Bran mash is an old horseman’s trick to soothe a tired, sick, or stressed horse. We feed a bran mash after a tough weekend competing, before and after shipping long distances, after foaling, or if dehydration is a worry.
Bran is a mild laxative and it easy to digest. We use it in our barn once a week as a preventative measure to ward off digestive ills. It’s also easier to chew for our senior citizens with compromised teeth.
Fed more than once a week, bran can upset the calcium-phosphorus balance in a horse’s system. If your horse has a specific medical condition, please check with your veterinarian. This Horse Health article on feeding bran mashes from the American Associate of Equine Practitioners goes into detail on nutrional concerns.
Recipes are as many as there are horsepeople, but there are some traditional essentials: wheat bran, linseed oil, and salt. And these are “eyeball” recipes. No need for an exact measure.
4 – 8 cups of wheat bran
1 tablespoon – ½ cup flaxseed (linseed) oil (depending on your horse’s taste)
… a couple of glugs will do.
1 – 2 tablespoons salt or your horse’s favorite electrolyte
… or a small palmful.
- sliced carrots
- sliced apples
- unsweetened applesauce
- whatever treat will please your horse’s palate
How To Put It Together
- Heat up water. Hot water from the tap in a plastic milk gallon container works well.
- Put the dry ingredients in your horse’s feed bucket.
- Add the water, stirring with a spoon, sweat scraper, or your arm in a pinch. The consistency should be anywhere from oatmeal to soupy. My thoroughbred likes it really soupy. He submerges his nose and generally comes out with bran from his eyes on down.
- Add your optional goodies.
- Serve to your grateful horses.
- Bask in the soothing sounds of their muching.