What's Up with West?

What’s in West’s dinner bucket?

I get asked ALL the time … “What does West eat?” “Which supplements does he get” “Do you feed this or that?” “What’s your favorite grain?” I’m so excited to publish something that answers ALL of these questions!

This is an inside look at what West eats on a daily basis. He eats twice a day, breakfast and dinner. Supplements are included with breakfast only, grain and forage remains the same with both meals.

To start, grain. West eats Purina Ultium Gastric Care grain. It is a high calorie feed designed to meet the daily protein needs of performance horses. I like this grain more so than others because it is specifically formulated for traveling sport horses. ……West. Purina goes above and beyond other brands to include a much higher level of gastric and immune support, perfect for the serious equine athlete. Ultium Gastric Care contains a specialized yeast extract to help support immune systems of horses affected by stress. It also contains a “unique blend of ingredients that are designed to support gastric balance.” West has been on this feed for a little over a year now, and I have no complaints.

Gut health is SO important to me. West has had gastric ulcers before. We are never going back down that road again. In order to do every thing I possibly can to prevent them from coming back – I am ubeeeeer picky about West’s diet. He probably gets WAY more gastric support than he needs, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. (And poor again.) His grain does contain special gastric support, but to me – that isn’t enough.

To make sure his tummy is always happy, I feed Horse Guard Gut Guard daily. Gut Guard is a natural formula of probiotics, prebiotics, and live yeast. The probiotics help stabilize the gut and resist disease causing microbes that try to invade the stomach and cause illness. Prebiotics are nutrients that simply support the probiotics. The “good bugs” if you will. Live yeast cells (all 10 BILLION of them) stabilize ceacum pH, which further helps stabilize the gut. Research shows that when horses are fed live yeast, there is an increase in digestibility resulting in a healthier horse with more resistance to disease.

Gut Guard can be fed two ways … daily, or during times of stress. I choose to do both. He gets one dose daily, and another half a dose on days that we travel or he trains harder than usual. I choose this supplement because not only does it further protect against gastric ulcers, but it keeps the digestive system regulated – helping to reduce the chance of colic. At only $22 a month, why would you not feed this?

Belly health aside, joint health is my number two concern for West. Although not necessarily old, (12) West’s body is old. He was started young and hard , and his joints are already showing the side effects. West receives joint injections, as well as Adequan injections, but my vet recommended I feed an oral joint supplement daily for even more support between shots.

Horse Guard Joint Guard is one of the strongest joint formulas on the market today. It contains potent amounts of …

  • Hyaluronic Acid : an element that brings lubrication to joints. This is actually what is injected into the joints when doing injections.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine : These nutraceuticals provide building blocks to aid in the treatment and prevention of arthritis. They help control the inflammatory process, stimulate production of joint lubricants and inhibit destructive enzymes.
  • Yeast : has a beneficial effect on digestion and helps improve availability of nutraceuticals.
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E : antioxidants that help control free radicals and the damage done in area of inflammation.
  • Methionine: cartilage and the connective tissue of the body need methionine and other sulfur amino acids. Methionine is an amino acid and an excellent source of sulfur.
  • MSM: a source of sulfur which also has anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s pretty obvious why I choose Joint Guard for West. Not only does it contain the highest quality joint ingredients, it contains a LOT of them. The ingredient list on this product is short, but ingredient levels are high. I like this because I know there aren’t any artificial fillers or chemicals. Just the good stuff. This is a pricier supplement, but TOTALLY worth it.

Next on the list is !! surprise !! another supplement that targets gut health. Aloe juice. Aloe is high in fiber, and has a unique consistency that is soothing to the digestive tract and stomach lining. My vet once told me of a study that proved aloe juice can heal gastric ulcers by up to one grade. AKA – not *completely* heal ulcers, but it can help! It is also a great preventative. I started using aloe at the recommendation of my vet two years ago when West was diagnosed with “mild hind gut ulcers,” and now I use it as a preventative. It helps to sooth the lining of the stomach and buffer excess stomach acid. Aloe is a natural, holistic approach to digestive health – which I am all about!

I purchase my aloe from Walmart in one gallon jugs. At two cups per day, one am and one pm, I go through about four gallons each month. Not bad when they cost $6 each! Link to find the exact brand is here.

Up next – one of my favorite supplements EVER! Horse Guard Hoof and Hair Guard has been a life saver for West. If you’ve been a follower since the beginning, you’ll probably remember when we were battling abscesses with him. All. The. Time. I’m talking at least two abscesses per month. Because they were so frequent, my vet suspected an immune deficiency in West. She ran all kinds of blood, all of which came back just fine.

Her best suggestion was to start him on a hoof supplement. We started out using another big name supplement, which immediately cleared up our abscess problem. However, his feet were still easy to crack and break. After finding Hoof and Hair Guard, we’ve had one brief abscess in 16 months, and NO cracks or breaking. When you look at numbers, it’s no surprise. HHG contains 100mg of biotin/day, the Farrier’s Formula that I was using contained 25mg of biotin/day.

Not only that, but Hoof and Hair Guard doubles as a hair growth and coat supplement! I cut several inches off both mane and tail each month, and his coat glows like nothing I’ve ever seen. My farrier is happy and West looks fabulous. A++ for this product. You can find the link to it here!

West gets soaked alfalfa cubes with both breakfast and dinner. Alfalfa hay might be the norm in your neck of the woods, but unfortunately for mine – it is not. Alfalfa is extremely expensive, and very hard to consistently come by. In order to consistently and cost effectively feed alfalfa to our horses, pellets or cubes are our best option. If it’s hard to get and super expensive, why feed it at all? Alfalfa is one of the most nutrient rich hays out there. It contains more digestible energy, crude protein and calcium, and fewer carbs and starches. Alfalfa is high in amino acids, which helps muscle regulation and growth in difficult areas like the topline.

Alfalfa is also very good for horses with gastric ulcers or prone to them. The higher calcium levels in alfalfa hay help to buffer extra stomach acid. Alfalfa is a lot harder to chew than other hays, which promotes even more salivation, which aids even further in buffering that pesky stomach acid.

I personally prefer pellets to cubes for soaking and feeding purposes, but they both work the same inside the body. I use the Dumor brand alfalfa from Tractor Supply. Link is here.

Surprise … another digestive “supplement.” I use supplement in quotations, because I would call beet pulp more of a forage than a supplement, but it’s purpose is to supplement the digestive system. Soaked beet pulp is a great low sugar source of energy and fiber, and is actually considered another beneficial probiotic.

Regardless of nutritional benefits, beet pulp is a great, tasty way to increase your horse’s water intake. Studies used to show that feeding unsoaked beet pulp could actually cause colic, because it would soak up excess fluid inside the horse. Studies now are saying otherwise, but I still never feed dried beet pulp. A couple cups of dry beet pulp can soak up an entire bucket of water, so it’s a great way to make sure your horse is “drinking” enough.

You can find the beet pulp that I use here.

Another big essential to West’s diet is Horse Guard Super Weight Gain. I really had no use for this product until last fall when West was diagnosed with EPM. He lost a lot of weight, but mostly a lot of muscle. His already not so great topline completely disappeared. I talked with Horse Guard equine nutritionist Dr. Kelsey Nonella about what our best form of nutritional recovery would be. To get his weight back up and help restore muscle health – she recommended Super Weight Gain. I’m not lying when I say West had his body back within one month. After a month and a half, he looked even better than he did before the EPM.

He’s never had that great of a topline, and I’ve tried every other “topline” product throughout the years with him. Nothing else on the market helps him grow and hold his topline muscle like Super Weight Gain does. Even though he’s very fat and very happy right now, he continues to get SWG at a reduced, maintenance dose. His muscles are so strong and healthy.

Super Weight Gain is a high protein, low fat weight gain supplement. This means that it will not make your horse “hot” like other weight products sometimes do. Also, instead of packing on the fatty pounds, your horse is actually gaining usable muscle. This is why people see such dramatic topline and rear end results when using the product.

Last but not least, Flaxen FLOW. Flow is 100% Flax seed oil. Thats it, just flax seed. Flax is not a new product, but the hype is growing. Flax is full of Omega 3’s, which help promote a healthy, shiny coat, help bring comfort and healing to horses struggling with allergies or skin conditions, decrease inflammation, boost immunity, mitigate arthritis, and so much more! The oil lubricates the digestive tract, helping reduce colic as well.

Out of all Horse Guard products, the technology behind Flow amazes me the most. With more and more people discovering the benefits of flax, more companies are trying to produce it. Studies have shown that flax in oil form is the most effective and usable inside of the body – but with a catch. Flax seed oil begins to nutritionally deteriorate when exposed to oxygen. Other companies are either unaware of this, or just don’t care. To ensure that the oil stays full of it’s beneficial nutrients, Horse Guard goes above and beyond to nitrogen protect the entire manufacturing process. This means that the oil is not exposed to oxygen one time! It is also strategically packaged in a boxed wine type setup. The bag is filled with nitrogen before the oil goes in to flush out any air, and is finally equipped with a nozzle that only lets product OUT, no air IN. That’s incredible. If you’re using a flax oil with a pump, or a top that you have to take off and pour – I hate to break it to you, but there’s no longer any nutrients in what you’re feeding!

The Horse Guard Flaxen Flow is stabilized, unfiltered, cold pressed, and nitrogen protected to ensure that you’re getting the absolute highest quality flax oil on the market! It is an oil, so I top dress 2 ounces per day over West’s grain. At roughly $20 per month, (or $10 if you feed the lower dose) I can’t NOT feed this product.

You can use my code “emilyhead” at checkout for all Horse Guard purchases! If you’ve used any of these products, or just want to chat about them – leave a comment or DM! I’m always down to talk nutrition!


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