KISS = Keep It Simple Sister

KISS = Keep It Simple Sister
KISS = Keep It Simple Sister

How to feed horses is a hot topic in the horse industry. There are all kinds of different feeds that are trying to fill- in what man perceives- as holes in a horses diet. Is the horse deficient in minerals? In vitamins? Horses in the wild will browse and eat those things that their bodies need for nourishment. They lick the dirt, lick natural salt licks, eat lots of different types of grass, drink fresh water when they can find it. That’s it. That is the extent of it. But we humans think they are missing something important. I find it interesting that the horse was actually made, by a higher power, to eat grass. They are made to thrive on grass. They grow big, strong, fast and agile eating only grass. And yet we think that we must improve on this design and feed them things they just don’t need.  Then we wonder why they have so many digestive problems, founder, arthritis. Why they chew on wood and eat manure. I believe that is because with all that we are stuffing down their throats we cause many problems in the gut. This in turn causes the horse discomfort and they show us by chewing on things and having trouble thriving.

This is an EXCELLENT article about keeping your horse’s feed regiment SIMPLE.

Many people are constantly stressing about feeding their horse supplements. If your horse has access to good hay, clean water and salt, they will be healthy. Their bodies are MADE to eat grass. And that’s it.

Feeding pelleted, enriched feeds does nothing for the horse. Especially if the pellets are made using heat. The heat kills the nutrients in the feed, thereby causing the feed companies to put additives back into the feed. When you read the ingredients on your feed bag do you know what everything is?  Are there ingredients that sound like chemicals?  If they sound like chemicals they probably are. If your feed has corn in it, it’s most probable that it is a GMO corn. GMO corn fed animals don’t live very long. They are being born with birth defects and GMO’s cause cancer in humans AND animals.

Rice bran is something that is hard for the horse to digest and utilize. Horses that are fed large amounts of rice bran can develop an allergy to it. Allergies can look like behavior problems as well as skin conditions and stomach problems. I stay far away from rice bran.

Instead of feeding a bunch of unnecessary supplements you can use essential oils to help support your horse’s immune system. I apply oils whenever I haul Billy anywhere. I apply oils before and after he is vaccinated. I apply oils when Billy has a runny nose. I apply oils when I am stressed out.

I have no need to supplement Billy with man made supplements. It’s just not necessary.  I do offer him some organic herbs. Both in a powder form and as a dried flower. He will eat them when he needs them. When he doesn’t need them he’ll walk away from the feed pan.

It’s amazing to me how much money people spend on unnecessary supplements for their horses.  $1000’s of dollars a year.

Save yourself some money, invest in a good quality hay and offer your horse some kind of exercise to help with that top line. No amount of feed can fill in a weak top line. That takes exercise.

And remember to keep it simple… and smile!!


  1. What would you recommend for a hard keeper then? My boy gets 24/7 turnout and hay in the winter, and I would love to cut back on his beet pulp/rice bran/oats, but he drops a ton of weight if I do. And it’s not like he’s fat as is…would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

  2. great question briana! here is another article that covers that exact thing 🙂

    again, it’s about keeping it simple. you say that your horse is out on turnout 24/7 but what kind of grass is he eating when out? is it an overgrazed pasture that never gets a break, therefore is not able to produce a nutrient rich grass? and when he has hay in the winter is he allowed hay 24/7? and if so then what kind of hay is it? these are all great questions to ask yourself when evaluating the kind of food your boy is getting.

    another really great question is what is it about his body that is causing you to think he is a hard keeper? first of all what breed of horse is he? do his ribs show all the time? or is it because he has a bony top line and “skinny” neck?

    the weak top line and bony neck are not really signs of a hard keeper, but of a horse that is not using it’s body correctly when ridden or played with online. to help these issues you would need to put him in a regiment that uses his core muscles and the top muscles of his neck.

    i’m lucky, billy is an easy keeper. though my pasture is packed FULL of many different grass types and has more than he could ever eat, it is not grass that is high in nutrients, perfect for him 😉 we live in a very high arid country. we are quite dry in the summer and have tons of wind. so our grass dries out fairly quickly. though we have a few weeks in the early summer that i have to lock billy off the grass for part of every day, those weeks fly by and then he is out again, 24/7.

    when i boarded him at the barn he had access to fresh alfalfa/grass mix hay (heavy on the alfalfa) 24/7. my next post will talk about my slow feeder 🙂

    i used to raise, train and show miniature horses and we often ran into the opposite problem with people. they were starving their “fat” miniatures when in fact what was happening was the little horse had a pot belly from the starvation diet. they thought the pony was fat, but it was the opposite. again i would turn them out on grass and they would round up beautifully! i even rehabilitated a couple of horribly foundered ponies on a grass diet. it’s about management and knowing what kind of grass you have 🙂

    i have had “hard” keepers in the past, but we managed that with more forage. not grain. i should do a little write up on Oliver, the tennessee walker horse we rescued sometime! he was all skin and bones. when i called the local horse rescue they informed me that he was not in need, he was just old. i stopped in and visited with the owner and found out he was 9 years old!!!! the rescue had made the assumption that he was in his 20’s because of his body mass index. poor Oliver. we rehabilitated him with grass and hay. no grain. i’ll write about that soon! i have to dig out all the pictures i had of him, before and after…

    1. I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts on this topic! River is an 8-year-old off-track Thoroughbred so I know he tends to the lean side of the spectrum, he doesn’t have much of a top line but that is most definitely due to lack of work. 😉 He is “ribby” though and I would like to fix that! He has access to a set of pastures that’s rotated regularly, and hay varies slightly around “good” quality. We are just transitioning to hay now but I suspect it will be close to 24/7 that he gets it (fed twice a day but from looking at the other horses there will be leftovers all day).

      poor miniature ponies! 😦 and oh my goodness, Oliver, a 9 year old being mistaken for a 20 year old?!! that’s crazy poor horse!

      Anyway it will be interesting to read the rest of this series! 🙂 I’m always trying to improve my knowledge and the way i take care of my boy, and like they say–keep it natural! 🙂

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