Last Updated: April 16, 2021
Most of a horse’s nutritional needs are met through foraging for hay and grass. The remainder is usually taken care of by feeding the horse grain. But as horses age, their nutritional requirements change. More supplementation is necessary than when the horse was young to help them remain in peak health. Joint support becomes important and it can become difficult for horses to consume enough with teeth that are often worn down or damaged and digestive systems that are slowing down.
Senior formula horse feed can provide the extra nutrition that your aging horse needs to remain healthy and prolong its final years. Every senior formula isn’t the same though. We wanted to determine which formulas were the best for old horses, able to meet all of their nutritional needs without leaving room for deficiencies. So, we decided to test out all the most popular top brands and formulas to see how they compare. We had some interesting findings during our testing, which we’ll share with you in the following five reviews.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 5 Best Senior Horse Feeds – Reviews 2020
1. Tribute Equine Nutrition Seniority Horse Feed – Best Overall
It’s not too often that our top pick happens to be one of the most affordably priced, but that’s the case with the Tribute Equine Nutrition Seniority Horse Feed. Not that we picked it for the low price; that’s just a nice bonus. We actually chose this formula as our favorite for many reasons, including the high amounts of essential fatty acids that it contains, helping to keep your aging horse’s coat in top condition.
Unlike many horse feeds, this blend can be used as a total feed and can even replace foraging for old horses that simply can’t forage enough anymore. It contains everything a senior horse needs for complete health, including lots of digestible fiber. Further aiding in digestive health is the microencapsulated active dry yeast in this blend that acts as a probiotic and prebiotic.
This feed is advertised as being very low in non-structural carbohydrates, abbreviated NSC, but at 18%, it’s not quite as low as we’d like. Still, it’s the right combination of nutrition and affordability, which is why this senior horse feed from Tribute Equine Nutrition tops our list.
2. Buckeye Nutrition Safe N’ Easy Complete Senior Horse Feed – Best Value
If you’re looking for a senior horse feed that’s priced fairly and offers excellent value, we think you’ll be satisfied with the Safe N’ Easy Complete Senior Horse Feed from Buckeye Nutrition. This blend is one of the more affordable options we tested, though it’s certainly not lacking in nutrition. That said, it is a bit lower in protein than other blends, but it’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make.
Though it’s low in protein, this formula is not lacking in fiber with a total of 22% crude fiber and 45% neutral detergent fiber to keep an aging horse’s digestive system in balance. Plus, the ingredients list is very short, so you won’t be overloading your horse with ingredients and supplements, making this blend easier on your horse’s digestion than other blends.
Despite the low number of ingredients, this horse feed is packed with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and even fortified with vitamin E and selenium. There’s no corn or molasses though, which is how they manage to keep the NSC content to a mere 12.5%. We think it’s the best senior horse feed for the money, and we’re confident naming it the best value.
3. Buckeye Nutrition Senior Balancer Senior Horse Feed – Premium Choice
The Senior Balancer Horse Feed from Buckeye Nutrition is quite a bit pricier than alternatives, but it also offers loads of nutrition for any aging horse. Your horse’s joints have been taking a beating for many years, which is why this formula is loaded with MSM, vitamins, and minerals that are all meant to provide joint support. Plus, this blend is extremely high in protein, 32%, ensuring your horse can always recover from the day.
Beyond the standard nutrients that all horses require, this blend includes extra antioxidants, selenium, and vitamins such as E and C to support immune health. Additional essential fatty acids also help maintain your horse’s coat. Though it’s loaded with nutrients, the ingredients list for this feed is quite short, ensuring that it’s not packed with second-rate foods and overstuffed with supplements.
The downside is that this feed isn’t a total feed solution; your horse will still need to forage. Rather, it’s a balancer, offering the specific nutrition senior horses need that isn’t met by foraging alone. If your horse can’t forage, then you’ll need another option. But if your aging horse can still forage, then the nutritional benefits it offers are outstanding.
4. Bluebonnet Feeds Horsemans Elite Senior Care
Affordably priced and packed with nutrition, the Horseman’s Elite Senior Care feed from Bluebonnet Feeds is a total diet replacement that offers your senior horse all of the nutrients it requires. If necessary, this can even be your horse’s sole nutrition, replacing foraging and grain. It’s got plenty of protein for your horse to recover and retain muscle strength at 14%. Plus, the 21% crude fiber ensures that your horse’s digestive system keeps functioning as it should.
Since absorption of nutrients becomes more difficult as a horse ages, this blend contains organic trace minerals. They improve the absorption of nutrients in the feed to allow peak performance. But we did notice that there’s a definite lack of essential fatty acids in this formula, which is why it just missed a spot in our top three.
5. Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm N’ EZ Horse Feed
As far as pricing goes, the Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Feed from Tribute Equine Nutrition is one of the most affordable senior blends we’ve seen. Based on price alone, we thought it would be a top contender for best value. Once we dove in though, we noticed some glaring flaws with this blend.
Compared to other formulas, this one is quite high in NSC with more than 14%. Considering the fact that it’s advertised as a low-NSC feed, we expected the concentration of NSC to be lower. But when you look at the ingredients list, things become more apparent. This list is quite long, packed with names you probably don’t recognize, like hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate, or dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product.
Though it’s got one of the longest ingredients lists we’ve seen on a senior horse feed, this blend isn’t a complete feed. It can’t replace forage, only supplement it. You will find plenty of protein and fiber in this blend, as well as yeast that acts as probiotic and prebiotic, but that’s not enough to redeem this feed given all its other drawbacks.
If choosing the right feed formula for your senior horse was as easy as just searching online and picking a blend, then you wouldn’t need this list in the first place. The problem is, it can be difficult to compare different blends and understand what benefits they might provide for your horse. That’s exactly why this buyer’s guide was written; to help you understand how to choose between different senior horse feeds.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Feed for Senior Horses
As you’ll notice, there are many differences between the horse feeds on this list. Just look at the ingredients lists of these blends and you’ll see some stark contrasts. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most important differences between formulas so that you can use this information to make a more informed decision about which blend is best for your horse.
Non-structural carbohydrates, or NSC, are the big buzz in horse feeds. The most popular horse feeds are now advertised as having low NSC, though this isn’t always the case. Essentially, non-structural carbohydrates are starches and sugars, which aren’t great for a horse to consume in high amounts. High NSC foods can lead to hyperactivity in horses, and can also cause stomach issues. For horses with metabolic problems, high NSC feed can even increase their risk of laminitis.
One look at the ingredients list of any horse feed can tell you a lot about it. First, the length of the list is significant. Shorter ingredients lists mean there weren’t all sorts of extra things stuffed in, while long ingredients lists generally contain some questionable inclusions. By questionable, we mean ingredients that you might not have even heard of before! We always prefer blends with short ingredient lists filled with ingredients we know. Simple is generally best.
Fiber is essential for maintaining proper digestive health; especially as your horse gets up in years. The best blends contain a minimum of 20% crude fiber, though they also often contain other types of fiber, such as neutral detergent fiber, which is considered a structural carbohydrate.
Protein is essential for all animals, including horses. In your horse’s body, protein helps to transport nutrients in the bloodstream, regulate metabolic function, and minimize fluctuations in body pH. Furthermore, it helps recover from hard work while building and maintaining muscle.
Our favorite blends contain at least 14% protein. But as your horse ages, its protein needs continue to increase, which is why some of the best senior blends contain as much as 32% protein.
Your horse has been walking around on the same four legs for its entire life. Not just walking, mind you, but often carrying heavy loads, including you, and even running at incredible speeds, sometimes even with those loads on board. While a horse’s joints are built to withstand this, the abuse still takes its toll. For this reason, we think it’s vital to offer your senior horse a feed that includes specific joint support, including vitamins and minerals, as well as supplements like MSM.
In addition to joint support, aging horses require support to keep their immune systems functioning. Various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be included in a feed to help boost an aging horse’s immune system. We consider this to be a necessary addition, and all of our favorite senior horse feeds include immune-boosting nutrients.
Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids that your horse needs to consume. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation, aid in muscle contraction, and also keep your horse’s coat looking shiny and healthy.
Total Feed vs Balancer
Several of the blends on this list are total feeds, but the others are just balancers. So, what’s the difference? Well, a total feed offers a complete nutritional solution for your senior horse. A total feed can even replace foraging for horses that either can’t get enough through foraging or can’t forage any longer. A balancer helps to provide the nutrition that your horse isn’t getting from foraging, though a balancer can’t replace foraging. If your horse still gets a lot of its nutrition from foraging, then go with a balancer. But if your horse can’t forage anymore or isn’t getting enough nutrition from its foraging, then opt for a total feed solution instead.
A quick internet search will reveal that there’s no shortage of feeds for senior horses. Your options are many, but not every product will meet your horse’s needs to the same degree. In our search for the best senior horse feed, we finally settled on three that we feel confident recommending. You’ve read about them in our reviews, but we’re going to summarize them once more so they’re fresh in your mind.
The Seniority Pellet Horse Feed from Tribute Equine Nutrition was our favorite overall. It’s a total feed that can replace foraging, so it’s high in digestible fiber and loaded with essential fatty acids. Furthermore, it’s reasonably priced and offers a probiotic and prebiotic in the form of microencapsulated active dry yeast.
For the best value, we suggest the Buckeye Nutrition Safe ‘N Easy Complete blend. This formula is packed with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It’s even fortified with vitamin E and selenium. There’s no corn or molasses though, and it’s more affordable than most alternatives.
And with MSM, vitamins, and minerals for joint support and one of the shortest ingredients lists we’ve seen, the Senior Balancer Joint Support Feed from Buckeye Nutrition is our premium pick.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.