Let’s Talk About Feed

Lets talk about feed, what I’m feeding and better yet what to do if you’re struggling to feed. I’ll state this now and probably multiple times throughout this post, if you’re struggling then contact a professional. Every feed company probably has a nutritionist that is more than happy to help you find the optimum diet for your horse. Feeding can a minefield, there’s so many feeds, supplements and even balancers on the market. Just because you know someone who feeds this or that and loves it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you and your horse – it’s so easy to send an email so just do it!

Lets start with my feeding journey. I first contacted an equine nutritionist in late 2017, at the time I was struggling to feed Tilly for the amount of work she was in. Her topline in particular wasn’t developing as well as I’d have liked, despite having made the move to pure dressage, meaning she was finally being worked consistently and correctly, she was losing weight instead of putting on muscle. You can’t feed a topline alone, it only comes from proper work and correct feeding – we had the work side of things but feeding side of things was lacking. Tilly was also struggling with energy but with the help of the lovely Louise from Connollys Red Mills we were able to put together a feeding regime that has worked wonders for Tilly and she’s still on it today. One interesting thing that Louise noticed was that Tilly might be dehydrated, she wasn’t a massive drinker and with the sweat that goes hand in hand with hard work, she was being left dehydrated. This was easily fixed by just adding table salt to feed, daily.

I’m bringing this back up because I recently contacted Louise again. This time I wanted to add a joint supplement for all the horses and get Dave on a better regime. Up until now, all I was doing was attempting to just feed his mood. Which translates to giving him as little possible because he basically runs off nervous energy, which is always in excess but with lockdown I’ve been able to get him into a routine that has him completely chilled and working well. Ironic that. So now get a diet that does that same for him.

So what do I feed? I’ll walk you through the bulk the feeding along with the supplements. The bulk of the feeding is made up of Connolly’s Red Mills, I have always fed Red Mills for two reasons. One being that they’re an Irish brand – I love to support Irish brands whenever I can and secondly I just love Red Mills and so do the horses! I’ve fed other brands in the past but my horses have always been happier and better looking on Red Mills. So we’ll be sticking with this!

Here’s what I’m currently feeding – feed by feed.

Horsecare 10 Cubes

Dave now gets a scoop of this a day (gradually added to his feed over the last few week – it’s extremely important to gradually introduce any changes in feed). As it only contains 10% protein, it won’t add to his sharpness – he’s plenty of that already thank you very much. This feed contains a “Care Package” which includes pure protected yeast and two prebiotics (MOS and FOS) to aid hind gut health and help maximise forage digestibility. For anyone that doesn’t know, prebiotics basically feed the bacteria in your digestive system, meaning they’re better fueled to do their job in maintaining a happy and healthy digestive system – people take prebiotics too! In addition to all of this, a natural long-lasting gastric acid buffer is also added these cubes to help support a healthy stomach – I think we all know how uncomfortable a build up in stomach acid can be! It is also high in easily digestible fibres, oil and essential amino acids. It is steam cooked and double pelleted for improved digestibility. I’m super excited to see how this works for Dave as he can be prone to suffering from an upset tummy! It’s mad how interested I am in my horses digestive system and health now that my own is causing me so many problems!

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Top – Horse Care 10 Cubes, Bottom – Competition 12 Mix

Competition 12 Mix

This is what Tilly gets, I won’t go into too much detail here because it’s a well-known feed that does what it says on tin really. This perfect for a horse in hard work that needs the feeding to support this or a horse that needs a little extra help the energy department. Dressage is tough work and Tilly does find it tiring so this feed is perfect for keeping tank full so that at least energy isn’t a problem, even if everything else is.

Grocare Balancer

This is a nutrient rich balancer. Both Dave and Tilly get a mug full of this in their feed. The main reason is that it aids in their muscle development. This should help build up a topline along with the proper work both horses are receiving. Composition wise the Grocare balancer is extremely similar to the Performa care balancer but as it’s more readily available for me I choose to feed it instead. However you can now get free delivery when you purchase the Perforam Care balancer on the Red Mills online store!

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Top – Grocare Balancer, Bottom – Alfa-A Original

Alfalfa

All my horses are fed a scoop Dengie Alfa-A Original in their evening feed. My reasoning behind feeding this is that it adds even more fibre to their diet. I find this particularly helpful in the winter when they aren’t getting the same amount of forage as they would in the summer with the grass. I always try to feed Ab Lib hay but you only give them so much a day when you’re not always around. I decrease the quantity when they have 24/7 turnout and have all the grass they want/need.

Ost-O-Flex

This is a joint supplement that comes from Foran Equine and contains everything you need to maintain happy joints such as glucosamine – a key component of cartilage, MSM – promotes joint and ligament health and marine Collagen – as a source of Calcium, Chondroitin Sulphate and Hyaluronic Acid.

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No matter the age of the horse, you should always mind their joints if you want a long happy career with your horse. As Tilly and Ellie are getting on in age they could do with some extra minding and as Dave is an eventer which is a tough old job, I want to start minding his joints early. As all my horses are getting this supplement, I bought the five litre bottle, this bottle comes with a pump so you can pump it directly into their feed. The amazing thing is that one pump is exactly 30ml which is the exact amount you should be feeding! This completely removes the guess work.

Chevinal

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Technically it is a syrup-based vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement. Basically, it’s a balancer in liquid form. It can be used to boost an existing balanced diet or in Ellies case, it’s to balance out a forage only diet. Ellie is the textbook definition of a good doer. She just needs to see food and she’ll go up a dress size. So this is perfect for ensuring she gets everything she needs without putting on extra weight. What I really love about this, the lid of the litre bottle has a measuring cup attached to it meaning you always know how much to give – again no more guess work!

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Hidden measuring cup in the lid

My horses have been on this new diet for the last three weeks now and I can confirm we are all loving it. I have no idea what is in these supplements that makes it so palatable for horses, but I have never seen my horses attack their feed so much. Tilly who would normally eat her dinner in multiple sittings is now finishing it in the one go – shes unleashed her inner fatty! Their buckets are licked completely clean every single time.

Again contact a professional if you’re struggling, there are so many things that need to be considered when getting a feeding regime together, such as their horses condition, age, workload, personality and even their breed! It’s super simple to send an email to any of the feed companies. What I found helpful was to include a photo of you horse so that the nutritionist can see their condition.

Wow this was a long one today but hope you’ve found it interesting or helpful at least. Do comment below with your thoughts or experiences. I’d love to hear from you!

As always my lovelies, until next time.

-Derv X

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