Keep It SIMPLE – Feed As Nature Intended Equines To Eat! 

Primarily good quality, low sugar forage 24/7 , supplemented with a good vitamin/mineral product (use hay pellets as carrier) that compliments the forage  as best as possible!

If your equine has behavioral and/or performance, hoof soundness issues that cannot be easily pinpointed, consider taking the diet back to basics, feeding forage only, soaked if necessary (while you investigate other possibilities) and see how the horse responds. If the diet contributed to the problems, you will generally start to see improvements within 3 – 4 days, one week tops. You should definitely see some improvements after 2 weeks!

Consult with a veterinarian as needed!

 You are what you eat – this applies to any critter, including equines,  and even though it should be obvious, many still do not understand how much the wrong diet can influence health. Even a handful of one supplement can seriously affect behavior or hoof & body health negatively, as it happened recently again with a calming product that actually made a mare more hyper because it was flax based and affected her hormones negatively.

Less Is Usually More!

Ideally, forages should be tested and balanced accordingly. Since this is not always possible, we need to find a good compromise. Keeping it simple with good whole foods is usually best. Forages usually provide the horse with most of what they need. Invest your money in plenty of good quality forage, supplemented with a good vitamin/mineral product, such as a herbal product from Silver Lining Herbs, Chava Naturals, or Biostar, or CA Trace Minerals. Plus studies have shown that Standardbreds’ performance actually improved on an all forage diet (Forage-Only Diet for Performance Horses Evaluated ), suggesting that concentrates are possibly not really needed for performance horses. Horses should pretty much have access to good, low sugar  forage 24/7, feed with a slow feeder, if needed

Any of the following can have a negative impact on body health and is often what makes or breaks going bare hooved:

  • Too many simple carbs/sugars
  • Mineral imbalances
  • Too much iron and/or manganese that interferes with other mineral uptake (one of the biggest and most overlooked problem)
  • any ingredient the horse may react to (like flax for example)


Processed Foods/Supplements

Processed food & supplements usually cost a pretty penny, do not necessarily give your horse what he/she needs and often contain many undesirable ingredients such as

  • GMO (soy/corn)
  • unnecessary additives
  • unnecessary ingredients
  • too many simple carbs
  • too much iron and/or manganese
  • phytoestrogens that can cause issues (soy/flax)
  • artificial ingredients, like coloring, even mineral oil

Read the ingredient list and not just the pretty  wording on the bag which can be misleading. Be suspicious of non descript ingredient lists, terms like forage or plant products - I would not buy anything that does not show exactly what it contains!


Grain, Concentrates & Ulcers/Gas Colics

Grains/Concentrates are often used, especially on hard keeper horses when in fact those horses typically suffer from ulcers that makes it harder for them to keep weight on. It is usually not the best choice because it has a weakening affect on hooves, can raise inflammation in the body and thereby cause body stiffness/ pain and increase the risk for gas colics by acidifying the digestive tract which in turn also often leads to ulcers.

Feeding concentrates also usually rev up the metabolism , which can also lead to more weight loss, so what’s going in is burnt up just as quickly, hence the reason concentrates often do not work that well for hard keepers, while 24/7 forage usually does. Plus it tends to cause behavioral issues (hyper equines).

If concentrates are desired for some reason, whole or crimped oats would be a better choice than any processed product.


Iron/Manganese Complications

Iron and manganese compete with other mineral uptake, primarily zinc & copper, in the body which tends to lead to health issues. Iron is usually already present in forages in high enough, often too high amounts because acidic soils encourage iron uptake by plants. Dr. Kellon has yet to encounter a truly iron deficient horse, which means commercial feeds/supplements really should not contain any added iron/manganese. Red cell should not be available as an over the counter product and only be used at a veterinarian’s discretion and after iron store testing.

Iron and manganese can be balanced by adding more zinc & copper, but from what I have observed, it is usually best to reduce intake as much as possible, since iron accumulates in the body over time and can potentially lead to other health issues, such as insulin resistance (Researchers Identify Link between Insulin Resistance, Iron Overload) and even possibly a form of Cushing’s disease (from iron deposits in tissues)!

One person started to collect rain water after she read some of my posts on iron and manganese, because one of her horses continued to have hoof soreness issues, despite any other diet management she tried. She knew that her water had higher iron levels. 10 days later her problem horse became sound and has remained sound 2 months later, which implies that iron and manganese may be more influential when it comes to weak hooves than anything else. This may be the reason why some horses continue to have hoof weakness issues and owners and other horse care professional do not realize that iron and manganese may be the cause, since most are still rathe unaware of this connection.


Alfalfa & GMOs

Alfalfa is a legume, not grass and should  not be fed exclusively for this reason, but if your horse tolerates it well, the diet can be supplemented with about 20% of alfalfa. Be aware though that most alfalfa is now GMO and I do not recommend feeding GMO crops. Not only are you feeding something unnatural, you will also be feeding something that has been thoroughly doused with pesticides (Round-Up) that is now creating super weeds!

The risks of all this are not yet fully understood since we are dearly lacking thorough studies. In one study, cows actually died and Syngenta immediately stopped the research, continued to sell their GMO corn without saying anything, until over 60 milk cows died in Germany who were fed this corn. The owner sued and won! (GMO Corn: Killing the Cows Whose Milk We Drink). There is also new diseases (IFEE, plus others, similar conditions) emerging in the last decade in equines and humans that may be linked to GMOs (Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Horses)

Alfalfa can also make equines hyper and cause diarrhea in some sensitive individuals.



They can really throw an equines hormonal balance off, especially in mares. Typical culprits are soy and flax. Suspect a connection when you notice any of the following:

  • Udder swelling since you started feeding flax or soy (possibly sheath swelling in males)
  • Frazzled behavior (unable to focus)
  • Increased aggression
  • Increase spooking that makes little sense
  • Increased resistance when being worked with


More Diet Info