The proper diet

When I first started researching getting another horse I knew I wanted something that wouldn't be as high maintenance as what I had. I wanted something that could potentially go barefoot, and didn't require tons of food to stay at a (barely) acceptable weight. Finn was on nearly 6lb of grain a day (EquiPro Fiber Max), 5 decently heavy good quality flakes of hay a day, a 5lb bucket of forage/ dengie at PM, 2 scoops of beet pulp with PM feed, and rice bran at PM when we felt his weight needed a boost. This diet kept him at a decent weight when he wasn't in heavy work. When he was getting worked on this diet he would get ribby. Oh, and the supplements. I'm completely embarrassed to say how much I was spending a month on supplements but here goes... He was on:

1. SmartCombo Ultra- $114.95. I chose this because it gave me the highest level of what I thought he needed (hooves, joint, digestive, and omegas)
2. SmartGut Ultra- $66.95. I chose this for suspected ulcers. This really did seem to help.
3. SmartCalm Ultra - $29.95. I chose this for obvious reasons.
4. SmartSox- $51.95. I chose this after his bout of laminitis over the summer. It was supposed to help with heel soreness, as well as horses with weak hoof walls and growth. After 6 months on this his hooves looked AMAZING!!! But I also switched farriers and shoeing type completely so it's tough to know whether I can attribute his changing hooves partly to this, or to his farrier, or maybe a little of both.

I split these four supplements into two feedings to be fed with AM and PM feed. He had two giant drawers in the grain room, and I'm sure my barn manager just loved the twice a day.

That's $263.80. A MONTH. For supplements that may or may not have helped him. I feel so embarrassed about this. But, at the time I was just so, so desperate for anything that could possibly help him. If there was a witch doctor who promised she could cure all of his ailments I probably would have paid her whatever she asked.

So now I am determined to keep it simple. Healthy, happy, and simple. That's my new motto. When I first started seeking out a good grain/diet for her, I wasn't entirely certain I wanted to use any of the barn's grains as they were really designed for older horses, and she would need nearly 6lb of whatever I put her on to meet the minimum for a growing horse. This seems like a ton of feed for a little, easy keeper breed, in no work. My barn allows for us to buy our own grain, if what they have doesn't work, and gives us a discount on board. While researching starter grains, everything needed to be fed in large quantities. Then I came across something called a "ration balancer". I had never heard of it before, but liked what I read on COTH forums, as well as other websites, especially for breeds that are considered easy keepers. A good quality ration balancer should provide a horse with all of the necessary dietary essentials, and along with a good quality forage, should be enough to meet their dietary needs. My filly has never been on grain before, as she was on 24 hour pasture and Bermuda grass, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to introduce her to grain, but knew she needed more than just hay to meet her fullest potential. I started talking to a rep in my area that carries Buckeye's Gro 'n Win formula, and after reading reviews on this particular feed, felt like it could be a good fit. Here's what the website says:

Forage- either hay or pasture- is the most natural and preferred feed for horses providing the foundation for all equine diets. Although forage should make up the main part of the diet, and can meet your horse's energy requirements, it alone does not meet all of their nutritional needs. Different types of forage provide different levels of protein, vitamins and minerals that may not support your specific horse's needs. However, using the Gro 'n Win range of products, it is easy to tailor your horse's feeding program to meet the unique nutritional requirements for work and various life stages. Ration balancers such as Gro 'n Win are designed to provide all of the vitamins and minerals your hay is lacking without providing nutrients your horse doesn't need. Gro 'n Win is scientifically proven to benefit your horse's overall health by providing essential amino acids for muscle development and fatty acids to aid in immune response. By utilizing a diet with low starch and sugar, you can help prevent or regulate many nutrition-related disorders, such as Laminitis, Insulin Resistance, Tying-Up, Cushing's Disease, EPSM and HYPP. By decreasing the insulin spike in your horse's diet, you can also lessen  hyperactivity creating a quieter performance in the arena or the barn. 

I ended up buying two bags of it. It cost about $75 for two 50lb bags, but is fed at a much smaller rate than grain. The max she will be on is 2lb a day, which means that two bags will last me a little under two months. Because she has never been on grain before, my barn manager started her out at .5lb a day, and is working her up to the 2lb a day. She will be on even less as she ages, if it works for her. 

When she stepped off the trailer she was skinny. Definitely skinnier than I like. She has the lanky baby look, but her ribs are pretty prominent as well as her hips. I will have to take some pictures without her blanket on tomorrow. The first thing I did was worm her, and I'm fairly certain that she will be packing on the pounds quickly. 

After deciding on a feed for her, I got to thinking on supplements. I knew for sure I didn't want to put her on much, if anything, but decided to stick her on:
1. SmartOmega 3 Ultra- $25.55. I chose this basically because I love what it does for a horse's coat. But beside that, like that it includes pre and pro biotics to aid in digestion, and has what is missing from a pasture free diet. 
2. SOURCE- $11.55. I have used SOURCE in the past, and it is pretty unknown, and I think it's a great bang for your buck. It includes essential trace elements from seaweed, and I'm not sure how it works, but it just makes horses look awesome! Shiny, sleek coat, healthy strong hooves, and in great condition/weight. 

That totals $37.10. I am MUCH happier with that number, as opposed to what I used to pay for supplements. This is what her diet looks like:

6AM: 1lb Gro 'n Win with 1 flake of hay
NOON: 1-2 flakes of hay
4PM: 2 flakes of hay
5:30PM: 1lb Gro 'n Win, supplements, a small scoop of rice bran (just for right now to boost weight), as well as a scoop of beet pulp (barn standard to feed all horses soaked beet pulp)
9:00PM: 1 flake of hay

I will have to take before and after pictures to compare her condition and see how this diet works for her as she grows. 


  1. Hue is on smartsox and the before and after of his feet is amazing. Seriously. You were going above and beyond! Jeez. Glad the new girls an easier keeper.

  2. I really did love the Smartsox, it may have been my favorite supplement...but I tried SO many! Lol. Yes, I'm glad too. Hopefully she stays that way :) :)

  3. The friend were I board Shy is amazed at how little she can eat and keep weight. Shy gets no grain, but does get a vitamin supplement. Given the chance, she would eat until she exploded though.

    1. Lol, once I get some weight on her I hope she is just like that!!!

    2. She is a Haflinger, I am sure she will! Your barn gives hay that often? Lucky!

  4. Dang.. that's a lot in supps for Finn. My blog hop for next week was going to be on nutrition you should just add a link to this post on it when it pops up! lol