Are you in control of your horse’s diet and management…or is someone else?

A recent conversation I had with a reader this week over private message regarding her barefoot horse becoming footsore, revealed a very concerning trend in the horse world today.

Livery yards/horse facilities controlling the diet and management of horses not even owned by them.

This is shocking…

This lady had recently moved to a yard and was starting to have problems with her barefoot horse being footsore

, struggling to walk from the field to the yard and was asking for some advice. On further digging, when questioned about what she feeds her horse, she reeled off a list of feeds that were a big red flag, including sweet little extras such as polos.

On explaining that the feed was most definitely the issue

, her reply saddened me deeply.

“The yard feeds all the horses morning and night and THEY decide what my horse should eat.”

They feed ALL the horses on the yard the same

, and all the horses have to stick to a very strict management regime, which includes many many hours in a stable.

When I was trimming in the UK

, many of my clients were at such institutions and ended up leaving them to find more liberal accommodation. Their horses improved and they took back control of their horse’s lives.

This lady was stuck…there were no yards closer that she could get into, her horse was getting worse….and then what happens? What things start being said?

“Your horse can’t cope barefoot you better shoe it!”

“It’s cruel keeping your horse barefoot

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, look how footsore it is!”

“Barefoot doesn’t work for every horse!”

Etc etc etc.

This has to STOP! Yards and facilities have no right to insist on the feeding regime of any horse that they do not own. If they have a strict management regime which is not conducive to the horse’s health please don’t go there!

How are owners going to get on top of epidemics such as laminitis, colic, navicular, skin problems, poor hoof health, cribbing, weaving, obesity, behavioural problems….and so much more, when this type of control reeks havoc in the horse world?

No-one has the right to tell you how to feed and manage your horse to the point where it starts to have a negative impact on their health and mental well-being.

This is EXACTLY why shoeing horses is deemed a necessary act. Diet and management is paramount in keeping horses successfully barefoot and we discuss it a lot in this magazine and on this page.

Horses all over the world are being shod because their owners believe their horse’s feet are weak

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, flat footed, had the foot bred off them, need support, need remedial shoes, need special supplements….the misconceptions are numerous.

All because the diet is inappropriate.

Who is to blame?

The HUGELY profitable feed companies producing feeds totally inappropriate for the horse, who encourage owners to feed their horse their feeds through clever marketing and scare tactics.

Then…on top of this…yards and facilities taking over the needs of your horse…and you keep on paying them to do so!

In some cases yards/facilities even tell you what hoofcare provider and vet to use!!

If this is your situation and you want to go barefoot or your horse just isn’t doing that well barefoot, then have a VERY BIG rethink.

YOU own your horse. YOU should have the final say on what your horse is fed and how it is managed.

You are the one who has to pay the bill when your horse’s health begins to deteriorate!

Stop & think.

This magazine is dedicated to helping owners understand diet

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, management and barefoot.


Have a thoughtful Sunday…stay in control!

Lindsay, Editor, BHM

Are you feeding your horse by keeping it natural or are you spending £££’s on commercial bagged feeds?

Feeding horses the ‘right’ diet is a hotter topic now than it’s ever been. Mainly due to the ENORMOUS profit the big commercial feed companies are making on unsuspecting horse owners. Pushing their feeds as nutritionally suitable for different horses at different stages of their lives.

But are these commercial feeds necessary? What were horses fed when these feed companies weren’t around? And WHY is their a bigger epidemic of obesity, laminitis, colic, ulcers etc than there’s ever been?

Horses had fewer problems on such grand scales when commercial feeds didn’t exist. Horses were slimmer

, fitter and healthier. Ask anyone who was around horses before bagged processed feeds arrived and they’ll tell you they don’t remember a quarter of the problems you hear plaguing horses today.

But feeding horses has changed…and many many owners are confused and stabbing in the dark. Often changing feeds frequently and of course spending a great deal of money doing so….and when there’s a problem with their horses’ feet or body

, rarely do they think about what they are feeding as being the ultimate culprit!

We’ve put together a simple blue print of what the default horses’ diet should be in order to keep them

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, safe, sound, a good weight and in good health. If you want a rock crunching barefoot horse

, then read on.

The diet is actually very simple, although many find it harder to implement, and it just takes some trial and error in terms of the logistics of how you manage it.

Keeping it simple and consistent is the key.

So here is the default absolute that you must be doing to start with:

1. 24/7 365 mixed species hay – yes we do mean all day everyday! Mixed species meadow hay is the optimum – dotted around the field

, not just in one place, this encourages the horses to move more, giving them the choice to eat alone or together if they feel like it – always assuming you have horses living together…which is an absolute must for a herd species, even 2 is better than 1. Put the hay in little piles, in tyres or buckets or on the ground, you will find the optimum amount to put out and this will happen over a period of a few days to weeks, until you work out how much they are getting through, the key is that they have a little left by the time you are ready to feed again…but be careful , if it is hay that they have peed on or stuff they just don’t like, it might give you the impression there is a lot left but they aren’t eating it…so stay tuned in and all should be well.

Make absolutely sure that there is very little to no rye in your hay….this is crucial…this can make the difference between a footsore barefoot horse and a rock crunching one over time. Google what rye grass looks like if you’re not sure

, and if there is too much in there, discuss with your hay man or talk to another supplier. It is worth getting savvy about the hay and then your suppliers can’t pull the wool !!

Don’t over feed alfalfa and don’t use it as your main forage. Don’t just use single species hay constantly, Timothy is a good option but shouldn’t be used on its own long term as horses get the main bulk of their important nutrients from their forage, so it needs to be mixed.

2. Fresh water in one place

3. Salt/mineral block – a Magnesium Oxide base with various minerals is great – they are usually white, big square blocks are the cheapest. Not ones in tubs and absolutely no molasses…which you can usually tell because it’s brown!

4. Bucket feed ONLY if you have an underweight, ‘in need’ senior horse or competition horse who spends MANY hours a day training/competing. If your horse is a good weight or overweight…don’t feed extra!

5. Very little grass…this is the biggest issue for most…which is why so many owners end up creating tracks to limit the grass without any owner stress of stripgrazing etc. If your paddock is fairly bare, that’s great but be careful because your horses are keeping it bare which means they are eating the grass! A good rule of thumb is if you see them on the hay 95% of the time then they aren’t getting too much grass.

If you can’t do the above as your base level feeding regime, then there is a risk to hoof/body health….and of course is the reason shoes are still so prevalent.

Remember – you aren’t feeding your horse…you are feeding the bacteria in their guts. They are the ones that break down the grass/hay and if you give them too much sugar by constant daily grass grazing instead of hay then that is when troubles begin.

Ulcers are the next biggest epidemic hitting our equines right NOW

, and one of the most serious, as they largely go unnoticed – this is a worldwide problem. Feed as above and you will mitigate gut stress for the rest of your horses life!

A natural as possible diet is the KEY!

Happy Guts – Happy Horses

The BHM Team ❤️

5 Things All Horses Need

Here’s a good article (not ours but we think worthy of noting see link below) – no fancy new feeds or supplements will truly matter without first meeting the foundational principles that are true for all horses

, regardless of age, breed, condition or purpose. Here’s a precis of the article:

1. Water – the most important nutrient

Did you know? During cold weather, horses drink less, especially if the water is ice cold. This potentially leads to dehydration – the main cause of colic in the winter. Heating water between 45 and 60 degrees F (7 to 15 degrees C) will promote more water consumption. Be sure the heater has no exposed wires that could electrify the water source.

2. Salt is required daily

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, regardless of the season

Did you know? In cold seasons, salt helps promote that all-important water consumption. In warm seasons, supplemented salt replaces what is lost from perspiration.

3. Forage is the foundation of the diet – it must flow through the digestive tract 24/7

Did you know? The horse’s stomach produces acid continuously, even when empty. The acid in an empty stomach can lead to the formation of ulcers anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract. The cecum, where fiber is fermented, has its entrance and exit at the top; therefore, it must be full in order to evacuate digested forage. If not, substances sink to the bottom, potentially leading to impactions and sand colic.

An empty stomach causes incredible stress, creating a hormonal response that raises insulin, an inflammatory hormone that can bring on laminitis. Elevated insulin also tells the body to store fat.

Stress from forage restriction can lead to obesity, a damaged metabolic rate, laminitis relapses, and inflammation of the hypothalamic region of the brain, accelerating the development of leptin resistance and even Cushing’s disease.

4. Replace what hay is missing – especially if you are not feeding a mixed species hay

Did you know? Sunlight exposure is needed for vitamin D production. The precursor to vitamin D is naturally found grass hay, but diminishes the longer hay is stored.

5. Movement, companionship and shelter are vital necessities

Did you know? Horses need to move and have the protection of a buddy. Standing in a small area for hours on end (even if part of it is outdoors) takes its toll on your horse’s mental and physical health. So does being isolated from buddies. The stress can be so great that it dramatically diminishes your horse’s quality and length of life by compromising his immune system and hormonal responses.

We talk about diet, management and nutrition endlessy in the mag, so if you are still not sure, find out more by SEARCHING DIET on the mag website:

Diet and management is key to our horses’s health!

The BHM Team

Link to the original article: