How to Choose the Right Feed for Your Horse

We all want what is best for our horse and recognize that a huge component of supporting their health, wellness and performance is choosing the right feed to fit their individual needs. The good news is that there are many options to choose from and the bad news is that there are many options to choose from! It can be overwhelming to sort through the options and there are often many voices in our lives telling us what worked for their horse, which may or may not be similar to your horse’s situation.  

If you are overwhelmed with the options, please know you are not alone! You can reach out to us any time for a free, personalized equine feeding plan.

Signs You May Not Be Feeding the Right Horse Feed

Some indicators that your current horse feed may not be the right fit for your horse include:

  1. Your horse is underweight or losing weight when not desired.
  2. Your horse is overweight or gaining undesired weight.
  3. Topline muscling is poor relative to the horse’s level of work and conformation.
  4. Your horse has experienced a change in work level or stage of life.
  5. Your horse has been diagnosed with a medical condition.
  6. You are feeding less than the label recommended feeding rate.
  7. Individual meals are very large, more than 5 pounds per meal for an average sized horse.
  8. Your feeding program has become very complicated.

Some of the above issues may be caused by other factors, such as undiagnosed health conditions or management that isn’t the right fit for the horse, but a feed program evaluation is certainly warranted in any of the above scenarios.

While your feeding program may not be WRONG, issues like number 8, suggest that maybe things can be made more efficient or economical with some changes.

Considerations for Choosing a Feed for Your Horse

When I’m helping a horse owner develop a plan for their horse, there is a standard list of questions that I ask to help me narrow down our options. The reason we ask for a detailed background is that there are some common terms we throw around as horse people that we don’t necessarily always interpret the exact same from person to person. A great example of this is when someone asks for the best feed for an “easy keeper”. Your easy keeper might be a horse who maintains their weight on hay alone, while the next person’s easy keeper is only getting one scoop of feed a day because they are used to feeding horses that require more than that. A “stock” answer of recommending Essential K®, a ration balancer, for the easy keeper would be appropriate for the first horse, but probably would not be the right choice for the second horse.

Details we need to determine the best horse feed for your horse include:

  1. Body Condition Score and Tribute® Wellness Scores
  2. Exercise Level
  3. Health History
  4. Current Diet

How we help you form a feeding plan for your horse covers these questions in more detail.

Final Tips

Make sure you look at the big picture of your horse’s diet. Their overall diet needs to be balanced, made in safe manufacturing facilities, and remain consistent.

Article By: Nicole Rambo, Ph.D.
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