Jackie Leftwich BSc MSc AMC MMCA FRCC (Animal)
Chiropractor [McTimoney/STR/IAVC] (Qualified to treat humans and animals)
Registered with GCC and RAMP
Telephone: 07738 110570
E-mail: info@watersidechiropractic.co.uk

Waterside Chiropractic and The Truth About (Your Horse’s) Food

February 25, 2014  |   Equine Chiropractic,Latest Posts   |     |   Comments Off

Thanks to everyone that commented on the previous post via Facebook about The Truth About (Your Dog’s) Food.  Feeding your animals is an emotive topic and many of us have quite rooted opinions about what is best for our furry friends.  I hope that it will have provided ‘food for thought’ and certainly seems to be the current topic of discussion, with BBC1′s Countryfile, televised on Sunday 23rd February 2014, also showing Adam Henson discussing the various dog food options with a dog trainer and behaviourist.

What appears to be quite evident is that there is a lot of agreement that processed foods are not good for us.  This has been discussed and debated quite widely in the human food and dog food industries.  It is generally accepted that processed foods normally contain a number of ‘ingredients’ such as additives, preservatives, flavouring, colouring, cereals and sugars that keep it in a nuclear state, or bulk it out, or make it more palatable for the consumer.

So what is different about horse feed?  Can it be argued that horse’s (or any other animal for which there are a number of processed feeds on the market) are any different?  Sure, the way that horses now live is a far cry from when they roamed freely over the countryside, foraging on what was naturally available, and now that they are domesticated, they rely on what we provide for them and consider that they need.  There has been a lot of research into complete and balanced feeds by the various horse feed manufacturers which has led them to producing a whole range of products which cater for your horse’s age, health, condition, temperament, performance requirements…the list goes on.  What seems to be OK for one horse can be completely inappropriate for another.  I can only speak from my own experience; when I fed my horse some conditioning cubes to help him put on weight and condition, he certainly put on some weight and condition, but he also became a bit of a nightmare to ride.  This is probably a familiar story to some reading this, and is mirrored in many internet forums in respect to many different types of feeds by the various different manufacturers.  I decided to take him off the cubes and just feed him with as much hay and highly digestible fibre as possible to help him build up more slowly and naturally, alongside a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement.  He seemed to do quite well on this and his previous temperament was restored.  Like with any feed that contains sugar and/or provides the consumer with high energy levels, there is an enormous effect on the brain and body, and all that energy has to be expended somewhere, be that in the animal’s work or behaviour, or both.  I wonder how many horses have been sold on, when a simple change of feed may have been the answer.

Some would argue that feeding ‘straights’ is the way forward for horses too.  This was certainly the way that it was always done before we moved down the manufactured/processed food route and like with dog food, many horse feeds contain ingredients that the horse does not need, is unable to process effectively, or just should not be included in the food.  Like with dog feeds, the horse feed manufacturers have realised that many owners like the easy and convenient option when it comes to feeding their horses and have tapped into this beautifully.  The difficulty is that a horse’s dietary needs are extremely complex and require careful consideration.  By writing this post, I’m hoping that readers will give some thought as to what they are feeding their horses, what is in any complete or processed feed that they are purchasing and what the horse needs to be happy, healthy and perform at his best.

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