What is the “No Grain Challenge”?

First let me ask you, as a horseman have you experienced or are you concerned about:

  • Unwanted weight gain or loss
  • Loss of top line
  • Poor hoof condition
  • Poor hair coat
  • Bad behavior, uneasy
  • Can’t tighten the girth
  • Can’t brush the hair
  • Objects to trot or other gaits
  • Bad shipper
  • Laminitis
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cushing’s (PPID)
  • Anhidrosis (non-sweating)
  • Poor exercise recovery
  • Poor work ethic
  • An unwilling partner

Let me tell you how all of the issues listed above are effected by grains, or in another word SUGAR, in this short video:.

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The Two Week No Grain Challenge

  • First: Get a calendar or open an app and circle TODAY’S date. This will be your start date for the challenge. Photograph or take a video of your horse and document his/her behavior and body composition IN DETAIL.
  • Second: Do not feed any grain or sugar including natural sugars, treats and supplements with sugar ingredients such as: Corn, Wheat, Oats, Carrots, Apples, Molasses, Honey, Wheat mids or middlings, seeds, hulls or byproducts. If your horse needs to take a supplement for medical reasons find one without sugar ingredients.
  • Third: DO FEED Hay (grass or grass plus a legume like alfalfa), Pasture, Water, Mined Salt (Himalayan or Rock, not with a sugar binder!).
  • Fourth: After 2 weeks send me your diary, if shooting video remember to shoot it in landscape (turn the phone sideways) and give me permission to post it so others can learn from your experience with the Two Week No Grain Challenge. (All testimonies are written or expressed in their own words by their authors and are printed and posted with their permission).

So Why Take the Two Week No Grain Challenge?

Some of us have all the money in the world to spend on our horses and some of us work 3 jobs to barely afford our one horse. We all want to do the best thing because we love them and we feel responsible for their best care. But is what you’re doing actually helping them? Are all the feeds and supplements actually helping or are there now more problems? Could there be a free and alternative approach to doing “the best” for your horses?

The core of the Two Week No Grain Challenge is the removal of all ingredients that may cause gut inflammation. The initial benefits of this are seen in about 3 to 4 days with most horses recovering in about 7 days and all horses in 2 weeks.

It works and it costs nothing. You do not add more hay or pasture. You do not feed treats, carrots, apples, mints, sugar or anything else. What you do is feed them the way they were created (ground plants +/- hay, mined salt and water). You also retrain yourself by learning about the foods horses should eat and how they fuel your horses.

If you find this too difficult for you to do, do it anyway. It is only 14 days and you can always go back. If you must treat your horses, give 1 (one) peanut in the shell. Peanuts are a legume (like alfalfa) and have no inflammatory sugar.

Start a journal with dates and observations. Judge for yourself. And did I mention this not only costs nothing but actually saves you money? Money you can become a member of The Horse’s Advocate with to help spread this message to the world! Thanks advance for trying this, becoming your horse’s advocate and helping horses thrive in a human world.  Doc T

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any company nor do I sell any supplements or protein products. I only want to create a conversation and develop thoughts that will inspire you to think and start making better decisions in keeping your horses.

If your horse has ANY health issues please consult with your veterinarian before starting any diet change. 

In very old horses (25 years and older) be careful because the chronic inflammation may cause them to actually loose weight without grain. In these cases get a medium chain triglyceride source of fat to add energy that is non-inflammatory. ( This is one exception where I would recommend a product such as CoolStance® which is shredded coconut meal as a great way to add non-inflammatory energy. When searching for a supplement for older horses be sure to avoid vegetable oils such as corn oil and soybean oil because they are inflammatory.)

To recap the Two Week No Grain Challenge:

1) Stop feeding sugar to reduce or eliminate insulin production and lectins to reduce or eliminate gut inflammation (grain, byproducts and all supplements including treats, carrots, sugar cubes, apples etc.).

2) Feed grass and clean hayat about 1.5% of bodyweight (15 lb / 1000 lb horse or 7.5kg per 500 kg horse). Soak if necessary at least 1 hour or more to reduce the sugar (starch, NSC) in the hay.

3) Have unlimited access to water and mined salt (rock salt or Himalayan).

Further, I highly recommend starting a journal to record every possible observation and commit to this diet and chart for 2 weeks. If you feel capable, write a summary of your observations and send it to me with permission to post and help me get the message out.

Remember, if you don’t like the results you are getting you can always return to your original diet. No harm done.

If you want the in depth explanation of exactly how horses process food, what food they should be eating, and how a lot of what horse owners are feeding their horses today is really harming them, you may be interested in becoming a Premium Member to take The Horsemanship Nutrition Course and join our Community Discussions driving deeper into nutrition issues. But don’t worry if you just want a quick summary – I will sum it up below. First see what some other horse owners are saying about the results they have seen from trying the Two Week No Grain Challenge:

Thank you for spending some time here today – Geoff Tucker, DVM.