Can you recommend a feed for my high-strung Thoroughbred gelding? In addition to his temperament issues, he suffers from a chronic sore back that we address regularly with acupuncture and evaluation of tack fit. He is asked to do low-level dressage several days a week, and I also longe him occasionally. He is given as much mixed hay as he wants, and he is fed a mixture of sweet feed and Re-Leve as a concentrated source of calories.
There has not been a lot of research on the effect of diet on temperament in horses, but the few studies that have been done indicate that feeds high in fat and possibly fiber have a less exciting effect than those that are high in starch. Re-Leve is one of the feeds on the market that is really high in fiber and fat and very low in starch, so it looks like you have made the right choice for your horse.
By mixing Re-Leve* with sweet feed, you are reducing the total dietary starch significantly (sweet feeds are typically pretty high in starch) and giving your horse a nice balance of the different energy sources used by the horse, including fiber, fat, and starch. If you feel that this feed combination is still making your horse excitable, then increase the amount of Re-Leve and reduce the amount of sweet feed. Some horses get really flat when on a high-fat, high-fiber diet without the added starch, and some horses become more tractable. It is really an individual thing.
Thoroughbreds in general do well with a little starch in their diet, but you will have to find the combination of what works best for your gelding. I think this is a sound feeding program for your horse. I particularly like that he has all the hay he can eat at his disposal.
*Re-leve is not available in Australia and New Zealand. Please contact the KER Australia office to learn about the low-starch diet options available in those areas.
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