Feeding horses correctly is a tricky business and personally, I leave the real big decisions to a professional equine nutritionist. All the reputable feed brands have great online, telephone or in person advice. These people hold professional qualifications and will be able to advise you on the what, when and why. However, I think it’s really important as riders and horse owners to have a basic knowledge of correct feeding.
We should be looking to feed per day between 2.5% and 3% of the horses body weight. Obviously the easiest and most accurate way of weighing them is using a weigh bridge, but not many of us have access to one of those! So the next best thing is a weight tape. However, if you don’t have one of those either, you can get a fairly accurate weight by using a normal measuring tape and a simple formula.
Girth x Girth x Length ÷ 11900 = Body Weight in kg
Horses should not have more than 1.5-2kgs off fodder in each feed. Ponies should not have more than 1.25-1.5kgs of fodder in each feed.
A scoop of Chaff or Alfa fed before exercise has been shown to be good for your horses stomach and gut. However, if you are feeding concentrate of any type, then you must leave 1 - 2 hours before exercising your horse.
If you want to change the type of feed your horse is on then you must do this gradually to avoid causing issues in the hind gut.
It should take 3 weeks to change a horses diet correctly.
Week 1 - 75% old diet 25% new diet
Week 2 - 50% old diet 50% new diet
Week 3 - 25% old diet 75% new diet.
Horses do best on a high fibre, low starch, low sugar diet.
So plenty of forage should be at the foundation of your horses diet along with access to clean, fresh water.
The main requirements the horse needs are:
Water - Horses will drink an average of 30-45 litre per day
Forage - High in fibre, it should make up at least half of your horses daily food intake
Concentrates - Higher in energy, these may be required if your horse is worked harder and needs more energy than the forage can provide.
Supplements - They include trace minerals, vitamins and fat.
We’ve put together a Feed Chart for you to either print off and stick up or keep on your phone/tablet. There are two versions, one is blank for writing on and the other can be completed on your smart device.
We’ve also included an example chart so you can get the idea! (Click to enlarge)