Before I start with today's post, I wanted to mention that this entry marks the 100th post on Laying The Foundation. Wow! I began this blog to help my fellow equestrians, and five months later we are still going strong. Thank you so much to those of you who religiously read this blog ~ we average 50-60 regular readers per day, with about 85-90 individual visitors per day. Not bad for a little blog that's never really been advertised or promoted. Thank you as well to those of you who comment, making this such a wonderful and interesting place to communicate, and to all of you who email me about how much you enjoy the blog. You all warm my heart!! :)
Now, on to the topic at hand:
This is a subject that really has a great many "right" answers and actually, I have long said, ask 100 different folks about how best to develop a feeding program for horses, you will receive 100 different answers.
Over the years I have developed a feeding program designed to optimize each horse’s health, performance and attitude in the working and training environment by looking into the benefits of each feed product, doing a vast amount of research, attending seminars with some of the world's leading equine nutritionists and having had one of the most trusted people in the field do a feed nutrition analysis for me. Our program is based on that analysis, the above mentioned research and continued education in the field of equine nutrition. I also consult my vet on an annual (or as needed) basis and we go over each horse's diet. One product we have not yet integrated into our program, though we are looking into doing so and what it could replace is the Platinum Performance. Ramard, Inc also has some excellent products that we are looking into.
Getting on with it, for the basis of our program at morning and evening meals, we feed a #1 fine stemmed alfalfa hay that has a slight amount of bloom, which is suitable for 99% of the horses we care for. Some are substituted (or mixed) with oat hay, grass hays (Bermuda, Timothy, Orchard, Teff, Sudan, etc) or pellets (either . We do not feed cubes of any sort.
In pelleted feeds and packaged feeds, unless otherwise noted, we exclusively use Ace Hi®/Star Milling® and Nutrena/Farr® feeds.
Regarding pelleted feeds, we exclusively use the following: from Ace Hi®/Star Milling® their Alfalfa Hay Pellets, Alfalfa-Grain Pellets, Alfalfa-Oat Pellets or Alfalfa-Bermuda Pellets; from Mountain Sunrise® their Alfalfa-Timothy Pellets. For all horses who are on a diet of exclusively alfalfa hay, we use a mixture of Alfalfa-Bermuda and Alfalfa-Timothy pellets.
All show horses are fed at lunchtime the following mixture, in different amounts specific to the individual horse - Performance Plus 606™ (Ace Hi®), XTN™ (Nutrena/Farr®), Alfalfa & Molasses/A&M (Ace Hi®), Red Flaked Wheat Bran (Ace Hi®), Red Cell™ (Horse Health®), Corn Oil (Mazola®).
All horses are supplemented with Equi-Aid® Psyllium to help prevent sand colic due to our sand based Desert environment, Pro-Bios® Probiotics to enhance digestion and Electrolytes following lengthy or stressful workouts, or following/during horse show events. All horses are also supplemented with a high protein diet of rice bran and soybean meal pellets.
Horses of advanced age are supplemented with a mixture of Ace Hi® Equine Senior feed and Integrity Senior feed. Horses at weaning age through four years are supplemented with a mixture of Ace Hi® Equine Junior and Integrity Growth feed. Horses deemed “hard keepers” are supplemented with Horse Guard® Super Gain™, Nutrena® Empower™ or Farnam® Weight Builder™, depending on the needs of each individual horse.
Horses with less-than-desirable hoof and hair growth are supplemented with Biotin Plus™. Horses in demanding performance careers and/or with arthritis problems are supplemented with Four Flex® (MSM/Chondroitin/Glucosamine/Yucca) or Joint Combo® (MSM/Chondroitin/Glucosamine).
Broodmares are supplemented with Ace Hi® Mare and Foal (in lieu of Performance Plus 606™) and Farnam Mare Plus™ (in lieu of Red Cell™). Suckling and weanling foals are supplemented with Ace Hi® Mare and Foal (in lieu of Performance Plus 606™) and Farnam Grow Colt™ (in lieu of Red Cell™).
For certain indications dependent on the individual horse, the feed is soaked.
Additional indications or conditions may require additional feed supplements or changes to the horse’s diet. We closely monitor all horses on a daily basis to adjust feeding schedules as needed for the individual.
Basically, we have to understand what's best for our horses, take their work load and environment into consideration and develop a plan that meets their needs. Everyone really does have their own opinions, and that's fine, though I wholeheartedly recommend consulting with your veterinarian on a regular basis about your feeding program, too.