An adult horse that does little or no work is said to be at maintenance. A mature, idle horse has very few physical demands placed on it and therefore has only basic nutrient needs. In fact, in many cases, if the horse has good-quality pasture and free-choice access to salt and water, little else may be needed for weight maintenance.
However, forage alone can’t deliver all of the nutrients a horse needs in the optimal amounts. Forage diets are typically lacking in trace minerals such as iodine, selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese. In addition, unless the forage is predominantly green pasture, the diet may also fall short in providing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E. For this reason, a special class of feed, called a balancer pellet, is often recommended for horses that are able to maintain an appropriate body condition on grass and/or hay with little supplemental feed. These low-intake feeds are excellent products for horses that do not require extra energy to maintain weight but need a source of nutrients that may be deficient in the forage.
In some cases, horses may gain weight on predominantly forage diets. This may result from very efficient feed conversion (easy keepers), excess intake, intake of higher quality pasture or hay than needed, or a combination of any of these contributing factors. In these cases, it is desirable to strictly minimize the addition of calories to the diet while maintaining the nutrient adequacy. For that reason, even the recommended intake of a balancer pellet may contribute too many calories. Supplying a concentrated vitamin and mineral supplement can provide optimal nutrient intake without excess calories to those with low energy needs, particularly those with metabolic issues or those that should lose weight.
Though idle horses have fairly low energy and nutrient needs compared to horses that are growing, working, or reproducing, they may still encounter challenges that can be overcome through targeted supplementation. Poor hooves, natural wear on joints, and inefficient digestion are just some of the issues at hand for all horses, even those considered to have only maintenance requirements. It is important to work with a professional nutritionist to help identify and additional supplemental needs your horse may require based on the risk factors in his environment and special needs.
Which solution is right for your horse?
Bio-Bloom® HF Premium hoof formula pellet for hoof health and coat condition. Bio-Bloom HF is a dual-action supplement designed to improve skin and coat condition, and promote healthy hoof growth from the inside out. It is the ideal hoof and coat conditioner for horses that need to be presented at their best for show, sale, or parade.
Gold Pellet® The ultimate vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement for horses. Gold Pellet has been scientifically formulated to contain essential nutrient levels to meet requirements for work or growth, and is designed to complement a traditional diet of grains and roughage.
Nutrequin Se® Essential everyday nutrients for all horses. Nutrequin Se is an exceptional value-for-money vitamin, mineral, essential amino acid, and antioxidant formula, specifically designed to supplement horses on home-mixed diets or those consuming forage-only diets.
- Just Say No to Poor-Quality Equine Supplements
- Horse-Feeding Problems: Managing Easy and Hard Keepers Together
- Stick with Condition Scoring to Manage Your Horse’s Weight
- Look to Exercise for Equine Weight Loss
- Managing Horses on Declining Pasture
- Manage Micronutrients for Optimal Immunity in Horses
- Don't Neglect Hoof Care for Senior Horses
- Overweight Horses: How Much Hay Is Too Little?
- Feeding Ponies: Don't Shortchange Nutrients