From Endurance to Dressage
Every few months I like to reevaluate what my boys are eating. I am sure you do the same thing, so chime in with your feed protocol.
With property values so high and water so limited here in California, there aren't many facilities where horses get to live on grass. If they're lucky enough to get grass, it's usually pretty short, and not plentiful enough to live on. The ranch owners where my boys live have several large lawn areas in front of the house reserved for occasional grazing. After riding, I nearly always let one of them loose to graze for 20 - 30 minutes a day.
The ranch owner buys excellent quality hay which is good since that's mostly what my boys eat. This year's alfalfa is particularly nice with fine stems and lots of green leaves. The grass hay is so good that Speedy prefers it to the alfalfa. Since it's not calorie dense enough, he only gets it while I am tacking up.
Speedy gets up to three weighty flakes of alfalfa a day, depending on how much he eats. If he hasn't cleaned up most of the hay from the previous feeding, he only gets one flake. He likes to eat, but when he's had enough, he walks away.
Izzy gets up to three large flakes of grass hay and two very thin alfalfa flakes a day. Right now, he's in a hoover it all up stage. After a while, he'll slow down on the grass hay, but he'll always finish the alfalfa. When he slows down on the grass hay, the ranch owner makes the flakes a bit smaller. He's such a chunk right now that if she gave him any more he might pop, but I like him nice and round.
Speedy's a hard one to feed. He could live on just hay, but he simply won't eat enough of it to get a rosy bloom. I can't get his corners rounded on just hay. If I give him too much supplemental feed, he feels satiated and quits eating the hay. I've landed on a good balance this year with all the alfalfa he'll eat and five pounds of LMF senior split into two feedings.
To add even more calories to his diet, I also feed a half cup of Platinum's Healthy Weight flaxseed oil. Price-wise it's cheaper than the LMF. I go through three bags a month of that (at $20 a bag) while the flaxseed oil lasts nearly two months (for around $62). The oil is very convenient to feed, and Speedy likes it enough to eat every drop.
Izzy is much easier to feed. Combined with the hay, he gets about three quarters of a pound of shredded beet pulp with an added pound of LMF senior. The LMF is really just to treat him after a ride. If he doesn't get ridden, he gets about half a pound of the LMF.
I used to scoff at supplements. And even today, I still question their efficacy. If money were really tight, the first thing I'd get rid of would be the supplements. But since my budget allows for them, I give them with fingers crossed that they're actually doing something helpful.
Both boys get two scoops daily of Platinum Performance Equine, the wellness and performance formula. Since both of my boys were healthy and fit before I started them on Platinum Performance, I never saw a sudden bloom develop. Of the two horses, Speedy already had a silky coat and lovely feet before I started the Platinum Performance supplement, so it's hard to say whether it has done anything other than make up for any nutritional deficiencies.
Since Izzy's feet need some help, I am also feeding Platinum Hoof Support once a day. None of Platinum's products are cheap, but I feel better knowing that the formulas were created by a veterinarian and that there is research to support the product claims. If anything, I know the products aren't hurting my horses.
I've mentioned this about 10,000 times already, but Speedy loves hard candies. He gets two of them after every ride and anytime I think he's earned it. There are not enough of those times in his opinion. I've also started tossing two peppermints in his morning bucket which the ranch owner feeds. He hadn't really warmed up to her, so I suggested she give him some candies every morning. I haven't heard whether it's working or not.
Izzy like the LMF and grass, so those are his treats. He's not as big on the candies, and cookies are only meh. LMF works for me since I already keep several bags on hand.
I know this sounds like a complicated feeding regimen, but it takes me less than five minutes to fill up my buckets. It's the first thing I do when I get to the barn. I feed as the last thing I do, so my buckets are always rinsed and waiting for me the next day.
So, what's in your horse's bucket?
That does sound relatively complex to me! Though it is nice that your BO takes care of one found of feeding.
10/1/2018 07:06:17 am
I have never actually seen a round bale; we don't have those for horses here in California. I've seen them fed to cattle though. Here, we get regular rectangular bales that weigh up to about 130 pounds.
10/1/2018 07:07:55 am
Timothy is hard to find here, and if you do find it, it will cost upwards of $30 a bale. A bit too pricey for most people. Virtually all horses in California eat alfalfa, maybe oat, and if you can find it, grass hay.
9/30/2018 11:55:17 pm
We have four natives and feed as taught by Dr. Kellon. Our forage usually requires magnesium, zinc and copper. ( equi analytical is our lab ) Freshly ground flax seed and plenty of salt are fed twice a day. Besides meadow hay in small holed hay nets we feed cut grass, straw and beet pulp.
10/1/2018 07:12:52 am
Selenium and vitamin e are typically lacking in our forage, although we don't test it. The Platinum Performance was created by a vet just two hours from here, and my own vet agrees that it is a good vitamin and mineral supplement for horses in California (and probably anywhere). I haven't really looked into grinding my own flax seed which is why I just give the oil. It's more expensive for sure, but it's convenient. I don't add loose salt, but we have salt blocks in every paddock. It's always interesting to hear what people around the globe feed their ponies. :0)
10/7/2018 02:34:35 am
Dr. Kellon is an American and we think that we feed an American diet :)
10/7/2018 03:37:39 pm
Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), feed practices around the US vary tremendously.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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