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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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Re: Thank you for encouraging me to feed free choice!

Hello Karen,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. And it's interesting - Standardbreds and ponies are breeds that have a genetic predisposition toward insulin resistance and tend to be easy keepers. Eating a low calorie/low sugar hay keeps them healthy and actually stimulates their metabolic rate.

And I love your description on how their behavior has changed. I have seen this time and time again -- horses that would typically grab at the hay in your arms or wheelbarrow, are now calm and unaffected by the hay. They simply say (so to speak), "Hi! More hay? Just put it in the corner -- I'll get to it later!"

Truly -- they are no longer stressed about eating -- it is expected that it is always there (just like in a wild setting where they can graze all day and all night). And therefore, food is no longer the issue that it once was. And on top of that -- they eat more slowly and no longer "inhale" their hay.

Keep up the wonderful job, Karen!

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Karen Locklair
Hi Dr. Getty,
It has now been almost 5 months since I took your advice and began to provide free choice, low starch hay to our standardbred and pony. I am so glad I listened to you! They are doing beautifully, and although they are eating more than before, they have not gained weight. They get hay, a vitamin and mineral supplement, and salt - all free choice. They also get about a fourth of a cup of flaxseed oil each day. Otherwise, they get nothing else - no apples, carrots, sweet snacks or treats at all.
When the weather allows, I spread the hay all around the paddock to encourage movement. We often have pretty windy conditions here and I don't have many options for blocking the wind, so at those times I use nets. I use both slow feeder nets and regular nets, which I spread far apart in the paddock. Their supplements are in another area, and the water in yet another place. All of this is intended to keep them moving. We have a small hill in our paddock, so I make use of that when exercising them, spreading hay or nets, or just playing with them or grooming. I agree with what you say about the need for plenty of exercise.
One thing you may find interesting is a change in their behavior. While the pony is a mare and can have plenty of energy, I never considered either of them to be "hyper." However, they are both much calmer now that they have hay always available. Prior to this there would be a certain amount of "commotion" when I went out to "feed" them, especially in the morning. Now they come to greet me in the morning, but they aren't even interested in whether I'm bringing more hay because I never let them run out. That has been the most interesting change in my opinion, and the most surprising.
I just completed a course in equine nutrition and I have read much of your book, so I am convinced that this is the way horses are supposed to eat. Even if they were gaining weight, which they aren't, I would increase their exercise, test the hay, etc. I won't go back to feeding anything less than free choice. This is the life they deserve.
I'm sorry this is so long - I just wanted you to know that you were right all along. Sunny and Terra are happier and healthier, both physically and emotionally, and that means everything to me!

Karen Locklair

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO