Don’t panic. That’s probably the most helpful thing I can say about calculating the balance of nutrients in your horse’s diet. Most people are perfectly comfortable speaking about   calcium or vitamin E levels in the abstract sense, but when it comes to sitting down with a calculator and actually figuring out how much of each nutrient your horse’s current ration delivers, you freeze in terror. Books full of hideously complicated mathematical equations, using Pearson’s squares and the like, don’t help the widely held impression that doing this sort of math is impossibly convoluted.






Ration balancing
SHAWN HAMILTON PHOTO


Fear not, gentle reader. It’s true that you can make an infinite number of intricate calculations for the optimum concentrations of each and every micro-nutrient required or supplied by your horse’s diet. But, you also can zero in on what’s really important, eliminate from worry those details that are not, and simplify the whole process, all without a graduate degree.


Much of the time, your horse will tell you if he’s receiving good nutrition–by his shiny coat, good appetite and weight maintenance, pleasant attitude, and appropriate energy level. If you are feeding average-to-excellent quality forage and grain, you can be reasonably assured that your horse’s diet adequately meets his daily requirements. This is nearly always the case when you feed a commercial ration without supplements; and only during growth (especially in the first year), lactation, and the last three months of pregnancy are horses likely to need extra