Download the complete step-by-step guide as a PDF, or do the online Feed Guide for your horse on our website.
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Step 1, Is your horse or pony getting enough suitable roughage for fibers?
A horse or pony needs fibres to feel satisfied and stay healthy, at a minimum of 1,5% of their body weight in dry matter. In nature, a horse will eat even more roughage. Did you know that nutritional fibres and prebiotics are the same?
Biodiverse, well-dried roughage containing a variety of different grasses and herbs is best if you want to do your horse’s intestinal flora a real favour. Instead of roughage, other (low-energy) high-fibre products such as alfalfa, carrots, roughage mixes, bran, soaked beetroot mash, green mashes or ‘light’ muesli can also be given.
Roughage should preferably be analysed, at the very least a Quickscan should be done to get a complete picture of the levels of sugars, protein, fibres and water your horse ingests with their roughage.
DOWNLOAD ROUGHAGE ADVICE
Step 2, ‘The New Feeding Concept’, the BASICs
The BASIC’s rebalance the intestinal flora. This allows the roughage to be digested better by the horse, ensuring optimal absorption of the beneficial fatty acids from the nutritional fibres. This is the most healthy form of energy which can later be converted to fats and sugars. In addition, the BASIC’s supplement high-quality nutrients that are not found in sufficient levels or not at all in normal equine feeds (the so-called nutraceuticals).
BASIC → for a healthy intestinal function and flora. Improves general health, relaxes while maintaining a will to work → Unique 7-in-1 formula, magnesium(citrate), natural vitamin E, MSM, plant-based omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), essential amino acids, pre- and probiotics and a mycotoxin binding agent.
IMMUNO* → supports the immune system and the cleansing and purifying function of the liver → BASIC + extra immune support or as a detox treatment in the spring or autumn. For starting up ‘The New Feeding Concept’. Contains extra thistle, nettle and organic minerals such as zinc, copper and selenium.
COMFORT** → Protects the stomach → BASIC + extra gastric support for a healthy stomach function and more relaxation. Contains extra inulin (FOS), liquorice root and camomile.
- BASIC, IMMUNO or COMFORT are always started with a 3-week build-up dosage to rebalance the intestinal flora and optimise the digestibility of the roughage in the caecum and large intestine.
- In this period, concentrates can be reduced. When the intestinal flora are rebalanced, you can evaluate whether extra energy (courage) is desirable for your horse through feeding concentrates. Extra high-quality protein can also be beneficial.
- Extra or less protein and energy can also be added by (partially) mixing in another batch of roughage. This is why roughage analysis is always desirable, so you know what you are feeding!
- The first effects of BASIC’s are usually visible in the coat, which becomes more intense in colour and sheen. In the following weeks, further effects will also show in among others behaviour, fitness and relaxation.
Caution!! The nutrients in BASIC’s do not feature in classical ration analyses, nutritionists will therefore not calculate the BASIC’s as essential.
*Do not feed to pregnant, lactating, acutely laminitic or seriously ill animals. Halfway through the competition season is also less than ideal.
**Do not feed in competition because of the herbs.
EquilinBASIC starter kit
Step 3 The necessary additions to the roughage, the BALANCER’s
Every horse or pony needs well-digestible minerals and/or vitamins in addition to their roughage because generally these are not found in roughage in sufficient levels. Especially zinc, copper, selenium and vitamin E are points of attention. BALANCER’s contain these important substances.
BALANCER → full dosage for horses and ponies aged 3,5 and up. 50-60% dosage if it is added to for instance 1-1,5kg of concentrates a day (horse).
GROW→ animals under 3,5 years of age as well as pregnant and lactating mares. GROW also contains highly digestible protein and omega 3 (DHA/EPA).
- BALANCER and GROW maintain healthy intestinal flora, but they do not rebalance it.
Step 4 Important point of attention! SALT
A lot of roughage is low in sodium and relatively high in potassium. Replenishing the horse’s salt requirements is necessary because this is not added to any BALANCER (of almost any brand). Sufficient salt ensures that fluids can be absorbed well in the intestines, making the manure less soft and watery. It also increases recovery after physical effort.
You can replenish up to 15 grams a day (horse) with kitchen salt, this contains +/- 40% sodium. You can just add this to the feed.
If you want to supplement even more salt, choose low-iodine salt or (partial) diet salt if this is indicated by roughage analysis.
In heavy work, hot weather, transport or other conditions where the horse sweats profusely or loses a lot of fluids, add extra RECOVER → Electrolytes (salts) dissolved in water or mash for effective and rapid uptake.
EquilinRECOVER, electrolyte drink 1,5 kg
Step 5 other supplements and additions
GLUCO → Extra support for joint health and senior horses
Many supplements will be obsolete as they will mostly contain the nutrients that are already in BASIC’s. In addition to BASIC’s it is not necessary anymore to supplement the following substances:
- Linseed oil or other Omega 3 oils
- Extra magnesium
- Vitamin E (in most cases)
- Muscle support supplements
- B-vitamins and biotin, made by healthy intestinal bacteria
Specific problems might benefit from additional supplements AFTER a proper diagnosis. There are wonderful products on the market that can help support certain (organ) systems in a natural way. Always remember to keep in mind that when these products really are effective, they will also put extra strain on the liver to a greater or lesser degree and may have other side effects as well. ‘It doesn’t hurt to try’ is hardly ever the case!
Always first consult an expert who has seen your horse or pony for the correct usage of herbal preparations and tinctures. If you have any questions about this, you can also always feel free to send us an e-mail.
Step 6 extra energy or proteins
Most horses and ponies will gain enough energy and protein from the average roughage for one hour of daily work at light to medium level, if the roughage is digested well and the intestinal flora are balanced.
When you start on the ‘New Feeding Concept’, it is wise to reduce any concentrates as much as possible in the first few weeks, and only decide after week 5 IF and HOW MUCH concentrates are necessary.
Always have a Quickscan done on the roughage you are feeding, so you can be sure it is suitable and not too poor. You can always supplement by mixing in a richer batch of roughage. Other possible options are (sport) muesli, senior feeds or a green, protein-rich mash (with a lot of variety in fibre). In practice, we generally see that no more than 1-1,5kg of concentrates a day are required when you follow the principles of the ‘New Feeding Concept’.
If you are not seeing enough results after 6 weeks of feeding BASIC’s, there is often another underlying cause at play. Always contact us or your veterinarian.
Are you still left with questions after completing our Feed GUIDE for your horse? You can request nutritional advice here!