What’s In Your Feed Room?

Hello! My name is Nicole Mandracchia and I have been a head groom/rider/manager/assistant on the A-show circuit for over ten years. I have worked for many different individuals during that time period, including Grand Prix rider Robin Rost Brown, FEI four-in-hand driver James Fairclough, top equitation trainer Val Renihan, and top hunter rider Amanda Steege. I have helped care for all different types of horses from beginner levels all the way up to FEI Grand Prix and Driving horses. In order for each horse to be successful at their job, they need a specific diet and exercise plan tailored to them. So, let’s talk about the feed room’s impact on these horses! 

The Barn Manager

The job of a show manager or assistant trainer is to help design the best plan/preparation for each horse so that they look and feel their best. When the horses are performing the best that they can, I know I have done my job properly. Being aware of each horse on a daily basis and paying attention to every detail about him/her is crucial.

Universal Questions

I’ve had people tell me over the years that extra supplements and oils are unnecessary because the horse’s grain should provide all of the nutrition for them. While this could be true, think about it this way: do you take vitamins/supplements? Does your current diet provide you with all of the necessary vitamins/minerals without any added help? (If your answer is yes, you are a better person than me!) Do you have allergies (food, plant, environment, etc.)? Do you have a vitamin deficiency that requires you to take extra supplements? Our show horses are ATHLETES and need to be treated as such. Therefore, it is our job to realize when they need extra help nutritionally. Each horse is an individual, just like people.

Personal Preferences

From my experience, most barns run into the same problems with the show horses: how do we help prevent ulcers, enhance joint care, promote healthy coat and skin, and maintain healthy hooves? There are so many products on the market nowadays to help with all of these ailments individually, but it is increasingly difficult to find one company that has products to help treat ALL of these ailments. Until Excel Supplements came into play.

ExcelEQ ProElite™ natural oils have a balance of essential omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids (which help to build a strong immune system), up to 45% of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), antioxidants, sterols, and polyphenols, which helps promote the health and longevity of your horse. Their main source is Camelina oil, which is grown and cultivated by Excel themselves. All of their products are 100% natural and GMO-free. You are feeding your horse a supplement that is beneficial for them with no added chemicals or preservatives. These supplements are also 100% FEI safe; this company does every step of the supplement process themselves, from the seeds to the shipping.

Drop in on the feed room

 “I was immediately hooked on ExcelEQ ProElite  – anything that helps me do my job is worth it!” 

The Proof Is in The Pudding

This past winter at Amanda Steege’s Ashmeadow Farm, we gave the ExcelEQ ProElite™ oil a try and I saw results almost immediately. I have had experience with using wheat germ oils or rice bran oil to make a horse’s coat shine, but the ExcelEQ ProElite™ made their coats glisten in the Florida sun. We had some of the shiniest horses at HITS Ocala, and even when the horses shedded out, the hair that grew back in was healthy and soft, not wiry and fuzzy. Ulcers are a constant worry, but our massage therapist noticed that all of our horses’ ulcer points had a minimal reaction, if none at all (extra intestinal protection is found in the ExcelEQ ProElite™ Supplement). All of the horses were moving better overall with limited stiffness and their muscle condition was excellent. 

Our farrier commented on how well the horses’ feet were staying together. Over my years on the road, I’ve had several horses that have a vitamin E deficiency or are prone to azutoria, also known as “tying up.” I did notice that the ExcelEQ ProElite™ helped with one horse we have at Ashmeadow Farm that is always very muscle-tight. She was not as tense or tight in her muscles on the first or second days of showing, which helped her win multiple competitive hack classes. She also recovered a lot faster after showing, not getting as stiff and tense as normal. I was immediately hooked on ExcelEQ ProElite™—anything that helps me do my job is worth it! 

Get Organized

Living on the road is increasingly becoming the norm for show barns across the country. Many spend their winters in Florida and then migrate back to their rented barns or farms, spending the summer/fall traveling from show to show on the East or West Coasts. It is very hard to stay organized on the road and requires a lot of time, patience, and work in order to do so!

Your Feed Room

  I always gravitate toward the feed room due to its organization. Everyone does things differently, but in most barns we see similarities: each feed room should have proper shelving for labeled supplements, electrolytes, and various medications, garbage cans with fitted lids or proper canisters for grain or any type of grain “dressings,” space for hay storage that is lifted slightly off the floor to ensure no water starts to create mold on the hay, and tidy cabinets or storage boxes that allow for extra items to each have a place out of the way of the rest of the barn. Grain buckets should also be stacked and labeled with each horse’s name on them so grooms do not become confused and accidentally give the wrong grain to the wrong horse. If you’re very detail-oriented like me, you can also color-code the buckets and scrub them out once a week!

I treat my feed room as my office—I keep everything important in there and I always make sure to lock it up if we’re at a horse show. At home or at a show, I never leave my feed room floor dirty. That’s inviting unwanted guests (mice, raccoons, squirrels, etc.) into my feed room. They can contaminate not only my grain but my supplements and medications as well. I can take the extra five minutes to sweep it out every day. It will save me work in the long run.

Nicole Mandracchia with Brown Horse
Being the organized nut that I am, I love supplements that come in their own buckets or drawers for easy dispensing. ExcelEQ ProElite™ comes in a large container with a pump, which makes adding it to each horse’s grain very simple. It’s also easy to ship this product to horse shows because it can easily fit on a trailer without me having to worry about it leaking: the pump is removable and the cap goes right back on until we reach our destination. All of the ExcelEQ™ products have vitamin E in them, which consists of Gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocopherol. The Gamma-tocopherol is in high concentration, which helps improve the ExcelEQ™ oil’s shelf life. Out of all of the other oils you can give to your horse (flax, fish oil, etc.), ExcelEQ™ has the longest shelf life, which means it won’t go bad in a short period of time. These are just a few reasons why you should think about trying the Excel line of supplements. In my next blog, I will cover what exactly Camelina oil is and how it is beneficial for your horse. Until next time!

About the Author

Nicole Mandracchia

Nicole Mandracchia (aka “Smiley”) lives and breathes horses and horse shows. She rode and showed in Zone 2 as a junior, attended Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, and competed on their IHSA and ANRC teams. Nicole spent over fifteen years grooming, managing, and riding for several top professionals in the industry, including: Robin Rost Brown, Val Renihan, Missy Clark and John Brennan’s North Run, and Amanda Steege. She regularly follows the A-rated horse show circuit up and down the East Coast, including Florida and all the major indoor finals. Nicole is also a frequent blogger for The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.


Nicole received five grooming awards throughout her career: The Sussex County Farm and Horse Show (2013), two at The Capital Challenge Horse Show (2018), WEF (2019), and The National Horse Show (2019). Nicole’s most memorable indoors’ experience was at The 2018 National Horse Show when both of the horses she was grooming claimed a tricolor in their respective divisions. Lafitte de Muze was champion in the Green 3’6″ Green Hunter division, and Zara was reserve champion in the 3’6″ Green Conformation Hunter division. In addition to her barn duties, Nicole helped run a successful A-rated and C-rated horse show series in Augusta, NJ. Nicole owns a Dalmatian named Maddie, and her boyfriend, Lee, also works the horse show scene as an in-gate starter. Writing is a passion of hers and she enjoys sharing tips, funny stories, and advice on anything horse-related!

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