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.
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!