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If you don’t test your hay and don’t have pasture, should you feed a more complete balancer like (triple crown 30, enrich plus etc) or is it good to feed Vermont blend or cal trace plus being they contain less vitamin minerals? Horses get added vit e regardless being have no pasture and free choice grass mix hay.

For many years all I fed was hay( never tested) and salt blocks. My horses were happy, healthy and amazingly sound with shiny coats and good feet. I gave a handful Omolene as a treat after riding.

My horses were on maybe 1-2 acres of green but it was mostly weed type stuff and some grass among the weeds that kept them happy to look for anything edible.

Ration Balancers are a good choice in feed today ( I feed them now) when your horse holds weight easily and really doesn’t need anything more. My horses get Enrich senior and eat it well. It can help meet any deficiencies and while expensive they get a small amount so it does last longer.


I feed Mad Barn Omniety (in a mash), which is a comprehensive vitamin mineral supplement. It gets the important copper zinc biotin magnesium selenium, it has some vitamin E, and I figure it’s a good all around boost like me taking my daily Centrum 50 plus vitamin pill.

When I crunch the numbers, Mad Barn Omniety contains more of the key nutrients I’m interested in than any ration balancer or fortified bagged feed in market.

The ration balancers typically have some required amino acids/ proteins that the VMS doesn’t.

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For mature horses that appear healthy, I think either is fine. I use TC Balancer Gold currently.

If you’re raising young stock or have some sort of issue you’re trying to address with nutrition then you might have to think harder about what products are best suited.

Possibly you might know likely factors about your hay that might steer your decision even without testing. For example, if you knew the hay was grown in a high or low selenium area.

We are low to okay selenium. Last time I tested selenium levels was last November and it was normal on Vermont blend and one scoop of elevate se (1500 natural e and 1 mg of selenium)

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Is there something that’s prompting you to consider a different diet? If the horses are eating it and are healthy then you should be fine to stay the course.

My horse looks good. He is young with pssm but he looks good and I don’t have many issues with pssm. I can get in my head easy and there is so much focus around testing hay to have a good diet. I know Vermont blend and cal trace plus are forage balancers and I have herd if you don’t test hay you should feed a ration balancer instead. So just go me thinking. My horse has been on vb elevate se flax in 4-6 lbs of alfalfa pellets for over 2 years. What I put him on when I got him at 20 months old bc he was in poor shape and I knew he had pssm. He is currently 16/16.1 1150 lbs and is 3 years old.

What is the rationale behind feeding a VMS/forage balancer if you test hay and a ration balancer if you don’t? That makes no sense to me. Unless you want to get a VMS/forage balancer custom mixed for your tested hay, which the dairy farmers do.

Other than that, the difference between a VMS/forage balancer and a ration balancer is that the VMS is generally a low volume of powder (a couple ounces serving) that has to go in a mash, while the ration balancer takes the vitamins and minerals and puts them in a slightly higher volume of highly palatable pellets (usually about a pound serving) that can be fed solo and also often includes amino acids/ proteins.

The difference between ration balancer and a bagged fortified feed or “grain” is that the vitamins and minerals and protein in a “grain” are incorporated in a much higher volume (often about 5 pounds serving) that can also contain extra carbs for energy or extra fat for calories etc.

Obviously the recipes differ a lot, and I’ve seen both ration balancer and fortified feed that have very little vitamins and minerals in them.

Anyhow in my market the Omniety is the best value for VMS. I don’t test my hay, but I know it’s going to be low selenium and Vitamin E, and I think hooves and skin benefit from good doses of copper zinc and biotin.


I mean it’s a bit of a guessing game without testing hay. I don’t test my hay either as I buy smaller quantities and the source changes.

I would guess that the alfalfa pellets are covering the protein difference between a VMS and a RB. I don’t know much about PSSM so I don’t know how that might impact your decision making process.

I agree it’s easy to fret about horse food!

You might try editing the title of this thread to include PSSM and that might attract other posters that are knowledgeable about that condition to weigh in!

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Being ration balancers provide more things then Vermont blend cal trace plus, it’s more “complete” and will fill in more gaps for ppl who don’t test hay because they don’t know what they are missing or not. Where Vermont blend only has 3 amino acids, copper zinc salt selenium iodine and biotin. I add in flax for omega and vit e.

Ok, I feed Mad Barn Omniety which is way more complete than this.

I’ve been testing my hay for over 20 yrs . Why not test? Then you know what you’ve got and what you need. And it’s cheap. I’ve come to feel even more passionate about the importance of nutrition.

If you get a years worth of hay from a single source it’s a great idea. If you get smaller batches of hay throughout the year, it may not be worth it to test a new batch of hay every couple of months


I see that point but still think it’s worth the effort to do it. It’s a baseline. Do it once and you might get bitten by the bug to do it more than once a year.

I’ve kept all my tests over the years and find in my area (and in a 50 mile radius and feeding mostly orchardgrass and sometimes a bit of timothy) that the results have been surprisingly similar). Low low sodium, copper and zinc. Sometimes shockingly high iron and sometimes reasonable. Once recall seeing phosphorus higher than calcium. Sure would wanna know about that, right? Can’t think without them in front of me but wow has it been worthwhile having that info.

It’s what they eat MOST. They don’t have a varied diet like we do. True, unless you are switching every two months and then there’s a whole nother kettle of fish because you want to be transitioning slowly right? Hind gut disruption?

Anyways I feel passionate about it and then hear Dr. Jyme saying the same thing in her podcasts.

It is a PIA and you need the probe and sending it off and holding back the same because if it got lost in the mail wouldn’t want to do it all over again.

OK off my soapbox! :upside_down_face:

The typical forage balances, probably any of them outside of Omneity and AminoTrace, don’t have Ca or P, and some grass forages can be low in Ca, either altogether, or in relation to P. From that perspective, even AT+ wouldn’t be a good idea for any non-tested grass forage because it’s got a lot more P than Ca. A grass ration balancer covers the ca/p issue because it’s whole goal is to deal with typical/common/average grass forages. If you’re feeding 10-20% alfalfa with the grass forage, then the lack of ca/p in a forage balancer doesn’t matter

There’s also the protein deal, and for probably the majority of forages, and for an adult horse, that’s not a problem. But I’d never feed a forage balancer to a < 2yo unless the hay proved to be providing all the protein they need.

It really depends on how much hay you have at once. 3 months would be worth it probably. Less than that, not sure I’d bother, because by the time you get the results you could be halfway through the batch.

Forage is always low in Na, and lots of forages in the US are low in Cu and Zn, so that’s an assumption you can make about them all, unless you live in an area that’s known not have that cu/zn issue

the shockingly high could be surface contamination


With your knowledge and opinion, do u recommend people who don’t test hay to say feed tc30 over Vermont blend? I say tc30 bc I don’t think it’s a bad product to pick that over omneity or at+ specially cost of them. I have been feeding vb for over two year with not testing my hay. I just recently read some comments that I’d don’t test hay should feed more complete feed like ration balancer.

A ration balancer is simpler than a forage balancer, since the latter tends to not taste good and typically needs to be mixed with something, and unless pelleted, also wet down/soaked

I’ve done both - forage balancer during the grazing season and it’s not reasonable to test grass because of high variability - and ration balancer during the hay season.

Forage balancers make sense if you have to avoid soy or alfalfa or any potential allergen in a ration balancer. For adult horses, if the muscling is appropriate for the amount of work, then there’s no concern about too little protein.


Ah that makes sense. My point was suggesting feeding the most comprehensive supplement if you weren’t testing your hay.

Sounds like there’s a significant difference between what I call a Vitamin Mineral Supplement and a Forage Balancer.

I feed Mad Barn Omniety premix and before that, I fed a similar product that had less of everything and ended up getting rather expensive, Support One from Pureform. Both Canadian companies. These are both very comprehensive VMS. They both have better coverage than any of the ration balancer pellets on my local market. They taste like chewable vitamin pills (sweetish over that vitamin pill taste) and the horses are fine with them in a mash, one horse even licked up spilled Omniety from the barn aisle.

With the coverage of Omniety, I don’t need to worry about hoof supplements (copper zinc biotin) or magnesium calling supplements. It also has vitamin E but not in therapeutic doses. I can make the mash smaller or larger. If I wanted to get more protein into a horse my first choice would be adding alfalfa hay. It’s same price or cheaper than the good second cut Timothy I feed.

I also feed a cup of ground flax and an ounce of salt in the mash.

I didn’t realize there was a difference between a VMS and a forage balancer! Live and learn!

So good to know. You are such a help here. Thank you. There’s times I’m like who are you? It’s like Superman or Batman behind the mask. :heart_eyes:


My horse has been on a diet of vb flax vit e and alcar in 1-3 lbs of alfalfa pellets mixed with some Timothy pellets at times, for almost 2.5 years well alcar is new, added if week ago and dropped my fat amount down. I have also added beet pulp which I have never feed before (yes I soak all this). I have never tested hay. He is p1 p2 p3 3 year old. I feed free choice mature first cut grass hay. Pssm isn’t an issue, least not yet. I have never tried to feed him a ration balancer like tc30 before. I have added 2 cups of triple crown senior when he came back from trainers bc he lost a ton of weight, fat muscle etc. but he sense gained it and I don’t add tc senior in anymore. I don’t have a issue with him eating all the stuff I feed him but I do worry that maybe I’m missing something bc i don’t know what is in my hay exactly and he is 3 will be 4 growing horse. He is 16.1 and 1150 lbs.