Feeding Your Horse    






Eating and sleeping are the most important things for a horse in the wild where it roams in the protection of the flock and grazes most of the time. The horse has a very small stomach and no gall-bladder and is not made for storing a lot of food in its stomach.

One of the basic rules for the feeding is therefore that the horse needs to be fed several times a day, preferably four times. The feed is usually divided into bulk feed (e.g. hay, hay briquettes and straw), succulent feed (e.g. molasses, silage, carrots and mangel-wurzels), feed concentrate (e.g. oats, barley, bran, corn, oil concentrates and concentrate pellets), mineral feed, a saltlick for horses (not the same as for cows) and vitamin feed (e.g. cod-liver oil and brewers’ yeast).

Hay is the horse’s basic feed and there is a big variation when it comes to its nutritive value. Oats, which are the most suitable feed concentrate, contain little protein so one has to also provide the horse with a  supplementary feed that is rich in protein.

The feed concentrate is generally given three times a day. The first feed should be done  early so that the horse gets time to digest the feed for a couple of hours before work starts.

Hay is mostly given as night feed or it is distributed during the day, so that the horse always has something to chew when it is in the stall.

Feeding should be altered according to the horse’s race, size, age, and the amount of work it is doing etc.

The quality of the feed also has an influence on the horse’s composition.. Horses often have a very personal way to eat and their well-being depends on having their meals in peace and in a comfortable environment.


 The drinking water has to be clear, fresh and clean - running water is the best. A horse’s need of water depends on the water content of the feed, the outside temperature, and the kind of work the horse does. A medium-sized horse normally drinks 30 to 40 litres per 24 hours, but can, depending on the circumstances, easily drink 50-60 litres of water per 24 hours. Usually watering needs to be done three to four times a day. If it is very hot and the horse needs to work hard, it has to be watered more often. The watering has to be done before the feeding and is best provided by automatic water bowls, so that the horse has a continual access to water. If the watering is done inside from a trough, the horse needs to be lead both to the trough and from it - the horse must on no account be let loose, as it can easily slip on the stable floor and hurt itself. If the horse is watered from a bucket in the stall, it is important to remember to take away the bucket as soon as the horse has drunk its fill, so that the horse does not hurt itself.

If the horse is very sweaty or breathless, it needs to rest for a while before it is watered.  If the water is cold one can either put hay or straw on the water surface, so that the horse cannot drink faster or leave the bit in its mouth.



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