Customized Feeding Program for Each Horse at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch | SLO Horse News

Customized Feeding Program for Each Horse at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch

A customized feeding program for each horse sets SLO Sage and Spur Ranch apart from other boarding facilities. Sarah Judson, barn owner, works with every horse owner to come up with the best feeding program for each horse.

Sarah has been managing a variety of horses for 20 years. She knows that each horse is different and does best with a specialized diet. Therefore, the cost of hay is not in the base price for boarding at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch. The base boarding price includes the facility use and stall cleaning.


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Instead, each owner pays for the hay and feed their horse consumes. This saves money for easy keepers, keeps costs manageable for heavy feeders by using supplements, and retired horses get the special diets and feedstuffs they need.

Developing the Customized Feeding Program for Each Horse

So how does Sarah manage the wide variety of feeding programs for her whole barn?

Working with the owner and the vet Sarah develops the best feeding program for each horse. “About 75% of owners know what their horse needs. We advise the other 25%,” explains Sarah. “Most of our horses are eating orchard grass with alfalfa.”

Sarah continues, “We give each plan about three months to see how it goes, then we reevaluate if needed. The vet also makes sure each horse is up on its dental work, is treated for sand and stays on a worming program.”

“We buy all our hay from Premier Ag in Paso Robles. We love them!” exclaims Sarah. “The nutritional content of each type of hay sold through Premier Ag is posted on their website. Premier Ag buys their hay in very large batches. So even though I only buy hay once a month, the consistency is the same. It’s like having a huge hay barn available to us.” This means there is no adjustment period with a new batch of hay. “They have a good price and we bill our clients what we are charged.”

Adding Supplements

For supplements Sarah’s go-to brand is Nutrena. “We’ve tested several products with our own case studies. We use those products based on what the overall goal is. We can also try other options.”

Customized Feeding Program for each Life Stage

Senior Horses

“We’ve managed several senior horses here,” states Sarah. “Seniors struggle as the progression of time takes a toll on their teeth, and Cushings often sets in. These horses lose their top line and overall body condition, which often means more feed is needed. The loss of teeth causes balling of the hay which can result in choke or impaction colic. Cushings also causes hair loss and loss of conditioning.

Isaac has recently switched from hay to hay cubes. Listen to Sarah describe the choice and process.

That is why Sarah monitors each senior horse and knows what to look for. She then discusses the suggested change with the owner and incorporates feedback from the vet. Horses with senior symptoms are slowly transitioned off hay and onto cubes/pellets. This also enables the addition of meds to help each the senior horse manage the symptoms of Cushings.

Casper is a Super Senior at 35 years of age. His specialized feeding program keeps him healthy and happy.

Easy Keeper Horses

The opposite side of the spectrum from Senior horses are the Easy Keepers. Even horses who are easy keepers need a customized feeding program.  Too much weight on a horse can take a toll on the joints, limbs and feet. Sarah keeps her eye on the easy keepers just the same as the seniors and the working horses.

Abby, a mustang, gains weight easily. Sarah explains her feeding program that keeps the weight managed.
Rosie needs a low calorie diet to match her low activity life to keep her healthy.

Performance and Working Horses

Horses in full training through moderate exercise must also have their nutritional needs met for peak performance. A customized feeding program is developed for their needs too. Sarah shows her own horse on the Jumper Circuit so she personally knows the value of a customized feeding program.

Consider SLO Sage and Spur Ranch for Your Horse

SLO Sage and Spur Ranch is located within the very south end of the SLO City Limits with access through Arroyo Grande. They offer hands-on personalized care for each horse on their facility. Horses in the barn get turnout time every day. There is a well-maintained arena, a round pen and a trail that goes around the property. A beautiful oak tree shade canopy makes for a lovely cover for the horses throughout the facility.

Sarah will even stuff the hay nets for horses who need a slow-feed eating option!


Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos

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