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Let's talk about food: sweet potatoes for horses

Somewhere on the internet there is a YouTube video of a young lady feeding her horse a McDonald's hamburger.  This is met with riotous laughter, but is it really funny?  

Horses in the wild do not suffer from ulcers, are not prone to metabolic disorders or laminitis, and tend to have feet like iron.  In a perfect world we would all have horses that never suffer from these ailments but alas, the world is not perfect so we all do the best we can and (hopefully) seek advice from experts when something is not working for our horse.  

Horses in captivity live in a variety of different settings, from 24/7 turnout to 22/7 stall board, and everything in between.  Regional differences in weather dictate food resources so the quality of forage varies widely.  And yet, wild herds of horses thrive in all of these climates.  Perhaps we should take note of this and look at feeding our horses more like their wild counterparts and give them a variety of real foods. 

How many different supplements have you tried for your horse?  You know what I'm talking about, those containers of powdery vitamins and minerals that everyone else's horse gladly eats.  $150.00+ a month for flax based, rice based, wheat based concoctions that look like coarsely ground flour that you can supplement with prebiotic, probiotic, calming aids, hoof horn builders, anti-inflammatory/pain medications, joint remedies and dozens of other miracle remedies to help your horse thrive in the unnatural setting we are forced to keep them in.   We top dress this powder onto concentrated feed that comes in a bag with a label we don't understand and we hope that THIS time we got it right.  I don't know how many of those I gave away because the horse wouldn't eat them or how many times we watched the months pass by with few or 0 results.  

So, now that I'm older and hopefully a wee bit wiser, I've started to look more closely at their food and I've spent time learning how to read a feed label courtesy of Equi-Analytical.

Pastures.  I will admit that I love seeing horses in pastures that are well tended, not over-grazed and free of noxious weeds.  No one likes walking out to catch their horse and find a clump of burdock has turned their forelock into a prickly unicorn horn. However, I think the cleansing of our pastures has eliminated the ability of our horses to seek foods they need as the seasons change.  Thistle seed, blackberry/raspberry leaves, alchemilla, vervain, red clover...it's a long list that may have much to do with why we continue to see increases in the number of horses with ulcers, metabolic issues, laminitis and other concerns.  Our drug companies are happy to come up with medications to ease the symptoms of the disease cycles that start with nutritional deficits and I am grateful for their work, but what would happen if we started adding food, real food, to the diet of our horses?  

My first Chock Full'a Chia biscuit was the Sweet Potato-Fig.  Horses in New Zealand are grazed on fields of sweet potato before being released into the mountains for the winter and it was Thanksgiving so it seemed like a natural place to begin my efforts at binding chia so my mare would stop wasting the seeds.   Aya liked it but she didn't love it so I decided to sweeten it with figs.  Ding!  Ding!  I had a winner.  From there I decided to work with blueberries, carrots, spirulina and manuka honey...real food that provided nutritional benefits to my horse.  As the months went by you could see the difference in her body, feel the difference in her hair coat, and appreciate that the mare simply felt better.  These changes occur over time with all of the Chock Full'a Chia horses.  

Let's talk about a real food for horses, the sweet potato.  (Which is NOT a yam)  Vitamin A deficiencies are apparently one of the most common deficiencies in horses.  You can purchase a powdered supplement that helps your horse meet this nutritional requirement, you can feed 3-5 carrots per day, or you can try a 100 gram sweet potato, which has more Vitamin A and betacarotene than any other root vegetable.  Supplement this with a Chock Full'a Chia Sweet Potato-Fig biscuit to boost the overall  nutrition and as the months go by, enjoy the visible results.  

This chart shows the nutritional value of a 100 gram Sweet Potato.  Look at the Vitamin A and phyto-nutrient values!  WOW! 

trient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 86 Kcal 4%
Carbohydrates 20.12 g 15.5%
Protein 1.6 g 3%
Total Fat 0.05 g <0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3 g 8%
Vitamins
Folates 11 µg 3%
Niacin 0.557 mg 3.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.80 mg 16%
Pyridoxine 0.209 mg 15%
Riboflavin 0.061 mg 5.5%
Thiamin 0.078 mg 6.5%
Vitamin A 14,187 IU 473%
Vitamin C 2.4 mg 4%
Vitamin E 0.26 mg 2%
Vitamin K 1.8 µg  1.5%
Electrolytes
Sodium 55 mg 3.5%
Potassium 337 mg 7%
Minerals
Calcium 30 mg 3%
Iron 0.61 mg 7.5%
Magnesium 25 mg 6%
Manganese 0.258 mg 11%
Phosphorus 47 mg 7%
Zinc 0.30 mg 3%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-α 7 µg --
Carotene-ß 8509 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --

 

This chart does not show the great nutrition available in sweet potato greens, but they are also safe and highly nutritious so you can add those to your horses diet to provide them with the nutritional benefits of another real food.  

Here's to real food - the foundation of the Chock Full'a Chia line of products.  

 

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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