Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eat Your Veggies

Do you ever feel like your horse isn't getting "enough"?

I've spent years perfecting Yankee's grain and feed schedule to the point where its effective and what he needs, but still affordable.

He eats 14% protein grain with min 9% fat in addition to 4 flakes of grass and 1-2 flakes alfalfa a day in winter. That decreases to 2 flakes in summer of grass and 1 alfalfa.

This has worked for us.


He needs just a liiiitle extra, in my "professional" opinion.

And by professional, I mean I know my horse and his workload and even if I feed him more grain he still wouldn't be getting that little extra he needs.

Enter Smartpak.

My all time favorite company in existence ever.

Seriously the best.

I've been a loyal customer to them for years now (probably around 9) and take great joy in using their products. Mainly, smartpaks.

They've made it much easier in the past few years to compare products and change smartpaks. SO EASY.

Every season I tweak Yankee's pak just a little.

Recently, I just played around with his "Show season" smartpak and added a few things I've never tried.

I always always have "Smarthoof" for the biotin for his feets and hair growth (seriously a HUGE difference). I don't do farrier's formula because I cannot pay an arm and a leg, thus why i LOVE the "compare"button. Helps you sort through product ingredients and decide which s best for you!

I also ALWAYS have "SmartFlex Maintenance" for his joints and tendons. A must have for any horse in work. I want longevity in my beast!

Over the winter I added "Gleam & Gain Supreme 60" and "Mirra Coat" for his coat and helping maintain his weight.

I took off Mirra coat for summer even though I always worry about his summer coat getting bleached. The ingredients were a little redundant with Glean & Gain and I wanted the high fat content vs the omega's in Mirra. I think I will add Chia seeds to his grain instead (little less  expensive) since my barn-mate has had great success with it and we can buy bulk here in town!

I added "Tract-Guard" as I always do for summertime. He has had ulcers in the past from racing and this seems to just coat his belly a little more and aid in never getting them again!

Lastly, I played around with the compare button to decide on a Vit E and Sel. supplement. In the past I've just gone with the straight Vit E and S from smartpak but with cost being an issue and the fact that his tripping doesn't occur very much anymore, I opted to choose a more all around vitamin that is chock full of good stuff. Its called "Ultra-Elite-Pro-Form" and I feel a little better about it knowing our soil and hay is not of great quality around here.

So, I have his joints (Smartflex), feets (Smarthoof), coat (Glean & Gain), and inner body (tract-guard, Ultra Elite) all covered!

Overall, I pay around $70-$88 depending on the season. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me and they're really easy to add!

Does anyone else use smartpaks? Do you love them as much as I do?!


  1. I wish I could use smart pak but the postage would probably make it less worthwhile! I have to go the old school adding a million potions to each feed route :). One day we will catch up with the rest of the world!

  2. I'm currently in the minimalist feed camp. Courage eats hay, pasture, and just enough grain to make him think he's not left out. His coat looks great, his feet look great, he's happy and healthy, and I don't want to spend more money.

    Maybe when I've had him as long as you've had Yanks (and am putting similarly strenuous demands on him), I'll have something more. But for now, this is cheap and works for us.

  3. Can I offer some advice as a certified Equine Nutritionist?

    You are wasting your money on supplements. Go back to basics. Your horse needs; clean fresh water, fibre/forage (hay/pasture), loose salt, and minerals. If your horses hindgut is healthy and working properly, you should never need to add anything to the diet. Even upper level event horses can produce enough of everything to keep them healthy and happy.

    Hindgut health is the most important, secondly to the stomach. If you are measuring by flakes of hay - stop right now. You need to weigh the hay to see how much your horse is actually getting. They should be getting at least 1.5% or 2% of their body weight in hay. Add in a ration balancer (Essential K is the best IMO), and then add an energy source that is low NSC for added energy and weight.

    The only supplement you should need to add is loose salt, and a pro and prebiotic. This helps grow the good bacteria and get rid of the bad bacteria in the hindgut, so the hindgut can function properly and move all the enzymes and amino acids where they need to go.

    Bottom line - always back to basics. Supplements are literally throwing money away - most get burned up in the stomach acid. This would be my recommendation for Pre/probiotics: http://www.horsefunship.com/html/equine_choice_probiotics.html

    1. While I appreciate and actually FULLY agree with your advice, I will have to respectfully disagree. As with us humans, not one nutrition plan is right for all horses.

      As much as I would love to have Yankee on a "bare bones" diet, it would not, and has not worked in the past. I tried it, believe me. And not just one of those 'I'll do this for a month or two and see how it works'. I tried for two years! He simply just needs more.

      My 4 other horses (when I lived in ohio) were on the basic diet.. quality hay, pasture, water and salt-with minimal grain. They all did fine and were show horses. My pony eventer eventually needed more when we did upper levels.

      Here, the hay quality AND pasture is poor and while I do in fact, weigh my hay out (flakes are simply guidelines) and he always has access to fresh water and salt, this would never be enough for a hot, excitable, hard-working thoroughbred such as himself.

      I demand a lot from him and while I understand not all supplements are absorbed in the body and this is a massive debate between horse people, I feel better knowing he has them. I have SEEN their benefits and he truly is a better horse with them. To me, they are like insurance. I noticed his feet were stronger, his coat healthier, he never colics or is sick, drops weight or is lame. I 100% attribute that to the supplements- because off of them, it is a different ball game.

      Coming from someone who has tried the basic diet, I can say that it is not for my horse. I wish it was though! :)

  4. Ummm I owe Smartpak my life, I love the company, I haven't used the packs yet because I do all my own feeding at my house so I can deal with it but am seriously thinking about getting some for shows just because its a pain in the butt to deal with that much crap. Right now SK is on Smartpak maintenance,sea salt(we are allergic to apple flavoring), and enrich plus. In competition season she gets cosequin, red cell and sea salt. I have found this works best with her and if she isn't on at least a joint and complete vitamin she just doesn't act normal and is still

  5. Never supplemented anything here besides a biotin supplement for the appy I trained for awhile (which was more per his owner than my decision).

    My senior equine management class covered nutrition and diet formulation pretty heavily, and the professor (whose degree/doctoral research was in equine nutrition) would talk about how supplementing is pretty much unnecessary unless your diet is actually short in something, and that the only diets he usually saw problems with were homemade, not commercial.

    He also said he wished he had thought of SmartPak so he could charge people an arm and a leg for something they really don't need.

  6. Two thumbs up for the chia - I use it on my ladies and you've seen how shiny they are!