This is the most important element in natural hoofcare.
If the diet isn't right you will not have a barefoot performance horse.
So what do we feed our horse?
The basis of our horse's diet must be forage. Preferably hay / haylage (structural carbohydrates) fed ad - lib with some grazing.
This should be supplemented with minerals. These can be easily and conveniently supplied by feeding:
Seaweed: 50 - 100gms per day provides a broad spectrum of minerals and trace elements plus amino acids, vitamin A,C and B.
Brewers yeast: 25 - 100gms per day provides chromium, B vitamins, selenium, copper, zinc, biotin and encourages healthy population of gut flora.
Cooked linseed meal: 100 -500gms per day provides omega 3, 6 and 9. Copper, selenium, phosphate. Is anti oxidant and low starch
Clockwise from top: linseed, brewers yeast, seaweed
These can be found in easily available supplements such as Equimore no.1; Simple System Total Eclipse; or may be purchased individually on our shop page.
Magnesium is often lacking in modern pastures and hay / haylage, and many horses are deficient. Feed up to 25gms per day. i.e. 50gms if using Calmag (calcined magnesite) or 25gms if using a pure form of magnesium oxide.
Calmag can be purchased from most feed merchants or from our web shop
In addition to this basic diet you can add:
Unmollassed sugar beet (i.e. Speedibeet, Easibeet). This is high in fibre and has some energy. It is highly palatable and relatively high in calcium. Ideal for good doers as it provides bulk but is low in calories.
Unmollassed alfalfa (i.e Dengie alfalfa pellets, Simple System Lucie Nuts and Lucie stalks) These are a good source of protein and minerals. High in calcium. Good for growing horses or horses in moderate to hard work.
Coconut meal (i.e. Coolstance) High in oil. Low in starch. Slow release energy. A good source of protein, copper and magnesium but low in calcium. Highly palatable. Best for horses in hard work or needing extra condition.
Crushed oats (from any feed merchant) Quick release energy. Feed no more than 0.5% bodyweight per day. (i.e. 2.5kg maximum for a 500kg horse). Be aware of high starch (complex sugar) content. Only for horses in hard work.
Do Not Feed:
Extra sugar (non structural carbohydrates) - molasses, glucose, syrups and saccharides are all forms of sugar.
Cereals are high in starch - a complex sugar and often extensively processed.
Be aware that fructans (another form of sugar) in grass varies with the time of year and day.
Short grass can contain more fructans than long grass. Because of this it is unwise to feed grass alone.
You will need to learn to always read the list of ingredients on bags of feed. Often 'low sugar' still contains molasses, glucose or syrups.
'Cereal free' can contain cereal products.
If the ingredients are not listed or are incomprehensible, then you need to ask yourself if you should be buying this feed.
Don't just accept the mark of approval from an organisation - read the ingredients for yourself.
If a horse is not improving, or a previously sound horse becomes 'footy', assess the diet first, as this is one of the most common causes of foot problems.
If a horse is not improving on a good diet, blood tests for insulin resistance, liver and kidney function and levels of some minerals can be useful. Speak to your vet.