Imagine at your next competition, sitting astride your glorious steed, mane perfectly plaited, soft sleek tail to die for, coat positively glowing and hooves shining like hard diamonds!
Oh the accolades as you graciously receive your prize yet again for best turned out.
Hang on this isn’t you? Not your horse? Got a rough coat that no amount of expensive polishing shampoo can ‘pantene’ into silk? Horse got crumbling feet that the farrier just cannot find anymore purchase to hold shoes on. Is the paddock shoe fairy making $ out of stealing horseshoes every week?
The reality is no amount of expensive riding gear or grooming equipment will make up for balanced nutrition. We all spend a fortune feeding horses, yet very few do it in a cost-effective way that provides for the horse’s requirements that produce optimum health. Unless you correctly formulate your horses diet you often are either overfeeding and doubling up (emptying the old bank account) or underfeeding particularly minerals – again leading to farrier and vet bills down the track.
The answer is to feed a horse from the inside out!
In the horse nearly EVERYTHING from looks to performance to behaviour to health stem from the correct nutrition.
You absolutely can achieve this in your horse with a balanced diet.
Primarily want I am aiming to do with every horse I formulate a diet for is feed for a healthy gut. Specifically, I mean creating the best environment in the gut for the horses’ microbes to be healthy, happy and in large numbers. From here all the bodies chemical reactions can provide for optimum health which presents on the outside of the horse.
These microbes that live inside the horses hind gut have different jobs such as breaking down feed into its small chemicals and also putting those chemicals back together again in a different form that the body can use for fuel.
Its basically a good old chain gang, in a big kitchen, singing away in a happy tune!
You see these microbes are akin to different chefs, all wearing different coloured hats depending for their specific job. The ideal kitchen has the correct number of chefs in the right hats all happily cooking away and creating culinary masterpieces of cuisine for your horse to use.
However, what happens all too often is the situation where the wrong ingredients (minerals, energy, vitamins, fibre, protein, amino acids etc) are fed to the horse or simply not enough in the correct ratio. In this case the kitchen can’t cope, the wrong number of chefs, not wearing the right colour hat and not able to produce the correct tune (nutrition) ….just picture a Gordan Ramsey meltdown inside your horses gut!
So what do you do when you are aiming for a horse with those spectacular turnouts at a show and also as a bonus, a healthy horse for life?
Feed your horse correctly from the inside out.
Basic “Gut 101” measures include;
- Feeding lots of fibre (forage). This helps prevent gastric upsets (gut ulcers, colic, dehydration and weight loss).
- Horses require a minimum of 2% bodyweight per day in forage.
- Feeding a probiotic in times of stress (to help keep healthy gut populations alive!)
- Feed superfibres such as beet pulp and lupin hulls for forage and energy.
- Feed extra high energy fibre feeds BEFORE you add/increase the grain feed.
- Feed good protein which contains essential amino acids – you will see a difference so quickly in your horse’s coat, hooves and muscle condition.
- We want to ensure they are getting the correct amount and ratio of minerals supplemented, pasture alone will NOT provide for their needs.
- In particular copper and zinc will aid in building those rock-hard hooves and shiny coat.
Feeding your horse from the inside out will prevent health issues, maintain optimum performance, and achieve ultimate presentation. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen….
And this is what achieves those awards for presentation turn out at a show!
BSc, Post Grad Dip, Equine Nutrition, Massey University.
Equine Nutrition Advanced Uni of Guelph, Cert Equine Herbal Medicine,
Cert NZ Animal Welfare Legislation