This podcast answers a question about the feeding of young, growing horses and their mothers sent to me by someone in Thoroughbred breeding and sales. Here is the question:
“I assume that your no-grain diet is only for mature non-pregnant, and non-lactating mares. I’m interested in trying to find a way to use less grain, but it seems impossible to raise Thoroughbreds to sell at auction. They would be midgets compared to all of the other horses. Do you have any feeding solutions which work for that situation? Also, pregnant and lactating Thoroughbred mares can’t possibly get by with just hay and pasture unless there is some trick that I don’t know about.”
I discuss the six nutrients that every horse of all breeds, genders, and use requires for their stage in life, focusing on the three under our control; sugars, fats, and proteins. Next, I describe in a broad sense how each is important in the development of young horses as well as the maintenance of all older horses. Finally, I break down the simple formula to get the most out of your horse while aiming for a “health span” of long-term soundness of limbs and the mind.
However, the overarching factor is more than what and how you feed horses but the importance of the caregiver in observing and adjusting the mix for individual horses. The formula is protein + forage + (if necessary) cleaned oats, corn, or Coolstance (shredded coconut – I forgot to mention this in the podcast, but it works well for horses needing more body fat without the sugar load). The “trick” is to observe and adjust for each horse as an individual and as they grow and the seasons and their use change.