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

February 8, 2012

A Caloric Melt-down

Journey appears to be loosing weight.  I've not put the weight tape on her but will try to do so on Friday.  I've begun the addition of a "recovery ration" as of this week.  Journey is fed twice per day (concentrates) and there lies the rub.  I'm finding it difficult to get the needed calories into her in two feedings.  Even getting the extra 3500 calories for a five mile hill session is challenging to get into her.  On her best day she is a fussy eater, and when she is done, that's it!  Unlike Cree and Phebes who would happily raid and devour a grain bin if they could get to it.  When riding at home it is hard to gauge where energy levels begin and end vs. behavioral backwards thinking of getting back to her barn buddies.  Is she not moving out because she wants to go home?  Or because she is tired and has a calorie deficit?  The only way I'll be able to figure that out is to haul her to the park and ride there where home is not on her little old  radar.   

The calorie breakdown for recovery from "work" (hills, sustained trotting, intervals) is as follows in miles:
  5= 3500    calories added to the ration
10=7000     calories
15=10, 500 calories 
20= 14,000 calories
30= 21,000 calories

Because of the nature of what we do recovery rations have to be low protein, high fat, and also replenish electrolyte losses (in hot weather) and actually end up in the horse's digestive tract (vs. remaining in the feed bucket).

Last night we did about 5 miles of hill work so based on the above calculations she needed an additional 3500 calories in her recovery ration.  She did eat that over night, but then refused her morning chow which means we accomplished nothing.   

Walking off....scratching my head....trying to figure out how to get the chow to her when she needs it, and keeping her diet low starch on off days, and get her to clean up all of her feed.  ~ E.G.


  1. What does she eat? Mika is on Tribute's Kalm Ultra and he does really well on it. He's a hard keeper despite being an Arab. I have to be careful what he eats because, being an Arab, feed can make him so hot he just loses any semblance of a brain. One scoop of sweet feed melts his brain for a good 48 hours.

    The Tribute feeds are designed to be higher fat, low starch. The Kalm Ultra is meant to be for performance horses who need extra calories. Mika is pretty picky and he hoovers it up. In the winter he also gets half a pound of their fat supplement K Finish twice a day for some extra calories.

    You might look into that or one of the other Tribute products? One of the QHs eats their Kalm N Ez, but is a much easier keeper than Mika. It's the lowest octane one in the line.

  2. How do you figure the caloric count of your feedings? Rose is thankfully a good eatter but one of endurance buddies's Paso Marco is super picky. She's found she has to keep a variety of hay in rotation so he doesn't get bored and turn up his nose and play a little with the various adds into his feed.

  3. Caitlin,

    I'm basing the caloric content of recovery ration based on the chart from an article on feeding the performance horse by a university by an equine nutritionist. It indicated what the caloric intake should be for a pasture potato, and then how many calories burned at various levels of exercise per mile (a ball park figure to go by).

    Then LSEGH contacted our feed producer Hubbard Feeds for the calorie content per pound of Cool Command. Also the calorie content of her fat supplement Cool Calories 100, and lastly the grain mix that will be used for recovery only. I do have some reservations about feeding grain, but the protein content is low and it doesn't have high molasses, though it has "some" molasses. The mix is oats, barley, and a small amount of cracked corn (the devil). The plan is to only give it when she does hill work, intervals (we aren't ready for those yet), or a ride greater than 10 miles at any given pace. So her daily ration is Cool Command, a fat supplement, and hay. She eats her maintenance ration well, and maintains weight as long as we keep distance to 20 miles or so a week. Now that we are starting to do 30 miles or more I've seen what looks to be a drop in weight, but I haven't put the tape on her yet. It could be that muscle is more compact and she looks leaner, but isn't. I may modify her LSD to every two weeks instead of once weekly as mileage totals increase. That might do it. We'll see. I do know she will need more calories from this point forward, and there is the rub two feedings she can only consume "so much" and with my work schedule I can't hardly work out a regular third feeding. On the other hand I'm not willing to give grain on non-working days. So getting more hay in on those days might be the thing. She is picky about hay, never seen a horse waste hay like she does. The other two will be chowing down and she will be literally tossing it out of the fence if it doesn't suit her.

    Phebes on the other hand will kick down the stall and loose her mind with a pound of oats, goes wild eyed nuts on me. She thrives on Cool Command and is more or less calm.

    If my plan of action doesn't work out I'll look at those Tribute feeds.

  4. I feed senior feed instead of grain (Allegra) so I can feed much, much more without worrying since it is essentially a roughage. It is high in fat and calories. My picky mare will never eat enough hay. She pees and stomps on the nicest timothy, orchard grass and alfalfa. With 10 lbs. senior daily she's finally at a good weight, and it's ever not enough I add corn oil.

  5. I've read on a couple of the distance forums that some people feed senior as their recovery ration. The protein is lower in the senior, roughage higher, and it is generally a palatable feed in a texture that horse's like. That may also be a good choice should this prove too hot of a feed. I'm pretty sure that Hubbard makes a texturized senior feed. Feeding horses like every thing else is so have to just try and see what works. My girl loves to pee in the hay :( More than she likes to eat it.

  6. PowerStance (powdered coconut oil) is something I recently heard about, I think it works like Cool Calories.

    As you already have the fat side of things covered, what about getting calories from fibre? Whilst copra (eg. CoolStance) and soybean pellets (eg. Maxisoy) are high in protein, beet is quite high in energy and fibre but low in protein. Or have you already tried beet and found she doesn't like it?

    Just thinking out loud... ;)

  7. She is getting beet already in her overnight mash. It comes in at about 500 calories per half pound. She does clean it up, but takes her all night to eat her wet mash and dry pan.

    I guess I need to actually get the tape on her. She's had a few days off now and extra cool calories for a week now.

  8. ok, i can see what you mean! i see why you're doing some grain then ;)

  9. Are you feeding any type of prebiotic or probiotic? That will help her optimize what you are feeding and what she does actually eat.

    If she is not wanting to eat her feed, she may also be telling you that what you are feeding is not meeting her needs in some way - not palatable enough, maybe too much of one thing or another that is not agreeing with her. I think animals have a natural sense built into them for what they need. Of course, when presented with a bag of grain some horses will eat themselves sick. But of course, this is not something a horse would naturally come across in the wild.

    You might do an experiment and present her with several options that seem to meet her caloric and nutritional needs and see what she prefers.

    You could also add little unsulfured organic blackstrap molasses to make it more palatable. A small amount doesn't hurt (most horses, unless you are dealing with IR issues) and molasses has lots of great trace minerals in it. It doesn't take much - and you can water it down so that it goes farther