Concentrated rations are the opposite of forage for horses. They developed a while ago when people moved from country farms to industrialized cities. To feed these people, horses worked more to harvest more food for the increasing demand. As a result, few farmers had to do more with their horses which caused weight loss in the horses because 1) increased work and 2) decreased pasture time. The solution was to feed them more sugar (glucose) in the form of grain (starch).
Additional glucose in the diet immediately restores the glycogen supply in the muscles and liver that the working horses were depleting. This use of glucose prevents body fat loss and maintains the horse’s athletic performance by not consuming muscle protein. Feeding concentrated rations became popular because it “concentrated” the energy found in the forage into a meal that would restore the lost glycogen. However, in lightly worked or non-working horses, adding glucose over the daily requirement only leads to additional body fat and increased protein loss. Chronic protein deficiency is the root cause of most of the diseases and lameness seen today in our horses.
There is no reason to be feeding concentrated rations if your horse is not plowing fields for 6 to 8 hours a day or pulling a wagon load of heavy freight to town three times a day.
This is an old video of me explaining what grain is.
And why I think grain is a supplement – though now I believe it is inflammatory in most horses.
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