In partnership with SPILLERS™

Forage only diets can easily meet or exceed calorie requirements for good doers but may fall short of key nutrients including copper, zinc, selenium, vitamin E and lysine (an essential amino acid). While this is true for any horse, nutrient intake may be particularly compromised in overweight horses as a cutting back on calories may involve:

  • Restricting or removing grazing
  • Feeding lower nutritional value forage
  • Feeding soaked hay – soaking results in some loss of vitamins, minerals and soluble protein
  • Feeding straw as a partial replacement for hay/ haylage

The good news is that providing a balanced diet is one of the easier aspects of managing good doers, with balancers being the ideal way to provide essential nutrients without compromising your horse’s waistline.

What is a balancer?

Balancers are small, nutrient dense feeds (normally pellets), designed to provide a concentrated supply of vitamins, minerals and amino acids (quality protein).

Due to the low feeding rate – typically 500g per day for a 500kg horse on a forage only diet – they contribute minimal calories, starch and sugar to the diet, making them ideal for good doers and suitable for laminitics too.

Although they can be fed on their own, feeding your balancer alongside a small amount of low calorie chaff or mash will help to bulk out the bucket and slow eating time.

The truth about ‘lite’ balancers

In the supermarket, ‘lite’ typically means lower in calories so you could be forgiven for assuming that the same applies to balancers but in truth, the daily serving of a ‘lite’ balancer is not significantly lower in calories than any other (stud balancers are an exception to this rule).

Armed with this knowledge you may find yourself questioning why you might choose a ‘lite’ balancer and the answer will depend on the product you choose. Some ‘lite’ balancers are specifically formulated for horses on a calorie restricted diet and in particular, contain high levels of the essential amino acids lysine and vitamin E. Some even contain added functional ingredients to help support a healthy metabolism too such as SPILLERS Lite & Lean Balancer.

On the other hand, consider balancers without probiotic live yeast. Live yeast may help to improve fibre digestion in the hindgut and while this might sound like a good thing, improving digestive efficiency yields more calories! In fact, recent research found that in weight loss resistant ponies, microflora involved in fibre digestion may adapt to become more prevalent/ more efficient!

Avoid balancers containing added iron

Iron deficiency in horses is extremely rare and forage typically exceeds requirements, even in horses fed restricted rations. As Iron is also one of the few minerals that can be harmful at relatively low levels, it’s sensible to avoid any unnecessary excess intake.

For more help or advice contact the SPILLERS Care-Line on 01908 226626 or visit

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