No Grain Supplements Before Showing?

by Dana Hokana | September 2nd, 2011 12:10 PM | 1 Comment

Q. In your recent article you said that, for certain horses, a few days before the show you may stop “grain supplements.”  Now, do you mean cut out grain completely…or supplements you put in the grain?  Thank You for sharing your knowlegde, I have several of your DVDs and they are fantastic!!  You techniques are well explained, VERY easy to apply & VERY effective :)


A. Dear Casey,

I’m so glad the DVD’s help you!

To answer your question, whether or not to take your horse off of grain is a very individual decision that really depends on your horse.  And what I meant was that I take my horse off of the grain, not the supplements.  Unless the supplements makes your horse high.  If that is happening, you may look for a supplement that doesn’t give your horse too much energy.  I find that when I take my horses to shows most horse’s energy level and or focus is affected, especially young horses.  If they are really high or energetic they will have a harder time focusing on their job.  The higher energy or “hotter” the food, the worse some horses get.  A lot like most kids that just ate a lot of sugar!

I have even found that some horses get high on too much alfalfa.  I have one mare that in the winter and spring when it is cooler, I put her on grass hay morning and night with a small flake of alfalfa for lunch.  The alfalfa has more protein than the grass, and a lot of protein can give horses more energy.  She had to be fed primarily grass with a good vitamin supplement.  When summer and hotter temperatures came she was fine on more alfalfa.  It has always been a balance to keep enough weight on her while not adding too much energy.

My suggestions are to get to know your own horse and also what feeds affect him.  You can vary grass/alfalfa ratio if need be, like I did.  Another suggestion is if you need more weight a low energy feed I often use Timothy pellets.  I feel Timothy pellets are a fairly high quality grass and most horses will eat them up.  Some feed stores will have to order them and I know that different parts of the country grow different types of hay.  To keep the weight on my horses I feed some straight alfalfa pellets and others a alfalfa grass mix, while others straight grass pellets.  You will just have to experiments with your feed program.  Keep in mind that if your horse is a mare her heat cycle could greatly affect her energy level as well.  Other horses get high in cooler weather and on certain feeds.  Also educate yourself as to what grains give your horses more energy.  Corn is a hotter feed while oats are much cooler.  Some grain type supplements have more energy than others.  I hope this answered your question.  These are some helpful tips that have helped me, so I hope they help you too.

Good luck to you and your horse!



About the Author

Dana Hokana is one of the top female trainers in the Quarter Horse industry, and currently operates Dana Hokana Quarter Horses in Temecula, California. Raised in Southern California, she has had a lifelong love for horses. Dana has trained multiple Western Pleasure circuit champions, winners at major futurities, and horses who have placed in the top ten in Western Pleasure at both the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Championship Show. Riding her own stallion, Invested Dimension, she captured an AQHA Reserve World Championship title in Senior Western Pleasure.

Dana’s DVD series entitled “The Winning Strides Series,” is designed to educate horse owners and riders from the basics of horse handling and horsemanship, to competing at high levels in the show arena. Skilled at teaching in an encouraging, relaxed, non-intimidating way, she carries these traits into the instruction in her video series. Dana will be a featured clinician at the Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta, and has spoken at the Equine Affaire in Pomona, California and was a clinician at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and Columbus, Ohio, focusing on topics from grooming to western pleasure.

Now is your chance to have your questions answered by Dana! Just submit your question using the comment section below or the email link, and she will respond to select questions in future posts.

One Response to “No Grain Supplements Before Showing?”

  1. Very good advice on the feed. Will try it.

Leave a Reply