tope
Approximate Weight Chart
Weight tapes are cheap to buy and generally available through feed outlets or manufacturers. Place the tape around the horse, so that it sits just behind the wither and around the girth. Read the weight marked on the tape. It's as easy as that.
Use the following formula to find the "appetite" of the horse:
Body weight divided 100 x 2.5 = appetite.
For example, a 16 hands high (h.h.) hunter type weighing 1,200 pounds (544 kg) would need 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of dry feed a day or 1,200 (544) divided 100 x 2.5 = 30 (13.6).
Working Out Ratio of Concentrate Food to Roughage (Forage)
As an example, let's take the 16 h.h. hunter type in medium work. Its overall feed ration is 30 pounds (13.6 kg), of which (according to the chart), 60 percent should be hay and 40 percent concentrate.
30 (13.6) x 0.60 = 18 pounds (8.2 kg) hay.
30 (13.6) x 0.40 = 12 pounds (5.4 kg) concentrate.
The horse's feed ration then needs to be divided into at least three, and preferably four meals a day, with the bulk of the hay ration being at night. The ration will need to be changed according to increasing or decreasing workload, and will constantly require monitoring.
There are further formulas for calculating the energy requirements of your horse and for determining the nutrient value of different feedstuffs, which are particularly relevant if feeding conventional rather than compound feeds. In this case it is a good idea to consult with an equine nutritionist to make sure that the balance is correct and your horse is receiving sufficient protein and energy in its diet.
Whenever the roughage portion of the feed ration falls below 40 percent the horse's digestive system is compromised. While this is a necessary evil for horses in hard and fast work, it is worth being aware that the horse's digestive system is designed around the intake of fiber, and when that is restricted, digestive complications can result. Horses on rations such as this need very careful monitoring.
A last word on hay: Although it goes against the traditional feeding formula, the feeding of ad lib meadow hay to the stabled horse can be beneficial in certain circumstances. Provided the horse is in light-to-medium work and is not overweight, keeping a steady supply of hay in front of it allows its digestive tract to work in a more natural manner.
A horse needs to eat 2.5 percent of its body
weight every day.
Weigh your horse using a livestock scale, weight
tape or a weight chart.
Work out in pounds (kg) how much your horse
needs to eat per day.
The ratio of concentrates to roughage varies
according to the level of work the horse is in.
Work out the percentage of its feed ration that
should be concentrate and should be hay.
Plan to split its feed ration into at least three,
and preferably four meals a day.
Always feed the bulk of hay ration at night.
Compound feeds already have the nutrient
levels balanced for you.
If feeding conventional feeds consult an equine
nutritionist to work out the digestible energy
and crude protein of your feeds.
Feeding ad lib hay can be beneficial providing
the horse is not in hard or fast work and is not