Spillers' equine nutritionist Clare Barfoot provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to feed a good-doer who requires more energy
Q: “I have a nine-year-old Connemara gelding that is lacking a bit of energy. Currently he is only fed pony cubes and hi-fi light chaff as he is a good-doer. I am now increasing his work with the aim to event him later this year. Can people please recommend a feed that gives more energy but is not too fattening?”
A: Providing ridden energy without weight gain is a very common desire among horse owners, however unfortunately it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. This is because quite simply energy and calories are the same thing; calories are just a unit used to measure energy. So in basic terms, if your horse is in ideal body condition or is overweight, he is getting enough energy in order to maintain his body condition at his given workload.
On the other hand, if he is losing weight or is underweight, he is not receiving enough energy to maintain his body condition for his given workload. This is why it is important to base your horse’s diet on his body condition rather than his work load.
- H&H forum: find out what H&H readers suggested
- Find out more about feeding your horse
- Read the 10 golden rules of feeding
Learn to assess your horse’s condition objectively. This can be done most simply by body condition scoring. Body condition scoring (BCS) is a simple assessment of fat coverage at various points across the body. If you use the 1-9 system this assesses six areas; the neck, the withers, behind the shoulder, the ribs, the loins and the tail head, and an ideal score is five out of nine.
Therefore, if your Connemara is a good-doer and currently in ideal body condition, the only effective way to give him more “ridden energy” is to increase his fitness level while trying to keep him as lean as possible (as close to BCS five) as you can.
In terms of his diet, an ideal way to make sure he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs to provide a balanced diet is to feed him a balancer. A balancer such as SPILLERS Original Multi Balancer will provide him with a comprehensive range of amino acids, vitamins and minerals alongside live yeast to support his digestive health but without providing unnecessary calories which would promote weight gain. This way he will have the best chance to having plenty of energy for a successful eventing season.
For more information on feeding your horse this winter call the SPILLERS Care-Line on 01908 226626.