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A little reminder Golden Rules of Feeding Horses  

  • Feed little and often  
  • Feed plenty of good quality forage  
  • Feed according to work done and not what you intend to do
  •  
  • Make no sudden changes in diet  
  • Keep to routine Feed clean, high quality feed only  
  • Do not work a horse immediately after a full feed  
  • Allow free access to clean fresh water at all times  
  • Get your horses teeth checked regularly, and keep worming regime up to date

      

How Can I Give My Horse More Sparkle, Oomph And Shine?

There are two situations that can prompt the asking of this question. The majority
come from the person with a “laid back” kind of horse. When this is the case,
the first thing to realise is that feeding cannot change a horse’s personality.
Horses, like humans, have their own personality and no amount of extra feed
will induce them into more action. In fact, if we are not careful then we can
make matters worse. There are things that can be done to help but an energy
conserving personality will always be that way inclined. The other situation is the horse that is
genuinely dull and lethargic, either due to inappropriate feeding for work
level or due to the fact that they are convalescing from an illness. In this
instance a careful examination of feeding and appropriate changes can make a
real difference.

Spark up my Cob or Native

This is a very common request for cob types and other laid back characters up and
down the country. The biggest problem
with most of these horses is that they are also, generally speaking, good
doers. Packing more of the same feed in
to them will only make them fatter and, therefore, even more lethargic. The best thing to do with one of these
characters is to get them fitter than they really need to be for the work that
you are doing. In the short term this
will be hard work for you and him but well worth it in the long term. You
should have your good doer coming out of winter running up light, so that you
only have to try to maintain this physique through the summer (fat months), and
are not battling against the bulge from day one.

Trace Elements

Assuming that your steady friend is fit and as lean as can be expected then how can you
feed him to help him to have a bit more oomph? 
The biggest problem that most good doers have is that, due to their
propensity to run to fat, they are fed less than the recommended daily amount
of whatever feed they receive. This means that they are generally not receiving
adequate levels of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. This in itself can
make a horse lethargic and less inclined to bursts of energy. All animals require minimum levels of
vitamins and minerals (macro and trace) for their body to function correctly
and low levels of even just a few can impact on performance. This case is also
true for those in convalescence; the body requires vitamins and minerals to aid
recovery and these must be provided through the feed.

Energy Sources

The best way to feed these characters is to select a low calorie chaff of some
description. To this add a good quality
powdered GP mineral or a balancer pellet (this will provide quality protein as
well as vits and mins) and use this as your base all year round. A good quality paddock/stable lick will also
do the trick. This in itself will probably help as they are now receiving their
requirements for vitamins and minerals. If more oomph is required then the
following usually makes the difference required. Give your horse a handful of oats or a
competition mix (high cereal content) in his feed. This will give him enough
fast response energy to hopefully make a difference, without piling on the
calories. For most horses that handful or two creates that bit of extra oomph
they require. Do not give them scoop-fulls of the stuff as it will just undo
all the good work you have done getting them fit and lean.

Shiny

Many people want to know how to get a shine on their horse and many will turn to the
shampoos and lotions. The most important
thing for a healthy, natural shine is that all their vitamin, mineral and trace
element requirements are met. Very little else is normally required once this
part of the puzzle has been sorted out. This is how balancer pellets work and
why a huge improvement can be seen when a horse is first fed them. It is
nothing magical, just providing the horse with what it is or has been
missing. Feeding a small amount of oil (
a tablespoon daily), can add even more shine but be aware that this also adds
calories so if you are fighting the bulge anyway, this is not advisable.

Convalescents

Horses recovering from a virus can be dull and lethargic. They also tend to have
increased requirement for certain trace elements (anti-oxidants such as
selenium and Vitamin E, B vitamins and iron in particular). You may not even have noticed your horse
being particularly ill, just a bit off colour. This is a different scenario
from the above and you may need to enlist the vet. Blood tests on horses
fighting infections or post – infection will not only show elevated white cell
counts but very often will show them up to be anaemic. The vet will very often inject some
B-Vitamins into the horse in this instance to aid recovery and an iron/B-Vit
supplement (such as Red Cell, NAF Energ etc) will be required. Always ask a vet
to run some blood tests if you suspect that your horse may be anaemic before
adding this, that and the other in to your horse’s diet. More is not
necessarily better when it comes to supplementation.

Under Fed

If your horse isn’t a good doer and doesn’t fall in to the convalescing category
and is slightly lack-lustre then it is likely that he is not getting enough of
the right type of feed for the work expected of him. This is not a common scenario as most people
over-feed their horses but can happen, especially if you have been used to
managing a good doer previously or a horse that “runs on fresh air”. If they are slightly under-conditioned then
make sure that they are being fed the full recommended daily amount. It may be
necessary to move up a gear with your feeding and instead of a leisure feed,
you may need to move up to the next energy level (ask feed lines for
advice). Feeds designed for higher work
levels also tend to have higher levels of important vitamins and trace elements
to satisfy increased requirements. If you cannot feed the recommended amount
then we are back to topping up with a GP powdered mineral or a balancer
pellet. In the majority of cases this
will perk them up as it will provide for their extra requirements.