Based on information you’ve provided in the past, I am using a ration balancer for my easy keeper, and he’s doing well on it. He is retired now but I’ve always given him a hoof supplement. It seems to me that the nutrients supplied by this supplement are already provided by the ration balancer in excess. Could I discontinue the hoof supplement?
Also, I have a nine-year-old Thoroughbred/draft cross that I am switching to the ration balancer in addition to pasture and orchardgrass/timothy hay. He is ridden occasionally, two or three times a week. Will this protocol be fine for him, too?
In answer to your question about your aged gelding, most of the ingredients in the hoof supplement are provided in excess of the requirement. However, biotin, the major active ingredient of the hoof supplement, is supplied in a therapeutic concentration well above the normal requirement of the horse. Research has proven that hooves of many horses respond to therapeutic levels of this nutrient. Sometimes, though, hoof integrity improves with the provision of a balanced diet with sufficient micronutrients, especially if the previous diet had been deficient. Because your gelding is retired and will probably not have to be shod, it would be reasonable to discontinue the hoof supplement. As a reminder, the effect of biotin occurs only on new hoof growth, so you may not see any recurrence of hoof problems for six to nine months, if you see any reappearance at all.
For the nine-year-old crossbred gelding, a balancer pellet is ideal for him. If he does have a heavier workload at times, you can always add a little performance feed for the extra calories, increasing and decreasing with his need to keep him from losing weight. The balancer pellet can remain the base of the diet. The amount to feed him would be dependent on his size, but if he is around 1,400 lb (637 kg), he would need approximately 1.5 lb (0.68 kg) of the balancer pellet per day. If he is 1,200 (550 kg) or less, he would only need about 1 lb (0.45 kg) per day. Always double-check feeding directions before starting a horse on any feed or supplement.