Choosing the Right Horse Feed

  • Posted by Michael Hubbard
  • On November 25, 2015

horsefeedAs we’ve ventured into this equestrian world, we’ve learned there is no shortage of advice when it comes to what to feed your horse…  Every major brand of feed comes complete with their own nutritionist, and every feed has a comparable competitor.  If I’ve learned nothing else – it’s that the trainer and the rider are typically going to be the first ones to know if you’ve gotten the feed right (well – after the horse itself I guess, but not many of them will tell it to me straight).

Your vet will reinforce that with: “If the horse is in good shape, don’t switch.” (thanks Dr. Bob – very insightful).  But how does a new owner begin to do research and figure out what’s right, what’s available, what’s affordable, and where to turn with so many opinions?  Our horses seemed to be on a quality feed and their weight was good, but we really wanted to understand the nutrition behind the decisions in the event that things changed (increase or decrease of activity, injury, temperature changes, etc).

So what we did was we started with the retailer/wholesaler who was selling us our brand of food (Tribute Kalm Ultra).  It’s a small shop about an hour from us in Coats, NC – but it was well worth the drive.  They sold many different brands, and this happened to be one of the cheapest.  They provided us nutritional cards on each brand, but more importantly, they told us why other farms bought the brands they did.  The downside to it, was there was not a nutritionist for the label – so it was difficult to get more details than just everyone’s gut reaction (I’m a black and white guy – I need to see it to believe it).  So from there, we called all of the different brands and spoke with several nutritionists.  The problem with that – is they’re really only good AFTER you select your brand, because let’s face it, they’re hired by their brand, so they’re a tad bit biased.  So our final step was consulting with a few vets.

Interestingly enough, we are going to give Purina a try based on the vets feedback.  I had always thought of them as dog food, and not very good dog food, but what I’ve learned is that they have one of the most extensive research facilities around for their horse feed, and rumor has it, most brands take a look at what they’re doing and try and copy it.  The other point I found extremely interesting was that feed is not what you use to build calories, it’s all about the hay and the grazing – the natural part of their diet.  To most we’ve spoken with, feed is nothing more than a supplement as a horses body was naturally made to digest and process the grass and hay.

Here’s a great little document that Purina provided that shows you how to look at your horse and get a feel for how they’re carrying their weight, and how to go ahead and weigh your horse without a giant scale:

Body Condition 2010 Update

With that, I’ll follow up with our pasture progress in my next post.



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