Optimizing My Horse’s Diet
for normal joint function, digestion, hormones, mood, hoof health, respiratory function & so much more!
If you’re seeking to help your horse overcome a specific challenge by adding a supplement into his regimen but are honestly unaware of how the rest of his diet may be impacting him (potentially contributing to his weak points), then this article is for you! Additionally, if you're new to restructuring your horse's diet and you're hoping to avoid GMO's, by-products, synthetic isolated nutrients, preservatives, pesticides, Glyphosate contamination and other inflammatory ingredients in your horse's feed regimen, then this article is also for you!
I'm excited to share with you how we've been feeding our horses for years now, and how many of our clients - from backyard barns to FEI level competitors - are feeding their horses with great success.
Once we gained an understanding of what most commercial feeds and balancers are made of, we saw no other option but to create a wholesome, naturally balanced, forage-based diet ourselves. Before we dive into how we feed 'a la carte', let's take a look at what's in most feeds, balancers and supplements on the market today. Grab your feed bags and supplement containers... do you see any of these ingredients in your horse's diet?
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)*
- Soy: soybean hulls, soybean meal, soybean oil, heat-processed soybeans, dehulled soybean meal, ground extruded whole soybeans
- Alfalfa: dehydrated alfalfa meal, alfalfa hay sun-cured chopped
- Beet: beet pulp, dried plain beet pulp, ground beet pulp, shredded beet pulp
- Corn: corn distillers dried grains, ground corn, flaked corn, corn meal
- Canola: canola meal, canola oil
- Conventional Crops: Notorious for Glyphosate** Contamination
- Wheat: wheat middlings, wheat flour, wheat mill run
- Oats: oats, whole oats, steam crimped oats
- Rice: rice bran, stablized rice bran, rice bran oil
- Peas: green peas, yellow peas, pea protein
- Any ingredient not marked as organic is either conventional or GMO
- Distillers Dried Grains
- Synthetic Isolated Nutrients*** (Vitamin & Mineral packs)
- Often identifiable by word suffixes 'ate', 'ite', 'ide'
- Ex: Magnesium oxide, zinc sulfate, cobalt carbonate (which converts to oxide with heat), ethylenediamine dihydroiodide (aka: EDDI or 'organic iodine'), etc
- Identifiable by secondary word 'acid'
- Ex: Folic Acid, Ascorbic acid (which is not Vit C; it's incomplete, as it's only one of over 250 different co-factors that make up a true, functional, whole food vitamin C.)
- We love probiotics, but when they're bundled into commercial feeds, they're potentially not still viable, or viable through to the hindgut, due to heat & chemicals used in processing, as well as, the nature of the other ingredients / chemicals used in most commercial feeds.
- Propionic acid, Benzoic acid, Sorbic acid, Tartaric acid, Acetic acid, Sodium benzoate, Calcium propionate, Potassium sorbate, Formaldehyde (MaxiBond), etc (search in PubChem to see how they're flagged (corrosive, acutely toxic, health hazard, irritant)).
- Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratios
- What is the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio?
- Are there more Omega-3 or more Omega-6? (Omega-3 are anti-inflammatory fatty acids & most Omega-6 are pro-inflammatory.)
If pure, organic, whole foods were included in feeds, instead of by-products of GMO crops, then synthetic isolated nutrients wouldn't need to be added. These synthetic 'vitamin and mineral packs' are used in attempt to make up for the missing nutrients from selecting low-quality ingredients. The by-products are missing the bulk of the plant, often the most nutritious part of the plant (likely used for human consumption). By-products are inflammatory, unwanted leftovers of the Ag industry, not nutrient-dense whole ingredients.
Interestingly, the alarm was first sounded back in the 1800’s by veterinary surgeon and professor of veterinary medicine in Glasgow, Scotland, Dr. John Stewart, via his book, “The Stable Book; Being a Treatise on the Management of Horses”, regarding how harmful feeding such by-products is to the horse. He claimed that when fed regularly, these by-products produce general rottenness of the horse, disease of the liver, staggers, founder and more.
Additionally, synthetic isolated nutrients are missing all their necessary co-factors required to function. By ingesting these, we risk developing greater nutrient deficiencies as the isolates will pull from our body's reserves in order to complete themselves. They're also harsh on the gut and can be abrasive to sensitive internal tissues, setting the stage for things like gut dysbiosis, ulcers, anxiety and much more.
It's important to understand that majority of the immune system resides in the gut. Therefore, we cannot expect the horse to thrive unless we foster the gut microbiome properly. You may be surprised by how many ailments can be resolved by simply correcting and optimizing the diet. We know as humans that it's important to eat more organic living foods, whole fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats instead of factory farmed, wild caught fish instead of farm raised, and less dead food (cereals, chips, cookies, etc). Our animals require the same high-quality nutrition in order to function normally or thrive. Once we improve our horse’s diet, he or she typically requires less topical treatments, less prescriptions, less vet bills, experiences less inflammation, less stiffness, less stress, and enjoys more restoration, more freedom... ultimately resulting in a happy, healthy horse!
“When Your Horse Feels Good, Life Is Good!”
We typically start with a base feed of Coolstance coconut copra. This serves as an excellent base feed for most horses; however, it has an inverted calcium to phosphorus ratio, which just means it needs to be fed with added calcium. This is important to prevent the body from leaching calcium from the bones in effort to offset the higher phosphorus. To remedy this, I suggest pairing Coolstance with Vitality Super Greens, (or Nettle Leaf), as there’s enough naturally occurring calcium to balance a generous feeding of Coolstance. If Coolstance isn't an option for your horse, a base feed of straight orchard grass or timothy hay cubes and water is our second choice. (Standlee brand offers organic options to avoid Glyphosate and other pesticide contamination.)
Example of an 'a la carte' meal, for the average horse:.
- Coolstance - Anti-inflammatory, coconut base feed, supports healthy digestion, lower NSC, higher protein & more.
- Vitality Super Greens - Herbal multi-vitamin offering naturally occurring vitamins & minerals, increases micro-circulation, gentle detox, deeply nourishing, etc.
- Natural Vitamin E – Critical to provide horses off lush pasture as they cannot internally generate E. It’s important for immune system function, warding off infections, supporting muscle & nerve function, & much more.
- Magnesium Glycinate – Critical for immune system function, most of our population is magnesium deficient & it has been said that “every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency”. Magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. Replenishing stores can help rectify countless physical challenges and weak points.
- Grace's Abundance - Prebiotic, nutrient-dense, whole food ingredients, rich in healthy fats, omega-3, protein & fiber. Helpful for restoring toplines, radiant coat color, hoof health, muscle maintenance & much more. (Optional for easy keepers)
- Redmond's Loose Mineral Salt (by Redmond’s) - Natural electrolytes, sodium, 84+ beneficial minerals.
- Selenium Yeast - Selenium is critical for a strong, healthy immune system, to ward off infection, cancer & more. Surprisingly, many horses are deficient! We highly recommend checking your horse's levels with your vet (approx $170 for a blood test with vitamin E) to determine if your horse should be supplemented with selenium yeast, as well. This test can be worth its weight in gold. In New England, we're in a selenium deficient zone and see too many selenium-deficient horses that are struggling to maintain their weight and muscle, are tired and resistant to work, etc. Selenium yeast is an easy and affordable fix and will make a world of difference for your horse!
Signature Nuggets for whole body support including joints, digestion, gentle detox, immune support, etc
Hay Harmony copper, zinc and biotin for iron overload and coat & hoof health
Liver, Lymph & Skin for liver function, iron overload, insulin resistance, overall immune system strengthening, & skin health
Renewed Blend for your athlete, senior with joint stiffness, or horse with Fecal Water Syndrome (FWS)
Allergy Blend for a horse battling any type of allergies
Full Tilt: Allergy + Joint for joint support or allergy support / expectorant
No Guts, No Glory! for a horse with ulcers, various digestive woes, or in place of Omeprazole
Cushing's Support Herbal & Superfood Blend for Cushing's disease
Mullein Leaf for a horse prone to coughing, respiratory troubles or anemia
Hawthorn Leaves & Flowers for a horse prone to laminitis, a weak heart, poor circulatory system
Camelina Oil for Omega-3, natural vitamin E, additional joint support, etc
For those who board, we recommend making it easier on your barn manager by pre-setting up your horse's meals in zip-lock bags or containers. Just pick a time each month or so, where you set up the meals ahead of time. The 'a la carte' feeding plan may take a bit more time, but it is worth it. You can feel good knowing you're offering your horse wildcrafted herbs they'd forage in the wild to self-heal, and organic, whole foods (no by-products, GMO's, poor quality synthetic isolates or preservatives). We're certain your horse will thank you and you will see a difference!
Please contact us with any questions or to share your horse's story! We would love to help or hear how things are going. We're also happy to feature your horse's story, or share before and after pictures, if you would like to be featured by Yucc’ It Up! in a testimonial or social media post. Thank you!
**To learn more about the dangers of Glyphosate, please click here, or here or follow the research of MIT Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Stephanie Seneff.