Questions on Feeding Barefoot Horses
I have recently been asked many questions on feeding barefoot horses and what we do.
Below are some of the many questions I have been asked and I have replied with what we have found has worked well for our herd of barefoot horses, most of which are thoroughbred except for two ponies.
I have found the way we feed them all is very similar although there are differences in their weights and ages but the overall system works for all of them, ponies, mares, geldings, thoroughbreds, colts, yearlings etc
Question on Hay and Haylage
I’m thinking of changing my horses to barefoot, of course with a professional trimmer to trim their hooves. However, I would be grateful for some advice on feeding. I currently have ryegrass haylage as this was more readily available. I’m now concerned that this will be very high in sugar compared to meadow hay/haylage. Is this likely, and can you recommend a testing company?
It difficult to be sure of the sugar content of hay/haylage without testing it.
However although I have tested our hay in the past – it is tricky as it is forever changing. What I suggest you do is it to try and find a meadow hay which has more mixed grasses in it rather than just rye grass.
What we are doing is gradually improving our grazing by adding a medieval pasture mix seed to our paddocks so when we make hay we have a good grass mix.
However this is not always possible and takes time to come through.
I would look at meadow hays as a replacement to rye grass hay.
The other clue to determine whether the hay/haylage is too rich is to look at their droppings. If they are very green and slurry like, this is often an indication that the grazing/feed is too rich.
How Do you Provide Plenty of Calories
My horses are thoroughbreds, and one is on poor condition. The ryegrass haylage may be helping her improve I suppose. Otherwise, are there any safe ways of providing plenty of calories if the horse is eating ad-lib forage, and also oats and unmolassed beet?
We have found that grazing supplemented with hay/haylage when the grazing is not adequate goes a long way towards maintaining our horses weights.
If we find they are loosing weight and are looking on the thin side we will then feed them whole oats. If we feel they still need more we will add unmolassed sugarbeet to their oats and linseed oil as well if needed.
We always feed a herbal seaweed supplement.
And About Alfalfa and Refined OIls
Is alfalfa and oils/oily products like linseed, soya, corn, vegetable oil all bad in terms of hoof health?
In my opinion yes, I have written up about refined oils on our page Horse Supplements. – I just avoid all refined oils and alfalfa.
How to Make Whole Oats Tasty
Another problem is one horse finds oats and beet unpalatable – do you know any safe ways of making it tasty without molasses obviously? How about apple juice? Perhaps that is too high in fructans…
I avoid apple juice, molasses and any other sugar liquid.
When introducing or changing feeds with a new horse we would do it quite slowly over a number of days or weeks if need be.
If we were taking a horse off a molassed type diet we would do it slowly and just gradually replace the molassed feed.
If you try and do it immediately and just change the food in one day it can be very frustrating as the horse just turns up his nose…
So make the changes slowly.
Poor Condition – a Possible Supplement
We have one horse whose condition has been a challenge, the only additional feed we use which is not ‘natural’ but it works and i have not noticed any side effects or problems with his hooves, is Equilibra. A small amount of this daily has helped his condition tremendously, but he is the only horse that we have had to feed this to.
The three factors which will influence how well a horse will transition to barefoot are:-
1.) The Trim – this is fundamental – more details are on our blog pages
2.) Exercise – They need exercise whether in hand or ridden.
3.) The diet – this is covered on our Horse Nutrition pages.
All these areas are covered on this site.
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