SD Blog Hop: Feed

Last week Alaine at Spotted Dressage asked one of the most seemingly simple and yet usually complex questions in the equestrian world:

What Do You Feed & Why?

I’m a total nerd about this stuff and find it really interesting, so I couldn’t resist this one. Henry currently gets:

  • 6lbs per day of Triple Crown Senior
  • 4-6 flakes of coastal hay
  • grass or coastal hay in turnout
  • 1 flake of alfalfa per day (1/2 am, 1/2 pm)
  • free access to salt


I pay bit extra on top of board for premium feed and I buy my own alfalfa, but I’m a huge believer in nutrition and think that high quality feed and hay are absolutely vital to the overall health of my horse. I’m really picky about ingredients and what Henry eats, and more than happy to pay extra to get something good. I definitely won’t feed anything that has some kind of grain by-product as a major ingredient.

Henry used to be on TC Complete but made the switch to TC Senior last fall. He’s getting plenty of forage these days, with lots of hay plus his alfalfa and grass, so I opted for lower starch and lower total NSC. The Senior is still 10% fat, over 1500 calories per pound, and made from high quality ingredients, but has about half as much starch as Complete. Henry isn’t a super hard keeper, per se, but he is a thoroughbred event horse that works 5-6 days a week. He still has energy, although I’ve noticed a decrease in nervous energy since the switch. I don’t know if that can be attributed to lower starch or if he’s just growing up a bit, but so far the Senior is working out really well for him. I like that it’s grain free, and I love that it’s not a dusty pellet.

Coastal hay definitely isn’t my favorite, but it’s really difficult to get anything else around here. Luckily the barn’s hay is at least good quality coastal squares (the rounds tend to be yuckier and can definitely give them a potbelly look), so it works.

Aside from the “what”, I also think the “when” is equally important. The less time he spends standing around with no forage, the better. He gets alfalfa and hay with his TC meals, and has access to hay or grass as much as possible. Really the only time he doesn’t have forage is in the middle of the night, which is when he’s finding a nice fresh pee spot to sleep in anyway.

You’ll also notice Henry’s lack of supplements. That’s because I kind of hate most of them and have a lot of opinions about the supplement industry that probably no one will like. I’ll spare all of us and just not even start down that road. I don’t hate them all; Henry has been on a few different oral supplements in the past (one for his lungs, and magnesium) but nothing has really made enough difference to stick. His feed already has probiotics and vitamins in it, so no need to add any of that, and if I’m going to do a joint supplement I’d much rather do it IM than oral. He does get omeprazole when we travel, but that’s in paste form.

stay away, ulcers

What do your horses get? I’m really interested to hear what other people feed their horses – it’s so interesting to me to see what everyone does and the reasoning behind it. Equine diets are fascinating!

40 thoughts on “SD Blog Hop: Feed

  1. I’m with you on the supplements, for the most part. Although, my friend has a horse that can’t be without magnesium or he turns into a weirdo… My horse just gets hay – mostly timothy with some alfalfa mixed in (if I can get the good stuff). I do like to feed a flake or two of 2nd cut if I can get it as well. As for grain, my horse is an easy keeper, so he just gets a small amount of a top dressing vitamin – usually Buckeye Gro n Win. If he is working a fair bit 4+ days a week, I add in something with more fat and low starch. More Buckeye – Safe n Easy maybe??? , or Blue Seal has a decent low sugar/low starch one too.

    I do give my horse electrolytes in the winter – he’s not the best at drinking enough – and in the summer if it’s hot. He gets a bit tired on me otherwise. They do have access to salt 95% of the time.

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  2. i just had to increase Remus grain this past week when my vet says he finally is at a great weight but doesnt need anymore off of him YAY! Remus at his new barn is on a low fat low starch weightwatchers (ha) pellet that my barn owner has custom made (She has several oldies in her fields). He is also on Smartpak supps (Which i agree with you I wonder if they work or not! BUT since he has finally lost weight maybe? Going into spring I dont dare take him off them now! 😦 arghh)…he is on smartpak metabolean (for his ahem pudginess problem) and the 365 Omega (I do think this stuff is fantastic for his coat). The only issue is they are already switching to the 365 bug off with this shipment which irritates me, smartpak! But anyway. He also gets a timothy/coastal hay type. He only gets 2-3 flakes at nite but he gets breakfast and lunch in the field as well and she divides it up and spreads it out so all get at least something.

    My barn owner laughed when we increased his food cause now he is getting like a half a lb or something ridiculous (But that is more grain than he has ever had). We may increase it more but i choose to do it slowly rather than shocking his system. I am hoping going into grass season we can get him fitter this year and put some lean muscle mass on instead of fat layers per normal. We will see. 🙂

    He also has free choice salt in fields and his himilayan rock salt (His crack i call it) that he goes through like candy (Seriously i buy the big one and he gets thru it in like a month!)

    Since he is an easy keeper i havent dwelled on the content of his food that much. If the grass doesnt get him this year maybe i will look into it. I know the TC Senior is a fantastic food and he is 14 this year so i may switch him to that if need be. Thanks for letting us know how Henry is fueled!

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      1. EXACTLY…Remus too re sweat well, recovers good and is hydrated. But he literally goes into a coma for an hour after eating licking his salt(Eyes closed etc). Everyone talks about his weird obsession 🙂 HA HA HA but whatever works…

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  3. Hm I actually don’t know a whole lot about runkles feed. I get so neurotic about stuff this is just one of those things I know nothing about and I’m content to let my trainer handle it.

    I do know the whole barn just switched feed brands before winter and let me tell you, the new food has them lookin’ gorgeous and shiny.

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      1. Subi doesn’t care for apples either. Especially mushy ones. But if someone else feeds him apples, he might eat them. If I feed apples, they’re poison. If Batty every finds a food he won’t eat, he’s probably colicing.

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  4. Lucy eats alfalfa because she’s literally (said in the least millennial way possible) allergic to all other grasses. Luckily she’s also lazy AF and the typical easy keeper QH. We also feed Platinum Performance which I’m a huge believer in for all-around health, especially coats and tails. We’ve gotten to know the company leadership over the years at the big vet conventions and have been loyal users since.
    The chubby mini-sink just gets grass (Timothy usually) with a handful of alfalfa to make him feel better about his life.

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  5. My endurance horse is on the Nutrena ProForce Fuel (1 lb scoop twice a day) and started my guy on it when a fellow endurance rider suggested I could feed less of it than what I was feeding of Nutrena’s Performance supplemented with alfalfa pellets. The barn currently tosses out very nice round bales of coastal (it keeps my Limited Distance horse fat and round with no other grain or supplements needed).

    The only time I do any sort of supplementation is prior to an endurance ride, and then, it’s just oral electrolytes (Enduramaxx) mixed with some applesauce.

    Considering tossing some Farriers Formula Double Strength for his feet as we have thin soles and the Fuel only has 1 mg/lb in it, while the FF has 107 mg/lb in it.

    I actually created a spreadsheet based off the popular feeds guaranteed analysis (Nutrena, Purena, Triple Crown and Bluebonnet and tossed on HayRite for a friend of mine) just so that I could easily compare and SEE which ones had what components to them. It’s kind of fascinating to see it all in one place.

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  6. The horses at the barn where I board get a vit. e and selenium supplement in addition to whatever their regular feed is, because our soil around here is devoid of both of those, and they’re pretty necessary. I think if you’re going to avoid feeding any supplements then it’s a good measure to take to find out about the ground your hay is coming from/the ground your horse is eating off of (or if they never graze/eat off the ground, what important minerals they’re not getting as a result.)

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  7. Dino has a bit of a ‘special needs’ diet because of his Cushing’s and PSSM – low starch/high fat is key for him to thrive. At this point in time, he gets 3lb of KER RE-Leve per day, which is a very low-NSC/high fat feed, pretty much free choice grass hay, and a large bucketful of soaked alfalfa cubes once a day. My bodyworker suggested adding more protein to help his muscle development and overall condition last summer, so I added the alfalfa back and he’s been THRIVING on it. He also gets DMG (to help alleviate muscle cramps) and SmartPituitary Senior supplements because they’re not THAT expensive and it makes me feel better to throw everything I can at his conditions. Since he started on the DMG he also hasn’t tied up once, so I’m just going to keep him on it forever.

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  8. My guy gets 12 lbs of MG Senior a day ( 6 lbs am, 6 lbs pm) with 3-4 flakes of coastal hay, 1 flake of alfalfa and free choice salt. I do use some supplements. He has 2 cups of Envision, as well as U-guard, red cell and a senior joint supplement. I have had good results with his supplements. He had an injury that went diagnosed for years (dang it horse all you had to do was take one lame step!) this unfortunately caused extra wear and tear on his hocks and stifles. Vet recommended a feed thru joint supplement as well as IM glucosamine. Red Cell, for some reason he tends to become vitamin deficient while all the other horses on the same feed/forage do not; and U-guard to help prevent ulcers. Envision is by far the best fat supplement I have found, Otto doesn’t actually like to gain/maintain his weight. Damn… writing all of that down makes me really realize what a hard keeper he is. 😐

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  9. I love walking in the feed rooms at my dressage barn to see how much some of the horses there actually eat. It’s astounding. Many feedings of pounds and pounds of Ultium, sweet feed, or senior are shoveled in daily. Meanwhile, my (ahem, beefy) thoroughbred gets 2 lbs of Healthy Edge (Purina’s low calorie/starch maintenance feed) and 1.25 lbs of Enrich (Purina’s ration balancer), and 24/7 pasture/round bale access. I really think the hay/pasture access has been key to keeping his weight up so well over the last few years. I do find the protein amounts Pig requires to do medium level dressage are quite high. That is why I feed so much ration balancer. I wrote more about that here: http://guineaforaguinness.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-dangers-of-rocket-fuel-feeding.html

    Like you, I don’t really do feed through supplements. I will feed Previcox when it seems injections are wearing off and the arthritic joints are troubling Pig. I will do IM adequan to aid his support; I never saw a difference with any feed through joint supplements with him, and only benefited from hoof supplements while he was stalled. On pasture, he seems fine without. When we are working hard, I will supplement with soaked alfalfa cubes and aloe juice before or after rides. That seems to keep the incidence of ulcer flare ups down, plus I do omeprazole for ulcer support when traveling.

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  10. I got tired of all the grain byproduct in feeds that are available in my area and now feed free choice grass hay (round bale wrapped in a slowfeed net) and alfalfa pellets and whole oats. I top dress with comega for omega fat 3, 6 and 9. They have free choice mineral/salt block.

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  11. I love discussing nutrition. I went off the deep end this time last year researching it and found it frustrating when certain brands (looking at you Purina!) won’t publish the ingredients on line. I also ended up using Triple Crown Senior and it is a great feed. I ended up switching my mare to the Complete during active conditioning and competition for the added energy that the oats and added starch provided. It makes a great mash for getting extra water into her during endurance rides too.

    Currently Gem, a 19 year old Arab mare, gets 5 pounds of the complete a day. She is on grass pasture 24/7 but I’ve never had it tested for nutrient profile. She gets fescue or coastal hay all she can eat although I ‘d much prefer a timothy/orchard mix, but it isn’t really available here. During an endurance ride she gets free choice alfalfa from a compressed bale that I then soak. I love the alfalfa during competition for the added calcium to prevents tying up and thumps.

    I don’t do any supplements except for the week leading up to an endurance ride. That week she gets a 50:50 mixture of Table Salt and Lite salt 1 tsp to each feed. She then gets electrolytes syringed at all vet holds during the ride.

    Pete, the fatty mostly retired 26 yo gelding, gets Triple Crown Lite. 1 pound a day, grass pasture 24/7 adn free choice fescue or coastal hay depending on what we have.

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  12. I tried to get Triple Crown out here with no such luck. It wasn’t Triple Crown’s fault, just the dealers. But the brand I do use, LMF, is created in the area, so is based off of what nutrients our horses are lacking etc over here, which I like. Plus, they have two options of feed, one of you are feeding grass hay, and one for alfalfa, so that’s nice too.

    I also say screw feed through joint stuff. Not enough research in pony land to support me doing so, so until then, IM it is. As for the rest of Baconator’s feed, that probably needs a post…

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    1. It’s annoying how some of them are super regional. There was a feed I LOVED in Maryland that you can’t get here at all. Like… not within several states of here, even.

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  13. Miles gets 3/4 scoop of Purina strategy twice a day, plus 3 flakes of orchard grass three times a day. He’s also on a lot of supplements because I’m a complete and total sucker: SmartFlex I for joints, SmartOmega 3 for coat, SmartGut for his tummy and Farrier’s Formula for his feet.

    I also supplement with alfalfa hay during the winter (when it’s cold, I just throw him some), and last summer I did soaked alfalfa pellets to keep up his condition when he was in harder/more frequent work.

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  14. Mort gets 10lbs of a complete pelleted feed (broken into two feedings).
    In the morning he gets soaked beet pulp. In the evening he gets soaked alf pellets.
    He is on ulcer-aid twice a day.
    He also gets salt in his grain in the evenings and has a block in his stall.
    He gets all of the hay that he’ll eat. It’s a mix of mainly grass grown in Missouri (where we live).

    He can be a hard keeper and is a thoroughbred in work 5-6 days/week so he gets fed all of the things.

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  15. I used to use TC Senior and Lite (because Haffies are fluffy), but about 8 months ago switched over to alfalfa pellets and Platinum Performance instead because Taran wouldn’t eat the damn Senior. T gets additional biotin for thin soles, and extra magnesium because it seems to help with his travel anxiety. Oh and of course omeprazole when we travel. The boys also get 6-8 flakes of coastal daily and usually half a flake of alfalfa before a ride (I like making sure they’ve got something on their stomachs so the acid doesn’t go sloshing around). T has been in great weight and has plenty of energy for playing in the sandbox 5-6 days per week, although I do wonder if he won’t need more calories and protein when the work ratchets up more. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there though.

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  16. Nutrition is fascinating. Free choice good ol’ South Georgia coastal grass for everybody. Alfalfa, rice bran, and a mineral for the air-fern Lucille. 8lbs of Seminole Dynasport, and alfalfa for Scrapes. A generous handful of feed because I love him and can’t bear to leave him out at feeding time for old retired Bubba. He’s really quite obese. This is really working nicely for me – everybody is in good weight, good coat, and has enough energy to perform.

    I don’t really do much supplementation. I’ve never seen enough difference to warrant the cost. I do toss electrolytes year-round because it’s Florida and this one doesn’t drink enough when it’s cold and that one doesn’t drink enough when it’s hot so everybody gets one. I think I’ve tried every joint supplement they sell and realized one day that I couldn’t remotely tell you how it got through the digestive system to the joint capsule. So I stick with IM injections monthly. And ranitidine for Scrapes for hauling days. He’s a tiny bit dramatic.

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  17. Keeping horses on our property has allowed me to be in full control over what my guys get and when. Three of the four are on an all forage diet. I have researched just about every feed accessible to me and this diet has had the best results for my guys. With one exception, my Old Man. He gets 12 lbs of Purina Active Senior with additional fat supplementation. He’s a textbook hard keeper and this is what keeps us at the healthiest weight and is something he will eat. I recently started my young WB on Equipride as he is starting under saddle and getting into light work. The other two get Kelp with probiotics.

    Being in MI I can get pretty nice forage. We usually feed out 2nd cutting Timothy-orchard grass mix with about 30-40% alfalfa. They get about 3 flakes in the morning, 2 flakes at lunch and a 3-4 flakes at night.

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  18. Couldn’t agree with you more. Our horses receive slightly different approaches but all get lots of good forage hay (Timothy, Timothy mix and then orchard grasses) fed throughout the day – we are lucky to be retired. We alternate different bales of hay to keep the horses interested. Don’t like round bales, too much we can’t see in there including dead rodents. Our horses don’t work hard enough to need alfalfa. Our older horse gets Purina Senior (grain free, low sugar, low starch). We don’t feed any grain other than sometimes a handful of oats here or there. Come spring and summer we rotate the horses on our fields so they don’t get too little/too much grass, again making sure the pony, the old time QH and the Appendix QH are all treated a little differently.

    One of our best investments was a heated frost free outdoor automatic waterer so they have fresh clean water 24/7. Even when the temp gets around zero it does not freeze up.

    Finally, absolutely yes on the free access mineral salt block. They all love it and use it daily.

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  19. Love learning about feed regimens and what everyone else feeds!

    Libby is large and in charge so she gets a ¼ of a 3 qt scoop, so roughly 1 lb, of Seminole Wellness Perform Safe twice a day. I love the Seminole feeds, and used to have her on the Calm and Cool, but it’s a textured feed and in the summer it gets too hard to scoop, so we switched. The Perform Safe is super similar with 12% protein, 9% starch, and 8% crude fat.

    She gets free choice Timothy hay in a small hole hay net during the day, and then she’s on grass at night.

    Supplements wise, she gets 2 scoops of Ulceraser and a pump of Actiflex in the morning, and then at night she gets a pump of Excell Eq oil and her smartpak which includes SmartTendon, and Hoof and Health.

    I have to be very careful with what I give her because she can blow up like a balloon really quickly.

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  20. I’m in the UK so this is really interesting to see how feeding habits differ over here.
    Really good-doer horse, even in full, hard work he looks chunky.
    Ad lib haylage made on the same property he is kept on, he has pretty much constant access to it, to throw around his stall as much as he pleases! It probably doesn’t help his weight eating so much haylage but I like the idea that he always has something to chew on
    He is turned out 8 hours a day in winter and probably around 16 hours in summer, the grass is great all year round
    He has one hard feed a day, consisting of chopped meadow grass and blue chip original feed balancer, which sounds similar to your triple crown feed, expensive but has everything he needs and is so worth it. Though it did send him crazy when he first went on it, now he’s settled on it he has a little more ‘sparkle’ but nothing stupid.
    I’m with you on supplements, I’ve never really felt the need to add anything to his feed.

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  21. I feed TC senior also. Aside from all the reasons you mentioned, I also think it looks and smells pretty delicious for a horse feed. The horses agree. I don’t feed as much as you, but I have easy keepers.
    Jamp and Romey get 3 flakes 3 times a day of a timothy mix hay (Rio only gets one because he has a metabolism like his momma). But they all pretty much have hay all the time except for maybe the wee hours of the morning when they’ve finished dinner’s portion. They also all get some chopped hay from Seminole wellness. The one I feed is designed for foundered horses and horses with other metabolic issues. I started feeding it when I bought a mare that had previously foundered. Because it’s high in biotin, I noticed it to be really great for their feet, so I’ve kept feeding it. It also keeps weight on the harder keepers (which must be partially why mine are so… round.)
    I do feed some supplements. Everyone gets electrolytes year round and a joint supplement. It probably doesn’t work, but they’ve been on it, and things are more or less going well, so I don’t mess with what’s not broken. Rio also gets some stuff for his gut since he’s prone to loose poo. Likely a side-effect to the ponazuril I can’t take him off. (His epm relapses every time.) Romey gets an allergy supplement. I thought I could take him off it come winter, but when I did he started coughing up a storm. So I guess that one actually works. In the summer, Jamp gets a Guinness to help with his anhidrosis. (I can’t spell that.) Believe it or not, it actually works.

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  22. Such a great post, I’m really interested in nutrition. My boy suffers from insulin resistance so the right diet is critical to his health and even small quantities of sugar and starch can cause major problems for him.

    I’m really looking forward to doing this one on my blog!

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  23. I totally get the supp debate. I’ve just decided I’m letting my horse eat more cash because it makes me feel mentally better? Idk. I’ve had good results with some and some are so cheap the pennies I spend make me feel better. Blissfully ignorant perhaps?

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  24. My herd chows down on 1/2 lb TC senior, 1 lb semican timothy pellets (soaked before feeding) twice daily. Timothy hay is waiting in stall (2 flakes) on bring in and then I’ll toss 2-3 more flakes at night check. All horses are fat and happy…happy because work for them is walking back and forth to their fields! No supplements aside from salt lick.

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  25. How does one do a Blog Hop? Short answer: My guys & girls eat Triple Crown Low Starch and/or Growth plus TC 30% supplement. And hay of course.

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  26. This is part of what I do for a living 🙂 I gave a talk the other day on Nutrition 101 which was basically what feed was, why we feed it and what information you can get from a feed tag.

    Couple things when it comes to feeding horses for optimal health.
    1. Start with good quality forage. Fiber is a horses main energy source
    2. Read your feed tag and follow feeding instructions. A few people who have responded are feeding below recommended rates for their feed which means nutrient requirements are not being met. This is a place where adding a rational balancer would be a good idea (what i do with my air fern who stays fat on forage and 1lb of feed a day)
    3. Supplements do have their place. I am not a fan of supplements but they have their role in certain circumstances.
    4. Overweight horses still need to have their nutrient requirements met.
    5. Every horse is an individual, so feed them as so.

    Feed companies have nutritionists who will answer questions and help you figure out how to feed your horse-they can be a great resource 🙂

    My two horses couldn’t be any more different. Marcus is on Purina Senior Active plus all the grass hay he can eat. Frankie is on a ration balancer plus 1-2 lb/d of a 10/10/10 feed (hes doesn’t need it really, its more to make him feel like he is a real horse). Both get electrolytes that I mix myself twice a day. My hay is a local orchardgrass mix and they are essentially fed ad lib.

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