Help me understand feed/supplement easy-keeper - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-25-2012, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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Help me understand feed/supplement easy-keeper

First, I should mention I live in the pacific NW...because I know there are certain challenges here with getting proper nutrients, etc.

I am a newbie when it comes to horse feeding/nutrition. My horse is a 10-year-old quarter horse mare. She is a very easy-keeper and is only ridden about three hours a week currently but that will increase this fall/winter. I am learning dressage and do some trail riding. Nothing hard core.

She is turned out daily in a small grazing pasture...and is stalled all night. My boarding stable feeds eastern Oregon hay twice daily and of course will feed whatever supplements/grains you want. That is where I get confused. From my limited knowledge on feeding, I don't believe my horse needs to be on grain. Her weight is perfect right now and she looks good. But I am wondering about vitamin supplements. My horse is fairly new and my old barn supplemented with HorseGuard...but I keep hearing that is not the best choice...and she wasn't there long enough for me to know how well she would progress on that. When I bought her back in May, she was a bit underweight and she looks a lot better now..but I think a lot of that may have been the hay quality improved from what she was on at her old home.

Just need some advice about feeding easy-keepers/lightly ridden horses.

Do they need grain?
Do they need a vitamin supplement?
And if they only get a vitamin, do you have to mix the vitamin supplement with grain or how does that work?
Does she need a salt block?

Thanks everyone!!
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-25-2012, 04:57 PM
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If her weight is good on hay alone, she is fine on hay alone. She could need something extra once the weathet gets cold and damp. I think every horse needs some type of vitamin and mineral supplement as most of our crop lands are low or depleted of many nutrients. I would try to find Hoffman's loose mineral blend (they're in BC). It's more than likely formulated for your area and has nice values. You can put her daily dose just in the feed pan by itself and she will lick it up. Don't waste your money on the red mineral blocks. They are 99% salt. She does need salt. That is one nutrient that is low in all forages.
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Left Hand Percherons is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 08-26-2012, 08:25 PM
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Personally I hate the mineral blocks, they're right it's mostly salt - and if theres one tiny trace mineral that the horse needs they will eat the entire block of salt just to get enough of that 1 mineral, overdoing everything else.

Yes she needs a salt lick.
Typically if they have a good weight on hay alone you can stick with that. In the crummy months you can supplement grown hay with soaked Alfalfa/Timothy cubes (thoroughly soaked) this will provide her more easily absorbed nutrients, and easier to eat! in addition to her typical hay amounts.

If her coat looks dull or her feet get bad or if she develops any other issues you'll need to look into supplements for her.

All my horses are on Brewer's yeast and MSM as daily supplements, great for skin/coat and soft tissue/cartilage. They're also the type they they don't build up a resistance to so you can provide them the same amount for a lifetime and continue to reap the benefits! I have noticed a great difference in my horses coats and even how smoothly they move from when they're off those supplements to when they are on.
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-29-2012, 05:22 AM
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A selenium trace mineral salt block is probably ideal in the PNW for your horse.

With Winter approaching, here are some tips for you:

Horses need additional warmth in the Winter months, and even if she's stalled and blanketed at night where you board, please consider giving her all the grass hay free choice at night to keep her warm, especially when it gets below, say, 25 degrees. It will also keep her preoccupied as well and content.

Blanketing horses: it's best to not blanket them unless it's extra cold or they're turned out in weather which is particularly cold, wet, windy. If you blanket, please be sure to buy a good quality waterproof turnout.

A little extra feed in the form of grain also will help maintain her weight in the Winter.

Something to learn which is pretty important is how much to feed by weight, not by the "flake," or "scoop." This way you are giving her what she needs according to her ideal weight for her age, breed, and any other considerations, and not providing too little or too much. If there's a scale at the barn, or you can borrow one, you can get a very good idea of how much you're giving, and after awhile you won't need a scale :)

But in the the Winter, typically it's a very, very good idea to provide extra hay to keep your girl nice and toasty.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-29-2012, 09:32 AM
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I have always had easy keepers and don't even keep grain on hand (though I should, because it's nice in a pinch to catch them if they happen to escape!).

We have enough pasture that they just get grass in the summer, and hay in the winter. We don't even have to feed a full bale per day per horse and they stay fat and sassy.

As far as supplements, my horses ignore a mineral block. I use a white salt block and loose minerals.
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