Congratulations on your marriage and life together....
So would breaking it up into 2 smaller feedings be better for him then? I just got married and bought a house and me and my wife are school teachers, so we don't have a whole lot of excess money to go all out on top of the line stuff. But I do want to get him healthy, so I'm looking for more budget friendly ways to do so.
So, simple answer is, "YES...smaller meals are easier on the horse to digest"
Fed more often but in smaller amounts the horse is able to digest and utilize the foods offered easier on their gut.
Horses by design are what they call a trickle feeder...means small amounts as near continuous through the digestive tract they can gain nutrients best from.
So you mention Rural King you shopped in..and then a complete feed.
They carry many brands, some better quality than others, some a denser calorie feed than others.
Sometimes buying the better quality is
a savings when you don't need to feed as much to reach the same results...
When you figure feeding amounts, you figure the amount needed to feed the fully weighted horse.
Needing to gain weight I would feed at the ratio of moderate work so you are feeding him more calories than he will consume just being a horse hanging out.
Based on his bone frame and guesstimating his height, he should weigh in between 1000 - 1200 pounds and I would guess he is around 900 pounds currently.
You should start to see a difference in appearance in about 7 - 10 days time feeding the amount you started at though too.
So, most feed is recommended to be fed at not more than 5 pounds per feeding...
It costs more to feed a underweight horse for them to gain than it does a properly weighted horse who just needs to then maintain.
Once the horse gains & fills in, "looks" like a healthy horse you then cut back amount fed so the animal maintains but no longer gains.
Now, when you look at the various bags of feeds in the store it can be so confusing.
I look for a protein level of 12 - 14%, fat level the higher the amount the better same as fiber.
Sometimes better quality allows less fed and actually saves you money.
Senior feeds are made to be easier for the horse to digest and get the nutrients absorbed into their body.
Complete feeds when fed enough mean a horse who can not eat hay can thrive and survive just eating that kind of feed. Many but not all
senior feeds are also a complete feed.
Sweet feed is a feed with a sticky molasses content and many times real cereal grains are used but many horses have difficulty digesting those ingredients and molasses is known as a sugar rush and "candy" to the horse...
Feeds are also different in denseness of calories per pound and that amount fed to get the same results can be vastly different.
These are lists of food calorie charts for example so you can see how varied the numbers can be. http://laminitishelp.org/CalorieFeed.pdf
So if you chose a feed that supplies 900 calories a pound, and I select a feed that supplies 1800 calories a pound I can feed 1/2 the amount and get the same result as yours....sometimes that is where the cost savings comes in.
You have to figure out what you are feeding, what is available and what you can afford and the horse will do best with...
I have a horse similar to yours now that I am feeding Safe-Choice Senior to as his top-line is very poor along with needing general weight gain overall too...
I see a difference in 10 days already...he is
filling in. We have a long way to go but on the road to recovery he is.
Hay fed, pasture while it is still growing and nutritious is good.
Again, hay at the amount of 2% of the full body weight
for a horse like this or even more...so 20+ pounds a day.
Common bales of hay are 50 pounds so about 1/2 bale a day fed when the grazing goes dormant and figure you may need more in dead of winter cold to maintain weight.
So, other things that may affect weight gain is teeth.
Horses need a dentist just like people.
Teeth with sharp edges or not flat chewing surfaces can affect how well they grind and start the digestive process. They literally will cut apart the mouth insides sometimes.
Another thing many forget about is horses eat off the ground and that means they eat/ingest sand sometimes.
Sand can coat the intestinal tract and prevent nutrient absorption so we do a sand test to check this and treat as needed...
Simple test to do and then you have one more puzzle piece found to have a thriving horse... Testing Your Horse for sand in its stomach
Add a block of salt, just plain white salt if you are feeding a feed with added vitamins and minerals so sweating loss can be replenished as needed.
My horses lick a plain salt block and ignore their mineral block...their choice as it is freely available for them. they know what they need better than I.
Fresh plentiful water...
And one more I know you already do is love, lots of love and attention given.
Oh...Tractor Supply usually has stores in close proximity to Rural King as they are competitors for a specific market and that means they price match and beat each others prices...you only need to ask and show proof and they will meet/beat the others.
Also if you have several Tractor Supply locations close by, each store may have slightly different prices so do check and use that as meet or beat the price on them or in Rural King...
They also carry the same and different varieties of horse feed/supplements too.
The savings is in your pocket this way.
That should get you started, now searching for more information, answers and clarifications.