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, Sarah tells us what she feeds her horses Avenca and Thorlette
Avenca (venkiepenkie) is my very first horse of my own, or well horse… She stayed a bit too small (1.32). We bred her ourselves 15 years ago and she has been with me ever since. Avenca is a true Tinker (Irish Cob) and is as much her father as her mother. Meanwhile, Avenca and I are completely aligned and we know exactly what to expect from each other. This was different when she was young. With Avenca, I had to work on the basics for a long time, with join-ups, training in freedom and ground work being on the programme almost every day. When she feels like it, Avenca is very good at freedom work, ground work and she also likes freedom dressage exercises very much. I trained her to be ridden, but unfortunately I just don’t really fit her anymore and we stick to Natural Horsemanship and nice walks. She is my rock and vice versa. Avenca recently moved and I notice that she is still having a hard time with that at the moment.
Getting to know Thorlette
Thorlette is a giant 10-year-old mare and is an Alt Oldenburger (Ostfries) of around 1.70. I had the pleasure of training her for several years and have now bought her. Thorlette is quite shy, but extremely social towards other horses. She is extremely smart, learns super-fast and will walk through fire for you once she trusts you. Thorlette has developed some stable vices in her life that I am working on. Together with Avenca, she is now at her new place where she is having a great time.
The basics matter most
I think the basic feed is the most important thing. Even though Avenca and Thorlette are two completely different horses and both have different goals, they do get the same basics, adapted to their size of course. By basics I mean: grass and good quality unpacked hay.
Avenca has actually been getting this all her life. When she spent some time at a dressage stable where she got silage, you really noticed that she got “fat”. She had less energy and less desire to do things. Now that she is back on unpacked hay, and getting a good balancer, I notice that she is more energetic and feels like doing things. In addition, she currently has a nice figure. Not too fat, not too thin and perfect for a little tinker.
Thorlette was raised on silage and basic pellets. During training, I sometimes noticed that she actually lacked energy, despite the fact that we were slowly building up her condition. Before the move, I started to get Thorlette used to unpacked hay, which she now eats well. At the moment, it is far too early to say anything about what the difference is in her body.
Additional food and supplements for Avenca
At the moment, Avenca and Thorlette are getting grain-free feed from Equifirst. This is mainly to get Thorlette used to different feed than she was getting before. Unfortunately, Avenca’s resistance has deteriorated a bit since she has been getting this feed. So my conclusion is that this is not a good fit for my tinkiewinkie. Avenca is currently well used to other balancers. She prefers to eat Vitalbix Daily Complete (without thimothee) and Höveler Pur.Itan. Vitalbix slobber also goes down well, especially when mixed with nice warm water. Besides that basic feed and the balancer, I often went on snack walks with Avenca. She is then allowed to choose what she eats during her walks. She became increasingly fussy about it. Sometimes she was more in need of long limp grass, other times stalky grass, then it would be dandelion leaves and then it would be whistle grass.
To support Avenca, she is currently getting:
- HELTIE horse Minerals because of the resistance dip.
- HELTIE horse Silicon to give her connective tissue some support. Avenca suffered from locking up her knee for a while. Since getting HELTIE horse Silicium and being able to walk longer straight stretches, this has not occurred.
- HELTIE horse Nettle to boost her resistance and help filter waste products. She gets these every 2,3 months for two weeks.
To help both, Avenca and Thorlette, with the move, I gave them ‘Terra’ drops from Bloesem Remedies Netherlands. Thorlette still needs to get used to the new food a bit, but she is now eating this grain-free food from Equifirst well. To support her resistance, she is currently getting more of this food. Thorlette gets HELTIE horse Minerals for her overall resistance.
My horses get to choose for themselves!
What I find important is to listen to what the horses indicate, no matter how difficult it sometimes is for me. Especially because some horses are very good at this and others still have to learn. Avenca knows what she needs very well and she will let you know that (sometimes in a very lomp way). I let her smell different bottles and see how she reacts to the presence of the bottle or the smell.
Thorlette finds this a bit more difficult. When you look very closely at her eyes, you can tell whether she would like it or not. She then becomes “softer” and smells the bottle just a tiny bit longer. Thorlette found the ‘Terra’ drops a bit too intense and then you notice that as soon as you offer it in a smaller quantity, she does like it.
So it is sometimes a real puzzle and trial and error based research whether you should let her smell the whole bottle, or a drop. But in general, I often find out what they need that way. I also pay close attention to what they prefer to eat at that moment and adjust the feed accordingly.