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

March 25, 2010

The differences among feeding programs ...

It amazes me the differences among feeding programs for horses riding distance. Especially when I know that if I fed Phebes along the lines of some, she'd be a walking skeletal rack of bones. She'd clearly emaciate. On a work day she's going to get 6 pounds of concentrated feed (mostly a low protein, high fat feed), a fat supplement, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Raspberry leaf (for PMS), a multivitamin supplement, minerals in and outside of her stall, all the hay her little mouth can stuff, and now electrolytes. I have to minimize my riding right now to three times a week or she dumps too much weight.

Then I hear of many riders who's horses eat only hay. I scratch my head in amazement that their horse can perform at this level without wasting away into nothingness....I guess mine is a "hot house flower." Perhaps I am OCD on the issue of her weight. I want to see the muscle jiggle. Jiggle on me is bad, jiggle on my horse is good. A woman obsessed.

Off to the mines. ~E.G.


  1. How did you figure out your feeding program? The more I work with Rose the more I begin to think about what all she eats in a day.

  2. The basis of what I'm feeding my girl is pretty simple really.

    Keeping protein at 10% or less.

    Keeping the weight on vs. off.

    It took me a long time to find a high fat-low protein feed. We were feeding Nutrena SafeChoice and the feed was just too much for her. She was having emotional meltdowns when we'd feed enough to keep her weight up. So I had to scrap that and start looking again. Finally settled on Hubbard Feeds that is called "Cool Command" it was low enough in protein and high enough in fat. She has never acted hot on it. On actual work days I add some of Hubbard's performance feed which is still fairly low in protein to try and add some of those burned calories back to be stored (in theory) as fat. She can only tolerate a little of this as the NSC is higher I presume than the Cool Command. The base of cool command is beet pulp, fortified with fats, vitamins, minerals. So far so good on this and we've been using it since she the tye up on the higher NSC /Protein feeds.

    As for how much? I have so far set my feed meter on her body condition. When she moves I want to see some "jiggle" in the hind end of my horse. Many would say that is too fat. But if a horse is very lean, and you are asking for extended work load...once the blood glucose burns up, next is fat, after fat is gone? You lose muscle, and then exhausted horse syndrome.

    I do see some pretty thin horses at rides, and I expect a heavy campaigner would really dump weight.

    The supplements were suggested to me by an endurance veterinarian. Especially the vitamin E and Magnesium. The added fat is for safe extra calories.

    This will be our first year on this program. I'll let you know how it goes.

    *Please note: on non-work days she gets NO PERFORMANCE FEED. Only the Cool Command & Beet pulp, vitamins/minerals.

  3. Thank you for responding. I asked because you seem to understand the feeding program idea better than I do and I think that in every picture you've shared of Phebes she looks great. My girl, Rose started off as a pasture plump girl and in the process of starting her under saddle and training/working both of us she has lost that weight and put on some muscle. Now, with her shedding out and her recent herd status demotion she's losing more weight than I want. I too like some weight on my horse and the fact that her hips are starting to show and her rump is getting pointed concerns me.

    I know she needs some work to build more muscle in her hindquarters but I also know that to build muscle and put on a little weight hay, grass, a daily scoop of high protein and fat feed is not the right combination.

    I guess I'll figure it out as I go but reading blogs like yours is really giving me good things to think about. =)