Choosing a Horse Feed to Support a Lifetime of Wellness

Choosing a Horse Feed to Support a Lifetime of Wellness

You want your horse to have the best life possible, and that often starts with the right nutrition. But choosing the perfect horse feed for your companion can be challenging for many reasons, a major one being that their nutritional needs evolve with age.

A young, growing horse’s diet, for example, requires more protein along with a different balance of vitamins and minerals than an adult or elderly horse’s diet, which can vary widely depending on their overall health, metabolism, activity level and body condition.

Help ensure your horse’s diet is providing the foundation for a long, healthy life with feeding goals for each life stage from our expert equine nutritionists.

Foals need a lot of energy, and it starts with their dam.

During the first three months of a foal's life, they get most of their nutrition from their dam's milk. It provides protein and energy through fats and carbohydrates, plus the vitamins and minerals essential for growth and development. So it’s important to choose a formula that not only supports the foal, but also its mother.

Mare and foal feed formulas like Sentinel® Safe Start and Sentinel XT™ Grow are developed specifically for this with high levels of protein and fat, along with a balanced vitamin and mineral package.

As foals grow and begin to explore their surroundings, you might see them nibbling on hay or grass, but it’s not their main nutrition source at this stage. Regardless, it’s essential to make sure your horse has access to good-quality forage throughout its life.

Around 12 to 18 months, as foals transition into yearlings, they continue to mature, but at a much slower rate than before. At this stage, you should determine the right grain ration to help your horse grow and maintain body condition throughout its life.

When crafting a diet plan, our equine nutritionists recommend a formula that includes quality protein, vitamins and balanced minerals for healthy bone growth. An extruded horse feed like Sentinel Grow & Excel fits this criteria with moderate protein and high levels of fat and fiber to support development and energy needs.

Sentinel Safe Start and Sentinel XT Grow, mentioned earlier, also make a great fit for supporting young, developing horses.

The right adult horse feed really depends on your horse.

As your horse grows and matures into adulthood, your feeding goals will likely change, too. Access to fresh water and quality forage remains as important as ever, but you should also pay attention to your feed’s ingredients and the specific needs of your horse.

One factor to consider is your horse’s activity level. Horses that get a lot of exercise need more protein, fat and fiber than horses that are limited to light or moderate exertion. For active horses, our equine nutritionists suggest trying a higher fat horse feed. This will let you provide the extra calories needed for more intensive work levels without increasing or overfeeding grain.

Monitoring nutrient intake is crucial to help ensure your horse is getting the right amounts and ratios to support its overall health and desired body condition. You may want to consider a protein, vitamin and mineral supplement to support your horse’s immune system and overall health, especially if you are feeding your horse below the suggested feeding rate. Our nutritionists also recommend supplementing with protein if your horse isn’t getting enough from hay or forage to maintain a healthy body condition.

Sentinel Performance LS or Sentinel LifeTime can be great potential feed options for adult horses. Sentinel Performance LS is a low-starch, low-sugar horse feed with high levels of fat and fiber, while Sentinel LifeTime contains specialized nutrients to support joint health. Sentinel XT Show is a textured horse feed option, with high levels of fat and fiber from beet pulp and extruded super-fiber nuggets.

Breeding horses need specific nutrients to support reproduction.

It’s important to ensure your mare and stallion are receiving the right nutrition prior to breeding.  Look for a properly balanced feed, with moderate protein and fat levels, along with good quality forage.

Make sure stallions get enough of these nutrients to meet the increased nutritional demands of breeding. For the mare prior to breeding, be sure she is getting adequate vitamins and minerals to support reproduction.

Formulas with moderate protein and higher fat levels may be a good fit, especially if your horse needs additional body condition. If your horse is in good body condition, a low-to-moderate amount of fat should be fed. If your horse doesn’t require a lot of feed or is overweight, a ration balancer with supplemental proteins, minerals and vitamins may provide everything they need.

Feed should also have a properly balanced vitamin and mineral package. For pregnant mares, that’s crucial for a few reasons.

During the first two trimesters of pregnancy, a mare's energy and protein requirements increase only slightly. But during the last trimester, their nutritional requirements increase significantly because the foal is growing rapidly, and the mare's body is preparing for lactation. In addition to energy and protein, pregnant mares need adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals, which are necessary for proper bone and tissue development in the foal.

To meet these demands, you may opt for a highly digestible, extruded horse feed like Sentinel Safe Start or Sentinel Grow & Excel. For a textured option, consider Sentinel XT Grow. All of these contain moderate-to-high levels of protein, fat and fiber, as well as balanced vitamins and minerals. A pelleted ration balancer supplement, like Sentinel Care™ Equine Choice® Topline 30 can also provide additional vitamins and minerals for your breeding horse if needed.

Don’t make a change just because your companion is aging.

Elderly horses over the age of 15 may have different nutritional needs than adult horses. Our equine nutritionists say you should consider switching to a senior horse feed if you notice changes in your horse’s eating behavior or body condition. These changes could include trouble chewing, grain falling out of sides of their mouth when eating, weight loss or changes in your horse’s topline.

A general rule of thumb is to consider a senior feed when a horse is in their late teens. But if your horse is maintaining its weight, body condition and eating well, you don’t need to make a change just to make a change.

If you do notice changes, our equine nutritionists recommend a highly digestible, easily chewed feed. Senior horses need plenty of fiber without too much starch and sugar, along with moderate-to-high levels of fat, depending on their body condition and activity level.

Sentinel’s extruded feeds are designed specifically to meet those needs. If you’ve never heard of extruded feeds, it means the feed has been pressure-cooked. This process combines moisture, heat and pressure to shape ingredients into a light and airy nugget designed to improve feed digestibility and nutrient absorption. For an aging horse, the extruded nuggets will start to break down as soon as they come into contact with a horses’ saliva.

Sentinel formulas like Senior and Active Senior are a great fit for elderly horses because, in addition to being extruded, they contain nutrients and natural additives to support their aging, less efficient digestive and metabolic systems.

Sentinel XT Pro is another low-starch, low-sugar option—it’s a textured feed with extruded super-fiber nuggets that’s designed to provide essential calories for senior horses without the need of overfeeding.

Ask your veterinarian about supporting your horse’s lifetime nutritional needs.

If you’re not sure if your horse’s feed fits their current life stage, Sentinel offers a full line of feed and supplement solutions that you and your veterinarian can choose from, including the largest selection of extruded feeds in the market. Our innovative formulas and high-quality ingredients, combined with their expert guidance, will help you ensure that your horse is getting the nutrition they need to live their best life.

Compare Products
Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend