Thursday, 16 July 2015

Managing the Barefoot Performance Horse - Diet

I've had a couple of mails recently about how I manage Buddy, his exercise, diet and feet so I thought I'd do a couple of posts on these starting with diet. When B came home from Rockley Nic gave me a diet sheet with everything he'd been fed and so I remained in that comfort zone for a very long time quite happily as I didn't need anything else. However I soon got braver and tweaked the minerals and then slowly started tweaking the diet.

For a barefoot horse diet is critical to keep the hoof functioning and sugar has a huge impact. Forage forms the bulk of any horse's diet (and if it doesn't it should!) so the sneaky sugar peaks in grazing have to be monitored. Buddy is out during the day in the winter, in at night and this swops during the summer months. The grazing at my yard isn't fertilised and is a mixture of different grasses and it is not the lush grazing that some owners have to contend with. When he is stabled he is fed haylage which is grown at the yard and so I know is 'safe'. He has ad lib access to this and is fed from a haybar.

The basis for Buddy's hard feeds throughout the year are the following items:
1. Coolstance Copra
2. Dengie Alfa Pellets
3. Crushed Oats
4. Unmollased sugar beet
5. Linseed (summer) / Omega Rice (winter)

I feed these in varying amounts depending on the time of year and workload but these basic items are always there in some degree. Added to this I have a delightful selection of minerals which I pre mix into little pots so that it is easier for my YO to manage. I have experimented with my mineral mix over the last three years and have used Pro Balance, Pro Hoof, Equivita and now I use Farriers Mix from my sponsor. Of those I rate Equivita and Farriers Mix and have noticed the better quality hoof with those two. I noticed no change in hoof when swopping to Farriers Mix and they had vastly improved when moving to Equivita.

My mineral mix includes:
1. Farriers Mix from The Herbal Horse
2. Cal Mag (30-100ml depending on time of year)
3. Salt (15-50ml depending on time of year)
4. Sports Horse Mix from The Herbal Horse

B is not the easiest horse to keep condition on and has a tendency to drop condition overnight at coat change time (Sept/Oct and Jan/Feb) and I have struggled to get it back on him. My previous 'go to' feed was Baileys conditioning cubes but these are too high in starch so they were off the list but in January I started feeding Omega Rice from Falcon Feeds which made a massive difference very quickly. So this year I will start feeding it before his usual drop off time to ensure he remains in good condition year round. The addition of the sports horse mix has also made a difference as, for the first time since I've owned him, he is only fed once a day during the summer. Now considering he is in harder work now than he has ever been and looks better than he has ever done I think that's a pretty good testimonial!

No comments:

Post a Comment