Exciting times, a new equine partner ready to open the partition door to and lead down the lorry ramp... It doesn't get much more exciting that this let's be honest!!
You were painstakingly thorough before that new passport became the property of yours truly. The vet checks were completed and passed with flying colours, your trainer sat on him and felt that you would be great for each other. You loved the ride and feel you got. Yet amidst all of the hopes and dreams for your future together why do you feel slightly jittery inside too?
I have found that when dealing with new partnerships, no matter what the level, from riding club to potential future team horses there is always some slight trepidation as to what the next few weeks will bring. The key here from a nutritionist's point of view, and in all ways quite frankly would be to make the transition and settling in period as seamless and stress free as possible. So how should you feed for this then?
Firstly wherever possible find out what the horse's previous diet was. That said this is not always possible or ideal. Horses imported from abroad may have to move onto a different brand and those who were working hard and are moving onto an easier regime whilst settling in may not require the energy from a competition mix they may formerly have been on for example.
When I meet a new horse and rider combination and the background feeding regime is unknown I tend to err on the side of caution and keep the hard feed ration as simple as possible. You ideally need to start with a high fibre, low energy feed fed at a low rate to allow the digestive system to adapt to the new feed and plenty of forage. This diet will typically tend to evolve over future weeks, either to feeding at the recommended quantity as the horse has adapted to the feed stuff gradually or perhaps moving onto a slightly different one when more is known about the horse.
Assessing a horse's requirements when you have little information to go on can be a tricky task. Once the horse has settled in you need to ask yourself; is he sharp or laid back, does he hold his condition well or is he a poor doer? The answers to these questions will have a factor amongst others in determining the best diet for him.
With all of my in person consultations (standard and standard PLUS) I will make a follow up phonecall in 3-4 weeks. This is important in my mind and very much so for a new horse as it allows you to assess how the horse is progressing and to make further tweaks to the diet as necessary. To book a visit please contact me directly on +44 (0)7901 337826 or firstname.lastname@example.org