Horse Feeding Insights: Is Your Overweight Horse Eating Enough?

By: Eric Haydt, Triple Crown Nutrition

It is hard to imagine when looking at your chubby companions that they might not be getting enough to eat. Horses who tend to be easy keepers and either maintain their weight or get overweight on very little grain, often present greater feeding challenges than horses who seem to not be able to eat enough. If you are measuring your feed in cups or handfuls, you have a horse in this category.

Any breed can be susceptible to a slow metabolism. Like people, horses are individuals and can’t be lumped into a specific group.

Just about every feed on the market today requires the typical 1,000 lb. horse to be fed anywhere from 5 lb. to as much as 10 lb. per day. Feeding rates are designed to provide the average horse the proper amount of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals for the type of horse being fed and the amount of fiber (hay and pasture) being fed.

We tend to see easy keepers as horses that have enough pasture or hay, usually no elevated requirements for extra protein, and they certainly don’t need any more fat. The problem is balancing the vitamins and minerals that they are lacking in their diet by not feeding the recommended amount of feed. Over a matter of time, a horse will become deficient in these nutrients. There are a multitude of vitamin and mineral supplements on the market, but most are designed only for specific needs and lack a few of the necessary nutrients. When you try to balance a couple of different supplements to make up for a shortfall in one, you often end up duplicating other nutrients and wasting money.

These underfed nutrients can affect proper hair and hoof growth, immune response, stamina, and normal cellular function. In addition, if you’re feeding any diets that supplement yeast cultures or probiotics, they too will be fed in quantities too small to perform the functions they were provided for in the first place.

The best and easiest way to combat this challenge is to feed a ration balancer product designed for easy keepers that can provide all the vitamins and minerals with feeding 1 pound per day but not the added calories around the girth area. In addition, the nutrients have been balanced by a nutritionist who had taken into consideration the limitations of the easy keeper diet.

So remember, if you are feeding less than the recommended amount listed on the feedbag, you’re not meeting your horse’s vitamin and mineral needs. Consider the Triple Crown 30% Ration Balancer which requires less quantity and provides a higher level of nutrient fortification per pound of feed. You will be maintaining a healthier horse, from the inside out.