What Do Horses Eat to Stay Healthy?
What Do Horses Eat to Stay Healthy?
Because horses are herbivores with a digestive track that differs from ours, they have extremely specialized nutritional requirements. Their lengthy digestive system need a high-fiber diet eaten in little quantities over a long period of time. 1 Horses consume many, many little meals rather than a few huge ones as people do. Horses spend the most of their time eating! Here’s a summary of what horses consume, as well as what they shouldn’t.
Pasture Grass and Tender Plants
The horse’s natural diet consists of grazing grass and delicate plants. The majority of the nourishment a horse needed to be healthy is found in good pasture. It also has silica, which is beneficial to oral health. Primitive horses can survive on meager food and must often make due with subpar pasture and housing circumstances. This is likely why obesity, equine metabolic syndrome, and laminitis are uncommon in wild horses but common in our domesticated horses. Pasture grass isn’t always the issue; it’s the horses we’ve bred and the lack of activity that are.
Those of us who have easy keepers must restrict the amount of fresh grass available to our horses. Introducing lush pasture to a horse that isn’t used to it can also be problematic. Good grass, on the other hand, gives the finest nourishment for a hard-to-keep horse.
Many of us do not have the luxury of allowing our horses to graze on pasture all year round. If grass isn’t an option, hay is the next best thing. It might be difficult to get decent horse hay. It’s a good idea to get your hay analyzed so that any vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be addressed with supplements. Rich hay can be a problem for certain horses, just as rich pasture grass can be. Easy keepers may need to be denied access to a bale feeder 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Horses are given oats as a traditional grain. Horses can, however, be given tiny amounts of other grains, such as maize. Some grains, such as wheat, are harmful to horses. In their natural habitat, a wild horse’s closest equivalent to consuming grains would be the seed heads of grasses.
Modern-day grains that are produced, harvested, and processed are not natural meals for horses. It’s simple to give horses too much grain. Grain also doesn’t need the same amount of chewing time or have the same amount of silica grass, which can lead to ulcers and tooth issues. A horse that consumes too much grain may get colic or founder.2
Grain, flaxseed, beet pulp, molasses for energy and taste, bran, vitamins and minerals, and other components are commonly found in concentrates. Some feed mills may blend concentrates to your requirements, or commercial mixtures may contain a variety of components (only practical when you have a large number of horses to feed).
Concentrate mixtures, like grain, assist to compensate for any nutritional deficiencies while also providing a fast source of energy. In addition to grass or hay, mares in foal, nursing mares, performance or working horses can benefit from being given concentrates.
Salt and Minerals
Salt and minerals are examples of supplements that can be incorporated in a concentrate mix or sold separately. Horses may assist themselves when they have a hunger by placing a salt block or loose salt in a pasture or stall. Minerals may be mixed in with some salt. Free-choice minerals are also available, or they can be included into the horse’s grain or concentrate meal. Many people discover that they consume more salt in the summer than they do in the winter.
Many of us like giving gifts to our horses. Apples, carrots, or other beloved fruits or vegetables, handfuls of grain, sugar cubes or sweets, or even strange things like a piece of a hot dog or boiled egg, are examples of these nibbles. However, feeding horses meat or too many sweet goodies, like fruit, may not be a good idea. Horses are herbivores, so even if they don’t show indications of colic when given meat, they may have pain, and unfamiliar meals may alter the gut flora.
Of course, a horse won’t draw the link between the hamburger they ate an hour ago and their current pain, so they’ll eat anything they want over and over. This is why it’s critical to give goodies in tiny quantities. If your horse needs to lose weight, treats should be included in the overall feeding plan and kept to a minimum. When being offered goodies, your horse must also be courteous.
A horse, of course, does not “consume” water. Water, on the other hand, is an important element of the horse diet. A horse that eats pasture grass will generally consume less water than one that just eats hay. Fresh, pure water, on the other hand, is required for both.
Plants Toxic to Horses
Wheat and rice bran, for example, are not suggested as a substantial component of your horse’s diet. Mineral imbalances can be caused by any of these factors.
Behavioral Problems in Horses
- Aggression to People
- Aggression Toward Other Horses
- Maternal Aggression
- Aggression While Breeding
- Cribbing (Aerophagia, Windsucking)
- Wood Chewing (Lignophagia)
- Stall Walking and Weaving:
- Stall Kicking