Choosing the Right Horse Feed as Part of Your Preventative Care Plan

Choosing the Right Horse Feed as Part of Your Preventative Care Plan

No one knows your horse quite like you. You can tell when they’re happy and healthy, and you can sense when something isn’t quite right. But because horses have such complex and sensitive digestive systems, determining what’s wrong is often the hard part.

Fortunately, one of the best ways to help prevent some health issues before they become emergencies or long-term challenges is by making sure your horse gets proper nutrition. The best nutrition program can help support their immune system, protect against health concerns and keep your horse living their best life.

Why is nutrition so important?

Horses need the right balance of specific nutrients to maintain digestive health, immune system support and whole-body wellness. These nutrients include protein, vitamins and minerals, energy-providing fats and carbohydrates and – most importantly – water.

In addition to ensuring your horse's diet is well-balanced, it's also important to feed high-quality forage. Forage provides fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Together, these nutrients make it possible for a horse's body to function, grow and thrive.

The quality of a horse's diet, in turn, has a huge impact on its overall health. A poorly balanced diet can weaken a horse, making it more susceptible to disease and infection. A well-balanced diet, on the other hand, can help boost its ability to fight off illnesses and perform to their utmost capability.

Extruded horse feed supports nutrient absorption and digestive health

To better understand what nutritional products can help support your horse’s health, we should start with extruded feeds.

Extruded means the ingredients are pressure cooked. This process combines moisture, heat and pressure to shape ingredients into a light, airy nugget with more volume compared to horse pellets. It’s intended to promote slower, healthier feed intake with more thorough chewing, which, in turn, may be beneficial in helping prevent certain digestive upsets.

Research has shown that heat from extrusion increases the digestibility of starch and protein, and, in combination with high moisture, results in the greatest digestibility.1 Studies also suggest extrusion increases starch availability and digestion of grains in the small intestine, reducing the risk of an outflow of starch to the hindgut.2,3

This increase in pre-caecal digestibility of starch limits the amount reaching the hindgut, reducing the potential for digestive disturbances that can lead to health concerns, like colic and laminitis (founder).

That’s why we developed Sentinel®. Extruded horse feeds help to maximize nutrient absorption, protect digestive health, keep your horse in ideal body condition and help alleviate some of the worry about certain digestive and metabolic health challenges.

How Sentinel guards equine health

Our wide selection of equine feeds includes several extruded formulas to fit your horse’s needs, depending on their age, weight, activity level and other factors or health concerns:

  • Safe Start Formula: A mare and foal feed formulated specifically to meet the high demands of growing foals and lactating mares
  • Performance LS Formula: A high-fat, high-fiber horse feed with low sugar and starch, formulated specifically to enable equine athletes to meet their genetic potential and excel in performance
  • Grow & Excel Formula: A high-fat, high-fiber horse feed with limited starch and sugar, formulated specifically to meet the intense demands of young, growing horses and active performance horses
  • LifeTime Formula: A high-fiber, high-fat horse feed with essential nutrients, formulated specifically for active junior, adult and senior horses where joint health is a potential concern
  • Senior Formula: A senior horse feed formulated with nutrients and natural additives specifically for elderly horses, prematurely aging horses and horses with poor teeth
  • Active Senior Formula: A high-fat, high-fiber horse feed containing a balance of nutrients and natural additives to support active senior horses, senior horses requiring additional body condition and underweight and performance horses fed lower protein hay
  • Simply Lite Formula: A balanced and concentrated feed with lower fat for easy keepers, ponies and miniature horses that do not need additional calories for maintenance

Focusing on digestive and gut health

Because a horse’s intestinal tract contains more than 75% of their immunity cells, we ensure our feeds contain a host of ingredients to support a stable digestive environment with optimized nutrition.

Each extruded formula features our gutWise technology, which helps maintain total digestive and gut health with a proprietary blend of prebiotics for horses, probiotics for horses, marine-sourced calcium and NutriVantage®, a supplement that may aid in nutrient availability, reduce the effects of stress and promote a healthy gut environment.

Our formulas also contain sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with protein, B vitamins, trace mineral complexes and amino acids, which work to promote healthy skin, hair, coat and hoof condition. In addition, these omega-3 fatty acids, stable vitamins and balanced minerals may also help maintain joint and bone health and strength.  Many of these antioxidant nutrients offer overall immune support as well.

There are many formulas with limited starches and sugars, which are often recommended by veterinarians and nutritionists for horses with metabolic and digestive challenges.

Ask your veterinarian how nutrition can support your horse’s health

If you’re not sure where to start, contacting your veterinarian, nutritionist or our Sentinel equine experts and asking about the benefits of crafting a diet with our feeds and supplements is a great first step. Their expertise, along with the high-quality ingredients in our feed formulas, will help ensure that your horse is getting optimal nutrition to live a happy, healthy life.


1 National Research Council. 2007. Nutrient Requirements of Horses 6th rev. ed. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

2 I. Vervuert, K. Voigt, T. Hollands, D. Cuddeford, M. Coenen. 2008. Effects of Processing Barley on its Digestion by Horses. The Veterinary Record. 162-21:684-688.

3 J. Holm, I. Lundquist, I. Bjorck, A. C. Eliasson, N. G. Asp. 1988. Degree of Starch Gelatinization, Digestion Rate of Starch in Vitro, and Metabolic Response in Rats. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 47, 1010-1016.


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