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Focusing on the health of horses: Total Equine mixes high quality nutrition with happy, healthy horses

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

When Harry Anderson was approached by a veterinarian about developing a single formula that could feed all equine that walk the earth, he knew he had his work cut out for him.

After some research and trial and error, Anderson developed Total Equine, which is a feed for all horses that meets all of their nutritional requirements.

“I developed a philosophy that all animals have the same cells in their body, so I needed to find out the basic nutrition those cells need and get it to those cells in the different animal bodies,” the animal nutritionist explained.

Focus on feed

By 2000, Anderson had developed his formula.

“I focused on feed efficiency because it is the one number that tells me how much I get out of a feed for what is put into it,” he explained. “We can make an animal more efficient by manipulating something in their diet. What is important in equine nutrition is to meet the nutritional needs of the horse and determine how to most effectively get those nutrients into the equine body.”

The horse takes in fiber through what it eats. The fiber goes into the true stomach first, then into the small intestine. There, the horse can only utilize the soluble parts of that fiber and the non-structural carbohydrates. The rest of the fiber goes beyond the small intestine into the cecum and colon to be further utilized.

“Once the feed gets past the small intestine, digestion is limited in the hind gut,” he said.

Changing digestion

Anderson’s challenge was how to change that digestion process since the horse doesn’t have a chance to utilize a lot of the micronutrients it takes in in grass and hay, he said.

In fact, some horses practice coprophagy, which is eating their own feces, because they are deficient in B vitamins, he explained. Sometimes, foals will eat their mother’s feces to seed their digestive tract with the same bacteria the mare has or if they also have a vitamin B deficiency.

So, Anderson set out to find a way to make fiber more digestible in horses.

Through research, he found giving bacteria in the cecum and the colon the same nutrients as a cell would make them grow faster and actually proliferate the natural bacteria that are there.

“The key is, there is only fiber there for them to eat, so they eat it faster,” he explained.

With this system, the horse may get 70 percent more out of every pound they eat. If they are fed correctly, horses may do well on 30 percent less hay than what they normally eat.

Trace mineral importance

“The critical part of this equation is trace minerals,” Anderson continued. “When we look at the ingredients on a feed tag, look for words like zinc oxide, which is only 15 percent bio-available.”

“Zinc sulfate is 70 percent bio-available, and the zinc amino acid complex is 80 to 85 percent bio-available,” he explained. “I started using zinc amino acids in feedlot cattle diets in the mid-70s. A lot of nutritionists and feed companies wouldn’t use it because it costs too much money, but it is a very good product.”

Joint capsules depend on the rebuilding of complex molecules. Those molecules depend on one or more trace minerals to start the reaction, he said. The most important trace minerals are copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iron, cobalt and magnesium. 

“Ideally, we should find at least four of these in the chelated form to have maximum efficiency in effect for those trace minerals,” he explained.

“Many people won’t use magnesium in the diet because it has to be utilized in large amounts, and it is expensive,” Anderson continued. “However, when I was formulating a total feed, my primary goal was to develop a product that gave the horse the best performance and kept it healthy.”

“Nutrition may not be cheap,” he stated.

Across the age range

Anderson said it was a challenge developing a feed product that could meet the needs of a baby, a working horse and a geriatric horse with one set of nutrients. But once he developed the formula, he found he could feed each one of these horses the same product by varying the amount of formula they eat.

Basically, a 1,000-pound horse can be fed four pounds of Total Equine a day, and hay consumption can be expected to drop 30 percent.

“They will have extra room in the gut, but they are getting all the nutrition they need,” Anderson said.

The amount of feed the horse is given can be adjusted upward based on workload and weight of the animal. Anderson has foals that will eat this feed at two days of age, and he starts them with two pounds.

A 1,000-pound pregnant mare will need six pounds of the feed during the last three months of pregnancy.

The horse should be fed free-choice quality hay and salt with this product.

He explained, “The nutrient concentration of this feed is a higher concentration amount of the total, which is how we meet the animal’s needs.”

Total Equine now has 1,100 dealers in 47 states. For more information about Total Equine, visit or

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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