Tip #6- How to build condition in winter without making your horse hot

Hopefully, if you’ve been following our previous winter feeding tips, your horses will be in great health and condition this winter.  

It is however, for various reasons – common place for some horses to run up a little light at this time of year. As the winter drags on, the weather is unforgiving and horses are inside a lot. Some just don’t thrive in this environment – and often it’s these same horses that can sometimes get ‘hot’ on traditional conditioning feeds – making them a real challenge to manage. We’ll call them the ‘sensitive’ ones.  

To not just maintain, but build condition in winter is tough, but it is possible.  Below we will explain some of the fundamentals we need to get right to enable your horse to build muscle and topline when the odds are stacked against you.

Winter Feeding Tip # 6 – How to build condition in winter without making your horse hot 

Before we start, it is important that your mindset is correct in terms of when your horse is or has reason to be ‘hot’, ‘fizzy’ or ‘loopy’, as opposed to just feeling ’well’.
Sometimes when we start to get things right in terms of our horses nutrition, they feel great! But we have to be sure we don’t misinterpret this as ‘hot’. If they have been in some form of digestive discomfort or poor health previously a move to good nutrition (and nutritional management) can sometimes be expressed in a very happy horse. It is critical that the two aren’t mistaken for one another. 

1. Make sure the fibre foundation is there in terms of volume – and quality. It doesn’t matter how much we try, fixing issues with hard feed is inefficient and illogical if we haven’t ensured that our horse is receiving sufficient fibre quantity and quality. Fix that first and then we can move to the next thing. This has been covered fairly extensively in previous tips but contact us if you need any help.  

2. Ensure your horses hindgut is functioning beautifully. The hindgut is your horses secret weapon. With the helping hand of beneficial bacteria it ferments all of the fibre your horse eats into energy (which can then help your horse put on weight). They also synthesise their own nutrients in the hindgut which your horse will then use for a multitude of critical functions around the body.   

An easy way to improve hind gut health is to feed our Pink Mash. It is twice the fibre of hay at 40% and less than 2% sugar or starch. Beetroot provides plentiful antioxidants, micronised linseed balances the omega 3 and the product is packed full of Protexin® probiotics and prebiotics. Delivering beneficial bacteria (Probiotics) along with prebiotics which help bind up and remove bad bacteria – in a mash that is so high in fibre, is highly effective at improving the health of the hind gut. Often it makes horses feel extremely well/healthy, it should never make horses ‘hot’, there is no scientific reason for it to do so.  

3. Keep them warm through feeding plenty of hay/haylage, rugs, horse paddock shelters or stables. Horse burn energy to stay warm instead of putting on weight. 

4. Feed high quality feeds that use high quality protein. Not all protein is the same. It is made of amino acids and we need to ensure that the brand of feed that we use has exceptionally high quality protein which will convert easily into muscle mass. Horses can only absorb the ‘good part’ of the protein and the excess can be quite stressful to their system to excrete – this factor is important in all horses, but particularly as they get older or are needing to build up.  

5. Feed a stabilised rice bran conditioner. Stabilised rice bran is an excellent ingredient for horses that need extra top line without starch dumping into the hindgut and making them hot. It is rich in the natural nutrient ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant and gamma oryzanol known for its muscling effect. 

A good, balanced, steam extruded stabilised rice bran conditioner like our Key-Plus will put healthy fat into the muscle (rather than laying on top like high carbohydrate feeds tends to do) helping build that top line. 

Note that Stabilised Rice Bran needs to be balanced properly in terms of it’s calcium to phosphorus ratio; it benefits from additional vitamin E. In Key-Plus this is all taken care of, with a daily ration of 2-3 cups added to your normal feed enough to provide good results.          

All together, remembering these points will help allow your horse to build condition slowly, effectively and consistently. Be patient and let the results happen.  

We are here to help so if you are struggling with your horses condition – or anything else for that matter – try requesting a call back from us and we will be glad to help.

Stay warm and happy riding,

The Keyflow Advice & Support Team 

Email advice@keyflowfeeds.com or request a call back for any nutritional help that you require
ph 01672 51 9000 

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