As we turn the corner from winter to spring (insert cheer here!) the nutritional profile of grazing can change dramatically depending on the weather, with young grass higher in sugar and lower in fibre. Fibre provision is key for performance as it supports stamina, allows your pony/horse to maintain a healthy gut, and limits the incidence of digestive upset and gastric ulcers. Forage provision promotes healthy weight, improved digestive health, and even positive mental state. Start the competition season in the right mind set!
Ponies and horses may now have access to more regular turnout, as a consequence it is an important time to balance their forage ration (grass, hay, haylage) to ensure digestive health is maintained, while also supporting their training and competition needs.
Feeding a balancer in spring ensures your pony/horse continues to receive the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to maintain good health. Consider using a feed balancer which includes a targeted supplement if your horse has any particular health or behavioural issues. For example, feed Pro or Ulsa-Cool balancer if your horse suffers digestive stress, Calming if your pony/horse become excitable at this time of year or Joint Care if they need daily support for continued joint health.
For performance ponies and horses who are good doers spring into action, and kick start your weight loss plan, hugely beneficial to protect their prolonged joint health. Feed a forage based diet, supported by a low calorie, low sugar and low starch content balancer, such as Ulsa-Cool or Joint Care.
For poorer doers, calorie content, good quality protein, pre and probiotics are vital to include in their diet. Look for a balancer with good levels of protein content, such as Pro, coupled with a fibre product such as alfalfa or a conditioning mash for slow release calorie inclusion.
For ALL performance ponies and horses, look for: Essential amino acids to aid muscle repair PLUS Vitamin E and Selenium to aid recovery from fatigue
Calories vs Energy
p.s they're exactly the same thing
Feeding more calories than a horse is burning for daily function and work will result in weight gain. Horse's who are carrying too much weight may feel lazy as they find exercise difficult. Sadly there is no such thing as a higher energy feed which is low in calories.
- Water - Maintain your pony/horse's hydration by providing access to clean, fresh water at all times. a 500kg horse need approximately 25 litres/day.
- Forage/Fibre first (grass, hay or haylage) - ad-lib where possible, at least 1.5 - 2% of bodyweight. Ideally conduct equine forage analysis to ascertain the nutritional provision of your hay/haylage. A structural carbohydrate vital to digestive health.
- Vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein to fuel competition needs and aid the building and repair of muscle cells.
- Vitamin A - An important antioxidant, supplied through good quality grazing (converted from beta-carotene), forage provision and feed supplementation, for immunity, vision and more.
- B Vitamins - Biotin, B1 and B6
- Vitamin C - An important antioxidant, can be made by the horse, supplementation may be beneficial particularly useful for performance horses under stress, supports lung health.
- Vitamin D - Important for bone health, the sunshine vitamin!
- Vitamin E - An important antioxidant, found in good quality grazing and supplemented through feed. Needed to protect cells from oxidative damage (found in all Blue Chip balancers). Essential for well functioning muscles. Commonly fed alongside Selenium for optimum availability.
- Pre and probiotics - Prebiotics - Support the health of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotic "live yeast" - to aid digestive health by maintaining a stable pH in the hindgut and improves fibre digestibility.
- Selenium - An important antioxidant, commonly fed alongside Vitamin E to support recovery.
- Magnesium - A macro mineral, mostly stored in the skeleton, muscles and body fluid. Magnesium deficiency can impair muscle and nerve function.
- Phosphorus - An important mineral for bone growth and skeletal health, vital for energy transfer of ADP and ATP as sources of energy, also supports DNA and RNA synthesis.
- Electrolytes - Needed for fluid balance, nerve and muscle function and many essential processes. A lack of electrolytes can lead to colic, dehydration and other complications. Electrolytes are included in all Blue Chip balancers, but may need to be supplemented further for ponies and horse's sweating heavily. Sodium (Salt) - Good for horses lacking energy, feed 30g/day. Chloride - Needed for cell function. Potassium - supplied through good quality grazing, forage provision and feed supplementation.
- Starch - A carbohydrate useful as a source of fast release energy, ideally fed in small amounts.
- Sugar - Accessible energy, needed for daily function and short bursts of energy. High sugar diets can cause excitable and unwanted behaviour.
- Oil - Excellent provision of slow release energy.
Many of the ingredients above are included in all Blue Chip Feed Balancers
Final thoughts - feeding and management
- Grass will never fully balance a diet, even when best quality grazing is available
- Make sure your horse gets all the vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need by feeding a balancer year-round
- This is a time of readjustment for your horse's digestive system - providing a digestive supplement such as probiotics (included in all Blue Chip balancers) can help settle any gastric upset caused by changes in grass quality during this time
- Over the autumn/winter months your pony/horse may have limited access to turnout, spending an increased amount of time stabled, be aware of potential stiffness and/or behavioural changes as turnout can be increased in spring
Our feed advisors are here to help!
Call: 0114 266 6200