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
    • Corncorn distillers dried grains, ground corn, flaked corn, corn meal
    • Canolacanola meal, canola oil
    • Papaya
  • Conventional Crops: Notorious for Glyphosate** Contamination
    • Wheat: wheat middlings, wheat flour, wheat mill run
    • Oats: oats, whole oats, steam crimped oats
    • Ricerice 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
  • By-Products
    • Middlings
    • Hulls
    • Meal
    • Pulp
    • 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.)
  • Probiotics
    • 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.
  • Preservatives
    • 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 a long list of 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 food 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 warned that when fed regularly, these by-products produced 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.

    Why are we feeding these types of ingredients to our beloved horses, our partners, our athletes? 

        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!”

            It's good to be aware that if we add an anti-inflammatory supplement to an overall pro-inflammatory diet, we may see some results... or if we add an alkalizing product to an overall highly acidic diet, we may see some results... However, this can be like just a drop in the bucket, making minimal difference. We can do better by our horses! Imagine what can be seen when the horse’s whole diet is optimized to work toward the same end goal of...
    Supporting a normal inflammatory response, offering naturally-occurring and highly-bioavailable phytonutrients, supporting digestion and a strong microbiome, supporting a balanced pH, encouraging proper nutrient absorption and assimilation, supporting naturally balanced hormones, etc.
        With every ingredient in the regimen serving the horse the whole bucket being in favor of the horse - the horse's body will have a greater chance of having the nutritional tools it needs to heal itself and to function normally. This includes joints, digestion, hoof health, skin and coat, bone density, ligament and connective tissue strength, mood - everything! The body does the work when we supply highly bioavailable, whole food nutrients and remove problematic, inflammatory ingredients which interfere with normal cellular function, detoxification pathways and the healing process.
    The ‘a la carte’ Meal
        With the 'a la carte' style of feeding, we have the flexibility to address each horse's unique nutritional needs more effectively. Below is one example of an 'a la carte' meal for an average horse. This meal supplies the horse with a diverse offering of super seeds (chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds & more) for healthy protein, generous healthy fats (rich in omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation), fiber, an herbal multi-vitamin, digestive support, a wide array of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, naturally-mined salt for electrolyte balancing year-round, and much more!

         We typically start with a base feed of Cool Stance 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 a source of 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 Cool Stance with Vitality Super Greens, (or Nettle Leaf & Kelp), as there’s enough naturally occurring calcium to balance a generous feeding of Cool Stance. If Cool Stance isn't an option for your horse, a base of straight orchard grass or timothy hay cubes and water is my second choice (Standlee brand offers organic options to avoid Glyphosate and other pesticide contamination). Green Mountain makes organic alfalfa pellets, if you prefer alfalfa for your horse, I just recommend keeping alfalfa fed at a low dose due to oxalates and inflammatory lectins (it's a legume).


    Example of an 'a la carte' meal, for the average horse:

        • Cool StanceAnti-inflammatory, single ingredient (coconut), base feed - supports healthy digestion, has lower NSC 11%, higher protein & more.
        • Vitality Super GreensHerbal multi-vitamin offering naturally occurring vitamins & minerals, increases micro-circulation, gentle detox, deeply nourishing, etc.
        • Natural Vitamin ECritical 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 GlycinateCritical 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  - 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. 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, resistant to work, prone to infection, etc. Selenium yeast is an easy and affordable fix and can make a world of difference for your horse!
         We prefer to add water to support healthy hydration, but if you board your horse and it isn't an option to add water, please don't worry; it is okay to offer his or her meal dry. You may add-on to this basic diet or eliminate and replace products according to your horse's unique needs. For example, you may choose to include: 


    Signature Nuggets for whole body support including joints, digestion, gentle detox, immune support, etc

    Chamomile Flowers , Level Headed or Adapt. as a nervine or adaptogen blend for high-strung, anxious horses 

    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

    Trinity Blend or Noble Collagen for reinforcing intestinal integrity, joint support, recovery from injury, 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 risks of GMO's, please click here.
    **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.
    ***To learn more about the concerns of feeding synthetic isolated nutrients (found in most commercial feeds, balancers and supplements), and how these can contribute to toxicity and nutritional deficiencies, please click here.