Below are some of the many equine management practices we implement. We are interested in progressive best-management practices that respect the ethology of the horse, while also being efficient and cost effective for horse owners. Please ask us if you have any questions about incorporating these practices into your equine management program!
And... if you have any better ideas, let us know!
Our Feed Program
We work with Nancy Collins of New England Equine Balance to develop a nutrition program based on research from the National Research Council Nutrient Requirements of Horses, and the experience of thirteen years of studying and working with Dr Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD.
Ancora Imparo Equine provides a complete balanced nutrition program as part of your board package.
Here is what our feed program looks like:
- A forage (hay) based diet, in slow-feed systems allocated to meet your horses metabolic rate (we strive for constant, yet restricted access based on metabolic needs)
- A custom blended supplement that is balanced to our hay, fed at a rate to complement the rate of hay consumption
- Approx 3 oz Ground Flax Base (for Omega 3's), 500+ IU's Natural Vitamin E per 250 lbs body weight, Selenium, Protein, Forage Trace Minerals 4:1:4:4 (Fe:Cu:Zn:MN) custom blended to hay.
- A base feed that used as a carrier for the supplement. Our current selection is Triple Crown Lite, a grain free formula that is safe for the broadest spectrum of horses (from mini’s to drafts, metabolic/IR/Cushings, easy or hard keepers) at a rate of 1-2 lbs per 500 lbs of body weight per day.
- This is currently the best choice for our farm, however there are many other reasonable options available, so long as you avoid carriers that add iron, usually listed as ferrous sulfate, and other 'ferrous' products. Of course, if you are feeding only a pound or two per day as a carrier, to a non-metabolic horse, iron becomes less of an issue.
- Other products that could be used as a carrier include: Poulin E-TEc Carb Safe, Beet Pulp (shreds have less iron than Speedi-beet) rinsed/soaked/rinsed, Stabul1 - Nuzu, Soy Hull Pellets, Triple Crown Natural Timothy Balance Cubes (aka Ontario Dehy Timothy Balanced Cubes), Triple Crown Crown Safe Starch
- 1 oz of salt (I have personally long been hesitant to top dress salt, but best practices and research show that 1-2oz of salt top dress for a 1000 lb horse is a very important component of a complete nutritional profile, and I'm deferring to the experts!)
- Supplemental magnesium for easy keepers /metabolic horses (our hay tested very well for magnesium, and most horses in light to medium work will not benefit from additional supplementation with this batch of hay)
If you would prefer an alternate program, we are very happy to feed whatever you supply! Nancy Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also available to answer any questions about your individual feed programs and how we have worked to develop this so that is would meet the needs of your horse.
For ACCURATE information of feeding your horse, check out ecirhorse.org and safergrass.org
WHY Diet Balancing
We work with Nutrition Consultant Nancy Collins of New England Equine Balance, and she learned from Dr Eleanor Kellon. She provided me with the text from a colleague of hers that beautifully explains WHAT and WHY we do this.
Here's a copy of the post on WHY DIET BALANCING:
"Diet Balancing – View from the Soapbox – Post # 114732, August 8, 2008
For a little background, the philosophy on this list is balanced nutrition. I read that when I joined and thought I knew what it meant but it took a long time to sink in. Once I "got it" I've never fed my horses more sensibly or more cost effectively. Dairy, Meat and Egg farmers are very familiar with analyzing their feeds and providing only the vitamins and minerals needed to get maximum production. It's also a very sensible way to feed a horse to get maximum health and performance. However, most horse people only have a few horses, not a flock or a herd, and really don't know much about equine nutrition, so they've learned to rely on feed manufacturers and supplement makers that sell products with all sorts of claims to convince you that you couldn't possibly get to the next day without feeding their product. I don't know about you, but money doesn't grow on trees here and some of these products are outrageously expensive for what little is in them. One I reviewed lately was $60 a pound!! $60 a pound for very little mineral and mostly herbs that were ESSENTIAL!! Right. I can just see a dairy farmer spending this much to supplement one cow! Anyway, the crux of the situation is that different regions of the country have different mineral profiles. For example, my hays always have high calcium, low magnesium, low phosphorus, average iron, very low zinc, deficient copper and high manganese. Hays grown in the Northwest and Northeast will be different. Hays grown on acid soil vs. more alkaline soil will be different. Protein and carbohydrates vary widely, so, bottom line, no hay/pasture is equal. Now comes the supplement maker who markets to everyone. One supplement maker comes along with a high calcium supplement that, according to their glossy brochure with lots of testimonials, will fix everything that ails my horse. The last thing in the world I need is high calcium, I feed it and my calcium to magnesium ratio and my calcium to phosphorus ratio gets worse instead of better. Or, another comes along and says, "Your horse has IR and magnesium will fix that!!" So, you feed magnesium. But it turns out that you already have sufficient magnesium and all you're doing is overdoing it and your horse poops out high magnesium cow plops. Most supplement manufacturers don't have enough of anything to make a difference but it makes the horse owner feel better because they're feeding "21 ESSENTIAL VITAMINS and MINERALS!!" Truth be told, when you look at the analysis, you might as well rub a copper penny on their tongue for all the good it does. So, here's what we recommend. You beg, borrow or steal (or buy!) a hay corer and get a proper hay sample or pasture sample. The instructions for sampling can be found at Equi-Analytical.com You can usually borrow a hay corer from the county extension office or a local dairy farmer (or cattle farmer). Ask Equi-Analytical for an analysis package. When, and if, you get to this point, write and we'll guide you through the rest of the steps. Once you get your analysis, you contact one of us (#7 in the files) and we can help you balance your hay. I just buy bulk minerals from Uckele.com and/or my local feed store for literally PENNIES a day and I have the peace of mind knowing that they're getting exactly what they need, no more, no less and I'm not throwing my money away on useless supplements. It can be a hard thing to wrap your head around at first, but once you do it you think, - wow! Where have I been?! One way to look at it is: Your food is balanced and fortified, your pet food is balanced and fortified, but a bale of hay or pasture is not. Years of a monoculture, unbalanced diet adds up to major and trace mineral imbalances that can affect health. All you're doing is balancing the part of the diet that isn't balanced. Tell this to a meat/dairy/egg farmer and he'll say, "Yeah...so...what's the big deal?" Tell this to horse people and most of them run screaming from the room! Descending from the soapbox, Kathleen (KFG in KCMO)"
At Ancora Imparo Equine Center, we test our hay to determine protein, fiber, carbohydrates and minerals. Using a hay probe with samples from several bales gives us the best representative sample possible.
Testing your hay is always a good idea. This is ESPECIALLY true when feeding a primarily hay-based diet. Feeding hay is the primary source of calories for your horse has a host of benefits (see the section on the page about Slow Feeding of Forage). However, hay can vary tremendously in its nutritional value. Without testing, it is impossible to know if you are over- or under-supplementing!
We use and recommend the (603) Trainer Test through Equi-Analytical. The cost for the test is $54. This is a much more accurate test as compared to many of the free testing services available.
Here is a link to the hay testing service we use and recommend:
Here is a link to an article discussing more reasons to test your hay:
Slow Feeding of Forage
At Ancora Imparo Equine, we are firm believers in the the benefits of allowing constant access to forage!
Please note, there is a SIGNIFICANT difference between constant access, and unrestricted access. Insulin-resistant horses are also what is known as Leptin-resistant, which means they will not stop eating with free choice feeding! It is our responsibility as their caretakers, to balance the benefits of constant access (bored, lactic acid buildup, thermoregulation, etc) with risk factors associated with overeating. To learn more about this here: https://www.ecirhorse.org/news-story.php?id=17
We have a variety of slow feeder nets, with different hole sizes that help regulate intake based on the metabolic rate of each horse. A google search will present you with HUNDREDS of ideas. We recommend not using the grate-style slow feeders, as these have caused dental problems in some horses. If you are acclimating your horse to a hanging-net style feeder, talk to us about the introduction process we use so that horses in our care can avoid issues related to feeding with incorrect biomechanics.
If your horse is on a specialty non-hay diet (such a some horses with chronic colitis or dental issues) we strive to find similar slow-feed options for their rations.
There have been several good university studies on the benefits of this modality, but here is a link to an article with a good overview of some of the reasons why we choose this management technique:
We use and have had success with full-bale nets from Hay Chix. There are many other companies to choose from as well!
What about Parasite Control?!
Daily mucking of stalls, paddocks, and run-ins keeps our environment clean, and reduces breeding grounds for both flies and internal parasites.
By feeding hay in slow feeder nets away from manure, we reduce infection rates.
Mucking our paddocks, instead of dragging them, also reduces infection rates.
We require fecal testing within the first 30 days of boarding. Treatment and ongoing testing is required for horses where worm populations are found. We use and follow protocols recommended by Horseman's Laboratory.
In addition to this, I choose to proactively worm my horses annually with Ivermectin and Praziquantel wormers. I use these based on recommendations from my veterinarian, as some species of worms (tapeworms, for example) do not show up on fecal tests. My personal horses have had no history of side effects or sensitivity, so I combine these into one dose using Zimectrin Gold. You should talk to your vet to determine what is best for your herd.
Remember to be careful about keeping your dog away from horse manure after worming your horse with an Ivermectin wormer as some dogs (particularly herding breeds) are very sensitive and can have severe reactions.
Here is a great article on new equine deworming protocols:
Here is a link to the company we use for fecal testing:
Turnout and Small Herd Environments
We offer boarding packages based on established best practices as they pertain to natural horsekeeping principals. We are firm believers in supporting the both the psychological and physical needs of the horse. A big part of this is providing extended options for turn-out. Many of our horses live in small herd situations with 24/7 turnout in large paddocks with access to runin sheds.
Run-ins are available in most paddocks, but may not be for horses requiring individual turnout. If you need a stall, you have one available. If you would prefer your horse be stabled overnight, we also offer that option!
Please click through to the following link, to see some of the reasons we advocate for horses living outside in small herd environments!