Help me figure out my horse’s feed program?

I’ve learned so much about equine nutrition recently, but I’m having trouble sorting through what works for my horse and what doesn’t. I’d love input, especially in trying to decider between what’s turnout/stress related and what’s hay/feed!

Context: 10yo OTTB gelding, I’ve had him 7 years, 1100 lbs ish, waffles between hard and easy keeper. I board, and have moved around for work a lot, so he’s seen the spectrum of management styles and feeds. Currently he’s on stall rest and handwalking for a suspensory strain, just moved him to a rehab barn. The barn manager says he’s losing topline, which makes sense due to restrictions on turnout BUT he wasn’t doing anything before. My goal is to support him and make sure he can hold as much muscle and good weight as possible.

He’s on currently and was on before the rehab barn:
TC Senior (5lbsish)
TC balancer (1lb ish)
4000IU natural E, Cu/Zn, and MSM.
Nexium protocol for ulcers.
As much grass hay as he will clean up. Some hand grazing. Currently handwalking 2x daily.

Here’s what he was eating a year or two ago when he looked AMAZING, in the same level of work:
24/7 turnout on grass pasture and round bale
2lb GroNWin
3lb Empower Boost fat
2lb alfalfa pellets
4000-5000 IU E
Farriers formula
GUT supplement

Could the lack of turnout/rehab stress be the sole reason he’s dropping muscle and weight? Or is there some glaring difference between the feeding programs that I’m missing? I know his old diet was high in fat but also high in NSC, and I think at one point much higher in E as well. I’m willing to go back to the old diet but he doesn’t really like the Boost and it was a fight to get him to eat it at first. He likes the Senior.

You can Google all these feeds and supplements, get out your calculator, and total up the amount of nutrients in each item on the menu. That will show you if there is a big change in any key nutrient.

However the big question is the forage. Grass hay can be all over the place on protein and calories. Can you get it tested?

Also he was on a field last year and stall rest this year. Yes, just the constant wandering and grazing on a field will make a huge difference in muscle tone over being on actual stall rest. Plus fresh grass has a lot of Vitamin E so he was getting mega doses that year.


Currently wading through the numbers on breaks at work.

To me, besides the stress related to turnout, his old diet was crazy high in fat and E. Is this a normal horse requirement or a TB thing? Or is there something I should be looking at for why? We added the E on a whim as a 3YO to help slipping stifles and there is a HUGE difference when he’s off of it.

There’s a whole lot to be said about 24x7 access to grass.

There’s a lot to be said about the quality of hay.

The old diet had more fat in it

The current diet (outside of forage) has 515gm protein and 240gm fat
The “amazing” diet had around 506gm protein, assuming 14% in the alf pellets, and 345gm fat

So it’s not protein, at least not from the feed, but could be the fat difference.

That said, the most likely cause is the forage, but also the stress of rehab can start taking a toll.


He’s been at the barn about 10 days so I’m guessing rehab stress.

I ran the numbers (no hay tested, but it’s an orchard/fescue mix and BO says he’s eating 25-30lbs a day) so it appears he’s getting good protein and more calories than ever.

Definitely looks like it could be a fat issue, if it’s feed at all. Could also be ulcers and stress but he’s being a very good boy and is on the Nexium, plus I can’t afford GG/UG right this moment so I’ll have to just hope it works.

Going to try a ProElite omega fat supplement they’ve used before, as he turned his nose up at the TC flax. I have some boost here at the house to try again if he shoots the omega down.

Triple Crown also has a rice bran pellet that’s about 1500 cal/lb, and has a gastric support

But TBH, the first thing I’d probably do is drop the Balancer, and go to 6-8lb of TC Sr. Or, if you can get it, switch to Senior Gold which has almost 300 more cal/lb than regular, and feed 6lb

Just an update in case people come looking for a similar issue:

We added an Omega fat supplement, at about 8oz a day to start, and it made a huge difference. Not much from the grand scheme of things but he doesn’t look as drawn up and looks to be in good weight again. Yeah, no real muscle due to the stall rest but he looks better.

Seems this horse needs fat, and a lot of it. He is eating 26k+ calories a day in free choice forage and Senior feed, with an eye on vit/min balance and tons of vitamin E. It was the extra omega fat supp that seems to have tipped the scales :woman_shrugging:t3:

Now as we head into winter, I’m just hoping to keep the trend going. And to keep the silly animal sound!