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

February 11, 2009

Anyone willing to post up what you feed your endurance horse during the training and ride season?

Currently I have Phebes on a maintenance feeding schedule since we aren't able to work. She gets about 4 lbs. per day of beet pulp, Nutrena's senior feed (I know she is four but this feed is full of everything an endurance horse should eat, lots of fiber, reasonably low NSC's, and not too high in protein, and she is now maintaining her weight and she likes it!), all the grass hay she can eat, and one of these feedings is a big soupy mash to be sure she has plenty of water in her gut, and she gets a horse fat supplement, free choice loose minerals, and salt. Once we get back on the trail again, I will probably need to increase her ration up to the maximum allowed on feed, and split her ration into three feedings. Any of you seasoned endurance riders I'd be thrilled to see a short synopsis of what you feed your horses during the competition season.

Researching rotational worming this morning and ordered Phebes wormers for the coming season. I'm going to put them on the calendar so I can time them several weeks prior to any long conditioning rides, or actual rides. Think I'll make me up a calendar and maybe link it to the blog so I can stay on track with it, and her hoof care.

On my further fitness I'm going to dig out one of my yoga books and see if I can get my neck more limber, and less painful. I've injured my neck several times and have arthritis and limited mobility. So I don't want to leave that portion of my body in the dust, since it is vulnerable to injury.

I'm all over the map this morning aren't I? Caffiene does that to me *LOL*. ~E.G.


  1. I've said it before but I'll say it again. I try not to give my horses grain at all. When I do, it's only because I've rode them or am planning on doing a ride. I make sure they have minerals available and feed them vitamins when I feed them grain, along with freshly ground flax seed.

    Right now my broodmare and filly are on Legends grow and perform. I add in a weight builder for the mare and extra flax seed for both. They are the only ones on regular grain.

    My horses are turned out on good pasture 24/7 and get free choice hay. This spring they will really be doing well on the grass. It's already starting to green up some out in their field and by March they will probably not even be touching their hay. Both my pastures are fenced right up to the barn and stalls. So they can go in and out as they please. I wouldn't have it any other way. Only rarely do I stall them. Had too during the freezing rain this winter, but that was the only time.

    Of course I am lucky to be blessed with over 100 acres. I have one 5 acre fence, and one 10+ acre fence and the farm. And about 3 acres fenced here at my home in Union.

    I am a firm believe that their is no better feed for a horse than fresh grass. If only it was spring all year around! And luckily none of my horses have ever had problems with founder.

    Michelle Detmer

  2. I am just putting in my comment about feed to get you some comments. I'm not saying you need to change, or what I do is "perfect".

    I also think that feeding the senior to your horse is a good idea. I've thought about it before as well. And when I do feed my horses grain I have been lazy and have just been giving them the legends perform and grow. But I should switch to something else now that the season is approaching. What about Platform feeds? Are they any good? I will never feed the full amount they are supposed to get daily. But I will be giving them a lot more grain here soon and need to pay more attention to what I give them.

    Michelle Detmer

  3. Michelle,

    I'm not familiar with the platform feed brand. Is it a "grain" or a whole feed concentrate (pelleted)? All of my searches on feed have been in terms of the NSC's (Karen C. has some good info on that topic at her blog) which are so pertinent here since we have one insulin resistant horses and two air ferns.

    I do think that feeding flax is really good. I need to incorporate some flax into Phebe's diet. The Nutrena feed she's eating has some flax in it, but I'm not sure how much.

    You are so lucky to have that much acreage. We only have 25 acres here, and most of that is wooded, very little grass. I have four small lots, and I rotate them from to the other. By the first of September they have it down to the nub and we have to start with hay again.

    I think if most people fed the recommended portions off the feed bags their horses would ROLL down the trail, you wouldn't need legs! I know none of mine could handle it. Both arabs get about a fourth of the recommended amount. Phebe's weight is stable now, and Puddin's so fat her back is swaying...and I'm thinking about putting her on the Lite Balance feed for awhile. When I was riding the heck out of Puddin' she was getting about six pounds of feed concentrate daily. She was lean, but looked really good. No ribs showing, but otherwise sleek. Now she looks like the pillsbury dough boy on four legs.

    My interest in feed is because I want to know how to stoke the engine. Puddin' always hit the wall at about 20 miles. She just plain ran out of gas, and we never cantered either. Her age could have had something to do with that, but I was inclined to feel she ran out of "fuel" because she didn't want to eat when we were at a strange place. I've read some places that you don't want to feed a heavy concentrate meal the morning of a ride, better to let them nibble at it through the night, and to stuff them good with free choice hay to hold water in the hindgut. I want to do the best I can for my horse. I will be asking a lot of her, and feel it is unfair to ask for performance at that level if I don't feed her right.

    I've seen some pretty lanky endurance horses, where they've got so lean you can see hip bones, and ribs. Some of these pretty high level horses. It makes me wonder where they are drawing their energy from if they have no fat reserve? I'm not meaning this to be critical, rather a curiousity about what is fuel the energy for these horses. ~E.G.

  4. I believe some of the causes of equine ulcers relate to the horse having an empty stomach for such a long time, which is unnatural to the horse who is a grazing animal. Also to the use of electrolytes (on an empty stomach again), and just the stresses of hauling and performing. If I knew my horse had ulcers, I couldn't push her to perform. I'd want to get to the bottom of the medical problem and have her feeling good first. But that is one of those things we can't see with our eyes, we just watch their condition go down, and call the vet. I've got to get off this computer and get the stalls clean!!!

  5. I certaintly wouldn't put myself in the "experienced" category or even in the "mostly have it figured out" category LOL, but here's what I feed for what it's worth....

    All my horses who are currently conditioning get 1 scoop of Platinum Performance twice a day. 2 weeks before a ride I up that to 2 scoops 2x per day.

    My horses are on 1/2 alfalfa, 1/2 grass. I board and this is the best I could negotiate. They are both in dry lots, but they are fed enough that they have hay close to 24 hours a day.

    Right now I'm trying to put weight on both my horses. (it's amazing how fast they will drop weight, even on free choice hay! I have really noticed the difference once I switched from 100% alfalfa to 1/2, much harder to keep the weight on).

    If they did not get worked: I feed 4 pounds of beet pulp (shredded) per day (soaked). This translates to ~20% of their TDR (total daily ration). The bag reccomends 20-40% TDR for horses. Once they are at the weight I want, I will drop down ~1-2 pounds a day or nothing. I feel OK giving them Beet pulp on days they don't work becauses it isn't technically a grain.

    If they did something (ground work, arena work etc.) I give them the same weight as their regular beet pulp ration, except they get half of it in LMF gold. (so at 4 pounds, 2 pounds would be beet pulp, 2 pounds would be LMF gold).
    If I go on a decent conditioning ride, they get only LMF gold at whatever weight I think I need to give them to put back in what I took out during the ride. Usually between 3 and 5 pounds.

    I weigh all my food in a bucket using a fish scale.

    I used to feed oil, but haven't for ~ year. If I can't get the weight gain I need on 4 pounds of beetpulp, I will start adding oil to their ration, starting at 1/4 cup and working up to 1 cup a day. It's messy and spoils quickly in the CA heat though. LMF gold is a high fat feed so I depend on that to add fat to the ration. My horses get worked most days of the week, so they are getting LMF gold most days.

  6. Your strategy is pretty well what I've thought I'd try.

    Nonwork days: Beet pulp, about 3-4 pounds of Nutrena, and the horse shine product which is high in ground flax seed that has been stablized.

    Work Days: 3-6 pounds of Nutrena split into three rations if possible, 1/2 of that incorporated into a very early morning soupy wet mash to be sure the gut is loaded with water before we ever step onto the trail.

    Everyday, free choice grass hay or pasture.

    She really drops weight when she is working. If the current feed won't cut it, I may have to try something else. But so far she's picking up weight on Senior.

    I ordered my rotational worming products today to last me up until late summer to early fall. Now I'm scratching my head as to how I want her immunized this year. The equine flu is probably a must, East/West? Nile, what else. I hate to over immunize, as I think that is as bad as not doing anything. ~E.G.

  7. Nice posting. Do you know about these yoga books?

  8. I set up a google calendar and have it email me when my horses are due to be wormed. Or vaccinated. Or anything else - from now until the end of time.

    I worm my horses on the first of every other month. That makes it easy to remember. If I have a ride coming up, for example this last month my horses were due to be wormed on February 1st, but the Bar H ride was on that date so they were done a week and a half early. I try to not worm a horse within two weeks of travel/ride so sometimes they will get done a little early, or a little late. Then when they have a longer time between rides I try to do a panacur purge on them.

    As far as feed goes - I don't feed my horses like many need to feed theirs. Mine all seem to stay plump and have to be on diets. Even on this trip I have not fed the horses ANY grain other than what they got on their actual 50 mile rides days. I have been giving them hay and rinsed and soaked beep pulp with their vitamins and that is it.

    If you are feeding grains or senior feed be on the lookout on your horses hooves for stress rings. If you see any (it may take a few months to show up, depending upon growth and amount and timing of feed) you may want to have it tested for the NSC content.

  9. Karen,

    Great idea on the calendar, I'll have to do that.

    The NSC on the Nutrena Senior was lower than the NSC on the SafeChoice. If I remember right it was just a little higher than the Lite Balance she was eating. I do know if the NSC's get above 20 she is just too nervous and hot to handle. I'm wanting her to gain a little weight as I know we will be hitting it hard as soon as the weather allows.

    You are very lucky to have a couple of air ferns :)


  10. Some great ideas here. I thought I would chime in because last fall I did some research on my horses nutrient value. It was pretty involved and you are welcome to read part 1 here :
    and part two with the final analysis here:

    I found some interesting things out that I need to adjust in my feeding program come spring when I start conditioning again. Right now JB just gets grass/alfafa hay and free choice minerals. I try to keep hay in front of him all day but if I throw too much at him, he just pees on it and wastes it so it's a balance. he tends to be fussy too. I am looking for a grain with low protein and low carbs as well.
    Last year while conditioning, iw as using a new feed called Running Horse . They have a few different types, senior, growing ,etc. but I used the one called Cut and Slide.This was beet pulp based. I fed it at 2 lbs in the evening. The suggested feeding was much more than that but I don't like to feed alot of grain. Two weeks prior to a ride, I would start to mix that with some soaked beet pulp.

    For this coming season, I don't think I will continue with the cut and Slide. I need to find something with less protein.

  11. Finding a good low protein feed is like laying your hands on gold. I think most people have to really search to find something close. Anything too high protein including alfalfa they say is hard on the distance horse. Some folks use a low percentage alfalfa, or just give alfalfa during a ride to encourage them to eat. I like grass with some alfalfa in it. In these parts you pretty much have to take what you can get your hands on. Lots of horses, and just as many horse owners trying to get that bale before you. Wish I had the equipment to plant and cut my own. Have the land....have thought about trying to get someone to do it on shares. The sun is shining, I'm tacking up and getting out of here!!!! ~E.G.

  12. Well I just got a text message from my girl friend that she broke up with me! Bad news for me but great for you. Just go to Enjoy!