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Surviving Or Thriving? Why Good Nutrition Can Make The Difference

Often times when I work with clients, I see a shift from taking their horses from "survival" mode to one of better contentment and health, to a "thriving" condition. The shift is never an easy journey, as the awareness between the two often comes as a result of an injury or illness to the horse. Or, if I am lucky, the owner has made a commitment to learn more about horse nutrition and continues forward in this journey.

Many horses can be seen in survival mode across the country, often left to live their lives as a pasture pet, or in many cases expected to perform without a good nutritional foundation. Surviving is basically providing the essentials: forage (pasture and/or hay), some salt, water and shelter, and hopefully companionship too. While some would argue that this is all a horse requires, nutritionally it falls below the essential nutrient requirements that horses need to stay strong and healthy.

If you take a look at the graph from the Feed My Horse Equine Nutrition Software (above), it shows a diet where just hay being fed (the hay was analyzed). Hay and pastures always have some vitamin or mineral missing, or not in good balance. This is because grass species, soil types and conditions, weather, fertilization, etc. influence the content. If owners took the initiative to compliment this hay with appropriate nutrients (the ones the hay lack), we could then see the horse's state moving forward into a "thriving" condition (right graph). The essential nutrients are being met and cells/systems are functioning correctly if not optimally. Lack luster coats, poor hoof quality, performance and behaviour issues begin to improve considerably, sometimes in a matter of weeks. [Click here to see my blog Forage Is First Then Why Do We Treat It Last? ]

The choice of feeding habits, management and selection lies completely with the horse owner. Horse owners ultimately decide the state (and fate) of their horses. Over-supplementing (which happens all too frequently) is neither surviving or thriving ... it lies somewhere in between (off course, if that is possible) where the owner blindly chooses supplements without true facts or knowledge of what the consequences could be. This of course, could cause a whole myriad of conditions, performance and behaviour issues to which more supplements are added to falsely correct (or the horse is inappropriately disciplined) and the cycle continues. The "problem" horse is often a result of the "problem" owner.

Taking the step to having a "thriving" horse takes a little work, but the results are very rewarding! For horse owners it means less stress, less costs overall, less vet visits, a sense of pride and accomplishment, a sense of control that comes from a knowledge based foundation, more fun and the list goes on. ( For the horse it means being healthy and being at his/her optimal best - physically, mentally and in behaviour. The horse is in a state of calm, relaxed and content. The horse is able to handle stresses better, vitality returns, and performance excels. In the end ... the horse is healthy, owners are happy and superior results are achieved! [Click here to book your online Individualized Nutrition Program for your equine, or for the savvy horse owner subscribe to Feed My Horse today!]

Interested in taking the next step in your horse's nutrition? Do you need help in determining the best combination? Send an email to and share your story!


Jean Klosowicz, Equine Nutrition Consultant & Educator

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc.

Bruce Mines, ON

fb: @SuperiorEquine


Healthy Horses. Happy Owners. Superior Results!

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc. ~

The articles contained in this column are for the purpose of education and are not intended to take the place of proper veterinary care. They may be used in conjunction with such care to facilitate healing and maintain health of the horse.

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