Progressive Nutrition Approach to Feeding Horses

Good nutrition is critically important for your horse’s health and well-being. Ensuring that they receive a nutritionally balanced diet supports optimal growth and improved performance and, over time, it saves you money.

To accomplish this dietary balance for your horse, owners need to consider:

  • The type of forages
  •  Maturity (RFV) of your forages
  • Your horse’s size, age, reproductive status, and/or performance level.
Benefits and Characteristics of Forages

Horses are continuous grazing animals, consuming several small meals over an 18-hour period every day. The foundation of a horse’s balanced diet is forage (hay and/or pasture). Therefore, offering plenty of forage, whether “fresh” in a pasture or “dried” in a paddock or stall, will help maintain your animal’s digestive-tract function and overall health. The more forage a horse chews, the more saliva they produce. Saliva is a natural buffer, containing needed digestive enzymes, and is a lubricant for the horse’s digestive tract. Together, the enzymes and natural lubricant will: 1) improve digestion and absorption, 2) help offset certain types of colic, and 3) reduce digestive upsets.

However, as important as forage is to your horse, it will not supply a balanced diet of minerals and vitamins by itself. The quality of the forage you feed has a great bearing on the amount of nutrients your horse is able to digest from it. For example, overly mature forages (stemmy) are difficult for horses to break down and digest. Therefore, you should select forages harvested in their pre-bud or early-bloom (softer) stages because this maturity level is easier for horses to digest and will deliver maximum available nutrients. Plants pull minerals from the soil during their growing stages, but they increase the percentage of indigestible fiber as they mature. This decreases the nutrient availability in all forages, especially in protein (amino acids) and major (calcium and phosphorus) and trace minerals (copper and zinc).

Horse Status Considerations (Growing, Reproducing or Performing)
  • Depending on the status of your horse, the following considerations need to be taken into account.
  • Horses come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from miniatures to drafts. They all require certain levels of amino acids, minerals, and vitamins based on their size, and their daily calorie needs will vary greatly.
  • Foals grow at different rates. Therefore, the nutrition supplied to each foal should match the foal’s growth rate and the changing enzymes in their digestive system. This will help prevent digestive upsets (diarrhea/colic) as well as growth and developmental problems.
  • Nutrition is vital during the entire length of gestation for both the broodmare and her unborn foal. Research has shown that nutrition in early gestation is just as important as late gestation for the mare. Proper broodmare nutrition throughout gestation will help prevent depletion of the mare’s nutrient body reserves as the foal grows in-utero.
  • Nutrition also affects performance at all training levels. The selected calorie source plays a vital role in your horse’s stamina and attitude. Proper vitamin and mineral levels support muscle function and long-term soundness, which will allow your horses to perform their best, well into the future.
The Role of Progressive Nutrition’s Feeding Program:

Progressive Nutrition’s different lines of feed are formulated to fill the gaps between the nutrients supplied by your forage and what your horse needs. We take the guesswork out of feeding your horse.

  • First, we consider your horse’s size, age, reproduction, and/or performance needs.
  • Second, we design our feeds to complement the type (grass or legume) and quality (Relative Feed Value) of forage you are feeding. We take into account the nutrient content and overall digestibility of your forage to determine what additional nutrients really need to be added.

Finally, we select an appropriate Progressive Nutrition feed and feeding program for your horse, balancing amino acids, fatty acids, major and trace minerals, and vitamin needs, while supplying the calories to maintain desired body condition, muscle development, and performance level.

Progressive Nutrition’s goal is to furnish the highest quality balanced diet for your horse, giving you the results you demand at a competitive price per day. Check out Progressive Nutrition today.