Horse: Abi, 12-year-old 16.3hh warmblood

Feeding issue: can be lethargic

Owner’s thoughts: “Abi is very lazy —it can be hard to get her going forwards. I’ve had her teeth, back and saddle checked — all are OK.”

Work schedule: competes at dressage at medium level every other week. Ridden daily for 45min, either schooled or hacked out.

Current diet: the recommended level of cubes/mix, plus one scoop of chaff.

Suggested feed programme: replace her feed with race mix, containing a digestible energy content of around 14mj/kg. Work up slowly until you are feeding five times a day with 3-4hr gaps between feeding (no more than 1kg per feed). Pay attention to her energy levels and give less in each feed if required. Add 200g of alfalfa chaff per feed. Add 50g of soya oil per feed.

No spark

Warmbloods have a tendency to be lazy, yet, when fed in excess, can be difficult. By feeding small volumes of a high-energy mix (up to 1kg a feed), but feeding often, energy levels are kept at a plateau conducive to work.

Consider whether the horse is overworked or underfed, or has a virus or illness. A low-energy ration will not suffice for a hard-working horse. Also, continual repetitive work will cause boredom. A couple of days’ hunting can add panache to any horse.

  • This feeding case study was first published in Horse & Hound’s feed special (12 October, ’06)