With such a wide array of feeds and supplements available on the market today it can be a complicated task to figure out what, if anything, your horse needs. Many people often find themselves adding multitudes of different products into the horses feed regime, often with overlapping ingredients.
Forage should be the forefront of any horse’s diet and this will make up the largest proportion of the horse’s daily nutrient requirements. Horses at rest or in light work, including good doers , will often do well on a high fibre diet and will not require any additional sources of energy. For horses in work and those that struggle to maintain bodyweight fibre alone is usually insufficient to supply the energy demands, so an additional source of calories may be required.
By using a commercial feed, and following the feeding instructions indicated, this should provide you with adequate amounts of nutrients for a fully balanced diet. However, if you feed below the manufactures guidelines or no hard feed at all then this can result in deficiencies so an additional vitamin and mineral supplement many have to be used.
When looking at a horses feed regime it is important to ensure that the base diet supplies adequate amount of energy for the level of work and condition and that it is correctly balanced. If further supplements are required to either boost specific vitamin levels, cater for forage trace element deficiencies or to provide higher performance micro nutrients, then they may be added as necessary but you may find that if you get the foundations of the diet correct this eliminates the need for any additional supplements.
It is important to not fall into the trap of continually adding extra feed types to the daily ration as it is easy to start with one feed, add another, then a balancer, then a chaff and then another feed. Before you know where you are you are overfeeding on some nutrients and emptying your wallet. So before rushing out to buy the latest supplement on the market, ask yourself whether your horse really needs it and if you have any concerns seek nutritional advice.