FEEDS - Quick Look
The following information outlines the type of feeds that have resulted in improved hoof function and temperament for many horses. Whilst low sugar and starch is always advisable, other less well-known factors are equally important.
Copra coconut meal
Black sunflower seeds
See the following SubPages for detailed information about magnesium, chromium, boron and salt.
Copra coconut meal has proven to be a useful feed for most horses. It is naturally antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral with high levels of minerals such as zinc, copper and magnesium. It is palatable to the majority of horses. For more information go to the COPRA subpage.
Black sunflower seeds are low in sugar and starch but high in phytoestrogens so may not be well tolerated by all horses.
Oaten chaff is not ideal but may be the lesser of available evils provided the grain content is not high.
If hay is needed, low-sugar varieties such as Rhodes are preferable.
Vitamin & Mineral products
Beet pulp, lucerne (alfalfa) and clover are all high in calcium which may reduce magnesium absorption.
Similarly, calcium supplements, di-cal-phos (DCP) and most Vitamin & Mineral supplements that contain calcium may inhibit the amount of magnesium that can be absorbed by the horse.
Although soy hulls are very low sugar, the phytoestrogen (isoflavone) content may adversely affect some horses even at low levels of useage. Soy isoflavones can reduce thyroid function, possibly why soy hulls are well known for increasing weight on a horse. Many owners report visible improvements in their horses within days of eliminating all soy products. For more information on soy, see Dr David Brownstein's book 'The Soy Deception'.
Flax seeds contain even higher levels of phytoestrogens than soy, and also contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides.
There may be other feeds that are equally successful in producing a strong hoof, but the common factor for most adult horses appears to be minimising dietary calcium and/or potassium so that magnesium absorption is not limited. For this reason all feeds that are high in calcium such as beet pulp, lucerne, alfalfa and clover have been found to be counter-productive for many horses, even though they are generally low in sugar. Similarly, most commercial Vitamin & Mineral products contain a high level of calcium which may prevent the horse from utilsing any additional magnesium being fed. The horse HOPPER (see the HOPPER Main Page) physically regressed when only 20g per day of a calcium supplement was added in to his diet. Many horse owners have tried simply adding magnesium to an existing diet but have not seen significant benefits until sources of excess calcium are eliminated.
Go to the CALCIUM page and OXALATES subpage for more discussion on this topic.
For a full explanation of the complexities of calcium and magnesium absorption and interaction, see the paper written by Nan Kathryn Fuchs, PhD: 'Magnesium: A Key to Calcium Absorption'
The following SubPages provide more detailed information about individual minerals and feeds.
It is important to keep in mind that the good results documented on this website have been achieved by using top quality products. This has in fact decreased overall feed costs as expensive commercially blended vitamin and mineral supplements are no longer necessary for the majority of horses. Most of the minerals used can be purchased in bulk as inexpensive raw materials.
The same results are unlikely to be seen if poor quality feeds and minerals are used instead. For instance, there are many cheap industrial or livestock grades of magnesium chloride available but these materials may not contain the full range of trace minerals that are present in pure Food Grade magnesium chloride hexahydrate. There may also be the danger of heavy metals contamination in low-grade products; a Certificate of Analysis from a reputable independent laboratory should be obtained from the supplier that verifies the product is free from lead and mercury etc. Similarly, plain table salt (sodium chloride) is not a suitable substitute for unrefined sea salt, as explained in the SubPage on Salt
The Soy Deception
David Brownstein, MD,
Sheryl Shenefelt, CN
Medical Altrnatives Press, 2011