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To Blanket or Not To Blanket???


Your Horse Hay


When it comes to feeding, if you ask 15 different people what they think a horse should be fed, you will get 15 different answers and there is a good chance that each answer will hold a little bit of truth to it.  When I was growing up, my mom always told me to look for the alfalfa hay that was dark green and bright purple, and now that I am a hay farmer's wife I can honestly tell you that there is WAY more to hay quality than meets the eye.  

Let me start off by saying that before you start a new feeding routine please double check with your vet to ensure that all the nutrient values are being met for your horse.  Now that, that is out of the way, please keep in mind that in a horse's life their feed requirements will most like change several times. 

It is not as simple as my mom made it seem. Throw a few flakes of dark green alfalfa twice a day and that horse's needs are met.  There are a lot of external factors that play into this "feeding" chore that comes with horses.  First, what is the horse's workload? Are you riding/working heavily four to five times a week or is your horse more of a pasture ornament?  Even if these two animals' pasture together, their bodies' needs are vastly different. Second, is your horse a gestating/lactating mare or a breeding stallion? Again, these animals will need more than what you would normally feed.  Third (not finally, but as far as we are going in this blog), are you trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight?

All of those questions aside, let's look at this as close to basic as possible.

Alfalfa is high in protein and minerals, Timothy Grass is highly palatable, Brome Grass is what is commonly found in pastures.  So what does it mean when you hear RFV or TDN?  RFV (Relative Feed Value) and TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) are both ways that hay is tested for the animal's anticipated intake along with the available energy found in the feed.  An RFV of 100 is given to alfalfa in full bloom and then other hays are compared to this standard.  Typical dairy quality hay has an RFV between 180-220 and maybe too hot for a horse that is simply maintaining their weight. A TDN of 40-55% is considered a good equine feed. The RFQ (Relative Forage Quality) may also be used.  This index also has a baseline of 100 but may provide more pertinent information regarding your horse's forage feed.

Things to remember when picking your hay:

  • It should smell sweet, never musty
  • It should feel soft
  • It should have plenty of leaves instead of all stems

If you are simply maintaining the horse's body weight, then you should be feeding 2% of their body weight in forage (alfalfa/grass).

If you are lightly working or have a breeding stud, then you should be feeding 2% of their body weight in forage + 20% of the 2%.  

Example. (1200# horse x 2% = 24.0#, now take 24# + 20% =28.8# of forage).

Medium work is 2% of the bodyweight + 40% of the 2%.

Heavy work/early lactation is 2% of the bodyweight +60% of the 2%.

Very heavy work/late lactation is 2% of the bodyweight + 90% of the 2%.

On the other hand, if you are putting your horse on a diet the base 2% of forage needs to be reduced to 1.75%, and a severe diet drops to 1.5%.

Reference material used, The Ultimate Guide to Horse Feed, by Lisa Preston.

The American Quarter Horse


If someone were to have asked me to pick my favorite horse breed, I would have named at least four of them.  Not saying that you can't have a single favorite, but I couldn't.  There were just too many possibilities and depending on the type of event that you are wanting to participate in can obviously dictate the breed of horse you choose. 


Each breed and classification (cold, warm, or hot-blooded) has their disciplines that they are best suited for. A Shetland Pony, for example, while this is a wonderful breed it clearly can not compete with a Thoroughbred in the Kentucky Derby.

For weeks, I continued my research, and I found that all of the attributes that I was searching for (versatility, loyalty, willingness, agility, gentle, etc.) I found in the American Quarter Horse.  Combine those attributes with the farm/ranch obligations and it made picking the Quarter Horse an easy choice.

Why we do what we do?


"Why in the world would you want to do that?" 

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that phrase.  Not only in my daily job but any time I start to talk about the desire to work with and breed reputable horses. Long story short, it has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to be a horse breeder, and we (my husband and I) have finally been able to start working on that dream.  I understand that there are a lot of people in this industry and that it can be a challenge to really make it but that isn't stopping us. 

So, knowing the challenges and the multitudes of other breeders, what sets us apart? 

We have carefully, hand-picked each of the stallions and mares on our property, and not just any horse makes the cut.  The temperament is a huge factor in our decision to bring in a new horse.  We have kids and people constantly running around our property so each horse must be calm and level headed. Outside of this, we look for bloodlines that show the disposition of a willingness to learn and have the conformation and athletic ability to work on a ranch or farm.  Even our stallions must display these characteristics.  We have had many people compliment our stallions' behavior and just how laid back they are even with a mare present.  All of our babies are handled within hours of their births as they need to know that it is ok to let people handle them. We are still a small operation and only have 2-3 foals annually, so this makes working with both mare and foal a much easier task to undertake.

At the end of it all, we want to make sure that when we breed our horses, we are working to improve the breed and the treasured characteristics of the American Quarter Horse or the American Paint Horse.