Confessions of a Horse Riding Mum: Feeding the Family

Someone vaguely commented to me the other day, as I was handing over some astronomical sum of money for “god knows what” (as my darling other half would say) at the local feed store, that if my children ate as well as my horses did I must be a very good mother.

I, of course, nodded and smiled and modestly shrugged my shoulders, silently acknowledging my obvious maternal prowess.

As I ran my eye down the docket, making sure I hadn’t missed anything of massive importance (and deliberately missing the massive tally down the bottom. Sometimes denial is the key to sanity) it occurred to me that she was probably right.

“If” though would be the key word in that statement. “If” my children ate as well as my horses. Hmmm.

At the moment I have five horses to feed of varying ages, sizes, breeds and workloads. The skinny OTTB seems to need 20 times what the welsh pony does (despite only being twice the size), the older jumper needs more energy, the young horse needs less, and then there’s the vitamin and mineral supplements, the oils, the electrolytes, the natural herbs and ulcer prevention, this one can’t deal with too much protein, that one can’t have too much starch….is it any wonder that, on occasion, the human kids are lucky to be handed a tin of baked beans and a fork and told “it’ll be fun! Just pretend we’re camping!”

And then of course there are the treats. I’m not a big fan of feeding treats. At least not to the horses at any rate. (An experience that I had, many years ago, of nearly losing half my hand to a young horse who had been “over-treated” made me rethink my treating mentality!).

Sure the kids can wear me down enough to cave in and buy them the latest sugary fad bit of deliciousness but no, none of my horses will ever see a sugar cube while in my care! It’s all fruit and veg, natural, organic, nothing but the best all the way. I figure that at least children can brush their teeth and if they start trying to bite my hand off, well, in that case I think we have bigger problems than what they’re eating to be perfectly honest.

Not all treats are created equal of course and my favourites at the moment are the Hygain Smoochies*, but perhaps not for the reasons one might think.

You see, technically, these little bite size snacks that are oh so popular with my four legged crew, are also natural and preservative free enough that we, the humans I mean, can actually eat them without dying a terrible death (I know this one first hand as I’ve tried them).

With this in mind, I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t occurred to me on the odd occasion (usually towards the end of the week when I’m trying to hold off doing the weekly shop until AFTER I’ve bought the horse feed) when the breakfast cereal situation is looking grim and a packet of Smoochies has been lying around….I wonder would they notice if I served them up a bowl of fenugreek goodness? Honestly, as long as it was smothered in honey and milk my kids would eat just about anything. (NB: Just for the record, please don’t do this. I can’t afford to be sued and it definitely is NOT on the packet that Smoochies are a suitable substitute breakfast cereal for children!)

Maybe that’s the key though – the kids need to develop some allergies and specific dietary requirements and then maybe their diet will receive the same level of attention as the fur kids! In the meantime, I think I’ll just appreciate the fact that they are allergy free, healthy and resilient little beings.

And cost less to feed each week than the horses.

*Yes, these are available from Equestrian Hub’s website, but this is not a shameless plug – I don’t have any kind of vested interest in Smoochies, I just genuinely like the things!

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