Sharing life with a horse is always a rewarding experience. However, it also comes up with a great responsibility of caring for your horse. The health and well-being of your horse completely depend upon your care, love, and commitment toward them. You can show love and care through feeding, grooming, riding, and petting your horse. However, not everyone knows how to do it right when it’s about feeding a horse.
A detailed guide on how to feed a horse.
In fact, it becomes a confusing consideration for some people to feed a horse. It may be because of the feed variety available for horses out there. Always remember that not all horses have equal food and water requirements. The adequate amount of feed you can give your horse depends on different factors. These factors include:
- Age of your horse
- Your horse’s weight
- Its health
- Its size
- The climate where it lives
- Horse’s workload
- What you offer your horse to eat, and more.
So, learning how to feed a horse properly is necessary per all these parameters. The practice is necessary to avoid affecting the health and well-being of your horse.
Let’s look at the details below to learn how to feed a horse properly.
So, here we go:
Provide your horse with a regular water and food supply
In most cases, horses need to have pasture and hay throughout the day and feed them grains 2x a day.
Any horse with an average size usually eats about 20 lbs. per day. Besides that, the horse drinks about 8 water gallons every day.
Always remember that the stomach of the horse is small. In addition, they also have a delicate digestive system. Due to this, let your horse graze and nibble throughout the day instead of offering them plenty of food in one or two meals.
Provide your horse roughage in plenty
Most trail and pleasure horses don’t require grain. Instead, providing plenty of pasture and hay is enough for them. However, if hay is not enough for the horse, consider adding grains. However, ensure that the bulk of calories of your horses come from roughage.
The most suitable feed a horse can have is roughage, and it is because they are meant to eat this. A
horse’s digestive system is designed to absorb nutrients from grassy stalks. That’s why you should offer your horse roughage of about 1 to 2 percent of its body weight.
Horses spending most of their time in stalls usually don’t do much gazing. Thankfully, you can imitate their natural feeding patterns by keeping hay at their front most of the time. Your horse can nibble at hay for a while, take a break, and then return to it. The practice will keep the roughage to keep moving from their systems.
Give your horse grains in small quantities but often
If you want to feed a horse some grains, offer them grains in various smaller meals instead of a larger one. Most caretakers feed grains to their horses 2x a day for their convenience. However, if you have to feed a horse some grains as a large meal, prefer giving it at lunchtime.
Otherwise, small and frequent portions are more natural to consider here as they let the horse digest the grains better. Your horse can’t digest the food properly if you give it too much at once.
Remember, less is more when it’s about to fee grains to your horse. So, you must start with a minimal quantity and then adjust it per your horse’s needs.
Provide salt mixture to your horse.
According to nutritionists, adding about 1.6-1.8 grams of salt per kg of dry feed matter to the horse ration is also important. You can give your horse additional salt as a mixture of the trace mineral. Another possible way to provide sodium chloride to your horse is by adding salt to your horse’s feed.
This practice will also help you to let the horse meet its phosphorus and calcium needs.
Feed your horse consistently
Start by measuring the feed of your horse by weight. You can use a postal or kitchen scale for this purpose. After figuring out the typical ration weight of your horse, you can use a scoop to measure that amount at regular feeding time.
An average 1000 pounds horse who relies on hay for forage usually consumes 15 to 20 pounds of hay daily.
Always remember that the quantity of hay for your horse can also vary as per the size of hay flakes.
Rules to feed a horse properly
Whenever it’s about feeding a horse properly, there are some dos and don’ts that you must understand. Some of the most important rules to feed a horse we have enlisted below to help you better here:
- Feed a horse in little portions but frequently to imitate the natural feeding pattern of your horse.
- Horses’ digestive systems are made for roughage. So, feed roughage in plenty, including haylage, hay, grass, etc.
- Feed a horse as per its workload and size. If your horse is bigger and workout more, it will certainly need more feed to meet its energy requirements.
- Don’t experiment with sudden diet changes. Even if you have to make any changes in your
horse’s feeding schedule, go gradually. Sudden changes can produce poison, kill some bacteria, or cause metabolic disorders.
- Schedule your time to feed a horse and stick to it. Always feed a horse as per its regular schedule to avoid any problems.
- Cleanliness is vital even when you feed a horse. So, keeping the feeding place and utensils clean would be better. Wash the utensils regularly to avoid any microorganisms’ buildup.
- Don’t take the horse to work quickly after feeding, as a full stomach can put too much pressure on the horse’s lungs. It will ultimately affect the breathing of your horse.
- Provide an appropriate water supply, and always avoid feeding a horse quickly after or before exercise.
Usually, the buying price of a horse is way less than what it requires to care for and groom your horse. So, always be realistic about this thing when you acquire a horse. However, when it’s about to feed a horse, taking care of all the aspects mentioned above is necessary for better health and well-being of your horse.