Something that I think a lot of riders aren’t active enough in – but should be – is the nutrition of their horse(s). It is obviously easy to be complacent about this, especially if you are the one not handling the day-to-day care of your horse. However, even if you are not the one designing your horses’ diet, it is important to know what your horse is getting everyday. This includes forage, grain, supplements, and all of the minerals and vitamins that go along with that. Another reason this is especially important is because a lot of times we may be trying to get more muscle on a horse, getting a horse to lose weight, getting a horse to gain weight, or simply ensuring that a horse that is finally at the perfect weight maintains it.
I discovered a website called FeedXL a few years ago as SmartPak was offering a coupon for a free month trial. I decided to try the program in an effort to become more involved in my horses’ nutritional care. I knew what they were getting in terms of hay, grass, grain, and supplements – but as for the actual nutritional value – I had zero idea. FeedXL helps to eliminate all of these issues.
FeedXL works in the following ways:
- First, you sign up for an account and tell FeedXL about your horse. This includes its age, weight, height, amount of work it is in, any special medical issues, and whether you are trying to help it gain, lose, or maintain its current weight.
- After answering those questions, the site asks you what your horse eats. FeedXL has over 7,000 feeds in its database including grain, supplements, hay, grass, ration balancers, and more. It is important to note that the grass and hay nutritional values are estimates, and there is actually a way to send a sample of the hay or grass your horse eats to a lab to get a full nutritional work-up on it in order to be 100 percent sure of what your horse is getting. However, the FeedXL program just a pretty good job of estimating exactly what might be in your horse’s forage. It breaks the forage down by different types of grass or hay and even by Selenium content. Additionally, If you are using a product that FeedXL does not have in its system (which is rare), you can submit the product to FeedXL, and they will add the product for you so that your horse’s nutritional analysis is as complete as possible!
- Finally, FeedXL will generate a bunch of different graphs that will break down your horse’s diet. It will tell you how much your horse is getting every day including whether your horse is lacking in any nutrition and how you can remedy it. It also warns you if your horse may be getting too much of a particular mineral or vitamin, how you can reduce that mineral or vitamin, and the negative effects it could have. My favorite is the nutrient graph which breaks everything down by percentage. When you hover over each mineral, it shows you exactly what your horse is getting from where. For example, my horse Luther is getting 78% of his digestible energy from his hay and 83% of his Iodine requirement from his grain.
You’re probably wondering if using FeedXL is extremely costly. While it is not cheap, I would argue that you cannot put a price on making sure your horse is getting what he or she needs. After all, you need a health horse in order to perform well – no matter what you are doing. FeedXL has “Standard” plans and “Advisor” plans. The Standard plans can be bought for a month or a year. Standard is broken down further into Lite and Pro. Each of these obviously has some subtle differences. For example, the Standard Lite plan only allows you to see certain nutritional values where as the Standard Pro allows you to see all the nutritional values. The Standard plans are available for “private” use only. If you plan on using FeedXL for commercial purposes, such as for an equine nutrition business or to evaluate the nutritional needs of horses at your boarding facility, purchasing a membership to the Advisor plan is the best option for you.
Whenever I make a change to Luther or Tempo’s diet, I always plug it into FeedXL to make sure the change is something that will work for them. I have also used FeedXL to tweak supplements. When you purchase supplements from SmartPak, they have a standard dose that they give you when you order. However, you do not always need this standard dose, and FeedXL has shown me that I can actually give less, get the same benefits, and save money.
FeedXL has a ton of happy customers. I adore the program, and I always come back to it when making a change or considering a new feed. I also love that you can submit your own grass/hay/feed samples to a lab specifically used by FeedXL so that you can get a custom nutritional analysis for you and be 100% certain your nutrition plan for your horse is exactly perfect.
If you are on the fence, I definitely recommend trying FeedXL. It will never hurt to be more involved in your horse(s) nutritional care. You will also learn a lot too, especially about supplements, grain, hay, grass, etc. What exactly is your horse getting from all that hay or grain? What is he not getting? What can you actually cut out of his diet because it isn’t doing anything?
If you are interested in trying FeedXL, I am excited to announce that I have partnered with them in offering a one month free trial code. It is valid until April 14, 2015, at 11:55 pm. This code is available to first-time users only, so if you’ve already used the site and want to use this code to get a free subscription, that can’t be done unfortunately.
To get your free 1 horse, 1 month lite plan, you can go here or type in the coupon code THELEG at checkout.
Please be aware that if you wish to try other plan types, the code below will get you the cash equivalent off any other standard FeedXL plan.
As an added bonus, for anyone that tries FeedXL and likes it, you can receive 20% off any plan if you decide to continue your membership – just make sure you do this before your 1 month plan expires! The code for this is EQUDIS. The code must be entered at checkout before the free trial runs out; otherwise, it will not work. This 20% off coupon is good until April 30, 2014.