Is your horse getting what she needs in her current diet? Does she have health concerns that could be improved through feeding practices?

If you own or care for horses, chances are you have asked yourself these questions at some point. You may have even sought out the services of an equine nutritionist to help you formulate a balanced diet for your horse.

Equine nutritionists are university-educated professionals with expertise in the feeding and management of horses. Nutritionists are trained in both practical on-farm feeding situations and the science of equine physiology and metabolism.

Whether you are designing a diet for the first time, an experienced barn manager, a competitive athlete, or a concerned horse owner caring for a horse with health concerns, this article is for you.

At Mad Barn, our nutritionists formulate thousands of diets every year for free for horse owners across North America. You can submit your horse’s information online for a free diet analysis or book a nutrition consultation by phone.

Equine Nutritionist Qualifications

The nutritionists at Mad Barn have dedicated their lives to learning how to best feed horses. Our training begins with a four-year bachelor’s degree in nutrition, animal science, or another field related to equine nutrition.

During a bachelor’s degree, we take many academic and practical courses to ensure we are well-versed in animal health, nutrition, metabolism, and management.

Following a bachelor’s degree, a nutritionist will typically complete a one- or two-year master’s degree in animal nutrition. During a master’s degree, our primary focus shifts from classroom learning to research experience.

Masters students do take advanced courses to gain a deeper understanding of nutrition and the principles of diet formulation, but we also conduct animal trials. This teaches us to execute research studies and interpret results from published literature.

At the end of a master’s degree, nutritionists complete and publish a thesis outlining everything we have learned from our research.

After a master’s degree, some nutritionists will go on to complete a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in nutrition or a related field, which can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years or more.

During a Ph.D., we still take some courses to deepen our understanding of nutrition principles, but the main focus is research. Ph.D. candidates also typically assist with teaching undergraduate courses in equine or animal science.

Ph.D. students learn how to design nutrition experiments, become proficient in executing research, and publish our findings to drive advancements in nutrition.

Having a strong theoretical grasp of nutrition, digestion, physiology and metabolism is what allows qualified nutritionists to translate experimental data into real-world feeding solutions.

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Working with an Equine Nutritionist

When you work with a nutritionist, we look at many different factors related to your horse’s current feeding program, phy