A balanced diet and top-class nutrients are crucial for having a healthy horse. Therefore, feeding your horse the right way is the key for it to lead a good-quality life.
Sometimes when we want to do good, we tend to overfeed our pet friends, which can lead to some serious health issues. This is why we should always take the advice given by experts — such as vets and animal nutritionists — into consideration. Following this advice can make a world of difference in the normal life activities of your horses.
If you are eager to learn more about proper ways of feeding your four-legged friends, continue reading as we will provide you with ten exceptional tips for feeding your horse.
Start by Answering Important Questions
Before you go about planning your horse’s diet, you should begin gathering some preliminary information – so that you’re taking away any guess-work. These questions include:
What is the age of your horse?
Is your horse healthy?
What is the psychological state of your horse?
What are the body weight and overall condition of your animal?
What type of forage is provided for your horse?
By answering all of these questions, you will gain a more advanced understanding of your horse’s dietary needs.
Know and Understand the Nutritional Needs of Your Horses
Feeding can sometimes be confusing and somewhat tricky. What you should know is that no two horses are the same. Each horse is different, and therefore each deserves a specialised diet. Why? The horse type, age, workload, health, weight, and local climate are just some of the factors that will determine the kind and amount of nutrients a horse requires on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
To determine your horse’s feeding needs, first weigh your horse. Then, calculate the total daily forage and concentrate requirements according to this formula:
Body Weight/100×2.5=Total Daily Ration
Evaluate Your Horse’s Body Condition
Evaluating the body condition of your horse is one of the first steps when it comes to creating a proper diet.
The Henneke Body Condition scoring system is a handy tool to evaluate your horse’s condition. It ranges from 1 (undernourished) to 9 (obese). Scoring conditions from 4 to 6 are ideal.
Provide Your Horse with Lots of Clean and Fresh Water
Horses need between 20L and 50L of water per day. Having access to fresh water is of the upmost importance. If for some reason this is not possible, horses should be supplied with water at least twice per day. They should be given a few minutes to peacefully drink. Always make sure the water is clean and refill regularly to keep it fresh. During winter, serve your horse with lukewarm water to encourage drinking.
Provide Your Horse with Structural and Non-structural Carbohydrates
Both structural and non-structural carbohydrates are a crucial part of a balanced diet. Structural carbs include hay and grass. These are the main source of food for horses and horses should have 1-2% of their body weight provided in the form of hay. The hay should be mold and dust-free. Check with your vet which hay you should give to your horse.
Non-structural carbohydrates are oats, corn, and barely. They are fundamental in animal nourishment. It is recommended that you provide your horse with ½ pound of grains per 100 pounds of their body weight daily.
Add Supplements to Provide the Correct Level of Vitamins, Proteins, Minerals, and Fat
Hay and grass usually provide a decent number of calories. However, from time to time you will have to add some supplemental horse feed to your horses diet to maintain or reach the desired and prescribed levels of vitamins, proteins, minerals, and even fat.
Feed in Small Amounts but Often
Providing your horse with small amounts of food often is the best way to go, as it replicates their natural feeding habits. This is particularly crucial for horse’s that don’t forage out in the open. With the way a horse’s digestive system works, feeding your horse larger portions once or twice per day will do more harm than good.
Keep to a Feeding Schedule
Try to stick to the same feeding time every day. Horses are creatures of habit and they demand routine.
Make sure that feeding and drinking areas are clean
Horses are extremely clean and meticulous animals. A dirty drinking or feeding area will discourage your horse from taking in liquids and solids. If your horse does happen to take it something it shouldn’t, it could end up getting quite unwell.
Rewarding your horse and giving it treats is always a good way to bond. However, try not to overdo it. Here are some great treats for your horse friends: celery, fresh apples, carrots, green beans.
Bonus tip: Common mistakes to avoid
Even though we always want what’s best for our horse, sometimes, we accidentally make mistakes. Here are some most common errors you should try to avoid:
Neglecting dental problems
Over-saturation with supplements
Giving poor quality hay and nutrients
Insufficient levels of salt
No two horses are alike. Therefore, understanding your horse’s feeding needs and requirements will be very beneficial for everyone involved. Depending on various factors, such as weight, age, health and workload, try to design an adequate diet for your four-legged friend. Ask your vet for their professional opinion as well.
Having access to clean water and supplements, as well as proper forage are the three most important assets when creating a balanced diet.