At HELTIE horse, we are all horse girls and also all have our own horse. So talking about horses, horse health and horse nutrition is also right up our alley. We always talk about healthy food, natural food, grain-free, low in sugar etc. But how do we do this ourselves? What do we feed our horses? In this part, Marjolijn tells us what she feeds her mare Floxely.
You may have already seen Floxely in photos on social media and blogs. Floxely is an 11-year-old mare and a crossbreed Friesian x Tinker. She is 1.67m and recently weighed in at over 770kg clean. Floxely has been my horse from day 1 and therefore my buddy for 11 years and we are real soulmates. She is a real mare though, so her nicknames are Milady and Tuthola. Floxely is always honest, caring and she also has a great sense of humour.
Flox is more difficult to feed, she knows very well what she wants and especially what she doesn’t want. I don’t have to come up with anything chemical, because she will literally run away if she gets the chance. She was brought up on haylage and she reacts very sensitively to that, she always suffered from manure water and was always bloated. She always looked a bit puffy, had little energy and also suffered more and more and worse from mud fever, she was just never completely comfortable in her skin. About 4/5 years ago, she was switched to unpacked hay and then she started to change a bit, but it was still not quite as it should be. This was also because there was very limited feeding at that place and this did not work for her. So since March 2022, I moved Floxely again, to a really great place with unlimited, unpacked hay on a paddock paradise. And since then, after getting used to it, she has lost weight nicely, no more bloated tummies and no more manure water. I am also getting the spots on her legs under control more and more, but this is still work in progress.
Roughage, especially roughage
So Floxely is on unlimited, unpacked hay fed in hay nets/slowfeeders. The hay is bought in by the stable abroad, because unfortunately there is very little good hay available in the Netherlands. The hay fed is low in sugars and currently also low in energy and low in protein, so perfect for unlimited feeding in a mixed herd! It is herb-rich, stalky and the horses love it.
Many horse owners worry that their horse will get too fat from unrestricted feeding, but with Floxely I notice just the opposite. As soon as I deny her unrestricted feed and thus access to hay, she actually gets fatter and bloated. Whereas with unlimited roughage, she is regularly napping or cuddling with other horses. This summer, Floxely even lost a lot of weight, even though she was also allowed out to pasture. I say allowed, at our stable the horses (who are allowed on the grass) are allowed to choose whether or not to graze. Floxely regularly chose not to go with them this summer, but to continue eating hay. This was very special to me, as grass was her life! Currently, now in autumn, Floxely does very much choose the grass. Of course, weather conditions are taken into account, but if possible, the horses go out onto the grass for several hours throughout the year.
Floxely’s ration therefore consists of 99.9% roughage, which is really her basis and from which she must get most of her energy. And at the moment she is doing very well on that! When the grass is almost gone, I might have to start looking at protein because the hay is low in protein, but at the moment that is not important yet.
Little concentrate feed and no balancer either
This will be an unusual one for many horse owners, but Floxely only gets a little concentrate feed (Equifit Pre-active) when I have worked der, I think less than half a feed scoop. But I never measure this out, I just take 2 hands. I work Flox about 4 times a week, sometimes a bit more and sometimes a week less. I currently feed Equifit Pre-Active, what I like about this feed is that the herbs change per season and that it contains extra vitamins and minerals. I must admit, though, that I change feed after every bag/2 bags. Floxely is quite fussy and she stops eating her food when she has had enough. That has always been the case and will probably never change haha. But a change of diet really applies to her. That is why I change a lot between brands, especially Agrobs, Marstall and Equifyt. In any case, always low in sugar/starch and grain-free as much as possible.
And where I always advise clients to then start feeding a balancer in situations like this, so that you meet the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals… I don’t do that myself (anymore). As indicated, Floxely is quite fussy and I have not yet found a balancer that goes in with relish. Especially at this place, the paddock paradise, she doesn’t seem to need it. Purchased several brands, but everything stays down, bowl gets knocked over and then I get an angry look from her that it’s not eatable. I have therefore given up balancers with der and trust that she gets enough through her other feed and I regularly supplement with supplements.
Some supplements though
So Floxely gets almost no concentrate, although I do give her a daily slobber. At the moment this is the Agrobs Alpengrun Mash, but I have also fed Marstall’s Bergwiesen Mash in several bags. She gets about 150 grams of unsoaked mash, which I then prepare as dry as possible. And I use this slobber to provide the supplements. The slobber is no guarantee that she will eat her supplements, if I add something to the slobber that she does not want/need, she will not eat the slobber…
At the moment, Floxely gets the following supplements:
- HELTIE horse Rosehip: she loves this through the feed, through the water it is not a success
- HELTIE horse Nettle: she gets this through the water, then it is her favourite. Especially at times when her legs are a bit restless in terms of mud fever.
- Per Naturam Dandelion juice: to support liver and digestion. She has been through a couple of moves in a couple of years and also had poor hay/forage. And I find that an occasional bottle of this does her a lot of good.
- Blossom remedies: not bach blossoms, but blossom remedies Netherlands. Especially fan of the purification, terra and protection. And I use these for processing moves/traumas, negative external influences and to support her mud fever.
- Vitamin C from Bonusan/Vitakruid: every day Floxely gets a scoop of vitamin C added. I have noticed that her legs are thinner since I added the vitamin C.
Actually, only the vitamin C is standard in her diet and then alternately the rose hip, dandelion and nettle. I give these more as a cure. During shedding periods I notice that she likes to lick the black ground in the woods, which is a regular thing when I take her for a walk. And that’s OK with me, it’s a natural thing and I trust her in it. She then deliberately takes a few bites and licks and then stops again. These are then a sign for me to add HELTIE horse minerals extra through the slobber for a while. In addition, we have a mineral buffet at the stable (with nettle, minerals, ketlic sea salt, green loam), so she has every opportunity to take what she needs. She also likes to take peat drench, so she also gets that in occasionally.
So every horse has its own needs!
Floxely is not a horse where I can give the same feed for years or who does well on a scoop of pellets every day. Every day I have to see/feel what I give her, how much or whether she needs nothing extra for a while. My feed barrel is therefore full of different supplements and every day I decide what she gets. I also have always at least 2 type of concentrate in stock, in case the decides that she wants something else.
So where in my advice I always recommend giving a balancer as a base, that doesn’t work with Floxely and I trust her primal instinct.