Entries by Dr Nerida Richards

Building Topline

It doesn’t matter which equine discipline you are involved in, building and maintaining a strong topline on your horse is important. Strong toplines attract judges or buyers and also help ensure the horse’s back remains strong and healthy.

While work and correct muscle conditioning play a huge role in developing and maintaining topline, nutrition plays an equally important role. To build topline you need to provide the right nutrients. Here are some tips on feeding for topline.

Feeding for a Brilliant Coat Shine

There is nothing more pleasing to a horse owner’s eye than a brilliant, shiny coat. And aside from looking great, a shiny coat also indicates the horse is healthy inside and out. Question is, how do you make your horse shine? It is really quite easy if you follow these simple steps.

Bodyweight Estimation: Which Method Is Best?

Bodyweight estimation—which method is best?

Having an accurate bodyweight for your horse is critical when formulating your horse’s diet. Overestimating your horse’s bodyweight may mean you feed too much, resulting in weight gain and wasted money on feed that is surplus to your horse’s needs. Underestimating could result in underfeeding your horse, possibly causing weight loss and nutrient deficiencies.

Biotin: Should You Supplement?

Biotin is a vitamin essential for many functions in a horse’s body, including: fatty acid synthesis, protein and energy metabolism and cell proliferation.

The question is, how do you know how much to feed your horse?

In equine nutrition biotin is best known and most commonly used to positively influence hoof quality. There are many biotin supplements available. Some contain only biotin, others also have nutrients like methionine and organic zinc. These supplements are marketed as hoof supplements and the one thing they usually have in common is they are expensive. The question is, does your horse actually need supplemental biotin?

Why Body Condition Score?

How much should you feed your horse?

Feeding your horse the right amount of feed is important to:

  1. Prevent unwanted weight loss or weight gain
  2. Prevent diseases like colic and gastric ulcers
  3. Prevent unruly, uncontrolled behaviour when being ridden

The question is, how do you know how much to feed your horse?

The first golden rule of horse feeding is always feed your horse a minimum of 1% of its bodyweight per day of forage. So for a 500 kg horse, the absolute minimum amount of hay, pasture and chaff it should have access to per day is 5kg. Your horse should preferably be fed around 2% of its bodyweight per day as forage. Feeding this amount of forage will keep your horse’s gut healthy, keep your horse happy and help prevent colic and gastric ulcers.

The question then is, is this amount of forage enough to maintain your horse’s bodyweight? The only way you can answer this question is by regularly condition scoring your horse. Condition scoring is a practice used to determine the amount of body fat your horse is carrying and will give you an indication over time whether your horse is gaining, holding or losing weight. This in turn helps to fine tune your horse’s diet.