Let’s talk about: Horse feed and why I keep things simple!

It’s 2019 and there are nearly double that number of horse feed options available to horse owners… I’m glad it’s not 4019!

Disclaimer – I am not sponsored by a feed company, I am not a moron and I am aware of the difference between quality products and good marketing.

Basic Pony Club knowledge enlists the help of the 10 Golden Rules of feeding, you can even get a sodding badge in feeding for just knowing the basics – why are there SO many horse owners that don’t get this or equally, have so little common sense?

I thought I’d go someway to outline what horses need, give you a run down of what my horses get fed and hopefully provide something useful for you to share with your mate Mildred who doesn’t know her arse from her arsenic!

Basic rule NUMBER 1

Feed according to the WORK LOAD/HORSE TYPE/MENTAL STABILITY of your equine friend

Stop getting misled by the internet and trends in marketing. Yes, keep abreast of what’s available but stick with what you know (and if you don’t know, ASK a professional – see rule 2!).

Example; Jonny has a pony, it is an idle little sh*t and royally takes the p*ss out of Jonny. Because Jonny is also lazy and doesn’t like kicking, he feeds his pony a bowl of Racehorse cubes, barley and Redcell before each ride. Jonny is destined for impending accidents, Jonny’s pony has more energy than it needs, is on the verge of colic and will probably jump out of the field (or worse) when Jonny isn’t looking.

I know, I know… it’s so basic but if you are just hacking once a week and your horse is of a good weight, does it need regular buckets full of hard feed? Probably not.

Start with the most basic ration available, keep things SIMPLE – I would recommend an unmolassed chaff and a decent, all round vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer. I used to use Equivite for this, it was excellent so it probably doesn’t exist anymore!

Basic Rule NUMBER 2

If in doubt, ASK!

This might seem really obvious but… Nearly all of the big feed companies (Dengie, Dodson and Horrell, Spillers, Baileys, Saracen, Allen and Page, Topspec, Blue Chip, etc.) all have feeding helplines. NUTRITIONISTS ARE NOT SALES PEOPLE. They won’t just try and ply you with their own feed if they don’t think it would suit your horse.

Ring them, try it out. Don’t just take my word for it. These people are nutritionists, they have studied for years and have a very good knowledge of what will work for you. Your horse is their priority. Your questions will never be daft.

Basic Rule NUMBER 3

Stop using it if you don’t know what it’s for!

If you feed a supplement that you’re not sure is making a difference, it probably isn’t (other than to your purse). For years I fed stuff that I wasn’t sure of, I’m guilty too! I fed ‘Be Nicer to your rider’ powders, ‘stop pacing the fence’ liquids and syringed in more ‘please don’t kill me at a show’ tubes than I care to remember. If it isn’t making a difference STOP BUYING IT IMMEDIATELY and spend your money on a book on equine anatomy and digestion.

What Next…?

Yes, I am very cynical about this subject but I’ve seen SO many people asking what to feed their retired, overweight welsh section D, that I thought I ought to address it! I too have fallen foul of marketing fads in the past, so I feel very well placed to share this information.

For reference, I have 2 horses (mostly full TBs) Pat is VERY hot headed, Pea is the polar opposite. Pat reacts to ANYTHING in his diet, Pea could eat blue Smarties everyday for a week and still fall asleep on the job. – I feed them EXACTLY the same feed stuffs but in different rations.

I use Alfa A Oil as a staple and have done for years – Pat gets half a scoop, Pea gets a heaped one. I add the Dodson and Horrell Balancer (calming one, they’re all of a similar price but this one you can order on Amazon and get it delivered a few days later FOR FREE!!!). And to keep the weight on and a shine on their coats, I add a mug of Marriage’s or Charnwood cooked linseed meal (‘micronised linseed’ for anyone born pre 1990 – God help you if you ask for this in a shop these days) twice a day to Pea and half a mug to Pat.

On the supplement front, I useEquine America Cortaflex with Superfenn. It is the best joint supplement I have found after trying a few over the last few years. And to Pats feed I add their Super So Kalm Powder – this is a story for a whole other post… (Nutshell; I tried MANY – wasted hundreds ££ – this is working for Pat, perhaps a placebo to his stupid owner, but it’s helping and definitely worth the £29!)

For being so blunt and non-conformist, I have indeed wangled a discount code for you all too – use EAWIMPY on www.equine-america.co.uk

My horses event at a low level 2-3 times a month (worked 4-5 times a week) on chaff and balancer, I’m not saying all horses could, but mine do and have more than enough to give in terms of energy. They also live outside 24/7 with access to as much hay as they could eat. Basic is sometimes best, it certainly is for us.

And, one last thing before you go, I highly recommend going back for another look at those Golden rules, I re-learn something each time I bring this up and I think that’s the main point – you will never know everything there is to know – that’s your horses job!

See you next time!

Vic Brant

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