NUTRITION: Nutrients



Horses require six main classes of nutrients to survive; they include water, fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Water is the MOST IMPORTANT nutrient; horses can’t live long without it! Always make sure there is an adequate, clean supply of water. Horses generally drink about 2 quarts of water for every pound of hay they consume. In high temperature, hard work, or for the lactating mare the water requirement may be 3 to 4 times the normsal consumption.

Fat can be added to a feed to increase the energy density of the diet. Fat has 9 Mcal/kg of energy, which is three-times that of any grain or carbohydrate source. Fat is normally found at 2 to 6% in most premixed feeds; however, some higher fat feeds will contain 10 to 12% fat.


Carbohydrates are the main energy source used in most feeds. The main building block of carbohydrates is glucose. Soluble carbohydrates such as starches and sugars are readily broken down to glucose in the small intestine and absorbed. Insoluble carbohydrates such as fiber (cellulose) bypass enzymatic digestion and must be fermented by microbes in the large intestine to release their energy sources, the volatile fatty acids. Forages normally have only 6 to 8% starch but under certain conditions can have up to 30%. Sudden ingestion of large amounts of starch or high sugar feeds can cause colic or laminitis.


Protein is used in muscle development during growth or exercise. The main building blocks of protein are amino acids. Most adult horses only require 8 to 10% protein in the ration; however, higher protein is important for lactating mares and young growing foals.


Vitamins are either fat-soluble (vitamin A, D, E, and K), or water-soluble (vitamin C, and B-complex). Horses at maintenance usually have more than adequate amounts of vitamins in their diet if they are receiving fresh green forage and/or premixed rations. Some cases where a horse would need a vitamin supplement include: a)feeding a high-grain diet or low-quality hay; b) if a horse is under stress (traveling, showing, racing, etc.) or prolonged strenuous activity; or c) not eating well (sick, after surgery, etc.).


Minerals are required for maintenance of body structure, fluid balance in cells (electrolytes), nerve conduction, and muscle contraction. Only small amounts of the macro-minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfur are needed daily.


Calcium and phosphorus are needed in a specific ratio ideally 2:1, but never less than 1:1. Alfalfa alone can exceed a Ca:P ratio of 6:1. Sweating depletes sodium, potassium, and chloride from the horse’s system, therefore, supplementation with electrolytes may be helpful for horses that sweat a lot. Normally, if adult horses are consuming fresh green pasture and/or a premixed ration, they will receive proper amounts of minerals in their diet, with the exception of sodium chloride (salt), which should always be available. Young horses may need added calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc during the first year or two of life.


Pink Rose Organix Equine Boost & Balance is a USDA Certified Organic feed for an optimized digestive system and healthy hindgut. A delicious, prescriptive blend of organic proteins, oils, and fiber that works with your pasture or hay to boost digestive efficiency and balance the diet. Boost & Balance focuses on hindgut function; driving animal health, attitude, and positive, cool energy!