topline, hooves, coat and immune defense. Protein does not make the horse ‘hot’;
in fact, it is a very inefficient source of energy.”
The more supplements, the better.
Haydt agrees that for many years horse owners have blamed protein for issues
that were the fault of something else in the diet, such as too many calories or
high sugar/starch, or even a lack of exercise.
When horse owners add supplements into the mix, they do so
because they believe their horse will benefit.
However, you must first look at the ingredients in your horse’s feed as well as
the supplement. Otherwise, the supplement you pick may contain vitamins and
minerals that are already in your horse’s current feed.
“You need to be especially careful with nutrients like selenium and vitamins A
and D, because it’s not that difficult to reach total amounts that are beyond the
maximum tolerable levels, and get into problematic areas,” warns Young.
Carbohydrates are the enemy.
If you consider all the low sugar/low starch feeds on the market, it’s easy
to conclude that carbohydrates must be “evil” and should be avoided.
“It’s not that any nutrient is evil, but they should be provided to the horse
in appropriate amounts and balanced to meet the horse’s needs,” says Young.
“Carbs, which include sugars, starches and fibers, are not the enemy. Often,
obesity is the enemy.
“Most horses that are maintained at an appropriate weight and body condition
and exercised regularly do not have issues with dietary soluble carbohydrates,”
Young continues. “However, some horses have medical conditions, such as insulin
resistance, PPID [Cushing’s disease], et cetera, that do make them sensitive to
A scoop is a
scoop, or all feeds
weigh the same.
To feed the correct amount, and also to
avoid extra calories if your horse doesn’t
need them, it’s important to actually
weigh the amount you are feeding.
“When I ask owners how much
they feed, they usually say the
amount in scoops,” says Young. “But
scoop sizes vary greatly, and feed is
designed to be measured by weight.”
Also note that feeds have different
density. An extruded feed will have
a lot of air in it and weigh less per
“scoop” than a textured sweet feed.
Many owners are fearful
of feeding too much protein, says
Keegan, citing a widely circulated
myth in the horse world.
“Protein is a critical nutrient in the
horse’s diet, and the correct amounts
and ratios of amino acids in a horse’s
diet are vital to building a healthy