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Food For Thought


Not all grain is created equal, so how do you choose?
After reading up on your horse’s gastric and digestive health, you now know how much your horse’s diet can impact his overall health. But did you know that not all grain is created equal? It’s true! Your horse’s feed needs depend on many factors, including age, body condition, and workload. Take a look at the profiles below to see how different commercial feeds work for different horses.


Petunia the School Horse

Workload: Moderate Petunia is a six-year-old reiner who does lessons four days a week.
Body Condition: Average Like many Quarter Horses, Petunia maintains her weight well. However, as a lesson horse, she needs some extra calories to keep her going strong.
Top Pick: Nutrena SafeChoice Original is ideal for Petunia because it has the correct balance of nutrients with controlled starch and fat levels for an ideal, balanced source of energy.


Fred the Western Pleasure Horse

Workload: Light Fred is a 18-year-old western pleasure horse who works three days a week.
Body Condition: Cushing’s Fred was recently diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease after his owner noticed he was struggling to maintain his weight and muscle mass. However, because his body can’t properly metabolize glucose, he needs to avoid non-structured carbohydrates (NSCs) like sugar and starch.
Top Pick: Nutrena SafeChoice Special Care provides a “safe” source of calories to help Fred maintain his weight and muscle, thanks to its low, controlled starch formula.


Juliet the Eventer

Workload: Heavy Juliet is a seven-year-old eventer in work six days a week, competing at Training Level.
Body Condition: Hard keeper A typical thoroughbred, Juliet always has trouble keeping weight on, and her intense workload makes it even tougher.
Top Pick: Nutrena SafeChoice Perform provides a higher concentration of fat and controlled starch than the Original formula. Juliet needs the extra calories, and fat is a cooler, “safer” source than loading up on NSCs. Plus, the added starch supports healthy glycogen levels for optimal performance.


Newt the Dressage Horse

Workload: Moderate Newt is an eight-year-old Morgan who does first level dressage four days a week.
Body Condition: Easy Keeper Newt is quite overweight (his body condition score is a seven!), but his hay alone isn’t an adequate source of nutrients.
Top Pick: Nutrena Empower Balance is a ration balancer, meaning it offers a highly concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, without the calories, sugar, and starch of a traditional fortified grain. And because the serving size is 1–2 lbs of pellets, Newt thinks he’s getting normal grain!

Learn more about these feeds at

Nutrena Bogo

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3 comments on “Food For Thought
  1. Liz Stormer says:

    I have fed Nutrena Safe Choice for years now and my horses have not had one incident of colic since they have been on it. Great feed, wouldn’t change for anything.

  2. Wren says:

    How about discussing other brands, instead of just a advertising plug for Nutrena? If you’re only looking at national
    brands, Purina is another. I personally feed Sentinel LS by Blue Seal/Kent, which is New England based.

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Wren, thanks for your feedback! At SmartPak, we’re on a mission to make the world a better place, using our smarts to power healthy horses and happy riders. One of the ways we do that is by working hard to put together informative content on just about every horse health topic we can think of, and then making sure it reaches as many riders and horse owners as possible. This article originally appeared in an edition of our Supplement and Horse Care Guide, which is a printed piece that we mail to horse owners everywhere. Due to the cost of mailing this free educational piece, we have to make the most of the space we have, and this article was limited to one page. As a result, we couldn’t list every brand available (even the other national brands that we know and respect, like Purina and Triple Crown). However, we did want to include at least one nationally recognized brand to help the information would seem more relatable, and less foreign, to riders who are reevaluating their horses’ diets. I hope this was helpful! If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. – SmartPaker Sarah

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