We may be able to answer some of your commonly asked questions below. However, we know it's sometimes more reassuring to speak to a person and we have a team of vets and performance horse specialists available to support you, so please don't hesitate to call our helpline on 01270 782223, or talk to us below on live chat.

How should I feed my laminitic pony?

1. Monitor your horse’s body weight and condition - Obesity is a predisposing factor in the onset of laminitis. To reduce the risk of your horse getting over conditioned – weigh and fat score every two weeks using a weigh tape and/or weighbridge. Although it is important that your pony loses some weight, it is crucial that this happens gradually. 

2. Do not starve your horse – Commonly owners are led to believe that they should starve a pony with laminitis, but would you starve an ill person? It is vital that the pony with laminitis receives a fibrous diet supplemented with vitamins and minerals to support their metabolism. By restricting fibre intake too much it may risk inducing hyperlipaemia. This occurs when high levels of fat are released into blood in response to starvation and can be fatal.

3. Give them a high fibre diet – It is a good idea to have your hay analysed to establish its feed value (Dodson and Horrell offer a forage testing service for a small fee). If your hay was found to have a high feed value, soaking for a minimum of 30 minutes can reduce the calorie and nutrient content. Another method of providing a high fibre, low calorie diet, which can help to control weight gain, is to “dilute” the hay with good quality oat straw (50:50). However, feeding straw is not advised for horses with dental problems because straw is coarser and less digestible then hay and does require thorough chewing. Straw is also not advised for horses prone to colic.

4. Avoid lush grass – The flush of grass growth in spring and autumn are well-known risk factors for laminitics, but it is also recommended to avoid frosty pasture in the winter. Recent research suggests that the fructan concentration in grass is higher at this time. If you do need to turn out on frosty grass, it is advised to provide hay in the paddock to discourage them from eating the grass until it has thawed. Using an grazing muzzle or strip grazing can also help to limit your horse’s grass intake.

5. Feed a balanced diet – Forage alone will not provide your horse with all the essential vitamins and minerals, particularly the antioxidants they require. To ensure your horse or pony receives a balanced diet, it is important to utilise products such as, a balancer, a vitamin and mineral supplement or a balanced chaff alongside their forage and grazing each day.

I have an elderly horse that is no longer able to chew hay or haylage and has limited turn out. What can I feed her as an alternative?

If you have an older horse that is struggling to chew hay and haylage, fibre intake is likely to be significantly reduced. Fibre is an essential dietary requirement for any horse. As a guide, your horse should receive between 1.5-2% of their body weight forage (dry matter) per day to support healthy digestive function. It is vital that you replace the forage that your horse is not receiving and this can be done by creating what is commonly referred to as a 'haynet-in-a-bucket.'

Our forage replacer recipe is recommended by the Veteran Horse Society and combines Dodson & Horrell High Fibre NutsKwikbeet and Alfalfa. The feeding guideline is 600g dry weight of each component per 100kg of body weight. Therefore, a horse with an ideal weight of 500kg would require 3kg of each product per day. This quantity should preferably be divided into several small meals and spread throughout the day in order to mimic natural trickle feeding behaviour.

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