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

December 16, 2008

Thinking about changing feeds with Phebes again

Her weight has really come down, especially with the addition of some exercise. I'd love to hear some of you folks feed regimines for horses in training, and competition.

I'm thinking about going to Nutrena's Complete 10 or XTN. Both have higher % of fats, and are lower on starchs. The Complete 10 is supposed to be balanced to supply the horse's minerals and electrolytes. I fed her safe choice for years, but the high molasses/ NSC's in that feed scared me off, and she was terribly obese at one point. The Safe Choice is supposed to be a safe feed, but I like the NSC's lower than that percentage.

She's been really moody the past two days, and the temps have dropped. She doesn't have that big fat layer, and I'm going to have to do some fast back peddling now that it is cold, we are working a few days a week, and the feed isn't keeping up with her body's demands. She looks really good, but I don't want her any thinner than this AT ALL.

So what are you feeding your working distance horses?



  1. Most important is your forage. I would be giving her as much good grass hay as she will eat! As far as the grain choices I think you know more than me. I said I keep my horses on forage with only a little grain when I ride plus minerals. And they are still a good weight, even a little fat.

    Michelle Detmer

  2. what kind of hay are you feeding?

    Have you tried feeding beet pulp at all? I'd maybe try that and mixing it with a little complete feed of some sort that way you won't have to feed that much of it (the complete feed) and can still get the calories in. You can do that for a couple or three feedings a day and then reduce it when you get to a happy weight.

    Plus, increase your hay a bit if she'll eat more.

    I have the opposite problem - I have to separate Chief at dinner and breakfast because he gets 1/3 to 1/2 as much at each feeding as the other two horses get and he is very ROUND! He just gets hay, and his cup of vitamins and free choice salt.

    I bet Phebes will slowly have her metabolism change too and become easier and easier over time to keep weight on.

  3. Phebes was always overweight until I put her on Nutrena Lite Balance. Because we have one insulin resistant horse, I really worried about how fat she stayed. Over the past two months on the new feed she lost the big belly and excess fat, and looks very lean and sleek. Now I am doing some training rides on the weekend, not really all that long 8-10 miles, but at a nice pace, with some cantering, and hand galloping, and I notice her weight dipping gradually. We had increased her feed with the work load, but it doesn't have enough calories to continue to maintain weight with work. She has half day turn out, and is put up in her stall at night. She has free choice hay in her stall as we stuff the racks as full as we can get them. Once daily she gets a beet pulp + feed pellet mash, and once per day dry pellet feed as supplement.

    I just had a light bulb go on in my head, she is due for de-worming too. ~E.G.

  4. Hi Endurance Granny,

    I have stumbled across your blog and quite enjoy reading it! I actually work for Nutrena, so if you don't mind, could give a little insight into products...

    LiteBalance was exactly the right product to take excess weight off, you did good with that it sounds!

    Life Design Compete is actually a little bit higher in NSC than SafeChoice is. SafeChoice runs at 21% NSC with 18% of it starch and the rest sugar. Compete is closer to 30% NSC, with 27% starch and the rest sugar. XTN is also 30% NSC and 22% starch.

    Here's what you have to consider: it's not just about the percentage of the starch in the feed, because truly, that's not what the horse cares about. What is really important is the amount of starch fed PER MEAL. What the horse is concerned about is too much fed at once and overwhelms the stomach's capacity to digest it and some of it leaking past into the hindgut, which is where starch causes its issues if it is going to. So, you can feed smaller meals of a higher starch feed and not have any problem.

    So, with a feed like XTN, although higher in NSC than SafeChoice, you have to consider that it is considerably higher in Digestible Energy and thus requires less to be fed every day to maintain the same weight. So in the long run, you aren't feeding any more NSC. And, XTN has some amazing bells and whistles that we don't offer in other feeds - lycolecithins are one cool thing - they actually help the horse digest the fat sources and utilize them even better, stuff like that.

    Does that help?

  5. Gina,

    Thank you for the data on NSC's (nonstructured carbohydrates) it is helpful for me to know this information.

    My husband practices natural hoof care, and the principles that support it, and knowing how much NSC is in a particular feed helps us in protecting our insulin resistant horse from flares of laminitis.

    I'm wondering if I would be able to feed Phebes the light, and supplement her with a small ration of Safe Choice on ride days without throwing the minerals and vitamins all out of whack?

  6. Actually, a slightly different approach might work better. A small amount of SafeChoice really isn't going to gain you much in the way of weight gain, since it is designed to be fed at 5-6 lbs per day.

    A better solution might be this: we have a high-fat rice bran supplement called Empower. It is 22% fat, has some added vit/min's so you aren't just adding empty calories, and it is 22% NSC/ 19% starch. It is designed for weight gain, and only to be fed at 1-2 lbs per day. You do need to feed fat sources for a couple weeks to see the benefits of them, so I would suggest you use the Empower at the higher end of the 2 lb rate until you get her at the weight level you want her, then back down to around 1 lb per day to maintain her.

    That should keep you in your desired NSC range, but get the weight you want. Make sense? Any more questions, I am more than happy to help!


  7. Gina,

    We are almost on the same page. Actually she is at "good" weight right now. I just don't want her to continue to lose weight as I increase the mileage demands of training in the coming months. When I was feeding the Safechoice she was getting 2-3 lbs a day and was a chunky monkey! So I switch over to the Lite Balance and she is getting 3 lbs of it per day, + an omega fat supplement, beet pulp mash, and plenty of grass hay. She looks great, just don't want her to drop down. Your idea may have merit and simplify things if I can get it. Are you an endurance rider? Thanks! ~E.G.

  8. Hi E.G. ~ I am sure you will do well for her! Please let me know if you have any more questions.

    As for me, no, endurance isn't one I have tried, although one of my good friends has been trying to get me out - will liekly wait until summer comes though (it's -25 windchill where I am today!). I have done a variety of other events, from AQHA to Paso Fino's to reining to dressage...Am currently horseless as I have two small children who occupy my every waking moment outside of work, so live vicariously through friends and keeping up on the internet. :)