By Kim Hallin
Feeding your horse well boils down to two things:
- Good Stuff In: Making sure that the quantity and type of feeds that go into your horse’s digestive system are appropriate for a forage eater and that the combination of feed sources you provide meet the balanced nutritional requirements necessary to maintain a healthy body and mind.
- Bad Stuff Out: Taking care to limit your horse’s intake of anything toxic or inappropriate for a forage eater that will burden or overload the digestive system and lead to illness and physical/emotional distress.
The simple truth is this: horses in the wild thrive on a diet of whole foods that grow naturally, are easily digestible and are packed full of bio-available nutrients. Unfortunately, most domestic horses don’t have the freedom to forage for themselves or travel great distances to find the variety of whole foods their bodies need. Instead, domestic horses must rely on human caretakers to provide for them. And, unfortunately, humans have historically placed a high priority on convenience and low prices, resulting in a market that is now saturated with “complete feed” products that no longer even remotely resemble whole foods.
The sensitive digestive systems of horses are not designed to tolerate long-term input of processed foods or synthetic additives, yet as BioStar USA explains, most commercial feeds are “simply large bags of synthetic additives with some food and sweeteners thrown in for good measure and palatability”.
Whole foods naturally provide enzymes, which are key to digestion. These enzymes initiate the process of digestion in the mouth and stomach, essentially helping the horse to predigest food so that the digestive system is less taxed and stressed. Unfortunately, feeds that have been processed, heavily refined and/or pelletized lack these critical enzymes that live in all growing plants and seeds (the horse’s natural diet) because the processing kills enzymes. When we feed our horses these processed feeds it increases stress on the GI tract. This stress becomes cumulative with continued use over time, leading to a wide variety of illnesses, injuries and behavioral abnormalities.
Most commercial horse feeds also contain corn oil, vegetable oil or soy oil as the primary (and/or secondary) sources of fat. You can be pretty confident all three of these oils are made from seeds that have been genetically modified. These oils are also highly processed, meaning their production includes high heat that destroys the nutrients and enzymes. On top of that, a neurotoxin called Hexane is commonly used as a solvent in the extraction process for these oils.
Since 1997, Genetically Engineered (GE) and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) corn and soy have become staples in commercial equine feeds. While these genetically engineered and/or modified ingredients themselves have not (as of yet) been proven harmful to horses and other animals, the increased amount of pesticides and herbicides used to grow GMO and GE crops has – and the implications should be frightening to all of us. Click here for an excellent article that explains these multi-dimensional dangers of GMO crops.
If you look at the ingredient list for almost all commercial horse feeds you will find many ingredients you don’t recognize and can’t even pronounce. Most of these ingredients are chemical and synthetic additives intended to “replace” the natural bio-available nutrients that were destroyed during processing. Unfortunately, these chemical and synthetic additives are not readily digestible by the horse (in fact some are completely indigestible!) and, as mentioned previously, these processed feeds also lack the enzymes needed to aid digestion. So, while you might think you are feeding something good for your horse, these feeds actually provide a daily double-whammy against your horse’s digestive system!
Fortunately, there is a commercial alternative available here in the U.S. that provides whole food, bio-available nutrition for your horse while still meeting your requirements for convenience and affordability. When you buy Cool Stance, not only can you feel great about what’s IN the bag… you can also be comforted by what’s NOT in the bag.
Look at the label on a bag of Cool Stance and you will see only one ingredient listed: coconut (copra) meal. This ingredient is a whole food, which means it contains the natural enzymes needed to aid digestion and that its nutrients are more bio-available. Some of you might be wondering, “Isn’t the coconut meal in Cool Stance processed?” The answer is no, at least not the way other horse feeds are. The coconut meal used in Cool Stance is simply dried under low heat. It is not cooked under the high heat used to process and pelletize other commercial feeds. The copra meal is dried simply to prepare it for packaging and the heat used is carefully monitored to make sure it is not high enough to destroy nutrients and enzymes.
Occasionally I hear people suggest that Cool Stance may not be a good choice because it’s not a “complete feed”. The truth is, it’s precisely because Cool Stance has not been altered into a processed “complete feed” that it is so unique and special! The copra meal in Cool Stance has not been compromised by high heat that breaks down enzymes and nutrients nor has it been supplemented with chemical or synthetic vitamins and minerals. Copra (coconut) meal is naturally packed full of many key nutrients needed for superior health (equine, canine, human, etc.) – and these nutrients come in an easily digestible, high-fiber, whole food form for horses in Cool Stance.
Because the nutrients in Cool Stance have not been “re-balanced” to the exact overall ratios that horses need, it should not be relied upon as the sole source of food for an equine diet. Adequate grass hay and/or pasture are necessary to help meet the overall nutritional (and fiber) requirements of the horse. Stance Equine USA also recommends that Cool Stance be fed in combination with a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement that is balanced specifically for horses – but be sure that the supplement you use is made with chelated minerals because these are much more bio-available than synthetic or chemical vitamins/minerals. Here are a few brands we recommend:
So, feeding your horse WELL is now as easy as providing adequate natural forage (grass hay or pasture) and finding a Cool Stance retailer near you. After that, simply choose a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure a proper balance of key nutrients needed for horse health… then sit back and relax knowing you are providing your horse everything it needs to thrive, and nothing that causes digestive stress or harm!
P.S. An added benefit of using a free-standing vitamin/mineral supplement instead of a “complete feed” is that you can adjust the amount of feed (Cool Stance) based on each horse’s energy/fat and protein needs, but still know you are providing the right amount of vitamins and minerals. With “complete feeds” you always have to feed the recommended amount in order to provide the proper balance of vitamins and minerals.