As most of my regular followers know I am a HUGE proponent of a forage based diet. I’ve said it a million (well, maybe 1,000) times “It’s the way horses were designed to eat”. So, it will come as no surprise that I am a fan of this new book. It’s the answer to many a horse owners prayers really. How do I feed my horse in a way that supports him physically, nutritionally and psychologically?
Author, Alexandra Wesker MSc, approaches equine nutrition in a holistic way that includes all the important aspects; 1) what horses actually need in their diet according to health, activity and body condition, 2) what feed stuffs that diet should consist of based on #1, and 3) how it should be fed based on where they eat, who they share that space with, and the environment he lives in.
This chart from the book will give you an idea of how her approach differs from traditional feeding and housing.
All of her recommendations are supported by research and a detailed explanation of the “whys” for a natural feeding program are outlined. As expected she included health reasons such as gut function and nutrient absorption, but what I was thrilled to see was behavioral/psychological reasons such as slow feeding, stress reduction and boredom reduction were included as well.
But she didn’t stop there! There are also the physical reasons beyond equine digestion. This rarely is addressed in nutrition books as we tend to focus on nutrition as it affects gut health and digestion (the digestive tract). Including other body areas such as the effects of feeding on muscle, bones and teeth function really is important, and they are in this book!
Don’t get worried that all this info will be too technical. The book is made up of easy-to-use steps, guides and charts to help anyone figure out what is best for each horse (as an individual).
Alex starts with a terrific explanation of roughage and the different types. This is an area I get at least one email a week so I understand how confusing it can be to the horse owner.
This is followed up by the factors that will affect the nutrient requirements of your horse. Exercise is a pretty standard factor included in most nutrition books but instead of the familiar NRC choices (light, moderate, heavy and very heavy), this book uses the F.I.T.T. principle to determine a value. FITT stands for Frequency. Intensity. Time. and Type. Which will give you a more accurate reflection.
The book leads you through determining your horse’s Natural Feeding Level. Converting your horse’s current ration to a Natural Feeding Value. And finally to determining the particular Natural Feeding diet for each level and how to adjust your horse’s current ration.
There is also a great reference section as well as an extensive glossary to boot!
Feeding your horse “naturally” isn’t a new concept; offering a diet high in good quality roughage according to each horse’s particular needs is a well understood concept. Obviously, based on the emails I receive, the “how to do it” part is what is missing. This book is your answer!
A bit more about the author:
Alex is an animal scientist specializing in horse health. Alex is based in England where she writes and consults on horse well being and nutrition. She gained both her BSc and MSc in Animal Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands – one of the World’s foremost life-sciences universities. Her studies encompassed a wide range of areas from nutrition, physiology and genetics, to immunology and anatomy. This has enabled her to think and work more comprehensively in the work she does with horses. Alex has enjoyed riding from a young age and has a horse called Sensation.
To order a copy click here http://horsehippie.com/collections/books/products/natural-feeding-for-horses
Peace and good food,
The Equine Nutrition Nerd