A horse’s dietary needs are starkly different from those of many traditional pets and farm animals. Whereas other animals can simply be fed once a day, horses need constant attention paid to their selective palettes. However, this isn’t to say that feeding a horse requires one to move mountains. Familiarizing yourself with some of the most common mistakes new horse owners make on the feeding front can help prevent you from making the same blunders. In the interest of keeping your horse happy, healthy and well-fed, take care to avoid the following mealtime mishaps.
1. Feeding Immediately Before or After Strenuous Physical Activity
It’s strongly recommended that horse owners avoid feeding their animals immediately before or after strenuous physical activity. To promote healthy digestion and minimize physical strain, horse owners should give their animals one to three hours of digestion time before exercising them. They should also give their horses one to three hours of downtime after a workout before serving them a meal. Since a full digestive system gives the animal’s lungs less room to breathe, it’s imperative that the one-to-three-hour window be adhered to. Additionally, safe feeding practices and comprehensive horse insurance can work hand-in-hand to ensure your animal’s continued good health.
2. Not Providing Adequate Roughage
Since horses are natural grazers, they need access to a consistent amount of roughage. In fact, many trail horses don’t need grain – just high-quality hay or pasture. However, even if your horse does require grain, it should still be allowed to graze on roughage. Failure to provide access to roughage stands to leave horses bored and temperamental.
3. Not Measuring Serving Sizes
In addition to adhering to a strict feeding schedule, you’ll need to carefully measure your horse’s servings of grains and roughage. Simply “winging it” and measuring by sight alone is practically guaranteed to result in your horse being over or underfed. A good vet can help you determine how much daily grain and roughage your horse needs depending on its age, weight and size. Additionally, take care to consult your vet prior to making any changes in your horse’s serving sizes or general diet.
If this is your first foray into horse ownership, feeding your animal can seem rather daunting. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. Taking the time to educate yourself on the best feeding practices can make mealtimes simple and stress-free for both you and your horse.