What I Feed

I am frequently asked what I feed the girls, so I figured it would be easiest for me to blog about it!

Back in 2010 I met a really great barefoot trimmer during the time I had my paint horse, Sonny. Sonny had horrible feet and I had no idea. Super contracted heels, lots of false sole, and a ton of thrush. The trimmer recommend I contact Claire from Shotgun Equine Nutrition about getting him on a balanced diet. I was mortified that his feet were bad and I had no idea, so I didn’t hesitate to contact Claire. Since then, I have been been working with Claire regularly to keep Sonny, then Estella, and now Bella on balanced diets.

Claire uses information from Dr. Eleanor Kellon in order to balance mineral content to hay based on the National Research Counsel’s nutrient requirements for horses. This boils down to getting your hay analyzed, which requires sending out a sample, in order to have the nutrients tested. Once you know what nutrients are in your hay and if you feed a concentrate, then Claire can calculate what nutrients are deficient or in excesses.

Over the years, Claire has helped me balance to a few different concentrates, but since moving home I have decided to switch to only hay pellets. With quality forage and balanced nutrients, I see no reason to feed a concentrate and love the idea of feeling forages instead of grains (not to mention the contamination and toxin risks that come along with feeding processed complete feeds).

After Claire has balanced to my hay, then it’s time for me to get to work! I have about 14 containers per horse that I fill with Claire’s recommended nutrient amounts. Depending on your individual situation this can vary some, but for me it includes:

  1. Magnesium
  2. Manganese
  3. Phosphorus
  4. Zinc
  5. Copper
  6. Selenium
  7. Iodine
  8. Vitamin E

As well as iodized salt and flax seed, and I have opted to feed biotin for hoof health. Estella also gets L-glutamin for muscle health. Each of these nutrients plays a vital role in the overall health of the horse. To quote Dr. Kellon:

Feeding a horse properly isn’t like building a house or putting together a puzzle. It’s more like baking a cake. If you leave the baking powder out of a cake recipe, the results are catastrophic and you end up with a cracker instead of a cake. This is the equivalent of a full blown nutritional deficiency. However, adding too much also has negative effects. To get the perfect cake, all ingredients need to be balanced. This dynamic approach, focusing just as much on balance as on intake of individual nutrients, is what I have seen to be the most effective – and also efficient – way to build a sound diet.

So I measure out the appropriate amount of nutrients for one day in each container, then store them in containers for easy feeding. I previously used stabilized milled flax seed (From HorseTech), but now that my girls are home, I am grinding my own flax seed and keeping it in the fridge.

So a typical feeding for me looks like this:

  • Measure out my hay pellets into each bucket
  • Add anti-histamines to Bella’s
  • Add just enough warm water to make it the right consistency
  • Add flax seed
  • Shake up the nutrient container and add half of each horse’s to their bucket bucket
  • Mix well
  • Feed to hungry ponies!


I am always so thrilled with their condition! Their coat, their hooves, their muscle tone…. everything just radiates by feeding like this! I know how much people love their SmartPaks and to feed all of the supplements, but most of those are just fillers! When you compare the actual amount of a nutrient you get in a pelleted supplement compared to feeding trace minerals, the difference is astonishing. Not to mentioned, it’s balanced in correct ratios to your horse’s individual needs, and you aren’t dealing with fillers.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask! I also highly recommend contacting Claire if you are interested in feeding a balanced diet!

Other nutrition related articles:

Nutrition 101: What to Feed Nutrition 101: What to Feed

Equine Nutrition Q and A’s

No shampoo and no show sheen used for this shine:


4 thoughts on “What I Feed

  1. Karley

    I’d be curious to see what she says!! Does she take hair samples from the horses? Or how does she know what they need/are missing?

    • Hi Karley! She takes the amounts in your hay and concentrate, then compares them to the NRCs recommended value. So the NRC has complied information on the basic nutrient needs of horses, kind of like the recommended daily amounts for us. So based on your horse’s size/age, they have different recommend amounts. So just to throw an example out there, let’s say the NRC recommends like 500 mg of Zinc per day. Based on the amount of hay you feed, your horse is getting 300 mg of zinc and based on the concentrate you feed, your horse is getting 100 mg. So that’s 400 mg total, which leaves you 100 mg lower than the recommend amount. So Claire would tell you to add 100 mg of zinc. Does that make sense? Those are purely hypothetical numbers btw lol.

  2. cadencedhoofbeats

    Thanks for blogging – equine nutrition is such an interesting topic. Your horses are SO beautiful and shiny and I always wondered what their diet was like. I’m really impressed with all of your mineral mixing – I have to admit that all those containers look a little overwhelming to me! 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I should have mentioned (ugh, facepalm) that you can order your stuff pre-mixed from Horsetech! That is what Claire recommends. I have a background in chemistry so making them up is nothing but time consuming for me, but you can certainly order it pre-mixed from Horsetech :)!!!

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