Do you own or have considered owning a horse? If so, there are some considerations to keep in mind regarding feeding your horse. A consistent routine and a balanced diet with plenty of grassy forage ensures that your horse will be healthy and strong. Here are some do’s and don’ts for giving your horse a healthy, balanced diet.
A Grassy Diet
Horses rely on grasses to keep them healthy. Your horse gets this important food from grasses while grazing or by eating hay. Horses need between 1 and 2 percent of their body weight in grasses and hay per day, so it is important to keep a constant supply of hay for them to snack on so that they stay healthy.
Horses need lots of fresh water to drink to stay hydrated and healthy. On average, a horse drinks 5 to 10 gallons of water per day. If the weather is hot or your horse has a heavy workload or a lot of exercise, your horse may need much more than that. Also, make sure that your horse’s water is kept fresh by checking it daily and replacing it often.
Consistency Is Key
Horses can better digest food when it is given on a consistent basis throughout the day in a feeding routine. It is healthier for a horse to have several smaller meals per day at consistent times than to have a large meal at once. Just as meals need to be given consistently, any changes in a horse’s diet should be made slowly and consistently rather than all at once. It is also important that you are consistent in the amount of food you give your horse each day by measuring the feed.
Providing A Balanced Diet
It is important for horses to have a balanced diet. While grasses and hay should make up much of your horse’s diet, your horse may need other types of feed to balance its diet. To accomplish this, your horse’s diet can be supplemented with grain or other types of horse feed that include vitamins and minerals. This will keep your horse healthy and mitigate any health conditions.
Rewarding Your Horse with Treats
It may be tempting to give treats to your horse to show affection or to praise your horse. While treats may be appropriate for your horse sometimes, it is best to use treats sparingly. Furthermore, you should be certain that the treats you are giving your horse are not harmful or indigestible. Excessive sugar should be avoided to ensure the health of your horse.
Assessing the Feeding Needs of Your Horse
Every horse is unique; therefore, each horse’s diet is different depending on many factors. Factors that affect what and how much a horse should eat include workload, age, health condition, if it is pregnant or lactating, and weight of the horse. As a horse owner, you can assess your horse based on these factors to determine your horse’s diet. If your horse is overweight, it may need less feed than if it is underweight. Also, horses that have a heavier workload may need more supplementation of grain, vitamins, and minerals than a horse that does not have a heavy workload. Also, if your horse grazes outside, it may not need as much hay as a horse who does not graze.
Other Horse Feeding Considerations
When using hay to feed your horse, make sure that the hay is not moldy. It should be green in color and smell fresh. Also, it is better to purchase commercial feeds designed especially for horses rather than making your own feed so that there will be adequate nutrients for your horse to have a balanced diet. Ensure that grain and other feed is of good quality for a balanced diet. If you are seeking advice about your horse’s diet, you can consult with your local vet or any other horse-related professional, and they can assist you in determining what kind of diet your horse needs or to find the best quality feed.
Group Feeding and Using Feeders
If you have more than 1 horse, group feeding can be tricky. To ensure that all of your horses get the adequate amount of food, feed each horse in a separate space with at least 30 feet between each horse. This will prevent 1 horse from taking food from the other horses so that each horse has a fair chance and eats its fill. Also, feed each horse with a feeder so that food is not wasted by being dropped onto the ground while the horses are eating.
Owning a horse can be an enjoyable experience, but figuring out the best diet for each horse is complex. Following the tips outlined here will ensure that your horse stays healthy, happy, and strong for many years to come.