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  • Good Feeding Practices for Horses and Ponies

Good Feeding Practices for Horses and Ponies

Good Feeding Practices for Horses and Ponies

Grazing is the natural system of feeding for horses and grass is their natural food. The horse has a remarkably small stomach so needs to eat his food slowly and continuously. In the horses natural environment they graze for a large part of their day. To assist in encouraging the horse’s natural digestion and feeding habits we've outlined some golden rules for good equine feeding practices.

Some rules to achieve good feeding are:

  1. Feed little and often, as would be the case if the horse was in a natural environment.
  2. Feed sufficient bulk because the horse needs this to digest his food successfully.
  3. Feed according to the work required - increase concentrates if the demands of work are heavy, reduce them if their work load becomes light, stop them if work ceases. As concentrates are reduced, bulk foods (grass, hay, chaff etc) must be increased to keep his stomach filled.
  4. Don't make any sudden changes in the type of food or in the routine of feeding. Any adjustments must be made slowly over a period of weeks.
  5. As far as possible, stick to the same feeding routine/hours daily.
  6. Feed good clean fodder only.  Always check for dust, and/or a musty smell.
  7. Do not work your horse for at least an hour after a full feed. The use of the horse's muscles will make an extra demand on the blood stream with a consequent reduction of the supply available to the digestive tracts. The resulting lack of activity of these tracts may result in colic.
  8. Always have clean fresh water available and monitor the amount of water your horse is drinking and this may be an indication of underlying problems.

In summary, feeding should be kept as simple as possible. If the horse is eating well and is looking well there should be no need for a lot of additives. You need to always be mindful that with any prepared feeds, additives/vitamins/trace elements etc can be duplicated across many feeds. In addition, some will counteract or cancel out others so it is always important to feed a balanced diet without too much of any particular additive. As time consuming as it may be, reading labels of any prepared feeds is important to ensure you know exactly what is included in your horse's feed.