My Appaloosa filly (Rising 3) is currently on:

  • 4 handfuls of Sugarbeet
  • 1 handful of normal Alfa - A
  • Liquid Alfa - A
  • Agnus Castus 1 large thimble
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic

Which she gets fed in a bucket at 7pm every night.

She's pastured from 6am to 4pm and has access to hay when stabled (From 4pm-6am) as well as a Horseware Original Salt lick 24/7.

She's not had any adverse reactions, I'm just wondering if she's getting all the nutrients she needs. Any and all answers are appreciated.

  • 2
    it is common for all young growing animals to have a larger need for nutrients and minerals than the adults have.you can take a look here aaep.org/horsehealth/foal-growth-special-care-and-nutrition to see what a young horse needs. Feb 18, 2020 at 15:18
  • What sort of hay does she have overnight?
    – user6796
    Feb 18, 2020 at 20:07
  • @Yvette Colomb - just standard grass hay from a round bale Feb 19, 2020 at 7:05
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    thanks, I'm snowed under the next few days, but this is a good question and I'd like to provide an answer. @trondhansen be mindful how we word things when providing people with links - don't want it to sound like we're telling people to go look somewhere else. It's a really good question and fit for the site.
    – user6796
    Feb 19, 2020 at 14:11
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    @YvetteColomb i agree it is a good question and i definitely do not want to send people away from our site,i do know very little about horses so i can not give an answer to the question but i still want to help providing some information and it can be used by the one answering the question. Feb 19, 2020 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


Younger horses definitely have different nutritional needs to adult horses, one significant being more protein in the diet. Balanced nutrition is important to avoid illnesses like Developmental Orthopaedic Diseases (DOD).

I cannot cover all scenarios, so are focusing on yearlings and extrapolating for your horse, as rising 3 yo.

The feed requirements vary from the first year, while being fed by mum to a yearling and then the following years towards adulthood, 5 year old, gradually merge to match an adult diet.

Any nutritional needs will vary if a horse is in work and the intensity of the work.

The key for horse is to get the right balance of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and copper, plus amino acids, often available in protein. Key to this is that the bulk of any horse's diet is forage - pasture, hay or other fibre sources, like the beet.

On her current diet, I would feed lucerne/alfalfa hay (same thing), cut out the beet, it's better if she has the hay to munch on overnight. Then add a supplement designed for your local area. This depends on your soil and pasture. It would likely contain copper, zinc, magnesium, plus other nutrients. For example, where we live the soil is high in iron, which requires more supplementation of copper and zinc, plus we have pasture that is high in oxalates which prevents calcium absorption, so extra calcium is required on top of the usual balance. You could use a balancer pellet, which would probably require something in the vicinity of 0.5 - 1 kb per day depending on the manufacturer. Always check the pack.

If you can feed hay over bagged feed, hay is always the better choice, as it suits the horse's digestive system. I only supplement with hard feed in my horses that are elderly. However I do provide all my horses with supplements designed to complement the pasture.

From the MSD Veterinary Manual:


Current recommendations are that horses receive at least 1.5%–2% of their body weight in forage or forage substitutes such as hay cubes or other high-fiber source daily. The average maximum daily dry matter intake is 2.5%–3% body wt (although some breeds and age groups, notably ponies and weanlings, can exceed those maximums if on good pastures); therefore, forage or forage substitutes should be the major components of an equine ration.

These are for 500 kg horses, which is the average horse and your appaloosa may come in around that weight as a mature horse.

Estimated Daily Nutrient Requirements of Growing Horses and Ponies

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Estimated Average Daily Nutrient Requirements of Mature Horses and Ponies

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Between the two table from 24 months to adult you can see the following differences:

Digestible Energy: 18.7 - 16.7

Crude Protein: 770 - 630

A rising 3 will still need to gain weight and have greater energy and protein requirements.

From the following articles by Kentucky Equine Research:

Choices in Feeding Young, Growing Horses

For a yearling:

... for owners who want to feed the absolute minimum amount of grain necessary to their horses on good-quality pastures, it is possible for the yearling in this example to consume enough pasture to satisfy requirements for digestible energy and protein to maintain a moderate level of growth. However, the concentration of critical nutrients (calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc) is often inadequate in a pasture-only diet. To properly balance the diet in this situation, it is estimated the yearling will consume nearly 16 lb (7 kg) of pasture dry matter/day along with 1.25 lb (0.5 kg) of a ration balancer/horse/day.

Protein-to-Energy Ratio in Young-Horse Diets

Young horses need high-quality protein to supply adequate lysine and other amino acids for growth. In addition to protein, the young growing horse has a requirement for energy in its diet. These requirements are closely linked and a deficiency of either will result in a reduced growth rate. In fact, protein and energy are so closely linked that one should not be considered without the other in rations for growing horses.

In other words, it is the ratio of protein to energy that is important for growth rather than either the protein percentage in a ration or even the daily intake of protein, because it is the energy that provides the potential to grow new tissue that will then require protein. If there is an excess of protein supplied with an inadequate amount of energy, the protein will be oxidized to produce energy. .../...

Different Horse Feeds for Different Needs

By the end of its yearling year, a horse will have obtained 90% of its adult weight. The demands for protein, vitamins, and minerals still remain higher in the yearling than in the adult horse. While yearlings can eat more than weanlings, they still require a feed which is more concentrated than feed intended for adult horses. Typical yearling feeds have 14 to 16% protein and are fortified similarly to the concentrate designed for broodmares. Balance in the diet, particularly of energy and minerals, is especially important during the yearling year because this is when many of the signs of developmental orthopedic diseases (DOD) such as epiphysitis and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) begin to appear.

When a young horse begins training, horse owners and managers must realize the horse is still growing. The dual demands of training and growth make it especially important to pay attention to proper nutrition. During the training process, the bones will undergo constant remodeling to adapt to the stress of work. A balance of vitamins and minerals in the diet will aid in minimizing the amount of stress these changes cause. Further, adequate dietary protein is essential as greater muscle breakdown is a physiological consequence of increased work. Protein for growth and work can usually be supplied with a 14% protein concentrate, or 12% if fed with alfalfa or alfalfa mix hays.

  • I wish I could upvote this again, an absolutely outstanding answer. Thank you! Mar 3, 2020 at 16:49
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    @SimplyRedAppaloosa I'm glad it has helped. I could've gone on endlessly. I've done so much research with this, owning pregnant mares and foals, including taking a 6 week old colt who was weaned early (long story).
    – user6796
    Mar 3, 2020 at 16:56

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