How to best feed your horse in Spain
Having kept horses both in England and Spain, it soon became clear to us that many of the problems suffered by horses here in Spain is due to poor diet, which tends to be mainly grain based. After much research, we found the ideal food for our horses here in Spain: Fast Fibre.
Basic concepts of horse nutrition
The following is an abstract taken from an article by Anne Rodiek, a professor at California State University's Department of Animal Science and Agricultural Education.
1. Horses cannot tolerate large amounts of soluble carbohydrate (grain) in their diet. Soluble carbohydrate reaching the large intestine will be fermented rapidly by microbes, leading to massive acid production, decreased pH, microbial death, toxin production, and possibly endotoxemia, colic and laminitis. The high nutrient requirement of working, lactating and growing horses requires that a substantial nutritional requirement, particularly energy, be met by good quality forage.
2. Horses eat to meet their energy needs. They also eat to meet a level of gut fill, required for digestive tract and microbe health. Horses whose energy needs are met with feeds of insufficient bulk (too energy dense) will continue to seek food to fill their digestive tract.
3. The average horse will eat about 2 per cent of its body weight daily in dry feed, such as hay. So a horse weighing 1100 lbs. (about the average weight of a 15-hand quarter horse) will eat about 22 lbs. of dry feed each day.
4. Horses need a forage-based ration. At least 50 per cent of the ration, or at least 1 per cent of body weight, must be consumed as forage each day. This is important for gut fill, for nutrition and health of large intestine microbes, as a reservoir of water in the body, and to maintain digestive tract pH).
Quality horse feeds
Fast Fibre is an ideal feed for all horses and ponies, particularly:
- Natives and good doers.
- Horses with dental problems and others who can't or won't eat much hay or haylage.
- Fizzy horses.
- Horses prone to tying-up, azoturia or laminitis.
- Horse suffering from Cushing's syndrome.
- Any horse or pony that requires a high fibre, low starch, low sugar diet.
Fast Fibre should be mixed with twice as much water to feed and allowed to soak for 30 to 60 seconds before feeding. Any changes to diet should be made over several days.
Is Fast Fibre suitable for my horse?
Good doers and natives: Yes. Fast Fibre is low-calorie but still contains all the vitamins and minerals your horse needs and is more palatable than a chaff.
Poor doers and horses that need to gain weight: Yes. Although Fast Fibre is low-calorie it can be fed in quite large quantities if necessary to boost calorie intake. It is also very palatable and fibre is an excellent source of slow release energy that is very effective at putting on weight and condition.
Fussy feeders: Yes. Fast Fibre contains mint, garlic and fenugreek, an appetite stimulant that makes it extremely palatable.
Fizzy or excitable horses and ponies: Yes. Fast Fibre is cereal and molasses free, ingredients which can often lead to fizzy behaviour. The starch and sugar content is very low and instead the energy it provides comes from the high-fibre content, which supplies the horse with slow release (stamina) energy which is less likely to cause fizzy/excitable behaviour.
Horses and ponies at rest or in light work: Yes. Because Fast Fibre is a low energy feed, it is ideal for horses in light work or those at rest. It is also cereal and molasses free, so less likely to cause excitable behaviour.
Competition horses: Yes. Often competition horses tend to receive diets that are low in fibre but high in starch. Feeding Fast Fibre can help to boost the fibre intake and keep the digestive system healthy.
Horses and ponies prone to laminitis or Cushing's and Equine Metabolic Syndrome sufferers: Yes. Being molasses and cereal free, Fast Fibre is very low in starch and sugar but high in fibre and provides all the vitamins and minerals your horse needs.
Horses prone to tyingup or equine rhabdomyolysis syndrome or polysaccharide storage myopathy: Yes. Fast Fibre is cereal and molasses free making it very low in starch and sugar and high in fibre.
Horses with gastric ulcers or prone to digestive upsets: Yes. A high-fibre diet is very important in these cases to keep the digestive system healthy.
Older horses or those with dental problems: Yes. Fast Fibre will form a soft, palatable mash that requires very little chewing. Fast Fibre can be used to top up fibre intake or as a hay replacer if necessary in horses that can no longer manage hay, haylage or grass.
Horses and ponies with liver problems: Yes. These types of horses need a diet that is low in protein and fat (oil). Fast Fibre has a low protein content of 8 per cent and is also low in oil.
Horses on box rest: Yes. Fast Fibre is low-calorie and will not provide your horse with too much energy while he cannot exercise. Fast Fibre also contains all the vitamins and minerals your horse needs and is very palatable and ideal for mixing medication into.
Youngsters: Yes. Fast Fibre is ideal for native types and good doers who do not require a high-powered stud feed. Fast Fibre can also be fed alongside stud and young stock feeds to boost fibre intake.
Donkeys: Yes. A high-fibre, low-starch content makes Fast Fibre ideal for donkeys.
What makes Fast Fibre different?
- Unique quick soak – 30 to 60 seconds – means that feed is always fresh and mimics the horse's natural diet.
- Vegetarian Society Approved – no animal by products or hidden nasties.
- Made from high quality non genetically modified ingredients in a drug-free mill.
- Much higher fibre content than traditional high fibre cubes or pellets.
- Molasses, cereal and alfalfa free – suitable for horses with intolerances.
- Very low starch and sugar content.
- Contains a full range of vitamins and minerals – no need for additional supplements or balancers.
- Contains yeast for digestive health as well as mint and garlic, which act as natural prebiotics.
- Mint and fenugreek add palatability.
- Can be fed on its own or with other feedstuffs.
- Can be used as a hay or haylage replacer or to make hay last longer.
- Fibre source provides fibre for a healthy gut and to satisfy appetite without excess calories.
- Highly digestible fibre, slow-release energy source.
- Provides a concentrated source of calories, and omega -3 oils for a healthy skin, and a glossy coat.
- Calcium source.
- Provides essential electrolytes.
- The vitamin and mineral supplement in these feeds provides Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Copper, Selenium, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Nicotinic Acid, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamins B1f B2, B6, B12, Biotin, Iodine, Cobalt, Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Calcium and Magnesium.
- Has a natural prebiotic effect, creating the right environment for bacteria to grow.
- Supplies a natural bio-available source of vitamins.
- Very palatable and stimulates appetite.
- Rich in sulphur, aids digestion by supporting the development of gut flora, whilst killing pathogens.
Fast Fibre ingredients:
- Unmolassed sugar beet
- Oat fibre
- Limestone flour
- Vitamins and minerals
For more information and advice on feeding horses in Spain, or to buy Fast Fibre, visit the Easy Horse Care Equestrian Store or contact me, Sue Weeding, on +34 652 021 980.