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Feed question

From: Betsey

dear jessica...

thank you for taking the time to answer our questions...oftentimes it is so important to have someone that one can bounce questions and answers off of.....thank you!

i own a 10 yr old Tb gelding (never raced). he is a very athletic guy...and well put together. i ride low level dressage...and we hope to aspire up the levels. i ve owned him for five years.

my question...this winter...i moved him to a facility much closer to home...3 miles vs the 30 i had been travelling. the new facility is all that i could ask for..great pasture, nice stalls, indoor riding hall with shredded rubber footing, and excellent care. yes, i have gone to heaven! (and the horse thinks so as well!!)

he is currently fed 2.5 quarts twice a day of 10% sweet feed, plus gorgeous orchard grass hay. he is turned out for about 10-12 hours per day, most days. (occassionally stays in because of rain) he is turned out with two other geldings...and the three of them play constantly.

now that he is close to home, he is worked much more consistently. 5-6 days per week, vs the hit or miss 3 days per week prior. because he had not been used to this is still light schooling of 30-45 minutes, including warmup, etc.

my question...this is an easy to get fit guy! even with a light, but consistent work schedule...he is now a super fit horse....gorgeous to look at, and a moving wonder. HOWEVER....this fitness has also increased his "friskiness", lets spook because it is fun....forward is good, really forward must be better, etc.

since he is a tb, and tends to be "hot"...could i substitute some of grain with oats or bran to NOT contribute any more to the energy level? any advice? (and yes, we do lots of lunign and hacking.....)

thank you


Hi Betsey! Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad to know that you're enjoying HORSE-SENSE.

Your horse sounds lovely. It would probably be a good idea to consult with your vet about the feed issue, because he'll know, for instance, whether there is a particular vitamin-mineral supplement that is formulated for your area of the country. If there IS, then instead of feeding a sweet mixed grain, you could indeed change over to oats keeping the hay and pasture, adding the supplement recommended by your vet.

There are a couple of distinct advantages to feeding oats. One is the slightly lower protein content; the other is the much higher fiber content -- a horse that gets loose in the barn and helps itself to twenty pounds of sweet feed is in much more trouble than the one that helps itself to twenty pounds of oats. ;-)

If I were you, I might experiment a little, with your vet's approval. Try reducing the amount of sweet feed, or substituting oats for part or all of it. With an "easy keeper", you may find that good hay, salt, water, and SOME (not much) grain is all that your horse requires for his current light work schedule. Some horses do beautifully without grain, at least until they are put into the sort of work that requires more energy. Some horses do well with a small amount of grain supplemented by fat (rice bran or corn oil), which is easily digested. You can always add more if a stepped-up work schedule begins to take weight off him.

I would NOT advise adding bran to the diet -- unless you are feeding alfalfa hay, bran is likely to create a calcium/phosphorous imbalance. And contrary to legend, bran does not have a laxative effect. In cold weather, if your horse is exhausted and unwilling to drink, an occasional bran mash can be useful, but not so much because of the bran itself, but because the mash is a way to get a few gallons of water into a horse.

Whatever you do, at least it will be easy for you to check on him and spend time with him -- how wonderful to have him 3 miles away instead of 30!


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