Just a quick question for you regarding energy requirements once again.
My horse is fed about 8kgs of grass mix (energy value about 12mj/kg and 1kg of meal (balanced ration) which has an energy value of 12.5mj/kg. At the moment she eats as much as she wants of the grass mix (this is only for when she is in the stable which is between 5pm and 8am for the longest, sometimes she goes in at 10pm on good nights). She never finishes this but she sometimes eats more on some days than on other days. Her energy levels seem spot on for the work I am doing (I ride 6 days a week, once a week will is a lesson where we jump and the rest is dressage and hacking but with lots of trotting and cantering incl. and shows maybe twice a month). My question is, will my horse know how much energy she needs and just eat more grass mix (I will give her more so that she always has more than she needs available to her) or should I be stricter and give her a certain amount so that she finishes it all. Everything she eats is balanced so that is not a problem. What do you think?
Horses are generally adept at eating what their bodies need, unless it tastes bad (which isn’t the case with what you are feeding) or she is eating more out of boredom or stress (which doesn’t appear to be the case, either). Since there is some left over in the morning, this is a good sign that she is eating what she needs. So, I would not change how much you are feeding.
However, if she seems to need more energy, she may not be digesting her feed adequately. There are a few things you can add to her diet. My first choice would be a pre-biotic known as Ration Plus, however, this is likely not available in South Africa and shipping it to you would be quite expensive. But, this pre-biotic boosts the health of the bacterial flora living in the hindgut, making the digestion of forage more efficient.
Another route you can take is to add a B-complex vitamin preparation to her diet. B vitamins are required for the metabolic reactions that result in energy formation. So, perhaps you can find a product similar to B-Plex, that I have on my website’s store. I expect this would be very helpful.
If the feed you are offering her is low in fat, say less than 5%, I would suggest adding some oil to her diet. What oils do you have available? Let me know and I’ll give you my recommendation. I would add the oil in addition to the B vitamins.
Thanks so much for your help: My horse's energy levels seem absolutely perfect at the moment. She is on a probiotic called Protexin (which is supposed to be the best available here) but could you explain the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? The mix she is on has alot of oil in it but it seems that the fat content is only 2.5% !! I have been giving her about 30mls of Linseed oil a day but I am sure this isn't helping much. The mix contains B vitamins but Seeing the recommended amount is 3-5kg and my horse is on about 1kg; I should be giving her a vitamin and mineral mix as well, right?
You can add some more linseed oil to her diet without any detrimental effects, since her feed is low in fat.
And, it's true about the amount of vitamins she is getting, since you are not feeding the recommended amount of complete ration. In addition, most complete feeds do not contain a large amount of B vitamins -- not enough for a therapeutic dose. That is why I recommend supplementing her diet with a B complex.
About a pre and pro biotic... A probiotic consists of live microbials. So, it adds microorganisms to the gut. This can be effective, but often not enough because no probiotic has all of the bacteria that live in the hind gut. A prebiotic, on the other hand, has no live microbials. Instead, it consists of fermentation products that boost the health of the existing microbes.