Healthy Horse Feeding Tips
Our Recommendations of What To Feed A Horse
At Sunglade Ranch, for many years we did not add supplementation to our simple regimen of good hay and a bit of grain, but with the depletion of our soils, more irrigated hay land and even more demands on our equine athletes to meet the high standards of competition, we have changed our feeding program to the following:
- The best grass hay we can buy
This is the cheapest source of protein available. Having some high content alfalfa on hand enables us to feed alfalfa before stressful situations…eg.hauling, showing as alfalfa has lignans which help protect the stomach lining from acid. We do not feed irrigated hay. We feel it can have unhealthy levels of certain minerals.
- No added protein
We do not buy supplements with any added protein. Good hay generally contains all the protein a horse needs. Most bagged supplements have a lot of protein, which is just processed fillers. It’s a very expensive way to add protein to a horse’s diet. BioEquine contains no added protein.
- No joint injections
Although we have had some of the top reining horses in the country and many other horses were on injections, we have never injected ours. Our Natural Digestive Support contains the correct balance of Cobalt, Zinc and Vitamin C to encourage the natural production of joint fluid. One exception to this is inflammatory disease or injury, which damages the joint lining so that the horse cannot naturally produce its own joint fluid. For horses needed some extra help because of age, injury, or conformation faults we have formulated a pure concentrated Extra Strength Joint Supplement that is working very well. For horses with no problems we use a ½ dose preventatively. Problem horses we use a full dose.
- No performance enhancing drugs
We believe drugs allow abuse in the form of over-training. Our horses have excellent, calm minds. Much of it is breeding and training methods, some of it is BioEquine.
- Keeping the gut clean
Because of the structure of the equine gut, horses that are fed only a few times a day and have long periods of standing empty are prone to having food waste adhere to the gut lining. This can build up over time and cause 2 problems…lack of absorption of nutrients and tendency to colic. This can actually be made worse by feeding concentrated processed hay (added protein, cubes etc). Our Natural Digestive Support has a base of proprietary high trace mineral content diatomaceous earth. The microscopic skeletons of the long dead sea microbes act as an intestinal scrub, keeping the gut clean, receptive to nutrients and resistant to parasites. To that base we add a natural toxin binder as well.
- Minimal chemical worming
Because of the scrubbing action of our Natural Digestive Support, we only worm once yearly because all of our horses are on the same cleansing program and will not infect one another.
- Intestinal bacteria supplementation
Many horses that have been on medications such as antibiotics, chemical wormers, anti-inflammatories etc have a depleted population of “good Bugs” that are essential for a horse’s survival. Our Natural Digestive Support adds a high concentration of ProBiotics to the daily diet. Don’t be fooled by dehydrated yeast products such as Diamond Yeast. They are not live organisms.
- Fat supplementation
In the old days when horses were worked hard on a daily basis, farmers fed large amounts of oats, corn, beet pulp etc. Because of genetic modification and extensive use of herbicides, insecticides, dessicents and other chemicals on our crops, we are extremely fussy about the sources of the small amount (1 to 2 cups) of grain that we use to top dress our supplements by BioEquine. Presently we are using an oat/barley/milled flax custom mix in a 40/40/20% ratio. Our provider makes sure that the grains are from farmers that use no chemicals on the mature crops. That way we can easily regulate the amount of sugar/fat each horse receives. And if they are working hard, they need it. It gives them that cover over the ribs and that deep gloss to the coat.
Keep it simple and cost effective!
– All Horses: forage (hay or grass), top dress Natural Digestive Support on grain mix
– Working Horses: hay, fat, grain and Digestive & Joint Supplements by BioEquine
– Thin: increase hay and fat (grain, etc)
– Fat: decrease hay, no fat
– Arthritic/Injured/Aged: Add joint supplement to digestive supplement
Feeding Tips for Winter
When faced with Old Man Winter around the corner, responsible horse owners are preparing for it by making sure their horses have a sufficient source of high fibre forage/hay. Here at Sunglade Ranch, we prefer a lower protein, high fibre, good quality grass hay. And we use small gauge slow feed hay nets for round bales dropped in tombstone feeders.
It is digestion of the fibre that keeps body temperature up. A horse can survive a very cold winter if it has shelter from the wind, good hay and a source of water that is not too cold. A big drink of freezing water can really lower an animals’ temperature. That is why some horses take on a lot of snow (slowly getting their “drink”) and avoid drastically cold water. If the horse does not take on enough water, it can lead to bowel impaction. Horses tend to move around less in the cold weather and that too can affect gut motility. A regular dose of BioEquine can help clean the gut of debris.
Also, watch that your horse’s feet do not ice up. There seems to be a certain temperature that packs ice on the bottom of their feet. We carry a hammer in the feed truck and knock ice off if it is affecting a horses’ movement.