We’d like to start the year off with a series about the most important things you need to understand in order to make good decisions regarding the feeding of your domestic horses.
The more a person looks into it the more obvious it becomes that there is an order of priority which works best. An appropriate diet is the foundation for every aspect of keeping the horse calm and healthy.
Hooves, Teeth, Skeleton, Brain, Nerves, Muscles, Saddle-Fitting, Skin, Immune, Digestive, Respiratory & Endocrine Systems, not to mention Reproduction, Growth, and Longevity all have a huge Dietary component which needs to be top priority.
Of the diet, your horses principal forage has the most influence on this whole list and if it is unsuitable, is the reason for the majority of the problems people experience.
It is very easy to spend a lot of time, energy and money ‘barking up the wrong tree’!
In our now vast experience, when you get the diet right, the problems evaporate on their own. It is no good focussing on fixing problems which are secondary to a fundamental problem with the horse’s nutrition.
Neither we nor our horses would BE ALIVE if it weren’t for a series of very complex chemical/electrical interactions.
Yes CHEMICAL and ELECTRICAL.
The body is in fact, a very sophisticated ‘chemical machine’. When the chemistry goes wrong – it follows that everything else goes wrong.
The body has very sophisticated inbuilt mechanisms to keep the chemistry correct. Incorrect chemistry is the formula for ‘disease’. It is the reason for ‘Grass-Affectedness’.
The purpose of learning this is so you can feed your horse in a way that makes it easy for his chemistry to stay correct
The key to Calm Healthy Horses is to not expose them 24/7 to
*unsuitable pasture at an unsuitable stage of growth.
• Rye/clover or other high production grasses, especially those that have been ‘commercially’ fertilised
• Stressed, over-grazed short and green of any species
• Lush (especially) Autumn & Spring grass
• Pasture with high Potassium and Crude Protein content (ie: dairy pasture or grass that grows after a drought-breaking rain)
Horses are adapted to consuming forage that grows on unfertile land and is low in certain nutrients potassium, crude protein or nitrogen, sugars and starches, ie it is low in Digestible Energy. It is the polar opposite of grass that is desired for fattening livestock and milk production.
If you have good control of your horse’s grass intake and feed it at a more mature stage of growth or as hay, you will have way less problems and way more fun!
PIC: Sally Cooper-Johnston's first ride out on her beautiful young calm healthy horse ‘Silver Linings Cumulus’, also bred by Sally, accompanied by Brent Jury who started him'.