“Nutrition plays a role in every equine health condition, and the horse’s diet can either support or hinder healing and inflammation.” – Dr. Doug Herthel, founder of Platinum Performance
My first senior horse, Chaco, came to me cribbing constantly and underweight. He had a history of difficulty keeping weight on. I knew a good diet was critical to having a chance at the cribbing going away and him being able to maintain his weight.
Here’s his daily diet before I owned him:
1. 3 scoops of soaked beat pulp
2. 1 scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes
3. A few scoops of senior horse feed
4. Local western Washington hay
5. Some pasture turnout in summer
Here’s his daily diet I switched him to when I got him:
1. 20 lbs. timothy/orchard grass mix hay (from eastern Washington)
2. 2 lbs. eastern Washington alfalfa hay
3. 24/7 pasture turnout
4. Mineral supplement
5. Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation during the non-growing season
*I got rid of the local western Washington hay. It had a poor nutritional profile.
*I got rid of the senior horse feed. It was grain based. Not only did grain cause Chaco to crib, but grain is related to numerous health disorders in horses.
*I got rid of the beat pulp. While beat pulp can be a source of fiber, I wanted to see if just feeding him high quality hay would take care of his nutritional needs. (It did).
*I added a powdered mineral supplement to balance the nutritional profile of the hay.
*I supplemented omega 3 fatty acids in the non-growing season. During the growing season, grass has omega 3 fatty acids. If the horse doesn’t have grass, then supplement the omega 3 fatty acids. Sunflower seeds, ground flax seed, flax oil or hemp oil all have omega 3 fatty acids.
Today, his constant cribbing has stopped. He can maintain his weight on hay and pasture alone. And an added bonus is his silky soft coat. It is so soft and luxurious I can’t get enough of it. What’s the secret? The diet.
Are you having health problems with your own horse? Take a close look at the diet. Good nutrition will only support your horse’s overall health.