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

January 25, 2009

Feed NSC's and Behavior

I've been tweaking Phebes feed ration for about a month now. No terribly drastic changes, but trying to fuel the fire, maintain weight, without nutty hot horse behavior. After playing with her feed, and switching between LiteBalance and Nutrena's SafeChoice I can attest that for my horse the higher NSC's (non-structured carbohydrates) definitely has an effect on this individual horse's behavior. I had switched her back to SafeChoice because her weight had dipped as low as I was comfortable with it going on the LiteBalance (she was originally put on LiteBalance due to being a fat chunky monkey). After three weeks back on SafeChoice her weight was good, though gaining. However, Phebes started showing acting out behaviors that I had not seen for months. Rearing in her stall, kicking her stall, wild eyed unsafe stuff that she used to exhibit regularly on this feed. I'm not at all saying SafeChoice is a "bad" feed, not at all. I've used SafeChoice successfully on my other arabian, and it was wonderful. It is just this horse seems particulary sensitive to NSC's. So I'm trying to find a balance that will work for her, as too much mixing of feeds will throw off the vitamin mineral ratio. What I'm going to try is feeding her the LiteBalance as her total ration on non-working days, and on work days adding a full ration of SafeChoice for the extra calories. My thinking is that as long as I stay with a full ration of one or the other feeds I should not upset the balance of vitamins and minerals. On work days she will have the extra calories to burn, rather than to turn into nervous energy and rank behavior. Since she will be getting both feeds regularly, it should not upset her gastric system.

I'm also looking at Nutrena's Senior feed. We already have that on hand for my 22 year old arabian mare. What is intriguing about the Senior is it is chock full of all the feeds recommended for an endurance horse. It is packed with fats (recommended for endurance horses), it is high fiber (recommended for endurance horses), it has added Vitamin E (recommended for endurance horses), Ground flax (wonderful anti-oxident and fat source), and the protein level though a little too high, is lower than most feeds out there (lower protein is recommended for endurance horses so as not to stress the kidneys and proteins do not fuel the endurance fire, fats do), AND Phosphorus and Calcium are balanced...(also recommended for the endurance horse). Look at the label when you are at the feed store. I'm wondering why this feed isn't marketed to the Endurance equine? It has beet pulp, rice bran, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, and a lot of just good easily digestible "stuff", that is marketed for the senior horse, but reads like a list of recommended feeds for an endurance horse. As far as I know, at least regionally, I've not found a feed that is geared to the discipline of riding long distance. When I look at Performance type feeds available on the market, the proteins are way too high, as are the NSC's. There is also the problem of feeding the horse on their non-working days when they need far less, and knowing what that less is? Alas....I am rambling, but my mind is always working on how to do it better, how not to upset the apple cart, and wondering what is better, or just plain wrong.

I'm sticking with my quality Nutrena feeds for Phebes, just hoping to strike a balance. ~E.G.


  1. Here is the info I have on NSC levels for Nutrena. I'm going to update my feed chart ( and include as much of this new info as I can onto it for the most commonly used feeds for endurance horses.

    SafeChoice - 22.8% (6.4% sugar, 16% starch)
    Lite Balance 17.1% NSC (12.8% starch) Info from Nutrena
    Life Design Senior – 19% (6% sugar, 13% starch) (Nutrena advisor)

  2. Here's I deal with the feed issue: I feed beet pulp at a specified poundage on days the horses don't get out. On days they get out they get the same poundage, but half is beet pulp and half is LMF gold. On hard conditioning days (usually weekends) and rides they get that same poundage with LMF gold only. LMF gold has quite a bit of beet pulp in it, so I feel comfortable doing this. Seems to be a good compromise in keeping the weight on and not have a hot horse (and both of mine get HOT on grain).


  3. ...please where can I buy a unicorn?