I have two veteran horses – but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them! Seventeen year old Giselle is generally a good grubber but she can be fussy. Twenty-one year old, Solas, is a glutinous gelding, who would eat all around him given the opportunity. He once robbed a ham salad sandwich from my hands….
After a long season competing, I had both horses home for the winter. I knew both had different needs feed wise, but Giselle would not be competing for a few months and I decided that I wanted both horses to have as natural a diet as possible.
Having put some thought into it, I wanted to reduce the amount of starch and sugar in their diets.
Typically, grain and concentrate based feeds contain higher levels of starches and sugars, which can disrupt normal digestion.
Over the years I’ve noticed that Giselle is prone to going off her feed if it is too high in concentrates. Her hind legs are also prone to filling. Solas is prone to loose droppings and weight gain. After some research and having spoken to my local feed merchant at Pet Stop in Ballina, Co. Mayo, I decided to experiment. I started them on mix 3 different products:
- Dengie Hi-Fi Original – provides of slow release energy and a consistent level of natural nutrients in the form of a highly digestible fibre
- Dengie Grass Pellets – a soaked feed, grass pellets are naturally sweet and is pure form of fibre. This feed is highly digestable and entices even fussy eaters.
- Bluegrass Horse Feeds Turmash – Turmash has been designed to promote weight gain and condition. This soaked mash contains turmeric, which is a known anti-inflammatory, as well as linseed for added coat shine and condition. Turmash also has a high fibre content as it contains sugar beet.
What I really like about these products is that I can easily adjust both Solas’ and Giselle’s rations to suit their individuals needs. Solas needs more fibre and less condition, while Giselle needs condition, a high fibre diet and energy to compete. With both being that little bit older, the addition of turmeric is a welcome for its anti-inflammatory properties. The ability to feed a soaked mash also allows me to add more water into Giselle’s diet in particular, as she can be a poor drinker, especially at shows.
Bluegrass Turmash contains linseed oil, which is non-heating and slow release energy source. This is helping to keep Giselle level headed while also enthusiastic about her work.
What difference do I see?
Giselle has a glossy coat, a nice bit of condition and an impressive topline, if I say so myself! The quality and condition of her hooves has significantly improved and now she bangs down her stable door in anticipation of her breakfast and dinner. Most importantly, her hind legs are not filling as they had before.
Solas is still a glutton – but now he has a high fibre and zero concentrate feed which is keeping him happy and healthy. A higher fibre diet is known to promote gut and intestinal health. A clear indicator that it’s benefiting him is the obvious improvements in his droppings. The Hi-Fi also stops him from bolting his feed.
It’s worth noting, both horses are regularly wormed and have been stabled all winter, with daily turnout.
They are fed high quality rye grass haylage 3 times a day and have a constant supply of fresh, clean water.
Now that they are out to grass I’ve reduced their rations and have removed the grass pellets from their feed, but I will no doubt be introducing it again towards the end of the autumn.
Despite taking a step back and having a less busy show schedule this year, I do have some specific events in mind for Giselle. A one day event and a couple of combined training competitions. Her canter and gallop work is increasing and I have begun adding a small ration of Redmills Simply Natural back into her feed to compensate.
I’m not a nutritionist, nor have I consulted a professional. If you’re in any doubt about feeding your horse and how much I think it’s a really good idea to seek advice.
Currently Bluegrass Horse Feeds are launching a Nutrition and Health Weight clinic at various venues around Ireland. I would be going if I didn’t have to work, but it might be worth checking out if you have any questions or concerns.
But if you have a fussy eater or something that is struggling to put weight on it might be worth checking Turmash out; and Dengie have a variety of chaff products to suit various needs.