Am I feeding my 6-year-old Arabian properly?

Arabians are versatile and fun!Question: I have a feeding/nutrition questions regarding a 6 year old Arab gelding. He is out 24/7 and brought in for feedings. His rations this winter was: 1/2 scoop of sweet feed with 2 pounds Triple Crown Safe Starch for breakfast, then they are turned back out where free choice grass/timothy/alfalfa hay.  I bring him in to feed in the evenings where he gets 2 more pounds of the Safe Starch with 6-10 alfalfa cubes, and 10-12 dry ounces of rice bran which I then moisten, a capful of soy oil (for the omega threes), and cup (8 oz exactly) of sweet feed mixed together.  Once I am done with him he is turned back out for more hay.

He held his weight well this cold winter.  Looks better than most of the others. Not fat, not thin, coat/skin looks good, eyes look bright, hoofs solid.  I am pleased with the results.

Now that the spring grass is beginning to green up, I have cut his sweet feed 1/2 scoop to a 1/4 scoop, and will drop it to no sweet feed in about out another 6 weeks.

How does this diet sound to you?  I know you are not a proponent of sweet feed.  Would no sweet feed during the colder winter months work?  Should I use oats, or some other more “natural” feed for him?

I do board him, so going out in the am prior to work would be difficult, but I do go out regardless of weather 5 days a week.

He is still green, so he is not being physically worked hard, but more mentally, if that makes since.  A lot of thinking ground work, and when under saddle I just reiterate what we have worked out on the ground.  I did trail ride him last summer, and will do so again this summer buy staring out going for a 30 minute trail ride and then building up.  Basically his activity level at the moment is low.

Any suggestions, comments, criticisms are welcome.  I’m trying to learn what I can wherever I can!

Answer from April Reeves: Just a question about the hay; many mixed hays can be very sporadic in the amounts of each forage per bale. Often they have little to no alfalfa, and the next bale it’s mostly alfalfa. I prefer to feed a good first cut hay along with one flake of alfalfa and one flake of either timothy or a second cut leafy green. If your hay is consistent from bale to bale just ignore this, otherwise it may be best to change to the above.

Cutting his sweet feed back and then totally off is a very good idea for an Arabian. They tend to get metabolic and thyroid problems as they age if fed too rich a diet or too much sugars. You will notice if he gets a thicker than average coat that doesn’t shed early, depression and a burning need to eat really sweet stuff all the time.

I like to soak alfalfa cubes as they tend to stress the system from improper digestion otherwise. I don’t see the need to feed them to your gelding as you already have alfalfa in your hay. Alfalfa is dangerously low in roughage so keep it to a minimum. It should be treated as a supplement only.

I prefer wheat bran to rice bran as wheat bran has more nutritional value than rice bran. Rice bran may be high in fats and protein, and vitamin E, but not much else. I personally don’t feed any bran, but use ground flax instead. The oils are easier for the horse to process and flax is a super-food, rich in fiber, omega-3’s, B vitamins, anti-oxidants, and helps stabilize blood sugar. Flax also helps with arthritis, skin problems and a host of other problems. I would use flax in exchange for your soy as horses do not have soy in their diets and almost all soy is Genetically Modified now, meaning it is far removed from the natural feed of a horse.

The Triple Crown safe starch is molasses and grain free, built on low starch forage and infused with minerals and vitamins. It is high in fiber and has reasonable protein and fat counts. I also like that it has higher calcium ratios to Phosphorus ratios. What I don’t like about it is that they use cheap vegetable oil, soybean meal, yeast, wheat middlings (cheap filler) rice bran, limestone and phosphates and salt is very high on the ingredient list. This would be one feed I would cut back on if he gets chubby in the field this summer. If he’s doing well on it though I see no reason to switch. It seems to have lots of benefits. A good feed for the cold winters.

Otherwise it sounds like he is a lucky gelding. Arabians are my favorite breed and very intelligent. They are not hyper and crazy like people believe – just sensitive and in need of a human who is willing to slow down and understand their language. I bred Arab sport horses and each one was quiet and gentle and BIG!

Keep working with him and get some muscle going. It’s also good for his feet to keep moving. Arabians have the most amazing feet.

I hope this helps and thank you for choosing me as your online helper.

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