Diet vs Movement
Does Diet Trump Movement?
This is a curly one which will spark some healthy debate but in my experience I believe yes overall, diet trumps movement. Obviously getting both right for our horses is our goal...
Compare lifestyles of horses living in NZ where most horses are turned out on green grass all their lives and get far more movement on a daily basis yet most are finished their useful life before they are 20!
Compare this to California on Boarding Ranches where they live in pens on hay with turnout for an hour only 2-3 times a week or Europe where horses are stabled more of the time than here in NZ, and seem to averagely have a longer, useful life well into their 20’s & 30’s!
A high fibre diet is one of the most important ingredients for optimal health and longevity in horses. Conversely a lifetime of a chronically high potassium/low salt diet is extremely detrimental.
Sometimes there are occasions when a choice needs to be made for the short term. When an unsuitable diet has compromised the horses metabolism to the point he is ‘metabolic’ or ‘insulin resistant, it is absolutely necessary to confine him off the grass rather than let him suffer the agony of laminitis.
If you have a horse who is too fat but not yet ‘metabolic’, upping exercise is the best thing you can do but horses that are ‘metabolic’ can tip over into laminitis at the slightest change in the grass and it is safer and more prudent to get them off before it is too late!
If your only choice of grazing is fertilized rye-grass and clover, your horse is far better off confined in a yard on hay than turning into a dangerous, raving lunatic.
If your horse is sane and sensible because he is being fed correctly then you are going to be enjoying RIDING him!