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Can a thoroughbred (especially one who cribs) be on an all forage diet? (Hay, alfalfa and grass 24/7) is this even possible? Since thoroughbreds are bred to be lean, could they even maintain the weight/muscle to be a HJ? But wouldn’t it help with the cribbing factor- less acid in there stomach? Idk just a thought.
 

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Some OTTB are on forage only...it is specific to the animals needs.
Thoroughbreds are known as hard-keepers, many of them because a faster/higher metabolism is at times more than forage can provide calories needed for thriving conditions.
To me, it is very specific to each animal.

I have a aged OTTB.... we tried so many variations of diets but my guy can not hold his weight on forage only.
I'm referring to racetrack quality alfalfa fed {$600 a ton} is top of the line...
He is fed hay unlimited, {not the alfalfa though as it made no difference on him} and feed to give him the added calories we just weren't able to get him to eat enough hay he needed.
There is a limit to how much food the horse will eat a day, can eat a day and if it still isn't enough calories....:cautious:

So, yes forage is a possibility if the horse can eat enough to thrive and do well when working under saddle or whatever you do with the animal.
The cribbing if the animal is a diehard cribber is going to be a problem...cribbers dedicated to that action would rather crib than eat is what I've seen over the course of working the horse industry and some friends having cribbers...thankfully none of mine crib {can't stand it!!}
Your specific animal though by appearance will let you know if he can survive, thrive looking good eating just forage products or not...
Nothing to lose...try it.
🐴...
 

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Absolutely. My ottb mare is on a forage-based diet, & she has never looked better. It's not breed-specific! :) Many horses can be benefit from it.

I feed her timothy pellets & coolstance, with her supplements. Voila! Up the pellets if she needs more weight, that's about it. She also has access to grass/hay 24/7. Hay moreso in the winter though, as the grass doesn't get lush until spring!
 

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Can a thoroughbred (especially one who cribs) be on an all forage diet? (Hay, alfalfa and grass 24/7) is this even possible? Since thoroughbreds are bred to be lean, could they even maintain the weight/muscle to be a HJ? But wouldn’t it help with the cribbing factor- less acid in there stomach? Idk just a thought.
A horse’s feed should be mostly hay and grass (including alfalfa hay if it suits) and a horse will maintain weight and even be overweight if fed enough good quality forage.
TB’s aren’t bred to be lean, they’re lean when worked hard. Remove the hard work and they soon put on weight.
You can add soaked sugar beet, grass or alfalfa pellets and something like rice bran if the horse needs something extra to maintain weight when working harder. They won’t cause an acid problem.
 

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Yes absolutely some horses but not all. There is a limit to how much food horses can eat and if that's under the calories needed by the end if the day you need to add a feed. But if its over you don't. Some ottbs I have seen just can't keep weight on even on a very high calorie feed. Some did well on a haynet. Really depends on the horse
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some OTTB are on forage only...it is specific to the animals needs.
Thoroughbreds are known as hard-keepers, many of them because a faster/higher metabolism is at times more than forage can provide calories needed for thriving conditions.
To me, it is very specific to each animal.

I have a aged OTTB.... we tried so many variations of diets but my guy can not hold his weight on forage only.
I'm referring to racetrack quality alfalfa fed {$600 a ton} is top of the line...
He is fed hay unlimited, {not the alfalfa though as it made no difference on him} and feed to give him the added calories we just weren't able to get him to eat enough hay he needed.
There is a limit to how much food the horse will eat a day, can eat a day and if it still isn't enough calories....:cautious:

So, yes forage is a possibility if the horse can eat enough to thrive and do well when working under saddle or whatever you do with the animal.
The cribbing if the animal is a diehard cribber is going to be a problem...cribbers dedicated to that action would rather crib than eat is what I've seen over the course of working the horse industry and some friends having cribbers...thankfully none of mine crib {can't stand it!!}
Your specific animal though by appearance will let you know if he can survive, thrive looking good eating just forage products or not...
Nothing to lose...try it.
🐴...
Thanks!!! My horse isn’t a die hard cribber (thankfully) it’s really light and only if he’s bored or eats grain☹
 

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I've known many TBs that were maintained on all forage diets, and also doing hard work. My own OTTB and a good friend's two OTTBs used to do ten mile rides with lots of cantering and galloping and we fed them no grain. We didn't keep them lean either, just solid and muscled.

When a horse has been fed a lot of grain, which is most track TBs, they will not be able to digest hay as well. This is because the intestines can only maintain a majority of the type of bacteria that will digest either grain or hay. Acidic environment bacteria digest grain better. If you feed more than several pounds of grain a day, the horse's digestion will adapt to digesting grain better, and will digest hay poorly. This leads to horses that appear they can't maintain weight on forage.

If you take the horse completely off grain, they will soon develop bacteria in the intestines that can ferment and utilize hay, and soon they will get all the calories from it that they need (if they are fed enough). For horses that crib, having a lot of time spent chewing long stem forage is a good thing.

It is different with an older horse if they have poor teeth and cannot chew hay to digest it. They may need a diet that has pellets, but even then it is healthier if these consist of roughage rather than grain products, and they will digest them better if the pellets are made of hay, beet pulp, and other roughages rather than corn, oats or barley.
 

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It depends on the horse. I have one gelding who is flourishing on the forage-only diet. I tried putting my senior (30+ yrs) gelding on it, and while I saw major coat and hoof improvements, he was still too thin for my liking. I could not get him to eat enough hay pellets or beet pulp to keep his weight up. I now have him on 4 lbs Triple Crown Senior Gold, 1/2 serving of KIS Trace, flax, salt, and soaked hay pellets, and he looks phenomenal. IThe forage-based group on FB does recommend TCS (original and Gold) for those horses who need more calories, as well as Cool-Stance.
 

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It depends on the horse. I have one gelding who is flourishing on the forage-only diet. I tried putting my senior (30+ yrs) gelding on it, and while I saw major coat and hoof improvements, he was still too thin for my liking. I could not get him to eat enough hay pellets or beet pulp to keep his weight up. I now have him on 4 lbs Triple Crown Senior Gold, 1/2 serving of KIS Trace, flax, salt, and soaked hay pellets, and he looks phenomenal. IThe forage-based group on FB does recommend TCS (original and Gold) for those horses who need more calories, as well as Cool-Stance.
To clarify, your horse is still on a forage only diet. Triple Crown Senior Gold is grain free and only has roughage/forage in the ingredients list, no grain. It has a NSC of 11%. You have simply chosen a feed that is textured enough for your elderly horse to chew and digest, but it still is not grain. You could feed your horse 20 lbs of this feed and he would still be on a forage/roughage diet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've known many TBs that were maintained on all forage diets, and also doing hard work. My own OTTB and a good friend's two OTTBs used to do ten mile rides with lots of cantering and galloping and we fed them no grain. We didn't keep them lean either, just solid and muscled.

When a horse has been fed a lot of grain, which is most track TBs, they will not be able to digest hay as well. This is because the intestines can only maintain a majority of the type of bacteria that will digest either grain or hay. Acidic environment bacteria digest grain better. If you feed more than several pounds of grain a day, the horse's digestion will adapt to digesting grain better, and will digest hay poorly. This leads to horses that appear they can't maintain weight on forage.

If you take the horse completely off grain, they will soon develop bacteria in the intestines that can ferment and utilize hay, and soon they will get all the calories from it that they need (if they are fed enough). For horses that crib, having a lot of time spent chewing long stem forage is a good thing.

It is different with an older horse if they have poor teeth and cannot chew hay to digest it. They may need a diet that has pellets, but even then it is healthier if these consist of roughage rather than grain products, and they will digest them better if the pellets are made of hay, beet pulp, and other roughages rather than corn, oats or barley.
Thanks that helped a ton!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've known many TBs that were maintained on all forage diets, and also doing hard work. My own OTTB and a good friend's two OTTBs used to do ten mile rides with lots of cantering and galloping and we fed them no grain. We didn't keep them lean either, just solid and muscled.

When a horse has been fed a lot of grain, which is most track TBs, they will not be able to digest hay as well. This is because the intestines can only maintain a majority of the type of bacteria that will digest either grain or hay. Acidic environment bacteria digest grain better. If you feed more than several pounds of grain a day, the horse's digestion will adapt to digesting grain better, and will digest hay poorly. This leads to horses that appear they can't maintain weight on forage.

If you take the horse completely off grain, they will soon develop bacteria in the intestines that can ferment and utilize hay, and soon they will get all the calories from it that they need (if they are fed enough). For horses that crib, having a lot of time spent chewing long stem forage is a good thing.

It is different with an older horse if they have poor teeth and cannot chew hay to digest it. They may need a diet that has pellets, but even then it is healthier if these consist of roughage rather than grain products, and they will digest them better if the pellets are made of hay, beet pulp, and other roughages rather than corn, oats or barley.
My Ottb gets 5lbs all together (3lb In the morning, 2 at night) do you think this is too much?? (Kalm ultra, essential k and k finish is the morning and then kalm ultra at night, and he gets 1 slice of alfalfa twice a day with hay and grass)
 

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The horses at the last two places I've boarded, including some very hard keeper OTTBs who had done poorly on concentrates, did wonderfully on just the following (in whatever amounts necessary). Probably largely because it's all pretty easy on the gut.

Hay and lots of it
Alfalfa pellets
Soaked plain beet pulp
Good quality vitamin/mineral balancer
A bit of plain salt

My senior (Oldenburg but genetically 50% TB as with many warmbloods) gets that, along with some omega 3 oil for joint support, and some other little odds and ends that she probably doesn't really need, and looks pretty darn good for almost 25. She's still worked 6x a week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The horses at the last two places I've boarded, including some very hard keeper OTTBs who had done poorly on concentrates, did wonderfully on just the following (in whatever amounts necessary). Probably largely because it's all pretty easy on the gut.

Hay and lots of it
Alfalfa pellets
Soaked plain beet pulp
Good quality vitamin/mineral balancer
A bit of plain salt

My senior (Oldenburg but genetically 50% TB as with many warmbloods) gets that, along with some omega 3 oil for joint support, and some other little odds and ends that she probably doesn't really need, and looks pretty darn good for almost 25. She's still worked 6x a week.
That’s amazing that she’s doing that much work
for her age. Thanks!!
 

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My Ottb gets 5lbs all together (3lb In the morning, 2 at night) do you think this is too much?? (Kalm ultra, essential k and k finish is the morning and then kalm ultra at night, and he gets 1 slice of alfalfa twice a day with hay and grass)
Kalm Ultra is the only part of the diet that contains grain. I personally would stop feeding that because you're not feeding enough of it to make much of a difference calorie-wise, so you're only helping keep the intestines more acidic and less able to digest the roughage. The ration balancer and fat supplement are fine. If he needs more calories, feed more grass hay, and if he doesn't gain on as much hay as he can eat, increase the alfalfa or add alfalfa pellets or beet pulp.
 

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My one gelding that's older who in past was hard to keep weight on. I use to feed grain an lots of it. Also fed free choice hay. He never looked great always ribby boney looking thing.

Two or three years ago I switched my horses to forage only diet. No grain no molasses no soy. Diet is alfalfa cubes 10 lbs, alfalfa/grass hay more alfalfa then grass. Hays fed in slow feed hay nets.

Mid day I give 4 lbs alfalfa pellets 3 lbs beet pulp pellets dry weight. Soak beet pulp an mix alf pellets in it. Bp isn't a thing now he's boycotting it currently so just the Alfa pellets. Of course I have 4 bags of BP, and neither horse will eat it now.

My horses work hard 6 days a week if they loose to much weight. I add a fat source for added calories. They are currently not working due to my boy injuring his tendon.

Here's what my older guy cinder looks like.
Horse Sky Snow Tree Working animal
 

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Horse Sky Ecoregion Working animal Fence

This is my last tb, he was on free choice grass with one flake alfalfa am and pm.
He got a 3qt scoop of triple crown and daily gold/phytosana for gut health once a day.

This is him in his new home on no grain just grass pellets and an alfalfa/grass mix and on an ulcer aid

Horse Eye Vertebrate Working animal Liver

He’s a 9 yr old high stress gelding so I’d say yes it is possible and I’d even recommend 24/7 access to forage more for a cribbed.
 
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My enormous growing 4 year old cribber is fat on pasture only, in the middle of summer. I'm not even giving my horses any hay at the moment! (To put into perspective how BIG he is, that's an 18" dressage saddle on a full sized PS of Sweden dressage pad... and last time I had him on scales he weighed in at 590kg despite still being fairly noodly)
Horse Sky Plant Tree Working animal


With his paddockmate, who's 16.2, built like a truck, also a TB, and also only on pasture. He's the one with the cribbing collar. Forced perspective is making her look taller than him but if you stand them next to each other on a solid flat surface he is clearly significantly taller.
Horse Sky Working animal Liver Natural landscape


Edit: here they are together on the trailer, he's the one on the left, and the camera is slightly tilted so the left side of the photo is a touch lower than the right..
Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
Tree Wood Mode of transport Motor vehicle Shade
 
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