It is extremely difficult to offer a fool proof way of feeding your horse as every horse is an individual but you can easily manage your horse’s condition and health by providing a good balanced diet and supplementing in the right way. Nutrition means the molecules that are involved in your horse’s diet; these are called nutrients, Water, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats, Minerals, Vitamins and Fibre. There is a constant turnover of molecules in the horse’s body. Almost all these molecules are replaced regularly. New ones are taken in by food and in some tissues even the entire cell is replaced. If the diet is inadequate this replacement does not occur. Nutrients therefore provide replacement molecules, energy and allow for normal growth. Our horse’s survival depends on the survival of cells. The biggest contributing factor to your horse’s health is nutrition.

More money is being spent on fast food for horses such as premixes/pellets which are generally more expensive and certainly less nutritious and will be detrimental to the horse’s long term health because of the effects on the normal function of the digestive system. I do not recommend premix feeds or pellets, as you are unable to alter your energy and protein levels. Every horse is biochemically different so mixing your own feed enables you to alter your levels accordingly, if for example your horse is losing weight you can then increase any component of the feed to achieve a satisfactory result. If you increase a premix or pellet you are increasing the overall feed and this could create problems particularly with horses that are predisposed to nervousness or digestive disorders. It is important to remember that horses that are nervous require a low carbohydrate diet.

Oats are the safest grain to feed your horse as they are readily digested and utilised by the horse. Oats are also the lowest in energy and protein of all the grains and have been fed to horses for centuries. Some products such as Pollard, Dolomite and Copra meal present other problems, as your horse is unable to digest and utilise any of these products, SoyaBean meal is another product that has been down graded and is not fit form human consumption, is not very high in protein and is unpalatable in most cases Equisoy is the safest option for adding extra protein into your horse’s diet. Equisoy is de-bittered human grade soy flour and is organic and non-genetically engineered. As this product is 40% protein it will assist with weight gain safely and economically. Canola or Corn oil are idea for added energy and are safe to use and very beneficial containing essential fatty acids.
Other products not recommended are copper sulphate and sulphur di-oxide these ingredients are very toxic over a period of time, are industrial/technical grade and should not be fed to your horse under any circumstances. Always be very discerning with the quality of your feed and the supplements you use. Always use only oral grade (for human consumption) ingredients with your horse because to achieve the best results you require the best. You will find that mixing your own feeds and supplementing the right way will be far more beneficial to your horse’s health and far more cost effective.

Worming:
It is important to maintain a regular worming program with your horse. It is also important to rotate your paddocks every 2 to 3 months if possible. We will have a natural wormer which is available now called Worm-R. Treat with 1-2 large scoops for 3-4 days repeat in one week and then every 2 months. It is still necessary to use a standard chemical wormer or even consider drenching but you can possibly reduce this down to 2-3 times a year. However, if you only have a small amount of land then cleaning your paddocks daily becomes essential. If a new horse comes onto your property make sure the horse is wormed and kept isolated for a week or so before being allowed to socialise with other horses.

Turning Out:
Your horse is generally fit, well fed and well rugged when you turn him out for winter, then all of a sudden, there is no work, no hard feeding and rugs may come off, this leaves your horse’s health very vulnerable. This is the time of year your horse will benefit from supplementing with Hi-Form PerformPlus or CompletaVite, just 1 x large scoop and a small balanced feed will provide your horse with the daily nutrients he needs, his coat, health and condition will be maintained and he will be ready to return to work when required.

Teeth:
When choosing an Equine Dentist make sure he has the qualifications to practice. Your chosen dentist should be able to balance the mouth, float molars and incisors, remove loose or retained deciduous caps, remove wolf teeth, age the horse, advice on biting and recognise injuries and advanced dental problems. Your Equine Dentist should be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of head anatomy and be able to use his instruments proficiently. He/She should also know when to seek advice from a veterinarian. It is advisable to have your horses teeth checked every 6 months especially if your horses are being ridden on a regular basis. If you suspect there is a problem, don’t wait for a disaster to occur, have your horses teeth checked immediately. Horses chewing on one side, dropping food from their mouth, losing weight or difficulty working on the bit could be signs of trouble. Finally, if your horse cannot grind his food correctly he will not gain the benefit from the balanced diet you are feeding him.

What do I feed?
Approximately 25-30 years ago feeding was simple, so what went wrong? Basically, farmers have over used chemical sprays and over used our land. Many of our essential mineral and trace elements have been depleted from our soils. The salinity level has also risen. You can not achieve optimum health by just feeding a balanced diet without supplementing in some way, because our stock feed (like the food we eat) is grown in this nutrient deficient soil. A simple diet with the right daily balance of essential nutrients is certainly a step in the right direction. To achieve a balanced ration, your horse requires all the nutrients mentioned above, everyday.

Damp Feeding:
Make sure that your horses feed is not too damp, this is really important for the digestive system to function normally. Sufficient moisture to mix in your Hi Form formulas and reduce the risk of dust is all that is required. If your horses feed is too wet part of your horse’s food will be swallowed without the grinding process taking place. This is vital for the small intestine to function normally. The added moisture content will allow the feed to pass through too quickly, and all the feed has not been processed correctly. The small intestine is only the width of a Christmas paper roll, so it will be difficult for the feed to pass through if the normal process from the mouth to the small intestine has been interrupted.

Quality of Feeds:
When purchasing your feed make sure that the feed is of the highest quality; if you are not happy with the quality of your feed speak to your feed merchant. Never feed hay or Lucerne hay that is mouldy or dusty. Hay or Lucerne hay should have a sweet aroma. Mixing Feeds make sure that you thoroughly mix your formulas and feed components.
Working your Horse and Feeding Times:
Always feed your horses at least 45 minutes before or after work.

Common feed associated complaints:
Colic & digestive upsets. Feeding a balanced but simple diet can easily control founder. Horses that maintain weight very efficiently must be fed a low protein diet to reduce the onset of these conditions. If you are in doubt please seek further advice. The ProflamAid Plus can be used very effectively for colic and founder cases and the BioEquus for digestive disorders.

Does Your Saddle Fit Your Horse Correctly?
It is extremely important to make sure that your horse’s saddle fits correctly and this includes allowing for muscle development. For example if you purchase a new horse he will no doubt change shape after a few months of work, this would be ideal time to have your saddle correctly fitted. Ill fitting saddles contribute to an increased level of back soreness and other muscle related problems.

Farrier:
Although shoeing is not part of nutrition, what your horse consumes will affect the condition of his hooves; in fact a healthy hoof means a healthy horse.

Reading Labels:
Please take the time to study labelling and product information. If you would like an information sheet on how to read a label just request one from our office.

Observation:
Try relating yourself to your horse, think about how you feel when you are not well, have a sore back or an injury to contend with. Your horse is very similar to you, he just can’t tell you verbally, but horses have very strong body language. Spend a little extra time each day with your horse and observe his habits, then you will notice if something is wrong and be able to act quickly. Blood Testing can be beneficial, but will not always give you a true picture of your horse’s health.

When to call the Vet:
Number one rule ‘never take risks with your horses health’. If your horse is in serious trouble it is important to contact your vet immediately.