Feeding your horse
Our Ingatestone, Essex sanctuary houses a lot of horses; so many we could easily lose count! From our experience we find it hard to fathom why people don’t try to feed their animals a healthy balanced diet when they are just like us human beings – They need five a day too! If we eat too much of one food group, we stand the chance of putting on weight and without exercising we may become overweight. The same goes for animals. If you do not exercise your horse on a daily basis, not only will it put on weight, it will likely become agitated with the natural build-up of energy and may even cause difficulties when trying to exercise in the future.
The nutrients needed to provide your horse with a balanced diet can be broken down into seven categories: proteins, carbohydrates, water, fats, oils, vitamins and minerals. Too much of any one group will lead to an unbalanced diet.
By feeding your horse things that he or she can chew, they will break down their food, which makes it easier to digest. Chewing also helps produce salvia which helps to further break down the food. Make sure you take care of your horses teeth to allow them to chew effectively.
As your horse’s stomach is roughly only the size of a football, try not to overfeed them. They are grazing animals that feed little and often, so try to ensure your horse has plenty of access to grass and forage, key to keeping your horses stomach full and active.
When I talk about forage, I generally mean hay. By supplying your horse with hay you will maintain the natural functions. Without this your horse may have complications such as stomach ulcers and problems with their teeth.
With the upcoming cold weather, you may be wondering why you are being advised to provide more hay during the icy winter months. This is because the digestion of hay produces heat which funnily enough acts as your horses central heating system, so by eating more hay, will increase the temperature of your horse.
These are just a few simple things to consider when you are looking what to feed your horse. We would always recommend talking to your vet if you have any urgent advice!