Care and Feeding of the Horse Nutritional Requirements A balanced horse feeding program must supply nutrients needed for one or more of the following: maintenance, growth, reproduction, lactation, and work or physical activity. Body Maintenance The basic requirement for maintenance is defined as the feed needed to maintain normal body functions at rest.
The amount of feed needed for body maintenance is related to the horse’s weight.
A large horse requires more feed to maintain its body weight than a small horse.
In addition to maintenance, extra feed must be supplied to support activity. Exercise and ambient temperature fluctuations will alter the amount of feed necessary to maintain body weight.
Carbohydrates and fats are the prime energy sources in horse feed.
Work increases the need for specific vitamins, minerals and amino acids (protein) so your horse to metabolize carbohydrates and fats.
The amount of feed is dependent upon the level of activity as illustrated below in Table 1.
Table 1 — Suggested Daily Feeding Levels for Maintenance, Light, Moderate and Heavy Exercise1 (Per 100 lb.
Body weight) Hay (lb) Maintenance (minimum) Examples: stall confinement, docile temperament Maintenance (average) Examples: moderate voluntary activity Maintenance (elevated) Examples: nervous temperament, high voluntary activity Maintenance + Light Exercise Examples: pleasure, occasional trail or show Maintenance + Moderate Exercise Examples: schooling, frequent show or trail, light training Maintenance + Heavy Exercise Examples: ranch work, polo, race training Maintenance + Intense Exercise Examples: racing, endurance, 3-day eventing Horse Feed2 (lb) ¼ to ½ 8.
Feed boxes, hay racks and watering equipment should always be kept clean and sanitary.
Unconsumed feed should be removed from the feed box before the next feeding. 9.
Observe the horse’s eating habits; most horses usually consume all of their grain portion within 30 minutes.
If the horse does not readily begin eating, it should be watched closely for signs of problems.
Spending a small amount of time each day observing your horse will help you detect problems early. 10.
Some horses have the habit of eating their feed too rapidly which can lead to choking.
This can be controlled by using large feed troughs, spreading the feed over the entire trough, lowering the height of the feed trough or placing a few large smooth rocks or salt bricks in the feed trough so that the horse is required to eat around them. 11.
Before working your horse allow feed to be digested.
If a horse is to be worked soon after feeding reduce the grain portion by one-half. 12.
Do not feed grain to a heated horse nor allow uncontrolled water consumption until the horse is properly “cooled out”.
It is fine to offer the horse hay. 13.
Be sure your horse’s teeth have no sharp edges that may injure the inside of the mouth.
Drooling, slobbering of grain or quidding of hay of feed are tell-tale signs.
Consult your veterinarian. 14.
To help save feed, improve body condition and reduce colic problems, consult with your veterinarian for a parasite control program. 15.
If horses are group fed, separate timid ones from the group and give them special encouragement to eat. 1 to 1½ 1 to 1½ ¼ to ½ 1 to 1½ ½ to ¾ 1 to 2 ½ to 1
Read more about Drooling, slobbering of grain or quidding of hay of feed are tell-tale signs: