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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Needed energy

Hi Dr. Getty,
I read your forum every chance I get and I learn something new each time. Thank you for your website and all your great advice. I wanted to ask your advice on if it's possible to safely add a little energy to my horse. He is very laid back and slow - which isn't a bad thing for me as I'm working on rebuilding my confidence, but can get tiring while riding and constantly pushing him to speed up. I'm working with a young trainer and she wants me to add four-way grain to his diet in hopes of putting some energy into him. He is an easy keeper and is being fed alfalfa/grass hay twice a day and a vitamen/mineral supplement that I top dress with just a handful of four-way grain which is available as part of my board. He has 24-hour turnout in a large drylot that he shares with two other horses. I'm working/riding him lightly 3-4 times a week. I also hand graze him for 15-20 minutes each time I'm at the stable. I've read so much about how grain isn't really good for horses and the highs and lows they can experience. Is there something I can add to his diet that would safely add a little "get up and go" without making him go bonkers? Thanks again for your great website.

Where are you from? Wyoming

How did you locate this forum? search

Re: Needed energy

Dr. Getty,
I should also mention that my horse was 50lb underweight when I got him five months ago. He was also living on just Wyoming prairie grass and nothing more for the past four years. Could it be that his body is depleted thus the reason for being so laid back and slow. How long does it usually take to replenish the body?

Where are you from? Wyoming

Re: Needed energy

Hi Lori,

Thank you for writing about your horse. It sounds like you are doing a fine job with him and have been successful in getting him back to peak health. It does take a while, however, for nutrient deficiencies to reverse themselves, depending on the degree of damage. In many cases, it can take as long as 1 to 2 years for a horse's true potential to show if he had been neglected for a long time.

But, you're doing the right thing -- hay and/or pasture, along with a vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in the gaps. There are two nutrients, however, that will help him reach peak health that he is not getting enough of from the average supplement. Those are Vitamin E and B Complex.

Vitamin E is necessary for repair and the removal of free radicals from the body. Therefore, it boosts the immune function and makes all of his tissues healthier. He is likely getting enough selenium from the supplement you're providing, so I would recommend a plain vitamin E, such as
E 5000
and he should have 2500 IU per day.

B Complex is necessary for a healthy nervous system. I often suggestion it for hyperactive horses to create a calming effect. But, actually, what it does is make the nervous system healthier. So, if a horse is too "calm" the nervous system will become more responsive (and conversely, if a horse is too hyper, the nervous system will behave more appropriately).
B Plex is what I suggest.

And finally, since you are working him, he likely needs more calories. I would not give him much grain, however. Try adding some stabilized rice bran, or flaxseed meal (such as Nutra Flax) to his small grain ration. This will not only give him concentrated calories but will also provide extra omega 3 fatty acids to his diet (from the flaxseed meal).

I hope this is helpful. Please keep me posted on his progress.

All the best,

Dr. Getty