In a Muddle with Feeding My Horse

Dear TH&P,

With the Spring grass coming though and the fact that I will soon be increasing the work of my horse with some local shows and competitions I have planned, I think I should look at changing my horse’s diet to reflect the changing season and his workload. I am not sure what’s the best way to do this, though. Can you advise please?

Zoe P.

Dear Zoe,

You are definitely right that if you are thinking about changing your horse’s diet you should a) make sure you do this the correct way, b)consider what diet will suit him best, and c) get some professional advice . Almost all of the feed companies offer expert nutritional advice –  they will provide you with a detailed diet plan created specifically based on the information you have given them about your horse.  Remember, they are selling their own products, so its worth calling two or three to get an overview – they should all be suggesting similar feed types, and they will also give you a clear plan on how much to feed based on  the weight of your horse, its type and height.. Some will even send you a measuring cup to help you get it right.

There are some key things you should do as a matter of course to ensure you  maintain a calm, healthy horse:

  • Keep bucket feeds small – horse’s digestive systems are best suited to little and often feeding patterns, so try to split feeds into two or if you can manage it, three a day  rather than one large dump of food once a day.
  • Always offer plenty of forage – grass, hay or haylage are critically important to ensure the bacteria in the hind gut has a constant supply of fibre to digest.
  • Keep an eye on condition as it will change depending on the amount of work and feed your horse ids getting and you may need to adjust the quantities he is getting accordingly.
  • Introduce new feeds gradually over a period of 4-5 days staring with around a quarter of the amount you intend to feed by day 4.

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