I’ve been preparing champion horses in Kentucky and Illinois for more years than I care to remember; concentrating on the nutritional side of things, ensuring that the horse food is right for the horse and the they’re physically ready for the stresses of competition. Well, ok, it has been a sum total of 34 years, three months and eight days counting today.
All that experience must count for something and I’m finding it harder and harder to believe the sort of stuff that’s being written about horse nutrition generally these days.
What I’m talking about is the level of reactionary ramblings that are coming from God-knows-where that are going completely against the grain of what the equine industry in America has been achieving over the last 30 years.
The fact is that we have made enormous strides in the development of horse food and in the science of horse nutrition in that time period. Our expertise is such that delegations from Russia, France, New Zealand and China (who really want to be the best at everything – even the stuff that never did before) come over here to see how we do it. They are sending the best and the brightest in the above-mentioned fields over to our country – the USA – in order for them to be able to make the necessary improvements as they see it in their countries. Why? Because we’re the ones getting the results and we, I believe, are the world leaders in this field. Trust the experience.
These are the facts of the situation, so it puzzles me to see so many people writing against all of this progress; people who should know better too.
I’m talking about the sort of articles that keep telling us not to bother with supplements for your horse; that these are bad for him and that they will lead to all sorts of things like colic, laminitis and diarrhea in horses. Well, pardon my French, mister, but that’s a load of horse sh**.
I don’t want to get too facetious about this very important subject, but enough is enough. If you have a horse that just mopes around all day and doesn’t do much running or jumping, except to give your kids a little ride on it or it’s a horse that goes round the field for half an hour in the day, then by all means keep his diet free of any of the wonderful feed for horses that are being produced in factories up and down the nation. To be honest, the money investment isn’t really worth your while and your horse will do just fine munching away on grass and alfalfa hay and getting the occasional boost of rice bran oil. I love horses, they are so beautiful.
On the other hand, if you have a horse that you want to train up and you want him to win competitions, then you need to get real about it all and you need to prepare that horse to the best of your ability. There’s no point in hiding behind some hippy-talk of being afraid to build up his musculature because it’ll somehow give him laminitis, or being afraid to stuff beet pulp down his gullet because some equine-nik says that feeding your horse causes diarrhea in horses. (And, by the way, even if your horse has laminitis, well the good news is that there are superb solutions for that too).
From a certain perspective, it can be said that the racing of horses – particularly at the Kentucky Derby level of things – is unnatural for them and taking them to extremes. I couldn’t agree more: just like I agree that the Olympic Games are a showcase of how unnaturally fast people can run and how unnaturally high they can jump. But I love both of these things. Most humans do love the Olympics because they want to see just how well they can do it. And do you know what? Most horses love to see how well they can do too. It’s a proven scientific fact that horses dream and when they dream of the glory of winning, those dreams aren’t some fluffy hippy-dippy fantasy of running around the field in circles, chewing on their alfalfa hay. They’re the dreams of stretching their legs, straining their every sinew and craning their necks forward with their eyes bulging as they cross that finish line before every other horse. For that dream to come true, they need the best feed for horses and that won’t come growing out of the ground on its own. Feed your horse properly.