Equine Health Care


By The Horse Feed Guru

I see this question crop up quite a lot in forums or social media and I find it quite an interesting one as....

I see this question crop up quite a lot in forums or social media and I find it quite an interesting one as people seldom tend to state what they are already feeding and any basic information about the horse in question.... More often than not it is in the winter months the question is asked when a little weight tends to be lost.

The truth is there are many GREAT feedstuffs that will supply extra calories, but asking just anyone what works for them, in turn without knowing the basic stats about their horse is not necessarily going to help your individual situation or your horse. Quite often horses I meet may not need a conditioning feed at all. You would be surprised!!

Things to consider before jumping to a conditioning feed:-

  • Is he receiving enough forage? This is always the first element of the diet I look at. Feeding ad lib forage is ideal if your horse is on a set amount and has dropped a little weight. Also, be sure your horse is actually getting the forage. Herd dynamics can mean your horse is bullied and receiving less than you think while others get more when turned out. Spread hay or haylage out in the field as much as you can. So simple, yet many horses have been helped through doing this properly.
  • Is he already receiving the recommended rate of his current hard feed? It may be he just needs an extra amount of what he is already on for his size and weight, which also has the added advantage of increasing the vitamin and mineral profile if no balancer is being added. It may be he really does in fact need a different feed if already receiving the recommended rate, but may not need to go all the way up to a conditioning feed.
  • Do you really need to add condition to your horse or pony? Many native types naturally lose weight in the winter months, but as owners we can start to worry too soon, and actually create problems for ourselves. If you find yourself continually weight watching in the spring and summer months losing a little weight in winter is actually ideal.

You also need to consider your horses clinical history, temperament and way of going amongst other factors as opposed to just comparing against what appears to be working for someone else. I definitely understand why the question gets asked though as it can seem like quite a minefield if you are not sure.

So really when thinking about a question such as what is a good conditioning feed, with the intention of working out what might be ideal for your horse, know that the basics may just need some tweaking first. Know that if you don't have to make any drastic changes and can adjust what you are already feeding that is ideal. Failing this if you checked all of the above points and established your horses or pony does in fact need a conditioning feed it may be time to get in touch with a nutritionist who will be able to guide you professionally as to what would best suit your horse.

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