The Gideon Diet
I began this diet about 10 years ago due to the needs of my PSSM horse Gideon. It has been adjusted over the years but the base idea has been proven to be a very successful, easily adjustable diet to all types of horses. For more information on EPSM...
Free fed hay (preferably in slow feed hay bags). Quantity is more important than quality!
That is not to say that the hay should not be clean, dry and free of dust and dirt, but this diet works well with any type of hay, whether it be $7 a bale local grass hay or $20 a bale super rich hay.
Choose a hay that your horse may graze on several hours a day without compromising weight. I consider hay the bottom of the food "pyramid", not most of the pyramid! This goes against "traditional" thinking, but has been proven a successful mode of feeding with many horses that are now on our suggested diet plan.
SIMPLE GRASS PELLETS A simple grass pellet is a great base of the pyramid for rations. (no molasses added!) It is not required to add this to the diet but gives the option of giving more variety to the overall diet.
Simple grass pellets are becoming more popular for choices of horse feed. Why not just more hay? This is a way to easily measure out rations and gives a good base for our suggested supplements, plus variety. Use a grass pellet different from the type of hay you are feeding.
RICE BRAN (with added calcium for stability, when possible) for horses who do not have metabolic issues like HYPP or EPSM/PSSM horses or insulin resistant horses. Keep in limited quantities! Rice bran is high in omega 6’s so may cause some inflammation in the body but it also provides many B vitamins as well as seeming more "filling" for hungry horse that aren't allowed large portions of rations.
MSM-I have placed this in the BASICS section because I believe MSM is a healthy part of any diet. MSM provides sulfur, which helps upload nutrients. MSM also is a naturally anti-inflammatory, and helps keep joints healthy. I prefer (and sell) human grade MSM rather than animal grade. Its a bit more expensive but carries more "bang" for your buck!
OMEGA 3 RICH FOODS-Flax Seed, Camelina, chai seed...either meal or oil are high in omega 3’s and vitamin E both of which are anti-inflammatory, healing, and good for joints. Some horses need as little as 1/2 cup a day of meal, or up to 1/4 cup of oil a day. Though you can choose one or the other, I mix uses of these products depending on the need of each horse. Horses with more joint issues recieve more of the oil. Horses with weight issues get more meal than oil as oil has more calories. Camelina has a much longer shelf life but is not readily available in all areas. Chai seed is a great choice but is the most expensive of the three. Camelina and flax meal are ingredients in our IRON HORSE mixes supplement.
SALT-Salt is essential to every diet! Free feeding salt can have its issues so I prefer loose salt added daily to a horse’s diet rather than offering a salt block. I add 1 tbs a feeding 2x a day, but in hot weather or after a hard workout can add up to 2 tablespoons (for full size horse, adjust accordingly). This amount of salt seems to keep all of my horses content especially if they are receiving an appropriate amount of clays or DE (diatomaceous earth) Horses who are mineral deficient will try to eat more salt, not because of a need for salt but for a need of lacking minerals. If your horse chews its way quickly through a salt block, its not salt it needs but more minerals!
KELP- Provides 46 vitamins and minerals, especially iodine in a very easily absorbed way. Kelp is also added to our IRON HORSE supplement. One tablespoon of kelp 2x a day is the average amount needed by a horse however if a horse is very nutrient deficient, larger amounts may be given until the body restores its mineral deficiency.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE)- Full of minerals as well as silica for healthy feet, hair, and connective tissues. DE also pulls out many heavy metals and has an opposite charge from Bentonite Clay so is best given in combination. Diatomaceous Earth is now added to ALL our powdered recipes both to add beneficial minerals that aid in uploading other nutrients but also to extend shelf life. Herbs work best when used as fresh as possible. DE helps keep our herbs at their best!
BENTONITE CLAY-full of minerals and also pulls out heavy metals as well but is oppositely charged from DE. For daily use, I add 2 tbs to their rations of a half and half mix of DE and Clay. Or free choice ¼ cup once a week. If all the clay is eaten quickly it can be offered again in a few days. When a horse has loaded up on minerals wait a couple of weeks and offer again. Horses are great at regulating their upload of minerals but if they are very deficient and are given a large amount it may cause overload issues. Only offer free fed minerals at most once a day until desired levels are reached. A small amount of Bentonite Clay is added to all our recipes.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST-Since I feed a no grain/limited grain diet, nutritional yeast provides necessary B vitamins including B-12. The body naturally produces B-12 but I have seen huge benefits in providing additional B-12 in the nutritional yeast, especially for senior "hard to keep" horses. Nutritional Yeast is added to our "Iron Hoof" formula and is now in our shop. Horses with Candida overloads should not be on any type of yeast until the overload is corrected.
FRESH FOODS-(when available) pasture, apples, carrots, watermelon, pumpkin, etc. Gear towards individual horse’s needs. Feed carefully to sugar sensitive horses.
HERBS AND CLAYS CHOSEN BY THE HORSE. See **HERBAL SAMPLING LINK**
Though this may seem like a very complicated diet, there are ways to simplify it and make it easier to feed out.
As every horse is different, it will take some experimentation to learn what works best for your horse/s. For those with a small number of horses, many of these steps can be covered by ordering our IRON HORSE supplement which has many of these items in its ingredients.
Need help? I am happy to answer any questions regarding a suggested diet plan that works with items available in your area. For those in Salem Oregon and surrounding area, I am happy to do personal consultations.