Achieving nutritional balance in your horse

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could be sure your horse could achieve nutritional balance?  Well, you can. And it’s fairly easy to learn how.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could be sure your horse could achieve nutritional balance?To know his diet is providing what his body needs to stay healthy and sound? To be able to make seasonal changes in your feeding program as your horse requires it, and be certain those changes are working effectively? And to do all this at little to no cost? Well, you can. And it’s fairly easy to learn how.

It’s all about nutritional balance — and simplicity

Let’s review the most important building blocks in an effective program for nutritional balance:

  • An adequate supply of fresh water available at all times.
  • High quality forage in the form of good grass hay.
  • Free choice minerals and salt so your horse can balance his own nutritional needs.
  • A basic vitamin and mineral supplement, if required. Many horses do not need additional supplementation when fed a good quality hay and offered free choice minerals.
  • Probiotics as appropriate during times of stress, at the introduction of vaccinations and wormers, etc. An effectively functioning gut is essential to proper nutrient absorption. That’s it.

That’s the basic program. If you need to add more protein or energy to your horse’s diet due to his level of exertion, that can be easily managed. But less is more. I prefer to stick to the basics unless one of my horses or a rehabilitation client requires something else. And I look to the horses’ bodies to tell me if I’m on target.

How do you know if your program is right?

1. First, pay attention to obvious signs of a potential problem by assessing your horse’s appearance. Evaluate his body to gauge whether his weight is optimal. Examine his coat. It is dull or shiny? Is the mane and tail brittle? Does the hair on his coat have little curls at the ends? Does he have visible dapples? Is the color fading? Pay attention to his hoof quality. Brittle hoof walls can indicate a nutritional imbalance. Simply pay attention to how he looks and note any changes as you make alterations to your feeding program.

2. Consider having your veterinarian draw blood to test for any specific vitamin and mineral imbalances. Blood work can indicate some nutritional imbalances and show you how your horse’s organs are functioning. It’s a good idea, in my opinion, to have basic blood chemistry work done when your horse is in his teens so you have a good baseline in the event he develops some health issues as he ages.

3. Finally, you can monitor reflex points on your horse’s body that will indicate whether there’s an imbalance in certain minerals, or if any organs aren’t functioning at their equine wellness 15 optimal levels. These reflex points can also indicate if there are excessive toxins in the body. The ability to correlate these reflex points with actual body functions and/or mineral levels has been proven over and over again through the years by blood tests. We’ll examine the most common mineral/nutritional points here. See the table below to refresh your memory on the function of each of these minerals.

Cleaning horse
1. Cleaning the horse’s polarity

Basic DIY reflex point evaluation

Step 1

Clear your polarity first. Then clear your horse’s. Here’s how. Using the first two fingers on your right hand, sweep across your forehead just above your brow line five times. After you have cleared your own polarity, you will need to do this for your horse as well. Again, use the first two fingers on your right hand, and sweep across your horse’s forehead five times as shown in photo 1.

Step 2

Get a feel for the amount of pressure you should apply to the reflex point. It’s only about five pounds of pressure – enough to make your fingernail turn white when you apply the pressure. Resist the temptation to push harder or you will get false readings.

Step 3

Be cautious. Practice safety each and every time you check nutrition or other reflex points. Even the nicest horse in the world may have a somewhat violent reaction if there is an imbalance. Touch the back of your left hand with the four pounds of pressure to see what it feels like. Nothing. But if you applied that same pressure to a reflex point on your body that showed a positive reaction, it might feel like a bee sting or as if someone was stabbing you. Your horse will feel this as well. And we all know what horses do when they get bitten by a horse fly or stung by a bee, right? They bite or kick at the offending insect. The six points you’ll learn in this article may all result in either a bite or kick. Some horses will kick out to the side or forward toward their belly – or toward your knee if you’re not careful.

2. Stand safely - grab the mane and reach for the points
2. Stand safely – grab the mane and reach for the points

Always grab the mane with your left hand and reach for the points as shown in photo 2. Do not stand in a position that will make you vulnerable to a kick. Be sure that someone is holding the horse to prevent him from being able to reach around and bite you. Keep in mind that the horse won’t do this in anger or out of meanness. It’s just a normal reaction.

I don’t like to test reflex points on most horses when they’re in cross ties. If they have a big reaction, they may slip or jump and then panic when the cross ties are drawn tight. Until you’re accustomed to the reaction of your own horse, practice safe handling and have a trusted helper work with you.

Step 4

Let’s now learn the location of each of the first six reflex points for nutrition:

  • Calcium: Standing near your horse’s left shoulder, reach down with your thumb and press into his barrel beneath his elbow (see photo 3).
  • Potassium: Same as calcium but on the right side of the horse. You can either walk around to the other side, or after you’ve practiced and grown comfortable with it, reach under your horse’s girth area to the right side and press in toward the barrel in the appropriate spot.
  • Magnesium: Using the first two fingers on your right hand, locate the horse’s umbilicus. Pull it toward you to the left side of the horse.
  • Zinc: Move two inches back from the umbilicus and two inches proximal to the left side of the horse (toward you if you’re standing on the left side of the horse) and press up into his belly with the first two fingers of your right hand.
  • Copper: Move two inches back from the umbilicus and two inches proximal to the right side of the horse and apply upward pressure.
3. Calcium point
3. Calcium point

Step 5

What does a positive reaction look like? The horse may flinch. He may move away from you. He may try to reach around and bite at the offending spot. He may try to kick at it. You’ll know when you see it.

Step 6

Learn how minerals get out of balance and how to resolve these imbalances. This is more complicated than can be covered in detail in this article, but additional information can be found at Do your own research and learn how feeds impact the balance of nutrients in the body. And remember that less is more. If you stick to a basic program as described at the beginning of the article, it will be easier for you to keep your horse balanced.

Step 7

Determine what will resolve the imbalance. First, make sure the digestive system is functioning properly. Using a good quality probiotic will help ensure this. If imbalances still exist after a 30 to 60 day probiotic regimen, then utilize muscle testing/kinesiology to determine what products or supplements will resolve the imbalance.

What else can reflex point testing do?

Many additional minerals and vitamins as well as bodily organs can be monitored using reflex points:
• Thyroid
• B vitamins
• Digestion
• Parasite toxins
• Liver
• Selenium
• Gonads
• Kidneys
• The presence of ulcers
• Stomach
• Lungs
• The presence of viruses and bacteria Using reflex points to monitor your horse’s nutritional balance and body function is an accurate and cost effective way to help him maintain good health.

Using reflex points to monitor your horse’s nutritional balance and body function is an accurate and cost effective way to help him maintain good health.

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Sandy Siegrist is a lifelong horsewoman who practices natural horsemanship, healing and horse care techniques. She works with clients throughout the U.S. to evaluate their feeding and horsekeeping programs based on their horses’ specific needs. She also does energy work and overall health analyses, often taking in horses for more extensive rehabilitation. Sandy’s approach to horse care is based on natural and alternative therapy techniques and incorporates bio-energy testing, cranio-sacral therapy, acupressure, kinetics, herbs and flower essences, among others. Her lectures and articles address nutrition, hoof care, bodywork, worming, vaccinations, and emotional wellbeing, grounded in maintaining a more natural environment and healthcare practices .