Firstly I live in New Zealand, so I'm sure our supplement sector is much different than other countries, but I'm interested in finding some good supplements to begin feeding my two mares.
It's been over two years since I've had to hard feed (my horses live outdoors 24/7) as I've sufficiently gotten away with quality hay and grass. This winter however I want to keep both mares in light work, and have one in particular coming out the other end ready for some serious riding!!
I will be buying lucerne chaff (I think its called alfalfa in the US) and wish to put supplements with it. I will be using Selenium and Magnesium so far, but wish to tailor a diet more suited to both girls. I thought if I turned here, even though I can also gain the advice of a professional equine nutritionist, I could come away with some good plans.
1. Honey - 8yr old Standardbred mare.
As you can see Honey is overweight, and has been on a strict diet of hay and little grass for a year now. She is my main riding horse and also has a weakness in her shoulders. I want to know if there are supplements (apart from glucosamine and MSM as I'm looking into those already) to help with muscle groups like the shoulder? She can get rather sore through them if I'm not careful with the work I do (she can't do excessive circle work when unfit and isn't to be lunged too much). She also gains weight at the smell of grass, so I'm not needing anything that encourages weight gain haha. I just want to help get the weight off with exercise and the right diet, and have her prepared so next year we can finally get out showing without her looking like a porker - don't worry I too am at the gym and having a diet change to match her
2. Seoul - 7yr old Standardbred mare.
I just got Seoul this week and aim to use her as a hacking companion/not in full work mount. She was originally a paddock mate for Honey, but after speaking with the previous owners, this lovely mare will be used for hacking out and regular exercise - but not necessarily in full work. My best friend will be riding her also. I'm just looking for a general diet for her, so she doesn't end up a "puff" pony like Honey. Depending on the nature her training follows, she may be taken to very low level dressage and jumping days for fun.
Both horses will be aimed to have ridden work 2-3 times a week, and since it will be wet, it will be only walk and trot unless the ground is safe enough to canter.
If you need any more information, please feel free to ask. I used to feed Dolomite, Mineral Mix and Seaweed Meal to my horses, along with Selenium - but these names may not be the same around the world haha.
If you really wish to do things right, the answer would be to get your hay tested and find out where its lacking and fill in the holes of the diet. You end up not only providing adequate nutrients where they are needed, but also balancing them in the process, which is very important. For example, if you have sufficient selenium in your hay and you add more, you could be getting toxic. If iron is high, it will be competing metabolically for copper and zinc and will win, making copper and zinc deficient even though your feeding it. If the calcium is high, it will make phosphorus and magnesium deficient in the face of it. Balance is everything and this is how you tailor it to each horse's needs, depending on age, weight and workload. A perfectly balanced diet for that horse....things couldn't be better.
A hay test is not expensive and will tell you the situation with every aspect of your horse's nutrition....major minerals, trace minerals, Se, salt, and more importantly, sugar and starch.....the whole nine yards. The hay test will also tell you its quality and how much your horse is really getting out of it.
A hay test is like a unique thumbprint. Doesn't matter which country it was grown in, what the growing conditions were, or when it was harvested. It will tell you exactly what the majority of your horse's diet is, right there and give you a plan for a perfectly balanced diet.
I think he looks like you are doing a good job! He looks so fit! His feet could be better balanced, though. I know what you mean about the ribs showing and it wouldn't take much more to make them disappear. Slow changes are good and the patience that goes with it.
What I've noticed in the pics is the color change. This says a copper deficiency to me. The damage is done long before the sun hits the coat and the deficiency allows the bleaching to happen. When you see the color when he arrived, he was deficient in copper already. I'm thinking his true color is black and the 2nd pic shows quite a dramatic color change going on.
I have a feeling that the time spent with hay and ulcer meds may have worsened the trace minerals. But minerals can aggravate ulcers, so ok then. If you are buying store bought feed, chances are, if you add them all up, the iron will be high. Even if you are feeding trace minerals, they will still be deficient in copper and zinc, because iron plugs up all the binding sites and won't allow copper and zinc to be metabolized. The trick is to add copper and zinc without the extra iron.....then you're getting somewhere. So have a look into the trace minerals without the iron, like California Trace Minerals and you should see him go back to the color he was genetically born with. Copper is very important for hoof health as well. I rehabbed a horse that looked a bit like your 1st pic. He was jet black 6 months later and achieved it IN the summer sun.
As for oil/fat, the horse has absolutely no requirement for it. What he needs is essential fatty acids, which is fresh ground flax 2-4oz/day. I have a small coffee grinder in the barn and use it just before feeding. These are your omegas and the flax has a perfect balance of omega 3 to 6. Flax works as a great anti-inflammatory. Must be fresh. Stabilized flax in store bought feeds has lost its omegas. Was real disappointed to hear that, but depending on your situation, you can grind up 4-5 days worth, if you can keep it dark in the fridge. Chia seeds are also similar and you don't have to grind them.
So, between the copper/zinc giving him the color he was born with, the flax will bring out a really deep shine and make it all come together beautifully.
Rice bran is good and so is beet pulp shreds...definitely the shreds, though. There's not much fiber in pellets.
Hope this helps...