Feeding a horse is one of the most important responsibilities of a horse owner. If not done correctly and overfeeding grain feeds a horse can develop colic, (build up of gas) it is caused as horses are unable to burp. This is very serious and in same cases can be fatal.
The Ten Rules Of Feeding
There are 10 rules to feeding horses these are –
FEED LITTLE AND OFTEN – Horses have quite small stomachs so food must be fed small amounts at frequent intervals. Ideally a horse should never go more than 8 hours without feed.
PLENTY OF BULK – To work efficiently a horses digestive system needs to be constantly filled. To achieve this feed bulk feeds such as hay and grass.
CORRECT AMOUNT AND TYPE – You can cause your horse physical and mental problems feeding too much, too little or the wrong type of feed.
GOOD QUALITY – Make sure your food isn’t past its sell by date.
MAKE NO SUDDEN CHANGES TO DIET – Introduce new feeds gradually to avoid digestive problems.
DO NOT FEED DIRECTLY BEFORE EXERCISE – A horse must be allowed at least 1 hour after a feed before he is worked. If this isn’t done a horses can develop colic and breathing problems.
ROUTINE – Horses are creatures of habit.
CLEANLINESS – Keep all utensils scrupulously clean.
A SUCCULENT EACH DAY – This is very import if the horse is not at grass. Apples, carrots and swedes add variety and provide some essential vitamins.
WATER BEFORE FEEDING – A horse can wash undigested food out of its stomach if he drinks after feeding.
Also when feeding horses there are other considerations these include –
THE WEIGHT OF THE HORSE
AMOUNT AND TYPE OF WORK
TYPE OF RIDER
WETHER FULLY STABLED OR AT GRASS
TIME OF YEAR
TYPE OF PASTURE
AGE OF HORSE
APPROXIMATE DAILY AMOUNTS OF DIET FOR DIFFERENT HEIGHTS
17 hands – 34lbs
16 hands – 30lbs
15 hands – 26lbs For the horses and ponies who are half a hand or 2 inches
14 hands – 22lbs higher, an extra 2lbs is added example 13.2 hands – 20lbs,
13 hands – 18lbs
12 hands – 14lbs
ALSO THE PERCENTAGES OF BULK AND CONCENTRATES CHANGE DEPENDING ON WORK.
A horse in light work should get 30% concentrate 70% bulk.
A horse in medium work should get 50% concentrate 50% bulk
And a horse in hard work should get 70% concentrate 30% bulk.
Most feed merchants have balanced diets for all type of horses and all types of work. So the horse owners job isn’t as hard as it used to be. Most feed merchants have dieticians so you can ask them or your vet what to feed your horse. Most compound feeds have guild lines on the back of the bag and phone numbers you can ring for help.
Always insure your horse has access to clean fresh water. A horse can drink between 10-15 gallons a day.
One last thing please remember all percentages and feed quantities are guide lines. EAch horse is an individual and will have to be closely monitored.