Designing a Diet with FeedXL

Designing a Diet with FeedXL

Not gonna lie, my diet is a strange mixture of healthy choices (no fast food, no soft drinks, lots of fruits, low fat meals, etc.) and a horrendously uncontrollable sweet tooth (so much candy, pastries, and ice cream for dinner). I’ve gone through weight loss/healthy eating phases before, but counting calories turned my brain into Swiss cheese and left me feeling like I was starving 100% of the time, so naaaaaah.

But when it comes to Raglan’s diet, I take nutrition requirements more seriously. That’s why when I started thinking about his diet I decided to purchase a subscription to FeedXL, an online platform that strives to “allow you to quickly and easily assess your horse’s diet using supported science”.

Raglan’s diet, with estimates in place for hay consumption (he gets two flakes of alfalfa and one flake of grass, morning and night). Ideally you should upload your own hay analysis data, if possible!

I started out by filling out information about Raglan (breed, activity level, weight, etc.). Then I plugged his current diet into the platform. Here’s the chart it generated:

On top of the obvious deficiencies in Selenium, Manganese, Iodine, Sodium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, and Folic Acid, there were a couple of other details that quickly caught my attention.

Raglan’s getting enough MSM, but his Glucosamine intake is too low.
Raglan’s Cool Calories are only accounting for 1% of his calories.

As a result, I’ve doubled the amount of Glucosamine that Raglan is getting and I’ve decided that once his bag of Cool Calories is empty I won’t be buying another. Gotta save that $$$!

Slowly but surely gathering new ingredients for Raglan’s grain baggies

TrainerK thinks that some of Raglan’s recent wild behavior can be attributed to his feed. LMF Gold is sticky. It’s got molasses in it. It’s 18% starch and 7% simple sugars for a total NSC of 25%. TrainerK calls it “pony crack”. It’s done a wonderful job of putting weight on Raglan, but TrainerK recommended that I try switching to Purina Strategy Healthy Edge (which has a comparatively low NSC of 16.5%).

Raglan’s ration of LMF Gold vs. the ration of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge he’s transitioning to

Replacing the 3.75 pounds of LMF Gold with 3 pounds of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge dropped his Digestible Energy down by 5%. From there it was just a matter of finding a supplement that could fill in nutritional gaps. For that, I went to the mecca of all pony supplements: Smartpak.

Part of Smartpak’s Horse Multi-Vitamins Supplement Comparison chart, sorted by price per day in buckets because I’m #cheap and like to buy in bulk

After plugging in a dozen different supplements, I settled on MVP’S Mega-Mag, a “well-balanced multi-vitamin and mineral supplement formulated to … accommodate feeding programs consisting of alfalfa hay/grain based diets”. A couple of scoops of Mega-Mag left sodium as Raglan’s only deficiency, which was quickly fixed by adding a couple of ounces of iodized salt to his feed.

Here’s a look at Raglan’s new diet, including his updated chart of nutritional needs:

Of course, I’m not implementing all of these changes at the same time. I’ve been gradually reducing the amount of LMF Gold and increasing the amount of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge that Raglan gets by a pound every four days or so. He’ll be fully changed over sometime next week.

As for supplements, I’ve already doubled the amount of Glucosamine he gets and will be adding in the iodized salt the next time I make grain baggies. After he’s finished transitioning to the Healthy Edge I intend to leave his diet alone for another thirty days to watch for any temperament changes, then if all goes well I should be introducing the Mega-Mag. He’s going to be the healthiest horse around 🙌

Not that he’s not already the healthiest of healthy horses LOL

FeedXL has been a great tool to help me find gaps in Raglan’s diet. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to all but the most die hard of nutrition nerds. It’s not the easiest of websites to use. For a $60 yearly subscription, I expected the FeedXL experience to be a lot less clunky and more intuitive than it was.

It also lacked a lot of the features that I expected it to have. I wasn’t able to compare diets side by side (you have to navigate out of your current diet and into your new one) and its basic interface made scrolling through all of the feed options monotonous and overwhelming. It couldn’t give me cost comparisons or tell me which grains are available in my area. I wasn’t able to narrow down grain choices by brand, percent fat, NSC content, or ingredients. Even when I was able to find supplements I liked using Smartpak’s free comparison charts, FeedXL wasn’t able to tell me the serving size of each oneI had to open a bunch of extra tabs just to be able to enter the right amounts of potential supplements into my horse’s diet.

When it comes down to it, the main problem with FeedXL is that if you don’t already know what you are looking for, it’s easy to get lost in the overflow of data and options that FeedXL gives youwhich defeats the purpose. I thought it’d be a more streamlined way to research my horse’s diet, but instead it felt like something I could have cooked up with some spare time and an Excel spreadsheet.

If you still want to check it out, the $20 one month subscription is probably your best bet!

A Nekkid Horse

A Nekkid Horse

Raglan is officially hairless.

This was my very first time body clipping a horse! I got to the barn early to give Raglan a bath, then spent a good two hours clipping his coat away. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be! I chose to leave his legs and his head unclipped (for my own personal sanity). By the end of the morning I was so. itchy.

Last year I hated waiting for Raglan to dry after I rode, so when late October rolled around and TrainerK brought in a pro to clip her horses, I started shopping for my own pair of body clippers. In the end I ordered the Andis AGC Super 2 Speed clippers from Smartpak. A full body clip costs $135, so in the grand scheme of things I don’t mind shelling out $154 for clippers that I’ll use for at least the next few years!

The AGCs did a good enough job! They’re definitely not clippers that I’d want to use to shave multiple horses in a day, but they made it through the full clip without getting too hot. Towards the end I had to get a little liberal with the Kool Lube and they made a weird squealing noise for the first couple of lines after I sprayed themlike they were just so happy to be cooled down they had to celebrate LOLbut I’m satisfied with their performance. I’d recommend them for anyone looking to clip one horse.

I thought he’d change color, but he didn’t #whatadisappointment

I learned some lessons while I clipped. Next time I’ll drop $30 and get a wider blade (the T-10!). I missed a big spot of dirt at the top of his butt during his bath (short people problems!) so I had to clip through some sludge there, guess I should be more diligent about scrubbing him! And I brought a change of shirt, but not a change of pantshuge mistake, all the hair got stuck in my leggings and I itched all day.

If you look closely you can see the line where the clip starts

But the deed is done! Raglan had a great ride with TrainerK and it only took him a few minutes to dry!

It was a pain in the butt to clip him, but I’m glad I did it. If you’ve got the money to spend on a professional more power to you, but I don’t regret buying my own pair of clippers!

Clinic Recap: Lindsey O’Keefe @ Eagles’ Aerie

Clinic Recap: Lindsey O’Keefe @ Eagles’ Aerie

YES DID YOU SAY ROAD TRIP? OF COURSE I WILL BE YOUR ASSISTANT.

I am always down to tack up the horse, take notes, and snap lots of pics/videos

Say hello to Pretty! Pretty is a registered Irish Draught Sport Horse. TrainerK originally started this mare under saddle as a five year old, but has only had her back in training since February. She’s talented over fences and on the flat, so when TrainerK was given the opportunity to ride with USDF gold medalist Lindsey O’Keefe, Pretty was obviously the horse to take along for the ride.

Everyone was amazed by how white she was—thank god for purple shampoo 🙏

Lindsey quickly picked out that Pretty is a hot horse and that TrainerK’s personal horse, LJ, has taught her to have a hot seat (bless his beautiful lazy soul). She wanted TrainerK to post slower, almost to the point where it felt sloppy, in order to keep the tempo of a much quieter trot.

During their warmup, Lindsey had TrainerK put Pretty into a leg yield. The leg yield naturally slows the horse down. Lindsey wanted TrainerK to slow the mare down almost to a walk during their leg yield. The slower the horse, the more steepness it adds to the leg yield.

Lindsey’s main exercise for Pretty and TrainerK centered around the 10m trot circle. Smaller circles help the horse collect and encourage relaxation. Hot horses need to be decompressed and calmed. Collection comes from relaxation, which means its important to do gymnastics that are designed to put the horse together and naturally create a half halt. Ideally the horse will associate the half halt with the exercise, and from there you can cultivate a sense of relaxation in the horse.

During the 10m circle, the inside of the horse’s body should be shorter than the outside. Lindsey was looking for a combination of “slow and stretch” that signaled Pretty was relaxing into the circle.

Once Pretty was relaxed, she had TrainerK strike off into the canter. They cantered for half of a 20m circle, then came back to their 10m trot circles until Pretty was relaxed enough to canter again. The goal was to use the trot circle to collect and relax her whenever she started to build up too much energy. If she got strung out and tried to run her way into the canter, TrainerK brought her back down into the same 10m circle and tried the transition again from that more organized trot. She was required to carry herself through the transition.

“She’ll try to bait you into fighting her into the canter. She’s not green anymore, she has to do it like a trained horse. Sophisticate the transition!”

Lindsey wanted TrainerK to “do what comes unnaturally” to Pretty by refusing to feed into the anxiety that Pretty had built up around the bit. She could pump the brakes, but when Pretty really got hard against TrainerK’s hand she wanted her to give and bring her into a smaller circle instead of hanging onto her.

“Train the horse you want, don’t ride the horse you have.”

A lot of the things that Lindsey was saying to TrainerK resonated with me. Once Raglan and I are back in the swing of things I want to try the 10m trot circle to canter transition exercise that they were working on!

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