But, when you're actually exercising your horse and both horse and rider are getting a workout, what do you feed for energy, protein, and all those other fancy things that keep your pony at the right weight while still getting fit and in proper condition? Feeding is one of the most important steps.
I've always obsessed over what I feed my horses, and somehow I always end up with most of the similar ingredients in my mix. I've never really fed what is called a "complete feed" because I can never wrap my brain around how much is supposed to be given in order to balance the vitamins and minerals. Do you get it? Cause I don't....
So here is how I figured out what to feed Lady and how much... and how I plan to go about adjusting it as necessary.
Step One - Decide which "class" your horse fits into. Most of our horses fall into the working horse class, somewhere between light and moderate work. I set Lady at the bottom edge of the light working horse class because she doesn't usually have trouble with weight and stays relatively healthy.
Step Two - Weigh your horse and decide on bodyweight percentages. I used the basic equation for weight: heart girth squared multiplied by body length divided by 330. With Lady that equaled 870 pounds. Ouch - I didn't realize she had lost that much weight. Anyways, according to several charts I found online, a mature horse in light work should be getting approximately 1-2% of her bodyweight in forage and .5-1% in concentrates (grains, etc).
Step Three - Do some research, look at everyone's random opinions, and then dig out the facts from the fiction (hard to do sometimes). Decide on 1-3 concentrates to mix up for your horse's feed. I chose beet pulp, oats, barley, and decided to toss in a small amount of hay pellets for some extra forage.
Step Four - Critique your horse's health (and check with your vet) and then decide where she needs extra support (this can include weight control). From there, choose whether and how to supplement accordingly. My major concerns for Lady are her joints and her hormones.
After taking all those steps, I've come up with the following feeding plan for Lady. I'll measure/body condition score her in about 2 weeks and see what needs to be changed.
Total amount of feed, either in one feeding on a rest day, or split into two feedings on a working day.
- 1 pound of hay pellets (usually alfalfa/timothy mix, but I'm switching to plain alfalfa)
- 1 pound of beet pulp pellets (soaked for at least 6 hours)
- 1 pound of oats (soaked with the beet pulp, to soften and open up the oat)
- 1/2 pound of rolled barley
Supplemental feed, added into the above.
- 1/2 cup rice bran meal
- 1/8 - 1/4 cup flax seed (soaked with the beet pulp and oats)
- 1 heaping scoop of Mare Magic (unless the vet changes this to something stronger)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1000 mgs vitamin C (I crush normal tablets)
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- whatever I have in her SmartPak this time around... we're going to MSM for joint support
- extra water to make a mashy type bucket of feed
How do you fuel your horse for exercise? Does he/she get a lot of different feed/supplements than they would if they were not in work? :)