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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

December 7, 2008

Feeding the Phebers

Phebes was grossly overweight this summer, even though I restricted her intake of Nutrena Safe Choice she continued to gain weight and I felt she wasn't getting her vitamins and minerals because I was only able to feed her a pound or two at most of the Safe Choice. I was also concerned about the rather high NSC (non-structured carbohydrates) in Safe Choice. Our gelding Cree is very sensitive to non-structured carbohydrates and has had severe diet related laminitic problems. We got him sound and healthy again by putting him on a feed with low NSC. Since Phebes was so fat, I felt I needed to change her feed regimen so that she would not start down that path of insulin resistance.

Lite Balance by Nutrena is 17.1% NSC (12.8% starch) based on information from It allows her to get her full daily ration of vitamins, and it also is a nice high fiber concentrate feed. When I researched this feed choice it was the closest I could find to the feeds suggested for endurance horses, supplying energy, without the high NSC's which also can cause a "sugar crash", just like when we humans eat candy and suddenly feel pretty crummy...all that molasses is flat BAD for our horses.

Phebes has been on the Lite Balance now for about eight weeks. She has lost that excess fat, and also a lot of her bloat and gas. I don't feel that the Lite Balance contributes in any way to a horse being "hot" either. An added bonus is that it is a pretty safe feed overall for horse's that prone to overweight, and will will stoke the engine as far as energy. If our ride yesterday was any example she had plenty of energy in reserve. I'm going to continue her on this feed and see where it takes us. I do supplement her with a plant fat from flax seed, and beet pulp (with no added molasses) in a daily warm wet mash.


  1. My poor horses are on pasture, hay in the winter and pasture. (we still have some green grass even). And a few apples that my in-laws give them. I have rush creek minerals and red kiln salt I keep out for the 24/7. And give them a little mix of beet pulp, grain, electrolytes, freshly ground flax seed, and Source when I come out to ride them or work with them. They seem to be doing well. I think deworming every other month really helps too. My horses have plenty of energy for the LD's and conditioning we do. They are in good shape, definately not skinny. Almost fat. I wonder what they would be like if I gave them grain every day! When I bring them back home, sometime in January I will. Well I will probably just give beet pulp, a little grain and a vitamin supplement for horses on pasture/hay only. I have an article from Equus that says horses really only need good forage unless they are getting worked hard then they need electrolytes and grain if they start loosing weight or energy.

    I don't know. This is the first time I've tried letting my horses go without grain. They seem to be doing fine without it so far.

  2. As long as your horses are able to maintain their body weight, a reasonable fat layer for them to draw from when they've burned out their carb load, and you are adding their minerals, I wouldn't be a bit concerned.

    Our horses don't get any whole grains. We have the old horse on Nutrena senior, because it is easy to chew and digest. Cree is on Triple Crown Low Starch due to insulin resistance, and I just lately had switched Phebes to a low NSC feed, and like how she looks. It is yet to be seen if she can maintain weight with the rigors of "real" training. We'll see. ~E.G.