View Full Version : What to Feed???????

TT (Guest)
18-05-02, 01:43 AM
I am at my wits end with feeding my dressage horse.
I changed from feeding Economix to an all natural diet with steam rolled barley, chaff, linseed oil, bran, sunflower seeds and a variety of herbs. My horse was a changed horse with this diet and everything seemed to be ok. However with an increased work load he has been getting temperamental (dominant attitude) and instead of increasing the SR barley I have reduced it!! Now I've had to throw out the barley because it started to ferment in the feed bin!!
I don't have the time to boil/soak grains as I should and so have tried to find better ways to provide my horse with a suitable diet but without the total inconvenience it can cause!!!

Has anyone any ideas?? (without going back to pellets or really processed feeds please)

Cassie (Guest)
18-05-02, 03:40 AM
I can only tell you what I ended up doing. What I do is put the barley (or oats depeding on the horse) in a container when I make up the morning feeds and let it soak all day while I am at work, then I feed it. And then vice versa I make up the breakfast and soak over night. During summer I put the container in the fridge so it doesn't risk going off in the heat. In winter I don't worry so much because for obvious reasons it's not as hot. So it doesn't take up much time at all. No longer than making up the feed anyway.
Some horses as the work gets harder, need more energy (obviously). Maybe he wasn't getting enough and so his cranky behaviour has come of him feeling like he can't do the work, or getting a bit muscle sore etc. By taking the energy feed away from him you could be making it harder for him. Just a thought anyway. I find the more work they do the more feed they get the better they feel. He has to feel confident in himself that he can cope with the work. Otherwise try an alternative like oats, they are the safest grain to feed....good luck.

BLC (Guest)
18-05-02, 05:57 AM
I had a problem last year with a young growing mare that I just couldnt keep condition on.

I was feeding her a pre-mixed feed (economix) and chaff with unlimited good quality lucerne hay and I still couldnt keep any weight on her. If I increased any (and I tried several) of the quantity of pre-mixed feed she would just be so full of beans and so touchy (Mares!).

In the end I got the vet out and sat down and worked out exactly what I was giving her. The pre-mixed feeds are often very high in protien - which was making her crabby.

End the end my vet advised me to go back to basics. Chaff, oats (which i would soak in hot water for 20mins before feeding to help them obsorb better) and cracked corn with some rice pollard. At first I thought she would turn into a complete monster but in actual fact she calmed right down and her muscle soreness stopped. I found the pre-mixed feeds would cause her to almost tie-up - which obviously caused her pain, hence it being hard for me to keep weight on her.

Anon (Guest)
18-05-02, 06:30 AM
Ever considered getting your horse tested for allergies? A simple blood test showed why my mare went "off" at certain times of the year - allergy to protein including lucerne, oats, barley etc. PLUS capeweed, paspalum and a huge long list after that of various moulds, mosquito's, flies etc. To make a long story short, I stopped tipping oats and lucerne chaff down her throat, sprayed out all the capeweed and have her on a plain mix of oaten chaff and low protein commercial mix. Whilst I cannot do anything about the environmental allergies, the change in feed resulted in a depressed horse becoming a lot happier in her work and attitude (and she is a real mare!). The vet commented to me that he was amazed at the amount of people that feed lucerne to their horses when in fact a huge amount of horses really can't tolerate the stuff!

friend (Guest)
18-05-02, 06:45 AM
Have you tried flaked lupins???

JVJ (Guest)
18-05-02, 07:00 AM
you have just confirmed my suspicions. I have not had my horses blood tested but my quarter horse mare and one of my thoroubred geldings both seemed to me to be really strung out when on lucerne...even the slightest amount would turn them into godzilla. I have suspected for a long time that they are not capable of processing it and have not fed them any for months now....HOwever...what was it that was in the paspallum that your horse was allergic to? I ask because the thoroughbred who is no longer on lucerne is now in a paddock with loads of paspallum and he is starting to display the same type of behaviour as when he was on lucerne.

Jomac (Guest)
18-05-02, 07:18 AM
I assume from your post, you are looking for a feed that is not time consuming to prepare, and will not cause your horse to be temperatmental or fizz up ???

You mentioned that as his work load has increased, he has become temperamental - this may not necessarily be feed related. Perhaps it's just in his nature (and understandable) that the more you ask of him, he may be reluctant to work harder so he's giving you a few signals that it's time to have the submission battle. Yes, feed will play a part in this instance, as the hotter feeds will help fuel his attitude in this situation, but think smart. Nothing is worse than a dull dressage horse - you want some 'fire' and flair and a smart rider will utilise this spunk to their advantage.

You haven't mentioned 4 things:

- how old this horse is

- whether he is a generally 'hot' horse

- how he holds his condition

- what level work you are training

So many horses are over fed, when they could get by on such a bare minimum feed. Once you start to really turn the screws (at FEI level) then it is important to meet the energy requirements by way of a feed program, but otherwise, just keep it simple, and be rider smart to his attitude - don't go where you will have a confrontation unless you are 110% sure of winning. My horses' diets are basic - lucerne chaff, oats, ACV, Stockgain and good quality hay. As the workload increases - so will the amount of feed.

Sorry for the long post, but good luck with your horse.

Rhonda (Guest)
18-05-02, 07:49 AM
Can you feed steam rolled/flaked barley without soaking it?

Ned (Guest)
18-05-02, 08:37 AM
Hi Rhonda. You can most definitely feed steam rolled/flaked barley without soaking it. However I found I had much better results if I did soak it. And when you see how much water they can absorb I think it is most preferable way to feed. Can't be nice having them swell up in their tummy. I noticed that flaked barley was able to absorb way more water than steam rolled too. If you put it in to soak in the morning for the night feed or the night for the morning feed when you are making up your feeds anway, it takes minimal time.

19-05-02, 03:15 PM
My suggestion would be to get professional help. Ask a good vet or a horse nutritionalist. Also do some reading. There are some good books out there that discuss different energy contents of feeds.

How much oil are you feeding? Half a cupful of oil has the energy content of something like a kilo of oats (can't remember off the top of my head, but it's substantial). Sunflower seeds are also high in energy. How much of this are you feeding. I had a horse, who when in work for a three day event would be fed sunflower seeds (along with cracked maize(corn) and oats) and he was only getting a very small handful of the seeds.

You need to balace your horses diet. This is what the prepared feeds are good at. They have nutritionalist who are specialists in their field working on the right balance. Perhaps by changing from the prepared feed you have unwittingly changed the balance and it is being reflected in his behaviour.

Good luck.

Christine (Guest)
19-05-02, 03:40 PM
I have a 16.2hh very solid type TB gelding who i use for dressage only. He usually gets worked 5-6 days a week, and i have found that if i change his diet (add or remove things), he plays up, otherwise he is really sweet. Morning and night, i give him a combination of:
Oaten chaff
Lucerne chaff
"Omega 3" Oil
This seems to be enough to keep his energy levels up, his coat shiny, and his temperament manageable. Also, i only ever feed grass hay, because clover or lucerne really sends him off his nut, and i have also found this to be the case with my other horse.
Hope this is helpful

Karen (Guest)
20-05-02, 01:06 AM
Have to agree about the lucerne - I have 2 thoroughbreds and now only feed lucerne as chaff, along with oaten chaff once per day - lucerne hay sent them right off. A thought did occur to me - a deficiency in B vitamins and magnesium can sometimes cause an unlevel temperament and become a problem for horses asked to cope with a heavier workload. I don't know if this would be true in your case but it would be worth checking out with someone who knows (vet, nutritionist) - this could be addressed in the feed with things like Brewers Yeast or by a good B vit supplement like Sootha but do get some advice. I am no equine nutritionist but I have both mine on a combination of lucerne and oaten chaff, Winergy Calm, dolomite, garlic, seaweed meal, chamomile (good for gut health and nervous system) and rosehips (good for hoof and skin). ACV and cold pressed linseed oil are also on my list of things to consider for the future. I also supplement with Sootha every other day and feed heaps of grass hay as and when they want it. I will need to adjust the magnesium/calcium quantities down a bit (they are getting it from the Winergy, Dolomite and traces in the Chamomile). Anyway, for the moment, this seems to give me 2 happy, calm horses - not the case in my lucerne feeding days !

A final thought, how often do you hack out or simply do something relatively unstressful for your horse ? I now hack out a couple of times a week and jump which also seems to make for happier, more relaxed horses. Good luck.