1. Routine Maintenance – Remember that things like regular worming and teeth rasping are twice as important for horses who struggle to maintain condition. Give them the best chance possible to gain or maintain weight from the food you feed them.
2. Quality of Life – Don’t forget other aspects of your horse’s care and routine. Does he prefer to live in or out? Is he warm enough? Does he like the horses he shares turnout with? Does his saddle fit? If your horse is in any way unhappy or stressed out you could find that he never looks quite as good as he should. A happy horse maintains condition much more easily than an unhappy one!
3. The Right Amount – Read the bag or contact the nutritionists to make sure you are feeding the recommended quantity of your chosen feed. To maintain condition, feed 2% of your horse’s body weight as feed per day. Divide this between concentrate and forage according to workload. Horses who really need to gain weight or who are working hard can be fed 2.5% of body weight.
4. Lots of Little Feeds – Remember that the horse’s stomach is small for his size – about the size of a rugby ball. So feeding a bucket full of food at a time is likely to cause more harm than good as feed could get passed through to the small intestine before it’s been fully “processed” in the stomach. Divide your horse’s feed into as many small feeds per day as you can, this way you are mimicking nature much more closely and giving the horse the best chance of utilizing all the nutrients.
5. Cubes are Heavier – Cubes weigh more than coarse mixes volume for volume, so a scoop of No.4 Top Line Conditioning Cubes will weigh 1.7kg (3 3/4lbs) and a scoop of No.17 Top Line Conditioning Mix, 1.25kg (2 3/4lbs). So feed by weight, not volume. Cubes are also generally more easily digested than coarse mixes because the ingredients are already cooked and ground. You may think they look boring for the horse but who’s got to eat them? If you really need to get the weight on, cubes are often the best choice.
6. Plenty of Fibre – Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system so adding chaff or soaked sugar beet pulp to the concentrate ration provides fiber in addition to the forage fed and can also tempt fussy feeders.