Anyone know anything about holistic _prepared_ horse feeds?
As in, something that some respectable, legitimate equine professional tests routinely and finds to be balanced, healthy, consistent, safe, reliable, etc., but that isn't made from leftover bits and pieces of grain and hay, mixed with sugar and squished into pellets. :-)
I'm wondering if there is a bagged (ie, easy, one-stop-shopping) grain product to help horse keep weight in the winter and get vitamins horse might not be getting from forage (pasture and hay), while still being true to some sort of natural-ish diet.
This definition would vary gigantically depending upon the individual horse, wouldn't it? What's healthy, safe and balanced for one horse might be completely unsuitable for another. Tough thing to ask from one feed, since horse nutrition is anything but "one size fits all".
You have to really sort of prioritize what is MOST important for the individual horse (AND owner). Some people are freaked out by ingredient lists that include the words "processed" or "middlings", while others are not. Some people are sold on the "fixed formula" idea, while others realize that oats are not necessarily oats and that even with this type of process there is no guarantee of absolute consistency from bag to bag.
It's probably worth remembering that many, many horses can get by just beautifully on little or no concentrate. Most horses can keep their weight, even in the winter, with unlimited hay and maybe a little bit of fat or alfalfa, and there are plenty of vitamin/mineral supplements out there to fill in the gaps in a largely grain-free program.
I agree that there is no one size fits all for grain-type feeds. Let me correct myself by asking for recommendations for a relatively simple, relatively unprocessed (compared to feeds that are heavily processed and extruded and mashed-together-with-long-lists-of-mysterious-ingredients) organic, approvable-by-natural-horsekeeping-types, bagged feed that as far as anyone knows, a number of horses haved seemed to do well on, such that it is worth looking into.
Whew, best of luck on that one. Organic is such a complicated thing when you really look at it closely. To find a multiple-ingredient product with ALL organic ingredients is challenging. The Gooseberry brand mentioned above is the only one I've ever heard of.
But in all honesty, "extruded" is not inherently harmful, and even rolled oats are, technically speaking, "processed". As to mysterious ingredients, well, I read the labels on all the feeds I buy (even extruded ones, oh no!) and have no difficulty whatsoever interpreting what is meant by things like beet pulp, soy hulls, corn, molasses, wheat middlings, yeast, etc. Most of the chemical-sounding stuff is just vitamins and minerals. Nothing mysterious about it! Certainly less mystery there than some of the things growing in my pastures that are eaten by my horses.
But if you really want to stick with closest-to-nature, you're probably better off buying individual grains from organic farmers and mixing your own.
Natural horsekeeping--an oxymoron in the 21st century unless you have access to thousands of acres of harsh, sparse upper-elevation plains for grazing them. And no grain of any sort, ever. And wolves.
Hay is a "prepared" feed. It doesn't mow, dry, bale, or stack itself. It might even qualify as being "processed."
One of the things I learned early on is that you "feed to need." If you're feeding a lactating brood mare you'll have a different program from feeding a retired "pasture ornament" gelding. Indeed you'll have a different challenge with a working lacatating brood mare and a non-working lactatating brood mare.
I'm not a believer in either "organic" or "holistic." Both adjectives, IMO, are applied to things to goad the "great unwashed" into buying overpriced stuff that may or may not have any real value over products from Checkerboard Square. But people get to spend their money as they want; if they make a public production out of it they may get a "negative" comment.
If you're buying quality hay and your not feeding brood stock or racers (flat, endurance speep chasing, etc.) or other really athletic horses then you're likely not to need anything beyond a good quality hay. It can even have some...gasp...alfalfa in it!!!!!
So review your work program then decide what you feed to horse so that it can do the work.