Equine Feed Basics – The 3 Main Classes of Equine Feed

By: Rachel Mottet, M.S.

Equine Specialist – Purina Animal Nutrition


Choosing a feed for a horse can be tricky business, there are so many options! How do you know if you’re making the right selection? How do you know if you are meeting the minimum volume required to meet all your horse’s vitamin, mineral and amino acid requirements? Is the feed in question the right fit for your horse’s needs? Here are some basics to help you answer those questions…


Before I dive into the different types of feed, I must describe the horse’s nutrient needs – I refer to this as the equine food pyramid. This food pyramid is determined by the Equine NRC (National Research Council). The Equine NRC publishes equine nutrient requirements based on scientific data gained through published equine research. With the information from the Equine NRC, our equine food pyramid is created.


feed Basics 1When considering this food pyramid we must first think about hay. Hay is the #1 component of the equine diet and a good quality hay source is the key compliment to any grain. At the absolute minimum, it is recommended that a horse consume 1% of their bodyweight per day in hay. This percentage will go up based on extra energy demand from climate changes, workload, reproductive status, growth stage, etc. I recommend 1.2 – 1.5%+ of bodyweight per day in hay as a general rule of thumb for nutrition programs that I develop with horse owners.


Furthermore on the topic of hay, what we do know is that our hay (especially in the Midwest) does not cover all bases of the equine food pyramid. There are a few gaps that we can fill through feeding some type of concentrate. Here are the 3 main classes of equine feed and how to feed them:


Ration Balancers: This type of feed has become increasingly popular for horses who are easy keepers. For those horses that seem to thrive on hay alone, ration balancers are often the best choice. The best way to describe this feed is that it is similar to a daily vitamin/mineral & protein shake. This product covers all bases of the equine food pyramid in a small feeding rate of 1-2 lbs. total per day. This class of feed does not contain extra calories that contribute to weight gain and is designed to complement the forage source. I recommend Purina Enrich Plus as a ration balancer for your easy keeper.


The most common question I get from horse owners with easy keepers is: “My horse looks great on hay alone, why would I need to feed a ration balancer?” This is a good question! To answer this, I bring up the missing pieces of the equine food pyramid in feeding hay alone. Another important consideration is that many of the benefits from a balanced diet are not always seem. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids contribute to a healthy immune system, strong bone structure and hoof integrity among various other physiological benefits. For the sake of ease, let’s compare this to the human diet. One could eat fast food every day and appear to thrive or appear healthy on this diet. However, the reality is that we are shortchanging our body from key nutrients. Would you be able to tell from looking at a person that they are vitamin, mineral or amino acid deficient? Maybe, maybe not, but the body knows and functions optimally when all food pyramid bases are covered. This is why I suggest a ration balancer for your easy keepers. It fills the missing holes that hay leaves in the equine food pyramid.


Performance Feeds: Our next class of feed is the performance feed. This feed is designed to be fed at a rate of 4-8 lbs per day for a horse to maintain good body condition and perform to their best ability. It should be noted that the rate of feeding will depend on the individual horse and feed recommendation. All grains have a minimum feeding rate to fulfill the equine food pyramid so make sure to read the tag or talk to an equine specialist to determine this minimum for your horse.


Horses in a training program, performance horses and hard keepers generally benefit most from a performance feed. This feed provides all the NRC recommendations in addition to calories to support the energy demands of a higher workload or higher calorie demand. I recommend Strategy or Purina Ultium as a performance feed.


Feed BasicsComplete / Senior Feed: Ever notice that our horses are living a lot longer these days? A lot of this has to do with nutrition! Even when a horse has no teeth left in their mouth to chew and eat, they can still survive solely on a complete feed. A complete feed contains the hay and grain component in one product. This feed is designed to be the entire diet of the horse and will usually have a minimum recommended feeding rate of 6-8+ lbs. Why the higher minimum? This is because the hay component is present which, for lack of a better term, “dilutes” the grain and ups the minimum amount required to get 100% of the equine food pyramid covered.


Complete feeds are not only great for seniors but great if you do not have access to a quality forage source. The forage component is fortified with consistent high quality vitamins, minerals & proteins. These feeds are generally very low in starch and gentle on the gut of the horse. They have many functions and are helping our older horses live well into their 30’s! I recommend Purina Equine Senior, the #1 veterinarian recommended brand for your horse that is a senior or a horse that needs a complete feed.

While we have only scratched the surface here on equine feed classes, hopefully this helps answer a few basic questions. Feel free to contact me for an equine nutrition consult in the greater Twin Cities, I am always happy to help answer your equine nutrition questions! RSMottet@landolakes.com.

Purina Rachel

Rachel Mottet holds a B.S. & M.S. degree in Animal Science with an equine emphasis. She is an Equine Specialist with Purina and does 3-day eventing with her horse Titan.


Equine Insurance: Who needs it

 By: Katie Jones, CVT

We receive frequent calls regarding information on equine insurance. We do not represent or work for insurance companies. We also do not refer or suggest one over another. It is up to the individual horse owner to research and choose a company to best determine the type of coverage that fits their needs.

TurboI, myself, own a horse (Turbo) who is more of a weekend warrior out on the trail or at the occasional weekend show.   I went through most of my younger years dreaming and wishing for my own horse; however, I knew they were an investment difficult to have during college. The year I graduated from college I finally bought my horse and the investment into what I love began. Last year when I was faced with the question of, “would I take Turbo to colic surgery, if Banamine didn’t resolve his pain”, I didn’t know how to answer. Luckily for me he resolved his colic episode with a little amount of Banamine and time. As an Equine Technician, I see many situations not as simply resolved and surgical decisions become real. Sometimes the only thing separating a horse from euthanasia and a life-saving surgery is economics. A colic surgery base price starts around $3,500; however, overall medical care pre- and post-surgery can quickly reach $10,000. Would you be ready to front this cost in an emergency situation? If you have never had to answer this question, here are a few options to consider to help prepare you if the question ever arises.


InsuranceWhen faced with a major medical expense, insurance is used to help soften the financial blow; so why couldn’t this work for your horse? Just like with human insurance, equine insurance has different types and levels of coverage. The two most frequently chosen insurance types are major medical and surgical. Major medical covers veterinary treatment, medications, and surgery due to an accident, injury, or illness on horses valued at a minimum of $7500. Surgical insurance only covers emergency or necessary surgeries performed under general anesthesia in a veterinary clinic, for any value horse.   To acquire either type of coverage, additional yearly mortality insurance is also required. Mortality insurance covers the horse’s value due to death from an accident, illness, or disease, and will typically cover loss due to theft. In the chance of an unexpected death, a mortality claim would require a necropsy report to determine the exact cause of death. (There are additional coverage options for individuals with equine businesses, such as loss of use or breeding coverages.)

The cost of equine insurance is based on the age, value, and use of the horse. Here is an example of what a quote would look like for an average trail horse (my horse, Turbo) from Blue Bridle Insurance.

sick horse

Great American Ins. Co.: (Turbo is categorized as a 7 yr. old Pleasure/Show Horse)
Plan 1: Only mortality: $2,000 (Value of Turbo) @ 3.6% = $200 Minimum/yr.
Plan 2: Surgical (ONLY surgical expenses included): $10,000 = $150/yr.

Total Annual Premium for Surgical Coverage: $350.00

+ An additional $10,000 limit can be added to the Surgical Coverage Plan to cover colic medical and/or surgical expenses for an additional $150/yr.


When considering purchasing equine insurance make sure to do plenty of research. It can become overwhelming when first looking into insurance due to the number of providing companies and the levels of coverage available. A company that specializes in equine insurance, or at least livestock, is highly recommended. By doing this, their overall understanding of the possible claims will heighten the ease of filling a claim. This will in turn result in less run around and a quicker response from a company with more equine claim experience compared to a typical Home-owners Insurance Company.

Finally, insurance coverage does have limitations. Limitations will be specific to the insuring company and are details to look into when considering equine insurance. Most insurance companies have an age limit on coverage, as well as restrictions regarding horses with preexisting conditions, specific to their policies. Make sure to compare coverage limitations, exclusions, and deductibles when considering different policies.

ColiCare – SmartPak

colic_care-379x121ColiCare is a wellness program supported by SmartPak. This program allows a small peace of mind by providing up to $7500 towards colic surgery (reimbursement will only cover the cost of the surgery not any medical treatment of the colic). To qualify for this wellness program, administration of an eligible ColiCare product daily to your horse is required. These supplements are designed to provide comprehensive hindgut support to lower the risk of digestive upset that can lead to colicky episodes with ingredients like prebiotics, yeast, and enzymes. An annual wellness exam with a veterinarian is also required. The veterinarian will verify vaccination history, perform a dental exam with recommendations, and perform a fecal test to set-up a deworming schedule. ColiCare is a wonderful compliment to any insurance policy. ColiCare will reimburse independently; therefore, additional financial coverage will be seen in addition to any initial insurance reimbursement.

Program Requirements

Annual Wellness Requirements, which include:

  • Physical exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Dental exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Vaccinations administered by a veterinarian
  • Deworming program developed with your veterinarian that includes at least one fecal test and two deworming administrations per year

For more information on the products or to get signed up for the ColiCare program, please visit the SmartPak website: https://www.smartpakequine.com/colicare. Anoka Equine Veterinary serves does currently have clients that are on this program.


EQCO Coverage – Platinum Performance

eqco-program-slidePlatinum Performance has its own wellness program similar to the one offered by SmartPak. The coverage that Platinum Performance offers is up to $8,000-$10,000 towards colic surgery. To qualify for this coverage you have to administer eligible supplements to your horse on a daily bases, as well as complete an annual wellness exam with your local veterinarian. Platinum Performance supplements are formulated to provide omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals to support total body heath.

For more information and for a detailed list of available supplements, please visit Platinum Performance’s website http://www.platinumperformance.com/EQCO/.

**Please note: any previous colic/abdominal surgery, history of chronic colic, or an incidence of colic in the past twelve months will mark the horse unqualified for the both programs.

Who needs equine insurance? No one. Is this for everyone? No. Ultimately these questions come down to anyone who can not easily afford the unexpected cost of extensive treatments or surgery can benefit from having it. However, there is still an expense associated with either the ColiCare Program or insurance and it is a cost to be economically comfortable with. If this annual expense is something you may be willing to invest into, then these two program options provide a peace of mind if an emergency situation were to occur and life-saving-options will be more easily funded.

Wellness Program


Anoka Equine’s goal has always been to provide the highest quality health care for your horse. With this in mind, we have updated our wellness program to provide your horse wellness-programwith excellent preventative care for better health and performance. A routine health maintenance program is important for the overall well-being of your horse. Regularly scheduled vaccinations, deworming and dental care along with good nutrition and regular exercise will help keep your horse healthy and happy and improve performance. Preventing problems before they occur makes sense, and so does saving money. The Anoka Equine Wellness Program does both. The wellness program is a comprehensive program that packages the recommended routine health care for horses in the area at a greatly reduced cost.


There are two programs to choose from depending on the situation of your horse. The Basic Program provides all the needs for a horse that lives in a closed herd with minimal contact with outside horses. The Boarding Barn/Show Horse Program is set up for the horse that lives at a boarding barn or travels and has exposure to different horses frequently.

In only two visits per year, we provide the basic physical exams, vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, Coggins testing, and nutritional counseling to help keep your horse healthy. Going along with the changing world of parasites, we will be doing a fecal egg count twice a year. After the results are complete, you will receive a specific tailored parasite program for your horse. You will be able to purchase deworming products through the clinic at a discount or from another source. The Potomac Horse Fever Vaccine will be optional with both programs.

Basic Wellness ProgramWellness Program

Visit 1 – March/April

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam
  • Ophthalmic Exam
  • Vaccinations
    • EWTWN – 4 way
  • Coggins (EIA) Testing
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Deworming Plan

Visit 2 – September/October

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam Recheck
  • Sedation
  • Dental Exam and Float
  • Sheath/Udder Cleaning
  • Nutrition Consult
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Vaccinations 
    • Rabies

*Potomac Horse Vaccine Optional for both programs at an additional fee of $21.00

Boarding Barn/Traveling Horse Wellness Program

Visit 1 – March/AprilConditioning Pic 2

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exax
  • Ophthalmic Ex
  • Coggins (EIA) Testing
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Deworming Plan
  • Vaccinations
    • EWTWN – 4 way
    • Flu/Rhino Complex
    • Intra-nasal Strep (Strangles)

Visit 2 – September/October

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam Recheck
  • Sedation
  • Dental Exam and Float
  • Sheath/Udder Cleaning
  • Nutrition Consult
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Vaccinations
    • Rabies
    • Flu/Rhino Complex

Plan Details:

  • PHF vaccine is optional for both programs – either as a dispensed vaccine for the owner to administer or as a third appointment so the veterinarian can administer the vaccine.
  • In order to provide the cost savings to you, a credit card must be put on file with Kari, knowing it will be charged out at time of service for said amount.
  • There will be no refunds or substitutions.
  • If a horse dies or is sold outside of the practice area while participating in the program, a prorated refund will be given. Horses within the practice area may have their program transferred to the new owner.
  • If your horse has never been vaccinated before, it will require an initial series of vaccinations with boosters 3 – 6 weeks later. These booster vaccinations are not included in this program.
  • Horses must be over 1 year old to participate in the wellness program.
  • Dental care includes sedation, complete oral exam, and a performance float including bit seats.
    Extensive dental work such as extractions, periodontal pockets or cavities is not


Pricing: Please call Kari at the clinic for 2015 program questions and information!




Basic Wellness Program $ 591.60 20%
Boarding Barn/Traveling Horse Wellness Program $ 658.00 20%
Optional – Potomac Horse Vaccine    
Dispensed for owner to administer            $ 21.00  
PHF along with farm call for vet to administer vaccine            $ 76.00  

If you would like to enroll, please fill out the Wellness Enrollment form and fax or mail the form to the clinic. You may also contact Kari at the clinic with any questions and to schedule your appointments at 763-452-2682.

For a print out version of all this information, click here.



2015 Preventative Care Days

Preventative Care Days are select days, in the spring that our vets are localized to a specific region of our practice. Keeping the veterinarian in a smaller geographical area to perform preventative health care services, cuts down on travel cost allowing us to pass down these savings to you. Preventative Care Days allows us to provide savings to client without decreasing the quality of care that we provide to your horse in your appointment time. In addition, Preventative Care Days allows our doctors the opportunity to talk with aaepdentallogo300you regarding your plans for the year, or any concerns that you may have with your horse. During this appointment you can schedule all your horses annual health care needs including:

  • Vaccines
  • Deworming
  • Sheath cleanings
  • Coggins testing
  • Dental exams and floats

Farm visits allow our veterinarians to see your animals in their home environment and complete all procedures in a low stress situation. On site observations by the veterinarian can help them make recommendations that can benefit the health and well being of your horse.

Farm visits that are scheduled on a preventative care day will have a discounted farm call of $20 per client regular farm call is $53).

To take part in Preventative Care Days, please read the following instructions.

  • All sign-ups must be made at least 3-4 days prior to the appointment.
  • We ask that you are flexible with your appointment time . When you call the office select the day that we are in your region that works best for you. The day before your appointment you will receive a call with a 2 hour window of time as to when the veterinarian can be expected. On the day of the appointment the doctor will call you with an updated time of arrival.
  • Please confirm that we have the phone number that you can be reached at on the day of your appointment.
  • Payment is required at the time of service in the form of cash, check, or credit card to be run that day in order to receive the discount.
  • It is helpful to have owner portion of the coggins form filled out prior to appointment.
    > New Coggins form

**As regions fill, we will add more days as needed. Check back for updated listings.**

Region 1
Sat, March 14      FULL  

Sat., April 11th      FULL

Tues., May 12th

Thurs., May 28th

Oak Grove, Andover, Ham Lake, East Bethel, Blaine
Region 2

Sat, March 28th  FULL

Fri, April 24th      FULL

Sat, May, 16th   FULL

St. Francis, Isanti, Cambridge, Bradford
Region 3

Wed, April 1st

Tues, April 7th     FULL

Princeton, Crown, Dalbo, Zimmerman
Region 4

Tues., March 17th

Thurs, April 16th    FULL

Becker, Monticello, Big Lake, Orrock
Region 5

Sat., March 21st      FULL

Sat, April 4th   FULL

Sat, April 25th    FULL

Mon, May 4th

Wed, May 20th

Elk River, Nowthen, Otsego, Osseo, Anoka, Dayton, Ramsey
Region 6

Tues., March 24th

Sat, May 9th   FULL

Sat, May 28th

Albertville, St. Michael, Rogers, Hanover, Corcoran, Maple Grove
Region 7

Sat, April 18th

Thurs,April 30th

Monticello, Buffalo, Maple Lake, Montrose
Region 8

Friday, March 27th  FULL

Sat. May 2nd   FULL

Rockford, Greenfield, Loretto, Delano, Independence, Maple Plain, Medina