With such a wide array of conditioning feeds on the market today finding the correct diet for your horse can sometimes be overwhelming, but it is important to remember that all horses are individuals and a conditioning feed that works well on one horse will not necessarily do the same for another.
The first thing to take into account when trying to find a conditioning feed for your horse is to choose a feed high in digestible energy, which will therefore contain a higher level of calories. For example a conditioning feed should contain about 11- 12.5MJ/Kg compared to a maintenance feed which may be as low as 8 MJ/Kg.
However, as all horses are individuals you can’t go by digestible energy levels alone, for instance some horses may have intolerances to certain ingredients or may be quite highly strung. For horses that are prone to excitable and unpredictable behaviour energy should be sourced through a balance of digestible fibre sources and cooked flaked cereals, avoiding feeds that are high in starch as this is digested relatively quickly by the horse and can cause some horses to become over excitable.
Alternatively you may have a horse who suffers from a syndrome such as laminitis where a cereal free diet that is low in starch and sugar is crucial. Here slow release energy should be sourced through fibres and oils to help encourage the necessary condition, bearing in mind the digestible energy level should remain high.
If you have a horse with a limited appetite adding oil to the diet can be extremely useful as this helps to provide the horse with a higher calorific meal without increasing the volume of food fed, providing twice the amount of energy as carbohydrates from more traditional cereals.