Rules of Feeding Horses
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 | Admin
When feeding horses we need to consider the following golden rules of feeding.
Horses are grazing animals and are designed to eat almost constantly throughout the day. Their natural feed is grass and they will normally graze for 18 hours a day.
Because of this the first golden rule of feeding is to feed little and often. This reflects the horses natural feeding pattern and ensures there is a constant passage of food through the digestive system which is critical for a healthy horse.
Feed plenty of ‘bulk’ and ‘roughage’. The natural roughage for horses is grass but when there is limited grass available, ensure that the horse has got access to good quality alternative roughage such as hay or haylage.
Feed according to the size and workload. More work requires more energy, and therefore more food. Too much food for the workload can result in the horse being overweight.
Here at Bow Wow Pets we have designed a unique feed finder to help you choose the right feed for your horse. It allows you to find feed which is designed for different workloads as follows
At rest / light work – defined as a horse which is retired, on box rest, or only undertaking the occasional light work such as hacking out two or three times per week with the occasional schooling session.
Light to Medium works describes the typical riding club horse, who is probably exercised 5 or 6 times a week undertaking a range of activities such as schooling, show-jumping and hacking. Typically such a horse may be competing once every fortnight.
Medium to Hard work. A horse who is competing regularly in Dressage, Show Jumping, Hunter Trials, One Day events and Recreational Driving is in medium work, whereas hard work describes horses that are racing, hunting, carriage driving or taking part in three day events.
Other key rules of feeding include :
Make any changes to feed gradually. Bacteria in the large intestine have to adapt to changes in the diet and sudden changes can cause some bacteria to die, produce poisons and cause metabolic disorders
Keep to the same feeding times everyday. Horses thrive on routine
Provide a constant supply of clean fresh water.
Do not feed immediately before or after fast exercise. A full stomach puts pressure on the lungs and can affect the horses breathing. Fast work results in redistribution of the blood in the body, leading to impaired digestion.