6 Horse Feeding Basics and What to Avoid Doing

Feeding a horse can be hard work, but just easily as confusing. Plus, with the number of feeds you have to choose from, you have to remember that no two horses eat the same. In this article, we will be talking about six horse feeding basics and why they’re important.

1. What do You Want Your Horse to Weight?

horse weight

Do you want to reduce, increase, or maintain your horse’s weight due to diet or health restrictions? If so, the best way to shape your horse’s weight based on their feed is to make a feeding plan to help fulfill their weight goals. Overall, whether you are looking to reduce or increase your horse’s weight you should be focusing on their waistline.

2. Feed Your Horse Plenty of Carbs


Carbohydrates such as grass and hay are instrumental to a healthy diet for a horse. This is mainly why horses eat so much grass and hay as their primary source of food and sustenance. As a matter of fact, horses should eat roughly two percent of their body weight in hay, or about 15-20 pounds each day to maintain their weight. However, at the same time, you should make sure that your horse’s fees are dust and mold-free.

3. Only Feed Your Horse Bad Carbs in Moderation

Nonstructural “bad” carbs, such as corn, barley, and oats are just as important to your horse’s diet as good carbs are. You should feed your horse plenty of grain throughout the day. In fact, horses should eat at least a half pound of grain per 100 pounds of their body weight.

You should also make sure to feed your horse grain up to three times throughout the day, just make sure you’re giving the right amount at each feeding. Plus, if the weather is humid, you should work on feeding your horse during the cooler parts of the day, such as the afternoon, rather than the morning and evening.

4. Include Minerals, Proteins, and Fat in Your Horse’s Diet When Needed

Even though your horse will get plenty of calories from grass and hay aka healthy carbs, you should feed your horse fortified feed to help them with their nutritional needs. Minerals, proteins, and fat are crucial to your horse’s diet, although not in high amounts.

If you’re worried that your horse isn’t getting enough minerals and vitamins from their feed, you should try supplementing them with special vitamins. Just avoid overfeeding your horse too many vitamins, or it may get sick and cause a deficiency.

5. Offer Treats Sparingly

horse treat

Moderation should always be practiced when it comes to treats. Treats are a great way to reward your horse and create a lasting bond with them as well. However, this does not mean that they should be given all the time. Try not to go overboard with them. If you do, they may begin to expect treats all the time or start to look around for treats in your clothing.

If you are looking for healthy treat options, consider giving your horse:

  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Watermelon rinds
  • Green beans

Even though all of these fresh foods make excellent rewards for horses, they are not good all of the time.

6. Water

Because they are so large, horses drink a lot of water every day. An adult, normal sized horse will drink between five and ten gallons of water each day in order to remain healthy. The amount of water a horse needs will depend on a few factors. These factors can include hot temperatures, sweating, humidity, exercise, pregnancy, and nursing. Consuming more hay can also increase the amount of water your horse needs to drink. This can sometimes be up to three or four times more water.

The right amount of water for your horse largely depends on their specific needs. Just make sure that they have plenty of access to fresh, cool water. Generally, a horse will consume two quarts of water for every half pound of hay they eat. All you need to do is ensure they have access, they will take care of the rest.

If your horse does not have access to enough water, they may experience health issues. This puts them at a higher risk of impaction colic. If they do not drink water for a long time, they risk brain damage, kidney failure, and organ shutdown.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make sure that your horse is having their dietary needs met. If you are still unsure about how to feed your horse, talk with your horse’s veterinarian or an equine nutritionist. They can help you to determine the best diet and ensure that it meets all of your horse’s nutritional needs.

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